Local food personality and JFCS 29th Annual Benefit emcee Stephanie Hansen shares her favorite State Fair foods
The Stephanies – Stephanie Hansen and Stephanie March – hosts of myTalk107.1’s food-themed talk show “Weekly Dish,” will emcee JFCS’ 29th Annual “Laugh on Their Behalf” Benefit on December 2. Hansen is also the blogger, photographer, podcaster and social commentator behind StephaniesDish.com and @MakersofMN and March is Food Editor for “Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.”
Being a local food personality, Hansen (of course!) has opinions on the best foods to get at the Minnesota State Fair. Below are some of her picks (reader beware – not all items are kosher):
Stephanie Hansen –
The Minnesota State Fair, which runs Aug. 24 through Sept. 4, has everything from carnival rides, to home improvement gadgets, to music, to farm animals, to international crafts. But for me, it’s all about the food. There are the classics like cheese curds, pronto pups, Martha’s cookies and the French fry booth. And there are always the new fair foods and I always try as many as my stomach allows. More recently there are craft beer and ciders!
Here are some classics and new fair foods that are must-haves on my list:
West Side of Cooper Street between Murphy & Lee Avenues
What’s a gizmo you ask? The Gizmo harkens back to the 1920s’ loose meat sandwiches and it is oooey, gooey and delicious. The Gizmo is made of beef and pork in a hoagie bun, topped with red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and baked. I love the Gizmo and make it one of my first fair stops every season.
Midway Men’s Club Hamburger:
East side of Underwood between Wright and Dan Patch Avenue
The Midway Men’s club has been serving the coldest beer and the cheapest hamburgers since 1963. This no-frills burger will set you back $2.50, then add cheese for an extra fifty cents and you have a fair stalwart served by the nicest folks on the Midway. The club has given back thousands of dollars to their community for St Paul Youth programs.
Harry Singh’s Roti and Jamaican Jerk Patties:
Food Building – Easy Wall
Each year I make it to Harry Singh’s Caribbean stall to pick up some of his wonderfully hot (in the lips burning kind of way) habanero hot sauce. If you’re brave and cook with habaneros on a semi-regular basis, check out the sauce that marries a volcanic kick with the sweetness of Caribbean fruit. Also try their Jamaican patties, which are flattened, meat-filled croissants, or the Roti – a burrito made with a chick pea flour tortilla and filled with potatoes and chick peas in a curry gravy.
Sara’s Brown Ale & Onion Gouda Tipsy Pies:
Food Building, South Wall
What’s flaky and delicious and new this year? Sara’s Brown Ale and Onion Gouda Tipsy Pie. This pie follows in the tradition of Sara’s other pies, which are free of trans fats and hydrogenated oils and loaded with the goodness of a homemade hand pie, albeit a bit boozy. This new-to-2017 pie features onions caramelized in Stillwater’s own Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill Brown Ale with smokes gouda cheese drizzled with a sweet beer glaze on top.
French Meadow Bakery Mini Sco-nuts:
North Side of Carnes between Nelson and Underwood street
French Meadow bakery has been pleasing us for years at the fair with their wonderful scones spilling over with peaches and cream and the Dough-Sant, their take on the Croissant Donut (which is really great and not to be missed)! This year’s entry is the mini Sco-nut. The Sco-Nut is a buttermilk scone, hole-sized and filled with chocolate, marshmallow cream and Nutella, then deep fried and rolled in sugar. This is a sugar bomb, but in all the right ways.
O’Gara’s Grill Deep-Fried Avocado:
Southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Cosgrove St.
What’s not to love about the buttery creamy texture of an avocado? Now imagine these beauties sliced and dipped in a lightly seasoned batter, deep fried, and served with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce, then you have the newest fair entry into fried food gastronomy – the deep-fried avocado.
Now the beer and ciders that are becoming as popular to try as the new fair foods:
The Ballpark Café’s Craft Beers
Ball Park Café, east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes Avenues
This fun little spot – a place to see and be seen – is becoming a mecca for craft beers lovers on the fairgrounds. Each year they form partnerships with local breweries to bring us new and tasty beers filled with their fair share of PT Barnum “stunt-worthiness.” This year look for:
Lift Bridge Mini Donut Beer – This beer is reminiscent of a fresh State Fair mini donut. Sweet, rich and malty, each glass is served rimmed with cinnamon sugar to enhance the aroma as you lift this beauty to your lips.
Sweet land Orchard Minnesota Mule Cider – A play on the “Moscow Mule” cocktail, this gluten-free cider starts with fresh, Minnesota-grown apples and is transformed by adding squeezed lime and ginger. The result is a little spicy, apple-y, and citrusy, which adds up to a real thirst quencher.
East Lake Brewery Kirby Pucker – A blend of sour wheat beer with added notes of citrus has us saying “pucker up” for this tart fresh sipper.