A Review of 2013 New Fair Food Favorites and Flops
It’s that time of the year again when Minnesotan’s from across the state gather at the fair grounds to sample the best of what Minnesota has to offer all in one place. The food of course is the highlight for many fair goers and there is no shortage of new fair foods this year.
I made my first trip to the Fair today and will be making my second visit this coming Thursday. Here are my findings from today’s visit. I’ll be updating this post after I go next Thursday. In the meantime, don’t forget to review my Top 18 Fair Foods Picks from 2012. Some classic fair food finds as well as new foods that were introduced in 2012.
Deep-Fried Olives – Fried Fruit. Olives are a nice change of pace to the traditionally sweet or savory deep-fried fare. The green olives had a fresh tangy flavor, and were stuffed with cream cheese. They were rolled in a seasoned breading and fried. The result was a crunchy, tangy, sweet combination. They are served with ranch sauce which I think if unnecessary as they taste great on their own. Note that the coupon in the Blue Ribbon Book isn’t good on the purchase of this item at the Fried Fruit stand.
Dough-Sant – French Meadow Bakery. I’ve read a quite a lot about the dough-sant trend that’s sweeping the New York bakeries and was excited to see this croissant/doughnut combination on the list of new foods at the Fair. I have to say I was a little disappointed. The doughnut has a butter flavor, but it’s very greasy and doughy in an undercooked kind of way, which left me wondering if I just happened to get a bad one. I’m debating whether or not to try it again when I go back on Thursday for my second visit.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sundae – Goertze’s Dairy Kone. The name says it best…it’s soft serve ice cream topped with a drizzle of peanut butter and grape jelly and garnished with a Nutter Butter cookie. It’s good but not outstanding. Each of the elements had good flavor, but the finished piece lacked a ‘wow’ factor. The cookie was my favorite part. Next time I have an ice cream craving I’ll try the dipped cone.
Cheese Curds – The Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds – There are two “go-to” places to get deep-fried cheese curds at that Fair: the Mouth Trap in the food building and the Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds on Dan Patch. Traditionally, I eat the Mouth Trap cheese curds but decided to give the Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds a try this year. My batch of curds were a little over-cooked and greasy. Greasiness and crust aside, the flavor of the cheese was good. However, I will likely go back to my original curds at the Mouth Trap. If you are craving cheese curds, but can’t make it to the fair, read my Deep-Fried Cheese Curd Primer to find a restaurant near you that serve them.
Comet Corn – Blue Moon Dine-In. A true fair novelty food. Sweet caramel corn is rolled in Parmesan, cheddar and pretzels are added. Then the entire mixture is placed in liquid nitrogen to create an icy-cold crunch. The result is a salty, sweet, extra crunchy snack that emits a cloud of vapors from the cup. The taste is best described as similar to the Captain Crunch cereal. My fellow taste testers gave it mixed reviews. Half really liked it and would purchase it again and half wouldn’t buy it again. As for me, it was fun to taste and it had an okay taste. At $5.00, I wouldn’t purchase it again.
Elm’s Shaved Ice – Shaved Ice stand by the Colosseum. You may be wondering how shaved ice made it on this list. This is a treat I enjoyed when traveling to Utah the last two years. It is NOT the same as a snow cone. A snow cone consists of small pellets of ice with flavored syrup drizzled over the top. The syrup generally goes through the ice and lands at the bottom of the cone and you are stuck eating an icy ball with very little flavor and drinking the syrup at the end. Shaved ice is different. A large block of ice is shaved using a blade that looks like the ones used to cut deli meat. This results in a super fine, powder like snow that is packed into the cup. Flavored syrup is added to the snow and you can taste the flavoring with every spoonful. Perfect! It’s the only stand I could find like it at the Fair. A definite “buy again”. Located on the South side of Judson near Liggett. Use the coupon in the Blue Ribbon book for $2 off their large shaved ice.
Craft Beer Battered Onion Rings – Ball Park Cafe. I almost didn’t purchase these onion rings because they cost $8.00 basket. But the basket was served with a heaping helping of thick cut onion rings that could easily be shared with 3 or 4 hungry people. These onion rings are prepared in a seasoned beer batter made from Indeed Day Tripper batter and fried until light and crispy and served with Excelsior Bietteschlappe spicy beer mustard. I loved the large hearty onion rings and the light, and airy batter. The peppery seasoning was a little overpowering, especially with the spicy mustard. The spicy, flavorful stone ground mustard was a nice accompaniment, though personally, I like my onion rings plain. I would buy this again, and next time enjoy them with a side of beer.
Monte Cristo – The Sandwich Shop. Bennegan’s used to serve a fantastic deep-fried Monte Cristo, but when they left the Twin Cities it left Monte Cristo sandwich lovers without a good place to get these decadent treat. You can get your fix at The Sandwich Shop at Fair. The triple-decker sandwich consists of ham, turkey, Swiss and American cheese that is battered and deep-fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and served with a raspberry jam drizzle. This sandwich had a great flavor, with a nice crispy batter and a tasty jam, but was a little light on the meat. It filled my craving for this sandwich and it will make onto my list for next year.