State Fair stand signs
photo by Caitlin Abrams
Forget the solstice, it's 2016 New Foods Day at the Minnesota State Fair!
The list is out and there are 32 new foods this year that range from small bites to bigger plates, frozen treats, gluten-free snacks, things on-a-stick, and more. At first glance it seems like the maple-bacon tide has subsided, but there's a clear infusion of cubed cheese that will be deep fried.
Carpe Diem Ice Cream at Rabbit Hole
Carpe Diem Ice Cream at The Rabbit Hole; photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair
These I'm most excited about:
SPAM Sushi – This could actually be quite yummy, like masubi. Grilled SPAM, sushi rice, fried egg and wasabi rolled in nori (dried seaweed). At ROLLS at the Coliseum, located in the Warner Coliseum, north side.
Minnesota Corn Dog – What about a good turn on the old corndog? We haven't really seen a good one in a while. Custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried. At Gass Station Grill, located on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson avenues on the outside southeast corner of the Food Building.
Carpe Diem – Focus on the balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and vanilla ice cream. A Taiyaki (fish-shaped) buttermilk miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry. At The Rabbit Hole, located at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall. (Available Aug. 25-30 only)
Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread – This could be a sleeper hit, cheese and bread have that magic marriage. Savory, pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese and beef broth, then baked in a wood-fired oven. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street.
Gumbo Frites – Man, if Rajun Cajun can do gumbo right, this could be a new tradition. A bed of crispy french fries topped with Ragin’s traditional New Orleans gumbo made with andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, onions, celery and a rich roux-based sauce, then finished off with cheese and green onions. At Ragin Cajun, located in The Garden, west wall.
Strawberry Donut Delight – Pure innocence and light! A fresh glazed donut sliced in half and filled with strawberries and whipped cream – like a shortcake sandwich! At The Strawberry Patch, located on the west side of Liggett Street between Carnes and Judson avenues.
Sheep Dog – I am ready for a lamb dog, yessir. Kale, sauerkraut and quinoa make it even sexier (in a Prius kind of way). Lamb dog served hot in a bun with garlic sautéed kale, raw fermented sauerkraut, quinoa and honey mustard drizzle. (Gluten-free option without the bun.) At Lamb Shoppe, located in the Food Building, east wall.
Paneer On A Spear – See, they deep-fry cheese in other countries too. Sorta. Deep-fried Indian-seasoned paneer cheese coated with a local craft beer batter and served with tomato garlic chutney. (Gluten-free) At Hot Indian, located at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall. (Available Aug. 31-Sept. 5 only)
Barbecued Shrimp Taco – You had me at cool, fresh jicama slaw. Sweet, smoky, slightly spicy barbecued shrimp and cool, fresh jicama slaw in a warm flour tortilla. At Tejas Express, located in The Garden, north wall.
Candied Bacon BLT – Find myself wishing this was regular bacon, not candied bacon, but that's me. Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center
Saucy Shrimp & Slaw – I love a good buffaloed shrimp, where has THAT been all this time? Breaded shrimp tossed in your choice of parmesan garlic, sweet chili or buffalo sauce on a bed of fresh coleslaw. At Fish & Chips Seafood Shoppe, at two locations: In the Food Building, northwest section, and on the west side of Liggett Street just south of Mighty Midway
Spicy Pork Bowl – Blue Barn knows its bowls, this one with a beer for sure. A mix of adobo pulled pork, rice, black beans, spinach, charred salsa and fried onion strings. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center
Reuben Pickle Dog – The Pickle Dog is a standard daily for me, so I'm glad to see they're doing something new. A dill pickle spear with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in a slice of corned beef. At Pickle Dog, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets
Burnt Butt Ends – Please note that Famous Dave's has left the building, and now it's RC's BBQ going for the Q Crown. Premium cuts of pork, seasoned with a BBQ rub, then smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets (former site of Famous Dave’ s)
Beer Brat Buddies – I always say "More Pretzel"! Oktoberfest beer brat in a German pretzel bun with sauerkraut, chopped onions and a choice of mustards – a serving for two! At Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall
La La Palooza Sundae – Yaaaaassssssss! Bridgeman’s giant retro sundae is back! Eight scoops of ice cream (two each of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and butter brittle) covered with caramel, pineapple and strawberry toppings, plus nuts, cherries, sliced banana and whipped cream, all served in Bridgeman’s signature souvenir goblet. At Bridgeman’s Ice Cream, located on the northeast corner of Judson Avenue and Liggett Street
Chocolate Agate Crunch – You don't have to be a kid to eat agates! Izzy’s® smooth chocolate Caramelia ice cream with chocolate cookie crumbles and edible chocolate rocks inspired by our state gemstone – the Lake Superior Agate, all folded with a salted caramel swirl. At Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets
The Elvis – Do it. Homemade banana ice cream infused with creamy peanut butter served in a cup or waffle cone. At R&R Ice Cream, located on the southeast corner of Randall Avenue and Underwood Street
Banana Cinnamon & Cream Dipped in Dark Chocolate – These guys do simple goodness so well. Frozen banana, cinnamon and cream dipped in dark chocolate and served on-a-stick. At JonnyPops, located at West End Market, center section
Candied Bacon Sliders State Fair 2016
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders from Minnesota Wine Country; photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair
These I'm interested in:
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders – Some people might super love these, but candied bacon + donut is not my thang. Sliced glazed donut holes with thick candied bacon and a chocolate red wine ganache. At Minnesota Wine Country, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson avenues
Rustic Beef Pastry – This could be a nice warmer on those chilly days of August. Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese and nestled in a flakey butter crust. At French Meadow Bakery & Café, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets
Macaroni & Cheese Curds – Yeah. Ok. Rich macaroni & cheese blended with fresh cheese curds. At Oodles of Noodles, located in the Food Building, east wall
Cajun Peel-N-Eat Shrimp – I just don't want to get all shrimpy hands, that's all. A half-pound of shrimp seasoned in a blend of Caribbean spices and served cold with a side of cocktail sauce. At Café Caribe, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Nelson streets
Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites – These could go horribly right, or horribly wrong. White cheddar cheese blended with beer batter, cubed and deep-fried for a taste reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich. Served with a bloody mary mix marinara. At O’Gara’s at the Fair, located on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street
Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders – It'll be hard to go wrong with chicken tenders, hopefully the sauce will be great. Lightly breaded, fresh, never-frozen fried chicken tenderloins served with Bang Bang sweet and tangy chili sauce. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater
CRACKER JACK® Caramel Sundae – This gonna be cute. Soft vanilla ice cream topped with caramel, coated chocolate candies, whipped cream and a drizzle of hot fudge, served atop CRACKER JACK® popcorn in an original CRACKER JACK® box. At Goertze’s Dairy Kone, located on the east side of Cooper Street next to the Merchandise Mart
Call It Breakfast – This seems like a good and proper use of donuts. A vanilla malt or sundae topped with chunks of bakery-fresh donuts, drizzled with chocolate and latte-flavored syrups, and finished with sprinkles. At Dairy Goodness Bar – Midwest Dairy Association, located in the Dairy Building, east wall
Deep Fried Nachos Supreme at Texas Steak Out; photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair
These I'm worried about:
Iron Range Meat & Potatoes – I'm only worried about this because I know that I'll have to eat it after I've had 20 other things first, and I might need to nap in a John Deere afterward. But normal humans might be fine. A hearty portion of seasoned beef with a layer of cheddar cheese, topped with mashed potatoes, baked, and drizzled with a wild rice gravy. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street at The North Woods
Italian Taco – Not sure if I'm clear, but Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce AND a balsamic glaze all on one taco? A flour tortilla baked with butter and shredded parmesan, filled with Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze. At Green Mill, located on the east side of Cooper Street, between Randall and Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park
Deep Fried Nachos Supreme – So, deep fried cheese cubes covered in meat and more cheese and stuff. I'm not sure how I'm going to eat it, but I will eat it. Pepper jack cheese cubes coated with a mixture of crushed seasoned tortilla chips and nacho cheese, then deep-fried, covered with taco meat, guacamole, more nacho cheese and sour cream, and served with jalapeños on the side. Also available traditional-style without the supreme toppings. At Texas Steak Out, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues
SPAM® Curds – I like SPAM, I'm trepidatious of "cheese-flavored" SPAM. Cheese-flavored SPAM® that has been cubed, battered and deep-fried, served with a side of ranch dressing. At SPAM®, located east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand
Minnesnowii Shave Ice - New Topping and New Exclusive Flavor – Hmmmmmmmm. 100% sweetened condensed milk drizzled over your choice of flavored shave ice for a creamy, sweet twist. Exclusive flavor also available at the State Fair: Maple bacon shave ice topped with bacon bits and a maple syrup drizzle. At Minnesnowii Shave Ice, located at West End Market, south section
OK KIDDOES you have until Aug. 25 to get into training and lose a pants size. Someone needs to come up with a pre-Fair boot camp. Also, stay tuned for the beer releases, let's hope the fried cheese cube trend doesn't cross over.