State Fair Countdown & Beef Feasts

I was talking to Michelle Nicholson, the pastry genius behind the Salty Tart, and she told me she’s dying to buy a professional soft-serve machine. But they’re $12,000, so she’s going to try to rent one first, and use it at her booth at the State Fair, the one she shares with the Produce Exchange. She’s going to make coconut-milk-and-greek-yogurt softserve topped with layers of roast-peach compote, fresh peaches, and caramel sauce. Is that a parfait? A sundae? Whatever it is, I want one. I haven’t been this excited about a new State Fair food in a good long while. Be sure to look for them in that quiet corner of the State Fair across from the International Bazaar, up near the Space Tower.

On another, different note: I got two interesting requests from readers this week, one email, one Facebook. Via email, a reader was wondering about the best tiramisu in the Twin Cities. I told her for old-school, classic tiramisu there’s nothing better than the one on offer at Al Vento, but I also like the one at Brianno’s in Eagan. For new-school, fancy updated tiramisu, I like the one at Patrick’s Bakery. What about you? Had any great tiramisu in town?

Another reader wondered about Japanese hibachi restaurants in St. Paul. I recommended Saji-Ya, on Grand Avenue. However, on further thought, I wondered: What about the seven-course beef feast at Mai Village? (That’s the Vietnamese restaurant inside a fully recreated, beautiful temple pagoda on University Avenue.) It costs $18.95 these days, and is worth every penny as servers come to your table with course after course of beef, and show you how to grill, poach, roll, or otherwise prepare the food. It’s really fun, participatory, and quite delicious.