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Just over 60 days Until we Stuff our Faces

The Great Minnesota Get Together is a tradition on a stick — not to be missed! It does frankly herald the end of summer, so I hesitate to chat about it already. However.

This week they announced the New State Fair Foods. And for me and my group, like many others, the fair and the food are synonymous.

And this year’s list of new foods? Some excite me, some revolt me, and some I don’t care one way or the other about. Full disclosure: I love spicy. I hate seafood. I like chocolate. I hate super sweet.  So what sounds great to me may not turn on your tastes buds. But every year I plot out a gluttonous course, and our group endeavors to tackle as much food as possible, both the new and the old faves (with a few choice adult beverages thrown in). Here’s my take:

Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites (Funnel Cakes): Bite-sized funnel cake pieces infused with a blend of Parmesan, Romano and mozzarella cheeses, deep-fried and finished with a sprinkle of sharp cheddar and chives, and served with homemade Sriracha aioli dipping sauce. Ranch or garlic butter dipping sauce is also available. I love this one because it is so unique (why didn’t anyone think of this before?). I usually don’t sickly-sweet funnel cakes after a bite or two — but give me crunchy, cheesy, spicy goodness and I am yours forever.

The Top 10 I am most excited to try:

Blueberry Key Lime Pie (Farmers Union Coffee Shop): Yes, a dessert is topping my list. But it’s a dessert focussing on tart, not sweet! Blueberry Key lime filling in a graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream and fresh blueberries. This sounds divine!

 Carolina Pit-Smoked Brisket Taco (Shaghai’d Henri’s): Beef brisket pit-smoked over hickory charcoal, shredded and topped with smoked Gouda cheese, a pickled kale crunch made with kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radicchio, napa, and red cabbage, with a drizzle of BBQ sauce; served in a flour tortilla with tortilla chips. So many veggies, you might consider it healthy (is that allowed at the Fair?)

The Hot Hen (R’C’s BBQ): BBQ chips topped with smoked pulled buffalo chicken, blue cheese fondue, pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, green onions and blue cheese crumbles. Girl, you had me at blue cheese fondue.

Fried Tacos On-A-Stick (Taco Cat): Two stuffed tacos – one filled with green chorizo and potatoes and one filled with a vegetarian black bean and corn mix – deep-fried, topped with crumbled cheese and a drizzle of guacamole salsa and served on-a-stick. I love tacos, especially with chorizo. This one sounds awesome but has the ability to be a letdown (why do midwesterner put potatoes in tacos?). Only available Aug. 28 – Sept. 2, so get there early!

Wingwalker Donut Flight (The Hangar): An assortment of hot, deep-fried cake donut holes and three syringes with DIY fillings – Bavarian cream, chocolate custard, and Minnesota lingonberry jam. Probably sweeter than I like, but the novelty makes me want to try it!

Jamm’in Brisket Grilled Cheese (RC’s BBQ): Slow-smoked brisket, red onion jam, cheddar, and pepper jack cheeses and RC’s hot BBQ sauce. This sounds delish! From the folks bringing us the Hot Hen (remember the blue cheese?). I anticipate long lines at this stand!

Deep-Fried Dilly Dog (Swine & Spuds): Pickle stuffed with bratwurst, dipped in batter and deep-fried. Makings of a classic. Not too wild, but I bet it’s good!

Lavender Lemonade (Farmers Union): Pink lemonade made with fresh lavender leaves. Bet a shot of vodka would be delish in this! I just hope it doesn’t taste like soap

Carnitas Taco Cone (San Felipe Tacos): Carnitas with a sesame-garlic ginger sauce, cabbage, lime and queso fresco, topped with green onion and sour cream and served in a deep-fried cone-shaped tortilla. Is it Mexican? Or is it Asian? My taste buds will be the judge of that.

Feta Bites (Dino’s Gyros): Deep-fried Greek pasta dough stuffed with feta cheese, cream cheese and Dino’s Greek seasoning. Served with a creamy olive tapenade. The more I think about it, the more I think I will like this.

If I have room still:

Turkish Pizza (Blue Moon Dine-In Theater): A cracker-thin flatbread, with spicy minced beef, onion, tomato, lettuce, cucumber salad, parsley, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon and garlic sauce, then rolled or folded. I’m intrigued.

Nordic Waffles Al Pastor variety (Nordic Waffles):  Mexican-style marinated pork, pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsa verde. Sounds better than their other offering, which I mention later. I’m not usually a fan of fruit in my meat dishes, but I’d try this.

Deep Fried Cookie Dough (Kora’s Cookie Dough):  deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough topped with powdered sugar and chocolate drizzle; also serving cookie dough on-a-stick in five flavors: classic chocolate chip, Grandma’s sugar cookie, monster cookie, Reese’s peanut butter, and Oreo fudge. Highly likely we will try — one bite.

Cuban Fusion Fajita (Juanita’s Fajitas): Carnitas-style roast pork, deli-sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Juanita’s Fajitas’ signature mustard folded into a flour tortilla. Not entirely original (it’s a Cubano in a tortilla), but sounds good. Will try it if the line is short — but this part of the fair is usually late in the day for us, so might not make the cut. 
No Bologna Coney (Mancini’s Al Fresco) Italian mortadella pork sausage flavored with pistachios and Mancini’s pepper blend, served on a buttered and toasted split-top bun, and topped with mild muffuletta olive and pepper salad. Eh. Probably good, but doubt I’ll be hungry enough at this point of the fair.

Bada Bing Sandwich (The Sandwich Shop): Italian-inspired warm flatbread sandwich with ham, salami, melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Again: on an ordinary day I would be all over this. But the Fair is not an ordinary day.

Boozy Berries & ‘Barb Trifle (The Hideaway Speakeasy): Five-layer cold trifle with vanilla pound cake, lemon curd, Cannon River Gris wine and blueberry compote, more pound cake and Gris and rhubarb compote, topped with mint-infused fresh whipped cream and Gris and blueberry coulis. I am intrigued, but fearful.  I dislike rhubarb, But there’s wine. So maybe it’ll be good! Been meaning to try this bar anyway! 

Duck Drummies (Giggles Campfire Grill): Duck wings coated in a batter and seasoning blend, deep-fried and served with Giggles’ own tequila lime dipping sauce. Hmmm. I like duck if it’s done well. But this might be heavy-handed. I will try it though!

Tipsy Pecan Tart (Sara’s Tipsy Pies): Pecan pie infused with Dubliner Irish Whiskey and baked in a buttery shortbread shell. Gluten-free. I don’t like whiskey or pecan pie. So there ya go.

Peaches n’ Cream Nachos (Bridgeman’s Ice Cream): A bed of cinnamon sugar pita chips with Bridgeman’s Peaches n’ Cream ice cream, peach topping, a drizzle of honey and crushed pecans, finished with whipped cream, a cherry and a dusting of cinnamon sugar. I like peaches, and I love nachos, but I just know this will hurt my teeth.

Warm Cheesecake Tart (Lulu’s Public House): Cheesecake in a tart crust served warm with choice of chocolate, salted caramel or strawberry glaze or without topping. Probably good, but nothing I can’t get somewhere else.

 Irish Whiskey Boneless Wings (O’Gara’s): white chicken chunks, breaded, deep-fried, tossed in Irish whiskey BBQ sauce and garnished with chopped scallions. I prefer my wings with bones. Also: if this was from a different vendor I’d be more excited (although I don’t think it’s particularly creative). I haven’t loved O’Gara’s offerings in the past few years. 

Snow Cap Mini Waffle Sundae (Hamline Church Dining Hall): Mini waffle topped with a scoop of Izzy’s cream cheese ice cream, warm real maple syrup and a maraschino cherry. I don’t need a dessert for breakfast — or vice versa.

Halo Cone (Rainbow Ice Cream):  A swirled blend of cotton candy and blue raspberry soft serve ice cream in a halo of vanilla cotton candy and sprinkled with a mix of candy toppings. They basically did this last year. I liked it a lot, but it doesn’t seem like a new food.

Stuffed Cabbage Roll (iPierogi): Cabbage leaves wrapped around seasoned ground pork and rice, prepared with tomato sauce and served with a dinner roll. Eh.

4 Grilled Sota Sandwich (Brim): Cinnamon nut butter and Minnesota blueberry marmalade served warm on Irish soda bread. I’ve never been a PBJ girl.

Six foods made my “nope. Not having it” list:

Nordic Waffles Pebbles & Bam Bam waffle wrap (Nordic Waffles): warm Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups and fruity cereal by Nordic Waffles. Looks like the floor after a slumber party. No thanks. Way too sweet.

Breakfast Potato Skin (The Blue Barn): Deep-fried potato skin stuffed with scrambled eggs and peppers, topped with blackened beef chislic – a South Dakota bar food staple – and drizzled with bearnaise sauce.The Blue Barn is one of my favorite places — and the first place we hit when we arrive. If this didn’t have scrambled eggs I’d be all in. I’ll probably just get a beer and their chicken and waffle cone (soooo good).

Joey Mary(Brim): An iced coffee slushie topped with a skewer of gluten-free baked goods, including a chocolate bite, honey toffee crunch and almond cookie.When I saw the name, I assumed it would be a bloody mary with an Australian twist — like kangaroo bacon. THAT I would’ve tried. But I hate iced coffee, and I hate overly sweet stuff.

Lamb T-Bone Chops (Holy Land): All-natural, 100% grass-fed grilled lamb loins seasoned with Mama Fatima’s Holy Land Marinade. I’m sure it’s yummy if you like lamb. But I don’t.

Mini Donut Latte (Anchor Coffee House):  A traditional latte with house-made mini donut flavoring, whole milk and espresso topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Too sweet!

Shrimp & Grits Fritters (Funky Grits): Aged cheddar grits, gulf shrimp, onions and Creole seasoning, deep-fried and served with aioli dipping sauce. I don’t do shrimp.

We will also most certainly be making stops for something at Sausage Sisters, a piece or three of Big Fat Bacon, an order of deep fried pickles, and one (or two) servings of french fries. YUM!

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