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Tracking the Foodies at the Minnesota State Fair

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Our favorite weigh in on what to seek and what to skip at the fair.

Photo courtesy Wiki-images

It's bright and early on this - the first day of the Great Minnesota Get Together. People were lined up before 6 a.m. to be the first to fill their never-ending cups of milk, check the swine barn and consume all of the fried things ever.

Not all of us can be so lucky to swarm the food booths, so we decided to track our favorite food critics via Twitter to get an early taste of what to eat and what to avoid.

Breakfast

Jess Fleming and Nancy Ngo from the Pioneer Press got right down to business: mainlining coffee.

Then they hit the Blue Barn right at the main entrance for some French toast with blue Pop Rocks on top. That might put some people off, but these are professionals.

Meanwhile, Rick Nelson of the Star Tribune started off like gangbusters - he must have caffeinated earlier. He wrote a round-up of State Fair breakfasts before diving into the real thing.

Today the critic plans to hit all 50 of the new food items. He began at the Turkey to Go stand for their new sandwich (declared tasty - it is just a variation on what we've grown to know and love from the bird purveyors.) Then he downed The Blue Barn's Bernaise topped meatloaf hash ("stick to your ribs goodness.") He's also grabbed Lulu's benedict with real hollandaise, the Peach Nectarine parfait at Midtown Produce Exchange and a blueberry corn muffin and a bacon roll from the Farmer's Union.

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Mpls./St. Paul magazine was the first to weigh in with legitimate criticism. She full on hated the benedict at Lulu's.

Plus, the mac and cheese muffin tasted like the worst of cafeteria food.

Meanwhile, her magazine compatriot Stephanie March started out as we could only hope she would: breakfast beer.

Stephanie March for president. She was also participating in a new State Fair tradition - snagging a picture with Blue Barn co-owner Stephanie Shimp.

WCCO morning anchor Jason DeRusha got in on that. He also got that Pop Rocks topped French toast and loved it. Is that our first official hit dish?

The Heavy Table wrecking crew is out in full force - and matching yellow t-shirts.

Not one to fall for trends, Dara took a moment to visit a favorite chef and her addiction-inducing macaroons.

DeRusha also stopped by to congratulate Michelle Gayer on kicking cancer's ass and devour her cookies.

Heavy Table loved the Limerick Sticks at O'Gara's, but Rick Nelson described them as, "Overpriced ($8!) deep-fried Cheese Whiz."

Beer

Weird beers seem to be the trend of the year, while everyone kicked off the fair anticipation with a mini doughnut flavored brew from Lift Bridge yesterday, the beers at the fair include the Caramel Apple Pi beer at the Blue Barn, Bloody Beer from Schell's with a bloody Mary foam float and maple bacon brown beer from Giggles.

Although, Nelson turned in the best beer description of the day for the bloody beer everybody loved.

Low Brow

One of the true decadent pleasures of eating through the fair is embracing the low brow insanity that is served up in a paper boat - or Dorito bag, as the case is with the walkin' taco from Tejas Express.

Everyone loves a totcho:

Although, there's not much love lost for the Spam.

And some deep fried, cream cheese stuffed olives on a stick.

Dessert

Who doesn't like ice cream? The base can be altered in a million ways. At the fair we have the not-weird-enough.

The perfect kind of weird. Nelson described these scoops as simply, "Divine. Divine. Divine."

So weird you might need chemical enhancements to appreciate.

The perfect marriage of weird.

And the too weird to consider.

And one entry that isn't even very weird at all, although the HT Wrecking Crew can't agree on if they like.

The Results:

In the end winners and losers had to be chosen. Dara's top five included the French toast with pop rocks and the bloody beer. Of her least favorite, the jalepeno ice cream seemed to draw the most ire. She laments, "World! Frozen giant green chunks of jalapeño pepper are as welcome in ice cream as herring."

Heavy Table declared a delicious dozen and a disastrous dozen - which also includes that jalapeno chocolate ice cream. In a show of how subjective these lists can be, the HT Wrecking Crew despised Hot Indian's chicken tikka on a stikka, while Dara declared them one of her favorite dishes of the day.

Rick Nelson's epic experience of trying everything was such a big story that Vineeta Sawkar followed and filmed him. It's fun to watch the enthusiasm wane as he progresses from adoring the gluten-free blueberry muffin and bacon topped spiral roll at Birchwood to a meat sweat sheen and glazed look as the great race to sample everything drags on.

Stephanie March also goes through the exhaustive roundup of all the new dishes.

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

1265 Snelling Ave N, Falcon Heights, MN 55108 (651) 288-4400 Visit Website

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