The Minnesota State Fair announced its roster of 2016 new-to-the-fairgrounds delicacies, and the list has its usual on-a-stick novelties, possible instant classics and probable deep-fried duds.
Only time will tell, right? Pass the Maalox, and let’s get through this.
On the hot dogs/brats spectrum, the Lamb Shoppe will introduce a — surprise! — lamb dog, and another quality-minded vendor, My Sausage Sister & Me, will offer a sauerkraut-covered beer brat in a pretzel bun.
For its “Minnesota Corn Dog,” the Gass Station Grill will call upon a custom-made sausage crafted from Gopher State culinary icons: apples, wild rice, blueberries and maple syrup, as well as decidedly un-Minnesotan cayenne, then do the batter-and-deep-fry thing.
Continuing with the deep-fried motif, O’Gara’s at the Fair will offer beer-battered white Cheddar cheese, LuLu’s Public House will feature lightly breaded chicken tenderloins, Ragin’ Cajun will do a gumbo-inspired poutine and Texas Steak Out will take tortilla chip-covered cheese to a deep-fried extreme.
The award for Best Use of a Minnesota-made Supermarket Product might belong to Sushi Rolls, which is rolling nori around rice, fried egg and, yes, fried Spam.
For those with a sweet tooth, Strawberry Patch is promising to fill a sliced glazed doughnut with strawberries and whipped cream, and Minnesota Wine Country will finish doughnut holes with candied bacon and a chocolate-red wine ganache.
Catchiest name? That’s easy, it’s “Carpe Diem,” a fish-shaped buttermilk-miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and vanilla ice cream, from the Rabbit Hole.
The Midtown Global Market restaurant will be time-sharing a stand with its neighbor, Hot Indian Foods, which will be hawking deep-fried, Indian-seasoned paneer cheese that’s coated with a local craft beer batter. A shame the pair have to split-shift; they’re two of the best food vendors to hit the fairgrounds in years.
Most promising use of the cheese curd? Mac-and-cheese made even cheesier with fresh cheese curds, at Oodles of Noodles. Carb-loaders should also note the cheese-caramelized onion monkey bread (Blue Moon Dine-In Theater), and the Moroccan-spiced beef-spinach pastry from the Fair’s best bakers, the crew at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe.
Fairgrounds food innovator Giggles’ Campfire Grill is covering beef, cheese and mashed potatoes in a wild rice gravy, and the popular Blue Barn will introduce both a candied bacon sandwich and a rice bowl topped with pulled pork, black beans and charred salsa.
Tacos are trendy. Green Mill will fill baked tortillas with a kitchen-sink list that includes Italian sausage and Caesar dressing, and Tejas Express will stuff flour tortillas with barbecued shrimp with a crunchy jicama slaw.
When it comes to frozen goodies, the long-standing (and fruitful) partnership between Hamline Church Dining Hall and Izzy’s Ice Cream will yield “Chocolate Agate Crunch,” a blend of salted caramel swirl ice cream, chocolate cookie crumbles and edible chocolate rocks, an homage to the Lake Superior Agate, the official state gemstone.
Minnesota ice cream lovers with long memories will recall Bridgeman’s spectacular La La Palooza sundae, made with four ice creams, three sauces and various nut and fruit embellishments; it’s making its comeback on the fairgrounds. Sweet.
The Fair begins Aug. 25 and runs through Sept. 5.