Tasty pairings at the Renaissance Festival
Fear not lords and ladies, because there is still time left to enjoy this year’s Minnesota Renaissance Festival. So don your corsets and jerkins and join in the fine revelry of the Faire!
As with other Minnesota fairs and festivals, food typically plays a major role and the Renaissance Festival is no exception. Though you could get yourself the standard tankard of ale, there are plenty of other options for the discerning palate. Wine, hard cider, and mead are in plentiful supply. To this purpose we present to you this Guide to Fest Feasting. What follows are some of the very best libations the festival has to offer and what eats to pair them with.
Egyptian Mead and Turkey Leg
Is there anything that screams “Renaissance!” more than a turkey leg in one hand and a leather mug in the other? To wash it down try a Ren Faire staple; mead. J. Bird Wines is a Minnesotan business with a handful of mead stands conveniently scattered all over the festival grounds. Each location offers five flavors; Traditional Cottage, Raspberry, Apple, Forest Fruit, and Egyptian. There’s even some mead mixology going on (for example the ‘Wicked Queen’ is a blend of apple and raspberry mead) for a fun change of pace.
The Egyptian variety pairs with the smoked turkey leg especially well, with its balanced tones of hibiscus and lemon. This is probably the most authentic medieval flavor combo you can get!
Moscato with Crepes
Speaking of breakfast, crepes may have been intended for the morning meal but they’re pretty spectacular any time of the day. Combine any of the available fruits, creams, and chocolates for a custom made treat. For the especially adventurous (or ravenous) you can ask for the secret off-menu special– the Scullery Maid’s Kitchen Sink, which is every single sweet ingredient piled into one very hardworking crepe.
Enjoy with a glass of fruit forward moscato from Menage a Trois to complete the french theme, as you listen to a traveling troupe of bards and lute players.
Malbec and Soup in a Bread Bowl
Personally, beef stew is the final word in bread bowl technology, but there are other options to choose from, such as chicken wild rice and tomato basil. Wine-wise, there are a couple of booths offering simpler varieties of Sutter Home and Trinity Oaks, but Menage a Trois, a Californian vineyard, runs the majority of wine shops at the festival. Their deep, flavorful malbec is a definite match with the beef stew. Pro-tip: pour a bit of your wine directly into the soup to give it a gourmet lift.
Menage a Trois also offers a lovely little wine bar, a nice secluded spot by the water mill surrounded by grapevines and watch live musicians there you want to get out of the crowd for a bit while you wet your whistle.
A few basic tips for greater feasting enjoyment:
– Mead goes with anything.
– If your dish is spicy, it will be happy with cider or a chardonnay.
– If your dish is heavy or greasy, try a wine smoothie or sangria to cut through the fat.
– For meats and cheeses, go for a red blend or pinot noir.
The Renaissance Festival also boasts both a daily wine tasting event, “Off the Vine” for $25 a person at 2:15pm, which includes a selection of wine and hors d’oeuvres with lively entertainment.
The Mead Social lets you sample several flavors of honey wine, including one you cannot find in the shops, entertainment and a souvenir mead glass. It’s also $20 a person and happens at 4:00pm daily.
Make reservations at Banner Oak Inn upon arrival at faire, or buy tickets in advance there (or call 952-445-7361).
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival runs weekends through October 2nd at 12364 Chestnut Blvd in Shakopee, MN. Gates open at 9am and close 7pm, rain or shine. Huzzah!
While contributor Sam Fox works at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (for an independent artisan), this article represents her own opinions and is in no way a paid promotion for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival or the vendors mentioned in this piece.
Published Sept 8, 2016 / Updated Aug 30, 3017