Tonight was a food excursion, plain and simple.
I dove right in and started off with a new food, the “Carolina BBQ Pork Baked Potato”. There’s a food court restaurant at the Mall of America, Col. Muzzy’s Texas BBQ, which does a much better job at this, but it was completely acceptable fair food. Served hot and delicious, it was a great way to start off the consumption. A bit of lemonade, out of one of the refillable “souvenir” bottles washed it all down.
A bit of a side note here about the refillable bottles. First of all, I appreciate that the fair doesn’t change them from year to year. As long as you keep track of your bottles from the previous year, you can waltz right in with them and not worry about having to buy another. Nevertheless, what’s with skimping on the bottles as the years go by? I remember the first year they made them available, they each came with a huge straw and a belt clip, perfect for carrying all day long. (And, convenient in that on hot days, you could just walk around with the straw perpetually in your mouth, ready for a sip at any moment) In recent years, the belt clips are no longer offered, and this year I was shocked to find the straws were now this short, barely able to reach to the bottom of the bottle comfortably even when you had the bottle right up next to your mouth.
OK, now that I’ve got that out of my system, onto more food! Next up was a serving of one of my favorite “new” foods of recent years, Bull Bites from Axel’s. These yummy morsels are just spicy enough, but not too spicy to bring on the need to consume vast quantities of liquid coolant. Second on my list for any visit to the fair is one of the turkey sandwiches from Turkey To Go, located next to the all-you-can-drink milk booth. They inject flavoring into their turkeys, then deep fry ‘em. The pulled/chopped turkey meat is so succulent…yum! Next up, a trip to Sweet Martha’s Cookies…’cause, well, why not?
Back up to the food building, it was time to hit a few more “new” foods. The frozen grapes on a stick are only a dollar…and would certainly be a welcome treat on a hot, hot day. On a moderately warm day, their appeal was lacking. Frozen completely solid, they were difficult to get off the stick…and even more difficult to eat. Forcing your way into them was a mistake - it ended up feeling as if you were juggling an ice cube in your mouth. Sucking on the ice cold grape for a minute or two prior to biting into it gave you a much more rewarding experience, and much more flavorful. (As any ice cream maker will explain, you need to intensify flavors the colder you serve it!)
Next up was the spaghetti-and-meatball-on-a-stick. Run, don’t walk, away from this “new” food. I rarely find a food I can’t at least take a taste of and politely force down my throat…this food’s taste was so repulsive that I had to find a nearby garbage can and spit it out. Luckily, Axel’s was nearby, and their macaroni-and-cheese-on-a-stick came to the rescue and cleansed my palette.
Standing in line at Axel’s, I realized that right in front of my face was another “new” food, the deep-fried bananas-foster-on-a-stick. I had already had 10 or more bananas because of my bike ride earlier, but these looked too good to pass up. One bite and I knew I had a new favorite food find at the fair. The bananas were battered very delicately, leaving most of the flavor provided by the bananas. The caramel dipping sauce included brought everything together…you’ll certainly enjoy it, even if you’re not a huge banana fan. The bananas were a bit smooshy inside, tho, so if you have any aversion to squishy bananas, you may want to skip this treat.
At this point, even my 60-mile hungry tummy had its fill, so it was time to leave. There’s still plenty of “new” foods on my list, including the deep-fried green peppers and the cheeseburger wontons. Luckily, one, if not two, return trips are currently in the works before the end of the fair on Labor Day. Lucky not only for the new foods, but I didn’t get a chance to see anything. Commercial exhibits, the 4-H building, technology hall, all still ahead. (The Arts and Crafts will be a bit more exciting this year, since my friend Mel has a quilt in the running this year, can’t wait to see that!)