Category: State Fair (Page 2 of 2)

Jeni and Jake Go To The MN State Fair 2013

This year, Jake and I visited our old fair favorites and tried a couple of new foods.

Old Reliables
First things first, we headed for the cheese curds. We stick with Mouth Trap in the food building.  
Some swear by Original Cheese Curds but I’ve tried both and don’t feel one rises above the other so we return to Mouth Trap each year. It’s still $5 for a boat. 

We also like Demetri’s Greek Food for gyros. It may not look like much to get excited about, but it’s a damn good gyro. Fresh, heated bread, thin slices of gyro meat, ripe tomato, shaves of white onion, and lots of creamy cucumber sauce. 
There are so many gyros in this world, yet so many are poorly constructed. If I could only go back for one food, I’d probably choose this.

Jake’s parents joined us and we shared an order of fries from Fresh French Fries, his mom’s favorite.

They were not greasy and nicely salted. These had also been my mom’s favorite as well as the cream puffs.
I’m only good for one bite of cream puff, but I can appreciate its light and slightly salty pastry sandwiching a pile of whipped cream. The employees must appreciate working in the air conditioned environment.
Jake ordered the hoppy beer flight from the craft beer garden in the horticulture building. 
The glasses are packed in this handy carrying tray.
Not pictured are the sweet peaches from The Midtown Global Market Produce Exchange. We think they’re the perfect way to end one’s trip to the fair on a fresh note. They’re $3, but very ripe and juicy and come neatly wrapped a paper towel to soak up the drips. 
New Foods To The Fair
I’ve been hearing so much about the “Cronut” donut-croissant hybrid that I sought out French Meadow’s Dough-Sant.
It was crispy from deep frying and flaky, but very oily. What else could I have expected, though? I wouldn’t eat another one, but Jake enjoyed it. 
I wasn’t crazy about the fried green olives from the Fried Fruit stand. They were filled with cream cheese and served four on a stick with a side of ranch. 
The breading was thick and heavy and tasted strongly of dried oregano. Neither Jake or I wanted a second olive. 
Last year we enjoyed cannoli’s from Ole’s Cannolis in Heritage Square and tried their new candied bacon variety. 
The shell is lined with a strip of candied bacon and piped with filling. I usually prefer salty decadence over the sweet so I didn’t want more than a taste. Jake enjoyed the bacon cannoli but I didn’t love the porky flavor combined with the tangy filling. 
New Foods To Us
We’ve always been curious to try smelt and found them at Walley On A Stick in the food building. These small fried fish are served with tarter sauce. 

Jake’s folks have enjoyed smelt in the past and encouraged us not to be scared of eating these whole, little fish.
They were easy to bite into and tasted fresh. I didn’t like the mouthfeel of the tiny, soft bones but the rest of the family didn’t mind. 
In case you wanted to see what the inside of a fried smelt looked like. The fish were gutted, but I’m not sure if their heads and tails were removed. I didn’t care to investigate underneath the batter. Also, they were larger than I’d imagined. Maybe smelt differ in size. 
Minnesota Wine Country was a beautiful sight in the evening. Festive lights and mellow, live music. 
We all shared a flight for $10. We got the heavier wine sampling. Love the MN cup holder. 
Odds & Ends
I got a kick out of the interactive Texas On Tour tourism exhibit near Heritage Square. It seemed so extravagant and random. You can sign up to win a trip for two to Texas but be aware the iPad machine asks you to scan your drivers license (though you can also type in your personal information). Is Texas having some issues? 
I was also amused by this vendor selling casts of one’s own hand. Why are his hands around his neck? I wonder what he’s demonstrating. 
I examined this foreboding taxidermy display at Heritage Square. 
I watched a real and robotic taffy maker working in tandem outside the food building.
And I did not stick my hand into the creepiest trash can, ever.
Then, there are the animals. A sheep resting its head on another sheep. 
And a turkey sleeping with its head on the wooden ledge in the baby animal barn. 

That’s it for this visit. Enjoy the Great Minnesota Get-Together!

Minnesota State Fair Visit 2012: Great Balls Of Fire!

I look forward to going to the Minnesota State Fair like I look forward to Christmas.  Possibly more.

Like many other Minnesotans, I grew up making my annual pilgrimage to this Great Minnesota Get-Together.

The fair reminds me of an old high school romance who took me to ride the Sky Ride cable and read me a poem asking me to be his girlfriend.  It rhymed and was illustrated with stick-figures that depicted us holding hands.  The fair brings to mind my first taste of cheese curds.  And it makes me think of my mom’s last visit to the fair, during her last summer on earth.  She managed to rally for an hour, so we could push her around in a wheelchair and collect some of her favorite foods. These usually included a cream puff, skin-on french fries, a pronto pup, and cheese curds, of course.

For years, my running favorite treat were Australian Battered Potatoes doused in both ranch and cheese sauces.  One year, my mom and I ended a fair outing with these potato planks which inundated us with enough grease to result in horrible stomach aches.  I remember curling up in bed and praying for daylight.  And thus, I never ate Australian Battered Potatoes again.

As an adult, my visits to the fair are brief, but no less anticipated.  The crowds and the heat drive me batty.  Now that we live out of town, a weeknight jaunt was no longer an option so we gritted our teeth and visited on the last Saturday of this year’s run.  The day hot and the sun relentlessly beat down on us as we ran between un-air conditioned buildings and scouted for spots of sidewalk shade.  We bumped into the people who randomly stopped mid-step, avoided collisions with massive strollers, and waited in lines for bathrooms.

During our 2012 State Fair visit, we shared a couple of old favorites and a few new foods, referencing Heavy Table’s definitive 2012 MN State Fair Food Tour.

By 10 a.m. we had already laid a base of coffee within our stomachs and added $5 cheese curds from the Mouth Trap in the food building.

I’ve had the curds from the Mouth Trap and I’ve had curds from the stand on Dan Patch.  Personally, I choose to just go to the Mouth Trap.  There’s nothing significant that I can add to the MN State Fair cheese curd conversation so I will end by saying I like these.  I always like these, and I don’t visit the state fair without these.

Next, we stopped at My Sausage Sister & Me, a vendor also located in the food building.  I have never visited them before, but read many positive reviews of their Great Balls Of Fire, $5.50, a new offering.

These meatballs were by and far, the best thing we tasted at the 2012 fair, if not at any fair.  They were notably juicy and compellingly spiced.  Not quite like traditional sausage, not quite like jerk, and pleasantly spicy.  They brought to mind Spoonriver’s flavorful lamb burger.  My Sausage Sister & Me offers a variety of squirt bottles of sauces.  We chose the creamy cucumber sauce which jived well with the strong flavors.

We tried another frequently mentioned new food, Famous Dave’s Ragin’ Ankles, $6.

The pork was tender and moist, and cleanly fell off the bone.  They were fatty in a pleasant way and we enjoyed the sauce which was slightly spicy and sweet without being too sweet.  Overall, we enjoyed the BBQ ankles, but thought the meatballs were better.  I wished the ankles had a little crust or crunchiness.

Saturday’s beverage breaks included Lift Bridge’s Hop Dish, $4.50, from the Ballpark Cafe.  Jake thought Hop Dish tasted a lot like Bell’s elusive Hopslam, his favorite beer, adding that it had a “similar start with a smoother finish.”  He enjoyed it so much that he tried to find it in the stores that evening only to learn it’s not available, yet, in bottles.

We shared a refreshingly cold Black Cherry Soda, $3, from the Spring Grove Soda Pop stand.  We both thought it was pretty tasty with no complaints.  I was satisfied with a few sips since it was so sweet my lips were sticky.

The third new food we tried was a cannoli from Ole’s Cannoli.  Cannoli’s happen to be one of Jake’s favorite desserts.

Jake ordered a plain cannoli with its ends dipped in chocolate chips, $4.50.  The cannoli was generously sized.  Its shell was crispy and the filling was thick and slightly tart, reminding me of cheesecake.  Jake had no complaints.  As an individual who doesn’t routinely seek out desserts, I found two bites enough.  I have a low threshold for desserts that are rich and sweet.

My last bite at the fair was a fried onion blossom.  Ever since Fargo’s Ribfest debacle in June, I’ve had a hankering for an onion blossom.  I forked over $8 for this large monstrosity.

The batter was crispy in a mouth-puncturing way and tasted like it was seasoned with nothing in particular.  The ranch dip tasted cheap and at least one, heaping tablespoon of grease pooled on the bottom of the plate.  The only redeeming qualities of this onion blossom were that it was fried, the onion was tender and sweet, and it wasn’t the $1 shrimp cocktail.

And with this terrible onion, our brief 2012 Minnesota State Fair visit came to a close with little nausea, stomach discomfort, or ailment that couldn’t be cured with a good nap.

Our closing words of wisdom are to go for the balls, my friends.  Go for the balls.

Obligatory MN State Fair post: From fried apple pie bliss to "I’d rather eat poo" shrimp cocktail


Miss China and Jake hit the fair. 

Mouth Trap Cheesecurds
For $5, we enjoyed the curds from Mouth Trap located in the Food Building.  Freshly fried, molten hot, salty, & greasy.

Roasted Sweet Corn on the Cob

No wonder this stand makes the most money at the state fair.  Each ear costs $3.  However, it was roasty toasty, the kernels were plump and juicy, and covered in what tasted like real melted butter.  Jake added copious amounts of salt and pepper.

Minneapple Pie

At the state fair I realized the strength of my aversion to sweets.  I had heard positive feedback regarding this deep fried apple pie so Jake and I split one accompanied by vanilla ice cream.  The pie was greaseless.  Its crust was light, fluffy, crispy, and had an amazing flavor.  The apple pie filling tasted of cinnamon and the apples were not mushy.  However, I found the filling a little gummy and wished it had some acidity or brightness but overall, this pie was one of my favorite items.

Blue Moon Diner Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Caramel-Bacon Sauce

Jake was dead-set on finding this sweet corn ice cream.  The sweet corn flavor of the ice cream was subtle and not overpowering.  The caramel-bacon sauce tasted well-balanced.  I did not taste the bacon flavor but appreciated the sauce was cloyingly sweet.  I found texture of the ice cream to be kind of grainy and thought the crunchy dried corn to be hard on the teeth.  Jake liked the ice cream and fried apple pie equally, while I preferred the pie.


San Felipe Carnitas Asian Taco

This taco was made of a raw flour tortilla and contained moist and well-seasoned pork, shredded cabbage, some kind of salsa-cucumber salsa, and two sauces.  One tasted like teriyaki and the other tasted like creamy wasabi.  For $6, I felt this taco was way overpriced.  In general, it was pretty tasty but was left a “meh” sentiment.  I liked the wasabi sauce but felt the taco was a lame attempt to be Asian.  So says Miss China.

I’d rather eat poo

That’s right, I said it.  Poo.  As we headed for the fair’s exit, we noticed a stand advertising $1 shrimp cocktail near the haunted house.  I happened to have one remaining dollar and the thought of ordering a $1 shrimp cocktail, at a fair, from a nondescript food cart offering food items not related to said shrimp cocktail, in the sweltering heat and high humidity sounded too tempting to pass.

When I ordered the shrimp cocktail, the vendors warily exchanged glances, pulled out a small black cup filled with tiny shrimp and covered them in cocktail sauce from a giant pump.

The shrimp were mostly cold and displayed lovely digestive tracts.  The cocktail sauce was incredibly bland and ketchupy.  On first bite, we said “Wow, this isn’t as bad as we thought.”  A couple seconds later, my mouth was filled with a horrible shrimpy taste.  I let out a noise that sounded something like “Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgh.”  Then, I ran to the nearest garbage can to dispose of the shrimp cocktail and shoveled a pronto pup into my mouth to get rid of the fishy flavor.

Washington State Sweet Dream Peach

Jake literally ran to the Midtown Global Market Produce Exchange, bought two beautiful, ripe peaches for $5, and we greedily shoved them into our mouths as sweet relief.

The end. Until next year.

Not pictured: Corn dog, $3, two craft beers from Ballpark Cafe, $4 each

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