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Deep-Fried Kale, Sriracha, Kimchi, and More Foods That Will Be Featured at the Minnesota State Fair

Deep-Fried Kale, Sriracha, Kimchi, and More Foods That Will Be Featured at the Minnesota State Fair

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The annual fair is taking food to ridiculous new levels

This is the deep-fried kale in wine and served with a Thai chile sauce.

The Minnesota State Fair is notorious for its crazy fried concoctions. And yes, that is deep-fried kale fried in wine and served with a sweet Thai chile sauce.

According to the Minnesota State Fair's website, sriracha-flavored foods are especially abundant, with sriracha meatball sliders; hot dog with sriracha, cream cheese, and bacon bits; deep-fried sriracha balls; and vanilla soft-serve drizzled with sriracha. A spokesperson from the fair said that this is classier fare for a state fair. “When reading over the list, one might think it is being served [at] a food and wine event.”

Crazy combinations include a kimchi curry poutine topped with an egg, bacon and sweet corn cream cheese croquettes, and chocolate-jalapeño ice cream, so don’t forget to bring water (though the dairy should bring the heat down from the spices).

It is a state fair, so deep-fried food is a must. Look for deep-fried baby back ribs, deep-fried spare ribs, bacon and maple-glazed funnel cakes, and “Totchos,” which are tater tots served as nachos.

For fair visitors on a diet, there is a salad option with Granny Smith apples, vanilla pudding, and chopped Snickers bars (obviously, it’s healthy if it has apples).

The fair runs from August 27 to Labor Day. Make sure to wear pants with an elastic waistband if you attend.

STATE FAIR 2015: 40 new foods and 11 frozen treats


It&aposs that time of year again -- time to start dreaming about all the delicious food you&aposll consume at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. Grandma Deb&aposs Snicker Bar Salad, or Maple Bacon Funnel Cake, anyone? TAP TO VIEW PHOTOS

Buffalo&aposd Bones: Slow-smoked center cut St. Louis-style spare ribs, fried, tossed in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese dressing and celery

Butter Chicken Samosas: Pastries filled with chicken in a tomato curry sauce and served with a side of green chutney. Sweet Summer Vegetable Samosas with corn, peas and onions also are available

Burger Dog: A ground blend of hamburger, hot dog, bacon, cheese and a splash of jalapeño on a hot dog bun

Chilled Bread Pudding: Custardy bread pudding baked and served chilled – sundae-style – with a warm glaze/dunking sauce and a choice of crunchy "Moon Gravel" condiments. Bread pudding flavors: Old Fashioned Challah, Fudge Brownie Batter, Corn Bread and Gluten-Free. Glaze options: Classic Vanilla, Warm Berries, Salted Caramel Graham Cracker and Hot Chocolate. "Moon Gravel" topping choices: Granola Crunch, Cinnamon Churro Cookie, Candy Roasted Pecans and Rum Soaked Raisins

Cannoli: This pastry filled with a sweetened ricotta cheese cream returns to the fair in full or mini sizes.

Cowboy Dave&aposs Cluck & Moo: Smashed potatoes, roasted beef and grilled chicken covered with beef gravy, crispy onions and mustard BBQ sauce

Cowboy Bites: Sweet corn kernels, bacon, jalapeños and cream cheese blended into bite-size balls, breaded and fried, and served with ranch dipping sauce

Grandma Deb&aposs Snicker Bar Salad: Chopped Snickers® bars and Granny Smith apples tossed in vanilla pudding with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce

Deep Fried Ribs: Smoked baby back ribs, breaded, fried and served with BBQ sauce

Hot Tail: Roasted pig tail coated in a scallion ginger sauce

Grilled Venetian-Style Pizza: Grilled over an open flame for a crispy crust and offered in three varieties: Margherita (oven-roasted tomatoes, cheese and basil) Farm Fresh (olives, sweet red peppers, arugula greens and fresh goat cheese) and Spicy Salami (thin-sliced salami, cheese, oregano and red pepper flakes)

Indi Frites: Indian-seasoned russet and sweet potato fries in a crispy batter

Island Slaw: Gluten-free island-style coleslaw with pineapple, mandarin oranges, sugar snap peas and spinach, all topped with teriyaki chicken, a light Sriracha glaze and macadamia nuts

Kimchi ‘n&apos Curry Poutine: Braised pork and potatoes smothered with curry gravy and cheddar cheese, then topped with kimchi and a poached egg

Italian Dessert Nachos: Cinnamon sugar cannoli chips smothered with sweet ricotta cheese filling, fruit, chocolate, nuts and candy toppings

Mac & Cheese Cupcake: Mac & cheese nestled in a breadcrumb crust, then sprinkled with breadcrumbs and frosted with a dollop of Cheez Whiz

Limerick Stix: A blend of pimento cheese and cayenne pepper coated in a corn meal mix, deep-fried and served with custom dipping sauce

Maple Bacon Funnel Cake: A funnel cake infused with bacon pieces, then topped with sweet maple glaze and sprinkled with more bacon

Meatloaf Hash: Blue Barn meatloaf, saut potatoes, peppers and onions topped with scrambled eggs and bບrnaise sauce

Minnesota Wild Rice Benedict Muffin: A wild rice English muffin cup with sliced ham and a soft-cooked egg, covered with hollandaise sauce

Minnesota BEE-NICE Gluten-Free Muffin: Minnesota-grown, pollinator-friendly blueberries, sweet corn and honey with a hint of chipotle in a gluten-free cornbread muffin

Pretzel Croissant Sandwich: Gluten-free and nitrate-free grilled chicken breast and ham, Swiss cheese and fresh spinach smothered in honey mustard and chive aioli, grilled and served hot on a pretzel dough croissant or gluten-free toast

Prime Rib to Go: Thinly sliced choice prime rib, saut peppers, onions and mushrooms (optional) in a soft bread cone with a side of au jus, horseradish or Parmesan garlic sauce

Salad Named Soo: Cubed watermelon, basil, mint, arugula and almonds mixed with a chili honey lime sauce

Sara&aposs Tipsy Pies: This new State Fair vendor features 5 varieties of hand pies:
• State Fair Rhubarb Blue Hunny Do – only at the State Fair: A blend of fresh local strawberry rhubarb and baby blueberries baked with Hunny Do Wheat Beer, a honey dew melon-flavored beer, and topped with a Hunny Do Tipsy Topping
• 2GINGERS® Irish Apple: Traditional apple pie made with 2GINGERS® Irish whiskey
• Bapple: Wild blueberries and apples with a honey stinger mead
• Maple Bacon Apple Breakfast (available 8-10:30 a.m. only): Filled with apples in maple syrup, then finished with a beer glaze and candied, slightly spicy bacon bits
• Salted Caramel Apple: Traditional apple pie with caramel beer filling

Sausage Sister&aposs Sriracha Sliders: "Great Balls of Fire" meatballs with Monterey Jack cheese at the center, served on a crusty slider bun with Sister&aposs Sweet ‘n&apos Hot Sriracha Sauce

Seafood Slider: A lobster and seafood mix blended with mayo, red onion, garlic, celery, lemon juice and breadcrumbs, served hot on a Hawaiian roll with wine aioli

Shanghaied Henri&aposs International Tacos – 4 Varieties:
• Korean Bar-B-Q Beef Taco: Marinated beef glazed with spicy soy honey, layered with kimchi, topped with crispy rice noodles and served on two flour tortillas
• Oslo Taco: Seared braised, peppercorn-rubbed pork, layered with Norwegian Jarlsburg cheese, pickled cabbage slaw, red onion, apple-smoked bacon and lingonberry relish sour cream, topped with pork cracklins and served on two flour tortillas
• St. Paul Taco: Braised beef brisket simmered in Summit Villain beer served on two flour tortillas with caramelized onions, cabbage slaw, horseradish sour cream and apple-smoked bacon bits
• Yucatan Taco: Seasoned chicken chorizo braised in tequila and red wine vinegar served with green cabbage carrot slaw, queso fresco, pickled red onion and cilantro sour cream on two flour tortillas

Smokey&aposs Breakfast Burger: Seasoned sausage and hamburger on a corn-dusted bun with applewoodsmoked bacon, caramelized onions, melted provolone cheese, fried egg and a tomato slice

SPAM® Burgers in 5 New Flavors: A grilled SPAM® burger with cheese and onions, in your choice of five flavors: Jalapeño, Hot & Spicy, Bacon, Hickory Smoke and Black Pepper

Sriracha Balls: Two choices of filling breaded in panko, deep-fried and drizzled with Sriracha sauce: blend of shredded chicken, corn, tomatoes, egg and Sriracha or Sriracha cream cheese with corn, tomatoes and egg

Sriracha Dog: All-beef hot dog on a Sriracha cream cheese-smeared bun, topped with bacon bits and drizzled with Sriracha sauce

Steak Apizzaiola: Cuts of Italian steak saut in au jus and served on a seasoned kaiser bun with caramelized onions, melted cheese and marinara sauce

Stuffed Italian Meatloaf On-a-Stick: Italian meatloaf stuffed with Mozzarella and pepperoni, topped with marinara sauce and a Parmesan herb blend and served on-a-stick

Sweet Potato Taco: Mashed sweet potatoes, black beans, saut onions and vinegar coleslaw wrapped in a flour tortilla

Tikka On-a-Stikka: Chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, chargrilled and smothered in tikka sauce

Totchos: Tater tots smothered in cheddar cheese sauce with seasoned sour cream, bacon bits and green onions (chicken or taco-style beef optional). Gluten-free

Up Nort Shoreman&aposs Lunch: Battered northern pike in a fresh tomato sauce with potatoes and corn, finished with smoked pepper tartar sauce

Walleye Stuffed Mushrooms: Jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with flavored cream cheese spread, walleye, three cheeses, red pepper, panko breadcrumbs and a special sauce

Wine Fried Kalettes: Battered kale, fried crispy in wine and served with sweet Thai chili sauce

The Top 5 Obvious (and Not So Obvious) Foods to Savor @MNStateFair

We are over half way through the 12 day adventure at The Minnesota State Fair and there is still SO much yet to see and do! But, I wanted to stop and reflect on what many of the visitors we hang out with at the fair proclaim as their MN state fair food favorites.

Although my quest has been to try as many of the 40 new foods featured this year, who can resist those “classic” favorite foods? You know, those foods that have been around forever, and have become known as the go-to for every fair-goers visit.

With over 500 foods and 300 different vendors, I’ve come to realize that there are those obvious “classic” favorites most people know about, but there are so many awesome “classics” that seem to go missed.

So, if you are headed out to the fair for one of the last remaining days, perhaps you too may discover a new “classic” favorite!

Top 5 Obvious “Classic” Fair Foods

  1. Sweet Corn-on-the-Cob from the Corn Roast
  2. Sweet Martha’s Cookies
  3. Ice cream, Malt or Sundae from the Dairy Barn
  4. Cheese Curds
  5. Fresh Fries

Sweet corn-on-the-cob from the Corn Roast

Top 5 Not-so-obvious “Classic” Fair Foods

  1. Carl’s Gizmo Sandwich Located on the West side of Cooper St. between Murphy & Lee avenues
  2. Carousel BBQ Pork Chop-on-a-Stick Tip: you can buy the seasoning for your own state fair pork chops for the rest of the year! Located on the South side of West Dan Patch Ave. between Liggett & Chambers streets
  3. Turkey-to-Go Located on the East side of Clough St. between Carnes & Judson avenues
  4. O’ Gara’s Reuben Sandwich At the Southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Cosgrove St.
  5. Island Noodles At the International Bazaar, south wall

Carl’s Gizmo Sandwich shop – located north of Machinery Hill on the west side of Cooper street

Island Noodles located in the International Bazaar packed with fresh veggies!

Well, and then there is the Pronto Pup…or Corn Dog, what’s your favorite?

Corn Dog or Pronto Pup…which is your favorite?

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Food Paradise

From ice cream- and cereal-stuffed burritos in LA to a deep-dish pizza wrapped in a whole other pizza in Chicago, these restaurants prove that good food is even greater when it comes in a tasty package.

Totally Unexpected

From a super-stack, password-protected cheeseburger in Chicago to top-notch barbecue at a Walla Walla, WA, gas station, the most delicious dishes at the most surprising places across the country are revealed.

Ooey Gooey Greatness

From majorly melty mac and cheese to fudgy, chewy triple chocolate cookies, diners are living the gooey good life at these restaurants across the nation.

Go Big or Go Hungry

From a colossal 30-pound taco pizza in Atlantic City to a towering mountain of meat in Seattle, we're featuring pumped-up portions from across the country that deliver on decadence.

Slice of Heaven

Pizzerias share their most delicious spins on America's favorite pie, from a family-run institution in Chicago specializing in stuffed pizzas to a one-of-a-kind pizza palace slinging outrageous dessert pizzas.

Hit the Road

Diners pull over and fill up on gourmet delights at these road food hot spots across the country, from classic burgers and frosty root beer floats right off of Route 61 in Louisiana to fish and chips on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Blast from the Past

Restaurants reveal the dishes that have stood the test of time and provide soul-satisfying experiences for their customers, from chocolate egg creams at a 1950s soda fountain in NYC to a San Francisco bakery reimagining Old World confections.

Go Big or Go Hungry

From a colossal 30-pound taco pizza in Atlantic City to a towering mountain of meat in Seattle, we're featuring pumped-up portions from across the country that deliver on decadence.

Slice of Heaven

Pizzerias share their most delicious spins on America's favorite pie, from a family-run institution in Chicago specializing in stuffed pizzas to a one-of-a-kind pizza palace slinging outrageous dessert pizzas.

Hit the Road

Diners pull over and fill up on gourmet delights at these road food hot spots across the country, from classic burgers and frosty root beer floats right off of Route 61 in Louisiana to fish and chips on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Blast from the Past

Restaurants reveal the dishes that have stood the test of time and provide soul-satisfying experiences for their customers, from chocolate egg creams at a 1950s soda fountain in NYC to a San Francisco bakery reimagining Old World confections.

Sights and Bites

Diners make mouthwatering memories at these top bites by monumental sites across the country, from sandwiches stacked with international flavors across the street from the National Zoo to silky, sweet ice cream sundaes near Golden Gate Park.

Fast Food Finds

Diners get a fresh take on fast food at these unique fast-casual restaurants across the country, from a New Jersey sandwich shop specializing in gourmet hoagies to a Los Angeles hot dog joint serving up bacon-wrapped dogs and fully-loaded fries.

Food Hall of Fame

New dining experiences and classic comforts are brought together under one roof at these food halls, from spicy fried chicken paired with the most decadent mac and cheese at Atlanta's Krog Street Market to an intensely delicious pierogi melt at Cleveland's West Side Market.

Off-the-Chain Eats

From a 14-pound mountain of nachos and a barbecue a sandwich as mighty as the Mississippi to a two-pork punch of a breakfast burrito, these citywide franchises have gone off the chain.

All You Can Meat

These places dish up all the meat you can eat, from a bottomless buffet of skewered meats in NYC to mile-high meaty sandwiches in Colorado.

Tasty Taverns

Grab a seat at the bar and enjoy a pint at these tasty taverns! A French-trained chef is slinging quality Mexican fare in NOLA and a tavern in Chicago is serving up big beer and bold burgers. Next, the beer flows freely in Tacoma, Washington's, oldest microbrewery and a spot in Sherman Oaks, California, pairs brunch indulgences with their signature cocktails. Then, burgers get smothered and shakes get spiked in a New York tavern and nonstop partying doesn't stop a Daytona Beach, Florida, tavern from serving fun, creative food. Finally, a Boston tavern brings international flavors to its offerings and a Boulder, Colorado, pizza joint reveals their secret for what makes a great tavern truly great!

Grub on the Go

Whether it's a New Jersey drive-in slinging sky-high burgers, a New Orleans doughnut shop turning diner dinner classics into quick-bite handhelds or a Southern California spot serving decadent seafood fries, these are our top picks for grabbing some grub on the go.

Sandwich Obsession

Whether it's Southern barbecue on a bun, a Tex-Mex take on a banh mi or lasagna grilled cheese, any mixture of fillings between buttery buns makes for a dream come true! From savory to spicy to sweet, there are no limits to our sandwich obsession.

Happy Appy Hour

Forget the free pretzels and peanuts, these joints have upped the Happy Hour ante with outrageous, tummy-tantalizing appetizers, from a Bloody Mary topped with spaghetti and meatballs to lamb chop fondue and chicken wing confit.

Bucket List Burgers

From whiskey-and-foie gras decadence to a macaroni and cheese bun, we've rounded up all the burgers you have to try before you die. These are the most stacked, loaded, saucy and succulent sandwiches around.

American Eats

A burger topped with a sloppy joe? An apple pie pizza? A biscuit filled with blue cheese? All across America, folks are cooking up red, white and blue meals that pay tribute to tradition and tempt the taste buds. From classics to contemporary updates, open your menu and pledge allegiance to this roundup of the best American eats.

College Town Cravings

These A+ eateries serve up delicious food and awesome service near America's colleges and universities, from an iconic burger shop steps away from Harvard University to a beloved breakfast joint just off the University of Minnesota campus.

The Comfort Zone

Diners cozy up to some of the most feel-good foods around the country, including fully loaded tater tots, outrageous shakes and mouthwatering Australian meat pies.

Howdy, Texas!

Chefs are kicking up the creativity with their big and bold flavors at these hot spots across the Lone Star State, from an Austin beer garden serving up the best of the wurst to sizzling fajitas topped with garlic butter at a Houston Tex-Mex joint.

Extreme Eats

Food Paradise is going to extremes with the best in big food with even bigger flavor. Whether it's a Bloody Mary garnished with baby back ribs, mozzarella sticks and more or a palatial pizza made of chicken Parmesan, sometimes too much is not enough!

Catching Up on Food and Fun @MNStateFair!

Last year, the Minnesota State Fair reached an all time attendance record over 1.8 million. So far this year, attendance is well on it’s way to a new high and if you had the chance to get out to the fair over the past few days, you know that first hand!

So, let’s catch up with the past few days of fair adventures.

First, a quick tour of the Eco Experience located on the East side of the fairgrounds. Great exhibit to walk through with friends or family. Every year they do a fabulous job educating on important environmental issues. This year featuring a “tornado” of plastic bags to encourage recycling.

Next, one of the top classic food items at the fair: the Gizmo. If you haven’t tried this amazing Italian sandwich, it’s a hit and highly recommended by regular fair-goers. Located a little north of Machinery Hill on Cooper Street.

And…maybe my surprising favorite new food at the fair so far this year: Mancini’s Farm Fresh Pizza. I would typically not get pizza at the fair because you can get great flat breads any time of year. But, this one was special! A grilled, crispy and delicate crust topped with flavorful fresh veggies and goat cheese. The Margherita pizza was also delicious, but the owner recommended the Farm Fresh pizza and we were not disappointed!

More fun watching the State Fair parade:

Deep fried ribs at Ball Park Cafe – lots of meat, not a lot of flavor (and the line and wait makes this worth passing up)

Gluten-free BEE Nice Blueberry Minnesota muffin at Farmer’s Union Coffee Shop – very yummy! I had it late in the day and it would even better warm with a coffee first thing in the morning!

Korean BBQ Tacos at Shanghaied Henri’s – Worth the wait and great to share!

A little more fun… people watching, shopping, and catching the free entertainment. “Rockin’ Woody” shown below at Mancini’s.

And, lastly, one food I would not recommend was the Steak Apizzaiola from Spaghetti Eddie’s. There are just too many other terrific choices with food at the fair that I wouldn’t spend my money on this one (Oh, I did! But, recommend you don’t!)

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Hits and misses: Our critic taste-tests the new foods at Target Field

Murray's: shaved beef sandwich
A new shaved beef sandwich ($14.50) manages to pack a lot of Murray’s lore into each bite. Before being toasted, the buns are brushed in a butter that’s infused with the seasoning used to make the restaurant’s famous garlic toast, and before it’s smoked over hickory, the beef (a flavorful top-round cut) gets a 24-hour cure in a mixture of salt, sugar and the kitchen’s steak seasoning. Tender and juicy, the meat is finished in the oven — taken to a medium-rare, with generous streaks of pink — and shaved to order. It’s fairly lean, with occasional ribbons of fat, and when a quarter-pound of it is piled on that buttered-up bun, no other embellishments are required. No wonder the stand sold more than 500 on Monday’s home opener. Section 116

4 Bells: shrimp boil
Restaurateur Doug Van Winkle has pulled the plug on his Butcher & the Boar outpost and replaced it with an even better alternative from 4 Bells , his Loring Park restaurant. The stand’s genesis lies in a crab boil that the Southern-accented restaurant held last year, but for Target Fielders, Van Winkle has subbed in more budget-conscious shrimp ($14.50). It’s a peel-and-eat situation, and while that can be a bit awkward in a crowded stadium, the payoff is considerable in terms of boosting flavor and preserving texture. My serving boasted five plump shrimp, plus red-skinned new potatoes, surprisingly tasty (and snappy) sweet corn and slices of a feisty pork sausage produced at — yep — Butcher & the Boar. Section 114

Herbivorous Butcher: vegan Italian sausage and vegan brat
A new partnership worth praising is the ballpark debut of the Herbivorous Butcher , the innovative meat-free enterprise in northeast Minneapolis. Co-owners and siblings Kale and Aubry Walch are supplying their spirited takes on Italian sausage (packed with sun-dried tomatoes) and Sriracha-laced brats — in vegan buns — and they’ve got a just-right ballpark feel, minus the pork, of course. They’re certainly worlds beyond the dreary supermarket tofu dogs that usually pass for meat-free stadium fare, and they’re even better when topped with charred onions. (Find them at kosher hot dogs cart, and, yes, the products are cooked on separate grills). Nicely done, Target Field. Section 129

Cookie Cart: cookies
Another newcomer that deserves a warm welcome: Cookie Cart . Sugar has rarely been the ballpark’s strong suit, but this invaluable nonprofit is changing that (on Saturday and Sunday games only, alas) with freshly baked chocolate chip and Snickerdoodle cookies sold in shareable six-packs ($8). There are also tender sugar cookies topped with a cute, hand-iced Twins logo ($3). Sweet. Section 101

Kurd-marczuk: cheese curds with Polish sausage
Leading Target Field vendor Kramarczuk’s has revamped a former pretzel stand and is cranking out a poutine-like delicacy that would fit right in at the Minnesota State Fair: slices of Polish sausage, paired with deep-fried Wisconsin-made cheese curds, a spoonful of salty brown gravy and a flurry of shaved pepper Jack cheese. It’s called, naturally, the K urd-Marczuk ($9.50), and it’s exactly as advertised. Section 100

Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen: Korean-style barbecue sandwich and white chocolate frozen mousse
Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen is giving Murray’s a run for its money with a beef sandwich ($14.50) that’s a happy meal in a bun. Picture this: tender short ribs, slow-braised in star anise, ginger and coriander, shredded and paired with a mild kimchi and a sliced-in-half eight-minute egg, the yolk firm but creamy. There’s also a sophisticated play on the ice cream cups that the “Bizarre Foods” talking head craved as a kid, a luscious white chocolate frozen mousse ($7.50) that’s laced with caramel-like dulce de leche and dotted with delicate, spongy ladyfingers. The topper is a generous sprinkle of crispy chocolate pearls. Don’t miss it. Section 120

Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen — Skewers: flatbread sandwiches
Meanwhile, Zimmern has converted his existing Target Field presence into Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen — Skewers , which tries to solve the challenge of incorporating big flavors into handheld fare. The solution? Roasting skewered meats (beef short ribs, chicken thighs and pork shoulder), then stuffing them into foldable, tortilla-esque flatbreads ($14.50). All three are finished with the same garnishes — tahini-roasted eggplant, a tangy tzatziki sauce, a cucumber salad — and they’re impressive for their complex flavor profiles and portability. Section 114

Hot Indian Foods: salad
At first-rate Hot Indian Foods , chef Janene Holig is replacing the rice in the stand’s two bowl offerings with a baby kale-arugula salad mix ($12.50). Results? Terrific. Section 120

Barrio: chicken burrito
Barrio has added a chicken variation ($11) to its burrito roster at Señor Smokes , but unfortunately it doesn’t get past “basic.” Hefty, yes creative, no. Sections 105 and 305

State Fair Classics: turkey sandwich
At State Fair Classics , the Turkey to Go folks are offering a sandwich ($8) that’s crying out for tinkering. It’s fairly juicy and robustly seasoned pulled turkey, and an impressive amount of it, tossed onto a bun that could sweep the World’s Most Forgettable competition. That’s it. No condiments, no vegetable add-ons, nada . Yawn. Section 133

Dairy Queen: Dilly Bars
DQ's classic treat is now available at various locations throughout the ballpark, but asking $4 a pop — my neighborhood DQ sells them for $1.82 — makes them this season’s poster child for the Target Field markup effect. (In a facility where every inch is seemingly engineered to separate fans from their money, there’s some serious competition for that dubious prize). A close second? The eyeroll-inducing beer prices.

50 glorious new food creations you can eat at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota threw its first state fair in 1859, a year after it was granted statehood. It’s been nearly held every year since, and is the second largest fair in the United States.

Residents from across the Midwestern state flock to the fairgrounds, near St. Paul, for many reasons. There are concerts, baby animals, butter sculptures, rides, and games. But perhaps the biggest draw is the food.

“The Great Minnesota Get-Together” has a long tradition of serving strange and delectable foods, and vendors introduce wacky new dishes every year. This year's offerings include Sriracha Dogs and Mac & Cheese Cupcakes — something for everyone (just don't forget your heartburn meds).

The 2015 fair starts August 27th and goes until Labor Day. You'll probably want to book a flight after checking out the insane eats being offered this year.

Minnesota State Fair Releases New Foods for 2019

Heavenly treat: Halo Cone from Rainbow Ice Cream

All photos courtesy Minnesota State Fair

It’s new Minnesota State Fair food day. Here’s a list of new food vendors this year, and feast your eyes below on what will be a busy year of new flavors. The Fair runs between August 22 and September 2.

Want to see what Jason DeRusha is most excited about? Check out his list here.

Bada Bing Sandwich: Italian-inspired warm flatbread sandwich with ham, salami, melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
At The Sandwich Stop, located on the west side of Clough Street between Carnes & Judson avenues

Blueberry Key Lime Pie: Blueberry Key lime filling in a graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream and fresh blueberries. At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Cooper & Cosgrove streets

Boozy Berries & ‘Barb Trifle: 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.
At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section

Breakfast Potato Skin: 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. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center

Carnitas Taco Cone: 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. At San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building, east wall

Carolina Pit-Smoked Brisket Taco: 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. At Shanghaied Henri’s, located at the International Bazaar, north wall

Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites: 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. At Funnel Cakes, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets

Cuban Fusion Fajita: Carnitas-style roast pork, deli-sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Juanita’s Fajitas’ signature mustard folded into a flour tortilla. At Juanita’s Fajitas, located west of Nelson Street just south of the Grandstand

Deep Fried Dilly Dog

Deep-Fried Dilly Dog: Pickle stuffed with bratwurst, dipped in batter and deep-fried. At Swine & Spuds, located in the Warner Coliseum, east side

Duck Drummies: Duck wings coated in a batter and seasoning blend, deep-fried and served with Giggles’ own tequila lime dipping sauce. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue & Cooper Street at The North Woods

Feta Bites: Deep-fried Greek pasta dough stuffed with feta cheese, cream cheese and Dino’s Greek seasoning. Served with a creamy olive tapenade. At Dino’s Gyros, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets

Fried Tacos On-A-Stick: 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. (Aug. 28 – Sept. 2 only) At Midtown Global Market’s Taco Cat, located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall

Grilled Sota Sandwich: Cinnamon nut butter and Minnesota blueberry marmalade served warm on Irish soda bread. Gluten-free and dairy-free. At Brim, located at the North End, northwest section

Halo Cone: 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. At Rainbow Ice Cream, located in the Grandstand, upper level, east section near the stairs tower

The Hot Hen: BBQ chips topped with smoked pulled buffalo chicken, blue cheese fondue, pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, green onions and blue cheese crumbles. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett & Chambers streets

Irish Whiskey Boneless Wings: All-natural white chicken chunks, breaded, deep-fried, tossed in Irish whiskey BBQ sauce and garnished with chopped scallions. Gluten-free.
At O’Gara’s at the Fair, located on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue & Cosgrove Street

Jamm’in Brisket Grilled Cheese: Slow-smoked brisket, red onion jam, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and RC’s hot BBQ sauce. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett & Chambers streets

Joey Mary

Joey Mary: An iced coffee slushie topped with a skewer of gluten-free baked goods, including a chocolate bite, honey toffee crunch and almond cookie. At Brim, located at the North End, northwest section

Lamb T-Bone Chops: All-natural, 100% grass-fed grilled lamb loins seasoned with Mama Fatima’s Holy Land Marinade. At Holy Land, located at the International Bazaar, southeast corner

Lavender Lemonade: Pink lemonade made with fresh lavender leaves. At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Cooper & Cosgrove streets

Mini Donut Latte: A traditional latte with house-made mini donut flavoring, whole milk and espresso topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. At The Anchor Coffee House, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes & Judson avenues outside Ramberg Music Cafe

No Bologna Coney: 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. At Mancini’s al Fresco, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets

Nordic Waffles in Pebbles & Bam Bam and Al Pastor varieties: Two new fresh-made waffle wraps: Pebbles & Bam Bam with warm Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups and fruity cereal and Waffle Al Pastor made with Mexican-style marinated pork, pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsa verde. At Nordic Waffles, located at West End Market, southwest section

Peaches n’ Cream Nachos: 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. At Bridgeman’s Ice Cream, located on the northeast corner of Judson Avenue & Liggett Street

Shrimp & Grits Fritters: Aged cheddar grits, gulf shrimp, onions and Creole seasoning, deep-fried and served with aioli dipping sauce. Gluten-free.
At Funky Grits, located in the Food Building, east wall

Snow Cap Mini Waffle Sundae: Mini waffle topped with a scoop of Izzy’s cream cheese ice cream, warm real maple syrup and a maraschino cherry.
At Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood & Cooper streets

Stuffed Cabbage Roll: Cabbage leaves wrapped around seasoned ground pork and rice, prepared with tomato sauce and served with a dinner roll.
At iPierogi, located in the Food Building, south wall

Tipsy Pecan Tart: Pecan pie infused with Dubliner Irish Whiskey and baked in a buttery shortbread shell. Gluten-free. At Sara’s Tipsy Pies, located in the Food Building, south wall

Turkish Pizza: A Turkish-style cracker-thin flatbread, authentically named Lahmacun, topped with spicy minced beef, onion, tomato, lettuce, cucumber salad, parsley, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon and garlic sauce, then rolled or folded. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue & Chambers Street

Warm Cheesecake Tart: Cheesecake in a tart crust served warm with choice of chocolate, salted caramel or strawberry glaze or without topping. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater

Wingwalker Donut Flight

Wingwalker Donut Flight: An assortment of hot, deep-fried cake donut holes and three syringes with DIY fillings – Bavarian cream, chocolate custard and Minnesota lingonberry jam. At The Hangar, located at the North End, southwest section

Three Tastes: The Heavy Table Team Recalls 2013

The Heavy Table crew — large in number, adventurous in appetite, generously endowed in the palate department — travels quite a bit and eats quite a great deal, collectively. What follows are some of our favorite bites from 2013. Guten appetit!

(And if you enjoy these bites, you may want to flip back to our gems of 2012.)

Dena Alspach | Publisher

Dena Alspach / Heavy Table

Jasmine Deli: Banh Canh (Tapioca Noodle Soup)

With its thick, silky noodles twisting in an unbelievably clean, clear broth, the tapioca noodle soup (banh canh) at Jasmine Deli is one the best lunches in town. Order a huge bowl with chicken or tofu and then just try to sit patiently once Lee sets that plate of crisp bean sprout, basil, and jalapeño slices in front of you. The soup is balanced and delicious and yes, you will eat it all. Don’t forget the Sriracha. Oh, and definitely grab a banh mi to take with you for later. Sandwiches are made fresh each day on perfect, crusty baguette and stuffed with mock duck, chicken, or pork then carrot, cilantro, and jalapeno.

Adam Vickerman’s pop-up dinner: Ribeye / Brussels / Kale / Rogue Smokey Blue

One of my favorite trends is the wealth of super-chef pop-up dinners happening all over the Twin Cities. This October, I was lucky enough to get a spot at the Colossal Cafe for Adam Vickerman’s dinner (who usually runs the show at Cafe Levain). If you haven’t yet hit a pop-up, stay alert and jump on tickets immediately. The unique intimacy of these experiences and the level of service you enjoy is worth triple the cost. The bite I’m still dreaming about is Vickerman’s perfectly seared ribeye with smokey blue cheese from Rogue Creamery in Oregon, served with brussels and kale. I almost hugged him.

Kate N.G. Sommers / Heavy Table

Tilia: Pot de Creme

You know how sometimes when you’re in a restaurant and what’s set before you makes you clap your hands and stomp your feet with happiness? No? Then get to Tilia and order Zoe Francois’ pot de creme. Amy Thielen (her new book is featured in our 2013 holiday gift guide) gives an epic assist with her birch syrup there’s a good chance you’ll write poetry about it later. Maybe on Twitter. (Who me?) This absolutely luscious dessert is served in a delicate laser-cut eggshell, so you may (may) sit like a lady, holding it gently, just momentarily ignoring your fellow diners.

Ryan Burk | Writer

Kings Wine Bar: Bloody Mary Ribs

It would be easy to over-analyze the task of choosing just three items from a year spent eating well. So I went about it like word association. Without much thought at all, the Bloody Mary ribs from Kings Wine Bar in Kingfield came almost instantly to mind. The braised-then-fried rib is so tender it takes about zero convincing to separate from the bone. And the Bloody Mary portion of the equation doesn’t disappoint either, with the celery seed and soy seasoning nicely evoking a generously salted rim. I didn’t miss the vodka at all.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Parka: Banana Cream Pie

I’m a sucker for banana cream pie. Order it any chance I get. And the banana cream pie at Parka in Longfellow is one of my favorites. It’s an enormous, deconstructed mess of a dessert, the sight of which made my eyes bulge noticeably from their sockets when it was set down in front of us. It’s loosely built on a sturdy pastry foundation, decked in banana slices, some sort of custard-y banana filling, a generous drizzle of salted caramel, topped with whipped cream and finished with a dusting of chocolate shavings. There’s also a bright citrusy pop of flavor that asserts itself in a pleasant way, which saves the whole thing from being just another one-note, cloyingly sweet banana cream pie. It wasn’t the prettiest dessert I had all year, nor was it the most inventive or sophisticated. But what it did is present familiar, beloved flavors in a way I hadn’t expected. And that’s something that gets me every time.

Joe Beef (Montreal): Horse filet

I ate horse this year, at the celebrated gastropub Joe Beef, in Montréal. Taboo and controversy aside, the filet de cheval was the finest, most enjoyable, most affecting thing I ate this year. It was a truly gorgeous cut of meat, lean and practically buttery in texture, served medium rare with a rich, decadent bone marrow sauce. Oh, and it was wrapped in bacon and topped with a fried egg. There were some greens on the plate, too, but I don’t remember much about those. All told, it was that rare meal that manages to transcend the rote acts of chewing and swallowing, and imbues the night with some untellable, rosy magic. Walking out into the crisp fall Montreal night, our bellies full, high on the gluttonous joy of excess, my wife and I just walked and walked through Little Burgundy until the spell subsided, and then we hailed a cab.

Becca Dilley | Photographer

Home: Poached egg on a toasted English muffin / marmalade on other side of English muffin

After I had a baby in April, my husband made me the same breakfast every day for about a month. It was nourishing and flavorful sustenance during a very chaotic time. It turns out that poached egg on an English muffin with a little bit of salt just can’t be beat for breakfast. As much as I like fancy hashes and grits that have been sourced just so, there’s just something really comforting about a well-prepared egg on toast.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Gray Duck and Verdant Tea: Locally-made chais

As a huge coffee drinker it’s fun to find a beverage that fills that warm, creamy niche without being as acidic. Both Gray Duck chais and Verdant Tea chais have a balance of spices that keeps my interest and they’re a great alternative to hot cocoa or a latte.

The Strip Club (St. Paul): The Libertine cocktail

This bright, well-balanced blend of something sippable and something manly (I’m very conscious of trying not to drink overly feminine cocktails) includes Laird’s Applejack, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, house-made sour, and Easy & Oskey Black Walnut Bitters. The Libertine is a triumph of modern mixology — it feels both classic and contemporary.

John Garland | Writer

John Garland / Heavy Table

Maid Rite (Newton, IA): Maid Rite sandwich

During a research road trip for the Secret Atlas of North Coast Food, I compiled notes for what turned out to be my favorite article I wrote this year — an exploration of the loose meat sandwich in Iowa. I was mystified by this bare-bones sandwich and, in truth, returned with more questions than answers. But the Maid Rite in Newton was my favorite, for reasons I don’t exactly know, and really, don’t care to either. Maybe it was because what I found there was basically the state of Iowa on a bun: something humble, straightforward, honest, and simply endearing.

Parley Lake Winery (Waconia, MN): Parley Vu Rose

I’ve been lucky to be a judge at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition for the last three years. I look forward to it, not just because it’s an excuse to taste a ton of wine before noon and call it “work,” but because it gives me a chance to gauge the state of the local wine industry, which I truly believe in and wish to see flourish. When I tasted this rose this year, I couldn’t believe it was local — soft and yielding, with incredible integrity of flavor, structure, and balance. Later, in September, two friends and I went out to Waconia and lazily strolled through their orchard with a bottle on a warm, sunny Saturday. It was a perfect afternoon I won’t soon forget.

Lincoln Cafe (Mt. Vernon, IA): Buttermilk Fried Quail with Polenta and Jalapeño Succotash

I’d never been to Mt. Vernon before. Now that I know about the Lincoln Cafe, I’ll be driving out of my way next time I have the chance. (Editor’s Note: Perhaps not they’ve closed the cafe, although the winebar lives on.) I wrote in the Secret Atlas: “This homey diner has all the elegance and polish of a spendy trattoria.” They’ll have three dinner specials, based on whatever they brought in fresh that day. I can still vividly recall each component of this dish I ate back in August: the crunch of the quail, the creamy perfection of the polenta, the texture and snap of the slaw. And in a small town I would have otherwise dismissed without a second thought? What a revelation.

Maja Ingeman | Writer

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

“Eric’s day off in the kitchen”: Rabbit / kimchi / fried egg sandwich

After countless weeks (and meals) on the road for work, staying home for dinner has become a bit of an occasional luxury — even if it means cobbling together the disparate remnants of my fridge. On one such evening, my friend Eric asked if I wanted a sandwich — and I’m so glad I accepted! Cola and ginger ale-braised rabbit melded beautifully with caramelized onions and bacon finely diced, ultra-crisp bits of potato added crunch a fried egg, homemade peanut sauce, and chipotle mayo brought salt, mild heat, and creamy texture to bind the flavors seamlessly into a cohesive, balanced bite. Fresh Rabbit Hole kimchi — layered liberally throughout — punctuated the otherwise subtly spiced, salty-sweet sandwich with the acid and heat needed to make it a standout. When Eric described the ingredients, it sounded like he had thrown in everything but the kitchen sink — but somehow, it just… worked.

Lucky’s European Deli (West Allis, WI): Cevapcici

There’s nothing like freshly grilled meat on a hot summer’s day, and cevapcici are no exception. Similar in size to breakfast links and often made with garlic, white pepper, and a trifecta of beef, pork, and lamb (Lucky’s sticks to just beef), they seem to swell slightly on the grill as they char. If you decide to grill cevaps, make sure to throw some wax peppers on the grill, too — once they’re blackened, you can remove the skins and dress with slices of raw garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. The spice and heat of the salad cuts the grease of the cevaps and complements them well, letting the simple, meaty, wholesome flavor and brightness of the white pepper shine through. I’ve learned to bring a cooler and ice packs on each trip east — fresh cevapcici are always a treat to which I look forward on the long drive home.

Restaurant Relæ (Copenhagen, DK): Sunchoke Tempura
Growing up, I always thought sunchokes were the misshapen rejects of a Midwestern garden — sweet, crisp, and destined for an ambiguously blasé root vegetable soup. Not so. This dish, served as an amuse bouche alongside a glass of 2012 Casebianche “La Matta” Spumante, proved the hero among a number of standout sunchoke dishes I consumed in Copenhagen (such appreciation for the lowly root… who knew?). Baked, then fried in tempura batter, then lightly dusted in seaweed, the finished product was a dead-ringer for battered soft-shell crab, fresh from the sea.

Jill Lewis | Writer

Butter Bakery Cafe: Chocolate chip scone

I wake up every weekend morning (and most weekdays, too) dreaming about this scone. Light, tender-crumbed, and — obviously — buttery, the chocolate chip scone is a treat worth a drive from anywhere in the metro and puts the hockey puck-type versions to shame. It’s also the size of a salad plate, so it’s made for sharing, though you’ll be tempted to wolf it down yourself.

Becca Dilley Photography

Uplands Cheese Company: 2013 Rush Creek Reserve

We’ve written about cheesemaker Andy Hatch (above) and his farmstead cheeses many times, but Rush Creek Reserve, his seasonal, bark-wrapped beauty, is worth mentioning again. This year’s edition is transcendent — you can lose yourself in its creamy depths as you breathe in the heady, beefy aroma. Though many enjoy it with crackers or fruit, I just grab a spoon and dig in, with a glass of bubbly on the side. The perfect cheese to ring in the new year.

Tornado Steak House (Madison, WI): Old Fashioned

After five days of non-stop cheese at this year’s American Cheese Society Annual Conference, I was ready for a dairy detox and a salad. But it seemed wrong to dine in an old-school, dimly lit, leather-banquetted Wisconsin steak house without an Old Fashioned, and the Tornado creates a masterful one. Bracing from the brandy but still sweet from the citrus and sugar, it went down smoothly but didn’t feel like a lightweight. Maybe my body needed a light white wine to go with that salad, but the Wisconsinite in me craved that Old Fashioned, and the Tornado’s version did the trick.

Aaron Landry | Producer

Photo courtesy of Waikīkī Spam Jam

Waikīkī Spam Jam, Honolulu, HI

Having spent the first 30 years of my life in Minnesota, I would have never imagined that any place outside of Austin, MN would have a celebration dedicated to SPAM. In Hawai‘i, where SPAM consumption is higher than anywhere in the world (and where it’s not uncommon to find SPAM Musubi at convenience stores and gas stations), the Waikīkī Spam Jam is a yearly day-long event where they close off Kalākaua Avenue, one of the busiest streets in the most crowded area of the state, and throw a huge party. I attended this year and had an opportunity to try a wide variety of SPAM-related dishes from prominent area restaurants. SPAM lo mein, Mongolian SPAM radicchio cups, SPAM street tacos, Sicilian SPAM basil pizza, and SPAM okonomiyaki are just a few of the options to try while listening to music and performances on the multiple stages set up in the street. My verdict? Best SPAM experience I’ve ever had, with more delectable options than the SPAM-related stuffs at the Minnesota State Fair. If you want a SPAM-related excuse to visit Hawai‘i in the coming year, the next Spam Jam is Saturday, May 3rd, 2014.

Mānoa Chocolate (Kailua, HI): Ghost Pepper and Pineapple Bar

Mānoa Chocolate, a small bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Kailua, Hawai‘i, has become by far my favorite purveyor of premium chocolate. The chocolate alone is fantastic but imagine if the sweetness of fresh pineapple and the bite of ghost pepper somehow were magically balanced with it. As all the ingredients are very premium and each bar is hand made, the price tag clocks in around ten bucks, but I can’t say I’ve had a better chocolate treat in my life. Unfortunately the bars are very rare and mostly unavailable outside of the factory itself. This said, the other bars from Mānoa Chocolate are still world-class are available in very limited quantities at Sugar Sugar in Minneapolis, which is currently the only place in the Midwest out of the 14 places it’s available outside of Hawai‘i. If you are on O‘ahu, inquire in advance about their tours and wine pairing events — very strongly recommended.

Aaron Landry / Heavy Table

Blue Door Longfellow: Longfellow Blucy

I’ve only been able to visit the Blue Door Longfellow in Minneapolis twice since it opened on Jan 29, 2013 as they started serving well after I moved away from Minnesota, specifically from a house only a few blocks away. On a visit back, I ordered the neighborhood namesake “Longfellow Blucy,” their take on the Jucy Lucy. Their Blucys have has received some criticism from Jucy Lucy purists as the cheese in the center isn’t in the form of a piping hot glob but is more blended in with the burger. I believe the Blue Door Pub has made a better burger as a result of straying away from tradition. In the Longfellow, there’s also roasted garlic inside and the cheese is an herbed goat, and it’s topped with blackberry sauce that has the sweetness of honey. Strong tastes on all ends, yet balances out. “This feels like home,” is a strange thing to think about a burger you’ve never until after you’ve left. On my second trip back I ordered the same thing.

James Norton | Editor

James Norton / Heavy Table

Verdant Tea: Sweet Potato Soba Noodles

Sometimes you eat exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. A cold, drizzly autumn day was the setting for my first encounter (of many) with the impeccable sweet potato soba noodles at Verdant Tea. To quote my own hymn of praise to these wonderful things: “These buckwheat noodles are both tender and toothsome, flavorful without being coarse or aggressive. Both the broth and dish’s spice profile are rich and pack real heat without overwhelming the cheerful, delicate taste of the sweet potatoes, which is completely suffused throughout the dish. And an herbal brightness provides a critical counterpoint to the tuber’s natural sweetness and the curry’s soul-warming depth of spice.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Kenwood: Seared Scallops with Salsify, Romaine, and Fresh Black Truffle

Don Saunders of the Kenwood is one of our favorite chefs not merely because he cooks classic high-end food with skill. The thing we have loved about him from the get-go is his sense of restraint and editing — many talented but unbalanced chefs don’t know when to stop, but Saunders has an unimpeachable ability to know PRECISELY when to stop, and it makes his dishes taste clear, balanced, full, and rich, without being confused or heavy. Case in point: seared scallops served with fresh black truffle as one of the courses at our Secret Atlas of North Coast Food dinner. Truffles — particularly when applied by truffle oil — can come off as dirty, aggressive, almost burning, flavor bullies that shout down whatever they’re applied to. But in the case of this delicious dish, the sweet, buttery, mellow seared scallop and the gently earthy, slightly funky truffle married perfectly, amplifying eachother’s strengths. The truffle lent depth and interest to the scallop without swamping its natural sweet flavor.

James Norton / Heavy Table

Heritage Tavern (Madison, WI): Whitefish and Caviar Appetizer

When a restaurant serves a $30 appetizer, I view that as a challenge, if not an outright dare. I’m a value diner, always conscious (sometimes painfully so) of the exchange of money for the fleeting taste of food. On these terms, Heritage Tavern’s whitefish and caviar appetizer seemed like a born loser: a bunch of fancy ingredients thrown together and priced like an expensive entree. But no. This mix of lobster, whitefish, caviar, and fingerling potatoes with Sauce Américaine was like something out of a Nero Wolfe novel: unapologetically rich, luxurious, old-fashioned, and impeccably made, the seafood fresh and vibrant, the sauce rich but not overpowering or cloying. Each bite was an individualized moment of pleasure.

Susan Pagani | Writer

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

112 Eatery: Bread Pudding

In my experience, bread pudding has always been a rustic sort of dessert, baked in such a way that the chunks of bread are soft and custardy in places and more toasty and caramelized in others. It’s something you throw together with leftovers — not an especially pretty dessert, but a delicious and deeply comforting one. The bread pudding at 112 Eatery, on the other hand, was served in a tidy stack with thinly sliced, warm pineapple, a scoop of chai ice cream, and a scattering of candied pecans. It sat in a shallow pool of cream, redolent with cardamom. When it came, I had an Eeyore-ish reaction, “How sophisticated. Oh no.” One bite dispelled all my worries. It was as if someone had taken a soil sample of a bread pudding and retrieved a plug of just the warm, custardy center. It was every bit as comforting as its messy counterpart, and then some.

Amy Sutter: Mushroom pate

Last spring, a friend dropped by my house with a blue ramekin filled with mushroom pate. She had made too much of it, she said, would I mind taking some off her hands? It was still warm, and I’d have eaten it right then, but she thought it would benefit from a night in the fridge, so I tucked it away. The next day, I pulled it out again for our first meal outside. What a masterpiece! Made with nuts and wild mushrooms and plenty of garlic, it was earthy and rich, but also light and fresh, the kind of thing you can eat and eat and never grow tired of eating. At lunch, we gleefully spread it on our bread and steaks the following morning, the leftovers went into our baked eggs. Of course I called her for the recipe, but she didn’t have one. The pate was just one of those happy accidents, half recipe, half what she happened to have in the kitchen. I’ve tried to reproduce it a dozen times and it never quite tastes the same. Maybe it was the unexpected gift, maybe it was the first day of real spring, maybe it was the effect of fresh air and sunshine, but I still pine for the stuff.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Kenwood: Beet salad

Joshua Page | Writer

Cecil’s Deli: Chicken Soup with Matzo Ball

In an effort to survive winter and fend off viruses, I’ve been slurping up gallons of chicken soup with matzo balls from Cecil’s Deli. With rich, flavorful broth, tender pieces of chicken, and dense (but not too dense) matzo balls, the soup warms the belly and soothes the soul — and it’s known for the curative powers of schmaltz!

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Manny’s Steakhouse: Bludgeon of Beef

I used to think of the Bludgeon of Beef at Manny’s Steakhouse as a decadent gimmick. After all, the tomahawk rib eye weighs more than three pounds and costs a small fortune (well, $86). Since trying the beast for our Halloween feature (The Terrifically Terrifying Three), I’ve become a Bludgeon booster. Although pricey, the juicy, perfectly marbled, aged cut easily feeds 3-4 people. It’s easily the best piece of meat I’ve eaten all year.

Becca Dilley

El Burrito Mercado (State Fair): Mango with Chili and Lime on a Stick

I fell in love with this dish at the state fair, of all places. The impeccably ripe mango was the perfect antidote to the endless parade of fried, fattening food. A few dashes of ground habañero and several squeezes of lime complemented and intensified the mango’s natural sweetness. It was the ultimate treat for a sweltering summer’s day.

Elizabeth Scheibel | Copy Editor

43 North (Madison, WI): Roasted Dates

I’ve enjoyed seeing Madison’s dining scene explode in the last 10 years. Between old friends and in-laws, I visit several times a year and get to try a couple of new places in addition to revising old favorites. This Thanksgiving, I had dinner at 43 North. Everything was lovely, but I thought the Roasted Dates were a stand out. They weren’t too heavy, unlike many items in the stuffed-with-goat-cheese family, and the hazelnut pesto gave the dish a fresh, spring-like taste that was unexpected during the week that starts the winter holiday season. Whole hazelnuts atop the pesto provided a crunch that was a satisfying contrast in the midst of goat cheese smoothness. The dish was both fresh and decadent — words to live by, when it comes to eating.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Rabbit Hole: Duck… Duck… Dduk….

Others are raving about this dish too, but I can’t help jumping on the duckwagon. I didn’t even order it — I went to check out the newly opened The Rabbit Hole and someone else at my table did, and I tried it, and then spent the whole meal wishing I had my own, hoping she wouldn’t finish and would offer another round of bites. Reading the description on the menu, I couldn’t picture what this would be, partly because I didn’t know what gochujang was, and I wasn’t excited about it, since I’m not someone who would ever pick up a rice cake on purpose and I wouldn’t put duck in my top meat choices. That it was a surprise to find it delicious made it all the more enjoyable. Between the dim lighting and the sauce covering the dish, I couldn’t even tell which components I was putting on my fork, but every hot and sweet (but not too hot, or too sweet) bite fueled a (still unfulfilled) desire for more.

Northern Pike in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

After years of saying we were going to, my husband and I finally went to the Boundary Waters together. We’d been getting interested in fishing, so we went up with a full tackle box, supplies for making a fresh fish dinner, and high hopes. There had been bears in the area in the weeks leading up to the trip, which gave it a heightened sense of danger and adventure. On the last night of our 3 night trip, we were bummed. We’d caught plenty of fish, but they’d all been a little too small for eating, or they’d been caught in the morning before a long day of paddling and portaging (as amateurs, we weren’t willing to deal with schlepping fish all day). We were on a still, silent Caribou Lake in the late afternoon, and having the least fishing success of the whole trip. My husband decided we’d head to another spot, and told me to pull up my line as he started steering us toward a shady piece of shore. I said I would just leave it in while we moved. A few paddle strokes later, there was a strong tug on my line, and within a couple minutes we had an appetizer-for-two sized Northern Pike bouncing on a hook above the water. My husband told me to get in the canoe before it jumped off the hook, and just in time — a moment later it was still on the hook, but had broken the line. We killed and cleaned it as the sun started to drop and enjoyed one of our most satisfying meals of the year, which was followed by a perfect star-gazing sky. Which was followed by a night during which I was sure every rustling leaf was a hungry bear following its nose to my fish.

Peter Sieve | Writer

Bayport BBQ (Bayport, MN)

On a whim one day in September, my wife and I took a road trip to the St. Croix river valley. On the way up to Stillwater from Afton, we stumbled into the Bayport BBQ. The entire experience was charming — the teenage daughter of the owners was working the counter, and all cheerfully greeted and guided us through the chalkboard menu. We ended up with an aluminum tray stacked high with smoked brisket, chicken, pulled pork, and excellent sides: slaw, beans, creamed corn, and their profoundly good fresh-baked bread. This was some seriously authentic Austin, TX-style oak-smoked barbecue, and we destroyed the tray — and our dignity — accordingly. Though they don’t sell their sauce (smoky, meaty, sweet / tangy perfection) retail, they kindly filled a glass mason jar for us and sent us on our happy way.

Peter Sieve / Heavy Table

Victory 44: Brunch

It seems so easy for restaurants to take advantage when it comes to breakfast — we, the dining public, in our complicity too often shrug and shovel in the poorly cooked eggs and floppy bacon without complaint. Thus it is always a welcome surprise when brunch goes beyond our expectations, which is exactly what happened at Victory 44 one Saturday morning when I was stopping in without much fanfare. Nothing flashy, just expertly-made food that respected humble, quality ingredients and made me incredibly happy: beautifully poached eggs on dense ciabatta under a rustic, wonderfully balanced coarse mustard hollandaise. Artful (but not pretentious) plating and flavor on the malted waffle. Coffee as good, or better, than anything on the coasts, prepared tableside. When I want an amazing breakfast on the weekend but don’t want to fight the insane waits elsewhere, Victory 44 is where I’ll be headed from now on.

Joe Beef (Montreal): Lobster Spaghetti

This place has been hailed by the cool kids of the food media, which made me want to check it out, but also made me roll my eyes a bit. My cynicism disappeared the minute we walked through the door — no Guy Fieri-throwing-the-devil-horns photos on the walls in this joint. Just a cozy, unstuffy neighborhood spot with incredible service, low light, and horse meat on the menu. Yes, we did try their Foie Gras Double Down: deep-fried lobes of foie gras sandwiching cheese, mayo, and bacon, drizzled in maple syrup. It was a fun novelty, but the Lobster Spaghetti entrée totally wrecked us: a massive platter of pasta tossed in a creamy bisque, studded with a truly decadent amount of fresh lobster meat, tail, and claw. It was true comfort food after a blustery, cold day of walking the streets of Montreal. We moaned our way through every bite until it was gone. I’m waiting for this to show up on a menu in the Twin Cities soon.

OC County Fair 2015

New on offer that year by Texas Donuts are the Fireball (left) and Samoa (right). The Fireball is a drunken donut, literally, with its caramel topping infused with the cinnamon-flavored whiskey. It’ll get you toasted. More innocent, the Samoa contains chocolate, caramel, and coconut shaving to resemble the classic Girl Scout cookie. Both are 8 inches (20 cm) around, because everything’s bigger in Texas. Or the OC. Wait, where am I again?

What’s a donut but not a donut? When they’re Deep-Fried Cinnamon Apple Rings! Chuckwagon arranges slices of Granny Smith apples in a ring, coats them in a sweet batter, and deep-fries them, polishing them off with cinnamon and sugar.

Bonus pic, ’cause it’s pretty.

This Chili Relleno Pretzel Burger is a flavorful feast of chorizo patty, jalapeño jam, and chili relleno nestled between a soft pretzel bun.

How about Tasti Chips on the side from the sister booth? Two flavors were added in 2015: sour cream ‘n’ onion, and salt ‘n’ vinegar. Either way, it’s four potatos’ worth of freshly-sliced white rose San Jacinto potatoes fried in peanut oil.

Meshing lots of classic Americana is the deep-fried corn-on-the-cob served on-a-stick (with butter). How many hyphens can one food have?

Another surprise? Deep-fried pizza, astounding if only that it took until 2015 to debut. Apple Fries dredges a large slice of pizza in an egg bath, dusts it in flour, and deep-fries it, which one reporter says “melds all the sauce, gooey cheese, and pepperoni together.”

Biggy’s bacon-wrapped pork belly uses a half a pound of bacon per stick serving.

More bacon-on-a-stick, these wasabi bacon bombs are served cold. Bacon A-Fair takes wasabi-infused pork sausage, dunks it in biscuit dough, deep-fries it, and wraps it in bacon. It’s served with wasabi on the side, of course.

Bacon A-Fair also offers deep-fried coffee, in case you couldn’t tell by the picture. “I’m always tired,” said owner Mike Peterson on the reason behind his creation. “I wanted to find a way to get my caffeine without drinking coffee.” The next logical step, then? Mixing Starbucks espresso grounds with dark chocolate chips, wrapping scoops in sweet puff pastry dough, and deep frying the balls in oil and bacon fat before rolling them in sugar and serving with a hefty scoop of whipped cream. Apparently it’s a “must try,” according to a reporter. Fun fact? It was originally called deep-fried Starbucks, but Peterson had to drop the branded moniker after the company’s request.

I figure the peanut butters of MPA might like this one: it’s a deep-fried peanut butter pickle. Would you try this food combination?

How about this one? Chicken Charlie’s celebrates the fair’s 125th anniversary with a caviar-coated Twinkie, sold for $125. “I thought how cool to marry extravagance with America’s favorite snack,” owner Charlie Boghosian (pictured) said. But did you even deep-fry it?

If that combination seems a little haphazard, how about their Krispy Kreme Triple Decker Burger?

Watch the video: Minnesota State Fair Food Parade 2020 VLOG