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2013 State Fair

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  1. Love it! My first glance interests are

    Bourbon Wurst
    Deep fried bread pudding
    Porketta pig wings
    Pitchfork sausage (I'm thinking I'll be disappointed, but let's see)
    Pork belly sliders
    Northwoods BBQ taco

    Nice for Mancini's (which has been around almost as long as the Fair itself) to make its initial appearance. I wonder what got into them? Probably Target Field success.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lincster

      According to WCCO last night, Mancini's has applied for 7 years. There is a waiting list of 476 would-be vendors. 2 got in last year, 6 this year (3 retirements).

      Keywords by appearance on list of "new" foods:

      Bacon - 8
      Pork - 8
      Pig - 2
      Cheese - 11
      Fried - 13

      18 out of 40 new dishes have pork in them.

    2. A friend of mine is part of Pitchfork Sausage. I'm pretty sure they were serving at the Back to the 50s Weekend at the fairgrounds last weekend.

      You aren't interested in the deep fried pickles with chocolate sauce?

      1. Looking forward to trying:

        Chop dog
        Deep fried olives
        Deep fried bread pudding
        Char grilled garlic toast
        3 Little Pigs Torta

        The big question is how to make room for these in my already massive list of State Fair must-haves!

        1. Hmm. I had an almost completely opposite reaction from the other posters. The Porketta Pig WIngs and the Chili Chocolate ice cream do look tempting.

          But so many of the other items looked like something I could get easily in the Twin Cities (yeah, I know not all Fair-goers have ready access to what us TC-area folks do). So why would I want to pay Fair prices for them? And will some of these items suffer for rushed prep?

          Some of the food looks interesting except for some (IMHO) unnecessary step. Deep-frying olives? Putting a donut on a grill? Do the Cajun Pork Rinds really need a creamy garlic sauce?

          I love the Fair and will be there to eat my favorites and sample some new food. But so much of this year's menu of new foods struck me as 'meh'.

          13 Replies
          1. re: steve_in_stpaul

            I agree. Most of them look either uninteresting (grilled doughnuts?), unpleasant (chocolate fried pickles), uncreative (bacon-wrapped shrimp), or all three! And then there are those that seem to have been inspired by the freezer aisle at the grocery store (breakfast sausage corn dog)!

            1. re: Jordan

              Give the people what they want. Based on the average waist size and mouth agape breathing habits of most Fair Goers, this is exactly it, a gimmicky fried / stuffed / bacon wrapped heap of indeterminable ingredients with a stick jammed through it.

              1. re: american_idle

                I do not understand all this Hype. Average at best, overpriced....and they call it food???????

                1. re: ibew292

                  Ah, but it's the fair! Would I wait in line for 10 minutes to buy GMO corn and roast it if it cost whatever the corn roast folks charge? Hell no! But, getting bumped in the shins by 12 strollers while corn roast smoke blows in my face as I wait in line to buy that corn, dripping with butter, served with 1 flimsy napkin that can't handle a gnat sneeze? You betcha!

                  I dunno. It's the fair, man.

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    Sounds like a blast. Why not spend half that much and a fixed price somewhere. I go to the fair but NOT for the food.

                  2. re: ibew292

                    It's only a little about the food and a whole lot about the ritual.
                    Having grown up with the Fair (5+ decades attendance), it is a seasonal touchstone for me, marking the end of summer. I will go this year, snack on a few new items, revisit some old favorites and revel in the parade (which I view as the best piece of performance art west of NYC). I'll walk the entire grounds stopping often to sit on the grass and remember previous good times. I'll leave dirty, slightly queasy and very happy.

                    In the meantime, I'm exchanging emails with likeminded friends (some of whom I hear from only at this time of year) about the new food offerings and making plans to meet, sample and critique.

                    Either you're a Fair Fiend or you're not.

                    1. re: Pwmfan

                      I'm a fair friend but not for the food. It's NOT Chow Worthy......

                      1. re: ibew292

                        Ah, therein lies the difference! You are a Fair friend; I am a Fair Fiend.

                  3. re: american_idle

                    For someone who rarely eats fried food, I love sharing a little junk food! I can't imagine eating entire portions...I think the huge portions are for mobs of teenagers.

                2. re: steve_in_stpaul

                  I don't get the overpriced bit. Sausage by Cynthia is about $6-7, as much as you would pay for a quality sausage anywhere else. The cannolis are $4 or so.

                  Where is everyone going in the cities to get all this cheap food?

                  1. re: kevin47

                    Sausage by Cynthia is a bit of a Fair exclusive so I don't think it's the best example. But Kramarczuk's sausage at the Twins stadium goes for around $6.50 and nobody considers that a bargain there when you can buy the same sausage for much cheaper at their store.

                    I'll pay a little more for something I can't get elsewhere. But it's not like there's no place else in town to get Dippin' Dots or roasted corn or a gyro or a pork chop, all at much lower prices than at the Fair.

                    And I really wish places like the cheese curd and french fry booths would sell their products individually or something. A couple mouthfuls is enough. I don't want to spend what the smallest container costs and then still toss a good amount of it. That's overpriced, too. But I realize overhead probably drives them to the supersized portions.

                    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      You take issues with people not selling french fries individually? Seriously?

                      Buying a prepared for you product on the spot and picking some up to take home and make yourself is not the best example either. Just went to Silkey Gardens today to pick some strawberries, $1.80/lb, get them at the Wedge and they are about $4.50.

                      1. re: getgot211

                        I wouldn't call it "issues". *My* preference is to sample different foods. Filling up on whatever a booth deigns to sell as their smallest portion runs counter to that. Eating a few bites and then throwing away the rest is a disservice to whoever produced and prepared that food and only compounds the ecological impact of the Fair. Wasting food is not cool.

                        So, yeah, if the FF booth were to sell a dozen fries for a buck, I'd be fine with that. They're cooking them by the pound anyway.

                        Your point about comparing store-bought/home-prepared with Fair food ready-to-eat is valid. But my point is that many Fair food choices seem "meh" to Cities dwellers because the products offered at the Fair are little different (or no different) from the product they can buy 300 other days of the year.

                3. An English toffee fudge puppy? O.M.G. That is going to be SO much trouble.

                  1. Excited about the bourbon sausage and deep fried bread pudding. I also think the deep fried meatloaf could be sneaky good.

                    Also excited for some decent onion rings. They are lacking at the fair, and in this area in general.

                      1. I'm looking forward to the Deep Fried Monte Cristo and some fresh corn dogs. Cold beer and a corn on the cob...I love the fair!

                        1. you can follow Heavy Table's twitter feed to see their quick takes on lots of things...


                          1 Reply
                          1. I gotta say WOW about the candied bacon cannoli. I'm not much for bacon, so it wasn't calling to me. But I'm so glad I decided to try one! The softly chewy, sweet-but-not-too candied bacon is a fabulous addition to the rich creaminess of the ricotta filling and the crunch of the shell. I shall dream of this delight tonight.

                            I also liked Holy Land's beef kabob koubideh (at least, the sign said "BEEF", but it tasted deliciously lamby to me) and their always-fabulous coushari - which is HUGE and could feed three people amply. The two of us each ate a third and took a third home (clever me - I brought along a baggie for this very purpose). And their mint lemonade is always great.

                            But the bacon cannoli is the surprise hit of the fair for me. I'll be going back for another one in a few days.

                            1. So no other state fair food reports? Was hoping to go back this weekend and can usually rely on this board to point out the overlooked yet delicious items...

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: jaycooke

                                We went yesterday and, frankly, between time at the Fair reduced by the very high heat, a disinterest in eating when courting heatstroke, and the overall disappointing reports on several of the new Fair foods, we didn't eat much. The usual corn dog, a pretzel dog (okay; nothing to write home about), cheese curds, and chops at the lamb place in the Food Building. All good as expected, nothing worth shying away from. But no "you gotta try this!" items this year.

                                1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                                  Agreed, went out and the heat made eating fried foods disinteresting.

                                  To remedy that, we did enjoy the mango with chili and lime on a stick at the MGM stand in the Int'l Bazaar. Perfect for a hot summer day, underspiced though, so I do recommend adding in some additional spice as written elsewhere.

                                2. re: jaycooke

                                  I also went when it was hot so I must disclose that the heat may be influencing my selection of favorite items this year as they both involved a freezer. :-) The two things I liked best were the mini-donut ice cream from Hamline/Izzy's and the Minneapple fried pies (both apple and pumpkin - we got one of each as a group and split them) with cinnamon ice cream.

                                  1. re: jaycooke

                                    Quick rundown.

                                    Craft beer battered onion rings - Some of the best I have had. Perfectly crisp batter with a boozy aftertaste, onions themselves had just a bit of crunch left. The mustard dipping sauce is fine, but unnecessary.

                                    The bacon corn dog is terrible. Badly overcooked, with dry bacon bits and syrup.

                                    Lemonade at West Indies Soul was very nice. Complex and large enough for sharing. The cheesy grits were really bad, however.

                                    We always enjoy the fried green beans at O'Garas. The fried bread pudding was also really solid. It's what I always want bread pudding to taste like. Almost like french toast, but a bit more decadent.

                                    The place we get cheese curds is hands down better than the other place you can get cheese curds. Everyone who disagrees can go eat at Olive Garden.

                                    Comet corn is pretty fun, but for $5, doesn't offer much else. Cheesy caramel puffed corn (the hull-less kind) mixed with goldfish for some reason.

                                    The gator on a stick is a nostalgic fave of mine, but I think it was sitting in the bin for too long, because it had that dry, but greasy at the same time vibe going on. I still like the flavor.

                                    Izzy's ice cream is great as always, but the donut batter crunch was a bit one note for me.

                                    1. re: jaycooke

                                      Of the new stuff that I tried, the one that really stood out to me was the Mancinni porketta pork shanks. I thought they were great and came on their own natural stick!

                                      1. re: Lincster

                                        I like that "natural stick"^^^. I'm going to use that!

                                        1. re: Lincster

                                          The Mojito Lemo at Holy Land was toooo sweet; I would split it with someone in two big cups and add water.
                                          The Monte Cristo is not a Monte Cristo. It's a deep fried ham/turkey/cheese sandwich with a side of raspberry jelly. Fresh corn dog, wild rice burger (with spicy sauce) were delicious.
                                          Midway Men's has the coldest beer and I really like their cheeseburgers too. For $2.25 you can't beat it.
                                          Tried the Gizmo for the first time. Unique comfort food. It's nice that they have onions and banana and jalapenio peppers right there too. Lidia of Lidia's Italy has a recipe for it and I'm going to try to make it. I had a bite of that Pulled Turkey Sandwich and it was very good too. I am going to try and make that one too.
                                          The porchetta things were fancy. Tasty and although I got a few dry ones, they were on the whole solid. Small bag of kettle corn, swedish meatball, potato ham cheese balls were suprisingly nice.
                                          All of these items were split with at least two people, if not more, over the course of two visits; I really like going and doing it that way.

                                          1. re: stepawayfromthetable

                                            "Mojito Lemo at Holy Land" - is that their mint lemonade? If so, I totally agree that it's way too sweet, yet is somehow a good counterpoint to the spicy tomato sauce on their awesome coushari. In any case, I couldn't finish mine, so I took it home and froze it. It makes a nice lemon-mint granita!

                                            1. re: stepawayfromthetable

                                              "It's a deep fried ham/turkey/cheese sandwich with a side of raspberry jelly."

                                              Sounds like a Monte Cristo to me? What seemed wrong about it?

                                              1. re: stepawayfromthetable

                                                Their hibiscus tea was too sweet as well.

                                          2. Three who know food name their State Fair picks: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/disp...

                                            Andrew Zimmern, James Norton and Stephanie Meyer.

                                            James discusses the unnecessary accompanying sauces of some foods and targets the bad chocolate sauces made of "corn syrup and sorrow."

                                            1. Went Labor Day, great eating weather!

                                              Of the few new items I tried, I really liked the Dosant; very buttery with crispy edges and not at all overly sweet. I wont search them out post-Fair, but if I happen upon one would definetly buy.

                                              Manny's 3 Little Pigs Torta was very tasty.

                                              I think I would have liked the Craft Beer Battered Onion Rings more had we ordered them 2 rather than 10 hours into our visit. They were piping hot with a nice slightly bitter bite but I was just too full by then to appreciate them.