If last Saturday was about old favorites, this Saturday was about new stuff.
I kicked off the day with a Strawberry Donut Delight from The Strawberry Patch. This tastes exactly like you think it would. Macerated strawberries, a glazed doughnut, canned whip cream, another strawberry on top. If you like all of those things, this is your dish. It was, indeed, delightful, but I’m not sure it lived up to the hype. It wouldn’t be difficult to recreate this one at home if you were so inclined.
Explaining pickle wraps to people not from the upper Midwest usually results in me comparing it to sushi, but with pickles. This does not seem to ease the confusion. Suffice to say that pickle wraps are something you won’t “get” until you actually try one, and the Reuben Pickle Dog from Pickle Dog is a good one to go for.
Admittedly, I only got one bite because Drew is a reuben fiend and basically inhaled this while we were waiting in line for beer at Giggles (side note: I hauled this from Pickle Dog all the way to Giggles before eating it and it held up well.) He felt like this was a really great low carb alternative for reuben lovers, since the flavors are spot on. I feel like I can make this at home too, and even make it vegetarian by using the excellent pastrami from The Herbivorous Butcher. Either way, this was really great and would be a excellent call for a light snack.
There are a handful of new beers and ciders at the fair this year, and I am going to go ahead and say that Sociable Cider Werks’s Candy Apple Cider at Giggles Campfire Grill is the best one (modeled here by my beautiful friend Heidi). It is refreshing, not too sweet, and has just a touch of caramel.
Not pictured are the Minnesota Mule Cider from Sweetland Orchard and Hopmosa from Bent Paddle, both at The Ballpark Cafe. I thought the former was a nice dry cider, but I wanted a lot more ginger. The latter was an orange tic-tac flavored disappointment, although I should note that plenty of people in my group enjoyed it.
The Gumbo Frites at The Rajun Cajun have been receiving mixed reviews. I really enjoyed them, and wouldn’t say I agree that the fries themselves are in any way bad. That said, the star is really the gumbo-poutine sauce, which is nicely seasoned and has a good helping of green onions and cheese. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to eat while I’m having a beer or three.
I was pretty excited to try The Sheep Dog from The Lamb Shoppe in the Food Building. Anyone who knows me knows that I love lamb, and I also love hipster nonsense food. This features a snappy lamb sausage with quinoa, garlic sauteed kale, and raw sauerkraut. The balance of these elements was just right, with no one thing overwhelming another. The sausage itself had great bite and wasn’t gamey. I would like this at the next ten cookouts I go to, please and thank you.
While I am biased because I already love Hot Indian Foods at the Midtown Global Market, I have to say that Paneer on a Spear was awesome. What really makes this dish is the spice marinade on the paneer, which has a lovely gingery curry bite without bringing too much heat. The tomato garlic chutney is basically tangier marinara sauce, which is a clever nod to the Midwestern love affair with fried mozzarella sticks. This was a real crowd pleaser, everyone in our group really enjoyed it.
Conversely, the mango lassi I ordered (not pictured) was probably my least favorite thing I had at the fair this year. It was both chalky and chunky, not creamy and smooth like a lassi should be. It’s a real shame, because a cool mango yogurt smoothie sounds really lovely when you are walking around on a warm day at the fair.
Ready, set, CARB BOMB. Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread from The Blue Moon Diner was very tasty, but I wanted it to be about 20 degrees colder outside to enjoy this properly. If I could suggest a change, it would be to make the shareable bits smaller, because even though there were pull apart sections, they were all about the size of a dinner roll. That said, if you like french onion soup and/or BREAD, this is your jam.
The last thing I had at the fair this year was the Spicy Pork Bowl from The Blue Barn. Next year I would like a fried egg on this so I can call it breakfast. Everything is nicely seasoned and the pork, while a bit scant, is tender and flavorful. I would say this is Minnesota spicy rather than actually spicy, though the salsa is certainly tangy.
Overall, I feel like the new foods at the fair this year were pretty good. Nothing I tried failed spectacularly, though I do feel like the things that were hyped up were not necessarily deserving. I hope you all had a chance to get out and enjoy the fair, complete with atypical great weather, this year. If not, you still have today and tomorrow to eat, drink, and eat and drink more at the great Minnesota get together.
In the meantime, I will be daydreaming about what new foods will show up next year.