100: The Pickle Dog from the Minnesota State Fair

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The Pickle Dog

Today Hot Dish relaunches our 100 Favorite Dishes series -- a list of the hundred dishes and drinks, new and old, that defined our Twin Cities dining experience in 2014. Seek them out, savor the memory, or suggest an encore if the restaurant has already changed its menu. Here are the best things we ate over the last year.

Put the fried pickles down, people. We love a crispy nibble dipped in ranch as much as the next person, but a battered and oil-bathed pickle poses only two potential outcomes: Bite into one fresh from the fryer, and you hazard a shot of searing vinegar in the eye; wait for one to cool and you get a lukewarm, slimy slice divested of its batter coat.

Give us a cold juicy dill spear any day -- particularly on a hot day at the State Fair, and specifically a pickle wrapped in a layer of cream cheese and swaddled in pastrami.

We recognize we're kicking off our series with a rather pedestrian choice -- something a child could assemble as an afternoon snack? Not even a new item at the fair? -- but with all the fried pickles we've seen popping up on bar menus this year, we felt it was time to take a stand. In the category of gussied-up gherkins, we choose this crisp, vinegary core, smeared in cream cheese, wrapped in a toothsome cut of meat, and speckled with zippy pastrami spices.

Since this refreshing bite offered us a cool, savory treat to enjoy when the weather was warm and the mere mention of more fried food would have sent us into arterial overload, we're grateful to this humble little dish.

See you next year, pickle dog.

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