Saturday, October 27, 2012

If It's Good Enough for Paul Bunyan, It's Good Enough for Me

If you pay any attention to the food and drink scene in Minnesota, you are by now well aware that the craft beer scene has exploded in recent year. Sure, Minnesotans have always liked their beer, but today you can't swing an uprooted hops vine without hitting a home brewer or encountering a restaurant or bar with a line of local craft beers on tap. No surprise, then, that this renewed interest in beer made good showing at the Minnesota State Fair. And, really, where better to pay homage to this state's brewing culture? Whether rural farmer, urban homebrewing hipster, professional brewer, hops grower, or barrel maker (or, for that matter, just enthusiastic Minnesota beer drinker), this state -- and our State Fair -- had something for you. The Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild's "Land of 10,000 Beers" proved wildly successful, and introduced thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of visitors to Minnesota beer and history through its exhibit and extensive public programming.

Here's raising a glass to Minnesota's thriving brewing scene, and to the Minnesota State Fair. And for you home brewers out there: it's never too early to get started perfecting your own secret blend. Last year's Home Brew competition received 680 entries! Congratulations to the winners, and happy brewing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Days Gone By: Market Gardeners, 1905

Who can resist the plentiful displays of the state's finest examples of produce? The Minnesota State Fair is THE place to see it all: the state's largest pumpkin, longest green beans, and newest apple varieties, among other delicious prospects. I love that in 2012 this link to the state's agricultural roots is still very present. It doesn't matter if you own acres of farmland or whether your "farm" is a pot on your windowsill (or eve if your produce experience taps out at picking the finest cucumbers at your local supermarket); Minnesota -- and the Minnesota State Fair -- has room for produce admirers of all varieties.

Perhaps it's my appreciation for current Minnesota produce that draws me to the photographs of agricultural exhibits from years gone by. This photograph, featuring the 1905 bounty of the Minneapolis Market Gardeners Association, looks just as delicious 106 years later and in black and white as I'm sure it did to the visitors who walked these pathways before us. And now, I'm off to find myself a nice, juicy Minneapolis-grown apple -- all those baskets of beautiful, lush local produce are making me hungry!

Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society