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MN State Fair Report 2012

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Seige Aug 23, 2012 02:58 PM

And so it is Day 1 of the Minnesota Great Get-Together. I haven't been to the Fair yet to report on anything, but am anxiously awaiting the reports of others. We will be there several times this year for various concerts, but probably not until next week. Top of my list for new items are the waffle de liege (which I may just park myself in front of all day, if it's good... lurve me some waffles!), bacon ice cream, and red velvet funnel cake. Sadly, very little else interested me of the new offerings. Of course we'll hit my favorites too - Dogzilla, Mouth Trap cheese curds, Fudge Puppy (the original, not the special flavors), Holy Land lemonade, and Harry Singh's for the hubster.

So what have you tried this year that you loved or hated? Can't wait to hear the reports!

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  1. k
    KTFoley RE: Seige Aug 23, 2012 04:23 PM

    Am hoping that the roasted corn prices haven't gone up too much -- am I about to find out how this year's weather affects my personal "crop"?

    1. The Dairy Queen RE: Seige Aug 23, 2012 06:50 PM

      Tried the walleye roll at Giggles. Chunks of walleye, diced celery, wild rice, chopped dill and seasonings with shredded lettuce, on buttery toast. I thought it was pretty nice. A little pricy at $8.75, but it was a generous serving. I wish they'd done a better job removing the Y bones as that makes it hard to share with small children, but, oh well.

      ~TDQ

      1 Reply
      1. re: The Dairy Queen
        s
        SmartCookie RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 24, 2012 06:20 AM

        Went yesterday; corn was $3, and was delicious as always.

        My favorite is always the sandwich from Turkey to Go ($6.75) - never a disappointment.

      2. b
        BigE RE: Seige Aug 24, 2012 08:23 AM

        Heavy Table's always helpful write up here:

        http://heavytable.com/the-2012-minnes...

        7 Replies
        1. re: BigE
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          Rowdy RE: BigE Aug 26, 2012 06:48 PM

          A commenter on Heavy Table's reviews, and I thought someone here, mentioned some peaches that were available, but I can't find the comment here, and the Fair's Food Finder doesn't list them. Anybody know where the peaches are?

          1. re: Rowdy
            c
            ChillyDog RE: Rowdy Aug 26, 2012 07:22 PM

            Search for Produce Exchange. It's on Judson.

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

            Here are the search results-

            Produce Exchange
            Serving: fresh fruit - apples, pears, berries, oranges, peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapples, mangos, bananas, melons, trail mixes, energy bars and nylon bags with Produce Exchange PX logo, Smart Water, nutrient enhanced and Naked Juice, macaroon cookies, coconut water, peaches and cream, grilled peaches, orange juice,

            On the map: View on the State Fair Map (U-30) or on Google Maps

            Directions: North side of Judson east of Underwood

            1. re: ChillyDog
              r
              Rowdy RE: ChillyDog Aug 26, 2012 07:33 PM

              Thanks so much, ChillyDog!!

              1. re: ChillyDog
                b
                bishopsbitter RE: ChillyDog Aug 27, 2012 03:56 AM

                Argh. Wish I had known of the existence of the foodfinder thing. I (wrongly) assumed that if I just walked every street and avenue I'd find all the places alluded to. The Harry Singh's and crab cakes and quite a few others (I liked the sound of) I never stumbled across. Maybe I'll go back one night this week with directional info on hand.

                1. re: bishopsbitter
                  c
                  ChillyDog RE: bishopsbitter Aug 27, 2012 04:31 AM

                  There's also an app for that. I have it on my iPhone; I don't know if it is on Android.

                  The Food Finder search is essentially the same but you can make a list of favorites and it shows them on the map.

                  1. re: ChillyDog
                    j
                    jaycooke RE: ChillyDog Aug 27, 2012 05:53 PM

                    You can also make lists via Foursquare, or follow pre-made lists on a map (like the one put out by the Heavy Table - https://foursquare.com/heavytable/lis...)

              2. re: Rowdy
                diesel RE: Rowdy Aug 26, 2012 07:45 PM

                What ChillyDog said. Also, get the giant "Sweet Dream" peach. Worth the extra buck (vs. the $2 Colorado peach). So good and guilt-free!

            2. m
              MrSlippery RE: Seige Aug 24, 2012 08:38 AM

              The cannoli at Ole's Cannoli was pretty good. They fill them after you order so the shell is still nice and crispy and the filling was a good balance of amount and sweetness. We didn't have the chocolate covered one but it looked tasty. Corn was good. Got a nicely burnt ear, can't remember prices from past years to compare. The Rhubbery soda from Spring Grove was tart and sweet, just the thing to cut the grease from the french fries around the corner. Looked at the poutine but decided to pass. The beer tasting in the Agricultural hall was fun but crowded (can't imagine what it's going to be like over the weekend), and they had already run out of two of the hoppy samples and were pouring Summit Red Horizon and Surly Furious instead. As much as I like Furious, I was hoping to try something different. And the Craft Beer Bar was definitely a nice day ender. Had the Badger Hill MSB which had a nice malty hoppy balance.

              5 Replies
              1. re: MrSlippery
                k
                karykat RE: MrSlippery Aug 25, 2012 09:11 AM

                That Rhubbery soda sounds good. Rhubarb flavor, I assume? This is inspiring me to make some rhubarb syrup this weekend.

                Question about the craft beer hall. That wasn't too crowded? It's in the Agriculture building, right? Is that where the beer flights are also? Or are we talking about too different places. We were looking forward to trying this and am hoping it's not TOO crowded.

                1. re: karykat
                  m
                  MrSlippery RE: karykat Aug 25, 2012 10:13 AM

                  The Rhubbery is rhubarb and strawberry, although I didn't taste too much strawberry.

                  The craft beer tastings ($8 for four samples in four different styles for a total of 16 different beers if you wanted to try them all, whew), is in the Agriculture building and it was hopping on a Thursday afternoon.

                  There is a Craft Beer Bar in the Ball Park Cafe adjacent to the Food Hall that serves 15 or so craft beers, mostly locals with a couple of out-of-staters like Stone Arrogant Bastard. You can get small or large cups and I don't remember the pricing.

                  1. re: MrSlippery
                    s
                    steve_in_stpaul RE: MrSlippery Aug 25, 2012 03:05 PM

                    I'm pretty sure the craft-beer space in the Agriculture building is where the Minnesota wine producers had their tastings; they've moved to a separate building at the Fair.

                    1. re: MrSlippery
                      b
                      bishopsbitter RE: MrSlippery Aug 25, 2012 03:49 PM

                      I found it so "hop"ping that it was impossible to make headway to order anything. It was a good concept, but in far too crowded quarters. No chance to ask about the beers etc.

                       
                    2. re: karykat
                      k
                      karykat RE: karykat Aug 25, 2012 08:02 PM

                      Thanks all for the answers about the craft beer sales.

                      Maybe we'll check the Agriculture buildling space but then figure on heading to the Ball Park Cafe if it's crazy busy.

                  2. h
                    Haricotsv2 RE: Seige Aug 24, 2012 01:33 PM

                    Just go back from visit #1. I always have to start with a foot-long. Can't help it. Really liked the wall-eye roll at Giggles (watch for small bones). Definitely enough for two. Won tons at Midtown Market were tasty, but nothing unusual--actually liked the chicken dumplings better. How do they always have delicious, fresh strawberries at the Strawberries and Cream stand? (Go very light on the cream--my dh said it left "sweaters on his teeth".) The gyro from Holyland was gigantic and looked great. We had their mango juice, which needs to be cut with mineral water--too sweet. It got really hot outside, so we hopped on the bus home.
                    Margi

                    1. g
                      getgot211 RE: Seige Aug 25, 2012 07:30 AM

                      Skip the poutine, generic cafeteria style gravy. Red velvet funnel cake is tasty, didn't get to try a waffle de leige because they decided to stop selling them at 11am without notice. Ragin Ankles were pretty good and the 'Great balls of fire' were good too, not especially spicy though.

                      1. b
                        bishopsbitter RE: Seige Aug 25, 2012 03:26 PM

                        Pictures first, my report to follow. bb

                        OK have found the picture interface here 'wobbly" so wanted those uploaded first.

                        So at 700am spotted Andrew Zimmern nervously (a little) fussing around his new food truck. However, he kept bankers' Hours as he was not open for business until much later. But he was (later) in the van, serving food himself. clearly this was being filmed for hsi show as well.

                        My breakfast began at cynthia's. As you can see from the photo, absolutley NOTHING wrong with her weisswurst especially if you request raw (versus grilled) onions. Really delicious!

                        I was surprised how much I liked the Scotch egg which came next. It was properly seasoned pork covering and a tasty egg. Shame it's served so piping hot as it would be delicious cold. But there we go.

                        The Big fat Bacon was OK but I think they slather on some hideous (maple?) glaze just before service. Spoils it a little.

                        At Holy Land the lamb on a stick was moist and tasty. The Lamb Fries were unfortunately spoiled by being too much breading (and onions strings! not wanted or needed, perhaps just a function of a leftover onions in the fryer) and not enough testis.

                        Of all of these Cynthia's tasted "genuine" and I think as you look at that sausage it has a craft quality to it. That's my #1.

                        Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fair.

                        bb

                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bishopsbitter
                          b
                          bishopsbitter RE: bishopsbitter Aug 25, 2012 03:45 PM

                          p.s. While I would have liked to try the andrew Zimmern AZ Food Truck they had some indecipherable system in place which (however it worked, I could not fathom: and wasn't going to ask) did not involve the traditional system of wading up with money and ordering. There seemed to be a fair number of cronies hanging around, but also plenty of genuine interested parties (and fans).

                          1. re: bishopsbitter
                            b
                            bishopsbitter RE: bishopsbitter Aug 25, 2012 04:47 PM

                            Also, ref the penultimate photo: I have no idea why Alka Seltzer does not have a permanent mega booth at this event(!)

                        2. f
                          Fudist RE: Seige Aug 26, 2012 02:48 PM

                          The Land of 10,000 beers expo is actually in The Horticulture part of The Agriculture Building. Sampled The Hoppy Flight. Not too shabby. Brau Brothers Hopsession was the standout for me. Also Had the first Surly Furious tapped in 2012 at the fair. The Walleye on a stick was 3 inches of Walley for around $7.00. No value there. Loved The Ragin Ankles. Crab Fritters from Ollies were deeelish. Also was nice to see Manny behind the counter making his delectable Tortas. Harry Sing's Ghost Wings were delicious and very spicy. But the main attraction for me other than Furious was the Classic Walleye Roll. Bigger than I expected but have to agree with TDQ they could have made it bigger and did a better job of deboning. Still very tasty and I will get it again when I return next weekend.

                          1. s
                            steve_in_stpaul RE: Seige Aug 26, 2012 03:50 PM

                            Two (sticky) thumbs up for the Ragin' Ankles! Very nicely done and a good balance between heat and sweet and the richness of the pork, which was not at all greasy.

                            One thumb up for the Lamb Fries at Holy Land. Maybe they deserve two, but I ordered "grilled" and got "breaded and fried" and the booth was in too much chaos to try to fix it. If I like the grilled version (I'll try sometime next week), the second thumb goes up. Quite tasty spice mixture on them, not very greasy. The breading seemed superfluous to me, as did the cucumber-lemon dipping sauce. Neither is bad, but they take away from the essence of the dish, which I think can stand on its own merits.

                            Mrs. Sisp and I shared a pork chop on a stick and strawberries and creme (sp?); the berries were much better than I expected. I also had my annual corn dog. We must be getting older, though, because that was enough grease to leave us good for the day.

                            1. diesel RE: Seige Aug 26, 2012 08:11 PM

                              Two visits over the weekend:

                              Saturday:
                              - Minneapple deep fried apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. I like the not-too-sweet-ness of this dish and the crispy,flaky crust paired with the cinnamon ice cream is pretty heavenly. However, my pie was less cooked than I'd have liked. There were places where the inside of the dough was chewy, which is an absolute no-no where pie is concerned.
                              - Harry Singh's curry chicken roti. Yum. Real good food. Would have benefitted from a bit more salt IMO.
                              - MouthTrap cheese curds. I think I prefer the "Original Cheese Curds," but it's hard to go wrong with deep fried cheese, as long as it's real cheese.
                              - Deep fried pickles. We got the "Gourmet" version, which is deep fried cream cheese stuffed pickles). Meh. I could take 'em or leave 'em.

                              Sunday
                              - Farmers Union depth charge (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso added for good measure) - best coffee at the fair, without a doubt. These are the folks from J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul.
                              - Breakfast Crepe from the crepe place across from WCCO. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese in a crepe. Good enough, though I would have preferred a bit more bacon, or bacon that tasted bacony-er. The price is steep at $8.
                              - Sweet Dream Peach from the Produce Exchange. I've been hearing about these peaches for so long but never got around to trying one until today. Man alive, if that isn't a startlingly juicy, sweet, gigantic peach.
                              - Roasted corn at the roasted corn place. As always, the corn was sweet, succulent, and just a tad smoky.
                              - Spring Grove Soda black cherry. Mmm. Intense, authentic cherry flavor.

                              I kind of regret not eating more junk food today. Oh well. Thanks for all the reports, CHers.

                              1. splatgirl RE: Seige Aug 27, 2012 09:00 PM

                                My favorite from visit #1 was the lamb chops on a stick. It's just meat, but it was perfectly cooked and seasoned and hot and delicious lambyness. I could have eaten six, and I'm definitely going back for more on visit #2.
                                For the first time ever, the corn was not my best corn experience of the year. Still good, but I had some mind blowingly good and huge from the co-op last week.
                                I was really looking forward to the jerk chicken legs from West Indies Soul Food. They were either out or not doing them when I visited, so we'll hope for those on round two. Wondering how they compare to the jerk wings from Harry Singh's.
                                I'm also intending to try whatever AZ has to offer as that was not open yet. Also the belgian waffle which I had completely forgotten about, and the reuben pretzel from French Meadow.
                                Would love to hear comments on these.

                                I agree with the previous comment on Big Fat Bacon. Their first year, AWESOME. Second year, not awesome as a result of missing the caramelized sugary syrup deliciousness entirely. This year, dipped in disgusting faux maple syrup, messy and VERY not awesome. Actually kind of gross with that slimy HFCS on it. Boo.
                                I have a similar complaint about cinne-minis. The first year I had them the icing was tasty and cream cheesy and I dreamed about those things for the whole next year. Now it's just shortening buttercream and not at all dream worthy. Such a disappointment.

                                Also add two Big Dog corn dogs, two bags of mini donuts, fries and cinne-mini's to the tally. I prefer the Tom Thumb to Tiny Tim, and Big Dog always and forever. Pronto pups can suck it unless it's outside the art building for the annual mustard year/indian statue photo.

                                LOVING the increased options for iced tea and coffee. I remember when that was difficult or impossible to find.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: splatgirl
                                  c
                                  ChillyDog RE: splatgirl Aug 27, 2012 10:43 PM

                                  It's my understanding that last Saturday's appearance of the AZ Canteen will be the only day they will be at the fair.

                                  1. re: ChillyDog
                                    b
                                    bishopsbitter RE: ChillyDog Aug 28, 2012 05:44 AM

                                    Did anyone partake of this mystical vehicle's wares???? I'd be interested whether all the hoopla and utterly imponderable logistics were actually worth it.

                                    1. re: bishopsbitter
                                      splatgirl RE: bishopsbitter Aug 28, 2012 06:35 AM

                                      I heard it being eaten on MPR--does that count? Lynne Rosetto-Kasper said the goat whatever was "really nice".

                                      1. re: splatgirl
                                        b
                                        bishopsbitter RE: splatgirl Aug 28, 2012 12:43 PM

                                        Oh that's right. He was doing all goat or some such. Thanks.

                                  2. re: splatgirl
                                    c
                                    colliecookhuh RE: splatgirl Aug 28, 2012 12:17 PM

                                    Where is the lamb chop!?! I've been missing this! Must try it this weekend.

                                    1. re: colliecookhuh
                                      splatgirl RE: colliecookhuh Aug 29, 2012 07:56 AM

                                      Food building. I think it's new

                                      1. re: splatgirl
                                        s
                                        Seige RE: splatgirl Aug 29, 2012 12:10 PM

                                        Food building - at the end where the nitro ice cream is. The LambShop stand it's at is not new, but the chop on a stick is new.

                                        1. re: Seige
                                          f
                                          foreverhungry RE: Seige Aug 30, 2012 08:01 PM

                                          The chop on a stick was fantastic. If I had had that lamb chop served to me at a restaurant, with a random side, for $20, I'd have been happy. The lamb chop on a stick at the fair must be the deal of the century.

                                    2. re: splatgirl
                                      s
                                      shanemio RE: splatgirl Aug 30, 2012 05:28 AM

                                      I tried the rueben pretzel...it was on a whim and, unfortunately, whilst sounding great, was not edible. I hate about half, wanting to like it, but it was overly salty, the onion topping tasted faux to me, and the pretzel itself, I assume trying to mimic bread, had an overly rye taste to it. Brought the other half home for the hubs and he tossed it. Don't waste 6.5 bucks.

                                      1. re: shanemio
                                        splatgirl RE: shanemio Aug 30, 2012 06:41 AM

                                        oh, thanks. more space for the nine other food items on my list for tomorrow!

                                    3. k
                                      kevin47 RE: Seige Aug 28, 2012 08:19 AM

                                      Visit #1 - In order of consumption

                                      Great Balls of Fire - Sausage Sister and Me

                                      These were excellent. Nice, complicated flavors (similar to thai sausage) a bit of sear and plenty juicy. The cucumber and peanut sauces were a great match. This was my favorite item of the day.

                                      Lamb Fries - Holy Land Deli

                                      These were only so-so. The breading is a la clam strips, which somewhat overwhelmed the testicular unctuousness of the meats. Also, they included fried onions as filler, which were overcooked. The gloppy "ranch sauce" added nothing. I'd file this under decent fried food, which, of course, is ubiquitous in this venue.

                                      Cheese Curds

                                      I passionately believe the cheese curds I ate are superior to the cheese curds at the other cheese curd purveyor. There is no doubt in my mind.

                                      Sweeties - Potato and Sweetie or whatever it's called

                                      Deep fried sweet potato on a stick. I didn't realize was a dessert. It tasted exactly like pumpkin pie. Meh.

                                      Ragin Ankles - Famous Dave's

                                      The ankles themselves were smoky and rich, far better than their ribs, frankly. A very generous, filling portion, so feel free to share. I wasn't terribly keen on the sauce, which was too acidic. I'd hazard to guess you could request a different sauce, or just go without.

                                      Honey sunflower sundae - The Honey Museum

                                      If you get there in the morning, the ice cream hasn't hardened into a brick, which means the workers there give you a lot more of it. This is still the best ice cream at the fair, for my money.

                                      Chicken Fried Bacon - Giggles

                                      I wanted to try the walleye roll, but went with this. My report is the same as last time. They taste like what you wish chicken tenders would taste like, but there isn't enough sauce, and the sauce is important when you get one of the bigger, breadier chunks.

                                      Red Velvet Funnel Cake - Somewhere up by the tractors

                                      I'm not a big fan of red velvet cake or funnel cakes, but this was pretty good. This has a rich flavor, and the sticky frosting suits a funnel cake well.

                                      Black Cherry Soda - Spring Grove Soda

                                      Pretty much lives up to the hype.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: kevin47
                                        g
                                        gryffindor249 RE: kevin47 Aug 28, 2012 12:05 PM

                                        The honey/ sunflower ice cream is probably the best-kept secret at the fair.

                                        1. re: gryffindor249
                                          Db Cooper RE: gryffindor249 Aug 28, 2012 01:32 PM

                                          That would be the gyro at Demetri's fine Greek foods next to the Giant Slide. While everyone else is wasting their money at Holy Land, the best one usually has no lines and a dining area behind his truck to sit and enjoy. Throw in the fact Garlic Fries are only a football field away at The BallPark Cafe and you have the best possible meal available at the Fair.

                                          1. re: Db Cooper
                                            The Dairy Queen RE: Db Cooper Aug 28, 2012 02:01 PM

                                            Love those garlic fries. Plus, there's a blue ribbon book coupon for them. I think I've been getting Demetri's gyros confused with Dino's. Two different places, right?

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              Db Cooper RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 28, 2012 03:22 PM

                                              Yes .. Demetri's is a truck/stand right next to the Giant Slide. You cannot go wrong.

                                              1. re: Db Cooper
                                                k
                                                karykat RE: Db Cooper Aug 28, 2012 06:30 PM

                                                Is the meat real meat? Rather than some compressed homogenized crap most gyro places use?

                                                We've been looking for a replacement for the place that was on Como in St.Paul. Maybe this is a good way to try them out.

                                                1. re: karykat
                                                  Db Cooper RE: karykat Aug 29, 2012 06:22 AM

                                                  This wouldn't be a year-round replacement. Demetri's travels the country in this truck. They don't have a local location. For that, your choices are Dino's or Holy Land at the Fair. I'd recommend Fillafia (spelling off check it on the board here) in Columbia Heights for local, but make sure to request tzaitki instead of tahini sauce when you go.

                                                  1. re: Db Cooper
                                                    k
                                                    karykat RE: Db Cooper Aug 30, 2012 09:32 AM

                                                    Thanks much. I will have to find Demetri's when we go.

                                                    1. re: karykat
                                                      Db Cooper RE: karykat Aug 30, 2012 10:15 AM

                                                      It's right next to the Giant Slide. You can't miss it. Have fun at The Fair.

                                        2. re: kevin47
                                          s
                                          shadowfax RE: kevin47 Aug 29, 2012 12:15 PM

                                          The red velvet cake surprised me. Usually new "attention grabber" sweet foods at the fair, like the deep fried oreos/candy bars/ whatver, are pretty much nothing but ultra-sweet. The cake wasn't at all. Good flavors, but you'll need help eating it. Less than half an order + about 5 cheese curds finished me off for the day.

                                        3. h
                                          Haricotsv2 RE: Seige Aug 28, 2012 02:07 PM

                                          Trip #2. Ragin' Ankles rank highest for me of the new-this-year food. Delicious. I also really liked the lamb chops on a stick (from the Food Building lamb booth for the person who asked). Great Balls of Fire were fine--a little dry and salty, I thought. Strawberry stuffed scones from French Meadow and most of the things I've had at Giggles are consistently good, although both of those places are kind of for when I'm "trying to be good!" I still like the Big Fat Bacon, although I agree that the first year was best. I do believe that the Pretzel Dog is still one of the most wonderful quintessential fair foods, as are the cream puffs.
                                          I think this is it for this year,
                                          Margi

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Haricotsv2
                                            b
                                            bishopsbitter RE: Haricotsv2 Aug 28, 2012 03:38 PM

                                            What exactly comprises a Pretzel Dog? I can't quite visualize that.

                                            1. re: bishopsbitter
                                              h
                                              Haricotsv2 RE: bishopsbitter Aug 28, 2012 04:13 PM

                                              It's an all beef hot dog with really good soft pretzel dough spiraled around it and baked. You can have it with butter brushed on it or not, and they have 3 different kinds of mustard to go with. It's simply delicious. They are attached to a pretzel stand near the Coliseum.
                                              Margi

                                              1. re: Haricotsv2
                                                k
                                                karykat RE: Haricotsv2 Aug 28, 2012 06:31 PM

                                                Hmmmm. That sounds very good.

                                                1. re: Haricotsv2
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                                                  gryffindor249 RE: Haricotsv2 Aug 29, 2012 06:56 AM

                                                  Those Bavarian pretzels are really good...soft and fresh.

                                                  1. re: Haricotsv2
                                                    b
                                                    bishopsbitter RE: Haricotsv2 Aug 29, 2012 12:33 PM

                                                    A de facto pretzel (dough) 'sausage roll'. Yes that could work.
                                                    (I could not fathom how a pretzel in its finished form could meld with a hotdog!~)
                                                    Thanks for explaining. .

                                              2. b
                                                BigE RE: Seige Aug 29, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                Trip #1 last night.

                                                1) Cow tongue tacos and eggplant fries from Sonora (MGM, Bazaar). The tacos (my first try at cow tongue) were outstanding. Some of the most tender beef I've ever had, nice sauce, the accompaniments were right. HIGHLY recommended. The eggplant fries were nice and hot (not greasy at all), good crust (could have used a little more salt) and a really nice dipping sauce alongside. Not as good as the tacos, but a nice side dish.

                                                2) Australian battered potatoes - Same as always, which is why I get them.

                                                3) Cheese curds - Got them from the booth on Dan Patch, a block or so in on the left (my normal spot). REALLY disappointing, actually. Not a single curd bigger than the size of a quarter and they were all soggy. My next trip will be to the food building booth.

                                                I also had a few nibbles of a gyro from Holy Land. The thing is enormous (plenty of food for a few people to share) and it was quite good.

                                                Other than those three things, beer was the main attraction. I really like the setup at O'Gara's. Not a bad beer selection, multiple bars, tons of seating and, most importantly, the best bathrooms at the fair. Seriously, if you've never used them, make it a point. They are inside a trailer, which is weird, but they are in bone chilling A/C, they're clean, and they are nicer than you'd ever expect.

                                                The beer selection at Ball Park Cafe keeps getting better too. They have ~10 or 12 craft taps. I had Odell Cutthroat Porter, which is one of my favorite beers. Delicious, and $7.50 for a pint is more than reasonable...you'd be paying the same amount (or more) at most local beer bars.

                                                I definitely didn't accomplish everything I wanted to; hopefully my trip on Friday can tie up some loose ends.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: BigE
                                                  splatgirl RE: BigE Aug 29, 2012 08:09 AM

                                                  I had almost blocked out the Australian Battered Potatoes. They used to be one of the things I dreamed about all year and I've sworn off them about three times because I always eat too many. I've wished they would do a one or two slab sampler, because you really need a party of six to eat that plate full. My strategy last year was to hover around the booth pay a stranger a dollar for one slab. That worked perfectly.

                                                  Adding the pretzel dog to my list!

                                                  I think you can get the eggplant fries year round at the MGM location of Sonora, WFIW.

                                                  1. re: splatgirl
                                                    g
                                                    gryffindor249 RE: splatgirl Aug 29, 2012 08:50 AM

                                                    They need to do like two on a stick. I love them, but I avoided them this year because I knew if I had them I would be done for the day.

                                                    1. re: gryffindor249
                                                      Gastron RE: gryffindor249 Aug 30, 2012 07:36 AM

                                                      BigE

                                                      Boy,you hit the nail on the head there. Seek out those potties behind O'Gara's folks.Last night after the Kiss concert I was searching for one,and never expected anything of that quality (trimmed in wood,like a darned fine restaurant/nightclub bathroom) and cleanliness at the great MN. get-together.

                                                      And that air-conditioning will surprise you too.Single best biffy at the Fair,I'd say!

                                                      The Schell's Emerald Rye on tap at O'Gara's hit the spot, with plenty of great seats all around their establishment.

                                                      1. re: Gastron
                                                        b
                                                        BigE RE: Gastron Aug 30, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                        I was tempted not to mention them because I didn't want to let the secret out, but they are too good to pass up. On a day like today (or tomorrow), they will be a god send.

                                                        Even on Tuesday night, when it wasn't too hot, the A/C (which is COLD and blasting) felt great.

                                                        1. re: BigE
                                                          AnneInMpls RE: BigE Aug 30, 2012 12:47 PM

                                                          I think the Dairy Princess Butter Sculpting booth could earn tons of money if they sold seats in the 40-degree booth for 5 or 10 minutes. I'd certainly pay $10 to be cold for a while! (And I'd pay $1 to wear a tiara while I was in the chiller.)

                                                2. AnneInMpls RE: Seige Aug 30, 2012 01:44 PM

                                                  What we ate at the fair on Tuesday:

                                                  Chocolate cone - Dairy Building. Mr. Tastebud waits all year for this cocoa-powder flavored treat; I love it, too.

                                                  Sweet Dream peach - Produce Exchange (by the Ag building). Delish! I didn't know a peach could taste creamy. It was big but not giant - same size and price as the Colorado peaches. A lovely fair treat for $3. We regretfully skipped the awesome Salty Tart macaroons, but I get those at MidGloMo all the time.

                                                  Lamb-on-a-stick - The Lamb Shoppe (food building). Loved it; it's simple, lamby, and nicely seasoned. It's expensive ($8 for about 8 or 9 bites), but I didn't regret it.

                                                  Curried Chicken Roti - Harry Singh's (food building). We got this because someone said it wasn't salty enough - we're on a low-sodium diet and most of our usual treats are too salty. The sauce tasted a bit watery, but was still very flavorful. I asked for a side of hot sauce, which was VERY hot; I managed about a quarter teaspoon with my half-roti.

                                                  Wild rice corn dog - Wild Rice booth (food building). Best corn dog at the fair. And big, too! I could actually see wild rice in the hot dog, and the batter is very corny, which I love. It was a bit too salty for us (especially because I added ketchup and mustard), but we didn't care.

                                                  Roasted corn ("well done" with butter, no salt). This is my top must-have food of the fair. It was lovely, as always.

                                                  Fruit smoothie - Fried Fruit booth (by the Grandstand). I stopped to visit a friend who works there and ordered out of politeness, but I loved the smoothie! It's a mix of all their fruits, and is frozen to a slushie consistency, so it's deliciously cool. This one is going on the regular rotation of favorite treats.

                                                  Cannoli with pistachios - Ole's Cannoli (Heritage Square, behind the Skyride). Wow. I loved this cannoli. Mr. Tastebud's chocolate cannoli was even better - they use good, very dark chocolate. But we should have shared - these things are RICH. Pretty good value, too, by State Fair standards (mine was $4.50; Mr. T's was $5 - a plain cannoli is $4). This is another must-have (and a must-share) for next time.

                                                  Another chocolate cone - Dairy Building. To build up strength for the bus ride home.

                                                  By the way, the two of us shared everything except corn, cannolis, and ice cream cones. So, yes, we pigged out, but not as much as past years.

                                                  For next time: Coushari/koushari from Holy Land, Izzy's ice cream, Giggles' salmon-on-a-stick, wine ice cream (where's the new wine-tasting stand?), the craft beer sampler (if I have help, 'cause 20 oz is a lot of beer in the morning), anything/everything from West Indies Soul (where are they?), more corn, another cannoli.

                                                  Alas, many past favorites are now too salty for us: Turky To Go sandwich, Cynthia's sausages, smelt from Giggles, porcupine meatballs (salty, cheesey gravy) from Giggles, fire dog pickle, anything with bacon ... Luckily, most of the desserty things (LINGONBERRY FLOAT!) are low sodium.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                    splatgirl RE: AnneInMpls Aug 30, 2012 05:11 PM

                                                    'm sorry, but that totally does not even sort of qualify as a pig out :)

                                                    I have the same problem re: salty, although I blame it on almost never eating processed or packaged anything, as I am not at all shy with the salt when cooking. The cheese curds are my worst "acktoosalty". I tried a bite of the turkey sandwich once and thought the same.

                                                    West Indies Soul is in the International Bazaar, along the back wall.

                                                    1. re: splatgirl
                                                      AnneInMpls RE: splatgirl Aug 30, 2012 05:38 PM

                                                      Ah, but we were only there for a few hours....

                                                      Thanks for the location of West Indies Soul. I shall plunge into the bazaar on my next visit.

                                                      1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                        j
                                                        jaycooke RE: AnneInMpls Aug 30, 2012 06:17 PM

                                                        And the wine stand is now apparently across the street (to the West) from the Horticulture building. We didn't find it either, but I will try tomorrow and/or Sunday.

                                                        1. re: jaycooke
                                                          s
                                                          Seige RE: jaycooke Sep 1, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                          Yeah, wine is in the old Epiphany Dining Hall.

                                                          1. re: Seige
                                                            splatgirl RE: Seige Sep 1, 2012 11:52 PM

                                                            New wine location is a win! Nice reno of the old dining hall and easy access service right on the sidewalk plus lots of seating inside if that is your thing. I appreciated being able to get a glass of the Parley Lake pinot gris I have been trying to find for at least a year, even if the price was steep at $7 for a couple ounces.

                                                  2. f
                                                    foreverhungry RE: Seige Aug 30, 2012 08:06 PM

                                                    Anyone had the lamb testicles aka "lamb fries" from Holy Land? I hand the grilled version. Not what I expected, but in a good way. All texture, great spicing. From a nutrition standpoint, I'm not sure if it's all protein, or what. I really liked the texture, and the curry flavor. Anyone else?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: foreverhungry
                                                      s
                                                      steve_in_stpaul RE: foreverhungry Aug 31, 2012 05:15 AM

                                                      Yup. I posted maybe 1/4 of the way down. I was served the breaded version. I had read enough reports on them that I knew what I was getting into. I liked 'em fine. Nice spicing. I'd like to try the grilled version, but I don't think we're going to make it back to the Fair yet this year. :-(

                                                      1. re: foreverhungry
                                                        b
                                                        bishopsbitter RE: foreverhungry Aug 31, 2012 05:20 AM

                                                        Too much bread and very parsimonious portion of "fry".
                                                        OK City is a good center for the beef version.

                                                      2. s
                                                        Seige RE: Seige Sep 1, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                        Alright - we've been to the fair twice, but the first night was for the Kiss/Motley Crue concert and all we had that night were corndogs, which doesn't really count for a report. Yesterday we got in some good stuff though - and we're headed back today and tomorrow or Monday for more. We're Fair junkies! :)

                                                        So yesterday -

                                                        Red Velvet Funnel Cake at Jurassic Dogs (by the pet building) - It was fine. Definitely red velvety and the cream cheese glaze was nice, but it's difficult to eat if you don't have a place to sit down. Would I get it again? Probably not. It was no Fudge Puppy, which is still my go-to sweet at the Fair.

                                                        Beckett's Strawberry Smoothie - This was right next to the Red Velvet Funnel Cakes and I was so thirsty after that. I'd never had these smoothies before, but they were really, really good. Would totally get one of these again. I tried to tell myself they were healthy, but I suspect there's a good dose of sugar in those strawberries. Even so, it was very refreshing!

                                                        Great Balls of Fire - Sausage Sister and Me (in the Food Building) - Hubster had these; I didn't try them, but he really liked them. He loves spicy food and thought they did a good job with these.

                                                        Puff Daddy - Sausage Sister and Me - I had this with the Thai Peanut Sauce which was way spicer than I was expecting, but very good. We always end up at other places in the Food Building and had never had this before. Good stuff!

                                                        Sweet Corn - Corn Roast - Delicious. We only do the corn occasionally, but for some reason I was craving it last night. It really hit the spot!

                                                        London Broil Steak Sandwich - Butcher Boys (near the Grandstand) - For whatever reason, I've never thought these would be good, but the smell from there last night was amazing and the Hubster was like a moth to a flame so he got one. I had a few bites. The beef was SO tender and flavorful. Really, really good. Would definitely get this again.

                                                        Original Gyro - Demitri's - I'm not a fan of gyros, but Hubster is so we went to Demitri's based on CH recommendations. Hubster LOVED it. Said it's 10 times better than Dino's. Would definitely get it again.

                                                        Sweet Martha's - It's not a stop at the Fair without some delicious pucks of chocolate chip goodness. We're getting smarter though. We always used to get a bucket to take home, but now we just get a small cone to share. They are infinitely better when they're warm. I highly recommend buying in small quantities and eating right away for the best results.

                                                        More taste testing to come...

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Seige
                                                          b
                                                          Bobannon RE: Seige Sep 1, 2012 05:24 PM

                                                          I loved the Great Balls of Fire too. Everything they do is good. Last year I had the Puff Daddy witht the thai peanut sauce and that was good too. But I am considering a third trip to the fair, just so I can have another order of the Great Balls of Fire. These were my favortie thing this year. I had them with the cucumber sauce. I wonder if there is anywhere I could get them or something similar in a restaurant.

                                                          I've always been a big fan of the london broil as well. I didn't get one this year...but I'm thinking this is ANOTHER good excuse to go back.

                                                          I'm a junkie too.

                                                          Oh...and I am not a fan of Sweet Marthas. My choc chip cookies are a hundred times better.

                                                          My favorite treat at the fair is the $1 apple cider freeze in the ag building.

                                                          1. re: Bobannon
                                                            splatgirl RE: Bobannon Sep 2, 2012 12:09 AM

                                                            I finally tried a crepe after being on the fence for years. It was delicious but very filling. Not particularly authentic, but still good. I had bacon and swiss. If I get a 3rd fair visit I'll go for a sweet one. This is a need to share item, IMO.
                                                            I annoyingly struck out on the Waffle de Liege--breakfast only, I was rudely informed. Blue Moon is officially on my banned list.
                                                            The pretzel dog per CH rec was good but suffered from being lukewarm.
                                                            The fruit smoothie from the fried fruit place by the grandstand, eh. Presumably so not as good as the strawberry ones by the pet building mentioned upthread.
                                                            I also had the jerk legs I missed out on from visit one. They are nothing special, meat-wise but the jerk sauce on the side is crazy delicious and addictive. It wasn't the least bit authentic compared to the down and dirty beachside, hacked up and served on foil jerk I had in Negril in the 80's but super tasty none the less. I would call their jerk sauce a combination of great jerk sauce mixed with sweet BBQ. YMMV. It's also quite different than the jerk wings I've had from Harry Singh's in the food building.
                                                            Round two with the lamb chops on a stick: still great.

                                                            1. re: splatgirl
                                                              s
                                                              Seige RE: splatgirl Sep 2, 2012 10:08 PM

                                                              Visit 4, but Round 2 on food report:

                                                              Fudge Puppy - Outside the Food Building - I adore these. I will never tire of them. It is one of my absolute must haves at the Fair every year and the first thing I go for. LOVE.

                                                              Cheese Curds - Mouth Trap (Food Building) - I know everyone has their favorites; this is mine.

                                                              Roti - Harry Singh's (Food Building) - This is the Hubster's thing, not mine. He loves these, but he may have mistakenly gotten the hottest sauce possible this year. He ordered whatever sauce was a step down from the hottest, but he said it was REALLY hot (and he can handle some hot stuff!) so maybe he accidentally got the hottest one. Still said it was good, but almost unbearable as far as the heat goes. Also, they are now charging $1 extra for the sauce which they never used to do. That seemed a bit unreasonable to me, but I should probably have expected it.

                                                              Waffle de Liege - Blue Moon Drive-In - Ok, I should have heeded the warnings. This was not good. For the people that missed it, thank BMDI for not serving it to you. I even got mine with strawberries and a little dollop of whipped cream (at an extra $1) to try circumventing the dryness I'd heard about from others. It didn't help. I love waffles. Like, LOVE waffles, and these were such a huge disappointment. They really couldn't pay me to eat another one. I would take the Fudge Puppies a million times over these. I will say, however, that watching the cheesy movie in the drive-in while trying to choke down that little puck of sawdust with strawberries on top was fun.

                                                              Crab Fritters - Ollie's (near the Pet Building) - I had high hopes for these and we didn't have anything else to do at this end of the Fairgrounds, but we hiked it up there for the fritters. Bad call. They are more hushpuppy than crab fritter and while not horrible, there is hardly any crab at all in them. Wouldn't get these again.

                                                              Black Cherry Soda - Spring Grove - Forgot to mention we had this the first night and it was delicious. A bit on the sweet side, but yummy. Would definitely go back there.

                                                              Chocolate Malt and Strawberry Rhubarb Malt - Dairy Building - Another mainstay that we have to do every year. I always fine the portion size to be more than I can manage, but the Hubster is a complete ice cream whore and never minds "helping" me.

                                                              Doubt we'll make it to the Fair for a 5th time tomorrow. Hope everyone else has great luck with their food finds!

                                                              1. re: Seige
                                                                splatgirl RE: Seige Sep 2, 2012 11:04 PM

                                                                Oh yea! I forgot about the utterly awesome Spring Grove Rhu-Berry soda. I want more NOW.

                                                                I too had the crab fritters and was disappointed. Their first year, mucho crab and really great. I might even have gotten them twice. As you say, just a hushpuppy with some crab flavoring now. Boo. All of the noticable post-first-year downgrading that seems to go on makes me wonder if it's part of the business plan from the get go

                                                                1. re: Seige
                                                                  g
                                                                  gryffindor249 RE: Seige Sep 3, 2012 01:12 PM

                                                                  I had the EXACT same impression of the Crab Fritters last year...not even worth the calories!

                                                                  Has anyone mentioned however the Corn Fritters, right past the main entrance...served with honey butter and delicious!!!

                                                          2. k
                                                            kevin47 RE: Seige Sep 2, 2012 09:41 PM

                                                            Round 2:

                                                            Walleye Roll - Giggles

                                                            I split this and it was a hit all the way around. The recipe is pretty similar to what you would expect from a lobster roll, which worked surprisingly well with walleye. A strong hit of dill, and I think I would have preferred fresh to dried, but that's a nitpick. Easily an item to be shared.

                                                            Lamb chop on a stick - The Lamb Shop

                                                            This was very good. For them to put out that caliber of meat at the Fair is an accomplishment.

                                                            Cheese Curds - Cheese Curd Purveyor

                                                            Contrary to the opinions of many on this board, it's pretty obvious the cheese curds I had here are superior to the other regularly frequented location. The size and saltiness of the curds was spot on, whereas the other location fails to execute re: size and saltiness. Also these are fresher than the other kind.

                                                            Deep fried cookie dough - Spiral Potato Place

                                                            As hyper-indulgent "state fair only" foodstuffs go, this hits exactly the right note. Not quite as heavy as I thought it would be, generously salty (as good cookies should be... I'm looking at you Sweet Martha) and perfect for three people to split.

                                                            Sweet Corn Ice Cream - Blue Moon Drive-In

                                                            To be clear, this tastes strongly of corn. It's not subtle, nor should it be. I again ordered this topped with bacon honey, and this time felt the volume of bacon was apropos.

                                                            Jalapeno Poppers - Sausage Sister and Me

                                                            I enjoyed these, and especially so compared to the ghastly breaded variety with which chain restaurants are keen to torture us. However, I'm confused by the small portion (3) for $5.50.

                                                            Chocolate Cannoli - Ole's Cannoli

                                                            I wasn't quite as moved by this as others have been. Something in the texture of the filling was a little off, and it was a bit one-note for me. Also, were I to do it again, I'd go with chocolate chips instead of pistachios. The thing is already (commendably) crunchy, so the nuts were kind of an afterthought.

                                                            Pork Chop on a Stick - That place that sells pork chops on a stick

                                                            I haven't had this in awhile. It's still good and smoky and has plenty of flavor. My only "qualm" is that I'm pretty sure I could replicate the thing at home with minimal effort.

                                                            Chicken Taco - Blue Moon Drive In

                                                            My wife loves these and can never finish them. My assessment is that same. These are too tangy for what they are trying to be, but everything else about them is pretty good.

                                                            Blue Shave Ice - Shave Ice

                                                            I'll say it again. If someone can fuse the shave ice concept with some of the cool drink flavors going on at the fair, they will strike frozen gold. As it stands, I don't even know what flavor that was supposed to be. It tasted like Triple Sec minus the booze.

                                                            Shrimp on a Stick - Shrimp place

                                                            A nice portion (two skewers for $7) but under seasoned and pretty much just your average shrimp.

                                                            1. f
                                                              foreverhungry RE: Seige Sep 8, 2012 09:05 PM

                                                              A very delayed post:

                                                              lamb on a stick: incredible. for the price, it must be be the best lamb deal around. Lamby taste, appropriately seasoned and cooked. Might be the best find other than..,

                                                              ...honey sunflower ice cream. a winner every time.

                                                              "lamb fries" aka lamb testes. Good stuff. Nice curry-ish taste. Interesting texture, not what I would have thought.

                                                              Worst rip off...martha's cookies. I don't know how this place is still in business. Maybe for the same reason that Betty's Pie's on 61 is in still in business. Target makes better cookies. which is an insult to target. I just don't get it.

                                                              Wine bar was a very nice surprise. Like the location and the servings.

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