Indiana State Fair 2019 Encore: 2 Fair 2 Food

deep-fried chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich!

My rich, creamy Dulcinea.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

We trudged back to the working world on Wednesday morning disappointed that we’d missed so many of the “Taste of the Fair” new dishes and annoyed that my primary objective, the deep-fried chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, was nowhere to be found. We chatted a bit and mulled over the possibility of a return engagement. Two unexpected developments sealed the deal:

1. Anne did some online digging, found the official Facebook page for the vendor allegedly carrying the deep-fried chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, and asked them point-blank where the heck they were at the fairgrounds. Where all the State Fair’s materials and resources had failed us, an exemplary moment of customer service on the vendor’s part got us the exact answer.

2. On Friday my employer announced a deal to get discount State Fair tickets, for cheaper than our first set of tickets.

Emboldened and empowered, Saturday we drove once more out to the east side and enjoyed a 4-hour whirlwind do-over. We split a deep-fried chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich between us. We tracked down a few other “Taste of the Fair” offerings that hadn’t made the cut on Tuesday. We photographed a few more exhibits we’d overlooked or skipped the first time around. And we ended up with enough material for three bonus chapters in this very special, unexpectedly extended miniseries.

Continue reading

Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 4 of 6: Cake Bosses

NASA 50th!

NASA’s 50th: where “spacewalk” meets “cakewalk”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

4-H has always had two buildings in the northwest corner of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. (A third one next door remains an unsolved mystery to this day.) For decades, one was their official Exhibit Hall and the other was a dormitory of sorts. The latter was remodeled years ago, but I continued ignoring it because I presumed it still had nothing to do with me. This year someone thoughtfully posted signs in the Exhibit Hall alerting attendees that the other building — now called Centennial Hall, if it wasn’t before — likewise featured exhibit space for general audiences.

This year therefore marked our first time stepping foot in said building. Among other sections new to us was a bevy of beautiful cakes, the results of hours of effort, imagination and concentration on the part of whoever was blessed with these amazing colossal talents. A shame we couldn’t eat any of their works, merely behold them.

Continue reading

Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 1 of 6: Our Year in Food

Relleno de Papa!

Frying! It’s what’s for dinner!

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food. Each year a new lineup of “Taste of the Fair” offerings showcases new ideas from assorted food vendors in hopes of luring in foodies and/or impressing attendees who want to do more every year than simply eating the same tenderloin again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Continue reading

Indiana State Fair 2018 Photos #1: Our Year in Food

turkey tips!

Turkey tips, marinated in a house rub and drowned in an eminently lickable barbecue sauce.

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food. Each year a new lineup of “Taste of the Fair” offerings showcases new ideas from assorted food vendors in hopes of luring in foodies and/or impressing attendees who want to do more every year than simply eating the same tenderloin again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This year’s edibles expedition had a couple of setbacks, but we made the most of our day anyway. For one, this year’s Indiana State Fair app failed me in the precisely one job I asked of it. The Map function was ostensibly designed with an option to pin the locations of any and all participating “Taste of the Fair” stands. I pressed the correct buttons and received zero (0) results. The option to show all restaurants worked fine but was unhelpful. By and large the State Fair’s vendors go by their boring, adjectiveless company names that describe none of their products and aren’t even featured on their signs. Perfect example: the official Taste of the Fair site lists two new items from a company called Urick Concessions, but hopeful diners could spend days wandering the fairgrounds searching in vain for “URICK CONCESSIONS” banners. Worse still, Urick has more than one booth. We found both items, but at separate booths on opposite ends of the fairgrounds. You’d never know any of this from that failed app.

Continue reading

Birthday 46: The Food So Far

Sushi!

Sushi is about as close as I’ve gotten to an indulgent midlife luxury so far this week.

It’s that time again! This week I turned 46 without entering true Midlife Crisis mode yet, and managed not to whine about it or to start browsing prices for sports cars. My frequent sleeping issues, my imperfect hearing, my inadequate eyesight, and my everyday aches and pains all seem at about the same level as last year, which means technically I haven’t lose any ground from a health standpoint, as long as I continue ignoring my receding hairline and avoiding weighing myself. Every glance in the mirror is a reminder of the uncoolness slowly overtaking me and threatening to consume me whole by the time I retire, which is why mirrors should be illegal.

For the past several years my wife and I have made a tradition of going somewhere new for each of our birthdays. For me last year, it was Motor City Comic Con up in Novi, MI. For Anne last year, it was the Fanboy Expo Totally Awesome Weekend down in Knoxville, TN. Now it’s my turn. That’ll be Saturday, and it won’t be a convention this time, but as a prologue we did dinner with my mom on Thursday night at a great local establishment that no one ever talks about, that my family and coworkers had never heard of, and I don’t understand why not.

Continue reading

Six Sweet Shots: Our 2017 in Sugary Outtakes

BJ's Brewhouse!

April 1st: BJ’s Brewhouse presents the Baked Beignet. Fried dough tossed in cinnamon and sugar, topped with whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, strawberries, and strawberry puree.

I had something else planned for this space tonight, but it’s been the kind of week that’s left me wanting to drown some sorrows instead. I could flail about recent stresses on either a personal or national level, potentially spewing a 3000-word tirade that only my wife would read. Or I could take the safer clipfest route and meditate on some of the carefully crafted calories that brightened our days throughout the past year, none of which ever made it into any MCC entries till now.

Perhaps “meditate on them” is a bit too lofty. Ogle them. Savor the memories. Wallow in these past comforts. Take some solace that staring at these photos is less unhealthy than having all six dishes in front of me right now and feasting upon them all at once in one sweet smorgasbord.

For now, for tonight, this shall do.

Continue reading

Girl Scout Cookies of 2018, Ranked from Best to Bleah

Girl Scout Cookies!

Today’s haul courtesy of a troop tabling at a local Kroger. It was fun watching three girls race to see who could total up our purchases in their head the fastest.

It’s that time again! Every year my wife and I look forward to Girl Scout cookie season, when young-lady empowerment meets the spirit of entrepreneurship and the happy result is another satisfying fix for this perennial craving of ours. Times have gotten harder ever since our usual suppliers went to ground, by which I mean the Girl Scouts we used to know got old and got out of the game. Unfortunately our relatives haven’t been spawning replacement Girl Scouts to hook us up lately, and we’re sadly not hanging out with the right twenty- or thirtysomething crowds whose households harbor these adorable dealers that we can’t live without. That means we have to go prowling around our local groceries and big-box stores in hopes of finding a troop and their moms hanging out by the front door and selling whatever leftovers their own families didn’t buy off them by the crateload.

Today we lucked into a batch early in the season, but had to extricate ourselves from a slowly escalating debate over which ones are best. Rather than keep sowing seeds of dissent between those loyal friends, we walked away and left the two moms and a dad to restore order. That conversation haunted me for the rest of the day. When that happens, I usually have no choice but to type out those thoughts, thereby freeing up that obsessing brain space and clearing my head once again.

Continue reading

Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 34: Tour of Little Italy

Vaccaro's pastries!

Who needs artisan donuts when you can have bona fide Italian pastry?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Throughout our stay in Baltimore, nearly all our paths to and from the Inner Harbor took us through the heart of their very own Little Italy. We’ve walked near Manhattan’s version a few times on our 2011 and 2016 vacations, but were hobbled both times by a third companion who is among the six people nationwide that dislike Italian cuisine. Also, Manhattan’s is only a couple of blocks long and adjacent to Chinatown, so its restaurants are too easy to bypass in favor of the dozens of other nearby options. This time in Baltimore, it was just the two of us — no excuses and almost no barriers.

Baltimore’s Little Italy comprises several streets and blocks, encompassing both the African American History Museum and the Flag House to the west, and ending with its southeast corner a convenient block away from our hotel. When we weren’t stopping inside it, we were still walking through it here and there for frequent glimpses at an eminent immigrant neighborhood whose origins date back to the mid-1800s.

Continue reading

Superman Celebration 2017 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Festival Food!

Jumbo Corn Dog!

Behold a jumbo corn dog so weighty, you could fend off a Sith Lord with it.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on June 9th and 10th my wife Anne and I attended the 39th annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL, a grand bash in honor of the Man of Steel in particular and all the super-heroes who owe their existence and livelihoods to him in general.

We’ve been to Metropolis six times and developed a deep appreciation for one of the most integral aspects of the Celebration: concession stands! Lots of local vendors convene on the scene to bring their culinary A-game, much of it sinfully delectable and almost none of it good for you. Most fans burn off the extra calories walking up and down Market Street all weekend or standing in lines for hours. At the very least they need fuel sources to replenish what they’re sweating off by the gallon in those high summertime temps.

Continue reading

Indy Food Trucks Turn the Whole World on with a Smile (Part 6 in a series)

Gigi's Cupcakes!

Got sugar? Gigi’s Cupcakes has some waiting for you.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: when MCC launched five years ago, one of our recurring habits was keeping tabs on the Indianapolis food truck experience whenever those mighty mobile merchants rocked my world and my lunchtime. (Past entries were here, here, here, here, and here, though a few of the older trucks are sadly no longer with us.) They’re not in my path as often as I’d like, but we see enough of them from time to time that the occasional gallery is warranted as our way of thanking these eminent entrepreneurs for outstanding achievement in the field of edible excellence.

Continue reading

Fabulous Frothy Fatty Frolicky Friday Fun with a Fondue Fountain

Fondue!

Pictured above is the star attraction from our most recent pitch-in at work: a fondue fountain filled with rich, creamy, sinful chocolate. This enchanting appliance belongs to a kindly grandmother on my team who decided to spoil us with its presence, which made for a celebratory change of pace from the doldrums of day-old grocery donuts, lookalike veggie trays, and a thousand bags of unopened chips. Not one person was the kind of killjoy to complain that this setup had virtually no connection to the “Mexican” theme we’d voted on for the pitch-in.

Continue reading

Indiana State Fair 2016 Photos #1: Our Year in Food

Double Barrel Burger!

We called it the “Goodbye Cruel World Burger”.

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians that other people love, and farm animals competing for cash prizes and herd bragging rights. My wife and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. At least 70% of our quest is always food.

Right this way for a look at this year’s “Taste of the Fair” contestants!

If We Were Having Strawberry Shortcake…

Strawberry Shortcake!

Shortbread biscuit, big scoop of vanilla ice cream, generous serving of strawberries drenched in juice that spilled onto both hands and one shoe, and dollop of whipped cream that the top of the box flattened and made slightly less photogenic. This seven-dollar fundraiser dessert was fine by me.

I realize the popular thing for bloggers looking to commiserate with other bloggers is to participate in the popular #WeekendCoffeeShare, in which everyone pretends they’re drinking coffee while rambling about personal goings-on and this interaction eventually translates into superstar writing careers for one and all. I’ve never tried it because I’m not great at blogging according to a calendar (mine or anyone else’s), it’s established fact that I’m terrible at networking and will therefore toil in obscurity till I die satisfied with my choices, I never go to the kind of coffeehouses that serve coffee worth photographing, and I tend to avoid topics that would necessitate resorting to stock photos unless my brain refuses to let such a topic go. But I have new photos from a special occasion today, and a busy night ahead of me before an even busier weekend after that, so I ask your forgiveness for stream-of-consciousness multitasking a smidge outside the box.

Right this way for Indy outdoor photos plus rambling!

The Valentine’s Day Gift of Dessert

Strawberry Cheesecake!

Behold history in the making: the first cheesecake I’ve ever made myself. ‘Twas the holiday season, so I figured why not.

Continue reading

My October Symphony of Treats

Salted Caramel Pizookie!

Best of show: the Salted Caramel Pizookie at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery in Avon, Indiana — an oven-baked caramel cookie as big as a Personal Pan Pizza, filled with almond toffee, pretzel bites, and both white and dark chocolate chips. Because that’s obviously not enough, on top is vanilla-bean ice cream, caramel sauce, and more dark chocolate chips. Just looking at this photo counts as 500 calories. Sorry, dieters.

October has been a delicious month for us, and not because of those tiny prepackaged candies that Big Chocolate wants us all to worship. In that spirit, today we present a montage of five happy treats that provided me much-needed happy-time boosts through a month of unprecedented busyness. Enjoy!

Right this way for four more reasons why I’m not a size Medium!

MCC 2015 Food Photo Marathon #6: The Thin Line Between Breakfast and Dessert

IHOP strawberry banana pancakes!

Our very special MCC extended interlude continues!

Ye olde, venerable International House of Pancakes may be a chain restaurant, but they’re not known for dullness or restraint. You can order pancakes as your primary meal, as befitting their moniker. If you’d rather have an omelet, you’re entitled to a side order of toast, biscuits, or the same pancakes. The strawberry banana pancakes in the above photo were given to me as the sidekick to my omelet. That would be great if I were someone likely to burn thousands of calories over the next few hours, such as an Olympic pentathlete or The Rock before his first three morning workouts.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: