Minnesota State Fair 2016

Every year, my trek to the Great Minnesota Get-Together is both the same.  And, absolutely different than years past.  But, always, consistently, fun and memorable.

Steve & I at the Fair

I always go to Day One of the Fair in Saint Paul with my “fair husband” Steve. We are particularly compatible as a fair couple because we like the same things, yes, but are also open to the choices of the other person. Plus, we share the food.

iron range meat

Iron Range Meat & Potatoes

So without further ado (because I know you are dying to find out) here is what we ate at the Fair:

  • Iron Range Meat & Potatoes
  • Pronto Pup®
  • Honey Sunflower Ice Cream, Honey Lemonade, Honey Lemon Sorbet (can you tell I am a big fan of the honey wing of the Horticulture Building)
  • waffle fries
  • birch beer
  • vanilla milkshake (only 2 spoonfuls; too creamy. Me, I like icey shakes)
  • blue cheese & corn fritz
  • candied bacon donut sliders
  • cup of coffee, flight of dark beer, Clown Shoes chocolate porter, lots of water
  • roasted corn
  • cinnamon banana dark chocolate Jonny Pop.

For more pictures and narrative, I invite you to check me out on Instagram @nyproducer

 

 

Quickie post to say that I am in serious training for the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  Yes, you can count on coming back here in just a little over 24 hours – to get the full list of what I and my “fair-husband” will have eaten, shared, and delighted over.

Time was (just look back at lists past) – that I could barely get all the items consumed on one page.  Now, really — who has the stomach to eat that much.  Ha!

In training means: not too much eating beforehand.  Taking good care of myself.  Making room.  And studying the list of the new foods.

This is at the top of my list:  Candied Bacon Donut Slider!  It IS a donut hole – so don’t go judgin’.  I’ll report back!candied_bacon_slider_lb

AIN’T LIFE GRAND!!!

 

Oh – late addition: how did I miss this one?

Candied Bacon BLT (sensing a theme here!)  I’ll let the fair description take it from here:candied_bacon_blt_lb

Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun.

YUMMY!

My favorite new veggie du stagione (that’s season in Italian, of course) is winter squash.  We’re talking much more than pumpkin.

I guess, like many others – I have a love affair with pumpkin through the fall season.  Yes, I know it is popular to trash pumpkin because it has become so darn ubiquitous (you know it’s a problem when Starbucks makes a latte out of it).

But, as a squash: pumpkin and its much more succulent cousins: delicata, Hubbard, kabocha, Blue Hubbard, butternut — it is a ubiquitous cold weather treat.

Easy as hell to prepare: half it (or, if really large: section it) and pop it in the oven to roast.  Lots of techniques on the sectioning part — because attacking any of these tough-skinned vegetables can be perilous.  Guy on the farmers market told me, hold it in your hands – at about waist height – and take it down to the ground/floor.  It cracks into cookable pieces.  I have found best to wrap it in a towel — the splunk can send seeds and stringy goo all over your kitchen.

My brilliant friend Victoria Granof, food style and cook extraordinaire, follows the advice of some television cook whose name I forget, who says put the whole squash in the over for 15 minutes at some degrees — probably 400-ish.  It doesn’t cook, but becomes super easy to cut.

What can you do:

eat it roasted as is, puree it and make recipes requiring pumpkin:

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, 3/4 c almond milk, 1/c oatmeal, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice/dash salt/vanilla. I use a couple drops of the real-deal stevia and 2 t. brown sugar.  Cook for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, top with 1 T sliced almonds & 1 t. brown sugar – and cook another 10 minutes.  One serving.  And for those who are counting 7 WeightWatchers® points.

Squash soup.  Veggie boullion cube, 2 cups water, shallots & onions, some roasted kabocha (2 cups maybe?), a 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce – cook it up a bit – and have at it with a cook’s best friend: the immersion blender.  Zero WW® points.

And, the list goes on – use your imagination.

Oh by the way, the beautiful lady with the delicata is Signora Maria, straight from Bagnacavallo near Bologna — created by Italian artist Anna Tazzari – a beautiful woman in every way – and extraordinarily talented.

S Maria and Squash

 

 

This little apple faces extinction in Bagnacavallo – the small Italian town not far from Bologna. It is called a Florina. It tastes like the essence of appleness: crisp when bitten, juicy but not slurpy, the perfect combination of sweet/tart. Like an apple, only better. 

I met Florina while visiting the home of Anna Tazzari – the creator of Signora Maria. Her husband Massimo explained to me that you could not buy this apple in a store – you could only pick it off a tree or buy it at a farm stand. 

Sad, this little Florina – I hope she makes it in the world of Honeycrisps. 

October, 2015: my annual voyage to Italy.

I visited my cugini in Bologna. I really love to spend time with cugina (Italo-Americano) Paul, his beautiful Italian wife Laura, and one of their daughters: the adorable Michelle. The other daughter, Alessandra, is in California right now – attending high school in the Bay Area.

Bologna is, as I mentioned in a prior post, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Pretty much when you think of Italian food, you are really thinking of food from this region: prosciutto, lasagna, tortellini, ragu, etc.

Food in Italy — as in many countries, even the USA — is regional. On this trip, I discovered many foods that, for the most part, haven’t “travelled” to American tables. Like:

Tigella – you can read about these little discs of breadliness in my post – Tigella Paradiso

Garganelli – a quill-shaped egg pasta served in brodo or with ragu. Maybe I have seen this pasta shape before, but I don’t remember. It is the pasta being held in the left hand of my new “friend” from Bagnocavallo:  Signora Maria.

You can read all about my adventures with Sig. Maria on my sister blog, rulingwoman.com. In short, I learned to make this pasta and fully intend to do so when I return to America. 

Giuggiole (JEW-joh-lay) is this fruit that grows on trees around Bologna.  

It looks like a nut. When you bite into it, it has a crunch and taste like an apple, with a pit.  Beautiful. I’d like a sweater in the colors of the giuggiole.  And, finally

Passatelli in brodo. Very VERY regional. My cugini and I went to a restaurant on my last night in Bologna. When the waitress spieled off the dishes for the night, she mentioned Passatelli. My cugina, Laura, was delighted when she heard that, and immediately ordered it. “What is it,” I entreated.  It is a “pasta” made out of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, lemon and nutmeg that is pushed through a press with holes (extruded almost like spaetzle though not quite). Passare –  passed through. Dropped into a rich, steaming-hot broth. The waitress ladled this brothy, cheesy, doughy bit of wonderfulness into our bowls. Yep, I slurped it right up, I’m sure of it! Luckily, I didn’t have my phone with me, so nothing could stop me from diving right into this sensuous repast. 

In the midst of a vacation filled with (albeit delicious) street and restaurant meals, it is a delight here in Italia to have a good ol’ home-cooked dinner. 

Dinner with the the cugini in Bologna. With typical Emilia-Romagna foods. 

At the bottom – un “panino” of prosciutto and mortadella on a handmade tigella. The tigella (seen in the basket) is yeasty dough placed in a tigelliera — a cooking vessel with two plates of six circles each.  You heat like a grill.  Put a circle of dough in each circle – and press together. Cook, then flip.  Then toss into a basket. Kind of pita meets crumpet. 

Split then fill. Funny, isn’t it, how every ethnic group has some kind of filled bread food. Pita. Taco. Dumpling. 

On the table: carciofi, prosciutto cotto, squacquerone, funghi rustici, salumi culatello, rucola. 

Squisito!

 

 
Before I regale you with my list of food I ate at the great Minnesota Get-Together — I just have to talk about this piglet I met  at the Swine Barn. They do not make a cute alert LARGE enough for this little three-day-old creature. I recommend you make a copy of this and every time you get sad or blue or angry or just plain bummed: look at this creature. I defy you not to smile. 

 So here’s what I ate — sometimes sharing with my State Fair “husband.”

Honey sunflower ice cream, honey tasting, corn on the cob, “Blue Cheese Corn Fritz” (corn fritters with blue cheese, corn kernels served with dipping sauce), half of a succulent sweet peach, Pronto Pup, Walleye-stuffed mushrooms, German Nic Nacs (double crunch peanuts), couple sips of beer – including maple bacon beer, draft root beer, shared turkey sandwich, tasting of cheese cubes, and a bite of a “rollover” (apple turnover). 

I read my list to a Minnesota friend and he said it sounded like a lot. To my State Fair “husband” it seemed like a hell of a lot less than years past–by a third from our peak. 

 

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