Each year's ritual trip to the Minnesota State Fair brings a blend of good and bad experiences. That new Great Sing Along thing is pretty cute (and we finally learned a Justin Bieber song), but some attendees are still making unforgivable fashion choices (to the grown man wearing the T-shirt that reads "I need to poop": We're talking about you).
Though we were initially disappointed by this year's ho-hum list of new State Fair foods, after eating our way through nearly all of them, we did find some sleeper hits.[jump]
5. Breakfast lollipop at Axel's ($3) U-26, Food Building SW exterior If you like the whole sweet-salty syrup-with-sausage thing, this is your treat. If not, split it with another person: one party eats the fluffy, maple-soaked fried cornmeal batter, the other takes the meaty sausage puck.
4. Fresh fruit wrap at Fried Fruit ($4.50) N-25, Carousel Park The first bite you'll take of this--mostly flour tortilla with one bit of apple, strawberry, or pear--isn't so appealing. It seems like the sort of combination that moms introduce to babies learning to eat solid foods. But once the tortilla flavor gets out of the way and the cream cheese takes over it's actually okay ... not great, mind you, but for a stand that's next to a purveyor of Gummi Bears on sticks, the wrap got bonus points for its healthfulness.
3. Sweet corn ice cream at Blue Moon Diner ($5 + $1 each topping) M-26, Carnes/Chambers Sweet corn ice cream has been circulating throughout the fine-dining scene for a while now (kudos to Restaurant Alma's version, for starters), but this is the flavor's mass-market debut, and it's a winner. It's creamy, corny, and not too sweet, unless you get the bacon-caramel sauce on top.
2. Kushari at Holy Land ($6) U-30, Bazaar This is the famous food of Egypt, the man behind the counter explains: long-grain rice, lentils, and elbow macaroni topped with fried onions and tomatoey, not-too-hot hot sauce. The Kushari comes in a huge portion, so it's useful as a plain-ish, savory base to fill up on if you're trying to avoid temptation from the cotton candy and mini-donuts. Also, it's vegan!
1. Deep-fried mini apple pies at Minneapple Pie ($5) R-30, Judson between Nelson and Underwood These moon-shaped pockets offer a lovely, flaky crust containing cinnamon-coated apple chunks that are neither too sweet nor covered with icky canned pie filling goo. (Bonus: They're served with a scoop of tasty vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.) They're produced by the family that runs Minne's Dinner in Rogers, and also available at Target Field.
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