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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Classics Countdown: Walleye Cakes

Today is the final day of our Classics Countdown, because tomorrow we will be at the MN State Fair sampling new classics!!!

The last Classic is:

Walleye Cakes




Location: Giggles Campfire Grill Southeast corner of Lee Ave. & Cooper St. at The North Woods


Sarah: Walleye Cakes is one of the only foods we have tried to bring home to our parents (who are not annual fair-goers) so they could taste the rainbow, so to speak.

Walleye Cakes are like crab cakes, except with walleye insetad of crab (doy.) You get two, served with a side of tartar, and the cakes are flakey, and delicate and flavorful and I could stuff my face with 8 of them right now if I had some in front of me.

I CANNOT WAIT to eat these. Luckily, I don’t have to wait much longer.


Anne: Oh Giggles--once again you win with your palate-satisfying comestibles. Walleye cakes are a newer item--it debuted just a few years ago but it was hands down the best new item we had that year, and as a result we get it every year (true story- sometimes we bring them home too).

Perfectly fried cake and a tangy dipping sauce. I don’t know how to describe these other than that they are, in fact, the best seafood cake I have ever had in my entire life. And I’m very glad I can get them every year. Unlike other items, you may not want to share these--they’re that good.


Patrick: Giggles has been serving this for a while I think, but we only more recently gave it a try (because Giggles only serves up delicious haymakers to your tongue).

Like a crab cake, but with delicious walleye meat, and served with some sort of spicy Cajun ranch or something, this thing is the bomb.

It’s crispy, crumbly, flaky, and fishy…the good kind of fishy, not suspicious or anything. If you like crab cakes, you’ll love walleye cakes, and you’ll love Giggles.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Classics Countdown: Deep Fried Banana Split

Day 12 of the Classics Countdown brings us a dessert:

Deep Fried Banana Split



Location: Ole and Lena’s stand West side of Liggett St. between Carnes &Judson avenues


Sarah: There are so many delicious ice creams at the fair. The dairy barn is a must, as is the nitro ice cream in the food building (so smooth and creamy.) But. The ice cream that I get every year, even when I’m full and can’t eat anything more, is the Deep Fried Banana Split.

The banana is wrapped in lefse before deep frying, so it has a crispy shell. Then it is nestled between vanilla ice cream, nuts, strawberries and chocolate.

It’s warm and cold. Salty and sweet. Gooey and Crispy.

It is all things.


Anne: This is one of those secret food items that no one ever knows about. It’s at the Ole and Lena stand which is mostly famous for its Hotdish on a Stick. But people blow right past the Deep Fried Banana Split and they have no idea what they’re missing.

Take a banana, wrap it in lefse, and then fry it! Serve it with ice cream, nuts, chocolate, and whipped cream? Hoo boy is this delicious. I cannot describe to you the finished texture and flavor of the banana--it’s something you have to experience for yourself (but my mouth is legit watering right now thinking about it).

Do I get Deep Fried Banana Split every dang year? You Betcha.


Patrick: Ok, of all the fruits, bananas are on the bottom of my list. I hate the texture, especially really ripe bananas, and the flavor doesn’t do it any favors.

That said, if you’re going to eat bananas, you might as well batter and deep fry them and serve them up banana split style.

I don’t usually get this, but the twins do, and I’ll sometimes have a bite. I smile and say it’s pretty great, then I go buy a two dollar cheeseburger to wash the flavor out of my mouth.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Classics Countdown: Australian Battered Potatoes

THIS IS THE WEEK THE MN STATE FAIR BEGINS!

Seriously, the MN State Fair is one of the main reasons we even started this blog.

We cannot wait.

But we're still continuing with our Classics Countdown and today is:

Australian Battered Potatoes



Location: Australian Battered Potatoes stand North side of Judson Ave. between Liggett & Clough streets


Sarah: Oh man. OH MAN. Aussie Potatoes, you glorious bastards, you.

You get slices of potatoes, battered and fried, and served with ranch or cheese dipping sauce. Or both! And they are so, so good. Crispy and soft and pillowy.

And both the cheese and ranch are so good on the potatoes.

The only issue I’ve ever had with them is that they’re too much. You definitely get your money’s worth, but there’s not, like, a smaller option. So unless you’re sharing with, like, 5 people (not even an exaggeration) you’re either going to fill up on taters, or have to chuck some of them in the garbage.


Anne: God. I don’t know what kind of batter they use on these Australian Battered Potatoes, but it’s wonderful- those aussies must have stumbled across some sort of magical concoction to submerge their tubers in because these are just potatoes, battered and fried, but they are so, so good. You can get them with cheese, ranch, or go all out (you’re worth it) and get both cheese AND ranch.

Make sure you share these with a friend--not because you don’t want to eat every bit by yourself, but because if you do you’ll be done eating for at least a few hours--portions are large and you’ll be full up by the end! (I really wish I could just get like a single potato slice- I’ve got a lot of food to eat here, Australia!)

We usually leave this item for later in the week when we’re not trying all the new foods. It’s so filling I need to eat it on a day when I’m not committed to the task at hand (eating all the foods)


Patrick: I don’t know how they make these so damn good, to be honest. Thin sliced potatoes that are battered and deep fried, for a crispy potato with nacho cheese or ranch, this is a filling confection that requires a lot of friends to polish off.

They drizzle that ranch or cheese all over it because they derive pleasure in watching people fumble with eating and not slathering condiments all over their mugs. But, we just smile and eat it anyways, because we’re sheep. Sheep that want to shove those battered potatoes in our craws no matter how messy it is.

Can’t you get dipping cups instead of pouring it over the potatoes like gravy? Maybe. I think I asked once, and the vendor just glared at me and whispered “eat that shit with your fingers you disgusting mess.”

I did it too. You don’t stay classy at the Fair, you just spiral ever lower towards devolving into a morlock.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Classics Countdown: Deep Fried Candy Bar

Day Ten of our Classics Countdown brings us something sweet today:

Deep Fried Candy Bar




Location: Stand on Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets


Sarah: I remember back in the day when Deep Fried Candy Bar on a Stick was the new darling of the MN State Fair.

And they were so, so good.

There are a couple of options but I always go with Snickers because I like the crunchy nuts as a juxtaposition. Because once you batter a candy bar and deep fry it, all those insides melt into a gooey, chocolatey, delicious mess. So I like the crunch in there.

But, for me, these have become too rich. As a kid, I could a whole one myself. Now, as an adult, I’ll take a bite, maybe two, of someone else’s and that’s enough for me for the year.


Anne: This is exactly what it sounds like--candy bar, battered and deep fried. There’s a pastry-like shell and inside is a melty, ooey-gooey candy bar.

Sarah and I prefer Snickers (the peanuts help break up the richness) but Patrick usually goes for Milky Way (nougat!). They also have deep fried Oreos which I have heard nothing but good things about.

This treat is so rich you need to split it with a friend or you’ll be done with sweets for the day (and it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to pace yourself, readers).

To be completely honest, some years I skip this because it’s SO RICH that it takes a while to recover from (or I’ not able to finish it and then I’m just wasting money). But the deep fried candy bar is consistently fantastic every time we imbibe.


Patrick: I seem to recall thinking, “deep fried candy bars? Ok, that’s going too far.”

I’ve since been proven so very wrong…both by how delicious it is, and by how so very too far they have gone beyond that. Probably too sweet and sugary to safely eat alone, but I don’t let that stop me.

A brand name candy bar, dipped in sweet pancake batter and deep fried so it is like a soft pillow wrapped around melty chocolate and nougat, this dessert is best with a Snickers, or my favorite, a 3 Musketeers bar. Give me all that sweet, whipped nougat, hot damn.

Don’t expect to eat anything after; this is a show stopper, and toilet starter.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Classics Countdown: Milk

We are officially one week away from the start of the MN State Fair!

And today for our Classics Countdown, we're going for a drink:

Milk



Location: Milk stand at Northeast corner of Judson Ave. & Clough St.


Sarah: I know. Milk, right? You can get that anywhere and anywhen.

And that is true.

But there is something about the Milk stand at the MN State Fair that blows everything out of the water. Whether you get white, chocolate or half and half, it’s all you can drink, and it’s fresh, literally from the fair livestock. It’s whole, thick and bubbly, and COLD (which is the best part on a hot, August afternoon.)

And I know Ron Burgundy tells us the dangers of milk in the summer, but in this case, he’s wrong. Milk at the State Fair is thirst quenching and wonderful.





Anne: It does a body good!

 All you can drink milk is a heckuva deal (of course- you have to stay on the sidewalk outside the milk building- if you leave you have to buy a new cup. Of course- no one is policing this, but let’s be good Minnesotans and play by the rules).

I used to think milk would be too heavy of a beverage to drink on a hot State Fair day (milk was a bad choice), but I was wrong. It’s a great way to rehydrate and to give yourself a break from all the water (or maybe pop or beer) you’ve been drinking. You can have your pick of white milk or chocolate milk, but let me tell you a secret- the best way to drink the milk is half chocolate and half white. That way you cut the richness of the chocolate but still get to enjoy its sweet flavor.

If you’re a Sweet Martha’s cookie fan, bring your bucket of cookies and enjoy them with some milk


Patrick: First corn, now milk? That’s stupid! NOT ITS NOT!

A great man once said “It’s so hot…milk was a bad choice.” That man was Ron Burgundy, and he was wrong.



Something about a cold, cold (seriously cold) cup of milk during a hot day is so damn refreshing. All you can drink milk? Yup, even better.

You can choose between classic white, or chocolate, but the true foodie will make the right choice and go half and half. What about strawberry milk? Nope, that’s garbage, so don’t hold out hope.

Oddly enough, I never have the forethought to get a brownie or cookies to go with that milk. Ah well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Classics Countdown: Chicken Fried Bacon

Classics Countdown day 8 brings us some meaty goodness:

Chicken Friend Bacon



Location: Giggles Campfire Grill Southeast corner of Lee Ave. & Cooper St. at The North Woods


Sarah: I could literally write an entire post, an epic ode to Giggles and the delicious foods they serve, but for now, we’re just talking about Chicken Fried Bacon.

CFB is a newer classic, introduced in 2010. Strips of bacon are battered and seasoned with fried chicken batter, then deep fried, and severed with a maple glaze dipping sauce.

When it’s done right, it is sublime!

But some years it’s not quite up to par. The biggest problem that tends to crop up is being undercooked. When that happens, the batter falls off and the bacon is more chewy than crispy.

But when it’s done right, it’s so good that it’s worth trying every year, even if you get one that’s undercooked.


Anne: You might think having one bacon product on the list is sufficient, but if you think that then you HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION, READER.

Giggles is a smorgasbord of delicious items, and chicken fried bacon was the flagship item for us- it’s what brought us there and kept us going. Just imagine- take regular old, delicious bacon, and then dip it in a fried chicken batter, and then deep fry it. Serve it with some sort of cinnamon dipping sauce- delicious.

Like other bacon products, Chicken Fried Bacon is also hit and miss from year to year- usually due to under cooking (it needs to be crispy, not droopy), but when it’s fried to perfection it’s amazing. Also- you get like 6 pieces per order, so make sure to share because this is one of those items that can fill you up when you go it alone.


Patrick: This has been only around for a few years now, but it has quickly leapt to the top of the must-have classics list.

If you you’re going to mess with bacon, you might as well chicken fry it and dip it in sweet maple sauce.

Find it at Giggles, a vendor who I am pretty sure could fry up cow pies and batter it and it would become a State Fair staple. Seriously, Giggles serves out gold and you better go get a slice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Classics Countdown: Corn on the Cob

Day 7 of the Classics Countdown brings us:

Corn on the Cob



Location: Corn Roast Stand on Southeast corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Nelson St


Sarah: Oh man. Corn on the cob. Like, what’s the big deal, right? You can get corn on the cob whenever you want.

But no. NO! The corn on the cob at the state fair is harvested THAT MORNING from MN farms, and trucked in before the fair opens. IT IS THE MOST FRESH CORN YOU CAN GET UNLESS YOU ARE GROWING YOUR OWN.

And then it is grilled over fire, and dumped in vat of butter and passed onto you to go to town.

And then, because the MN State Fair is awesome, everything is completely recyclable.


Anne: Or as we like to call it- kern. The kern at the roasted corn stand has no equal- I don’t care what anyone else says and I’ll fight you! Seriously- they have their own specific farm that grows kern just for the MN State Fair Roasted Corn stand- that’s why it’s always good- consistency of product.

Now- roast that kern and then dip it into a giant vat of butter? I don’t care if I’m pulling kernels out of my teeth for the rest of the day- that shit is glorious.

Bonus- they recycle the cobs and the napkins too. It makes my mouth and my heart feel good at the same time :)


Patrick: Yeah, that’s right! Corn!

 How is a vegetable that your body can barely turn into nutrients a classic of the fair? Because it is so-damn-classic. And classy to boot.

When you get corn at peak ripeness (do vegetables ripen? Sure, why not.) it is so sweet and so delicious. Now dunk that bitch in a barrel of butter and salt it up!

You have to get a corn on the cob, you just have to. Everyone knows this, just like everyone knows that Pronto Pups are the devil’s dog, or that SPAM is something Cthulhu thought up.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Classics Countdown: Big Fat Bacon

We're back! For more Classic Countdowns. We're starting today off with a goody:

Big Fat Bacon



Location: The Big Fat Bacon stand on South side of Carnes Ave. between Liggett & Nelson streets, in front of the DNR Building


Sarah: The BFB stand popped up a few years before the bacon craze really took off. And ohmygod it was so, so SO good that first year.

BFB is still pretty reliable. Some years they seem to miss the mark, but most years are really good and every once in a while there’s a stellar year where the bacon is just the Most. Perfect.

BFB is exactly what it sounds like: A thick cut slice of bacon, fried on a stick, drizzled with a sweet maple sauce. It’s crispy and chewy and sweet and you could eat four or five in one sitting and not even be sorry.


Anne: I know there’s like this foody push to consider bacon like over and done with but I am here to tell you that they’re wrong- bacon is NEVER over and done with! You can never have enough bacon. Viva el Tocino!

That being said, one of the best place to get bacon is at Big Fat Bacon. Yep- a stand that only sells one thing- a large, thick-cut slice of bacon on a stick. And I know it’s just bacon, but this bacon- you guys- it has some sort of glaze on it that’s sticky and sweet? And it’s perfectly fried.

I’ll admit- some years are better than others. But I have to get one every year because when it’s good…it’s real good. Some years I get 2!


Patrick: If you’re going to get bacon at the fair (and let’s be honest, there are more opportunities to get bacon in some form or another, than there are teats on the biggest boar at the fair), then Big Fat Bacon is the way to go.

Giant, thick cut bacon on a stick. Done, that’s it. No bells or whistles, just bacon being bacon, like it should be. Crispy, fatty, greasy. Done! Sentence fragments!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Classics Countdown: Mini-Donuts

Classics Countdown Day 5 is a true classic:

Mini Donuts



Location: Tom Thumb Donuts on the west side of Cooper between Wright and Dan


Sarah: Remember when you were a kid and mini donuts were like the most spectacular treat you could ever get at any sort of carnival?

And if you were lucky, it would be a stand that had windows so you could see the donuts floating on the oil conveyor belt, with the little robut flipping them over so they didn’t get burned.

That shit is still cool.

And though mini donuts can be hit or miss (and old or cold mini-donuts are not good at all), a perfect, warm, soft mini donut is a little bite of nostalgia and heaven.


Anne: Nothing is worse than an old mini doughnut- they always smell SO GOOD but if they’re cold or stale it’s so disappointing.

That’s why it’s important to get your mini doughnuts from a stand where you can actually see them being made, and what better place to do that than at Tom Thumb Mini Donuts. They have one of those old-timey auto-donut makers that you can sit and watch squirt out the little batter rings into the hot oil, and then they flow down the oil river until they get flipped by the metal scoop, and then plop into the tray where they’re sugared and scooped into a bag for you to eat (though dear god! Give them a few minutes to rest before you burn the crap out of your mouth).

So satisfying.


Patrick: Ok, I am going to be honest here. I almost never get Mini Donuts. Finding the perfect Mini Doughnut is a battle I feel I cannot win, like trying to find the perfect cherry blossom, or a passable SPAM dish.

That said, I will always eat a tiny doughnut or two when someone else wastes the money trying to buy a good bag of these sweet rings.

When you do get them just right though, they can be pretty awesome, and I can understand why this food staple is so popular with so many people. I just don’t have the time and energy to find a stand that gets these right.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Classics Countdown: Dough-sant

Classics Countdown Day 4 is a newer food:

The Dough-Sant
 
 

Location: French Meadow Bakery on North side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets

Sarah: Dough-sant is a new staple. Introduced in 2013, the dough-sant is the MN State Fair version of the Cronut found on the east coast.

It is so, so, SO good. Take the buttery, flakey layers of a croissant and turn it into a glazed donut. It’s warm, and sweet and wonderful and I could cram an entire one in my mouth right now.

But I will be more reserved when at the fair, because I need to save tummy space for all the other foods I will need to eat.


Anne: The Dough-sant is MN’s take on the Croughnut (NY doesn’t get all the nice pastries!)- a croissant style doughnut. I love me a good pastry, and who doesn’t love the combination of flaky, layered (the technical term is laminated- you’re welcome) croissant with a puffy, sweet doughnut?

When you get a fresh Dough-sant- you guys, it is SO. FREAKING. GOOD. Light, sweet, chewy…I just…my mouth is legit watering thinking about sinking my teeth into one of these treats


Patrick: Possibly the greatest thing to come out of the French Meadow Bakery, and they have made some delicious shit!

The perfect chimera blend of a croissant and a doughnut, this baked confection is my jam. It is light, airy, and a perfect sized delight. Imagine a flaky, buttery, doughnut and you are almost there.

I try to get this each time, because I can polish off one by myself and not ruin my appetite

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Classics Countdown: Cheese Curds

Day 3 of the Classics Countdown, and today is a MN favorite:

Deep Fried Cheese Curds



Location: Mouth Trap Cheese Curds is in the Food building on Dan Patch


Sarah: Once upon a time, long, long ago in the Great Minnesota Get-Together past, deep friend cheese curds were born.

And Minnesotans were never the same.

I have friends in other parts of the country who have never eaten a deep fried cheese curd. And I weep for them. WEEP!

The MN State Fair cheese curds are literally the best in the world. I’m not even joking. Even though we can now get decent cheese curds year round at food venues, none of them even come close to the amazing-ness of the MN State Fair cheese curds.

There is some strong argument about which cheese curds at the fair are the best. I’m not really a part of this long-standing argument. I think the cheese curds at the Mouth Trap are amazing, as are the ones at elsewhere, too.

Whatever makes you happy, friends!


Anne: Well this is a no brainer. Finding the perfect cheese curd at the State Fair has long been a favorite past time for Minnesotans, which is why it’s a State Fair classic. For those of you not from the Upper Midwest, let me explain cheese curds for you. Curds are a product of cheese making- basically during pasteurization milk is clotted and the result are curds (solid) and whey (liquid). The curds are cooked and pressed to release any lingering whey and voila- cheese curds!

You can tell a quality/fresh curd because they squeak when you chew them. You can eat curds ‘raw’ or for the purposes of State Fair (and other festivals) you batter and then deep fry them. And then sometimes eat them on poutine or a burger or some other crazy concoction.

The perfect cheese curd has 3 components- quality (squeaky) curd, tasty batter, crispy fry job.

Overall there is general consensus on where to find the best curds at the MN State Fair- the Mouth Trap in the Food Building, or the Original Cheese Curds outside the Food Building We have taste tested both products (what a burden) and found them to be pretty comparable, though with Mouth Trap being slightly better (and usually less busy. And maybe cheaper? Not sure).

Although, I will say my absolute favorite cheese curds are actually found at the MN Renaissance Festival


Patrick: I don’t think I need to toot Cheese Curds’ horn. Everyone knows Cheese Curds are the salty, crispy, cheesy ambrosia handed down by Husky Jesus himself, and slam dunked into your mouth. Amen!

There are probably hundreds of stands that offer this immensely satisfying and greasy confection throughout the fair, but there are two locations that I have found (through years of sampling and listening to people say “don’t get those cheese curds, get these cheese curds”) surpass all the wannabe’s and are consistently great. That is the Mouth Trap Cheese Curds and Original Cheese Curds.

 I love both of these vendors and I always have to have my curds every time I visit the fair (sometimes more than once in a day). They may be little fat cholesterol bullets straight to your heart and your hips, but damn if they aren’t great!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Classics Countdown: Spiral Potatoes

Day 2 of our MN State Fair Classics Countdown. Today we're talking about:

Spiral Potatoes



Location: Sonny's Fair Food in the Food Building on Dan Patch


Sarah: Even though Spiral Potatoes have been around for years, every time we get them, we are inevitably met by people’s exclamations of delight and questions of where we purchased such a wonderland of potatoey goodness.

And of course we tell them. Because this is the Great Minnesota Get-Together!

Spiral potatoes are made when an entire potato is drilled through a mandolin, creating one, continues thin spiral of potato that is then fried.

No seasonings. Just taters, precious.

My favorite bits are the parts that are just a touch undercooked, the inner spirals where the potato is still a little soft.

Even with multiple people munching, we rarely finish this beast of goodness.


Anne: Ok citizens! This is one of those foods that people ask us about every year- both online and in-person at the fair. And you should ask, because it is a treat.

An entire potato spiral cut wafer thin, and then deep fried to leave you a giant mass of pull-and-eat potato chips. They’re not even salted (though I think there are some flavored dust you can add, or even ranch dipping sauce, but it’s totes not necessary), just a little greasy but crispy and light and great.

It’s a snack to share- even with three of us we don’t finish it (apparently one potatoes makes a crap ton of chips).

And because it’s so light you don’t even feel full after partaking- just ready to go on to your next food


Patrick: A simple, fun, and satisfying snack, this single potato chip is carved from one whole potato and spiraled into a soccer ball sized mound of airy, salty greatness.

 You’d think it would be easy to polish off one of these spiral potatoes, but it is surprisingly filling even when tackled by three consumers.

 Who can say no to fresh made potato chips? Probably the same people who want to bore their taste buds with a Pronto Pup.

 This is always a must have, even if we can’t finish an entire pile.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Classics Coundown: Corn Dogs

Here we are, only 18 days until The Great Minnesota Get-Together! And we cannot wait!

To start revving up to the awesome, we are going to do a post a day, highlighting some of our all-time favorite "classic" foods we get at the MN State Fair.

Our classics may differ from yours, so if you disagree, let us know in the comments!

All right! Today we're starting with a favorite:

Poncho Dog Corn Dogs



Location: Poncho Dogs are found throughout the fair, though the one we frequent is right inside the main entrance, in front of O’Gara’s


Sarah: Oh Poncho Dog corn dog! How I love thee! Let me count the ways:

But actually, I cannot. Because I would never stop counting. My love for you is infinite. INFINITE!

I mean, let’s get serious here. A corn dog is a pretty rad food. No matter where you get it, it’s pretty decent even if it’s not, you know, the BEST corn dog ever.

But the corn dogs at the MN State Fair, the ones from the Poncho Dog stand, are hands down the absolute best. I like ketchup on mine, and no mustard, but I will not begrudge mustard lovers their yellow condiment on a Poncho Dog corn dog. Poncho Dog corn dogs are love. There is room for all of us in their sweet, warm embrace.

EVEN if you get a stellar corn dog elsewhere (say, Como Town, with their all beef corn dogs) and you’re thinking, this was a really stellar corn dog, and I don’t really know how Poncho Dog will hold up because it’s been an entire year since the last MN State Fair, as soon as you bite into that delicious Poncho Dog corn dog, you realize how utterly wrong you were.

No other corn dog can compare. NO OTHER. And no, pronto pups are not better. Corn dogs are made with corn meal, so the breading is slightly sweet, juxtaposing with the meaty goodness of the hot dog. Pronto pups are made with flour. Booooo. Why don’t you just take a piece of white bread and wrap it around your hotdog and pretend it’s almost as good as a bun?

Because that’s pretty much what you’re doing and we all know you’re not fooling anyone.


Anne: Let’s start this countdown right, with the supreme, most delicious and perfect fair food- the corn dog

Oh, delicious dog
Wrapped in nummy corn batter
State fair perfection

That’s right! I wrote a freaking haiku about corn dogs- that’s how fantastic they are. If you’re one of those people that prefers pronto pups to corn dogs, let me tell you why you’re wrong.

Pronto pups are made with flour. Corn dogs are made with cornmeal. Cornmeal is sweet- flour is blah. I mean- a pronto pup is basically just a hotdog with a deep fried bun. Better than a regular hotdog? Maybe. But nothing special and DEFINITELY not as sweet, crispy and lovely as the corndog. Also- did you know flour can give you E. Coli? Yep. Contrary to popular belief, raw flour, not raw eggs, is why we shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough (I could do a whole food rant about water waste and egg safety, but we’re here to talk about corn dogs). I’m not saying that a Pronto Pup will give you E. Coli…but it MIGHT.

Just picture it- strolling through the main entrance of the fair first thing in the morning and lo- there she is- the Poncho Dog corn dog stand. There are a lot of corn dog stops at the State Fair, but none as delicious as Poncho Dog. You stop in, pay up a couple bucks, slather on that ketchup and/or mustard (there is no wrong way to enjoy a corn dog) and take a bite- your State Fair feasting has begun.

Bliss.


Patrick: Let’s be clear right up front. There are really two staples when it comes to battered hot dogs on a stick. There is the Corn Dog; a hot dog dipped in sweet corn batter. Then there is the Pronto Pup; a hot dog shoved into bland flour sludge.

Pronto Pups are a joke. The Corn Dog is king! Never let anyone tell you otherwise, because they just don’t know better. They are ignorant, and should have your pity, if not all out scorn.

Corn Dogs should be a little sweet and crispy on the outside, with a soft sweet corn flavor on the inside, around a juicy, meaty hot dog. Perfection! Possibly the best place to get a Corn Dog at the MN State Fair is at Poncho Dog. They have more than one stand and they always do it right.

 I recommend getting one first thing when you set foot on the fairgrounds, to set yourself up for a delicious successful day. It is how I do it, and I never break tradition!

Monday, June 27, 2016

2016 MN State Fair New Foods Overview


So! We're almost into July, which means we've reached one of the most exciting time of year: when the MN State Fair releases their list of brand new food!

Which means it's time for myself, Anne and Patrick to go through the list of each new food and pre-emptively talk about our expectations for them.

We compiled these lists separately, without knowing each other's thoughts. So any similarities are just because we're cool people that spend a lot of time together.

Okay! Overall first thoughts and new foods we're most looking forward to, and least looking forward too:

Anne:

I’m pretty excited about a couple items this year.  I am irritated at the amount of kraut on offer- 3 different items!  That’s like… 12% of the items (MATH!).  Maybe I can get them without kraut?  But does that ruin the whole idea to make adjustments?

I was surprised at the amount of boring/clichéd/underwhelming items on offer this year as well.  Looks like the theme this year is SPAM and/or Sauerkraut.  I can’t tell if that’s better or worse than last year’s theme of Sriracha.  I hate sauerkraut but am ok with SPAM

Most excited for: Candied Bacon Donut Sliders
 
Least excited for: Reuben Pickle Dog

Patrick:

Each year, the state fair brings a different variety of new food options, and it is up in the air for how many of those new options will thrill, excite, disinterest, or disgust you.  Usually there is a smattering of all of those amongst the list, with the numbers swaying from one side to the other year after year.  That said, I think this year I am very excited by the concepts that have been presented.  There is a still a breakup among those four rankings, but I definitely feel things are leaning more towards the exciting end of the spectrum.  Of course, the idea of a thing and the actual product are very different, so how food items eventually rank after they are consumed could vary wildly from the initial judgment.  That said, I think this year promises to be a very good year for sampling new fare at the fair.

I don't think the state fair actually has a food (or ingredient) theme, at least intentionally.  Certainly not advertised anyway, and there isn't always one that you could put your finger on.  Instead, I think popular ingredients or flavors of the time inspire new food options for concessions, and many vendors run with that, because it is popular, and that means more sales.  For instance, Sriracha was very popular last year (and still probably is), and by correlation there were many Sriracha based food items that were on the new food list.  There is nothing to the same degree of popularity this year, though Bacon and SPAM have popped up for a few items.  I think bacon has been done before, and I think it is a bit overdone, but it's bacon; delicious, crispy, salty bacon.  Everyone loves it (or everyone should), even if it is overdone.  SPAM is...SPAM.  Sort of a MN staple (not sure how popular it is elsewhere in the country), and you either love it or hate it.
 
Most Excited For:  So hard to choose!  I think I'll say I'm most excited for the Rustic Beef Pastry.  French Meadow Bakery & Café is usually a good bet, and this just sounds fantastic.  Fancy and full of things I am eager to sink my teeth into.  Probably enjoy a dough-sant for dessert.

Least Excited For:  also a hard choice.  I'm going with the SPAM sushi.  I hate SPAM, so the idea of taking such a delicate, fresh, and intricate Japanese cuisine and cramming some mule meat in the middle is like shitting on someone's burger and calling it innovation.  The only difference here is I'll try it, because I'll almost always try something once.  I think I'd pass on the deuce burger though.  I'm not Andrew Zimmer.
 
Sarah: 
 
At first glance I’m slightly underwhelmed. Not in a disappointed way, but more in the fact that I don’t see anything flashy, that shouts at me “EAT ME! YOU CANNOT WAIT TO EAT ME!” And that’s fine because that’s mostly because I’m glancing at the pictures and not even really taking in what it is I’m looking at. I know once I click on each item and read the description, my excitement will build.
 
Upon closer inspection, a few themes seem to have emerged this year (as usual) and that’s SPAM. I am cautiously optimistic since SPAM can taste okay if it’s done right.

Most Excited for: Rustic Beef Pastry from French Meadow Bakery. French Meadow is usually a good bet, so I have high hopes. But of course I’m most excited for meat in a pastry. That kind of food is pretty much my everything.
 
Least excited for: Spicy Pork Bowl. Sarah doesn’t do Mexican and no onion strings are going to change my mind.


Okay! With that out of the way, it's time to go over each individual food!


Candied Bacon Donut Slider

Sliced glazed donut holes with thick candied bacon and a chocolate red wine ganache.
 
At Minnesota Wine Country on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson avenues

SarahI’m pretty excited about this one. I mean, even without reading the description I can see it’s some sort of glazed pastry with chocolate on it and also maybe some bacon. I predict, though, that this will be okay to good, but it will be wildly overpriced for a small portion because that’s typically how the Minnesota Wine Country rolls.

Anne: Heck yeah!  Though it’s at MN Wine Country so therefore I expect it to be really tasty but way over priced and very small portion
 
Patrick: This vendor has a history, in my opinion, of making very overpriced items with very small portions.  Sometimes they are very good, but tend to be not good enough to get again because of the cost.  That said I think this sounds delightful and tasty and I am willing to fork over the probably 15 bucks to get one of these sliders and taste something fancy.  I love donuts and candied bacon sounds like a good combo.  I might need the wine to help forget that I could have eaten at a restaurant for the price I paid.

 


SPAM Sushi

Grilled SPAM®, sushi rice, fried egg and wasabi rolled in nori (dried seaweed).
 
At Sushi Rolls in the Warner Coliseum, north side

Sarah: The first of the SPAM offerings on the list. Nothing about this blows me away. It seems like it’s more focused on the gimmick of SPAM than of actually putting out something that I’d be super interested in tasting, but I’ll give it a try. (Though I predict that the wasabi, which I hate, will push me into the dislike category that not even the fried egg (which I love) will be able to save me from)

Anne: Meh- feels like it’s been done before (probably at the SPAM competition.) Though I like that it has a fried egg in it- sort of a breakfast Maki

Patrick: I think I was pretty forthright about my feelings on this, above.  Not sure I've ever seen this vendor (new?), and I'd be curious what else they have, but I think they're putting forward their C-game.  C for Crap.  I hate spam.  I hate this.
 



Minnesota Corn Dog

Custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried.
 
At Gass Station Grill on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson avenues, outside the southeast corner of the Food Building
 
Sarah: At first I saw this and I was like, an effing corn dog, really? Because I already have a favorite corn dog and it comes from Poncho Dog and ain’t anything in the world better. And don’t go comin’ around here, reader, if you’re gonna blab on about Pronto Pups, because if you do you can get the hell out of here because we are diametrically opposed in all things and this blog is NOT FOR YOU (just kidding, though. Mostly. I mean, I want you to stay. And also convert to corn doggian.)
 
But then I read the deets on this and I was like, all right all right all right. I’m down with trying this fancy sausage that’s battered and deep fried. I hope it’s awesome. But even if it is, it won’t ever beat out the Poncho Dog.


Anne: At first I was like ‘pssssh I don’t need another corn dog because Poncho Dog already makes the most perfect food item ever created’.  But then I read the ingredients and I was like ‘ok- I’m up for it’
 

Patrick: First thoughts ~ Seriously?  Someone's listing a f'ing corn dog as their new menu item?  That's like saying, "Hey, come try our new corn on the cob.  Now with butter."  Then I read the description and felt like a bit of a dick.  Ok, ok, I generally don't think you should mess with the corn dog in its purest state; mainly a hot dog with sweet corn dog batter.  However, I'm adventurous and curious enough to give this a try.  That is a lot of stuff to put in a corn dog but maybe it will work.

 


Carpe Diem
 
A Taiyaki (fish-shaped) buttermilk miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry.
 
At The Rabbit Hole at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall

Sarah: I’m not really sure how I feel about this one. It’s another one where clearly it has a gimmick going on with its fish waffle. I can sometimes be a curmudgeon with fair food gimmicks, but I have been proven wrong in the past (rocket corn, anyone?) and I’m willing to look past the fish waffle to the actual food.
 
I mean, it helps that the food is a lot of things I like (ice cream) mixed with other things I like (miso) and I’m interested to see how it actually all comes together.
 
But it’s going to all come down to that fish waffle. Because I can (and will) get great ice cream in other places at the fair.
 
Anne: ‘LMFAO!  It’s a Carp Cone!  It’s a pun you eat!’  Yeah I’ll try the crap (carp?) out of this

Patrick: Hah!  Look at that thing.  It is so whimsical and delightful.  I can eat it?  Why yes, I will give that a try, thank you!  I'm not sure what compote is, but I think this looks wonderful.  We'll see if looks is everything. 
 


Rustic Beef Pastry
 
Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese and nestled in a flakey butter crust.
 
At French Meadow Bakery & Café on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets

Sarah: I’m not even gonna pretend that I’m not hella excited for this because I am. I so am. I mean, meat in a pastry? Yes YES! I need this right now! And you’ve added spinach and goat cheese? Everyone better get the eff outta my way because I’m heading right to the front of the line.

And, generally, French Meadow is a good bet. Once there was something I didn’t like, but that was purely due to my tastes (and specifically to my dislike of Mexican food and Mexican spices) and not because the item was bad or anything (and I remember that I really wanted to like it, too. I think it was a risotto ball (yay!) with black beans or something (boo.))

Anne: This sounds amazing. And French Meadow Bakery doesn’t usually steer us wrong (though I think something we had from them last year was just ok- like a C item)
 
Patrick: Take my money!  Shove that in my mouth!  I will literally stand at the cash register and you can sock me in the maw with your delicious looking beef pastry.  I'll even thank you as I cry from pain and elation, rolling on the floor with crumb and bruise stained lips.




Macaroni & Cheese Curds

Rich macaroni & cheese blended with fresh cheese curds.
 
At Oodles of Noodles in the Food Building, east wall

 
Sarah: I’m not sure about this one. Cheese curds are one of those things that are so popular (and deservedly so) that people always try to do something new and fancy with them. But those things almost always fail because it’s hard to improve on something that is already so spectacular. I mean, battered deep fried cheese is about as good as it gets.
 
When I looked at this picture, though, it looks reeeeal good. And I really, really love mac & cheese. So, I dunno. I’m cautious about this. We’ll see how it goes.


Anne: Mac and cheese WITH curds?  Someone has discovered how to add more cheese to mac and cheese and I am game to try it


Patrick: I am generally of the opinion that the more complicated you try to make mac n' cheese, the more you move away from what makes it so good.  It is simple; noodles and cheese, and it is great.  That said, as far as new versions go, I think I could get behind this.  It is just adding more cheese, which isn't inherently bad.  I'll give it a go.
 


Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread

Savory, pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese and beef broth, then baked in a wood-fired oven.
 
At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street

Sarah: At first I was like, No. Because I don’t really like French onion soup. It doesn’t do anything for me.

But then I read the description and I was like, okay, Yes. And now I’m pretty excited for it.

Anne: I bet Packie is super excited about this since it combines his love of French onion soup and bread.  I like Monkey Bread and Blue Moon is usually a good bet and it looks tasty

Patrick: Not sure I have had the opportunity to try monkey bread, but I have always wanted to. Finding a savory version of said bread at the fair this year has me curious and titillated.  I love French onion, so I am quite excited to pull this apart and cram it in my craw.
 


Gumbo Frites

A bed of crispy french fries topped with Ragin’s traditional New Orleans gumbo made with andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, onions, celery and a rich roux-based sauce, then finished off with cheese and green onions.
 
At Ragin Cajun in The Garden, west wall
 

Sarah: Sarah doesn’t like gumbo. Its seasonings don’t really do much for her, and though she always feels like she should like it because she likes the things in it, whenever she tries it, she’s disappointed.
 
But Sarah does like fries. And she reeeally likes it when fries have things on them. So, she’s torn.

Anne: Another one I bet Packie’s excited about since he likes Gumbo.  I like fries and I like fries topped with stuff.  I’m not a huge gumbo fan, and am not a fan of bell peppers so I’m shifty-eyed about this offering

Patrick: I love me some gumbo, and throwing that on top of some French fries sounds like a smart move.  Seems sort of like a Cajun version of poutine.  Definitely need to try this!

 


Iron Range Meat & Potatoes

A hearty portion of seasoned beef with a layer of cheddar cheese, topped with mashed potatoes, baked, and drizzled with a wild rice gravy.
 
At Giggles’ Campfire Grill on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street at The North Woods

Sarah: So, for someone who really, really loves meat and potatoes, I was only a little excited for this.
 
And then I saw that it will be at Giggles and I almost flipped my desk in excitement.
Because hands down, Giggles serves some of my most favorite MN State Fair foods. Especially the chicken fried bacon and the walleye cakes. I’m gonna eat those so hard, and then I’m gonna eat this, and I expect it will be spectacular and then we’ll have to go to the fair another day this year just to get the foods we like a second time.

Anne: Well Giggles pretty much never disappoints.  And I like meat, potatoes, and gravy, so sign me up!

Patrick: Giggles could put road kill on a plate and I'd be first in line to try it, because Giggles makes miracles happen with food.  Everything I have tried there has blown me away.  Basically meatloaf with potatoes and gravy on top (sorry, wild rice gravy; whaaat?), so if Giggle's made it, I'm sure it is the best meat and potatoes I'll ever have at the fair.



Italian Taco

A flour tortilla baked with butter and shredded parmesan, filled with Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze.
 
At Green Mill on the east side of Cooper Street, between Randall and Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park

Sarah: At first I was like, booo tacos. As per the aforementioned dislike of Mexican food. But then I read the description and realized what I should have realized right away – that this is, in fact, an ITALIAN taco.
 
Because I love the idea of tacos. So I would love to eat one that’s real good. And Green Mill has not steered us wrong in the past, so I’m pretty hopeful that this will be awesome.

Anne: At first I was like ‘meh’.  But then I read about it- Green Mill had an amazing item last year so that makes me more interested.  And this sounds pretty good- I like sausage and bruschetta

Patrick: Hmm...I'm on the fence with this one.  You had me up until "Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce".  Is that all three on one taco, or is that a typo and you pick one of the three?  A little overwhelming with the sauces if they're throwing all three on together.  Maybe there is three tacos, each with one of the sauces?  Ok, I'd be behind that.  Mostly just a little perplexed with this one, but also intrigued?


 

Strawberry Donut Delight

A fresh glazed donut sliced in half and filled with strawberries and whipped cream – like a shortcake sandwich!
 
At The Strawberry Patch on the west side of Liggett Street between Carnes and Judson avenues 

Sarah: Yep. This sounds great. I mean, okay, I can only eat so many strawberry things. And this, with the fish waffle and the deep fried banana split Anne and I will get from Ole and Lena’s, that’s a lot of strawberries.
 
But I’ll never turn away from a glazed donut or things with whipped cream, so there you have it.
 
I expect this will be good. Probably not great just because there’s nothing really unexpected about it, but certainly good enough that if I wasn’t eating fish waffle I might get it again.

Time will tell!

Anne: I don’t know- I’m pretty excited about the other donut from the Wine Country.  And strawberries are my least favorite berry.  I’m sure it’ll be FINE I’m just not excited about it even remotely

Patrick: Looks like berries and cream shoved between two donut halves.  I don't usually go for fruit desserts, but I think I could enjoy this.  I do like berries and cream and throwing a donut into the mix just seems smart.

 


 
Sheep Dog

Lamb dog served hot in a bun with garlic sautéed kale, raw fermented sauerkraut, quinoa and honey mustard drizzle. (Gluten-free option without the bun.)
 
At Lamb Shoppe in the Food Building, east wall

 
Sarah: Dammit. So much of this sounds great.
 
Except for the sauerkraut. I don’t want to eat that. So, chances are, unless we can get this w/o sauerkraut, I won't be happy.
 
Maybe, maaaaaybe, I’ll be an adult and take a bite with the kraut, but my magic 8 ball says this seems unlikely.

Anne: Is that sauerkraut?  Yes. Damnit.  Now we have to try something with sauerkraut. Also- could we put more trendy food on a hot dog? Kale, quinoa, lamb. Trying too hard

Patrick: That's a lot of kraut. I mean, I've been slowly learning to enjoy kraut, but that looks like a lot of it for one dog.  Everything else about the lamb dog sounds great; garlic sautéed kale, quinoa and honey mustard?  Yup.  I love a good hot dog, so I'll try it.  Maybe without the kraut, or be prepared to scoop some of it out

 


 

Deep Fried Nachos Supreme

Pepper jack cheese cubes coated with a mixture of crushed seasoned tortilla chips and nacho cheese, then deep-fried, covered with taco meat, guacamole, more nacho cheese and sour cream, and served with jalapeños on the side. Also available traditional-style without the supreme toppings.
 
At Texas Steak Out on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues

Sarah: DAMMIT! So much of this sounds great! But, then like real life nachos supreme, it’s ruined for me by taco meat, which is the most offending Mexican food ever, so unless I can get a little bit that hasn’t touched the taco meat (and man, I really hope there’s like a corner that’s free of the meat) I’ll probably be passing.

Anne: …What? Sarah’s probably super excited about this one. Actually sounds pretty good to me, and I’m glad jalapenos are on the side- I am Minnesotan after all

Patrick: I do rather enjoy some nachos, and this sounds like a fun and delicious variation to the classic.  I'm not sure I would have guessed you could put nachos on a stick and deep fry it, but they seem to have accomplished the impossible.  I'd try it traditional or supreme style.

 


Paneer On A Spear

Deep-fried Indian-seasoned paneer cheese coated with a local craft beer batter and served with tomato garlic chutney. (Gluten-free)
 
At Hot Indian at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall
Available Aug. 31-Sept. 5 only


Sarah: I mean, c’mon. We already talked about deep fried cheese and how great it is. So of course, OF COURSE I’m gonna try this.
 
The only thing that makes me a little nervous is last year they did the same thing where they had two sort of pop up places, one for the first half of the fair and one for the second, and both of those places ended up being subpar, (like, things were overcooked and under-seasoned) so now I’m a bit worried that maybe this year will be the same.
But, really, how can you eff up deep fried cheese?

You really can’t.

(I hope that’s not famous last words)

Anne: Well I like the rhyme scheme. What’s Paneer?  Apparently it’s a type of cheese?  I’m down with trying this but was Hot Indian where we had multiple sub-par items last year?

Patrick: I always so desperately wish for the bazaar food to be amazing each year, and more often than not they turn out to be a flop. I am an optimistic guy, though, so I'll keep hoping for the best. I love paneer. Deep frying it with beer batter and dipping it in tomato garlic chutney? I hope this is great and I'm gonna find out. Please don't disappoint me.


 


Barbecued Shrimp Taco
Sweet, smoky, slightly spicy barbecued shrimp and cool, fresh jicama slaw in a warm flour tortilla.

At Tejas Express in The Garden, north wall

Sarah: I don’t know. I mean, I’m pretty sure I can get a barbecued shrimp taco other places, so this doesn’t really wow me at all. I mean, honestly, I could probably make it for lunch right now if I wanted to. So color me underwhelmed.

Anne: While this looks just fine it’s so far from something new and special I couldn’t be more underwhelmed

Patrick: Maybe it should be taco themed this year. I love a good shrimp taco, but I have never tried a BBQ one before. I'll try it, but I'm a little apprehensive about this one. Not sure I'll like it.


 
 



Candied Bacon BLT

Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun.
At The Blue Barn at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center


Sarah: I like BLTs as long as they don't have tomatoes (because I don't like sliced tomatoes on sandwiches or burgers because I'm not some dumb tomato slice lover.) And green tomatoes are just not any better.

But, this is a green tomato spread, and I do like spread. And I’m real excited about a sweet egg bun, so I’m actually pretty excited to try this one.
Anne: Ok ok ok ok... yeah--this sounds great. Oh--I see it's at the Blue Barn...hmmm...in the past they have had mixed results at best. I'm less excited now

Patrick: I've been enjoying BLTs a lot more recently, once I discovered the secret for the best sandwich (no tomato and extra bacon.) Yeah, shut up! I have a very odd and jaded relationship with raw tomatoes (dirt fruit.) That said, this sounds like a tasty reimagining of the classic sandwich, and I look forward to mashing it in my mouth, tomatoes and all. Until I'm like "ugh, dirt fruit!" and I pick the tomatoes off.





Saucy Shrimp & Slaw

Breaded shrimp tossed in your choice of parmesan garlic, sweet chili or buffalo sauce on a bed of fresh coleslaw.


At Fish & Chips Seafood Shoppe at two locations: In the Food Building, northwest section, and on the west side of Liggett Street just south of Mighty Midway

Sarah: Ugh. Why are there so many chooooices? Don't they know I'm going to be hot and tired and running out of money and slightly burned by some of the previous foods we ate and so making a decision will just irritate me?

But I’ll probably vote for parmesan garlic. It’ll either be that or sweet chili because I hate buffalo sauce so that will be right out.
Anne: Well seems like the slaw is maybe actually just lettuce to soak up the sauce?  But I’m excited to try this with either the Parm Garlic or the Sweet Chili sauce

Patrick: Yes! God yes! Breaded shrimp? There! Delicious sauces like parm garlic, sweet chili, or buffalo? There! Fresh Coleslaw? Throw that on the ground and get it out of the way of my breaded shrimp!


 

 
Spicy Pork Bowl 

A mix of adobo pulled pork, rice, black beans, spinach, charred salsa and fried onion strings.
 
At The Blue Barn at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center
 
Sarah: Nope on this one. So many things I do not want. It’s pretty much 83% Mexican foods and flavors and 17% other things (onion strings) and those percentages do not favor Sarah’s palate
Anne: I wonder how spicy it is. I like black beans and onion strings. And it's on rice so that will hopefully help cut away any heat.
Patrick: Hmm...I don't know. Nothing about this dish really POPS to me. Except the onion strings. I will throw a baby into the Ye Olde Mill canal to get some good onion strings.
 
  
 

Cajun Peel-N-Eat Shrimp

A half-pound of shrimp seasoned in a blend of Caribbean spices and served cold with a side of cocktail sauce.


At Café Caribe on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Nelson streets

Sarah: I don’t know. I mean, love some skrimp. And the Cajun seasonings is tempting (though, gumbo…) but, also, I can make my own peel-n-eat shrimp, so I’m not super impressed by this. I’m betting it will come down to cost, and space in our stomachs.


Anne: SKRIMP!  Looks like a fancy skrimp cocktail so sign me up!

 
Patrick: Sounds good to me!  Pretty straightforward, with the Cajun spices, peeling the shrimp and grumbling at how messy that is and how long it takes and how the hell did I slice my finger open on an f-ing crustacean shell?  Are you kidding me?  Cajun poisoning?  Dip that shrimp into some cocktail sauce and forget all your worries child!
 


Reuben Pickle Dog
 
A dill pickle spear with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in a slice of corned beef.
At Pickle Dog on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets


Sarah: I’ve never had a Reuben and because of the kraut I never plan on it. But I can’t deny that something wrapped in meat isn’t appealing to me. Because it is. It really is.
 
Anne: Goddamned sauerkraut!!  This looks like a hot mess and I hate it on principal but I am dedicated and will try it
 

Patrick: Have you every looked at something from afar and you're thinking "that looks great, down into my belly with you." Then you get up close and you're thinking none of these things should really go together. That's what this is. I've never had a Reuben though, so maybe that is my problem.  Should probably do that, if I am going to claim I kinda like sauerkraut.  I don't know about this though.



 
Burnt Butt Ends
 
Premium cuts of pork, seasoned with a BBQ rub, then smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños.
At RC’s BBQ on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets (former site of Famous Dave’s)


Sarah: I was like, yeah, I like burnt ends. They’re good when I get them at—and then I see the note about the former Famous Dave’s site and I flip my damn desk because WHAT THE SHIT?? Where did Famous Dave’s go?? How are they ever going to bring back my beloved pork rinds if they’re no longer there??
And then I go on a rampage in the streets.
And when I finally return I agree that I’m pretty excited to eat these.
 
Anne: Well I love it on principal because I am a child and laugh at ‘butt’.  But yeah- this sounds tasty
 
Patrick: A delicious looking concession for a hilarious name.  I don't think I'll ever want the burning of butts to end after I sink my teeth into this dish.  I've had burnt ends elsewhere and they were amazing, so I will hope for the same with this.



Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites
 
White cheddar cheese blended with beer batter, cubed and deep-fried for a taste reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich. Served with a bloody mary mix marinara.
At O’Gara’s at the Fair on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street


Sarah: I’ma eat this so hard.
I mean, it seems so simple and yet so genius. I want to eat this right now, so bad.
The only thing I’m hesitant about is that it’s at O’Gara’s and they have been hit and miss for us (like the pretzel curds, which should have been amazing and were not (but then later, we saw other people were served a dipping sauce with their pretzel curds, which WE DID NOT GET, and maybe that would have improved on the pretzel curds, but we’ll never know and that’s another strike against O’Gara’s.))
 
Anne: I appreciate that they stuck to the traditional fair food route- take an everyday item and deep fry it.  I am uncertain about bloody mary mix marinara…
 

Patrick: I am starting to think O'Gara's plan each year is to try and win people over by thinking up the next best cheese curd craze.  Cheese curds are fine on their own, stop messing with them!  Anywho, I like grilled cheese Sammy's, and if this claims to taste like one, I will tentatively curb stop my mouth with a few.
 


Beer Brat Buddies
 
Oktoberfest beer brat in a German pretzel bun with sauerkraut, chopped onions and a choice of mustards — a serving for two!
At Sausage Sister & Me in the Food Building, east wall


Sarah: Stupid kraut again. And, to be fair, me, Anne and Patrick literally make our own sausages, so it’s not like I couldn’t actually make this at home, without the kraut.
But, the Sausage Sister & Me turn out really good food year after year, so I do kind of want to try these little dogs. Maybe the kraut will be optional.

Anne: God Damnit- I have to spend money on THREE items this year with sauerkraut?!  But I do love the Sausage Sisters, and if it didn’t have the kraut I’d be interested (but otherwise it’s just a brat in a pretzel bun so pretty boring).  And there’s two of them- I don’t need two!
 

Patrick: There's the damn kraut again.  Is it...is it a kraut theme this year?  Anywho, brat on a pretzel bun with choice of mustards (l love having a choice of mustards)?  Then yes, you may fire this bun-loaded meat missile into my craw.
 
 
 
SPAM® Curds

Cheese-flavored SPAM® that has been cubed, battered and deep-fried, served with a side of ranch dressing.
At SPAM® east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand


Sarah: What the hell is cheese-flavored SPAM? And do I want it?
I don’t know.
I mean, deep frying can put a shine on a lot of questionable foods, but I need to know if this will be more of a cheese nugget, or a can-meat nugget.
But, ooh, ranch! I do enjoy ranch dipping sauce.

Anne: I have never tried alternative flavored SPAM so this will be a first.  I am excited that I get to dip them in ranch
 

Patrick: I just...I mean come on, its...stupid SPAM!  Stop pretending you can do fun things with SPAM.  You can't hide yourself around other flavors and ingredients.  The best SPAM dish is one where the diner say "Mm, you can hardly taste the SPAM."  Which is awful, because it is a dish being judged for how little you can taste the stupid mud mutton!  No, just no.


Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders
 
Lightly breaded, fresh, never-frozen fried chicken tenderloins served with Bang Bang sweet and tangy chili sauce.
At LuLu’s Public House at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater


Sarah: Yep, I’m gonna need this.
I mean, it’s nothing special. It’s chicken tenders with a fancy dipping sauce.
But I effing love chicken tenders with dipping sauces. So pretty much this is targeted right at me and Anne.
I’m gonna eat this so hard.

 Anne: Ok- I lurve me some chicken tenders.  Are these like served with a Bang Bang sauce?  Oh- looks like it.  This is at LuLu’s- like everything in the West End Market (except the fruit stand) they’re also sort of a mixed bag.  But I’m excited to eat these because it looks like it has some substance to it

 
Patrick: Hey, I love a good chicken tender, and this one looks pretty darn tasty.  Bang Bang sweet and tangy chili sauce?  I don't know what that is, but I want my tenders slathered in it, I'm sure.  Get into my belly.




And that's it! That's the list of new MN State Fair Foods.
 
Which one(s) would you be the most excited for?