It’s only been ten days since the end of the 2023 edition of the Minnesota State Fair, but I’m already missing it (and looking forward to next year). I went three times this year and loved every minute of it (except for the shorts emergency – more on that later). We finally got to cross Duran Duran off the concert list and continued the tradition of having all four us there on Labor Day ❤️.
This was not a big new food and drink year for me, but I did try a few:
- Lime Time Cider (Sociable) – LuLu’s Public House
- Candy Apple Hard Cider (Sociable) – Giggles’ Campfire Grill
- Porkette Breakfast Sandwich – Peters Hot Dogs
- Cheesecake Curds – LuLu’s Public House
- Galabao – Union Hmong Kitchen
We also wanted to try the raised donut from Peachey’s Baking Co., but there was no way I was waiting in that line outside the Eco Experience building (which we heard people saying was a two hour wait). Here’s a picture instead:
We liked the cheesecake curds and had those twice. The galabao was spicy and good (the lines this year were long, but moved fast). I loved the breakfast hot dog from Peters. Our friend Mike highly recommended the lime cider, but it didn’t knock me out. The candy apple one had a literal apple slice that they poured caramel over, so that was interesting. Still prefer regular Duluth Cider over anything else right now.
This year was really all about the classics for me: had the onion rings and French fries three times each, ate a bunch of pronto pups, visited the corn roast twice and had some black cherry Lift Bridge and Sweet Marthas multiple times. I have to say, the inconsistent pronto pup experience during the pandemic special events has now unfortunately translated over to the big show – not every one this year was consistently excellent.
We picked up the annual button on the first day (not our favorite design, but still free from all info booths now) and I grabbed one of the History Walking Tour brochures (which were very well designed). Next year I intend to do the entire walk, get the stamps and collect the free prize. We also need to pay more attention to the animal barn schedules, as we didn’t get to see any animals in the poultry barn until the last day (and most of the chickens were already gone).
This was the first year for new CEO Renee Alexander and I hope she was happy with the end result (even if there was only one record-setting attendance day this time – 164,741 on the first Friday). I love watching that page every day of the fair and hope to see the big record get broken again one of these years. If they keep doing the spring event (which was fun with the Milk Run), it might be awhile before the regular fair breaks that mark again.
And as for the shorts emergency? Well, I was wearing some light tan shorts when we went to the dairy building for malts. I went to sit outside on the stone wall next to the Haunted House, but did not see the melted chocolate ice cream there and had a dark, gooey mess in an unfortunate location on the back of the shorts. Thankfully Colleen was able to find a vendor in the dairy building selling clothes and I was able to discretely get to a bathroom to change into a new pair.
In my July 2023 post the art of being social, I wrote about the current state of social media and how things had changed for me personally with the deletion of my Twitter account and how I was using Mastodon as my primary remaining service. After finally getting an invite code to Bluesky, I’ve lurked on there for a few weeks now too. Here are a few updated thoughts:
- Aside from the presence of a few old Twitter people, not finding a lot of value so far in Bluesky.
- Looked at Threads and saw I needed to create a new Instagram account, so I deleted the app.
- Mastodon via Ivory still works great for me across iOS and macOS, but I’m finding that the time required to keep up isn’t equal to the value I’m getting out of the posts. Will curate my follow list and see if that helps.
- LinkedIn lately has been full of bad takes, unwanted sales generation and (apparently) fraud research, so it might need to go away again soon.
- Based on recent Google actions, may remove my concert videos from YouTube.
Leaning towards 7minutemiles being the exclusive, definitive source of online DK information soon…
No shortage of opinions on today’s Apple Event, but here are my immediate action items:
- Will move from my 14 Pro to the 15 Pro Max via the iPhone Upgrade Program on Friday (256GB Blue Titanium)
- Still want an Ultra 2, but don’t like the new bands – will stick with my Series 5 for now (and might actually prefer a Series 9 with a Nike band)
- Need to find out the pricing on the new iCloud+ 6TB and 12TB storage tiers (and how that ties in with Apple One) – rumor is $30/month and $60/month
- AirPods Pro cases get USB-C on September 22, but I will still probably wait for the 2nd edition of AirPods Max
It’s been a few weeks now, but when I heard that Daniel del Prado’s newest bar and restaurant in the old Bachelor Farmer/Marvel Bar building was taking reservations, I lucked out with a 5:30 spot on Saturday, August 26, 2023. Just like our old favorites, we planned to hit Flora Room downstairs right when they opened at 5:00, then head upstairs to Porzana for dinner.
Parking in the North Loop is now worse than ever, so we were initially excited by the open meter spot in front of the restaurant (on 2nd Avenue North). But just like at Alma, the City of Minneapolis allows restaurants to convert these spots during certain hours to “valet only” and the app wouldn’t let us park there. The “helpful” valet also ran over to our car to inform us we couldn’t park there. I dropped off Colleen and declined to pay their valet charge on general principal. If you are willing to walk a few blocks, there is a nice little cheap lot along the river next to the North Loop Playground (N 4th Ave & W River Parkway).
Getting in the bar is the same as before and to be honest, I didn’t think the room looked all that different from Marvel Bar (Colleen had a different opinion). I asked the bartender what their most popular “original” drink was and he directed me to the Alsace ($16 – egg white, riesling, peruvian agave, lemon, lychee, grapeseed oil, orange and rose blossom). It was a great pick, one that I liked a lot more than the drink I had upstairs (the name of which escapes me now). With the long walk from parking, I basically needed to drink and run up the stairs to get to dinner on time (escorted by former Marvel Bar staffer Keith Mrotek).
The upstairs layout is all different now. The side entrance on 2nd Avenue is locked, with the main entrance on the corner of 2nd Avenue and First Street (where the old cafe was located). The old main level bar is still there, but it’s now basically all one giant dining room now (plus a large outside patio). I would’ve preferred to be in the back area near the kitchen, but we were seated in the front area, which had very close, very loud tables.
The good part of being up front was watching the crowd flow in all evening. Bill Summerville was working the front of house and it was really nice chatting with him again. Former Four Seasons coworker Paul Hennessy is now the Porzana General Manager and it was great to talk to him as well (he also previously worked at TBF).
Colleen and I ordered the bread basket ($6 – apple cider vinegar butter, brown butter) and glazed carrots ($14 – ricotta, honey, crispy shallots, thai basil), then waited. And waited. And waited. Turns out one of the larger, louder tables got our order and just ate it. One of the managers noticed, came over to apologize and said those items would be taken off our bill. They fired replacements and also brought over an order of complementary empanadas ($14 – pork, llajua verde).
For the main dishes, Colleen ordered the Chilean sea bass ($36 – early butternut squash, brown butter, sage) and I went to the “LIMITED” section of the steak menu and picked the 14 oz gorgonzola striploin ($65) with a side of tallow fries ($14 – ketchup, kewpie). We both loved our dishes and I need to go back with SK to continue exploring the very large steak selection (reminiscent of Burch – RIP). Skipped dessert on this visit, as we had been at that table a very long time by that point.
When our check arrived, there were no adjustments, so we needed to wait longer for that too. For a busy, high profile new restaurant that had only been open less than a week, some slack needs to be cut, no? I like all the people behind it a lot, so I’m sure “Chef Danny” and the team will get the kinks worked out. I’d like to go back again soon…
Can’t stop what’s coming, can’t stop what is on its way…