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The Test Kitchen’s Day at the Fair

Every few months, the retail test kitchen team tries to go on a trend outing. We like keeping up on what the current food trends are, and getting out and experiencing them firsthand makes it much easier to understand and incorporate the trend into future recipe development. Past outings have included trips to food trucks, cheese tastings, and cooking classes. This year, we decided to take a trip to the Minnesota State Fair. For those of you who may not live in the Midwest, the Minnesota State Fair is the largest state fair in the nation (in terms of average daily attendance). It’s 12 days of concerts, livestock and art exhibits, and most importantly (at least to me!), food! The Minnesota State Fair is notorious for its fried foods that are usually served on a stick. Going to the fair every year is a tradition in most of our families here in the Test Kitchens, so it only made sense for us to go as a group- and we found some great new foods along the way, too.

First on our list of new foods to try were the cocoa cereal-coated cheese curds with a chocolate dipping sauce. Our verdict? Don’t mess with the original deep-fried cheese curds. We can all say that this was the first time any of us ate cheese curds at 9am!

Next up was Becky’s favorite: Craft Beer Battered Onion Rings, served with spicy beer mustard. The man working at the stand was surprised we showed up before 10am to eat onion rings. Our batch was the very first one made that day! I think it’s safe to say this was one of the group’s favorites on our trip.

Next on the list was Amber’s favorite: deep fried pickle chips. These were also served with a dipping sauce, which Amber didn’t care for so much. As she said, “Stick with ranch dipping sauce.”

And Kim’s favorite? Minnepumpkin Pie, which is an individual deep-fried pumpkin pie served with cinnamon ice cream. Although it was warm out that day, we all were transported to Thanksgiving dinner when we tried this!

Cindy loved the Mini-Donut Crunch ice cream. It really did taste just like a mini-donut!

And you may have heard about the latest craze- cronuts (or doughssants, as this stand called them.) Since Mallory is quite the doughnut connoisseur, this was her pick at the fair. A flaky croissant, deep-fried like a doughnut- what’s not to love?

And last, but definitely not least, Samantha (and Hannah, our intern) picked the Candied Bacon Cannoli. A chocolate cannoli filled with ricotta cheese and chewy, caramelized bacon.Not a bad combo, if we do say so ourselves!

Some other highlights from our trip included:

Cicchetti Cones- freshly baked bread spiral cones filled with shrimp fresco and Antipasti fresh veggie mixtures…

…Comet Corn- a space-age caramel corn that is made with liquid nitrogen. It’s ice-cold and is sweet, salty, crispy and crunchy all in one bite.

Cream cheese-stuffed olives on a stick, deep-fried and served with ranch dipping sauce. This was another group favorite.

Next we stopped at the Minnesota Wine Country booth, where we tried deep fried brie with a red wine breading. Decadent and delicious!

Mallory and Hannah couldn’t help but stop in the “vineyard” and stomp some grapes.

Our last stop of the day was in the dairy building, where various dairy products are given awards. It was great to see some of our products with blue ribbons!

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