13 September 2008

Crashing the Party: Comments on food served during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis

Ok, I know that the host ‘cities’ for the convention were Minneapolis and St. Paul. I actually spent quite a lot of time during the RNC attending different events. I never got to St. Paul once. I think it’s noteworthy that while the business of the convention was conducted in St. Paul, 75% or more of the social activities were held in Minneapolis. Draw your own conclusion.

The Star Tribune’s restaurant critic, Rick Nelson, wrote about the reception food at two of the events that I attended.

For the delegate reception on Sunday, Aug. 31, he wrote: “This red carpet seemed a bit frayed, thanks to generic, we-could-be-anywhere offerings along the lines of soggy duck spring rolls, drab commodity cheeses, fried and skewered scallops straight out of Mrs. Paul's and a mystery spread billed as olive bruschetta …”

I agree with his assessment. Granted, it’s tough to serve a wide variety of reception food to thousands of people in a space as large as the convention center. But the offerings at the delegate reception were ordinary at best. (Fortunately, I was saving myself for dinner reservations at Chamber’s Kitchen following the reception.)

His comments about the food at the media reception were much more complimentary: “Visitors got a delicious up-close-and-personal taste of Minnesota …”

Again I agreed. The media reception actually was catered by several different vendors. As you meandered through the Mill City Museum, the Guthrie Theater, and the river bank below those venues, guests sampled a variety of reception food, most of it noteable and very good. I thought the food in the D’Amico area (courtyard of Mill City Museum) and in the Guthrie was the best. Nelson heaped praise on the Spoonriver food and the offerings by vendors in the Mill City Market. I quite liked the lamb meatballs and the artisanal cheeses, but I’m put off by Brenda Langton’s ‘healthier-than-thou’ attitude about organics and decline to put her on a culinary pedestal.

Nelson also wrote about ‘crashing’ different private parties during the opening weekend of the convention. I suppose that was part of the sport. But I didn’t want him to miss out on the food at the food and ag industry event, billed AgNite. So I sent him an invitation. He declined, but another Strib reporter, Chris Riemenschneider attended.

Read on for my report on AgNite.

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