Let’s preface this: Neither of us are fair people.
Alexander is from Maryland, where county fairs aren’t a big deal. And though Teresa is from Rochester, she doesn’t love the fair. Maybe it’s her fear of a freak fair ride accident, maybe it’s a longtime feud with a certain cow.
Suffice it to say we were out of our element Tuesday at the Olmsted County Fair, where we were charged with reviewing six food items.
Let’s hope our will is stronger than our stomachs.
Alexander: Cheese curds
I’m about to say four words about cheese curds that may get me excommunicated from the Midwest: I didn’t love them.
To be clear, my dislike comes almost exclusively from the texture. The curds were too chewy and did not go down easy. They didn’t taste bad — it’s fried cheese, there’s a baseline of deliciousness — but I can’t get past feeling like I ate a rubbery fat bomb.
Still, I get the appeal, and they were a hit in the newsroom.
Teresa: Roasted Bliss Vanilla Bean Scone
There’s nothing I love more than a coffee shop/bakery combo. Having already had my requisite morning cups (yes, cups, plural), I decided to go for one of Roasted Bliss’ baked items.
The woman running the stand recommended the cake and the vanilla bean scone; feeling a little silly having cake first thing in the day, I opted for the scone. It had a delicious vanilla sugar on top, which practically transported me to their South Broadway storefront, rather than the hot and dusty fair concourse. Now, I can’t wait to come back and try the cake.
Alexander: Pork chop on a stick
After disrespecting an entire region of the country, the least I could do was eat food on a stick. Isn’t that what fairs are for?
I opted for the pork chop, another Midwest staple. While it’s certainly a primitive way to serve the meat, it’s also quite efficient, if a bit clunky and messy.
The chop I had was a bit dry, but seasoned well. Coming in at $6, it’s an affordable and solid option for those looking for something more substantial. It’s also cheaper than cheese curds, which just feels wrong.
Teresa: El Carambas Chicken Tacos
Another local business! El Carambas’ two tacos also came with rice, chips and refried beans, making it definitely worth the $9 price. It was filling and flavorful, making it a fantastic fair meal.
I would have gone back for more, but I was stuffed after my first plate. (Although I might have a dinner plan now …)
Alexander: Mini doughnuts
When I was covering the Dodge County Fair two weeks ago, I saw a mini-doughnut-eating competition. Then, I saw a mini doughnut stand here, and I was curious. What’s so special about these doughnuts?
Turns out, mini doughnuts are just that: small bites of sugary fried-dough heaven. And of course they were delicious; who doesn’t love doughnuts?
It was also at this time I came up with a terrible pun for my fried food tour that I sadly realized didn’t work since the pork was grilled. Guess I’ll have to wait for my next fry-fecta.
Teresa: Amish Annie’s Frozen Cocoa
This was the perfect finale to my fair food extravaganza. Not only was it a respite from the summer heat, it also had a great chocolate flavor.
It was effectively a chocolate milkshake, but the wintery name added to its refreshing coolness, so I’ll give it a pass. My only regret is that I was too full to try everything else this truck had to offer (and that I didn’t have an espresso shot to mix into it … Have I mentioned I like coffee?).
Overall, the fair offered a variety of interesting foods, some of which were from local businesses. Plenty of them were fair classics, like funnel cakes and corn dogs. Alexander even fit a food on a stick into his meal, because what fair would be complete without the complicated task of trying to eat something off a stick without the whole thing detaching and falling into your lap?
But of course, nothing featured more prominently than fried foods, from cheese curds to mini doughnuts. (The sheer amount of oil used over the course of this week is something we don’t want to think about.)
Our final quest at the fair was for a specific fried item: the deep-fried Oreo. We heard rumor it would be somewhere on the grounds, and we crisscrossed the concourse searching desperately for it, but to no avail.
With a tight deadline, we had to head back to the office. But we know those Oreos are out there somewhere, waiting for us.