Monday, August 26, 2013

Is Everything Really Better With Bacon?

It's been a few years now, and the better-with-bacon trend is still going strong. Being a vegetarian, I don't have the opportunity or interest in trying out all the bacon-flavored or bacon-garnished items (although in some cases I think the "bacon" comes out of a flavor house in New Jersey, not off of an actual pig, but I digress...), so I'm going to leave the big bacon questions to those of  you out here who have a more varied diet. So what do you think? Does bacon really make everything better? Where do you draw the line? Or maybe there's not a line. Maybe that "everything" should be taken literally.

In any case, should you be of the bacon-loving persuasion, the Minnesota State Fair is full of bacon-filled options, including this bacon ice cream. Find it at Rainbow Ice Cream (and a few other places, too, I think): it's a maple-flavored ice cream base mixed with bacon bits.

Other Fair bacon offerings include Ole Cannoli's candied bacon cannoli, lots of fried bacon, and, of course, Big Fried Bacon's Bacon on a Stick.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's 7:30 am -- TIme for a Corn Dog!

Photo courtesy Minnesota State Fair

It's here! That's right, the Minnesota State Fair is once again open for business. I saw the photos of all you hard-core fair-goers standing outside at 6 am. Some of you must be looking for breakfast by now (or, like me, are busy planning their itineraries for tomorrow or future days), so if looking for some new breakfast food-on-a-stick options -- start your Food Challenge off in style! -- this brand-new breakfast sandwich corndog should do the trick. It's available from Hansen's Foods on Judson Avenue, and is described as a "breakfast sausage link dipped in pancake batter, deep-fried and served with a side of maple syrup." Eat up; after all, the State Fair only comes 12 days a year. Enjoy it while you can.

See you at the Fair!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meteor Cherries: They're Out of This World!

Anyone else fascinated by the seemingly millions (well, at least hundreds or maybe dozens) of contest categories at the Minnesota State Fair? I can't walk through the Agricultural or the Creative Activities building without thinking gee, maybe next year I should work on becoming the state's foremost expert on baking some obscure type of pastry, or at the very least try my hand at raising a record-breaking turnip. And maybe one of these years I will. But for now, I'll enjoy looking at the fruits of other people's labors... in this case, that fruit being the meteor cherry.

While skimming the various categories in the Ag-Hort premium booklet, the "meteor cherry" description caught my eye. As any cherry connoisseurs out there can already probably tell, I don't know much about cherries. I know I like to eat them, and I know that they look awfully pretty growing on trees. But I've never heard of a meteor cherry, let alone what makes them special (other than the super-cool name.) So, for the benefit of any other cherry-challenged folks out there who want to know what it takes to bring home the blue in Minnesota State Fair Ag-Hort lot #777 -- besides one pint of perfection, that is -- here's the inside scoop.

The meteor cherry is a type of dwarf sour cherry, cold-hardy and (obviously) grow in Minnesota. They're tart, bright red, and bigger than North Star cherries (which I have tried). They are a true home-grown fruit, having been first bred in 1952 by William Aldermann at the Fruit Breeding Farm in Excelsior, Minnesota, and introduced to the cherry-growing public by the University of Minnesota. Its lineage traces back to France and Russia, with one of its parent cherry varieties having made its way to this county in 1830. I haven't yet been able to figure out how they got their name, but I'd like to think it's because these cherries make for an astronomically good cherry pie.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ice is Nice

Photo courtesy D1 Ice

This is Minnesota. Kids are born here with skates on their feet, or so I've been told. Yet here for all these years our state's biggest event, the definitive Minnesota experience, hasn't had ice! Sure, you could check out all the old figure skating stars in Heritage Square, and you can even ice skate at the coliseum during the off-season, but that's not the same as strapping on some blades and swinging around the ice while digesting a corn dog.

Minnesotans, those days are behind us.

New for 2013, synthetic ice manufacturer D1 Ice will be offering fair-goers the opportunity to torch some calories at its demonstration rink. They provide the "ice" and the skates; 10 minutes of skating time costs $3. The rink (decked out in NHL glory; when do we we figure skaters get OUR rink?) is located on Randall Avenue, just south of the Progress Center.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Improve Ice Cream? Add Mini Donuts! New for 2013: Mini Donut Batter Crunch Ice Cream

Photo courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Man, just when you think there's no more room for improvement, something like this comes along. Yes, folks, this is what you've been waiting for all these years without knowing it.... mini donut batter crunch ice cream! And it gets better. This isn't just any ice cream. It's made by hometown favorite Izzy's Ice Cream, and sold by beloved State Fair institution Hamline Dining Hall!

Really, what more is there to say? The name speaks for itself. Although I will note that proceeds from Hamline's dining hall (run by volunteers!) benefits the church, which in turn supports a bunch of different admirable social justice-type programs, like food banks, meals for the homeless, and combating malaria in Africa. Pretty sweet.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dough-Sant: Do or Don't?

Image courtesy Minnesota State Fair

We all know that half -- or more -- of what makes a State Fair food success story is the pure novelty value of the food in question. Edibility often comes decidedly second. But sometimes the most over-the-top, seemingly disgusting food can be, well, actually GOOD. I love doughnuts. I love croissants. But could I ever learn to love -- or even simply digest! -- something called a "dough-sant"? This new-for-2013 item is just what it sounds like: a hybrid of croissant and a doughnut.  I'm not in the pastry trend loop (deep fried or not), so I was a little slow to learn that these are a hot new food item sweeping bakeries nationwide. Blame it on pastry chef Dominique Ansel of New York, whose "cronut" launched in May and have since vaulted to pastry fame.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to try this or not (so many new foods to try, so little time!), but if you want to give it a whirl -- and a review -- you can find it at the French Meadow Bakery on Carnes Avenue. No word yet as to whether this will find a place on the regular year-round French Meadow menu or not, so get it while it's (deep-fried) hot!.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 2013!

Are you doing something special to celebrate Mother's Day? If only it were August -- there's nothing like the Minnesota State Fair for a fun outing with your mom!