Monday, October 05, 2009

USA 2009 / Part 1

So it was welcome back to the land of driving on the wrong side, upside down light switches, people driving with mobile phones stuck in their ears, huge meal servings, tipping and cheap petrol. Our three days in Minneapolis were taken up with the Minnesota State Fair, book and clothes shopping and catching up with some of our favourite fast food outlets and restaurants eg. Chipotle, Coldstone Ice Cream and of course, Caribou coffee.
After picking up our hire car (thanks for the free upgrade, Enterprise!), we drove immediately to the park and ride station for the fair. What a great service. Ten minutes by free bus to the front gate.

The fair was above expectation. Reminded me of what the Sydney Easter Show used to be like. Apart from the carnival area (Midway) and the ‘terrible’ fair food there were great livestock, agricultural and horticultural displays, wonderful arts and crafts exhibits, live entertainment catering to all tastes and a smattering of less artery clogging food to eat.
There was even a Christmas Tree competition and the Minnesota Grape Growers Association had an impressive display with featured vineyards, tastings and lectures during the day.

We solved the mystery of Australian Battered Potatoes that we had seen advertised on the fair web site. They turned out to be our potato scallops (a fries substitute at fish and chips shops) but with the added 'incentive' of being either smothered in melted cheese or the choice of dipping sauces. The stand seemed very popular.

We spent most of the day there but passed on the deep fried onion flower, third of a pound of bacon marinated in maple syrup and deep fried (on a stick), deep fried Snicker bars and the 2kg (64 oz.) bucket of fries. Grilled brats and Summit beer were more to our liking.

I loved the corn exhibition. Ears of corn up for prizes! I never did find out what the criteria for awards were but there were lots of entries and the judging seemed quite intense. The portrait of Barack Obama made from various grains, better known as crop art, was a highlight.

It was also great to catch up with Cindy too, share a bottle of wine or two and a laugh or six.
Then it was off south to Sioux Falls, SD and surrounds. After the family got over their initial shock of our visit, we got into the full swing of catching up, get togethers and late summer goings on in the area.
One was the Sidewalk Arts Festival downtown with hundreds of stalls featuring crafts, fine art, folk art and of course, food. I had my first taste of funnel cake and kettle corn. Both great! It was a bit strange to see an "Opals of Australia" vendor there but he was getting a lot of interest. There were also plenty of quirky items.

Of course we continued our restaurant/fast food pilgrimage: Culvers Butter Burgers and frozen chocolate custard, Mexican at Chevys, Incas, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara (Mexican food in Australia is pretty ordinary), a BIG breakfast at Perkins even at 10pm, lunch at the Phillips Avenue Diner, a Brutus Burger at Applebees and the traditional jalapeno burger at Steve’s Bar washed down with numerous MGD's. And we found also some other interesting and new places to eat. Then there was the clothes shopping at Cabelas in Mitchell about an hour’s drive away. No summer specials (too late!) but I managed to stock up on essential items to get me through the next year.
Not all meals were out, we had great BBQ's and special dinners at home as well.
Karen's surprise 50th birthday cake prepared by Kay tasted as good as it looked.

You will have noticed by now I was keeping my sugar and fat intake at a reasonable level.
After a few weeks of disturbing the family's day to day lives, we decided to take a break and travel down to Iowa to see the Bridges of Madison County and the Amana Colonies. So we made the necessary B&B bookings and headed south along the I29.


Anonymous said...

really, that's just too much to cram into a couple week visit. i'm thinking next time should be a couple MONTH visit!

Karen said...

I agree.... you need to stay longer next time so we can play bingo more! And did you have to tell everyone my age?