Minnesota State Fair's newest foods: Camel burgers and lamb testicles

If you're an annual State Fair habitue, it's easy to get bored with the more than 450 foods from 300 concessionaires. So every year the State Fair tries to shake things up by introducing a few new things-on-a-stick and other edibles. Last year's offerings included the universally beloved sweet corn ice cream and the universally despised chocolate-covered jalapeno peppers. This year the fair, which begins August 23, has outdone itself with 40 new foods. We've listed them below in four helpful categories:

  • Best bets if you're someone who actually cares what you put in your mouth.
  • Intriguing possibilities that may or may not pan out.
  • Typical fair food of cheese, fried stuff, food on sticks, and nightmarish calorie counts
  • And finally, a couple of exotic new foods for the adventurous stand-up diner

Which of these are destined to be hits, and which will be the inevitable wretched mistakes? Help us decide by leaving a comment below.

Best Bets for Foodies

It's hard to know what you're getting into at the State Fair just from descriptions, but these new foods sound healthy, fresh, or intriguing enough to merit a look-see even from food snobs.

Classic Walleye Roll: It's described as "fresh walleye, served chilled 'New England-style' with Minnesota wild rice and minced celery, dusted with a special spice blend and served on a butter-toasted brioche bun." We're sold. (Giggle's Campfire Grill)

Beef Tongue Tacos: We'll trust Sonora Grill not to screw up simple tacos served with chipotle salsa, cilantro vinaigrette, sautéed onions, cabbage, and jalapeno. (Available August 27-30; Sonora Grill, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Eggplant Tacos: Same here, with these served with roasted red pepper, sautéed onion, Chihuahua cheese, and chimichurri aioli. (Available August 27-30; Sonora Grill, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Gluten-Free Risotto Poppers: They're deep-fried, but we love us our rice balls, and these from French Meadow sound worthy of investigation. Made with Arborio rice balls and black beans, cheese, scallions, and spices, crusted with tapioca flour, egg wash, and corn tortilla chips. (French Meadow Bakery)

Grilled Wild Alaskan Salmon Sandwich: Fresh, grilled Alaskan salmon (either plain or with lettuce, tomato and bacon) on a corn-dusted bun has us hoping it's as simple and tasty as it sounds. (Smokey's Charbroiler)

Hibiscus Iced Tea: A tart tea made from the hibiscus sabdariffa flower and a bit of fresh orange juice. Sounds like just the ticket for an 89-degree August day. (Available August 27-30; Sonora Grill, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Lamb Chop On-a-Stick: It's a grass-fed and "specially seasoned" lamb loin chop. (At Lamb Shoppe)

Minnesota Wine Bistro Menu: A few new additions caught our attention: A grilled portobello mushroom sandwich on sourdough toast with a roasted garlic sauce and Romano and Parmesan cheese; an antipasto plate of Minnesota bison sausage, cheeses, roasted peppers, and baguette slilces; and Wine Smoothies (we'll have to leave that to your imagination). (Minnesota Wine Bistro)

The Jury Is Still Out

These new offerings could be worthwhile, but they come with too many unknowns.

Alere's Featured Salads: Salads at the State Fair? Apostasy. Will these be a worthy, healthy alternative to deep-fried Snickers bars? Hard to say. With salads, so much depends on the freshness of the ingredients and dressing and the play of tastes and textures. But Alere's is making a valiant attempt with an Asian Salad of romaine, parsley, Mandarin oranges, almonds, sesame seeds, feta cheese, and croutons, with either Asian vinaigrette or raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing, among others. (Veggie Pie)

Bacon Ice Cream: Actual candied bacon in a slightly maple-flavored ice cream. We're sure this will be either awesome or terrible. (Rainbow Ice Cream)

Cereal Killer Ice Cream: The gimmick here: Soft-serve ice cream that tastes like the milk left at the bottom of a bowl of breakfast cereal. It comes in either chocolate or honey-nut, and it's topped with dry cereal and one of two fruit toppings: banana caramel or strawberry balsamic. We are officially dubious, but we'll give it a shot. (Blue Moon Dine-In Theater)

Cranberry Wontons: We've had our share, but we're more than willing to again, even if they're mass produced. (Available Aug. 23-26; Pham's Deli, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Eggplant Fries: What the hell; they're on our list of definite maybes. Served with chimichurri aioli. (Sonora Grill, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Sushi: Sushi is always a crapshoot, and State Fair sushi does not fill us with confidence. But if Sushi Fix can serve great fish out of a truck, we won't scoff at these California Rolls and Tempura Shrimp Rolls. Not yet anyway. (Shanghaied Henri's)

Artery Cloggers

These sound like run-of-the-mill fair fare, but who knows? There may be a tasty gem in here, but we'll let someone else try them first.

Cheeseburger Sticks: Hamburger, American cheese, pickles, and a "secret sauce" in pizza dough. (Green Mill)

Chicken Nachos On-a-Stick: Chicken breast with corn chips, nacho cheese, pico de gallo and jalapenos. (Tejas)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Puppies: Crushed peanut butter cups baked into a Fudge Puppy dipped in chocolate, with whipped cream and peanut sauce. Wow. All we can say is wow. (Granny's Kitchen Fudge Puppies)

Breakfast Sliders: Steak, sausage, and ham sliders with scrambled eggs, garlic mayo, cheese, and green onions. (Ragin Cajun)

Duke's Poutine: Fries, gravy, cheddar cheese curds, defibrillator. (Duke's Poutine)

French Dog: One of three kinds of sausage on a toasted baguette. (Sonny's Spiral Spuds)

Gluten-Free Chicago-Style or State Fair-Style Hot Dog: 'Nough said. (Chicago Dogs)

Great Balls of Fire: Spicy pork sausage balls with dipping sauces. (Sausage Sisters)

Ole's Cannoli: Cannolis with powdered sugar and chocolate chips, pistachios, or sprinkles. (Ole's Cannoli)

Paul Bunyan Bar: Vanilla or cinnamon premium ice cream bar dipped in chocolate, then rolled with almonds, coconut, or more chocolate. (Ice Cream Parlour)

Ragin' Ankles: Smoked pork shanks, fried and tossed in a spicy 'pineapple rage sauce' made from grilled fresh pineapple, habaneros, BBQ sauce, pineapple juice, and cayenne. (Famous Dave's)

Red Velvet Funnel Cake: With cocoa, butter, powdered sugar, and a cream cheese glaze. (Smoothies and Jurassic Dogs)

Scone with Sausage Gravy: Buttermilk scone with southern gravy and sausages. (French Meadow Bakery)

Spaghetti Eddie's Super Stick: A stick of pepperoni and cheese dipped in garlic batter mix, deep fried, and served with marinara and hot BBQ dipping sauces. (Spaghetti Eddie's)

Spaghetti Sticks: Spaghetti, sauce, and cheese baked in pizza dough. (Green Mill)

Sweetie's Delights: Mashed sweet potatoes on a stick, with powdered sugar and whipped cream. We have no idea what to make of that. (Mr. Potato & Sweetie)

Waffle De Liege: A Belgian waffle with a caramelized pearl sugar crust. Served with Nutella, maple butter, or fresh fruit. (Blue Moon Dine-In Theater)

Yosemite SAMwich: Spicy taco meat on a sesame seed bun with BBQ sauce, nacho cheese sauce, bacon bits, and fried onion tangles. (Frontier Bar)

Dining Adventures

And finally, the two you've been waiting for:

Camel Burger Sliders: Spiced camel meat served with tomato, American cheese, spicy mayo, and caramelized onions. (Available August 31-September 3; Safari Express, Taste of Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar)

Lamb Fries: Don't let the name fool you. This supposedly traditional Middle Eastern dish is lamb testicles marinated with spices and served grilled with sautéed onions or deep fried in a crumb crust with a side of dill sauce. (Holy Land Deli)

The Minnesota State Fair begins August 23 and runs through Labor Day, September 3.

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Related Location

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

1265 Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


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