2008 MN State Fair
- autmommy Jul 17, 2008 10:52 AM
It is about time a definitive state fair thread for 2008 gets started dontcha think? I was bored today and drifted over to the website http://www.mnstatefair.org/index.html
and noted that they have a "preliminary" food finder started for this year (subject to changes/updates)
One of the more exciting things that I noted, when looking under the "New" postings, is that it looks like The Midtown Global Market stand will be back, and this year, various vendors will rotate at the stand, selling their wares! (instead of just fruit like last year).
They specifically list Manny's , La Loma, Pham's Deli, and Jakeeno's (which they have hilariously mispelled Jaquenos - lol, not every vendor in the MGMkt is selling hispanic food). It does not specifically state who will be there on each day, but perhaps that is coming, or it will just be a nice surprise! ( I am sure there will be a schedule at the booth too, for those of us who are repeat offenders, er visitors...
Of course, Big Fat Bacon and Pick Licker have already been discussed in this thread.
It appears that Holy Land will have a booth there as well this year. I don't believe they have had one in the past.
Other new foods listed:
Axel's: Hand made tator tots (made with hashbrowns, chedar cheese, bacon, green onion and sour cream deep and served three on-a-stick) and Chicken bites blackened chicken breast meat served with horseradish sauce
Epiphany Diner: NEW THIS YEAR: walking taco (taco meat, cheese salsa and sour cream served in a Dorito bag of tortilla chips) -Served in the bag?? wierd.
Granny's Cheesecakes: NEW THIS YEAR: Hand dipped cheese cake and strawberry banana kabobs in chocolate (sounds good to me!)
Green Mill: NEW! foot long pizza on-a-stick (bigger is not always better, I'm getting heartburn just reading this)
Isabella's Italian Ice stand - new stand (happy about this as it gives my gluten/dairy fee chowpup another State fair option)
Island noodles - Offering: Hawaian buckwheat stir fried Yaki-Soba noodles with up to twenty-one vegatables, vegetarian product with no dairy, nuts or meat
(this is located in Heritage Square, which seems like a strange location for this type of stand, Bazzar would be more fitting)
O'Gara's : NEW THIS YEAR: Leprechaun legs (lightly-batted deep-fried green beans with dipping sauce)
Ole & Lena's: NEW! Norwegian cheese curds with lingonberry dipping sauce
Oodles of Noodles: NEW THIS YEAR: Deep-fried s'mores on-a-stick (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker battered and deep fried), Italian breakfast strata, layers of Italian sausage and cheese with Italian bread
Panda Palace: New stand in Bazzar Offering: White and fried rice, lo mein, beef and broccoli, sweet & sour chicken, egg rolls and cream cheese won-tons (Ho-Hum)
The Preferred Pickle: NEW THIS YEAR: Pickle Pop (frozen juice in a plastic push-up sleeve) - intriguing, I used to drink pickle juice straight out of the jar as a child, to me this sounds like it could be refreshing on a hot summer day. But I have a feeling that people are either going to love or hate this, no meh's
San Filipe Tacos New Stand Offering - Fish taco (fried tilapia, cabbage, red onion, red pepper sauce, and salsa in a tortilla), jerk chicken taco (grilled jerk chicken, cheddar cheese, letuce, jerk sauce), beef taco, nachos grande (choice of meat, melted cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa on tortilla chips), side dishes (refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, Mexican style deep fried ice cream, churros)
Sausage Sisters: NEW THIS YEAR: Caribbean jerk seasoned sausage (jerk on-a-stick)
That's it so far for new foods listed for this year.
P.S. I also noted they have some pretty decent music lined up for the Leinie's free bandshell, in particular Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Brandi Carlile
The fair runs from August 21- Sept. 1st, only about 1 month away now!
Using Doritos for Frito Pie is an abomination. Who wants a bunch of artificial flavored dust overpowering what is a great Texas picnic tradition? They'll probably try and tell you to wash it down with a Mountain Dew instead of a Dr Pepper.
On the bright side, the tots sound good and I love me some Sharon Jones UK soul!
The walking tacos are served at all of the school sporting events concessions here in eastern Iowa (small towns predominantly). Not in any way to be confused with Frito Pie, this is something entirely different. Seasoned taco meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa (maybe onions and tomatoes, depending on the town) all dumped into a snack sized bag of regular Doritos and served with a fork. Kids seem to love them - I usually stick with the popcorn, myself.
You know, I'm not sure where they originated, but they seem to be a relatively "new" concoction. I grew up in Iowa (in the central part of the state) and we never saw them at any of our concessions. It's only since following my stepdaughters around to various eastern Iowa small towns that I've seen them - but it's rare to find a place that doesn't have them.
I did find this link that further discusses the nuances between Frito Pie and a Walking Taco. Seems walking tacos are Midwestern in origin ...
I love the Iowa State Fair - never been to the Minnesota one - mmmm milkshakes, turkey legs and pork chops.
They have these around MN as well. I was at a high school football game in Stewartville last fall (go Tigers!) and they were selling them at the concession stand. Though the first time I was introduced to this was at a group cabin weekend where select couples were responsible for a particular meal. I thought it was a great take on a traditional taco bar. I got some weird looks when I poured mine all out into a bowl though!
I have seen the "walking taco" at fairs in Montana several years ago. There it was unforgettably called "Bag o' taco".
How long will it be until fried coca-cola makes it here?
The new offerings sound fairly ho-hum this year. Guess I'll be sticking to the old favorites then.
For people who are interested in trying foods at the State Fair, they might choose to try this particular food at another time since it will be available.
For people who are not interested in the State Fair ("meh"), maybe a thread about the State Fair and what people like to eat there is not for them...
When I go to the State Fair, I eat food that I would never indulge in the rest of the year. I consider those two weeks a "free ride" break from my usual sensible (in theory) eating. So if there are better corn dogs and mini doughnuts out there, I really wouldn't know. And, frankly, I deliberately try not to learn about them.
I can only quote TDQ, who said it best (in the thread about deep-fried mac & cheese):
"...That's what the two weeks of the State Fair is for, to satisfy your craving for deep fried whatever on a stick that you would never, ever dream of indulging in real life."
Me, I'm actually looking forward to trying a walking taco!
P.S. I except from my blanket statement the roasted corn at the corn booth - I would love a "real life" place that served corn that fresh and nicely roasted. Luckily, we have the Mexican roasted corn stand in the parking lot of El Burrito Mercado. (Oh, how they would rake in the bucks at the State Fair !!! )
Amen Anne. The State Fair is pure junk-food indulgence, nothing more. The obnoxiousness of the foods offered speaks to the nod-and-wink economy that makes this terrible food available to all of us for two weeks.
Let us also not forget that not everyone that visits the State Fair lives in the Twin Cities. Sure, I may be able to get a gyro and lamb near a stick, but Ole from Ottertail County may not.
And if there is a place to get a deep-fried ruebens/spaghetti & meatballs/aligator on a stick or nitrogen iced-cream year-round I certainly don't care.
O'Gara's in the food building. I tried it last year, because I too thought it sounded heart-stoppingly good. I hate corndog/pronto pup type things and that is what the reuben on a stick is...a sausage with rye breading that one dips in 1000 island dressing. Disappointment.
However I LOVE the State Fair, can't wait to try some bacon on a stick...
Thank you SO much for that, seahag. If there's no corned beef, and no sauerkraut, then I can skip it! Whew!!! Sorry, cardiologist, you'll have to get that summer home off of someone else. Of course, I'll just shift the calories to some other deep-fried yumminess, so don't lose hope...
Do I have to list them in order of priority? ;-).
1. Honey sunflower seed ice cream (to share)
2. Cheese curds from the Mouth Trap (to share)
3. Shake from the Dairy Building (to share)
4. Jerk chicken wings (to share)
Other favorites that I try to fit in if possible:
~Toasted chocolate sandwich (usually, I get this to myself)
~Cream puffs (to share)
~Fresh cut fries (to share)
~Spaghetti and meatballs on a stick (to share)
~Breakfast at one of the church dining halls (any recommendations? We've tried Epiphany Diner and Salem Lutheran church over the last couple of years...)
I plan on trying the pig licker (chocolate covered bacon) if I get a chance...
I think that should be enough to cover 2-3 visits...
re: The Dairy Queen
Where are the jerk chicken wings? That is going straight to the top of my list. I'm always looking for new things to try, but I never take enough time to find them.
For me, here are the musts...
1) Foot long (from the 'About a Foot Long...' stand) - Always my first food of the fair. A nice pile of fried onions on top...delicious.
2) Cheese curds - They seem to be more and more salty every year, but I can't imagine going a year without them.
3) 1919 Root Beer - Can't beat a tall glass in the middle of the day.
4) Nut rolls - Cashew and pecan (or is it walnut?), specifically. I pick up one of each as I'm on my way out.
5) Dairy building ice cream in some form - Can't pass it up.
6) French fries - Gotta share those, but they are a must stop.
7) Milk booth - Just because
As oxymoronic as it sounds, I try to avoid the crowds as much as possible, so I usually don't enter the food building. I'm probably missing out on something there.
Except for the footlong (I have nothing against a footlong, I just don't crave it), your favs are all on my "must do every year" list or "rotate in every year or two" list.
The Jerk Chicken wings are at the West Indies Soul booth. I thought it was in the food building, right next to the Twisted Sister booth and a couple down from the spaghetti and meatballs on a stick--but, according to the State Fair Food Finder, it's in the Bazaar.
Is this new or have I lost my mind?
My state fair jerk chicken wing fix is especially important now that West Indies Soul's location on University Avenue closed (though, thankfully, they are still at Midtown Global Market...)
re: The Dairy Queen
The West Indies Booth was in the food building, for sure...you are not losing your mind.
Apparently the Bazaar has been redesigned, I saw on the Fair website that they are having a "grand opening" on Thursday. Hopefully they made it easier to get around in there on crowded days. I mean, before if you had a stroller or were wheelchair bound, you were pretty much SOL.
So it looks like they have done a little rearranging as to where certain booths ended up.
OOOOH - second the Fried green tomatoes!! They became my new favorite after trying them for the 1st time last year, I was sad I had waited so long to try them. The Corn fritters sold there were not that special in and of themselves, more useful as a delivery tool for the incredible honey butter served with them.
I also love the fried pickles. I know of a lot of people that don't though.
re: The Dairy Queen
TDQ: It may bum you out to learn (or maybe you knew already), but the shakes in the Dairy Building are made from a powdered mix. Travesty of travesties.
I, too, always get the honey sunflower ice cream. Where is Mouth Trap? I typically get my curds from a stand (don't know the name, just the location) not from from the pet building.
re: Brad Ballinger
Brad, first of all, I'm a goofball. I don't mean from the Dairy Building, I mean from the Dairy Barn. From the little window on the side of the building that houses the actual cows. Forgive my misspeaking on that point. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
I know many long-time fair goers call Empire Commons (the place with the Princess Kay Butterheads, right?) "the Dairy Building". I've had those shakes, too, but I like the ones out of the Dairy Barn/cattle building. Maybe they are even the same out of both buildings, but I can only afford the calorie splurge of a shake a year, so I have never tested them side-by-side.
Second of all, I've been told that it's out of a mix (although, I think you're the first person to say the mix is powdered). They say in the food finder that their ice cream is from real dairy products, although, I suppose powdered milk can be a "real dairy product". The first time I heard it, I was crushed, yes. But, to get down to brass tacks, I didn't get the handle "The Dairy Queen" for nothing. Long, long story, but I got it because someone at a chowdown noticed my excessive enthusiasm for Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream cones and christened me thusly. I've long ago reconciled with the fact that my tastes in ice cream (and a few other things, alas) include the low brow. ;-). But the good news is, I like real ice cream, too.
Last year was my first year--thanks to recommendations from 'hounds on this board-- of getting the honey sunflower seed ice cream. I'm hooked now. :).
The Mouth Trap is in the Food Building. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food... I'm very loyal to my Mouth Trap curds and will not budge on that point as you can see from this long discussion from last year's State Fair thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4340... I wonder if the stand you prefer is the one gromit so passionately spoke of last year.
Just as warning to those of you looking for the toasted chocolate sandwiches. I don't think it's real chocolate. I think it's a nutella-like product spread on white bread along with a raspberry jelly-like product, "grilled" like a cheese sandwich, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
re: The Dairy Queen
Regarding Empire Commons (fka Dairy Building for those of us who are old enough) shakes, maybe I'm injecting the word powdered into the mix (no pun intended). I can't say with 100% certainty it is powdered -- merely thought I read it that way.
Regarding cheese curds, I read the comments in the thread you linked. I don't think either location is what I pictured. On the map linked below, the stand I'm recalling is around Underwood and Lee. If Mouth Trap is the place in the Food Building with multiple lines, then I'm with those who prefer other options.
re: Brad Ballinger
Underwood and Lee? That's very out of the way! You must be a very patient man. ;-) But, yes, the Mouth Trap is the place in Food Building with the multiple lines... Aside from shorter lines, what do you particularly like about those particular curds?
I wonder if the shakes from the Dairy/Cattle Barn are from a mix(powdered or otherwise)?
I see I've failed in my promise to pgokey to try the cheese curds at Town Talk Diner... maybe before the 2009 State Fair...
re: The Dairy Queen
Am I a patient man because, if I enter through the main gate, I have farther to travel before getting my curds fix?
How does one even start to answer the question, "What do you like about a particular version of cheese curds over another?" That's like asking "What's your favorite brand of supermarket bacon?" I don't know. Maybe I prefer the texture of the batter; maybe the curds themselves are more silky after being deep-fried.
re: Brad Ballinger
Maybe, (with apologies to Dara), we need a CCIAQ--a cheese curd inherent awesomeness quotient (I officially pronounce it CH-CHEE-ACK)--by which we measure and rank all MN State Fair cheese curds:
Flavor of the cheese
Texture of the cheese
Flavor of the batter
Texture of the batter
Flavor with Condiments+Flavor without Condiments, divided by 2
Integrity of curd shape
Maximum 5 points per category, for a maximum total score of 50 points.
I shall test Mouth Trap's cheese curds for CCIAQ and report back.
Hey, funny timing! Good to see you!
Here's a great post re: breakfast at the fair, though, it's a couple of years old. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3202...
Of the church dining halls I've tried, my favorite is Salem Lutheran Church for the "classic" church dining hall experience. Just your basic eggs and toast etc. but also the egg coffee. It's pretty reliable. [Indoor seating. Get there early to avoid the line. They also have a "counter" you access from the outside if you just want coffee and not a sit-down meal.] http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
The "pancake on a stick" at Epiphany diner is a hoot. Basically a "corn dog" with breakfast sausage as the dog and pancake mix as the batter. Served with a side of maple syrup of course. The volunteers let out a cheer whenever anyone orders one. [Sit-down type place, indoor seating.
Blue Moon Cafe for something different--we tried it a couple of years ago when it was new and it's a little inconsistent, but ambitious and fun. They show movies for the kids. We had the monkey bread and the egg bake. [Sit down kind of place. Outdoor seating. Indoor seating in front of the movies. I can't remember if there is non-movie indoor seating.
If you want your breakfast to order with table service, the Peg isn't bad. [Indoor counter seating or outdoor seating.] Pretty civilized for state fair food
Worst breakfast ever, terrible food (assuming you actually get yours), terrible service, long erratic waiting: Gass Station. [Indoor and outdoor seating.
I still like Moe and Joe's toasted chocolate sandwich. You can get a fancy coffee drink at the same time [outdoor food stand--no seating.] http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
For coffee and a place to sit, and often live music, I like the Farmer's Union. [Indoor and outdoor seating or "to go".] http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food... They have "mocha on stick" which I think is made by Grand Ole Creamery. Never tried it, always mean to. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
And, don't forget creme puffs! [outdoor food stand--no seating.
And, there's always French Meadow [food stand, no seating.
I thought the fudge puppy on a stick was meh. [outdoor food stand--no seating].
Every year, after I'm full, there's a dining hall I walk past that looks really good that I wish I'd eaten at, but I never remember which one. And I can't remember it now, either. Hamline? St. Bernards? Robbinsdale? I think it's Robbinsdale, but can't be sure. I notice on the food finder that they offer wild rice pancakes and blueberry pancakes, which sounds really good.
Loren, as I explained here, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5397... my favorite shake at the fair is NOT in the "Dairy BUILDING." The Dairy BUILDING is the one with the Princess Kay butterheads in it, right? That building used to be called "The Dairy BUILDING" a million years ago, which was changed to "Empire Commons" in recent years, and then changed back to the Dairy BUILDING for 2008.
No no no. Not that one.
My favorite, the one I've fussed over is from the window out the back of the Dairy BARN. The Dairy BARN is the building with all of the actual living, breathing cattle in it. I think the window itself is called the "Gopher Dairy Bar."
Very confusing, I know.
But, here's my most honest opinion. There is not one food item at the fair that is worth standing in line "forever" for. Too much good chow. If you have to wait forever for something, good golly, move on and get something else.
re: The Dairy Queen
The best parts about the Dairy Barn shakes are no lines, much more sparse crowds (you can always have a seat somewhere nearby), authentic farm smells, the steady stream of animals passing by, and overhearing the auctions. The shakes themselves are ho-hum (but for some reason, I've gotten one 10+ years in a row...tradition I guess).
On Saturday, while sharing our shake, we heard the auction hitting prices up to about $2,700. Mrs. MSPD and I played a fun game of "guess what they're auctioning off". Her guess was horses. I scoffed. My guess was cattle of some sort. She scoffed. Stupid city folk. Turns out it was lambs. We actually watched a couple dozen of 'em get auctioned off. It was far and away the best part of the fair. I'm kind of in a State Fair rut.
Couldnt agree with you more MSPD, about the Dairy Barn shakes. Even as i was directing my girlfriend there yesterday over the phone (she: the lines so long at the dairy building, me: go to the dairy barn! ) i couldnt help but remember how lukewarm i am on their shakes. for me, a milkshake should involve milk and ice cream. i love a cup full of (really)soft serve as much as the next guy, but it isnt the milk shake of my dreams (drools thinking of the convention grill).
that said, im missing the whole fair this year, and couldnt be more busted up about it. id take a cup of soft serve masquerading as a shake any day over nothing at all. or, for that matter, waiting in line at the dairy building.
Oh, and things that aren't "must haves" for me, but that I've tried in the past and thought were pretty good that I recommend to people looking to try something new:
~Gizmo sandwich (machinery hill)
~Many of the things from Giggles (good place to stop if you've consumed too much sugar and need some lean protein to balance out)
~Just about anything from the Twisted Sisters sausages stand (food building)
~Smelt (food building)
~Salted nut rolls on a stick (can never remember where this is, but it's one of the street booths)
~Pancake on a stick (Epiphany diner--really fun for the novelty of it and the enthusiasm of the volunteers)
~Hot dago on a stick
Things I don't ever need to try again (based on my one and only taste):
~Hotdish on a stick--the tater tots disintigrate into nothing
~Key lime pie on a stick--too much sugar or too much lime or too much something and not enough of something else.
~Anything from Gass Station--worst fair stand ever
~Fried green tomatoes--old grease taste
~Deep fried reuben on stick--meh
re: The Dairy Queen
Any one have any favorite places for freshly made potato chips or possibly onion rings? I saw some huge baskets of potato chips (in a long "coil" if I remember properly) that looked really good. Some fresh kettle style potato chips with blue cheese dip sounds really good right know.
As a side note, are there any coupons in the Blue Ribbon Book that are actually worthwhile? We bought one last year and sort of regretted it as most of the coupon places didn't look as good as some of the others. But perhaps I just chose poorly!
I can always find a way to regroup the cost of the book. But I have a kid. I paid $4.00 for the book buying it early at Cub. There is a coupon for $6.00 off a sheet of tickets for the midway. I will get all my $ back, plus save two dollars just from that one coupon, everything else is gravy. Your mileage may vary.
re: The Dairy Queen
I head straight for the fried green tomatoes every year and have never had the old grease taste of which you complain. *heh* You must have caught them on an off day, or else I've had the incredible good luck to have always caught them on their on days. Either that or I'm not sensitive to old grease. Doubt it though, cause I've a very, very sensitive girl.
With you on the 1919 Rootbeer. Also love the nutella or chocolate w/strawberry crepes, just down from the butterfly house.
Alas, we'll be missing the Fair this year. You'll all just have to eat enough to make up for our absence.
It wasn't just the old grease taste, but also a really unpleasant soggy texture. We went early in the morning towards the end of the Fair last year (I think Sunday or Monday, so, day 11 or 12).
I wonder if a) they don't change their oil during the fair at all and/or b) the oil wasn't sufficiently hot because it was early in the morning and maybe they hadn't had their fryers on long enough? So, perhaps, if you catch them towards the beginning of the Fair and later in the day you can avoid both problems?
Our visits are going to be brief this year but I will try to do you justice on my short visits.
I have to plug the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich at the Jurassic stand on Machinery Hill across the from the pet building. You don't have to go to the Iowa State Fair to get one. Gizmos is another good sandwich. Giggle's has that northwoods touch with the food that is maybe unique to Minnesota. Cheese curds are a must every year though I have noticed in spending more time in Wisconsin this year with our son moving to La Crosse they are pretty standard on pub menus so I don't crave them as much.
Wow--a recommendation for a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich from Davydd is a high praise indeed! I'm going to have to put this on my must try list this year. Davydd, how does this pork tenderloin sandwich rank on a scale of 1-10 (or any other kind of ranking that you prefer) compared to the many others you've tried? Pretty close to the ideal?
OK, I need to know where to find the honey sunflower see ice cream!
I'm flabbergasted by the love for Mouth Trap cheese curds!! I respectfully disagree. I need the outdoor version. And I've tried to find cheese curds that taste as good outside the fair, but those Town Talk curds are not anything like fair curds. Fair curds are sloppier. Why can no one do proper curds outside the fair??
Our quickie route at the fair:
Quick jaunt across the street for 1919 Rootbeer
Down the road for Grilled Corn
Sweet Martha's cookies
Dash to the milk booth before the cookies get cold.
Post-milk it's a toss-up, I'm usually ready to hurl.
Last year I tried the sloppy joe on a stick, and like many stick sandwiches, it was yucky!!! It was a dried piece of sausage, wrapped in a bun and deep fried. The bun was sopped in grease. And they gave what I imagine they believed to be a sloppy joe sauce on the side. But it just tasted like syrupy catsup. Grody.
But where is this ice cream???
The honey sunflower seed ice cream is in the ag/hort building (ie., the building where the bees are). It's a window that opens to the outside of the building.
I gave my extensive reasons for my preference for the Mouth Trap curds last year in the thread I linked above and, as I told Ballinger, while I'm happy to hear about your love for whichever cheese curds are you particular favorites, that I personally will not budge on that point and will stubbornly cling to Mouth Trap as my favorite curds. Salty, tangy, soft yet still maintaining a curd shape, availability of catsup, and sentimentality is what draws me to the Mouth Trap cheese curds. And because I only get one order a year (half an order, really, because I share with my sweetie), the opportunity cost of trying some other cheese curds and being disappointed is too high for me. For better or worse, because it's the first place I tried cheese curds, they are the standard for me and I won't let a fair go by without having at least one batch.
Aside from the "outsideness" of your favorite curds, can you help us understand what elevates them for you? And since there are several cheese curds booths "outside", do you have a favorite stand? I'm not saying I'm going to change my mind, but, I suppose if I knew what I was missing... ;-).
re: The Dairy Queen
"sentimentality is what draws me to the Mouth Trap cheese curds" -- that's what it's all about. After all, we're talking about battered and deep-fried cheese here. There's only so much cause for splitting hairs. So much of the state fair is doing those favorite things we enjoy doing once a year. It's what keeps us grounded.
To freezedried: You can't get the honey ice cream one of two ways -- with sunflower nuts or without. TDQ and I obviously prefer with.
While at the ag/hort building, I will usually purchase one of the featured apples, if I like the variety of the day. Last year, however, it was Wealthy. I took a pass.
re: Brad Ballinger
I agree that sentimentality is part of the equation, but you truncated the first part of my quote where I mentioned salty, tangy, soft yet still maintaining a curd shape, availability of catsup as being the other parts of the attraction to the Mouth Trap curds! Sentimentality alone wouldn't be enough. But I agree with your primary point, that the fair is a lot about tradition and sentimentality.
Oh no!...I'm not sure I knew the honey ice cream came without the sunflower seeds. But, you know me, now that I've tried it with and merged it into my personal, sentimental state fair food tradition, the opportunity cost of trying it without might be too great as, again, I only get it once a year.
Are there folks out there who think it's better without?
Your job already sounds a lot more fun than mine. ;-). Anyway, I listed out a bunch of "healthy" options recently in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3205... My post in that thread is new, though the thread itself is from 2006. So, be forewarned to look at the dates carefully...
To expand on TDQ's great post of healthy fair foods ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3205... ), here are some specific healthy items to eat at the fair. Many are things I would eat on purpose, even!
- Giggles Campfire Grill (salmon on a stick, elk burgers, etc.)
- Buffalo Burgers (also has elk burgers)
- Mini-kabobs (chicken, buffalo
)- Chinatown MN (teriaki ostrich on a stick)
- Chicken -n- Chops (chicken breast on a stick - eaten w/o skin)
- Cafe Caribe (chicken breast sandwiches - don't know if they're fried)
- Holy Land Deli (chicken gyro)
Fresh fruit & veggies:
- Midtown Global Market - You're in luck! This new booth has TONS of whole organic fruits. The pluots looked especially tempting on Friday.
- Andres Watermelon (veggies & dip, fruit kabobs, etc.)
- Apple booth in the Ag/Hort building (apples, apple cider)
- Corn Roast (Roasted corn - you can ask for no butter, if you're so inclined)
- The Prefered Pickle (Dill pickles and the new pickle pop - unless you're sensitive to sodium...)
- Veggie Fries (vegetable kabobs - unless they're fried)
- Veggie Pie (vegetable bowl, watermelon kabob, frozen grapes on-a-stick, etc.)
- Caribbean Fruit Smoothies (smoothies, fruit kabobs)
- Several popcorn/snack booths have popcorn w/o butter
- Roasted almonds at Cinnamon Roasted Nuts, German Roasted Nuts, Simply Nuts, and Heritage Square Nuts & Candy
If healthy means "organic", try:
- Donna's Bar-B-Q Rib Sandwich (organic brats)
- French Meadow Bakery (scones from organic ingredients)
I hope you're surviving your work at the fair. Be sure to schedule some time for fun!
Great list, Anne. RE: Vegie fries--I didn't get close enough to try them, but if that's the booth that says, "Fun on the outside and healthy on the inside" or something similar, the "fun" outside part seems to imply deep fried to me, which seems to be confirmed by how they describe themselves in the food finder. Here's a link to their info on the food finder. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
Also, don't forget Pham's spring rolls on the days they are at Midtown Global Market's International Bazaar stand. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food... Also, it seems Jakeeno's might have some salads on the days they get the booth, though, it's not clear what kind.
Also, there are several places that seem to serve pita pockets and salads including Demetri's and Falafel King http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
Personally, I don't think grilled pork chop on a stick is a terrible idea, either, especially if you share it and avoid eating any visible fat that may be around the edge. http://fairborne.mnstatefair.org/food...
Oooh! Thomasina's cashew nut brittle will be available in the Creative Activities Building! http://blogs.twincities.com/eat/2008/... Also, for those looking for "healthier" food, there's going to be grilled buffalo at Minnekabob.
Here's a series of posts here on chowhound about Thomasina's http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4614...
Just popping in to apologize for not updating my mondo list of all foods in the fair, but I've made a start - the list of all new foods in the 2008 fair. The link to my proto-list is in this post:
I've been too busy to do the full update yet, but I'm a-goin' to the fair tonight, and I wanted a real list of new foods (the fair food finder is incomplete - they missed Thomasina, for a start...)
P.S. Automommy, bless you for mentioning Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings!!! I love them, and I wouldn't have noticed this amazing FREE event if it weren't for your post. Thank you!!!!!
what i ate: honey sesame ice cream (share), curds from what i thought were the mousetrap but in fact were a different place (share), 1 fried green tomato and a coupla corn fritters--why did we get those (the corn fritters)? just meh-- but the FGT was very hot, perfectly fried, with great texture both from the still-firm but yielding tomato, and the crispy breading. perfect tangy green tomato taste. i am so sad that TDQ has not had the best this stand can offer. i rec lurking and getting the freshest batch of FGT you can.
also attn TDQ-- there is a wild rice and beef burger & sausage place in the food building, located in a corner, somewhat near the lamb place and the futuristic psychotically-frozen ice cream stand? named, what now? know what i mean?
i looked at the big fat bacon stand (not the chocolate dipped) and just couldn't do it. looked & smelled over the top greasy to me.
i seek info on bratwurst stands at the fair. i know there are several, but i was checking out one that has white lights & signs (the others all seemed to have yellow lights & signs). the sign boasted "bratwurst mit kraut" in bavarian-style script, and the long brats on the spotlighted grill were huge and delicious looking. unfortunately i was waiting for dh to meet me-- i knew i'd never be able to eat one on my own. dang they looked good though, and i was encouraged to observe several food stand folks lining up to order these fab looking sausages, including several guys wearing their french crepe uniforms. good sign imo. anybody sampled this delicacy?
i noticed a lingonberry ice cream stand-- could not for the life of me tell you where, but i'd already had my honey ice cream. curious on this too.
there was a kickass combo playing in the evening at the farmer's union. i don't know whether they are playing there the whole fair, or just weekends, or just tonight, but i'd sit there and listen to them some more.
already plotting my next visit. . . :)
Unfortunately, we did get a fresh batch of FGT last year--she made them just for us. We were the only people at her stand at that time of the morning. It wasn't that the batch wasn't fresh--it was the oil that wasn't fresh. I'm so glad people are having better experiences than what I had because it was truly vile and I was really disappointed. (In fact, I continue to be disappointed that everyone is having wonderful experiences when mine was one of the worst food experiences I've had at the fair). But, I do notice you're early in the Fair (day 2), whereas last year, I was late in the Fair (day 11). So, maybe the oil isn't old yet like it was for me last year.
Unlike some other things, FGT are not unique to the fair, so, after having had one terrible experience, rather than give them a second chance to disappoint me, I'd rather give a first chance to something that is hard to get elsewhere or indulge in one of my other favorites. We did like the honey butter that came with the corn fritters.
I'll have to look for the wild rice and beef burger & sausage place. Thanks for the tip.
EDIT: I'm also a bit chagrinned to admit that I checked my notes from last year and while I still thought they both tasted like stale grease, it was the corn fritters that I thought had the mushy texture problem, not the FGT.
Sheesh. I can't believe I'm being such a crab about the FGT. Here you all are, trying to point me to the good chow, and I'm so stubbornly resisting. Yeah, I had a bad experience at that booth last year. It must have been an off-day or an off-morning or whatever. My time at the Fair this year will be very limited, so, I don't know if I'll get a chance to try them this year. But, I will put them back on my list of things to try and hope I have a better experience this time around, similar to the ones you've all described. I am going to try to avoid first thing in the morning, though...face it, I don't especially crave FGT at 7am-8am anyway!
re: The Dairy Queen
i think it's a good point, about the grease, though! i remember thinking the FGT was waaay better this year than when i had it last year-- it was good then, but not *perfect*-- maybe the FGT is best in the first couple of days of the fair, & then these louts don't bother to change the fryer oil for the rest of the fair, and it just gets nasty by the end. hmm.
i've decided to try the brat-"mit kraut," and the lingonberry ice cream on my next trip. i will report. thanks for the pointer to the rainbow ice cream cart TDQ-- i remember it being all by itself, and would have wandered around forever, probably, trying to find it, were it not for your tip!
According the my "State Fair Expert"* he's tried those brats before and thought they were good. He hasn't tried any others at the fair, though, so he can't say if they are your best option. He seems to recall that they are always in the coupon book with, perhaps, a free root beer. He recalls being disappointed that they don't also sell real beer along with the brats.
We love to sit and listen to whomever is playing at the Farmer's Union. Always fun.
*Not really an expert--he just plays one on TV. No, really, he's just a long-time fan of the fair...
soupkitten, I think the lingonberry ice cream stand/cart you are thinking of might be the Rainbow Ice Cream cart which is on the street, just down the hill from the ag-hort building. You were probably staring at it as you were sitting on the bench eating your honey sunflower seed ice cream... I've always wondered about that cart, too and, like you, I'm unfortunately always too full to try it.
We tried a lot tonight.
Swedish cheese curds- comes with a dipping sauce. The four of us couldn't finish the helping, but they were good. I always love one or two.
Bacon on a stick (not chocolate)- Good. Really meaty bacon with a maple syrup glaze. I would have liked it more with the chipotle raspberry sauce, but that wasn't my choice since I didn't buy it. We will get this one again. Enough for 4 to try it.
Corn- Roasted corn, dipped in butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Nature's perfect food.
Scotch Egg- with homemade horseradish. Good, but a little dry. I wish the egg or the sausage had a little more moisture. I wish the horseradish had more kick. Get it cut in half, perfect for two.
Sweet Martha's Cookies- I love them until they are not warm anymore. A small cone is more than enough for two people. We threw away a few.
Corn Fritters- the honey butter is the good part. I remember them being better last year.
Fried Green Tomatoes- we got this at the same stand as corn fritters and shared it all between 4 people. The Tomatoes were very good. Maybe my favorite hot food item at the fair. Crispy, tomatoey, tasty.
Procuttio wrapped asparagus- Midtown Market booth. Very good. Very, very good. Won't be there tomorrow, but had a lemon mascapone keeping the procuttio on
Rhubarb wine- In the horticulture building. Way too expensive for what you get, but good. I really liked the flavor. I will go back to get the name of the vineyard to buy a bottle.
Beer- Mmmmm, beer. So glad they got rid of near beer last year.
To try during next visit: spam curds, apple cider pop, something from Giggles, the organic sausages near the animal barns.
sorry about the misspellings. it is late and I want to go to bed.
What I ate tonight (Friday, 8/22/08):
- Chicken Pattie from West Indies Soul. Lovely, lovely, lovely! Why have I never tried this before? (I always get the meat pattie, and Mr. Tastebud gets the jerk chicken. Silly us!)
- Half a bag of Tomasina's Cashew Brittle, eaten as I type this. Curse you, MSP chowhounders, for telling me about this stuff - it's impossible to resist!
- Roasted corn (my basic State Fair requirement).
- Poncho dog (across from the MPR booth) - Nice corny batter. And the stand has both mustard and ketchup - an absolute requirement for my patronage.
- Two chocolate cones from Dairy Building (formerly Empire Commons) - one each as we entered, one as we left.
- Summit Octoberfest Beer (while watching Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - if they were food, they'd be #1 on the list). I do love me some Summit beer!
- Surly Cynic Beer from Boulevard Grill in the Coliseum.
- Island Noodles (Yaki-Soba noodles with vegetables) - they were wheat noodles, not buckwheat, but were featuring lots of veggies as advertised. A huge, tasty, slightly greasy serving for $7, but I would rather have had a smaller portion for less money. (After eating half a portion, I was too full to try anything else in the area.)
- Honey Sunflower-seed Ice Cream from the Bee area of the Ag/Hort bldg.
- Northern Vineyards Rose from the wine-tasting area in the Ag/Hort building. Quite nice - I was surprised how much I liked this Minnesota wine!
- Popcorn from a random booth. Just the thing to soak up the Summit beer...
Anne, re: the chicken patty at West Indies Soul are those the orange-colored pastries that are stamped "Tower Isles" http://img.alibaba.com/photo/11485849... if so, they have those at their Midtown Global Market stand, too. They are really good and, in my opinion, probably the perfect kind of snack to walk around with.
re: The Dairy Queen
>> are those the orange-colored pastries that are stamped "Tower Isles"
Yep, those are the ones!
I felt silly getting something at the fair that I could easily buy "in the real world", but it was the best thing I ate at the fair! So I didn't regret it.
Besides, I've never tried it before - I always get the spicy beef patties when I'm at West Indies Soul. Now I know to get one chicken and one beef!
Oh, I wouldn't regret it if I were you! I think those patties would be a perfect "walking around" snack, all self-contained in their pastry. And maybe it's just enough of an indulgence that it feels more special at the fair instead of just like an every day kind of food.
I almost always get West Indies Soul's jerk chicken wings at the fair, even though they are available at MidGloMo, because they just seem like the perfect fair snack. On the other hand, don't tend to order snacky type items (delicious though they may be) when I visit them at Midtown Global Market because I'm usually there for a meal.
I also went to the fair last night and ate like crazy. Almost everything was shared with the hubby:
1) Fried Green Tomatoes: awesome, perfectly fried, my annual favorite
2) Pronto Pups: OK, we each got our own here, because we have a marriage-long condiment disagreement. His w/ only ketchup. mine only mustard. Yum.
3) Roasted Sweet Corn: OMG. This is first time I've had it at the fair, and it was fantastic. Very sweet, and the kernels were so full and juicy that they spurted out with each bite. We both had to clean our glasses after eating.
4) Cinnamon & Sugar Crepes: Tasty, but not overly exciting. He loves them, though.
5) Pork loin on a stick: Oh, wow. Another fair first for us. This was a ridiculously thick and large piece of grilled pork. We slathered ours in barbecure sauce and both loved it. Schumacher's booth right by the crepes and wine bar.
6) Tom Thumb mini donuts and Tiny Tim mini donuts: Surprised that Tiny Tim were much more enjoyable. Tom Thumbs seemed skimpy this year.
7) Scoth egg: Hubby only. He had it with maple syrup and seemed to enjoy it. Not for me.
8) Cream puff: Another first for us, and SO worth it! Light, fluffy, delicious and adorable. This stand is way at the edge of the fair. We hadn't even noticed it in previous years.
9) Various beers throughout the night: so nice it's no longer 3-2.We like the on-tap selections best at the new International Bazaar--Newcastle, Stella, Blue Moon w/ fresh orange.
By the way, we attmepted to try pig-lickers (choc covered bacon), but the line was super long and didn't move in the 15 minutes we stood in it, So we bailed. Seconds later we happened upon the never-before-seen cream puff stand, so I think it was a happy ending.
Went yesterday with my companion and tried a somewhat eclectic menu:
- corn dog (n.b., not a Pronto Pup). My annual corn dog. They just don't hold much appeal for me anyplace else.
- Blue Moon peanut-butter dog (shared). This was purchased more as a dare than anything. But it actually was better than I expected. We resisted the banana and honey accompaniments (gilding the lily). Companion would definitely get one next time at the Fair. Me? I'll save the calories for some other wacko combination.
- wine-tasting (no, these are not in chronological order!) (shared). The Frontenac red, the Forestedge rhubarb, and the Prairie Rose rosé, in the "flight". The red wasn't bad, but would have been much better with food. The rosé was a good "red-wine-is-good-for-you-drink-a-glass-by-itself" wine. And the rhubarb (the one billed as "drier") seemed to us to be a good dessert wine. We're not wine connoisseurs, though, so take it as it comes. :-)
- chicken caesar wrap -- sans tortilla -- in the Food Building (shared). It's hard to screw up a caesar salad, and they didn't. Not that memorable except that fresh vegetables which are not battered, fried and/or starchy are relatively hard to find at the Fair.
- Mouth Trap cheese curds (shared). Kudos for moving to what seemed like a smaller container so the curds seem like more. We patted the grease off them before eating. I have no preference for whose curds are better so long as they're fresh. They were.
- pot roast sandwich at the Butcher Block booth (near the Chautaqua tent). Kind of like Maverick's at the Fair, IMHO. I sure wish someone would offer something other than the ubiquitous "big fluffy bun", though. And, at $7, not especially cheap, although it's far more memorable than much of the other food served at the Fair.
I must say that I expected to see food prices jump noticeably. Maybe in some areas they have. Or maybe I just go to too many outdoor festivals. But given what has happened to food prices over the last year or so, I must credit the vendors for keeping a rein on food prices without making portions much different.
Still waiting on a few more reviews of Big Fat Bacon and may try a couple more foods if I get another chance to go...
Mmm, I went to the MN state fair yesterday for the first time. Went with 6 friends and we shared:
-jumbo 1919 root beer
-mouth trap cheese curds with ketchup
-liquid nitrogen ice cream
-honey sunflower seed ice scream sundae (my favorite!)
-apple cider pops
-64 oz bucket of fresh cut french fries
-4 dozen bucket of Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies (ended up taking most of them home)
Here's my report:
Breakfast at Salem Lutheran Church-recommended. I had the pancakes and sausage and found them both very tasty. It was my first meal with table service at the fair. In the future I might prefer dining at the counter outside...less of a wait.
Cheese curds from the stand at Dan Patch and Underwood: these had more breading and were easier to separate than the curds from the Mouth Trap. Still, I wouldn't say they were better necessarily. They were extremely salty.
French fries from "World's Best French Fries", also at Dan Patch and Underwood: good, but I prefer the Fresh French Fry booths, where the fries come in a cup. I think their fries were a little more flavorful. The Fresh French Fry booths have a better assortment of condiments as well.
Bull Bites and homemade tater tots from Axel's: the tater tots are way larger than any I'd ever seen before. They were more like cheesy potato croquettes, or fried cheesy hash brown casserole balls. It was a substantial dish, greasy and tasty. The Bull Bites were delicious but a bit spendy...$7 for a small tray. It was nice to have some grilled meat amongst the fried goodies though.
Honey lemonade: it was delicious this year. Sometimes there's barely any honey flavor, and other times it is very syrupy, but they got it just right this time.
Farmer's Union iced coffee (next to the Culligan booth): for all you coffee addicts out there, this is the place to go. Way better than French Meadow for iced coffee.
Oh, I hope you can go to the Fair! It's all about Minnesotans and all about chow. In addition to all the food to try (which is more about once in awhile indulgences that you look forward to eating just once a year than really great chow), you get to see everyone's baking and canning projects in the Creative Activities Building. Plus, you can see all the amazing things you can do with your food besides eat it (making sculptures out of butter --Dairy Building---and art out of seeds--in the Ag-Hort building), look at the giant pumpkin (ag-hort building), and visit the livestock animals (and watch milking demos, and judging competitions) who will eventually become part of our food supply.
Park and ride is fantastic. It's only easier to drive yourself and park near the fair if you arrive super early--say, before 8am, by 10am, it's too late-- and leave super late, say, after 10pm. Otherwise, traffic is gridlocked.
To Quince--I, too, love the breakfast (as well as the "meatball sundae") at Salem Lutheran Church, but I noticed they didn't open their outside counter until at least late morning yesterday. I don't know if that timing was an aberration or what. I know I've been there early morning and snagged a coffee to go from the counter, but I don't know what was up yesterday. I especially love the egg coffee.
The Peg also has table service, but, the servers at the Peg are paid, whereas the servers at SLC are volunteers (and typically teenagers or young adults), so, you do have to be a bit patient sometimes.
re: The Dairy Queen
i love the egg coffee at salem too and got some on friday-- forgot to mention it!
not useful to Ummm, maybe, but to hounds who want to ride a bike down, bike parking is free and safe (gaurded). motorcycles and scooters are easy to park in the neighborhood areas. leave the suvs at home though, traffic gets super snarled and dangerous as people do stupid things to find parking at the fair.
Jumping on the bandwagon:
-Pronto Pup - Love em.
-Big Game brat from Giggles - hugely disappointing, because I was excited to get something at the Giggles stand based on recs from here. Many other items I saw (walleye fries, smoked salmon on a stick, walleye cakes) looked great. The brat was completely boring and unremarkable. I think they may have forgotten to put onions and such on it - I thought I saw that on the menu...?
Sweet Corn - seemed super fresh this time around
Mocha on a stick and coffee from the farmer's union stand - great, fresh coffee.
Fried Green Tomatoes and Corn Fritters - had em before, have skipped them a few years but happily tried them again since reading about them on the board.
Tom Thumb donuts - another tradition. Can't pass em up.
Cheese Curds (Dan Patch Ave.) - I won't start on it this year, I promise!
Honey sunflower ice cream sundae - highest recommendation, but this thing was HUGE.
Lingonberry float - as I mentioned above, this is going to be a new favorite. Hardly even advertised at the booth, either.
Surly Cynic Ale - found only at the Boulevard Grill in the Coliseum.
AYCD Milk and Sweet Martha's Cookies - inseparable. I actually would have done without the cookies, but a friend bought one of those absurd buckets.
Hmmm... I think that was it. We were there Friday morning when it was really hot. I think the weather took a lot out of us... there were quite a few other things we would have liked to have tried.
Has anyone had the ice cream at the wine tasting bar? They have ice creams made with two of the wines, a plum based wine and one other which I forget. The plum one is cardamon flavored... Both are made by Izzy's. I really wanted to try one but had just had a diary barn shake and couldn't fit it in... Wondering if I should make a point of going back and trying one?
Sounds really good! I was there the other day, tasting wine (I liked the Northern Vineyards rose), but I completely missed the ice cream.
Thanks for the tip - I'll be having that wine ice cream for breakfast tomorrow. Both flavors, probably. I'll report back Thursday afternoon.
Ice cream report: Both flavors are great! You can tell it's Izzy's ice cream - very rich and not too sweet. They give tastes, so try each one and see which you prefer. Best of all, you can get a "split" - one scoop of each flavor in a cup. That's what I did. I started out liking the cardamom-plum best, but then switched my love to the chocolate raspberry - very dark, rich chocolate, and a mild raspberry-wine flavor (not as strong as I'd like, though).
That corner of the fair is really ice cream central this year - the Honey Sunflower Seed, the Lingonberry, and the wine ice cream are all within steps of each other. And I'm proud to say that I've tried them all.
Oh, happy me.
Yesterday's lingonberry ice cream was plenty sweet, though not over-sweet - with whole lingonberries scattered throughout to give it a nice tart zip. Very creamy, too. I ordered a dish (two scoops for $4.75, if I recall).
And I *wanted* to eat the whole scoop, but I was sharing with my niece (1.5 years), and she gobbled half the dish. And after the other grownups in my group had a taste, they each ordered their own portion - one got a dish, the others got cones.
Plus, the ice cream is such a beautiful purple color!
I can't help myself, but speaking of tart frozen treats at the Fair, has anyone tried the honey yogurt they sell at the same place that sells the honey sunflower seed ice cream?
Lingonberry shakes and wine ice cream (dang! I walked right past it on my way to my annual crop art viewing!) are on my list for next time!
Do you mean food vendors? Wow--it's never occurred to me to attempt to pay with a credit card at any of the places, except maybe some of the stalls that sell some of the bigger ticket (non-food) items at the Grandstand. Most of the vendors are trying to keep the transactions short and fast. I've only ever bought non-food items with a charge-card---a sweatshirt at the UofM building and a jacket or something at the Twin's booth.
I'm pretty sure you can pay your fair admission with a charge card. But, the one thing I know for certain is that they do have ATM's at the fair. http://www.mnstatefair.org/pages/gues... I go to the ATM at the visitors plaza when I need one.
I suppose it wouldn't be crazy for some of the vendors who are in permanent buildings (like the church dining halls, or Giggles) to accept charge cards, but I've just never noticed. Golly, though, I can't imagine paying for anything like a pronto pup or fried green tomatoes at the outside booths, which are barely more than hotdog carts, with a credit card...
Maybe it's just me, but I always bring cash and an ATM card and a credit card to pay for admission.
returned to the fair: was there with dh for a while and we were joined by an east coast visitor for the evening, his 1st time at the fair, so very fun, plus it's great to split everything 3 ways--like state fair tapas.
tried the lingonberry float: gorgeous purple color, whole plump lingonberries, tart. i loved it. next year i'll try the ice cream by itself, though the float was refreshing and nice.
snagged a couple of bites of guest's HSF ice cream, too-- it was mostly all his though :)
FGT-- i got a whole order of these to myself. they were great.
fresh cut fries-- small cup split 3 ways is imo perfect
big fat bacon. rick nelson says it's fischer farms bacon? was good.
leinie's summer wheat w/ slice of orange. i'm not a leinie's chick, but this beer was notable. very refreshing and delicious with the orange. wicked fresh of course-- i won't be stocking it at the house, but look forward to another one at the next fair.
cheese curds-- got these at one of the outdoor stands and they were an overfried mess. the visitor's first curds, he thought they were fantastic, but i wished we'd gone to mouth trap for a better product, i didn't want to be a freak though, we got them because they were right there & he wanted to try them.
iced coffee, iced chai, mocha on a stick at the farmer's union. all were excellent. traditional scandinavian folk music band playing.
luigi fries-- dh got these out of nostalgia? i certainly don't get the appeal-- cheezy breadsticks, nothing more-- won't get them again.
the aforementioned brat "mit-out kraut." it was good. the cheap mass-produced bun added nothing to the good-quality sausage. it was just fine, but i wonder if there is a better brat out there-- or italian, greek, or mexican sausage perhaps?
mmm-- fair food. i'll need a week or so to recover :)
Here's what I ate in my two most recent trips to the fair, from best to worst:
. Wine ice cream (both flavors: chocolate-raspberry and cardamom-plum) from the MN Wine booth in the Ag/Hort building. Delish! It was worth the trip to the fair just for this stuff. (More details above, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5397... .) Thanks, MrSlippery, for this tip!
. Roasted corn - always wonderful. I learned you can ask for "well roasted" corn, so no more hoping silently for me!
. Lingonberry ice cream. Yum! This is now on my "must have every year" list.
. Corn dog (across from MPR booth). Nice and corny, though a hair underdone.
. Grilled Italian Sausage sandwich (just a bite) from Spaghetti Eddie's. Quite good - lots of fennel. I think I might get one of these for myself, someday.
. Lamb sandwich from the Lamb Shoppe (just a taste). Flavor was delicious, but the meat was a bit dry and underseasoned (I couldn't taste the rosemary, but did taste garlic). But I'll buy their lamb to cook myself (they sell it at the Wedge).
. Tom Thumb Mini Donuts. I somehow managed to eat an entire bag. Loved 'em going down, but now ... glurg.
. Fried battered smelt. Pretty good for greasy fried food. I much prefer this to cheese curds (but that's me). But I would rather have had unbattered smelt.
. Taste of kettle corn. Good, but I wasn't wild about the hint of sweetness. I'd rather it were either unsweetened or more pronounced and caramel-y.
. Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves on-a-stick) from Holy Land. Pretty good. They tasted like they were from a jar, but an imported jar. But they would have been better with some lemon juice or tangy sauce.
. Teriyaki ostrich from Chinatown Minnesota. It was ground meat (like a combo of turkey & beef) drenched in straight-from-the-bottle teriyaki sauce. I could see bits of garlic(?) on the meat, though I didn't taste much flavor. I wouldn't do this item again, though my baby niece loved it.
. Hot turkey sandwich from St. Bernard's Dining Hall. Very mediocre - the turkey was from a processed "loaf," and the mashed potatoes were gluey and instant. The gravy was too salty, too. I wouldn't go here again. (It was my brother-in-law's pick - he love's dining hall food - but he pronounced his meal "soup kitchen food".)
Only 3 more days of the fair! I hope to get there one more time... I still haven't tried a fire dog or a walking taco...
Wine ice cream and lingonberry ice cream-delicious! The lingonberry float was a little expensive for what it was (lingonberry soda with a smallish scoop of lingonberry ice cream for $5.50), but it was good. I got the cardamom plum ice cream and while it didn't taste strongly of cardamom, it had a strong wine flavor and was wonderful.
Also recommended-fried ravioli from the pepper shaped booth (with the sauce) and fried turkey sandwiches from Turkey-to-Go.
OK I've been twice so far and going again tomorrow. Here's my report so far:
Corn dog at Big Dog Corn Dogs on Underwood and Randall. Just OK. Hot dog had decent flavor, but lacked the snap I want from a hot dog. The "fried" onions were more steamed than fried, with very little caramelized onion flavor. There must be better out there.
My chowish fried got a corn dog from one of those places with a chioce of normal size or giant corn dogs (don't remember the name). She only wanted a normal sized one, but they only had the huge ones so she tried one. It was so bad she threw it away rather than waste the calories. I didn't ask for particulars.
Vanilla cream puff at "Cream Puffs" at Dan Patch and Liggett. This has been a "must have" every year for me since I can remember. The cream puffs are just great - yummy yummy fresh dairy-tasting whipped cream in a puffy puff sprinkled with powdered sugar. Pair it with ice cold milk and it's heavenly.
Fresh Cut French Fries. Always great, though I still prefer the fries at the Nook or Shamrocks.
Tom Thumb Mini Donuts - Not BAD, really, but a smidgeon disappointing. Not as crisp-ish on the outside as I remember.
Corn dog from a stand just inside the main entrance on Snelling. Small (not necessarily a bad thing), and could have used more batter, but overall a pretty solid c-dog. The batter was crisp and corn-y, though it could have benefited from a bit more sweetness.
Cheese curds from the place on Dan Patch and Underwood. Another thing where I've gotten my curds here since before I can remember. I recall trying the Mouth Trap once and not liking them as much. I think they weren't salty enough for me. But I don't want to argue about it! This year they were good as ever, and gerasy as ever.
"World's Best French Fries" (note the quotation marks). They weren't bad at all, but they weren't as flavorful or crisp as the Fresh Cut French Fries that dominate the fair.
Wine trio at the Horticulture building: Prairie Star, somethign I can't remember the name of, and Forestedge Rhubarb. DH and I both thought the Prairie Star was terrible and we didn't finish it. The one we can't remember the name of wasn't good either. The Forestedge Rhubarb was interesting and unoffensive. Maybe even good, but we didn't have enough sips to tell for sure. It was a tiny bit sweet, yet dry, and had a nice aftertaste. Forgive me for not being very descriptive - these wines tasted different from anything we drink at home!
Falafel at Holy Land (in the Bazaar): Terrible. Bland flavor, lukewarm temp, and soggy crust. Ick.
Middle-eastern lemonade (or mediterranean or something like that), also at Holy Land. This beverage has great potential - it's like a lemonade slushy with mint blended in. Howwever, it was far sweeter than I would like (although my husband disagreed and he loved it just the way it was). When his back was turned, I poured in a bunch of water - then I loved the flavor but it wasn't very slushy anymore.
Waffle Fries at Giggles. I know I'm dissing a board favorite, but these were terrible. Room temp, un-crisp fried walleye. I only ate a efw then threw the rest out.
Corn Dog at Hansen's between the Horse barn and the Cattle barn. No better or worse than the one I got on DAY ONE.
Honey sunflower seed ice cream at the Horticulture building. OK, I know I'm going to make some enemies here, but I just didn't see the big deal about this one. I respect your differing opinions, but the honey flavor was too subtle for me.
Leg of lamb at the Lamb Shop in the food building. This was actually a sandwich - jsut a bun with lamb on it. The lamb was tender and juicy, and the flavor was quite nice (if simple). A little more gristle than I'd prefer, but overall pretty satisfying. Would have benefited from well-chosen condiments (not sure what was available, we scooted out of the building in a hurry without looking at the condiment bar).
DH got the gyros at the Lamb Shop and was disappointed. He said the lamb itself was very good - nice herby, tender slices, but the rest of the gyro (the pita, veggie accompaniments, and sauce) were inferior - he wished he'd gone to Falafel King instead.
Overall, I felt sort of sad about my fair visits so far this year - nothing was really earth-shattering yet.
Tomorrow, I hope to hit:
- lingonberry ice cream (new to me)
- fried green tomatoes (new to me)
- schumachers' for pork on a stick (another annual fave that I haven't gotten around to yet)
Hope I can report back a happier lady!
Ok, I will do my duty for anyone going the final day. My food report:
The only thing that really floated my boat was a strawberry/whipped cream
crepe at the French Crepe place- real whipped cream, not out of a spray can
either.They make the crepes right there, strawberries and blueberries are fresh
and yummy. 2nd place was a ricotta cream-filled zeppole at the place that
does fried twinkies. Kind of like Italian fried dough with cannoli filling. Quite
yummy and $1 each.
I had one of the fish tacos that got deemed best new fair food. It was good,
but only had cabbage- I was wishing for some lettuce and tomato.
Had a buffalo kebab from the Food bldg- the toughest meat I have ever
tried to chew, and I like buffalo.
Pretty good but not great French Fries from 'Fresh Fries- because a woman
at the info booth said they were the best.
Tried the honey sunflower icecream in a combo with the fudge flavor. I have
to echo someone on this board who was underwhelmed. I also felt the honey
flavor was not obvious, and was disappointed to find out the color was
from a food dye. I do try to avoid the dyes. The woman at the counter told me
they have a white honey ice cream but they weren't selling it this year (?).
Loved the jfk exhibit by the kiddie rides.
Oh yes, I had the lingonberry ice cream- I really liked the tart berries, would
have liked a little more obvious lingonberry flavor in the general mix. Also had
some Sweet Martha's cookies and really wanted to taste butter in them, don't
think they are using butter. To me, it's not a serious choc chip cookie w/o butter.
If you're going to get the honey sunflower seed ice cream, you MUST pay the extra 25 cents to get it as a "sundae."
What that really means is that they hollow out the center of the pile of ice cream, and fill the hole with honey. You will not be wanting for honey flavor after that addition. And, it is best 25 cents you'll ever spend at the fair.
As for the bacon debate, I had both, the pig licker and big fat bacon, and was VERY pleasantly surprised by both. However, only Big Fat Bacon was good enough to become an annual tradition.
I don't think I could eat an entire order of pig lickers myself. I'd much rather see that as $1 for a piece than $5 for a cone. You really only need a few bites.
On the other hand, if there was a day to do it without having my heart explode, I probably could eat Big Fat Bacon every day.
One edit on my Aug 31 post: Walleye fries at Giggles, not waffle fries.
OK, here's my report about yesterday's visit:
Foot long hot dog at About a... Foot Long Hot Dogs (on a chowhound recommendation). MUCH better than the one I had on DAY ONE. This one was a very flavorful dog with natural casing (there's that snap I've been searching for). The onions were more caramelized too.
My husband had a chicken pita at Demetri's Greek Foods. It tasted like a chicken fajita in a pita - grilled onions and peppers with chicken (maybe something else, but these were the dominating flavors). Not bad, and a lot of chicken for the price (for the Fair) but I wouldn't buy it again when there's so much more out there.
Chocolate-dipped pecan nut roll from the Nut Rolls stand near the Snelling gate. I was expecting a salted nut roll (which was unfair because they weren't advertised as being salted), but these (or at least the one I ordered) were not salted. The nuts were large and fresh, the caramel was chewy and buttery, and the nougat seemed high-quality. However, without the salt, it was too much sweet for me.
Pork on a stick at Shumacher's was drier than I remembered, but the flavor was great - especially the nice salty, slightly fatty exterior.
Sangria at Shumacher's - I've had sangria exactly twice in my life, so I can't compare this with any expertise. I liked it pertty well though - citrusy, fruity, spiced (a tiny bit of clove maybe?) chilled red wine. . . nice for the fair anyway.
That was all I got - it was a shorter fair visit than I hoped for. Time to start planning for next year!
We made it to the State Fair yesterday. Crowds on Sunday were lighter than I expected (possibly, I have heard, due to the poor economy). This was our first visit since our daughter was born in 2005. I was surprised how much I missed and enjoyed the Fair.
Many thanks to the posters and reviewers in this thread, who helped steer us toward (and away from) some food finds. We had a pretty successful day, chow-wise.
Breakfast was at the Blue Moon Drive-In Diner. This is a fun little place with a fairly ambitious menu. They have nice outside seating with round metal patio tables with umbrellas. The indoor seating is made up of a variety of vintage car seats (benches, not buckets) arranged in front of the indoor "drive-in" movie screen. You can watch a classic movie while you eat. The coffee was pretty decent and the food was good. I had an egg & cheese sandwich on ciabatta. The egg was cracklin' crispy and hot from the griddle and the ciabatta was very fresh and good. My wife had a slice of veggie egg bake, which she really liked, and our toddler had the "monkey bread", a pulled-apart cinnamon bun topped with streusel. This was warm, sticky, and sweet ... what more could you ask for? The lunch and dinner menu looks interesting, too. They have a wood-fired oven in which they cook a variety of pizzas.
Old favorites we tried included...
Roast corn. Great as always. This is simplicity itself and doesn't even need the butter they dip it in. I understand that they have people picking and delivering the corn fresh every day.
Fried Green Tomatoes. I'm not a huge fan, usually, but I really enjoyed these. The tomatoes were perfect -- tart, crisp, and yet juicy, and the breading was nicely seasoned and not too heavy or greasy. A little dipping sauce of some kind would have been nice, but nothing was offered. Perhaps they should consider a remoulade or even a savory mustard.
Apple Cider Pops from the Horticulture building. These are the best deal of the Fair, at 75 cents each. Icy cold, deliciously fresh cider in push-up popsicle form. I'm determined to start making these at home now. So refreshing.
Honey ice cream, also from the Horticulture building. The two flavors available are honey-sunflower seed and honey fudge-almond. Both are excellent. The honey flavor is more pronounced in the sunflower seed ice cream, but the quality of chocolate used in the other flavor is really very good. My only complaint would be that the portion is too large (!). You get the equivalent of 3-4 scoops of ice cream. I wish they at least offered a kid's size. I asked for a very small portion on a cone for my daughter, and they still gave her two big scoops.
New (to me) this year...
Norwegian Cheese Curds. These were a nice surprise. I usually get the lead-bellied feeling after eating just two curds, so I usually avoid cheese curds. However, these are made with a lighter batter and less salt than the norm, which made them much more palatable. The lingonberry dipping sauce is creamy, like yogurt, and it complements the cheese perfectly. I ate half an order of these and didn't get sick. :)
Italian Ice from Isabella's (name?): They have a variety of tempting flavors (some aimed more at kids). We split a small cup of mango Italian ice. This was a nice, dense sorbet with good mango flavor, and not too sweet. Extremely refreshing.
S'mores from the "Real S'Mores" booth: Not the deep-fried s'mores from Oodles of Noodles. This was basically a heated-up s'more served in waxed paper. The marshmallow wasn't toasted or anything. I can make them the same way in my microwave. Not recommended.
1919 Root Beer. A big 33 oz draft is $3, a real bargain. Fabulous root beer brewed locally. The only downside was the lack of a lid. I really like having a lid to increase the stability of these flimsy paper cups
Spaghetti & Meatballs on a stick from Oodles of Noodles in the Food Building: Meh. Low-quality spaghetti, meatball, and sauce. This was my wife's lunch.
Falafel sandwich from Falafel King in the Food Building: I wanted something a bit more substantial but not terribly unhealthy for lunch. Three falafel balls, lettuce, tomato, and tahini wrapped in pita bread. A perfectly acceptable fresh falafel sandwich.
Then, of course, we had the big bacon showdown: Pig Lickers vs. Big Fat Bacon. Our verdict? Read on.
Big Fat Bacon features Fischer Farms bacon, glazed with maple syrup, and served on a stick. It's stiff as a board, thick, and crispy. You can even add mustard, BBQ sauce, or chipotle-orange sauce, if you want. Very good bacon, and complemented nicely by the chipotle-orange sauce.
The Pig Lickers, sold by Famous Dave's, use Nueske's bacon, dipped in Chocolate Celeste milk chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt. This is kept in a very cold refrigerator and served cold in a cup, about 4-6 slices. The ingredients are all high quality and they worked well together, but we felt the chocolate overwhelmed the bacon. That might also be due to the low temperature, which has an effect of muting flavors. The chocolate was really excellent, though.
Overall, we'd give a slight nod to the Big Fat Bacon for being the one we'd want to order again. However, choosing between Nueske's and Fischer Farms is a little like choosing between sapphires and rubies. You really can't lose, either way.
Photos attached, if I can figure out how to upload them.
we made it to the stat fair yesterday - my first time, and DH hadn't been for a long time. i really wanted to go to try the different food. we did the park free and ride free shuttle and it was a great idea. when we got there, it took us a while to find out where to get the coupon book (we were told at the grand stand... which was wrong info) - i wouldn't get the coupon book again as i only used 2 of them so it didn't justify the prices. all the food i wanted to try weren't in the book. okay, onto the food. not in any order.
twisted sister sausage (food building) - our first item. i was hungry so thought we'd eat something a bit more savory first. i thought it was okay... DH made bagel dogs at home sometimes so it's not something really new.
the liquid nitrogen icecream booth (food building) wasn't giving out samples in a spoon - vanilla, quite creamy, but no diff to normal icecream.
1919 root beer - i was thirsty, it was okay, not very diff to other root beer?
sunflower seed honey / honey chocolate fudge (or whatever it is called) / honey yogurt combo - i like the sunflower seed best, the yogurt had some almond taste to it i think, and the fudge one wasn't bad but it was not as good as another chocolate ice cream i just had (see next).
honey lemonade (from the above stand) - pretty refreshing!
chocolate raspberry / cardamono plum (sp) icecream - took the advice from another poster here and asked for a scope each - the chocolate one was rich with a hint of raspberry but i really like the plum icecream! don't really taste the alcohol in them though which is good. wanted to try their raspberry and rhubarb wine but thought we'll come try later and never did.
lingonberry float - took a while to find as it was not available at all rainbow stands. he said it's not new and had been there for 6 years? icecream was fun to eat i wish the soft drink was colder.
pig licker - i actually quite like the salt and sweet combination. i only managed to eat one slice because i was kinda full already and didn't want to make myself sick as i still wanted to try other things. wanted to try the big fat bacon too but i was too full by the time we walked past that stand.
nut roll - took it home as i was too full then. got the pecan one and was pretty good. prob better if it was fresh. i like that it had a nougat center and not just nuts. i had no idea what a nut roll was before, i thought it was like a cinnamon roll with nuts instead (want to get some cinnamon mini rolls too but didn't get around to).
fried green tomato at corn fritters - better than i expected. i didn't know it'd be sliced tomatos, for some reasons i thought it'd be like cherry tomato shapes. they did have sauce on the side eg ranch, ketchup, tabasco etc. we had ranch. i only got to have one slice, because i got thirsty and went to get something to drink and by the time i got back DH ate them all!
jerk chicken wings and spicy beef patties at the west indies soul stand - pretty tasty. wanted to try their sweet potato pies too but didn't. haven't tried west indies food before so it was good to try.
thomasina's cashew brittle - so good! tried a sample there, and brought the bags home. i like that it's not overly sweet.
strawberry treet drink - when i walked past the booth (between the food building and the ag/hort bldg) it looked very thick in the blender. we just had the honey lemonade so didn't feel like another drink yet. came back later at night, in the blender was some strawberries and some water looking liquid (prob syrub) - pretty disappointed as it tasted more syruby than strawberry and a bit too sweet. should've gotten it in the afternoon when i saw that it was thick.
fire dog - i like it! i don't know how it differed from their pickle dog though as it wasn't very spicy at all. i don't usually like pickle but i liked it.
tiny tim donuts - was okay. i was full by then but DH wanted some.
i think that's all we had? quite a lot of food i think for 5.5 hours! i was getting tired, and there were a few things i wanted to try but didn't:
cream puff - after eating all the ice cream (we had the wine and honey icecream one right after another since they were close by together) didn't feel like having more creamy products... roasted corn looked good too but i was full, didn't get to try any catfish or walleye stuff, wanted to try moe and joes' chocolate sandwich but when we went past it i was just too full from eating sweet stuff. DH wanted to find some smoke pork or beef (not jerky) but we just didn't see any?
i also enjoyed seeing the items in the creative art building and the fine art building. we walked past the l'real stand but they were closing and gave out full size mascara samples instead :) the dental booth also gave out toothpaste samples :) also bought a couple 'spiral eye self threading needles' for my mom since it'd make threading needles much easier.
all in all, i was a fun day. though kinda expansive... $5 don't go far since pretty much everything is around $5 each (except for the drinks)!
>>> wanted to try the big fat bacon too but i was too full by the time we walked past that stand ... ... ... ... wanted to try their sweet potato pies too but didn't ... ... ... ... quite a lot of food i think for 5.5 hours! i was getting tired, and there were a few things i wanted to try but didn't
Ummm, if you were too full to try more tempting foods, you indeed had a true fair experience on your first try. It's all about stuffing yourself until you can't eat any more.
I'm glad you made it to the Creative Art building (my favorite place at the fair, not counting the food). I hope you had enough fun to want to return next year - after your digestive system has a rest!
I went Saturday and yesterday, and although I didn't go too exotic, I tried a few new things.
Saturday, I started with a footlong hot dog (with fried onions). My traditional fair breakfast was good as always. From there, went to the Cheese Curd booth (on the street, not in the Food building). Got there about 9:30am, no line, and surprisingly not greasy curds. Pretty good.
After an hour or so of letting the cheese brick digest, we waddled over to Sweet Marthas. A few cookies and milk sounded good, and they were.
From there, we walked to the Bazaar. Wow, how nice is that place? I had a Kufta kabobs from Holy Land (excellent) and the Sesame Chicken on a stick from Pham's at Midtown Global (also excellent).
A few fresh french fries rounded out my Saturday visit.
Yesterday, I tried the Elk Burger at Giggles. VERY good. We also made it over to the Dairy Barn (as recommended here) for a shake. There was no wait, just as I would told there wouldn't be, and the shake was really good, just as I was told. I agree that the product there is better than the dairy building. It might be the same thing for all I know, but it tasted better.
Beyond that, I had a few of the same things I had the first time, just to satisfy my urges for the next year. Oh, and I picked up a cashew roll and a pecan roll on the way out.
Until next year...
Didn't think I was gonig to make it, but the missus and I showed up on the afternoon of Labor Day. Spent only 3 hours. Nonetheless...
Sury Cynic Ale -- Fantastic (like it wouldn't be, right?).
Pig Lickers -- I know Mary Leonard of Chocolat Celeste so I had to try these. Liked 'em. Would get them again.
1919 Root Beer -- Always good.
Fish Tacos at San Felipe Tacos -- Best thing I ate this year.
Tater Tots on a Stick at Axel's -- Not bad, but had trouble staying on stick.
Cheese Curds at Kropp's (Underwood, just north of Lee, not far from the Pet Center) -- Okay, I'm going to take some grief here. This cheese curds stand is not affiliated with any other at the fair. Kropp's is from Green Bay, Wisconsin (which the stand advertises as "Titletown, USA"). So it may be akin to blasphemy to purchase cheese curds from a Wisconsin vendor at the Minnesota State Fair, but I like them here. They also serve freshly battered and fried mozzarella sticks. Marinara sauce is served with both the curds and the mozz sticks. Plus there are four picnic tables under a canopy at which to sit and enjoy the snack.
Honey Sunflower Ice Cream -- ALL GONE! Next year, I guess.
In true fair fanatic fashion, I've just finished reading each and every one of your posts. The week of the fair, I was wandering through New England. So I missed out on my pronto pups and fried green tomatoes and roasted corn and crepes and root beer and and this year. I'm surprised at how bitter I was about that. Thanks for all these detailed comments, and the vicarious, late pleasure.
Although, to be fair, I did make up a little for what I missed with the lobster rolls in Maine and pirogies in Massachusetts...
Lobster rolls???? Oh, I would trade three trips to the fair for one lobster roll. Sigh...
Better fend off those bitter feelings by hitting a farmers market for roasted corn and other tastes-better-when-eaten-outdoors treats. Ya don't want to let those feelings of regret fester all winter...
And for more vicarious fair experiences, check out this week's edition of Viva & Jerry on MTN (Mpls cable). In addition to showcasing their fair visit (including the adorable line-dancing staff at one of the eateries), Viva made her own versions of alligator on a stick, bacon on a steak, and "cow-bobs" on a stick. Cute!!!!