It was like a scene from “Sex and the City,” except this group of ladies was on the hunt for food (preferably fried) and our glam outfits were stained with warm blueberry sauce. We even had a gorgeous red-head and a Samantha.
It was an absolute pleasure to join up with blogger and foodie gals Kate (@KatentheKitchen), Stacy (@WolvesGal), Amanda (@SweetNSnazzy), Jen (@thewhlehrtdlife) and Samantha (@escinsider) for an afternoon and evening at the Minnesota State Fair. If you’ve never been to the “Great Minnesota Get Together,” it is certainly a collection of characters. It’s generally hot (though the temperatures during our visit were divine) and dusty. You will alternately walk through puffs of smoke and the wafting smell of grilled meat and have to watch out for the dreaded “poo shoe” in the smelly animal barns. We saw a man dressed in a banana suit and small town local legend the “Vanilla Gorilla.” For just one dollar you can get endless refills on all the milk you can drink (this is not a challenge recommended for hot weather). And for $40 you can buy a V-slicer from a man with a microphone over his ear that uses the word “amazing” in every sentence.
My first steps into the Fair this year were to the Daily building where a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way was having her likeness carved in butter. The room was 40 degrees so she was wearing a snow suit and a sparkly crown.
Then, the group tracked me down and we went straight to the food building. Visiting the Fair with a group of people is definitely the way to go because you can share bits and bites of everything and have room to sample plenty of food. We grabbed a few containers of the real cheese curds — hot, salty, crunchy and addictive — while on the hunt for beer. Across from beer we found the San Felipe Asian carnitas tacos. This sounds like it could be a strange and misdirected fusion. It *could* have been, but instead it was a fabulous mix of the best of both worlds. Wrapped in a spinach tortilla were tender, juicy pork carnitas with a crisp slaw coated in a sauce with a hint of wasabi. One taco fed five of us easily.
Satisfied for the moment, we headed off to see the baby animals in the Miracle of Birth center. It was impossible not to coo and squee at the fuzzy ducklings, soft lambs, naked and squirmy piglets and wobbly calves. After snuggling a four-day old lamb and a one day old snoozing piglet, we decided it was time to move on to see some agriculture.
There is never a straight shot to anything at the Fair. You must wind through the lanes of people and there are endless distractions in the form of vendors, exhibits, buildings with mysterious noises and smells, rides and Midway games. One of the distractions that we couldn’t pass up was the Minneapple pie booth. We shared a pie with a flaky, crisp cinnamon-sugar coated crust and a naturally sweet and tender apple filling. Capped off with creamy and spicy cinnamon ice cream, it was a perfect treat. And it kept us fueled long enough to get to the Agriculture building. We toured giant crops that Samantha joked came from Chernobyl Farms. Case in point, these ginormous pumpkins:
We admired the seed art (also known as crop art, crotch art and see dart). Some of the pieces truly were spectacular and you couldn’t tell they were crafted using seeds. My favorite was this homage to Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”
We passed by the bee booth (which sometimes has a man in the booth with the bees) on our way to honey sunflower seed ice cream and honey lemonade. I love me some honey and I have no idea how I missed the honey lemonade in the past. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s flowery and full of honey flavor and it’s so refreshing. After several hours of walking, our feet needed a break so we checked out the amateur talent show and snacked on some peppery jerk fries from Harry Singh’s. Highlights of the amateur talent show while we were there were the “house band” and their wordless but energetic “Eye of the Tiger.” Lowlights: Someone sang, “My Heart Will Go On.”
We wandered around a bit more — beers and sangria were consumed. We saw a big green beacon in the distance and got some fried pickles to provide sustenance until we hit the International Bazaar. I’m no fan of pickles, but the breading on these was crunchy and substantial and the pickles were thick and not too pickley. Once we made it to the International Bazaar, we shopped our way to Holy Land where Kate enjoyed some kushari which confused us all — rice, lentils, macaroni, fried onions and tomato sauce. The rest of us enjoyed gyro on a stick, some falafel and grape leaves. The falafel was a little dry, but the grape leaves were tender and filled with rice and dill. Everything benefited from a slathering of cool, cucumber tzatziki sauce.
Our evening coming to an end, we found a table at the Blue Moon Diner and shared two dishes of sweet corn ice cream — one with bacon butter sauce and the other with warm blueberry sauce. This was the most amazing ice cream we’d ever eaten. Naturally sweet from the corn milk and cream, but not overwhelmingly sweet. The bacon butter sauce had nice chunks of salty, chewy bacon with honey butter overtones. But that blueberry sauce … it was fresh and wild and sweet and earthy and blue. So we shared another dish. Then another dish. Then another dish. Then offered to share our lottery winnings with their employee if he’d just tell us the recipe. Which he wouldn’t.
Exhausted, exhilarated and full, we all headed to our respective buses for the ride home. Though I think Stacy may have wisely grabbed some mini donuts for the road. I should have done that. I have no photos of the food we ate because we ate it too quickly, but it was a delectable culinary tour of the Fair with some great company. I say we make a date to do it again next year!
Best of the best: Asian carnitas taco, honey lemonade and that fan-flippin’-tastic sweet corn ice cream with warm blueberry sauce.