State Fair 2010 Reviews!
14 hours and one giant blister later, I am home and ready to share.
Chicken Fried Bacon - Giggles: Bacon is a breakfast food, right? I was the proud recipient of one of the first two orders, and I think this one has staying power. It's like the best chicken strip you've ever had. The key to this sort of dish getting the balance right between the batter and meat. They nailed it in this regard, and the cinnamon sauce that came with it was perfect. And it wasn't even greasy! The portion we got (5-6 slices) was very generous, though I saw somewhat smaller plates later in the day.
Turtle Sundae Fudge Puppy - Fudge Puppies: Wife loved this. I was hoping for it to be warmer, since we ordered it at 7:45 in the morning, and I thought the caramel sauce tasted artificial and cloying, rather than teasing out the salty notes in the waffle. I also thought $5 was a bit much for the portion.
Korean BBQ Tacos - Blue Moon Drive-In: The drive in had always intrigued me generally, as have Korean BBQ tacos. For starters, the advertised short rib and pork tacos was not available. We went with the chicken. It more or less tasted like a competent, tangy chicken taco. I was missing the complexity I would assume makes these so popular.
Jerk Chicken Roti - Harry Singh's: After hearing a customer ask for some hot sauce because there wasn't enough flavor, I decided to ask for some on the side for dipping. I was glad for the extra kick, but the plate is plenty flavorful, if savory and subtle. The bread held up very well to the nutty sauce, but you'll still want to find a table. Eating while sitting on a retaining wall under the noon sun might was not the best idea, but for $5, this would be a filling lunch for any sane person.
Honey Sunflower Ice Cream Sundae - Ag Building: If you haven't had this (and I hadn't) you must. I've had ice cream just about every which way at the fair, and this is the best I've had. The cream is a sort of dense and nougat-like, and the honey itself really shines. Mind the wait during peak hours (we waited 20 minutes for ours), but by all means endure it.
Deep Fried Bologna on a stick - Netterfield Food Court: It took us some time to find Netterfield Court. It is a "courtyard" forged of a coalition of those saccharine-colored trailers that populate the culinary ghettos near the tractors and the kids midway. This is more or less a corn dog, though I like the way the meat seems to melt in your mouth. If corn dogs and the idea of bologna melting in your mouth are unsettling to you, stay away.
Pigs Ears - Famous Dave's: Not at all what I expected. These were fried with a peppery breading, with a final product resembling clam strips in taste and texture (albeit with more inconsistency from piece to piece). I applaud them for making pigs ears into something relatable, but aside from the novelty, I'm not sure why you'd order it. The piquant BBQ sauce was an arbitrary pairing.
Cheese Curds - Mouth Trap: We went with the Mouth Trap, vs. the Original. These seemed a bit lighter on their feet, which I appreciated. Otherwise, you know what cheese curds taste like.
Sweet Potato Tots - O'Garas: A nice concept with flawed execution. Ours was a mix of perfectly fried and undercooked tots, that latter of which fell apart (evoking memories of high school lunch). There also isn't a dipping sauce. It could have benefited from one of those ubiquitous aioli/chipotle mayo scenarios.
Funnel Cakes - Food Building: I appreciate the simplicity of the funnel cake. We scored a coupon from a friend, and got these for $3. That's a bargain.
Uffda Brat - Sausage Sister and Me: I ordered "the works", which included mashed potatoes and sauerkraut wrapped in the lefse. Everything was pretty good except for the lefse itself, which was dry and floury. What happened there? The lingonberry sauce would have been apropos of the plain version, but was easy to ignore.
Thomasinas Cashew Brittle - One of the Expo Buildings: Everything I love about peanut brittle, minus everything I hate about peanut brittle (namely, the peanuts). Kinda pricy at $2 a bar, but delicious.
Also, unless I missed something, the MN countryside stand with all the funky sodas did not return.
My jerk chicken roti was perfect.
I tried the deep fried mashed potatoes with bacon and cheddar on a stick--really disappointing, no bacon or cheese flavor. The sweet potato fries from the same stand were too sweet and totally limp.
We tried but couldn't get anywhere near the wild rice burgers in the food building--go early!
Footlongs and Pronto Pups were classically great.
Strawberry scone from French Meadows was delectable.
Good (different) lemonade at Holyland in the International area.
Elk burger at Giggles was very good. Nice condiments shack and tent shaded picnic tables. Most inviting food sighting of the day was at Giggles, foot long walleye sandwich. It looked incredible!
We stopped at Giggles Campfire Grill and had the deep-fried Boat Load of Sunnies with lingonberry dipping sauce and the deep-fried Walleye Fries with a herb-lemon tartar sauce.
I know this seems like a major fair buzzkill, but....
Does anyone know of what local/sustainable meat choices are available at the fair? I swore off factory farmed meat in 2010 and am wondering what my choices are for meat this year.... otherwise it will just be carbs and sweets for me (not so bad either)!
How about the sunnies at Giggle's? Can you factory-farm sunnies? Yeah, probably... the mere thought is depressing.
Donna's Bar-B-Q (by the cow barn?) sells "organic brats". I'm not sure what this means in terms of factory farmed meat, but it might just possibly be something you can eat. I had one a few years ago, and it was very nice.
You could talk to the nice folks at Holy Land Deli about their meat. I know it's halal, but I don't know if that means less "factory" in the farming or not.
Oh, wait - I know!!! The Lamb Shoppe in the Food building. They're a small, family-run "lambery" in Hutchinson, MN, that sells meat to the Wedge. Check out the Wedge's info on the Lamb Shoppe:
Thanks Anne! I will check out the organic brats. I should have mentioned that I don't eat fish (just a taste preference), so I won't be checking out the sunnies! It's not a big deal-- there are plenty of non-meat yummy things at the Fair, and one can easily make a meal out of them... cheese curds.... mini-donuts... honey ice cream..... (this will work until/unless I decide to cut out factory farmed dairy...)
But it is kinda sad to not have any sort of meat on a stick, whether pronto pup or otherwise....