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Curiocity: Top 10(ish) Best Bets For New State Fair Food

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Sara Boyd Sara Pelissero
Sara Pelissero joined the WCCO web team in August of 2009. You can...
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With so many new foods being offered this year at the Minnesota State Fair, how does one choose? Allow me to help narrow down the list. Here’s a few of my best bets when it comes to the new fair foods.

In no particular order …

Get it at French Meadow Bakery, located on Carnes Avenue, between Underwood and Nelson streets. (credit: CBS)

Get it at French Meadow Bakery, located on Carnes Avenue, between Underwood and Nelson streets. (credit: CBS)

Dough-sant

You may have heard of the cronut, but at the Minnesota State Fair, it’s all about the dough-sant. The difference? Well, there isn’t really any, except that the name “cronut” is copyrighted so we’ll go ahead and stop using it right … now. The French Meadow Bakery is known for their incredible abilities with pastries and clearly, they’re showing those skills with the dough-sant. “It’s a croissant, shaped like a donut and deep-fried,” said Julie Covert at French Meadow. It’s perfectly flakey, with the right amount of crunch, plenty greasy and super duper buttery. French Meadow keeps theirs classic with just a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Where: French Meadow Bakery, located on Carnes Ave., between Underwood and Nelson streets

Candied Bacon Cannoli

It’s the ultimate dessert — sweet, savory, chewy and crunchy. Ole’s Cannoli is serving its classic, delicious cannoli with a full strip of candied bacon. The result? Utter deliciousness. “People love bacon,” said Marta Lindsey, of Ole’s Cannoli. “And this takes bacon to new levels.” They take bacon, sprinkle a little palm sugar on top and bake it until it’s perfectly caramelized. An entire piece goes into each cannoli, filled with ricotta cheese filling and wrapped in their signature pastry shell. Need we say more?

Where: Ole’s Cannoli, located inside the front entrance of Heritage Square

Get it at the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue. (credit: CBS)

Get it at the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue. (credit: CBS)

Comet Corn

With a name like Comet Corn, you may not know what to expect but as soon as you see it (and you’ll definitely notice it), it’s clear where the name comes from. The caramel corn is rolled in PCP — Parmesan, cheddar and pretzels — then tossed quickly with some liquid nitrogen, which is about -300 degrees. The liquid nitrogen makes the caramel corn icy, crispy and super fun, not to mention it gives it a smokey look. So how did they come up with this? “My husband is a mad scientist,” said Steph Olson, at Blue Moon Dine-In Theater. “I keep him locked up in the basement all winter. No, he’s just a foodie. We travel a lot. He reads extensively and he just knows food really well.” The caramel corn is pretty basic, but the liquid nitrogen is just too much fun to pass up.

Where: Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue

Deep-Fried Olives

I’ll be the first to admit, olives just aren’t my thing. So if you can make an olive taste delicious, I’m on board. The folks at Fried Fruit did just that. And yes, olives are considered a fruit. Fred Helmer, of Fried Fruit, said before this, he never even had an olive. “We just didn’t eat them,” he said. “But we came up with this and I thought, ‘Wow, these are good.'” They take green olives and cream cheese, dip them into a seasoned batter and deep fry them. The outside is perfectly crunchy with a salty, cheesy interior. They’re served with a ranch dipping sauce. Tip: The line was plenty long so get there early.

Where: Fried Fruit, located in Carousel Park, east of the Grandstand Ramp

Get it at Axel's, located outside the southeast corner of the Food Building. (credit: CBS)

Get it at Axel’s, located outside the southeast corner of the Food Building. (credit: CBS)

Cocoa Cheese Bites

Chalk this one up to the curiosity that killed the cat. Upon hearing of these cheesy pieces, I just had to try them. Cheese, covered in chocolate, with a chocolate dipping sauce? Are you mad? Turns out, a little bit. Cheese curds, made fresh every day, from Ellsworth, Wis. are battered in ground-up Cocoa Puffs and flash fried, so they’re not as greasy as your typical cheese curd, said Mike Brennan, at Axel’s. The flavor is certainly different and it’s like nothing you’ll have at the fair — though, I’d skip the Hersey’s chocolate sauce, it’s already plenty sweet.

Where: Axel’s, located on the southeast corner of the Food Building

Porketta Pig Wings

This is Mancini’s first time at the Minnesota State Fair and they’re making sure that it’s one to remember. Their Porketta Pig Wings are juicy, tender and fall-off-the-bone delicious. Pat Mancini said they take split pork shanks, slow roast them and season them (to perfection) with Mancini’s Iron Range-inspired Porketta seasoning. The result will make you wonder why you’ve been wasting your time with chicken wings all these years. Get them with a huge side of Mancini’s classic garlic toast.

Where: Mancini’s Al Fresco, located on Carnes Avenue near Nelson Street

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Mini Donut Batter Crunch Ice Cream

If you’re looking for a cool treat on a hot day, you must check out the mini donut batter crunch ice cream — it’s a mouthful in more than one way. Minnesota’s own Izzy’s Ice Cream is following up last year’s Church Elderberry flavor with a sweet, crunchy classic — that tastes like mini donuts combined with pumpkin pie. The flavor is infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and spiced ginger cookies that are crumbled and mixed in with each scoop. Pair it with last year’s Elderberry for the perfect pairing.

Where: Hamline Dining Hall, located on Dan Patch Avenue near the Visitors Plaza

North Woods BBQ Taco

Looking for something to satisfy your hunger? Check out the new North Woods BBQ Taco — BBQ pulled pork, topped with bourbon syrup from Panther Distillery in Osakis, Minn. and fresh coleslaw on a house-made corncake, wrapped in a tortilla. The pulled pork is sweet and tangy and the coleslaw adds a nice cool bite. This is your only chance to taste a bit of Panther Distillery’s bourbon (unless you go to the distillery) and to be honest, it makes the taco sing. The coleslaw isn’t anything to write home about, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor.

Where: San Felipe Tacos, located inside the Food Building

Get it at The Sandwich Stop, located on Clough Street, on the east side of the Poultry Barn. (credit: CBS)

Get it at The Sandwich Stop, located on Clough Street, on the east side of the Poultry Barn. (credit: CBS)

Deep Fried Monte Cristo/Cuban Sandwich

This one is a close tie. The Sandwich Stop, whose owners hail from Michigan, — and a newbie to the fair this year — is making a great first impression. Their Deep Fried Monte Cristo is a triple decker ham and turkey sandwich with both Swiss and American cheese, deep fried in a light airy batter and topped with raspberry preserves (or opt for the sweet chili sauce for a little kick — highly recommended). The sandwich is a little greasy but once you hit that perfect, center bite, it’s all kinds of delish. If you’re looking for less grease, go with the Cuban sandwich — a classic combination of roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and a special secret mustard sauce. The sandwich is perfectly pressed with an ooey-gooey center.

Where: The Sandwich Stop, located on Clough Street, on the east side of the Poultry Barn

Pork Belly Sliders

Usually when something is labeled pork belly, I’m sold almost instantly. At O’Gara’s, they take thick-cut slices of pork belly bacon, top it with red cabbage slaw and smother it in adobo barbecue beer sauce. The result is pretty darn tasty, especially for a fair food. The bun is kind of meh, but the flavors inside more than make up for it.

Where: O’Gara’s, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street

Get it at O'Gara's, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street. (credit: CBS)

Get it at O’Gara’s, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street. (credit: CBS)

Deep Fried Bread Pudding

If you need something sweet after that savory sandwich, O’Gara’s is now offering a dessert. They take one-inch cubes of bread pudding deep fried with a caramel glaze and powdered sugar. Kris O’Gara said they wanted to try a dessert this year, since they’ve never done one before, and after trying a number of options, this is the one that landed at the top of the list. It’s easy to see why — one bite and this deep-fried goodness will send you soaring. I initially thought it would be too heavy and dense to be good but it’s surprisingly airy and a definite must-try.

Where: O’Gara’s, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street

Gallery: Best Bets For New Fair Food

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