Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Out and About in Minnesota.

We went out Friday night to a great Mexican restauarant with some friends. For once the waitress had no trouble understanding me. Turned out she had been in Australia for a while last year and said she recognised the accent straight away. Anyway, this couple had been together for 7 years but married only a few months. They were runners, half marathons etc. In a mad anerobic moment during a race in Arizona he had asked her to marry her. She said yes, and next day they were in Las Vegas to tie the knot. He had to go out into the street and pay some passer-by $5 to be a witness. I have always wanted to meet a Las Vegas spur of the moment wedding couple. Mission accomplished!
On Saturday we headed off into the country to Morgan via New Ulm and Sleepy Eye (what a great name for a town!). I wanted to visit a vineyard, Fieldstone, that I had called in on a couple of years ago.
It was just in the development stage then but the owner and I had kept up email contact and he has now 2 vintages under his belt, It's funny to see this small vineyard tucked away at the back of beyond in amongst the corn and bean fields. But he wanted to diversify and had got some like minded farmers in the area to plant grapes as well. He developed an old barn into a winery, tasting room and reception centre. It all looks great and the wine, made from native grapes or hybrids, is not too bad. One of his reds had won medals in a major American show. He also has fruit wines but they were pretty sweet. He made us taste them all and I ended up with a few bottles of Seyval Blanc and Frontinac rose.
New Ulm is the centre of the German American community and they have all sorts of German festivals there during the year. In fact they play up the German heritage thing outrageously. The architecture all over town is very Germanic. There was hardly an anglo name in the cemetery.
We then headed to another vineyard, Morgan Creek. The wines there were, in a word, awful! Most were sweet or semi sweet, even the reds. They had a mixture of vinifera and labrusca based wines. Their top red at $20 a bottle was obviously oxidised, the Gewuerztraminer had been pressed to an inch of its life with a resultant tannic finish. This didn't seem to stop the crowd that was there from buying though. The place was packed. I think they need to apply a strict winery hygiene regime, if not to improve the quality, to at least get rid of the wine faults!
So then it was home via some very scenic roads. We try to keep off the state highways and interstates. By the way, if you ever see a just run over skunk ahead of you on the road, roll up the windows or turn off the air conditioning real quick. It's the most obnoxious smell ever invented and it lingers for what seems forever.
Sunday was a lazy day. We went out for a late breakfast, did some window shopping in a great cooking supplies store and hit a midday movie.
"The Notebook" is a very sappy version of a Nicholas Sparkes' book about alzheimers. It has a 2 boxes of Kleenex rating. Then we did the groceries at Byerlies and found....VEGEMITE! I have had the cravings for a few weeks now but was fighting them off. Now the withdrawals will stop.
I see that winter has finally arrived down home. Looks like an inch of rain so far. Hopefully there was not much wind damage in the region where winds reached 80km/h. Here it's warm and humid in the mid 80's with light winds.
I bought a filet of fresh wild Alaskan sockeye salmon for dinner the other night. Quite different from the farmed salmon. Very red in color, firm flesh and tasted a bit vegetative like trout. Will get some more!
The fish was washed down with a bottle of Chablis. Not the most expensive bottle in the world but have to say that if that was white burgundy, give me Australian Chardonnay any time. And this from a member of the ABC* club too!!!!!
The Australian women's soccer team is playing the USA here on Wednesday night. There is a lot of hoopla about the game. Apparently the USA think they have a chance of a gold medal at the Olympics and the Aussies are considered easy pickings. We shall see! 10,000 expected at the game.

* ABC = anything but chardonnay.

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