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Our State Fair 2011: it's the Best State Fair in our State!

The Dairy Queen Aug 18, 2011 11:15 AM

I can't decide whether I want my Blue Moon sweet corn ice cream with caramel bacon or wild blueberry sauce. Bacon, I think, because it IS the fair afterall...

Harry Singh's Caribbean Jamaican Jerk Frieds are calling my name, too.

As usual, I gotta have a pronto pup, a shake from the Gopher Dairy Bar, cheese curds (Mouth Trap, please), fresh french fries, cream puffs, honey sesame seed ice cream. I guess I'm feeling indulgent this year.

What's on your list?

Get your food finder here: http://www.mnstatefair.org/fair_finders/food_finder.html

Get the story on new food items here: http://www.startribune.com/entertainm...

~TDQ

  1. s
    Seige Sep 8, 2011 03:42 PM

    We went to the Fair 3 days in a row this year. And while I could write a dissertation on old and new favs, there are 2 primary things about the Fair's food this year that troubled me.

    1) The Wild Rice Sausage place in the Food Building across the aisle from the Nitro ice cream no longer has Wild Rice Brats. They now only have wild rice corn dogs and wild rice hamburgers. I tried to sub the wild rice corn dog for my beloved wild rice brat, but it did not work. Not even remotely. They have lost me forever. Sad to say.

    2) Hubster attempted to get sweet corn ice cream at 10 am and was told (along with about 8 other people interested in buying it at the same time) that they didn't start serving it until 11. Um, hello? It's the Fair! Since when are there time constraints on Fair food? If I want ice cream at 9 am and an omlette at 7pm, then so be it! All bets are off on normal times to eat food at the Fair. Not to mention the fact that it's ICE CREAM. Just get out a scooper, slap it in a bowl, take the exorbitant amount you're charging for it and say thank you with a smile. After the 8th lost sale wouldn't you just say screw it and start serving it before the alotted time? We didn't go back for it later in the day. Blue Moon's loss.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Seige
      Davydd Sep 10, 2011 07:09 AM

      Mackenthun's Meat & Deli in St. Bonifacius has wild rice brats if you desire a year round fix. :)

      We too got caught up in the no sweet corn ice cream until 11 AM deal. We paid in advance got a receipt and then went about looking at other stuff until after 11. When we got back there was a long line waiting to order and pay. We were able to bypass that and walk up and get our ice cream without waiting. I really didn't want ice cream that early in the morning anyway so it worked out fine for me. Still, it is a mystery to me why they had an 11 AM restriction. Their wood-fired pizza oven wasn't fired up in the morning either so I assume that option was out as well.

    2. AnneInMpls Sep 5, 2011 11:39 PM

      I was lured back to the fair on the last day, and made a special trip (from the Art Exhibit building and back) for the Kushari. YUM!!!! It was definitely worth the almost-a-mile walk. Does Holy Land ever have this on the menu at their main restaurant?

      3 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls
        The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 12:14 PM

        Interesting that you liked this. Rick Nelson called it a dull carb fest. Dara liked it, but she also liked the awful Axel's breakfast lollipop. So, you thought it was interesting? Flavors or textures or both?

        I saw an MPR article (too late) that said HLD had sambusa this year, but I didn't see it mentioned anywhere else, including on the HLD page on the food finder. Did you happen to notice sambusa while you were there for your Kushari? I'm surprised, because they are rather labor intensive when done right... http://minnesota.publicradio.org/coll...

        Did you see that the MN Grape Growers Assn will be taking over the Epiphany Diner space next year. Is that the group that does the wine ice cream you always recommend? If yes, it should be easier to find!

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          AnneInMpls Sep 6, 2011 10:36 PM

          The phrases "carb fest" and "dull" definitely DO NOT go together for me. I loved this carb-o-licious delight! It was a marvelous combination of flavors AND textures: nicely-salted rice, earthy brown lentils, crunchy fried onions, spicy tomato sauce, and cute little elbow macaroni. And the $6 serving was HUGE - my husband and I polished off an order between us, but it would have been better shared with at least three people. If it's still on the menu next year (fingers crossed), I'll be sure to bring another couple along to try it.

          And, yes, I did notice sambusa on Holy Land's menu board, but I was so focused on the Kushari that I didn't pay much attention. Perhaps because I get my sambusa fix from the She Royal food truck (when I can track it down, that is...)

          I'm pleased that the wine tasting - and my beloved wine ice cream - will have a larger space next year, but am sad that it won't be near the bee exhibit. I like to eat my wine ice cream while looking at the honeybees. Ah, well ... everything changes!

          1. re: AnneInMpls
            The Dairy Queen Sep 7, 2011 04:47 AM

            And I like to eat my honey ice cream while perusing the grapes wing. HA! Not really. I always eat my honey ice cream sitting down because I get it in a dish to share, and it's kind of a mess on the go, especially if you get the "sundae" with the drizzle of honey on top. (I think the drizzle is over the top, so to speak, but my husband likes it that way).

            I'm glad the honey folks are letting Marjorie compete, though, she's got some tough competitors!

            I wish I'd been able to get back there to try the sambusa. (Didn't seem so stroller friendly back there and it's not open early in the morning when I'm there. And I was right there because I breakfasted at the Peg) Not that I can't have sambusa other times of year, but I'm just kind of curious if they were doing them from scratch, etc. and because I am particularly interested in HolyLand's interpretation of a sambusa. Wondering if it was a family recipe. There's also some irony in serving "Somali sambusa" during Ramadan (though the state fair also stretched into Eid this year). On the other hand, maybe there's no irony at all. Perhaps they were hoping the sambusa would sell like crazy at dusk. And I wonder if they did!

            The kushari sounds pretty interesting. Was it brown rice?

            I'm amazed at the variation of opinion of some of these food items among the media folk. "Favorites" on some lists made "worst" on other list. Critical chaos. Perhaps it depends on whether the sample was taken at the media preview or later with the masses. Or it could always depend on time of day, etc. It just goes to show, never place someone else's judgment above your own.

            Ah, well, until next year.

            ~TDQ

      2. k
        kevin47 Sep 5, 2011 10:05 PM

        Alas, it is done. My second-visit recap, for posterity:

        Pronto pup - I don't recall ever having had one. Lighter than I expected, since corn dogs always come off as doughy to me.

        Walleye cakes - Giggles. Absurd volume of dipping sauce aside, these were great. Walleye has a certain sweetness to it (it's only tangible characteristic by my lights) and this pulled it out nicely.

        Cherry port ice cream. I want to love the wine ice creams, but I want far more wine kick. Not bad, but I much preferred the honey sunflower stuff.

        Malt from dairy barn. This is a shake, not a malt. Pffffttt.

        Jalapeno cheddar wild rice sausage. I was treated to a confusing explanation about the nature of the cheese that did not a resolve a question I did not ask. It's sausage by Cynthia, not conundrums by Connie. Make with the meat. The sausage was very good. I think this place could ramp up sales if they did something with the bun, but everything on it was nice.

        The famous french fries. Sampled a couple and came away impressed. I've wondered why people choose plain old fries over some of the more exotic items, but if you don't go to a diner that knows how to make fries (which, don't get me started) these would be a treat.

        The non-malt chocolate shake didn't taste good, either, to be clear.

        I actually carted a cone of Sweet Martha's cookies halfway across the fair, and wasn't tempted to eat a single one, is my opinion of them, the cookies.

        Hawaiian shave ice. Why is the kids size of this $4? Or, since it is, can we up the syrup offering? Next year, I want to get a bucket of unflavored shave ice and pour Holy Land's Hibiscus sugar bomb on it.

        ****** Cheese curds. I actually, like ****** cheese curds better than the curds at ****** because they have more/less of the salty flavor I love/hate and the curds do/don't squeak. Also, ****** curds are still (insert incorrect price).

        Trinidad Doubles - Harry Singh's. Saved the best for last. Naan-like bread stuffed with chick peas. Needs the hot sauce. They need to get on top of upselling the hot sauce or just put it in a ketchup bottle. A bargain at $4. I really need to get to his restaurant.

        10 Replies
        1. re: kevin47
          The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 04:27 AM

          Sorry you didn't like your shake at the dairy barn--I didn't get one this year, but maybe I should be glad I didn't. (We were debating between a shake or fries, and I was feeling savory rather than sweet so fries won.) . I don't remember trying the malts, but if they are advertising them as such, it seems strange they would forgo the one ingredient that turns a shake into a malt. Maybe someone just forgot to mix the powder in? I hope it's not because they use such minimal amounts that its undetectible.

          I'm confused by your asterisks, unless it's intended to be humor, in which case it's flown over my dense head.

          Dara was on the radio earlier in the fair and said Singh told her he only does the doubles at the fair because it's too much effort or doesn't move fast enough at his restaurant or some such.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen
            mtullius Sep 6, 2011 06:13 AM

            Insert your favorite curds purveyor for the asterisks. I thought it was very amusing :)

            1. re: mtullius
              The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 07:37 AM

              Eh, I'm still interested in knowing about the actual cheese curds he tasted on his latest trip and which curds he preferred.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                MSPD Sep 6, 2011 08:05 AM

                I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but I thought it was pretty hilarious and I totally relate to what I interpret as the sentiment.

                1. re: MSPD
                  The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 11:47 AM

                  Oh, it's hilarious, no doubt, but I actually still want his opinion. I hope you'll forgive me for being the non-comedian/ienne in the crowd.

                  I eat cheese curds only once per year and, therefore would therefore love the opinion of someone who has tried them both on back to back visits in the same year.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    k
                    kevin47 Sep 6, 2011 12:31 PM

                    I'll go with the outside, based on this year's visit. Not sure I would walk further to get them, or pay 50 cents more if they are, in fact, 50 cents more. Strongly believe external factors (hunger, time of day) play a bigger role than the nuances between the two preparations.

                    1. re: kevin47
                      The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 12:35 PM

                      Interesting! Another fan of "the original" curds, though it sounds like the edge is ever so slight. I notice my Mouth Trap curds didn't squeak (hahahaha I just got that part of the pun, sorry MSPD) this year. Not sure why that was.

                      Do they have catsup at the "original" curds location? That is a deal-breaker for me.

                      I also found the stand on machinery hill that sells the orange curds (which I don't think are from Ellsworth Creamery, in conflict with the Strib article I linked upthread). They didn't seem like they'd have the kind of turn-over necessary to keep the curds squeaky and from getting soggy, but it perhaps not fair of me to say that since I didn't actually try them.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        k
                        kevin47 Sep 6, 2011 04:10 PM

                        Both places have ketchup. Is the existence of ketchup a deal breaker, or do you require it? I actually liked the curds at Ole and Lena's when they had the lingonberry dipping sauce, but they took them away because they are hateful people.

                        1. re: kevin47
                          The Dairy Queen Sep 6, 2011 06:31 PM

                          HAHA! Hateful people.

                          Sorry I wasn't clear. I require catsup. Or ketchup. Either will work. Maybe I'll branch out next year!

                          ~TDQ

                2. re: The Dairy Queen
                  l
                  Lincster Sep 7, 2011 06:43 PM

                  Kevin said: ****** Cheese curds. I actually, like ****** cheese curds better than the curds at ****** because they have more/less of the salty flavor I love/hate and the curds do/don't squeak. Also, ****** curds are still (insert incorrect price).

                  I have been totally this guy every year in my reviews.

                  However, I will say that the Big Cheese curds down by the midway were my faves this year, just beating out Mouth Trap. My usual fav OCC came in third. I think Mouth Trap was the only one still at $5. The others were at $5.50. But, I probably have that wrong.

          2. h
            Haricotsv2 Sep 2, 2011 10:09 PM

            Third and last time at the fair. Pretzel dogs still a winner. Nathan's all beef dog with delicious tender pretzel dough spiraled around it. They add a little melted butter on request and have 3 kinds of mustard. ALSO!!! San Felipe Tacos in the Food Bldg. for their Asian carnitas tacos. Trust me on this--truly delicious!
            Margi

            2 Replies
            1. re: Haricotsv2
              s
              sarahcooks Sep 4, 2011 08:41 PM

              I had the Asian carnitas taco and I wasn't impressed. I liked the wasabi sauce, but the tortilla was cold and generic. To me, a really good tortilla is essential so it really made the whole thing disappointing.

              1. re: sarahcooks
                f
                Fudist Sep 5, 2011 07:41 PM

                Enjoyed A Surly Furious and Hell at The Ballpark Cafe and was delighted. Perfect compliment to The Weezer show Saturday night.

            2. g
              gryffindor249 Sep 1, 2011 06:35 PM

              Ollie's Crab Fritters:

              This new item was VERY disappointing. WAY too dark on the outside...very little crab. Sort of like hush puppies with a bare minimum of crab and a few aromatic veggies. The sauce was pretty good. I would up eating two and dumped the rest...I only have so much ability to digest deep-fried food in one day and there are just too many better things to eat.

              HOWEVER-

              If you are that far north on Machinery Hill, does anyone else love the curds up there...there ones in the same booth that makes the mozzarella sticks? They are made with yellow cheddar and have a beer batter. They will never replace Mouth Trap, but are a very delicious alternative that does not get due attention.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gryffindor249
                k
                kevin47 Sep 2, 2011 06:23 PM

                The machinery hill stuff seems pretty generic to me. Sort of county fair food posing at state fair food. If Giggles and Blue Moon are the La Belle Vie and Saffron of the fair, the whole north side is Parasole.

                -----
                La Belle Vie
                510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

              2. MSPD Sep 1, 2011 06:32 AM

                Does the booth name "Mouth Trap" make anyone else cringe a little bit?

                Anyhoo...I tried the sweet corn ice cream with the butter bacon sauce. It was good -- a solid 3 out of 5 stars which, for the Fair, means an utter success in my mind. Interestingly, the last couple of bites, when everything had melted all together, tasted like Cap'n Crunch cereal. I wouldn't buy it again....rather, I'd like to see Izzy's do a sweet corn ice cream. I imagine they would knock it out of the park.

                5 Replies
                1. re: MSPD
                  j
                  jeanmt Sep 1, 2011 08:54 AM

                  Save that idea for their next customer recommendation submission. Sadly, that won't be for two more years. Interestingly, my husband's submission for this year was Cap'nCrunch, but we didn't see how it could be done.

                  1. re: MSPD
                    s
                    soupkitten Sep 2, 2011 07:00 AM

                    crema cafe does an excellent sweet corn ice cream, so i'm wondering if the fair version would be a disappointment compared to it.

                    1. re: soupkitten
                      g
                      getgot211 Sep 2, 2011 01:27 PM

                      food finder describes it as vanilla ice cream with kernels mixed in, so maybe not so much corn flavor. never had it at Crema, Grandpa's in Fridley does one that is ok, they even describe it as cap'n crunch like. last year I think, Chef Shack did one that was pretty good.

                      -----
                      Crema Cafe
                      3403 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                      Chef Shack
                      No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                      1. re: getgot211
                        The Dairy Queen Sep 2, 2011 03:16 PM

                        Vanilla ice cream? That's just not corny enough!

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          k
                          kevin47 Sep 2, 2011 06:09 PM

                          tasted cornier than that to me. I really liked it, and was prepared to be ticked off because of the portion size.

                  2. The Dairy Queen Aug 31, 2011 08:47 PM

                    OK, I have to report one of my least successful food days at the fair, ever. I have photos, but who wants documentation of such an abysmal experience? Why, why, why did I stray from my normal menu? (Well, I know why. We started at Axel's because my husband really wanted to try the sausage lollipop. And it was mostly downhill from there.)

                    Axel's breakfast burrito (outside the food building)--ack! It's deep fried and adorned
                    with a thick, congealed squiggle of nacho-cheese type sauce. If something is deep fried (that normally isn't), they really ought to describe it as such on the menu. I thought I was ordering something reasonably normal to start my day so I wouldn't be in a sugar coma by 10am (not really a joke) and it turned out to be a glistening, golden fat bomb. It was generously filled with eggs and sausage, but I couldn't manage more than one bite before handing it off to my husband. He thought it was fine (he kept commenting on the good stuff inside), except for the vile, plastic-y orange sauce masquerading as cheese.

                    Axel's breakfast lollipop--soggy, yucky exterior.

                    Manny's torta (food building)--I got a half cubana. This was the bright spot in my morning. They make them to order, so patience is necessary. They have some kind of fresh pineapple thing going on, too, that looked appealing. According to the food finder: Pina Coladas (non-alcoholic) served in a pineapple. Also, fresh pineapple pieces in a bowl.

                    French Meadow Coffee--I'd like to report back on this, but after I stood in line at the window (underneath the menu) for a good 4-5 minutes while as many people puttered and sputtered about back there without even acknowledging me, they tell me I have to order from INSIDE the building. Their signage--visible from the inside only--not from the outside where the counter and the menu is, explains this quite clearly. Eh, who needs 'em. I never reward indifferent service, not even at the fair. It was early in the morning. They didn't even have the hot and worn out excuse. (Though I'd buy hung over).

                    Farmer's Union Coffee plus a nice chocolate biscotti--okay, these people wanted my business. the OTHER bright spot of my morning, though the cups are ding-dang flimsy.

                    Giggles porcupine meatballs on a stick. I think these are elk and wild rice, but what they really were were visibly half burned (sitting in a warming tray too long is my guess), dry as dust, and flavorless. I wanted to cry. My husband got the fried sunnies, which were hot and crisp and edible. The batter coating was a bit thick for my taste, but passable.

                    Free bottled water --several flavors to choose from, nice and chilled--at Clinic Sofia/My Talk 107.1, price of admission=1 baby. Did you think I would pass up my chance to pass beyond the pink curtain after all these years? Heck no!

                    Pop (for me) tap beer (for him, Grain Belt, I think) at Midway Men's Association. A cool beverage, shade and a chair. What more can I say?

                    I hope this isn't my only trip to the fair this year. If I get another shot at it, I'm not trying ANYTHING new. Old favorites only to avoid complete and utter disappointment. (Ha! We'll see if I can stick to that).

                    ~TDQ

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                      k
                      kevin47 Aug 31, 2011 09:29 PM

                      Sad to hear about the porcupine meatballs. That was one of my favorite moments at the fair, but I can't see that preparation lasting very long under a heat lamp. I need to just be done with Axel's. They do the copious amounts of soggy batter thing with everything they prepare.

                      1. re: kevin47
                        The Dairy Queen Sep 1, 2011 03:52 AM

                        For some reason, I remember Axel's Bull BItes being pretty good, but that would have been a couple of years ago. Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but that's why I felt okay about trying a couple of new things there this year. What a huge mistake. Funny, if you google Axel's Bull Bites, you get this recipe. It doesn't sound bad at all. And at least the beef isn't battered and fried (though the accompanying onion rings are.) http://www.showcaseminnesota.com/reci... I can't really remember what the Bull Bites at the fair are like. Hopefully not battered and fried?

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          daniellempls Sep 1, 2011 05:16 AM

                          The Bull Bites from Axel's in years past I have found to be a good protein snack- they are 3/4" cubes of steak with a kind of cajun dry rub that is griddled on a flat top I believe and served with some very thin onion rings and a bernaise like dipping sauce. The recipe you linked to looks very well like it could be their recipe. However the Bull Bites are $8 (or more this year) so they aren't a have to every year for me. Your two breakfast items don't look good at all. Sorry about the burrito- they should say on the menu if it is deep-fried.. Maybe just for that disappointment I wouldn't want to return to Axel's this year.

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            q
                            Quince Sep 2, 2011 06:57 PM

                            I had the Bull Bites last year and they were quite good...this year I went during a quiet period and they were old, overcooked, and chewy. I am done with Axel's. Thanks for reporting back about the breakfast lollipop. It was on my list, but I am now sure I did the right thing skipping it.

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                          The Dairy Queen Sep 1, 2011 04:03 AM

                          Here are pics of:

                          Axel's (soggy) lollipop
                          Axel's burrito
                          Manny's cubana
                          Giggles sunnies (foreground) and porcupine meatballs (background). Note there is a gravy on the meatballs. It was good, but not enough to rescue the meatballs, alas. I think there were mashed potatoes under there, too. They were good.

                          ~TDQ

                           
                           
                           
                           
                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            j
                            jeanmt Sep 1, 2011 08:51 AM

                            Haha, you have confirmed my suspicions about your nine-month or so absence on the home cooking cookbook thread. I didn't take my own one chance to pass beyond the pink curtain four years ago.... was the music really loud back there? I thought it would be.

                            1. re: jeanmt
                              The Dairy Queen Sep 1, 2011 09:06 AM

                              Hmmm...I didn't notice the music, but I didn't really linger either. I basically just got my bottled water and vamoosed as there were lots of sleeping babies I didn't want to disturb. I guess I could say the sleeping babies didn't appear to be bothered by the music. It is nice and dark in there with comfy chairs and big fans blowing. So, if you want to enjoy your water in a breezy, mellow, comfortable environment, --and you're a chick--this would be the spot for you. Nice stocked (but not dipes) changing table set-up, too. Big refrigerated case with bottles of lemon water, coconut water, and some other waters I can't remember.

                              ~TDQ

                          2. diesel Aug 31, 2011 07:48 PM

                            Here are my reviews:

                            #1 Farmers Union coffee - depth charge (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso - not on the menu). Nummy. They know what they're doing. (run by the folks from J&S Bean Factory of St. Paul)

                            #2 Creperie - breakfast crepe. This is a crepe with scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon. The eggs and cheese were pretty good, but the bacon was teeny and flavorless. Still, a nice way to start the day.

                            #3 Blue Moon Dine In Theater - sweet corn ice cream with honey butter bacon sauce. I agree with previous posters that the corn flavor wasn't as pronounced as I'd like. It was hardly detectable, in fact. The honey butter part of the sauce was dee-lish, but the bacon pieces were tiny and flavorless and I wished the sauce as a whole brought more salt to the dish.

                            #4 Pickle Dog - fire dog. In general I like pickle dogs, but I think I've been spoiled by having high quality pastrami around the house to make them with. The meat on the fire dog had an unappealing rubbery quality that didn't sit well with me. Disappointing, because I knew how good it could have been with high quality pastrami!

                            #5 MN Wine in the ag building - Raspberry wine. It's been my experience that MN Wine producers don't do dry wines well, so I tried something sweet. It was nice enough. I probably wouldn't buy it if I wasn't all Minnesota-agricultural-products-happy though.

                            #6 Harry Singh's in food building - chicken curry roti. This was my favorite thing at the fair this year. The roti (a chewy flatbread) was wrapped around a satisfying portion of juicy, tender curried chicken. It would have benefitted from a bit more salt and spice, but still was real good. I will try the jerk chicken variety or doubles next time.

                            #7 Holyland in Int'l bazaar - hibiscus tea. Waaaaay tooooo sweet for me. I added lots of water and it was still almost unbearably sweet. I remember that being the case with their lemonade too (except that adding water to the lemonade made it perfect).

                            #8 Mouth Trap cheese curds (from food building). Now, I have tried both the Original and Mouth trap curds before, and was always an Original kind of gal. But I bucked tradition today and revisted Mouth Trap. I was glad I did. They were crisp on the outside, plenty salty (but not too salty), and best of all, had a definite squeak to them. Praise be to Mouth Trap. I may have been converted.

                            #9 Ballpark - Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill. Ladies and gentlemen, I think wishes can come true. Finally there's a very nice craft beer selection at the fair. I went planning on a Surly Furious, but when the moment of choice came, I went with the Chestnut Hill - it's a favorite of mine, and I didn't think it would knock me out like a furious will in the sun. LOVE that we have these options these days!

                            #10 Cream Puff stand - chocolate cream puff. This is a tradition for me. Always the last thing before I leave at night. It's consistently good and somewhat overloaded with whipped cream. A tip for the uninitiated: scoop half the whipped cream onto the top (using the top) and eat the top and bottom halves separately. Otherwise the whipped cream squeezes out all over the place.

                            That is all. Gawd I love the fair.

                            -----
                            J&S Bean Factory
                            1518 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: diesel
                              b
                              BigE Sep 1, 2011 06:43 AM

                              I could not agree more on the Ballpark beer selection. SO happy to see all the local and national craft beers they're selling. I went with Farm Girl, myself. I think it is a great summer beer.

                              1. re: diesel
                                s
                                sandylc Sep 1, 2011 10:33 AM

                                Yeah, the first thing to do with a giant cream puff is to screw it open, then eat the top and bottom separately.

                              2. Davydd Aug 31, 2011 06:43 PM

                                We started off with Giggles Walleye Fries. Always something from Giggles and this was our choice this year.

                                We had the Sweet Corn Ice Cream with the Honey Butter Bacon sauce. It was a treat but I think just the name of the ingredients made it unique.

                                The best brew I had was the Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill brown ale at the Ball Park Craft Brew stand. Lift Bridge is a Stillwater craft brewer.

                                We finished the day with the Gizmo. I like the sandwich. The ground beef and pork have a strong Italian seasoning. I'd say it is a cross between a pizza (ingredients) and a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich in style in that it is served on a soft hogie bun.

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. j
                                  jeanmt Aug 31, 2011 10:51 AM

                                  Can anyone point me to the wine slushy? I think it's at that wine place by Dino's. I found it awesome my first year and way gross and disappointing my second..literally almost freezing of cheap wine, as I could do at home. But I'm gonna try it again.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jeanmt
                                    daniellempls Aug 31, 2011 07:51 PM

                                    Yes- it is at the wine place in between Dino's and the crepe place, and happens to be run by Alexis Bailly. We walked up to see what it was exactly- they had a sangria slushy and a pink wine margarita. I guess I was hoping for maybe more of a true wine varietal slushy, so I did not end up getting one. Let us know how the third time goes.

                                  2. b
                                    BigE Aug 30, 2011 07:36 AM

                                    Visit #2 last night. Only a few items tried, since I was still a little wiped out from Sunday.

                                    1) Vanilla shake from the cattle barn (not dairy building). Good, but a little...grainy might be the best world. A little too frozen, perhaps? Anyways, the raspberry sundae from the dairy building (that my friend got) was much better.

                                    2) Turkey to Go Sandwich - Excellent, but also an epiphany. I've heard about this sandwich for so long and it tasted EXACTLY like the way my mom makes turkey. She will roast an entire turkey, shred the meat, then put it in a slow cooker/crock pot and cook further. What you get tastes identical to this sandwich. Sometimes we add italian sausage and stuffing, which makes it even better. It's a great pot luck dish too!

                                    1. h
                                      Haricotsv2 Aug 29, 2011 07:40 PM

                                      Tip #2. Loved, loved, loved the pretzel dog. Sweet corn ice cream delicious, but I don't think it needs sauce. Threw away most of the Korean Pork Taco--very unusual for me (to throw away food I've paid lots of $ for, that is). Jerk chicken wings at Harry Singh's are better than the fries imo.
                                      Margi

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Haricotsv2
                                        c
                                        chazmo Aug 30, 2011 09:05 AM

                                        Went yesterday. The Trinidad Doubles at Harry Singh's was the best thing I've ever eaten at the state fair ever.

                                      2. d
                                        debbie421 Aug 29, 2011 09:06 AM

                                        Visit #1 of 2 at the state fair yesterday afternoon. I had:
                                        Gizmo – Seriously, my favorite thing at the Fair. So delicious!
                                        Ollie’s Crab Fritters – Both my husband and I agreed it’s only good with copious amounts of sauce.
                                        Cinnie Smith’s – We always get the mini’s with ice cream and a side of frosting, because that’s the way we roll. 
                                        Ooey Gooey Cookie Dough – I won’t lie, I really really liked this. Much better than deep fried Oreos or candy bars.
                                        Jamaican Jerk Fries – We weren’t that impressed. Kinda just tasted like French fries.
                                        1919 Root Beer – Enough said.
                                        Lingonberry float – A Fair staple for me, good way to end things. I wait until it melted enough to mix it all together, then drink.
                                        Pronto pup – I have to have one “normal” food on the list, right?
                                        Minneapple fried pie- We actually really liked this one too. The cinnamon ice cream made it.
                                        Chicken friend bacon – This was my favorite Fair food last year, and came close to it this year.

                                        Still need to do the Breakfast Lollypop, Fried Pickles, Fried Green Tomatoes, and whatever else I can fit in there.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: debbie421
                                          The Dairy Queen Aug 29, 2011 10:35 AM

                                          I advise against the lollypop at Axels. Soggy yucky outer crust with minimal maple syrup flavor. I can't believe Dara gave it a thumb's up. Epiphany Diner's pancake and sausage on a stick (with a side of maple syrup) used to be better because the "pancake" had texture.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            c
                                            clamchowder Aug 29, 2011 03:09 PM

                                            Just got back from the fair. Had coffee at Epiphany Diner one last time before heading out to the food stands. Here's what I had and/or shared.

                                            The ORIGINAL Cheese Curds (Underwood & Dan Patch) - awesome good! Skip the cheese curds in the Food Building. The ORIGINAL has the best ones.

                                            Gizmo sandwich- this Italian grinder is good, but overpriced at $7.

                                            Gelato (at Pizza Palace near French Meadow) - Had two flavors: pink grapefruit and blood orange. Yum!

                                            Pork Chop on a Stick - crazy good!

                                            Scotch Egg on a Stick - Unlike anything I've had before and delicious!

                                            World's Greatest French Fries - I give 'em a 2 out of 10. Don't get the big deal about these.

                                            Korean BBQ Pork Tacos - These were BY FAR the biggest embarrassment at the fair. There was nothing Korean or BBQ, nor anything tasty, about these abominations. Taco Bell wouldn't even serve this crap. They didn't even fill the taco with enough ingredients. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Will never buy anything from the Blue Moon Dine-in Theater again. Vellee Deli, they ain't.

                                            That is all.

                                            1. re: clamchowder
                                              k
                                              kevin47 Aug 29, 2011 10:25 PM

                                              I wasn't impressed by the Korean BBQ tacos either, but the ice cream is great. Also, you are technically correct in saying Taco Bell wouldn't serve them, but the offering is far better than Taco Bell.

                                              I think the scotch egg is absolutely mediocre. The V-44 version restored my faith in the concept.

                                              Not sure the Gizmo is overpriced. It's not worth $1.50 more than cheese curds?

                                              1. re: kevin47
                                                Db Cooper Aug 30, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                If you could explain the difference between a Mamwich and a Gizmo, I'd be interested to hear it. I have found it to be one of the most mediocre items at the Fair and am convinced the only reason it has a following is because Zimmerman is a big fan.

                                                Skip the regular fries and go for the Garlic Fries at the Ballpark Cafe.

                                                I thought the Scotch Egg at the fair wasn't much to talk about either, but I'm glad to hear that maybe its improved

                                                1. re: Db Cooper
                                                  Bill Roehl Aug 30, 2011 07:35 AM

                                                  +1 for the Gizmo hate. I just don't get why people like it.

                                                  1. re: Bill Roehl
                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 30, 2011 09:36 AM

                                                    I'm not hating on the Gizmo. It's a fine sandwich I suppose. But, there's nothing Minnesotan about it. The stand is operated by a guy from Iowa, and it's interfering with my naval gazing. http://www.saveur.com/article/Travels... Now some of my best friends are from Iowa, but if you want me to eat your state's sandwich at my state's annual "Great Get Together" at least bake the bun into the shape of my state or something that contributes to the Glory of MN and our collective annual excuse to be provincial.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                  2. re: Db Cooper
                                                    s
                                                    Seige Aug 30, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                    So wait - a Gizmo is basically a sloppy joe? I've never had one/seen one, so I'm confused.

                                                    1. re: Seige
                                                      The Dairy Queen Aug 30, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                      I don't really want to get into what a sloppy joe is because that can unravel into its own debate, but it's ground beef and sausage in marinara sauce, topped with melted mozz cheese and served on a hoagie bun.

                                                      http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        Db Cooper Aug 30, 2011 02:07 PM

                                                        Perhaps I got a poor scoop, but my Gizmo had about as much sausage in it as Ollie's fritters have crab. The one I had was ground beef with cheap, flavorless red sauce, government mozz, and a bun that barely held it together. Thus my calling it a glorified Mamwich. And I don't find being honest about it to be "hating" It's just not that great of a sandwich, especially at that price point.

                                                        1. re: Db Cooper
                                                          The Dairy Queen Aug 30, 2011 03:28 PM

                                                          For the record, I don't consider being honest "hating on" either. (I wasn't the person who coined Gizmo hate in this thread--I only prefaced my negative comment by saying I wasn't trying to "hate on" the sandwich even though others were willing to describe their opinions that way). We depend on each other's honesty here on Chowhound. Otherwise, it's just a polite mediocre food love-fest. So, please be honest!

                                                          I'm not sure how you know the mozz is "government cheese" but aside from that, I would say your description is reasonably spot-on. I don't remember much sausage in the one I had, either, but that was a couple of years ago. And it was only a half a sandwich (I shared) and it wasn't an experience I've repeated since. I don't have a lot of data points. Just a half a data point, really.

                                                          Here's the description of it from the food finder: "loose beef and pork in a hoagie bun, topped with red sauce, mozzarella cheese and baked." Eh. They left out the "from Iowa" part. Also, the "government mozz" part. :-). Maybe you're paying for his gas from Iowa and that's what's driving the price up.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                    2. re: Db Cooper
                                                      k
                                                      kevin47 Aug 31, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                      I don't know what a Mamwich is. I liked the Gizmo I had, but it's hardly a tradition for me. I just assumed everyone liked it.

                                                    3. re: kevin47
                                                      j
                                                      JimGrinsfelder Sep 2, 2011 06:40 PM

                                                      I gotta agree with Clamchowder and Kevin47 on the Korean BBQ Tacos. I've had Korean Tacos from Koi Fusion truck in Portland OR, they were wonderful. Blue Moon's sucked. The only 1/2way decent thing about Blue Moon's tacos were the tortillas.

                                              2. b
                                                BigE Aug 29, 2011 06:40 AM

                                                First visit yesterday, had the old stand-bys (curds, footlong, Oz potatoes), plus bites of two new things.

                                                1) Deep fried cookie dough - Holy moly is this thing sweet. I think Heavy Table described it as liquified cookie dough, and they're right. Taste wise, its not bad, but you better be sharing it with at least one other person.

                                                2) Pizza on a stick - One of my friends got this, and it is quite the gut bomb. Not great but not bad, basically a hot pocket with twice the cheese.

                                                Trip #2 after work today.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: BigE
                                                  s
                                                  soupkitten Aug 29, 2011 11:01 AM

                                                  wow i just read rick nelson's column on state fair picks. his likes (sweetcorn ice cream etc) look like they are pretty on track, but sounds like he hated the cookie dough, giving it zero stars out of 5, and recs the same stand's fresh potato chips instead!

                                                  http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                                                  1. re: soupkitten
                                                    b
                                                    BigE Aug 29, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                    If I had to go back to that stand, I'd get the chips too.

                                                    The whole operation fell off the stick after one bite and it was about the heaviest item I've ever had at the fair...just a brick. I don't think the cookie dough itself is THAT bad, but as a whole, it could use some work.

                                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                                      LiaM Aug 30, 2011 02:50 PM

                                                      I went yesterday and had the sweet corn ice cream with honey butter bacon sauce, and it was good, but I wished it had a stronger corn flavor to it. It just wasn't all that striking to me. And his review mentions three scoops - our serving was only one, and we felt the value was a little short.

                                                      I liked the Minneapple Pie quite a bit, though. The filling was good and not too sweet, nice chunks of apples, and the cinnamon ice cream was a really good compliment. If I were choosing between the two desserts, this would be the better one.

                                                      1. re: LiaM
                                                        l
                                                        LauraB Aug 30, 2011 03:27 PM

                                                        I agree. I was a bit disappointed in the amount of corn flavor in the ice cream. I also got the bacon sauce and thought it did not have enough salt to balance out the sweet. I have noticed that everyone raving about the corn ice cream got the blueberry sauce. I did not try the blueberry sauce version, but based on my experience and what I have read, it seems like that is the way to go.

                                                        I also tried the Minneapple Pie (it made a perfect breakfast) and enjoyed it a lot.

                                                        Another food highlight for me was the wild rice and jalapeno cheese bratwurst from Sausage by Cynthia - it was a nice twist on a cheddarwurst.

                                                        1. re: LiaM
                                                          m
                                                          mn_praline Sep 3, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                          I thought the sweet corn ice cream had a grainy texture and the some of the crunchy corn kernels were really difficult to chew. . .it wasn't bad by any means and i agree the sauce was tasty but not something i'd crave-needed more bacon or more salt. loved the minneaple pie CRUST. So delicious. I thought the filling was a tad too sweet.

                                                    2. k
                                                      kevin47 Aug 27, 2011 09:47 PM

                                                      First of at least two visits:

                                                      I can confirm the sweet corn ice cream w. bacon butter is excellent. The addition of little corn puffs was thoughtful. $6 is a little steep for the portion, but they put in the effort to get this right.

                                                      The pig lickers work. They are sort of like a salty version of those Pepperidge Farm milano cookies. The bacon itself had a "ready-to-serve" feel to it, but that could be a function of it having been frozen after cooking.

                                                      Harry Singhs is not doing the peanut punch anymore. The hibiscus tea at Holy Land, which is really hibiscus punch, is good, but my goodness is it sweet. Be sure to share. Seems like it would be good for cocktails. Anyone know if they sell the mix in stores?

                                                      The food finder lied about halumi cheese kabobs. It said there would be halumi cheese kabobs. There were no halumi cheese kabobs.

                                                      The cheese curds (outdoor version) hit the spot. I find them to be interchangable with the Mouth Trap, and these allow me to avoid the hideous food building.

                                                      The deep fried cheeseburger slider is really uninspired. Axel's seems to do this thing where they take a fun idea, and offer the most literal possible execution. Why not play with it a bit rather than simply battering a frozen hamburger? That said, for $3, it's fun to say I tried it.

                                                      Funnel cakes are funnel cakes. I think a savory version could be fun, but these are my wife's bag anyway.

                                                      Wife was pleased with the Korean chicken tacos. She did not share.

                                                      Next up:

                                                      Parfait or Cherry Port ice cream
                                                      Walleye Cakes
                                                      Gator
                                                      Leg of Lamb or Something from Sausage by Cynthia

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: kevin47
                                                        AnneInMpls Aug 27, 2011 11:58 PM

                                                        Re hibiscus tea in cocktails: you're right, it's awesome. You can't buy a pre-made mix (that I know of), but it's easy to make yourself. Go to Holy Land - or any Middle-Eastern grocery - and look for dried hibiscus in a cellophane package (it'll be near the sumac and zataar and dried herbs). Or go to a Mexican grocery and look for "Jamaica" (again in a cellophane package)

                                                        You make it like an herbal tea, adding sugar to taste - more than you'd think, as it's quite tart au naturel. For other additions, like mint, vanilla, or citrus flavors, chat up a cook at your favorite Mexican, African, or Middle Eastern restaurant. (When I bought some at the Caspian Deli, the cashier told me that Iranians add dried Persian lime to their hibiscus tea.)

                                                        It's also wonderful half-and-half with lemonade. In fact, that's how I first fell in love with it at the Java restaurant many years ago. Hooray for Holy Land for serving it at the fair so more people learn about the glories of hibiscus tea!

                                                      2. k
                                                        kevin47 Aug 26, 2011 07:34 PM

                                                        Visit #1 tomorrow. On the docket:

                                                        Deep fried cheeseburgers
                                                        Sweet corn ice cream (bacon caramel sauce)
                                                        Pig Lickers
                                                        Something from Giggles. Maybe walleye cakes?
                                                        Honey nut fudge ice cream
                                                        Gator!
                                                        Leg of lamb on a stick
                                                        White razzy at fudge puppies
                                                        Haloumi cheese at Holy Land

                                                        What am I missing?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: kevin47
                                                          t
                                                          ThymeTruffle Aug 26, 2011 07:44 PM

                                                          The sweet corn ice cream with honey butter bacon sauce was faaaabulous!

                                                        2. b
                                                          Bobannon Aug 26, 2011 06:24 PM

                                                          My favorite new item today was the Xango Cheesecake (tortilla filled with cheesecake, deep-fried and rolled in cinnamon/sugar and topped with rasberry sauce and real whipped cream). San Felipe Taco stand in the food building. Made to order and really good,.

                                                          1. s
                                                            stymie Aug 25, 2011 09:42 PM

                                                            Any comments on the Steak Sandwiches, I think they are betw the grand stand and the corn stand. Meat looks pretty tasty.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: stymie
                                                              s
                                                              SmartCookie Aug 26, 2011 07:50 AM

                                                              Yes, Turkey to Go is fabulous; I've been going there for years. They are the same people responsible for the new T to G food trucks in downtown Minneapolis.

                                                              1. re: stymie
                                                                s
                                                                soupkitten Aug 26, 2011 10:01 AM

                                                                turkey and steak are two different things, yes? if you're talking about the big glossy booth that gets people's attention by searing big roasts of beef. . . it's a letdown. just another philly-esque operation with flavor-free meat, bad cheese and disappointing vegetables and bread. i'd honestly rather have a footlong than the steak sandwich. i'm confused about the turkey? maybe they have a chicken option but i don't recall any turkey? turkey to go is a different operation entirely, i believe it's a jennie-o joint. the sandwiches are also available from their truck and at the ballpark. never had one.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten
                                                                  The Dairy Queen Aug 26, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                                  HA! Turkey and Steak are two different things. You can always check out the animal barns if you want to learn more....

                                                                  All joking aside, this is a NEW philly cheesesteak stand?? The reason I ask is somewhere deep in some thread (might be a pizza thread, actually) there is a post from someone (Danny? Clepro?, not sure) a year or two ago saying that the very best philly cheesesteak in MN is found at the MN State Fair. I guess I should have that on my list, unless it's the same as this flavorless meat, disappointing vegetables and bun one sk is talking about.

                                                                  Anyone remember that old post and know which cheesesteaks they were referring to?

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                    t
                                                                    type2runner Aug 26, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                                    Happened on another thread with the connection....

                                                                    "clepro also wanted to know, and someone replied that the MN State Fair was your best bet: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43614...

                                                                    ~TDQ"

                                                                    1. re: type2runner
                                                                      The Dairy Queen Aug 26, 2011 03:19 PM

                                                                      Wow! I can't believe you found it. I can't get your link to work. Try this one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4361...

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                  2. re: soupkitten
                                                                    k
                                                                    kevin47 Aug 26, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                                    I think SmartCookie was trying to respond to a different comment. Turkey to go is run by the Minnesota Turkey Association, or some such.

                                                                    The steak dealio is the London Broil stand. I got tricked into that years ago. Steak isn't fair food.

                                                                2. s
                                                                  sarahcooks Aug 25, 2011 10:50 AM

                                                                  Just got back from a morning at the Fair, had a Fudge Puppy and a pulled turkey sandwich, wonderful as usual. I think I'll try something new for dinner when I go back later. I love living within walking distance!

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sarahcooks
                                                                    f
                                                                    foreverhungry Aug 25, 2011 11:17 AM

                                                                    Where was the pulled turkey sandwich from?

                                                                    1. re: foreverhungry
                                                                      s
                                                                      sarahcooks Aug 25, 2011 11:22 AM

                                                                      I *think* it's called Turkey to Go, across from the Poultry building. I always thought that place sounded so boring, but people kept telling me how good it is and I tried it last year. It's really excellent, very juicy, and they have a food truck downtown in the summer to bring the discussion full circle...

                                                                    2. re: sarahcooks
                                                                      s
                                                                      sarahcooks Aug 27, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                                      On my afternoon return to the fair on Thursday I had the chicken curry roti from Harry Singh's (love that place - the caribbean punch is really interesting and peanutty, but not terribly refreshing) and a raspberry sundae from the dairy building. Oh, and a few bites of a honey sunflower ice cream cone before my 4 year old daughter stole it from me. It has been many many years since I had the ice cream and I don't remember it having sunflower seeds. Couldn't taste any honey either. I really must try something new on my next visit on Monday!

                                                                    3. AnneInMpls Aug 24, 2011 10:36 PM

                                                                      Ooooh- I get to go on the first day of the fair! Mr. Tastebud requires a cone from the Empire Commons while perusing the butterheads, and I want to check out Holy Land (if only to bemoan the lack of camel on the menu this year). Plus a corn dog - the only one I'll eat all year, so it'd better be good!

                                                                      After that, it's the required roasted corn (why does it taste so much better than my corn at home?), then on to another meaty treat. Specifically, now that West Indies Soul is no longer at the Midtown Global Market, I'm really looking forward to some of their food.

                                                                      Finally, if I have room, it'll be wine ice cream or a lingonberry treat. Oh, roll me on to that Park-and-Ride bus!

                                                                      1. s
                                                                        Suzlynnj Aug 24, 2011 03:00 PM

                                                                        What I would love to see at the fair is a Church Basement Lady restaurant, one that has the authentic, quirky and very tasty foods I grew up eating. The few Church restaurant meals I've had at the fair have had a pretty plain menu, but maybe I've been missing something? Tater tot or a hotdish with a potato chip crust, those little sandwiches, new potatoes sautéed in butter, tuna salad with peas, yum! I can't think of anything more authentic Minnesotan than that!

                                                                        1. rp1760 Aug 24, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                                          White Razzie Puppies On a Stick: Belgian waffle, with white chocolate baked inside, dipped in dark chocolate, drizzled with raspberry sauce.

                                                                          Done.

                                                                          1. m
                                                                            mncharm Aug 24, 2011 09:24 AM

                                                                            The one certainty for me is that I'll be having a Gizmo sandwich (machinery hill, near the beginning of the Sky Ride). Loose meat (pork and beef) sandwich with red sauce and melted mozz. Mmmmm....

                                                                            Breakfast burrito from the Mexican place whose name I can't remember -- across from the baby animals barn. Reliable breakfast, every time.

                                                                            Heard good things about pizza fries at Luigi's near the grandstand. Might give that a run.

                                                                            Curds/Martha's are, in my eyes, best for sharing -- a couple of each go a long way (and don't fill you up) -- and yeah, once Martha's aren't hot, they're no good.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: mncharm
                                                                              c
                                                                              chazmo Aug 24, 2011 09:51 AM

                                                                              Can't wait to get those fantastic Wisconsin cheese curds at the Minnesota state fair!

                                                                            2. d
                                                                              Danny Aug 24, 2011 05:55 AM

                                                                              All this talk of fair food makes me wonder if it isn't time for a State Fair Chowdown of sorts. Anyone up for such a thing?

                                                                              1. k
                                                                                KristinT013 Aug 23, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                                                Does anyone have good tips on low-carb/South Beach friendly fair food? Please don't laugh me off the board here. I recently started this eating plan and it is really working for me, so I thought I'd make a challenge out of finding fair food that I can eat. This means mainly lean meats, seafood, veggies, and low-fat dairy, plus small amounts of whole grains, fruits, and wine. So far I'm thinking alligator on a stick and some MN wine. Maybe salads, tacos, middle eastern food? I'd love to find some standouts.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: KristinT013
                                                                                  The Dairy Queen Aug 23, 2011 05:30 PM

                                                                                  Lots of options at Giggles

                                                                                  Andre's Watermelon stand (several options)

                                                                                  Veggie pie stand (several options)

                                                                                  Pork chop on a stick

                                                                                  Turkey drumstick

                                                                                  Lamb Shoppe

                                                                                  Bull Bites (blackened tenderloin tips) or Chicken Bites (blackened chicken breast meat)

                                                                                  whole dill pickles

                                                                                  hickory smoked turkey legs

                                                                                  Jerky Shoppe

                                                                                  Fruit at the Produce Exchange

                                                                                  Does corn on the cob work for you?

                                                                                  Island Noodles offers stir-fried buckwheat noodles. You can dig up last year's thread. I think someone reported back on it. Can't remember whether it was good or not.

                                                                                  Juanitas Fajitas (never tried this stand, but it seems like it has a lot of potential)

                                                                                  Patinella's Chicken Grill (never tried this stand, but it seems like it has a lot of potential)

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                    k
                                                                                    KristinT013 Aug 23, 2011 07:24 PM

                                                                                    Wow, thanks! Great list! This will certainly give us some options.

                                                                                    I'm thinking of starting the day at the Epiphany Diner for some ham and eggs from the al a carte list-- I need to try one of the church diners before they are all lost to history, anyhow.

                                                                                    1. re: KristinT013
                                                                                      k
                                                                                      kevin47 Aug 23, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                                                      Gator. Also, the salmon-on-a-stick probably isn't pure, from a South Beach standpoint (some jam and a healthy-tasting cracker) but it's good and healthy. Bull Bites at Axel's are pricy, but pretty tasty, though available at their resto. Olives on a stick, though they seem to up their price every year. Pork chop on a stick.

                                                                                      1. re: KristinT013
                                                                                        The Dairy Queen Aug 24, 2011 12:15 AM

                                                                                        Wide awake at 2am and wondering why I suggested lamb or turkey leg as "lean" protein... Protein, for sure. :).

                                                                                        Do report back on your favorites, please. I usually make two visits every year. One where I try at least a bite or two of indulgences, and one where I just try to stick with whole, real, not wacky food, so it would be good to have some feedback on what's still good this year!

                                                                                        Eggs and ham is a smart start, I think!

                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                  2. b
                                                                                    BigE Aug 23, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                                    The old stand-bys will be consumed:

                                                                                    1) About a foot long, the first one (a block in, on the right) inside the main gate. Always the first stop...onions and mustard, done.
                                                                                    2) Curds from the street location...the line is always shorter than the food building, and no difference in quality that I can tell. Always the second stop. After those two gut bombs, I need a bit of walking.
                                                                                    3) Fresh cut fries
                                                                                    4) Lemonade and/or 1919 root beer
                                                                                    5) Pecan or cashew roll from the nut roll stand (usually get that on the way out and eat it the next day)
                                                                                    6) Australian potatoes, with a friend of course
                                                                                    7) Something from the MGM spot, not sure what

                                                                                    All this goodness will probably require 2 trips. I think I can accommodate :)

                                                                                    I almost never try new things because I never do enough research. This thread may help change that...

                                                                                    1. j
                                                                                      jeanmt Aug 23, 2011 09:00 AM

                                                                                      The fire dog is merely a very hot pickle dog from that stand outside the beer place right in front of the Midway and down a bit from the DNR building. It sits out on the street and also sells Kool-Aid (weirdly good Kool-AId, made with full sugar, as my mother never allowed and impossible not to drink without leaving a 'stache) and pickles on a stick. The fire dog is a hot pickle (I think soaked in jalepeno water or something) on a stick with cream cheese and pastrami wrapped around. Yum.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: jeanmt
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        steve_in_stpaul Aug 23, 2011 06:17 PM

                                                                                        I remember now, I had one of those a couple of years ago (when it was new?). I really liked it. The cream cheese does a nice job of cutting both the heat and the salt of the pickle and pastrami. Maybe I'll go back for one of them.

                                                                                        I'm starting to have a list that's a few Fair days long....

                                                                                      2. daniellempls Aug 22, 2011 03:17 PM

                                                                                        My current list includes a couple of new things and a couple of new-to-me things which I would appreciate comments or concerns on.

                                                                                        Sweet corn ice cream witht he blueberry sauce from Blue Moon

                                                                                        Jerk chicken AND jerk fries from Harry Singh's- I'll see which is better

                                                                                        Horchata @El Sol (I have that song they play on The Current in my head if anyone knows..)

                                                                                        Dole Whip- never tried but that little booth is so cute- anybody love or hate?

                                                                                        A crepe from the Creperie- also never tried. Are they worth the $$? Have a favorite kind?

                                                                                        Cream puff- also never had at the fair, but I kow that one place towards Heritage Square. It must be THE place, right?

                                                                                        My usuals- footlong, cheese curds, mini donuts, and a blackberry shake from Empire Commons. Thankfully chowhub splits this stuff. But I have decided to allow myself to feel no obligation to finishing as long as I am content.

                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: daniellempls
                                                                                          q
                                                                                          Quince Aug 22, 2011 05:25 PM

                                                                                          The Dole whip is very refreshing. I get it most years and never regret it.

                                                                                          1. re: Quince
                                                                                            Bill Roehl Aug 22, 2011 06:46 PM

                                                                                            Loved the Dole Whip since I was 8 years old at Disney World. When I saw it at the Fair I was pumped. Unfortunately, unlike Disney, the Dole Whip stand at the Fair doesn't do a twist with vanilla ice cream. While they will give you half and half, it's not quite the same.

                                                                                            I still recommend the vanilla mixed in just to take some of the pineapple flavor down--otherwise it's just too much IMO.

                                                                                            Mmm Dole Whip.

                                                                                          2. re: daniellempls
                                                                                            t
                                                                                            turtlebella Aug 22, 2011 06:23 PM

                                                                                            We're going to try the Horchata, cos it's my daughter's favorite drink ever. So, Horchata at the Fair?! Heck yeah! (I think it's new this year? yeah?)

                                                                                            I had the cream puff last year-- yup by Heritage Square. I remember it being good but not fantastic. However, I really only like cream puffs when they are small, almost bite-sized and I can eat several of them. Otherwise I just make a big mess and this negatively affects my enjoyment.

                                                                                            I am also a Mouse/Mouth Trap cheese curd girl (I refuse to learn which is the right name, actually, it's just my brain that refuses to learn, I try but it just doesn't happen and since the fair only comes 'round once a year, I don't get enough practice!).

                                                                                            We also usually get the lingonberry sundae thingymado, near the Hort building. (I never know the name of most of the vendors, just *more or less* where they are, this is the reason we are very happy to have new iphone app for the fair)

                                                                                            1. re: turtlebella
                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                                                              Wait! The beauty of state fair cream puffs is that they are so overfilled that it's a certainty that they will *splat* on the ground. You can't feel bad about this: it's performance art and you've just done your part!

                                                                                              I've never heard of Dole Whip. I shall seek this out.

                                                                                              I think horchata sounds wonderfully refreshing. (yes! it's new this year.)

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                daniellempls Aug 22, 2011 08:58 PM

                                                                                                TDQ, you crack me up. I will gladly look forward to letting the filling splat a little bit when I enjoy one this year. And Dole Whip- it is on one of the shorter east to west streets- a booth right on the street in the shape of a pink and yellow twisted ice cream cone. Sounds right up your alley.

                                                                                            2. re: daniellempls
                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 07:10 PM

                                                                                              Yes, the cream puff place is by heritage square.

                                                                                              I've only done the crepes once (mushrooms and Swiss cheese, I think?). They were pretty good, so I'm not sure why it didn't end up on my growing list of annual "must dos." I think part of the crepe-appeal is that it's a remarkably civilized meal in the middle of the fair. They are made to order. And it's real food, not junk.

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                k
                                                                                                KTFoley Aug 22, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                                                I can testify that the crepes are good, and especially helpful in balancing the fairstravaganza intake with healthier options.

                                                                                              2. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                l
                                                                                                Lincster Aug 23, 2011 04:33 AM

                                                                                                Where is the crepes place? Is that sort of across from the Ye' Old Mill and the WCCO booth? I've never tried it either, but I'm putting it on my list. Sounds good!

                                                                                                I also concur on the non-traditionalist blackberry shake from Empire Commons, especially on a hot day. Doesn't look like we're in for any scorchers this year, but last year's weather was so perfect I can't believe it can be duplicated.

                                                                                                1. re: Lincster
                                                                                                  The Dairy Queen Aug 23, 2011 05:37 AM

                                                                                                  Yes, exactly. The crepes are next to French Meadow, which is in the old Schumacher’s building.

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                2. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  sarahcooks Aug 24, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                                                                  People go nuts over Dole Whip at Disney, but I find it way way way too sweet, and I have quite a sweet tooth!

                                                                                                  1. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                    daniellempls Aug 31, 2011 08:05 PM

                                                                                                    Well- we made it once and are planning on going again. We put a good dent in the list and I made some executive decisions when we were out to veto some and try a couple of others.

                                                                                                    We actually started off with a Colorado peach from the MGM produce stand since I was starving and that was the closest thing I wanted. It was awesome. Sweet, tangy, juicy. mmm- at least hopefully a healthy filler so I didn't suck down the next deep-fried item too quick.

                                                                                                    From the Food building- Mouth Trap curds and Harry Singh's jerk chicken roti. I wasn't in a fry mood. But they were good choices. The curds deliciously salty and rich and the roti well spiced and yum!

                                                                                                    We did try the sweet corn ice cream with he bacon butter sauce. I thought it was really good- a delicate sweet corn flavor as opposed to a corn tortilla flavor. The corn nuts type decor that was sprinkled on top I could have done without as they were starting to get rancid and who wants to smell cardboard with their ice cream?

                                                                                                    Got a cream puff finally! Totally worth all the saturated fat! The filling was perfect, the puff was perfect. TDQ- I did let the cream splat- but it went into my coffee instead of on the floor because I couldn't bear to waste the heavenly fluff. It worked perfectly!

                                                                                                    Thought about this thread as I wanted more meat and got a Demitri's gyro. Probably not the best ever that I've had, but good meat. A little extra sauce for me, but I am sure that is just me.

                                                                                                    And.. finally tried the Dole Whip, half vanilla and half pineapple as suggested. It was refreshing and very tangy like a good fresh pineapple is. Next time I go there I will try the float instead where they use Dole pineapple juice with ice cream. Sounds even more up my alley.

                                                                                                    Will plan to go back once more and let my stomach be my guide. I am planning to grab at least a patty to go from West Indies Soul.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    West Indies Soul Cafe
                                                                                                    625 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

                                                                                                    1. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Aug 31, 2011 08:58 PM

                                                                                                      Well played on the cream puff!

                                                                                                      I like the squeakiness of the curds at the Mouth Trap, too. Did you get catsup? I like mine with catsup.

                                                                                                      I was going to get the jerk chicken at Harry Singh's but they weren't open yet. :(.

                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                    jeanmt Aug 22, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                                                                    I'm with Lincster. Geesh, enough about the food trucks. Fair food is where it's at, specifically the fire dog, chicken-fried bacon and...sweet corn ice cream covered with bacon caramel sauce. Sweet Maria!!
                                                                                                    And those fried green tomatoes. And wine ice cream (it was awesome last year). My vote goes to Mouth Trap. I'm getting very excited.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: jeanmt
                                                                                                      daniellempls Aug 22, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                                                                      Fire dog? what and where is that? A new food?

                                                                                                      1. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                        Lincster Aug 23, 2011 04:40 AM

                                                                                                        I would like to know about the mystery fire dog as well! Spill!

                                                                                                        Also, my last post for the morning. Has anyone had the deep fried cheeseburger sliders from Axel's? I just saw it on the food finder (looking for the fire dog), and I have totally missed trying this if it has been around for awhile. Any hints as to if it is worthwhile? Sounds like it has promise, but the logistics might get in the way.

                                                                                                        1. re: Lincster
                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                          Bobannon Aug 24, 2011 09:34 PM

                                                                                                          I really liked the deep fried cheeseburgers and I thought they were a great value by fair standards. I am looking forward to trying them again Friday.

                                                                                                    2. l
                                                                                                      Lincster Aug 21, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                                                                      I can't believe we spent 20 posts on food trucks vs. fair food. Come on folks...the MN State Fair is our one time a year, end of summer -- winter is coming, chance to dine for 12 days only on some of the most unique available only 12 days a year fair food! Food trucks don't qualify, as they are available more often. Local restaurants just doing what they normally do don't qualify (sorry Dino's Gyros -- love ya but not at the fair). However, Famous Dave's pig lickers qualify as it is a unique item.

                                                                                                      Now, what we SHOULD be debating is of course --

                                                                                                      1) Which is better, Mouth Trap curds (I always thought those were Mouse Trap curds), inside the food building, or the Original Cheese Curds, out on Dan Patch across from the sky glider. I am partial to OCC. The Fair food finder shows a "Big Cheese" cheese curds by the midway, which I will enter into the competition.

                                                                                                      2) Pronto vs. Pancho. Enough said.

                                                                                                      3) Sweet corn ice cream or wine ice cream.....which will win? That wine ice cream up in the ag building was pretty darn good last year.

                                                                                                      4) Will chicken fried bacon (Giggles) still be a winner? Or will people gravitate back towards the simplicity of Big Fat Bacon.

                                                                                                      5) Of the new foods, I'm most interested in chocolate jalapeno poppers, pretzel dog from Der Pretzel Haus, Jamaican jerk fries from Harry Singh's (he promises different dipping sauces), chow fun from Midtown, Ollie's crab fritters, and carnitas asian fusion tacos from San Filipe taco.

                                                                                                      6) Where is the best about-a-foot-long hotdog stand? I need the one with the most grilled onions and best snap to the dog. Breakfast of champions!

                                                                                                      7) The milk truck is moving to $1. Weren't they still at 50 cents last year, or am I mis-remembering? I still like carrying my milk cup around for several passes by during the day.

                                                                                                      8) I love the shout out for the Deli Express sandwich place. They aren't any good regularly, how could they sell anything at the fair? Is the old chow mein place still tucked in there next to the Giant Slide? What else is so awful and boring that you don't know how they are making it?

                                                                                                      That is a good enough list to start with....

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Dino's Gyros
                                                                                                      1670 Snelling Ave N, Falcon Heights, MN 55108

                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Lincster
                                                                                                        The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 04:06 AM

                                                                                                        I thought it was Mouse Trap, too until someone on chowhound pointed out that it wasn't. Since all the curds at the fair come from a single source, the differentiator has to be in the breading, the oil, and the frying technique.

                                                                                                        The funny thing about Dino's is that they actually got their start at the fair... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dino's

                                                                                                        I think someone said last year that they are now using cheaper bacon in the pig lickers, compared to the Neuske's they used at first. Don't know if this is true.

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                          d
                                                                                                          Danny Aug 22, 2011 08:31 AM

                                                                                                          Big Fat Bacon used Neuske's the first year, and switched to smaller, cheaper bacon last year, which made me sad. Not sure about the pig lickers.

                                                                                                          As for cheesecurds, I think Original Cheese Curds > Mouth Trap. But, you really can't go wrong with either.

                                                                                                          As for O'Garas, my issue with them last year was that they had a bagpiper walking around inside. Holy headache, Batman!

                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                            Lincster Aug 23, 2011 04:36 AM

                                                                                                            DQ - -thanks for that info about Dino's! I had no idea they got their start at the fair. Maybe that explains their multi-year stay in that little shack on Snelling, before they went big time. Now that I can get those gyros in fancy looking shops in Edina, I can't put them on my fair food list however, as they just take a precious food slot away from something I can't get the other 353 days a year.

                                                                                                            However, I still like Dino's as a quick, no-nonsense gyro place!

                                                                                                          2. re: Lincster
                                                                                                            AnneInMpls Aug 22, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                                                                            >> 3) Sweet corn ice cream or wine ice cream.....which will win?
                                                                                                            >> That wine ice cream up in the ag building was pretty darn good last year.

                                                                                                            I had a taste of one of this year's wine ice creams - cherry-nut with wine (or cherry wine with nuts?) - because it was the mystery flavor when I was at Izzy's the other day. It was nice, but not in the same league as salted caramel or key lime pie. (Though it'd be hard for any ice cream to reach those heights.)

                                                                                                            The other flavor remains a true mystery, at least to me, but I'm betting on chocolate-with-fruit-wine. I'll try to save room for some of that AND the sweet corn ice cream, but given that I want a lingonberry shake and MUST have a chocolate cone to eat while looking at the butterheads, I predict an ice cream overdose. Good thing the fair is only once a year.

                                                                                                            1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                                                                              AnneInMpls Aug 25, 2011 09:30 PM

                                                                                                              I was wrong wrong wrong - oh, so wrong - about this year's wine ice cream flavors! That Cherry Nut with Wine must have been for something else.

                                                                                                              This year, there are three AWESOME flavors:

                                                                                                              - Bootlegger's Cherry (with Bootlegger's Red Port from Cannon River winery)

                                                                                                              - Chocolate Raspberry (with Raspberry Wine from Wine Haven winery)

                                                                                                              - Ruby Red (raspberry ice cream with Ruby Minnesota red from Northern Vineyards winery)

                                                                                                              My favorite was the cherry, with the chocolate-raspberry a close second. It's pricey ($4/scoop, $7/two scoops) but in my opinion is very worth it. Especially if you get two scoops.

                                                                                                              1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                Bobannon Aug 26, 2011 06:17 PM

                                                                                                                I had the Bootlegger's Cherry today and thought it was really really good. I got one scoop but it was a very generous scoop. Very worth $4.

                                                                                                            2. re: Lincster
                                                                                                              k
                                                                                                              kevin47 Aug 23, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                                                                              The strawberries and cream stand confounds me. Flavorless berries and 1/2 teaspoon of cream. The burger places in general confound me. I wonder why some of the generic carts on the north side even bother. A few generic Mexican places. Why no tamales?

                                                                                                              1. re: kevin47
                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                sandylc Aug 24, 2011 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                Interesting points. Why no tamales, indeed? They would be great! The burgers, fries, etc., are for those who are afraid to eat anything else or just love burgers, I guess. Terribly sad about the berries and cream.

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin47
                                                                                                                  Foureyes137 Aug 26, 2011 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                  Really? The Mexican joint in the International Bazaar that has the horchata doesn't have tamales?

                                                                                                                  Seems like a no brainer...also, I think they might be good fried so...

                                                                                                                  1. re: Foureyes137
                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                    Bobannon Aug 26, 2011 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                    Mexican Hat near the Grandstand has tamales. I don't know how they are.,

                                                                                                                    1. re: Foureyes137
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      sarahcooks Aug 27, 2011 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                      I'm pretty sure La Loma is going to be at the midtown market booth for a few days.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      La Loma Restaurant
                                                                                                                      1510 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                                                2. f
                                                                                                                  Fudist Aug 21, 2011 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                  Really looking forward to The Carnitas Asian Fusion Tacos, Crab Fritters, the fresh cut fries, milk & cookies and a Surly or two from The Ball Park Cafe.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Fudist
                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 07:32 AM

                                                                                                                    I'm interested in hearing about the Carnitas Asian Fusion tacos! I forgot about the Ball Park cafe. It's a good place to just hang out for awhile, get out of the heat and off of your feet...

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                                      Fudist Aug 22, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                      Yes me too. Wondering if they are the same as the "Kogi" Korean Tacos from last year. Wonder how many types of Surly will be available at Ball Park Cafe as well.

                                                                                                                  2. The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2011 08:00 AM

                                                                                                                    Apparently, there's only one supplier of cheese curds (Ellsworth Creamery) to the MN State Fair. Regardless of the vendor, it's all from the Ellsworth Creamery. Now, preparation is another matter. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                                                                                                                    The Mouth Trap is staffed by kids from Sibley High School in West St. Paul and North High in North St. Paul and the vats of the frying (vegetable) oil get drained and cleaned each night.
                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. k
                                                                                                                      kevin47 Aug 20, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                      The sweet corn ice cream is probably my only must have among the new items. Caramel bacon sauce all the way.

                                                                                                                      I'll be hitting up Giggles. Whether I go with chicken fried bacon, porcupine meatballs or something different (sunnies?) will be a game time decision.

                                                                                                                      I think I'm going to give the pig lickers a shot this year.

                                                                                                                      Cheese curds and gator always happen.

                                                                                                                      If we find a big enough group to split with, Australian potatoes.

                                                                                                                      Halumi cheese kabobs at Holy Land sound like they're worth a shot

                                                                                                                      No Salty Tart this year?

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Salty Tart
                                                                                                                      920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin47
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        Seige Aug 20, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                        Sorry. This sentence "I think I'm going to give the pig lickers a shot this year. " just made me giggle like a 12-year-old boy. That is all.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kevin47
                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                          jaycooke Aug 25, 2011 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                          Salty Tart macaroons are available at the Midtown Global Market fruit stand. And they're as good as ever.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Midtown Global Market
                                                                                                                          920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                                                          Salty Tart
                                                                                                                          920 E Lake St Ste 158, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                                                          Midtown Global Market
                                                                                                                          2929 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                                                                                                          1. re: jaycooke
                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                            sarahcooks Aug 26, 2011 07:41 AM

                                                                                                                            Do they have the peach parfaits with the macaroons on top this year? I didn't see a sign for them.

                                                                                                                        2. c
                                                                                                                          clamchowder Aug 18, 2011 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                          I think I've been spoiled by all the great food trucks this summer. I'm afraid the state fair food is going to be a disappointment in comparison.

                                                                                                                          1. Db Cooper Aug 18, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                            There are only two food items left these days that are must-get for me:

                                                                                                                            Garlic Fries at The Ball Park Cafe
                                                                                                                            Gyros at Demetri's Greek Foods

                                                                                                                            31 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Aug 18, 2011 12:16 PM

                                                                                                                              Those aren't even on my list! Nothing new tempts you this year?

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                Db Cooper Aug 18, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                                No, not really.

                                                                                                                                I feel like the Fair puts more emphasis on a vendor's ability to cobble a bunch of junk together on a stick and give it a whacky name over actual quality food. As an example, why isn't there:

                                                                                                                                -Smack Shack's Lobster Rolls
                                                                                                                                -Porky's Onion Rings
                                                                                                                                -Jucy Lucy's from The Nook, Matts, 5-8, or Blue Door
                                                                                                                                -Pho from Ngon's new food truck
                                                                                                                                -128's Ribs from their food truck

                                                                                                                                I'm just saying there are a lot of great things going on food-wise that aren't showing up at the Fair because they don't come on a stick. I think it's the Fairs loss and their dedication to the on-a-stick meme is becoming, well, boring. If it doesn't taste good, what's the point?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                  Davydd Aug 18, 2011 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                                  You lost me immediately with Porky's onion rings. But the point is the fair is a once a year event, a tradition, and food on a stick is, well, a just plain fun schtick.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 18, 2011 03:01 PM

                                                                                                                                    Well, the Nook can't even duplicate their JL at Shamrock's let alone at the fair. I think it's too difficult to do in a fair setting. And aren't ribs on their own stick?

                                                                                                                                    But, I get your point. Not everything's on a stick, though, for instance the sweet corn ice cream.

                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                      Db Cooper Aug 19, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                                                                                                      Davydd,

                                                                                                                                      I may have lost you with Porky's Onion Rings, but Chow isn't exactly the Fair's target market. You give me a booth selling them at the Fair and I would be willing to bet that I wouldn't have to work a whole heck of a lot the rest of the year. If Martha's cookies (which barely deserve the title, ever seen and eaten them the next day after they get cold?????) can bring in a six-figure haul, I'm pretty sure those rings could too.

                                                                                                                                      TDQ,
                                                                                                                                      The simple fact is that if your item come on a stick, your odds of being selected by the Fair goes up significantly. Check out what's approved over the last few years. The majority of items come "on-a-stick." Well, that and having the necessary money to bribe the fair board, but that's another discussion. My point was that there is a lot of street food/quick turnaround items that Twin Cities residents have access to everyday now thanks to the food trucks. And not just quick, but high quality too. The Fair would be wise to figure out how to incorporate this or get left behind in a blaze of greasy soggy cheese curds.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                        Davydd Aug 19, 2011 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                        Some of the worst onion rings I ever had came from Porky's on University. There was a reason it closed other than anticipated light rail construction. That was a convenient excuse, IMO They had been living on the fumes of their past reputation for way too many years. The food had gone way down hill. I could show you a photo of the godawful stuff.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                      daniellempls Aug 19, 2011 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                                      Db-

                                                                                                                                      You need to keep in mind how easy it is to scale a certain food item up. If you are willing to sell at the fair, and be advertised in the 'New Fair Food' hype, you had better be prepared to dish out a few thousand plus servings a day. Not an easy feat for all foods, whether prep time, overhead cost, sourcing or even space come in to play.

                                                                                                                                      And I agree that new food shouldn't be judged on the presence or abcense of a stick, however I do appreciate not having to always worry about how clean my hand are before eating at the fair ;).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: daniellempls
                                                                                                                                        Db Cooper Aug 19, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                                                                                        My list wasn't meant to be definitive these HAVE to be at the Fair items, more to open eyes as to the possibilities that are out there. And yes, I realize that there are some items that can't be mass-produced on the scale the Fair requires. But there are a lot of them out there that can be and have a lot more appeal than a pizza kebob or breakfast lollipop on a stick.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                          The Dairy Queen Aug 19, 2011 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                                          My husband is all over the breakfast lollipop on a stick. There used to be a pancake breakfast on a stick (from Epiphany Diner?) . It wasn't bad, actually.

                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                            Uisge Aug 19, 2011 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                                            Got to admit. That one caught my eye.

                                                                                                                                            This is my daughter's first year at the Fair. Can't wait to see what draws her eye. I showed her the Fair's "Food Love" ad last night and her eyes were a big as saucers.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Uisge
                                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Aug 19, 2011 12:21 PM

                                                                                                                                              That's a big responsibility, introducing someone to the fair for the first time. I know you will do it justice!

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Db Cooper
                                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                                            Bobannon Aug 19, 2011 02:45 PM

                                                                                                                                            I guess i agree with you. I read the article in the strib earlier this week about the Epiphany Diner closing and the reason given was that they don't offier the gimmicky on a stick options of the stands. Also that families don't want to sit for a meal anymore. I disagree. I think it's because the quality of the food isn't there. I stopped in last year to sit and relax and get a good home cooked meal and I couldn't believe the really bad food they were serving. It reminded me of what you'd find in a school lunch or perhaps a nursing home. Why can't they serve the same "comfort food" types of dishes that are quality made? Homemade desserts, real potatoes, etc. I understand that it would cost a little more but most people will pay for a quality product.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bobannon
                                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Aug 19, 2011 03:59 PM

                                                                                                                                              I think part of the problem is the massive number of fair goers vs. the relatively small number of volunteers available to serve them. These aren't culinary professionals running these church dining halls: they are just ordinary people. And, yeah, Epiphany Diner recently stopped serving their one novelty item (pancake and sausage on a stick) so they probably did lose the "on a stick" crowd.

                                                                                                                                              But you do remind me of one essential annual stop, and that's breakfast at Salem Lutheran Church. I can't say that it's the best breakfast I've ever had, but it's pretty solid (and a decent attempt at scratch cooking) considering the setting. http://www.mnstatefair.org/find/food/...

                                                                                                                                              If you're going to compare the downtown food trucks to the state fair vendors, I think you'll be disappointed. Some of the food trucks are being run by some of the top chefs in the area, and they are serving a much, much smaller throng of people. I think it's hard to expect the same quality, though I can see why you might desire it (I do, too, of course.

                                                                                                                                              )

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bobannon
                                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                                soupkitten Aug 19, 2011 04:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                dammit. sure, the food sucked, but they sold swedish egg coffee, and i'd always buy a small cup and blunder about in the heat and humidity spilling blazing hot coffee on myself like an idiot. now what am i supposed to do? :(

                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                  The Dairy Queen Aug 19, 2011 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I think it's Salem Lutheran Church that serves the egg coffee. Does Epiphany Diner also serve egg coffee?

                                                                                                                                                  SLC
                                                                                                                                                  http://www.mnstatefair.org/find/food/index.html

                                                                                                                                                  Epiphany
                                                                                                                                                  http://www.mnstatefair.org/find/food/...

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                    soupkitten Aug 19, 2011 08:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                    really? guess i'm in luck!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Aug 20, 2011 05:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Actually, I like having breakfast at SLC as my first stop at the fair every year. I loving chatting with everyone, finding out where they're from and what their plans for the day are. I love the nervous kids that wait the tables. The food isn't amazing, but it's all to order and eggs, coffee, and toast is a decent way to start the day, especially if you think you might be eating a steady stream of junk after that.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm kind of sad people have gotten so cynical about the fair. If you look hard, there are still those kinds of places that are staffed by hopeful entrepreneurs or earnest volunteers. SLC is one. Another one we like is the booth staffed by the Midway Men's Association, not for the food really, but it's a place to stop for a beer or a pop in the shade where you can nearly always find a seat. You can even (kind of) watch the parade from there. I know it's not Alex Roberts preparing the food back there, but I still enjoy it as its own experience. Do I wish it were all sustainably sourced meat and dairy? Of course. But we're not quite there yet.

                                                                                                                                                      Actually, my least favorite food stands at the fair are the larger commercial enterprises that are just capitalizing on what they already do year-round. French Meadow, O'Garas, Famous Dave's, etc. I give Giggles a pass because I think they innovate very thoughtfully every year and aren't trying to leverage the "Gabe's" experience at all as far as I can tell.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm sort of sorry I even brought the fair up, but chowhounding at the fair is really no different than chowhounding anywhere else. It's about finding what's best amid the mediocre. I don't think I'd go to the fair just for the food, but I do like to find something to eat while I'm there.

                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                        steve_in_stpaul Aug 20, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                        I cannot understand the enthusiasm for the chains either (I'll include the place that sells Deli Express sandwiches, too). Even if you're from outstate visiting the Fair, it isn't hard to find a Famous Dave's (walk down Snelling a bit). O'Gara's is a short drive away.

                                                                                                                                                        It's kind of like the "chain-ization" of Grand Ave. After a while, there's nothing special about it. Food definitely is not THE highlight of the Fair, but IMHO it does not need to be homogenized by chains when indies could do the job just fine.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: steve_in_stpaul
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                                                                                                                                                          foreverhungry Aug 22, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                          For what what it's worth, I don't think the distinction should be about "chain" vs. "indie", especially at the fair. There are tons of "indies" at the fair, and many whose food is not good. If at the end of the day, it's the "chains" (though I'd hardly call French Meadow or O'Gara's "chain"), they're the ones that have the best food, then they're the ones getting my money. The word "chain" seems to have the knee-jerk assumption that it will be bad, and "indie" has the knee-jerk reaction that it will be good. In my experience, there are plenty of chains that serve good food, and plenty of indie's that serve bad food.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foreverhungry
                                                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                            I think I was the one who brought up O'Garas, Famous Daves, French Meadow, but I didn't call them "chains"--I called them "larger commercial enterprises" and said they were my personal least favorite at the fair. But, it's true that some of the smaller, indie places do struggle to meet the demand of the giant crowds, which I think is the source of some disappointment about the quality of the food at the fair.

                                                                                                                                                            soupkitten has a good point about French Meadow offering gluten-free options, which is actually really nice.

                                                                                                                                                            O'Gara's, well, it just seems like they recreated their bar in the middle of the state fair. It doesn't really seem to add anything unique and fairish, to me. I think they have a fair menu that's different than their Snelling Ave menu, but I don't remember thinking any of their fair offerings were that good last year.

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                              foreverhungry Aug 22, 2011 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                              TDQ - yes, you did not call them chains, I was responding more to steve_in_stpaul specifically, but also in general to the chain-bashing that seems to go on (both in Chowhound specifically, and also more broadly). Most places that are now chains started out as an indie. So is the theory that once there are more than x# of outposts, it doesn't deserve any more respect? Personally, if at the fair (for some reason) my options were a Dave's pulled pork sandwich or the scotched egg on a stick, I'm going with Dave's. I'd take Dave's over lots of indie's at the fair. That said, I haven't eaten at Dave's at the fair yet, because there are some good indie foods out there. But it's not the "indie" label that makes them good, it's just the food. Saying that some indie's "struggle to meet the demand of the giant crowds" is, in some cases, putting it kindly. And some meet the crowd demand perfectly well, but still have an awful product (heresy perhaps, but I think Sweet Martha's cookies are among the worst cookies I've ever eaten).

                                                                                                                                                              I agree about O'Gara's. I don't like their food when it's on Snelling, and don't like it at the fair. But I'm not going to rip on O'Gara's just because they opened an outpost at the Fair. I'll rip on them because their food is mediocre (at best).

                                                                                                                                                              But different strokes. Personally, at the end of the day, I just want food that tastes good. Sure, I like the indie's, I like sustainable, I like local. But if the food isn't good, then none of that matters (well, to me anyway).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foreverhungry
                                                                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I understand your point that good food, or bad food, can be found at either chains or indies and that you're primarily interested in good food whether you're at the fair or elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                My objection regarding the fair goes a little beyond that. To me the fair is a unique experience that lasts only two weeks a year. It's hot, it's crowded, it's a pain to get to. But, I endure all of that because it's the only time and place I can get "the fair experience." But if it's just going to be the same big-time corporate vendors offering all of the same things they do the other 50 weeks a year, with a few things on a stick thrown onto the menu, then it's diluting my fair experience and I am not in favor. I don't want to endure the crowds for that. I can drive to Famous Dave's or O'Garas right now this very moment if I want that, and I won't have to fight 200,000 people to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                I'd rather have a mediocre spam burger from an indie guy at the fair than a mediocre Famous Dave's pulled pork sandwich because I can have Famous Dave's any day. I'd rather have the mediocre scotch egg, too. I'd rather go sit at the Midway Men's Association counter, because I can only do that at the fair, than at the O'Gara's booth.

                                                                                                                                                                Of course, I'd really rather have outstanding food, offered by whomever that can offer it. Always point me in that direction, please!

                                                                                                                                                                I'm not necessarily against the big commercial enterprises as long as they are doing something truly fair worthy, and not just doing what they always do with a weak attempt to put it on a stick. Or, Giggles (operated by the same guy who does Gabe's in St. Paul), who works really hard every year to come up with creative and interesting Minnesota-themed food that's actually of pretty decent quality.

                                                                                                                                                                P.S. I don't do Sweet Martha's anymore either. I did my first couple of years and then realized I didn't love it that much. Sure, hot cookies are fantastic, but once the cookies cool off, you realize they aren't that good.

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                                  sandylc Aug 22, 2011 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, Sweet Martha's aren't very good. Tried them once and was seriously underwhelmed.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    But the IDEA of hot chocolate chip cookies is a fantastic one, especially if you chase it up with milk from the milk booth, another great IDEA that I have never actually executed.

                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc
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                                                                                                                                                                      kevin47 Aug 26, 2011 07:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you!

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                                                                                                                                                                      foreverhungry Aug 22, 2011 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I completely agree with your point of view that the Fair is a unique event, and that as such, it should have unique foods to represent it - foods that aren't necessarily available, or at least easily available, the rest of the year. As I said above, I'd go to Dave's over lots of other options, but haven't once gone there - or any other joint that operates regularly around the Twin Cities (at least not that I can think of). I do think it's ashamed that the State Fair folks let Dave's and O'Gara's in, because they really aren't offering anything that can't otherwise be had there. Is there really not an indie that can do a couple varieties of BBQ? And O'Gara's, they offer nothing different. At least French Meadow fills the gluten-free void. But I can't blame Dave's et al. for wanting to get into the fair - it's a cash cow. I blame the State Fair officials for letting them in. Yes, given two foods that are on the same mediocrity level, I'll tend to go for the indie one (I'm not a big scotched egg fan, which is why I went with that example).

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                                        Lincster Aug 23, 2011 04:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Boy I want those spam burgers to be good....but they just aren't. I can make a better spam burger at home.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: foreverhungry
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                                                                                                                                                                        steve_in_stpaul Aug 22, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll cop to a little laziness in calling O'Gara's & such "chains". It was sloppy of me, though not completely incorrect (Famous Dave's is, in my experience, mediocre barbeque easily bettered by a bunch of places I can think of).

                                                                                                                                                                        As for the rest, TDQ has quite eloquently covered what I would have said. *bows in the Queen's direction*

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen
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                                                                                                                                                                  soupkitten Aug 20, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  perhaps i came off in a way i didn't really mean. whichever religious establishment it is, i do love the service each year when i get the egg coffee-- it's always a young teenager awkwardly handling money and menu items and cheerfully doing their best. there is no polish or pretension or "flair," and i like that. but i've never felt the need to order a sit-down breakfast (or other meal) at the fair, i can get that any time, and for the record i feel the same way about corn on the cob etc-- when i'm at the fair i need to save room for at least six deep fried delicacies, and lingonberry floats and ridiculous bacon thingies i decide i have to try. but that doesn't mean that the breakfast is "crappy," you're right about that-- it's just that for me, it's extraneous to the fair experience, but i shouldn't call it "crappy" when i've never even tried it and what i mean is that it's not my own personal choice of meals/menus at the fair. i had always understood the old-school diner booths to be more for the other vendors at the fair, and for the farmers/exhibitors who arrive at butt-crack of dawn-- in other words, for the serious fair people, not the day-tripping tourist a-holes like myself :)

                                                                                                                                                                  i for one am still excited for "fair food," sure the food trucks are bringin' it and are a nice showcase for local chef talent, but the fair lets us eat things we normally wouldn't just because it's only once a year. i agree w the chain-hate-- all this could be had any time outside the fair, in bigger portions, for less money-- i'm very inclined to patronize an indie booth or one that is a good fundraiser rather than get anything from famous daves et al. for me, these options are also "crappy" choices based on ubiquity, regardless of how the food is executed.

                                                                                                                                                                  whenever i see a booth i don't personally "get" down at the fair i try to remind myself that there are hordes and hordes of people running through there every day, and even aiming their product at a small subset of folks can give a little booth all the business they can handle. then i feel happy that french meadow is there to be an option for the gluten-free folks, or the deli express booth for the people who have never, ever considered eating any food purchased outside of a gas station in their whole lives, or whatever. the fair is what it is. . . on a stick.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Db Cooper
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                                                                                                                                                  turtlebella Aug 22, 2011 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I had a gyro from Demetri's last year, upon recommendation from a 'hounder (perhaps you Db!) and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's off my beaten path when it comes to the fair - we tend to hang out farther north by the kidway and well, the John Deere place (my daughter would be quite happy to go no where else, frankly) and the eco-experience or whatever it's called or over by horticulture. But I made everyone trek over to Demetri's last year. And I was happy.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: turtlebella
                                                                                                                                                    Db Cooper Aug 23, 2011 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Turtlebella,

                                                                                                                                                    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't know why I enjoy their gyro sandwiches more than other places, but I really do. I think it may be that they don't go quite so heavy on the spices and let the lamb flavor speak for itself. In any event, I'm glad the recommendation was worth the extra walk.

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                                                                                                                                                  foreverhungry Aug 18, 2011 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Is the Gopher Dairy Bar the one that's by the cow barn? What and where is the other shake option? I go to the one by the cow barn.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foreverhungry
                                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 18, 2011 12:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, the Gopher Dairy Bar is the one by the cow barn--same one as you. The other option is in the "Empire Commons"/Dairy Building. EDIT: and the Kiwanis Malts by the 4-H building.

                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

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