After last year’s stunning success at Goettafest, we here at Fatal Downflaw decided to once more slink out of the safe, dark confines of One Downflaw Plaza and venture back to the Newport Levee to take in the wonders of inappropriate use of breakfast sausage. So the trek was made once more to Northern Kentucky to partake in one of Greater Cincinnati’s finest cultural and culinary events, and to document it for you who could not be there with us.
For those who may not have been readers last year – or who don’t live in Cincinnati and therefore are unclear on the concept – goetta is a kind of German-style breakfast loaf/sausage thing made from pork and beef mixed with pinhead oats, then sliced and fried. It tastes like a million angels crapping into your mouth and is the greatest thing you can ever eat in the morning. Goettafest is dedicated to forcing this gastric orgasm into as many unlikely (and, often, wholly inappropriate) dishes as possible. And boy howdy, do they ever do a job of it.
My only real qualm about the whole thing is that they insist on holding it outdoors on the first weekend in August. Anyone who has ever been to Cincinnati in the summer knows that this is where air goes to die. It’s hot, humid and miserable. Even stepping outside in the Cincy jungle heat is roughly the equivalent of wrapping yourself in a wool blanket soaked in someone else’s warm sweat, so venturing out to stuff yourself with fried breakfast sausage is never advisable under these conditions. But we the intrepid, who love goetta more then anyone has any right to, will happily brave the conditions to pay obeisance to the king of sausage.
So off we went. Zac was unfortunately “not available” this year (read: he would rather spend the weekend in Cleveland being kicked in the face repeatedly), so Sarah and I went it alone with the help of Sarah’s longtime friend Leilani and his twin sons. Sarah and I arrived first and got down to business before the guys showed up, so we were already several pounds of goetta down before the games even properly began. First order of business: acquire beer. The selection of libations at Goettafest is, generally speaking, sub-par. There is the omnipresent Budweiser pisswater, a Leinenkugel beer stand, local brewery Chrisitan Moerlein and a tent selling high-test frozen drinks (to put the foot down on our smolder) – but more about those later. We chose to start off with Moerlein because frankly it was the best beer to be had. Sarah started with their OTR Ale and I got a maibock that I’d never before seen called Saengerfest which was actually pretty delicious. Henceforth we were all maibock all the time.
After a quick walk through the entire festival to see what we were up against we purchased our first dish of the night: goetta mac and cheese.
This shit was delicious, though upon reflection we weren’t entirely sure if it actually tasted so good because it tasted so good or because we were fucking hungry. Either way, quicker than you can say “who the fuck thought it was a good idea to put goetta in mac and cheese?” the plate looked like this:
Having scarfed that down in record time, we rushed back for a second dish, this time goetta shepherd’s pie (or, as the sign dubbed it, “sheppard’s pie”, which we could only surmise was the pie of the starving class).
This one was also pretty tasty, though it didn’t really seem like shepherd’s pie to me so much as mashed potatoes with canned corn and goetta mixed in. Regardless, no real complaints.
Next we tried a double-feature. Sarah hit up the goetta rangoons that we loved so much last year – goetta and cream cheese in a wonton wrapper and deep fried – and I thought it was my duty as a son of Cincinnati to try to goetta coney. A coney is another of those fabled Cincinnati dishes that is so emblematic of our fair city’s perplexing culinary tastes. It’s basically what the rest of the world calls a chili dog, but with Cincinnati chili (think extremely meaty sauce made with tomatoes, cocoa and cinnamon) and as much shredded cheese as physics will allow you to pile on top. Observe:
The rangoons were just as delicious as we remembered. The coney…well, here’s the thing. The goetta link that replaced the hot dog was fine. The cheese was fine. Even having to put Sriracha on top instead of normal hot sauce (that being the way you eat a goddamned coney) was fine. But the chili was ass. I love good Cincinnati chili. Hell, I even love sub-par Cincinnati Chili (I’m looking at you, Gold Star), but this chili was just nasty. It was extremely sweet and soupy and just…just ass. So overall I have to give the goetta coney points for concept, and then take all of those points away and burn them for execution.
After our first disappointment of the day, Leilani and his boys Dominic and Isaiah showed up and promptly got down with some goetta balls, which we also covered last year. Of course, one cannot simply eat goetta balls without making a lot of jokes about hot balls in your mouth. One simply cannot.
…which was determined to be delicious(but we already knew that from munching on Tom and Chee’s amaing Armagoetta)…
…and Sarah made a return visit with her beloved goetta corn dog (which, technically, isn’t a corn dog since it’s beer-battered, but why split hairs when something is this delicious and this hilariously phallic?).
We spent a good deal of time passing the corn dog around the table and taking funny pictures of ourselves. So much time, in fact, that the people you can see on the left side of the above picture got out their camera phones and started taking pictures of us while we basically fellated our food in public. Leilani was not as convinced…
…but had to admit that that dog was delicious.
After our shameless public displays, it was time for more alcohol. We sought out the frozen drink stand where I had a man on the inside (thank you, Dusty Koch) and had some lime bourbon slushes that knocked our socks off, neatly folded them, and put them away in a drawer.
Then Leilani took part in one of the five or six obligatory carnival games shoved together at the far end of the fest and won an inflatable guitar.
The sun was setting, everyone was covered in sweat (and some of us in beer, as a certain Sarah who shall remain nameless decided to greet her old friend with a beer hug) and our souls and stomachs were almost full. Time to get a dessert and call it a day. Last year dessert was where we fucked up hardest – we picked something that sounded like it would actually go acceptably well with goetta (an apple goetta turnover) and it was in fact the most disgusting thing either of us put in our mouths that day. So this year we decided to shoot for an unlikely combination in hopes that it would lead to deliciousness. What we settled on was goetta goobers – donut holes mixed with delicious breakfast sausage.
Our gamble paid off – the goobers were delicious. You couldn’t really taste the goetta for the most part, but it leant a sort of oaty texture that, though I know it doesn’t sound like it, was exactly what donut holes have been missing my whole life. These holes were delicious and believe me, I know something about delicious holes.
After we’d cleaned out about half of the goobers (the remainder would serve as snacks for the rest of the night) we waved goodbye to the beautiful skyline and the ugly crowd and headed over to Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar to meet up with more people and drink more bourbon.