Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton
ralphmelton

Midwest Mosey, July 22: New Ulm

Despite arriving so late, we were able to wake up in time for breakfast without much trouble.

We've stayed several bed and breakfasts, and we've found that breakfasts at B&Bs can be a real crapshoot. Some breakfasts have been splendid; some have been meager meals of cold cereal and indifferent eggs. And we had chosen the Deutsch Strasse based on location and availability, not based on the food, so we knew we were taking a risk. We even considered going elsewhere for breakfast, but decided that we should try the Deutsch Strasse on our first morning there, so that we could make an informed decision based on whether to eat there on the next day. I'm glad we did, because breakfast at the Deutsch Strasse was very nice.

It started with a dish of strawberry puree and homemade banana custard that looked beautiful and tasted great.
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The next course was house made granola:

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The entree was an Austrian apple pancake (Austrian on clarification; Gary had first announced it as Australian) and some excellent ham, served a spoonful of cinnamon-flecked cream and garnished with a rosette of apple peel.
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The last course of dessert was a tasty slice of pumpkin roll.
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It turned out that the church Lori chose was conveniently next to the route for the Bavarian Blast parade. So while Lori attended Mass, I found a quiet spot on the curb of a residential street and whiled away the time with my iPad. It was actually a very pleasant day - the day was only warm instead of the miserable heat we'd had in the previous week, and there was a cool breeze and pleasant shade. I wouldn't have planned this stop, but I quite enjoyed it.
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The parade was actually really pleasant, with a charming small-town feel. Despite the small-town feel, it was fairly large; we took more than 150 photos from the parade. I decided later that the best way to present all these photos is a montage video below. (If I had planned this ahead of time, I might have chosen to take all the photos in landscape orientation). But there are a few photos that deserve extra comment:

These figures with the wooden masks are the Narren, a group of foolish characters that add color to a lot of New Ulm's festivals. Frankly, I didn't feel I completely understood what the Narren are and are not; the best answer I've gotten is from http://www.newulmtel.net/~hfest/narren.html , but I don't yet feel I have all the answers.
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For example, I'm not quite sure whether these animal characters are of the Narren, or related to the Narren, or just anonymous furries getting into the German festival spirit.
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I can't claim to really understand this float with the woman completely encased in gold lamé.
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Hermann the German is featured on a monument on a hill looking over New Ulm, and has been adopted as the patron barbarian of New Ulm. I'm not sure how much historical evidence there is for his portrayal riding in the back of a pickup.
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This is the proud champion of the sauerkraut eating contest the previous day (which we had been unable to attend). The local newspaper pointed out that he is actually a German exchange student, which may have given him an unfair advantage. The champion of the weiner dog race, although duly accoladed in the paper, did not get a triumphant spot in the parade.
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There were some recurring categories:
German heritage groups:
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Food and farm promotions:
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Floats advertising other festivals:
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And lots of mobile bands and local politicians and a heaping helping of beauty pageant winners. (Though those categories aren't quite a definitive taxonomy. For example, there were a lot of dairy princesses that could qualify either as beauty pageant winners or as food promotion floats.)
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The whole parade time-lapse:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48435163@N04/7993047810/in/set-72157630814400374/

The parade lasted for over two hours, and that changed our plans to attend Bavarian Blast. We would only have a couple of hours to spend if we went to Bavarian Blast, and we'd seen bands like the Schell's Hobo Band passing us in the parade. So instead of paying the admission fee and to Bavarian Blast, we sought out a German lunch at Veigel's Kaiserhoff in downtown New Ulm.
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Veigel's had lots of old-world wood paneling and pictures of classic movie stars.
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I ordered a Schell's Firebrick beer because Schell's is in New Ulm. We had hoped to tour the Schell Brewery, because it was touted as a local tourist attraction, and it includes a mansion with lovely gardens and strolling peacocks. But that was already looking like a challenge to include - so I made sure to include a Schell's beer as a nod to this bit of local cuisine. This was a really nice beer in a way that I have trouble describing, because it wasn't very assertive in any particular way - just a mellow, flavorful amber.
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We shared the German sampler, which was plenty of food for the two of us. From left to right, the sampler platter included ribs, German potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage, sauerkraut, Landjäger sausage, and bratwurst.
The ribs have won a blue ribbon at the state fair, but they would hardly be recognized in Memphis. They were extremely tender (probably boiled), with no smoke flavor, and coated with a creamy coral-colored sweet and sour mustard sauce. The sauce and the ribs were tasty, but this is far out of the usual range of barbecue.
The sauerkraut was also unusual to me: it was milder and sweeter than most sauerkraut, and it contains shreds of pork in it.
German Sampler at Veigel's Kaiserhoff

But it turns out that Veigel's is not the only place in town that provides German specialties. (We did not get a chance to sample the sauerkraut margaritas.)
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3 o'clock gave us a chance to see another of New Ulm's proud attractions: the glockenspiel. This is not a metal xylophone; this is a clock tower with bells and carouseling figures.
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I recorded video of the performance: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48435163@N04/7894185676/in/set-72157631321075776/

After the glockenspiel, we did a little shopping in downtown New Ulm. (Lori's notes include "Ralph behaves badly at the Fontanini display." I'll leave it to her to elaborate.)

We did get to enjoy one more food product from New Ulm: at a little gift shop and ice cream stand (I don't recall the name, but it doesn't matter because they were going out of business), I had a root beer float made with 1919 Root Beer, a very nice deep, full-flavored root beer made at the Schell breweries.

We then drove out to Minneapolis for dinner with my uncle Bill and my cousin Sasha and his wife Kathy. We put the choice of restaurant in their hands, and they chose McCormick & Schmick's, a chain seafood restaurant. I looked for something that was local, and the closest thing was Canadian walleye. I ordered that, and that led Uncle Bill to talk about how the best walleye of all was to be found at Tavern on Grand. I know about Tavern on Grand, actually - it's Roadfood-listed. So Bill's praises of Tavern on the Grand just made me think of how much I would have preferred to go there. However, I'm not going to say that it was a wrong choice: Uncle Bill is fairly deaf, and McCormick and Schmick's gave us a very private enclosed booth with very little noise from the rest of the diners. If Tavern on the Grand is noisy, it would have been much harder for Bill to hear, and that would make the quiet place the better choice.

Despite my habits of scoffing at chain restaurants, the food at McCormick & Schmick's was really delicious. I'd cheerfully return, though I'd still prefer a Roadfood place. But I am very far behind where I want to be on writing up this trip report, so I won't bother writing it up in detail.
Tags: roadfood
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