2016 Minnesota State Fair!

Like many Minnesotans, I look forward to the state fair all year long. It is like Christmas for the food obsessed. It seems that everyone has something they wait all year to eat at the fair. For some, it’s the roasted corn. For others, a pronto pup or maybe a pork chop on a stick.

For me, it’s crepes.

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Specifically the cranberry and brie crepe with almonds from French Creperie. This has become a state fair tradition for me. I need a cranberry brie crepe and some coffee. I need to consume these things while I make a game plan with my compatriots. Last year I skipped the crepe and coffee and I still regret it.

While I have never actually ordered any other flavor of crepe, I really recommend the cranberry and brie. It’s such a nice balance of savory and sweet.

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I usually like to wander over to Minnesota Wine Country after breakfast and get a wine slushie, because that is exactly what everyone needs at 10 am. I opted to skip the slushie this year, but I did try the new candied bacon mini doughnut sliders. These have shown up on more than one “worst of” lists this year, but I don’t totally understand the hate. Sure, the doughnuts are room temperature and sure there could be more wine-chocolate drizzle. Overall, these are perfectly tasty, but (as with everything at Minnesota Wine Country) overpriced.

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Ditto the wine-fried kalettes. These were new last year and they also got a lot of hate, but I really liked them. They are still tasty, but for some reason Minnesota Wine Country left them on the stems this year which means they are a logistical nightmare to eat. Still worth it if a battered and fried brussels sprout sounds like something you’d eat.

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A perfect thing to do after second breakfast is browse the Agricultural Building, which is my very favorite thing at the fair. I love the grain art, I love the scarecrows, I love the craft beer, the Christmas trees, the giant pumpkins, all of it! Drew, pictured above, especially loves the honey ice cream in the bee and honey section of the building. This year we learned that you can get a drizzle of honey on top, which is a game changer for me. I love honey, but I don’t really love the sunflower seeds in the ice cream.

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Drew was also visibly pumped to model the much hyped Carpe Diem at The Midtown Global Market. I am glad we got there during The Rabbit Hole’s residency, but I was very disappointed that they did not bring back the Hot Tail from last year.

As for the Carpe Diem, it was pretty good but maybe not as good as the hype leads you to believe. I would have loved to pick up on some miso flavor in the cone itself, but alas. The vanilla ice cream is standard and the graham crackers were not really necessary, but that strawberry balsamic compote is what makes the entire dish. It’s the right balance of sweet and sour and savory. I could have drank it on its own.

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Cheese curds are a state fair classic and in my opinion there is only one place to get them: The Mouth Trap in the Food Building. Accept no substitutions. These are perfect: salty, cheese, and only a little greasy.

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The onion rings at The Ballpark Cafe are another thing that I always have to get at the fair. They are beer battered with Indeed Brewing’s Day Tripper, and they come with grainy beer mustard for dipping. I would go so far as to say that these are the best onion rings I’ve ever had, and I feel that way about them every single year.

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Drew and I are devotees of Izzy’s Mini Doughnut Batter Crunch over at the Hamline Dining Hall. This was a new flavor a few years ago and we are always glad that they bring it back. One of my state fair companions said that it tasted like gingerbread, and she’s not far off.

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The new Izzy’s flavor this year is Chocolate Agate Crunch. This is also a hit. It tastes like a chocolate caramel brownie, with the edible agates adding a nice crunch without being (wait for it) rock hard.

I somehow completely forgot to snap a picture of the Minneapple Pie, which is a deep fried hand pie served with vanilla ice cream. I will judge you if you order cinnamon ice cream. I like to end the day here, ideally splitting the pie between everyone in the group. It feels like the bridge between summer and fall.

There are tons of new foods this year that I didn’t get to this weekend, but that’s okay because I am actually going back next weekend! Paneer on a Spear, I am coming for you!

 

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