Reporting Sara Boyd Pelissero
It’s been three days since I completed a smorgasbord of the Minnesota State Fair’s new foods and I think I’ve finally digested.
With more than 20 new items on the menu this year, it can be difficult to choose a favorite — or five for that matter — but after several hours, two blisters and an unbelievable amount of calories, I felt I needed to at least jot down my thoughts.
There’s definitely the old standbys that one must get with every visit to the Great Minnesota Get-Together, but more so than not, the new foods are always worth saving room for.
This year is certainly no different.
From the hot and spicy to the crazy and unique — and let’s not forget, the ever-popular “they put what on a stick?” — this year’s grouping of new fair foods has something for everyone.
Here’s a breakdown of my top five: (in no particular order)
1. Sweet Corn Ice Cream
The sweet corn ice cream from Blue Moon Dine-In Theater is the perfect summer treat for a day at the Fair. Made with fresh corn, the taste of the ice cream itself is deliciously sweet with a nice nod to the comforting kernels we all adore this time of year. Folded into the sweet cream is a corn brittle, made with caramel that’s chewy with a nice crunch. It’s very reminiscent of little pieces of caramel corn, and really, how genius to blend that into a sweet corn ice cream? Top it all off with either caramel bacon or wild blueberry sauce and you’ve got yourself one tasty concoction for a hot summer day at the Fair.
2. Crab Fritters
At Ollie’s Crab Fritters, on the far southeast corner of Underwood and Murphy, they’re serving up some tasty little seafood bites. Taking bits of crab meat, the folks at Ollie’s mix in some Caribbean spices and herbs with a few veggies and rolls the mixture into a nice ball. Then, they deep fry the meat filling into a classic fritter. The taste is nice, with a perfect crunch on the outside and a yummy soft center. The batter inside is at times a little mushy but with the southwest dipping sauce, it all works quite well. It’s perfect for splitting with a friend or two.
3. Grilled Yankee Apple Pie & Chocolate Sandwich
At Moe and Joe’s, this grilled apple pie and chocolate sandwich is warm, comforting and ooey-gooey. Made with Minnesota-grown apples, the sandwich has a great texture and flavor. Pairing these warm, sauteed apples with chocolate really elevates both flavors and makes for one sweet, yet messy, snack. The apples are perfectly cooked with a warm cinnamon sauce. Piled between pieces of Brioche bread, the taste of the grill gives this treat a nice finish.
4. Grilled Chicken Pita Sandwich
At the new concession stand, T-Bonz, they’re bringing the BBQ straight to fair. And a little bit of healthy food, as well. In a pita sandwich that won’t make you feel like you need to workout for the next five days, marinated grilled chicken breast is piled high on fresh-off-the-grill pita bread. Layered with lettuce and tomatoes, the sandwich has a nice tang from a drizzling of ranch dressing, which matches well with the marinade.
5. Northwoods Salad On-A-Stick
Sure, you might think, “Salad on a stick? Is that even possible?” Well it is when you’re talking about one of my favorite salads — Caprese. Making a nod to the classic preparation, this “salad” combines fresh mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes on three skewers, then piles them on top of mixed greens and a delicious wild rice salad. The whole thing gets a drizzling of balsamic dressing that ties everything together.
Honorable Mention: OK, yes, I did try the deep-fried cookie dough and while it sounds delicious (or maybe it doesn’t), it was just simply too much for me. One tiny bite was all I needed and that, while tasty, was still a little heavy. But for those big sweet-tooth lovers, you really must at least try it. Split it among friends though — a lot of friends. Also the Carnitas Asian Fusion Tacos at San Felipe Tacos was quite tasty — the pork is delish!
Skip It: I know it got a lot of play before the start of the fair and I’ve heard of some people who enjoyed it, but for me, the chocolate-covered jalapenos were not my thing. They were WAY too spicy for my palate and to be honest, I couldn’t taste anything but the spice. The jalapenos are raw — and whole — so all those lovely little seeds are just waiting to electrify your taste buds.
Check out all the new fair foods in a slideshow here. Have you gone to the fair yet? What was your favorite new food? Comment below!