The 2011 Fair, As Local As It Can Get

As we all know, The Minnesota State Fair is underway, and once again has a lot to offer in terms of fun edible and educational opportunities. This year at the fair you can eat local food, watch local chefs cook local ingredients, and learn more about how we can reduce our impact on the environment by how we maintain our diets, homes, and communities. Below I’ve put together a list of events and food items that can give your annual fair experience a greener twist.

Attend Minnesota Cooks on Sunday, August 28th
Usually a weekday event during the fair, Minnesota Cooks has moved to a Sunday (this Sunday, August 28th!). It’s an annual local food event that shares information about local farmers, local food, and local chefs. The program, which runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m., is broken into hour-long segments. Each hour, two local chefs are paired with a local farmer and local ingredients. The chefs create dishes to feed celebrity tasters and provide samples to hungry audience members. They share information and field questions from the audience. I’ve attended the past four years and have learned a lot about local foods in Minnesota. Stop by Carousel Park and learn more about food made in our state.

Minnesota Cooks Schedule
9 a.m.: Maty Lahammer (tpt) & JD Fratzke (The Strip Club Meat and Fish) discuss sustainability. Le Cordon Bleu students demonstrate culinary art skills. Noah Hoehn, live looping musician.

10 a.m.: Truman Olson (Chowgirls Killer Catering) & Smude’s Sunflower Oil; Jeffrey Lundmark (Domacin Restaurant & Winebar) & Shepherd’s Way Farms: Recipes featured will be Harvest Platter with a Trio of Sunflower Sauces and Croque Monsieur with Prosciutto and Shepherd’s Way Farms Mornay Sauce.

11 a.m.: Nina Wong (ChinDian Café) & Prairie Pride Farm; James Winberg & Mike Brown (Travail) & Au Bon Canard Foie Gras: Recipes featured will be Chicken with Mixed Vegetables and Noodles and Seared Au Bon Canard Foie Gras with Corn Pudding, Compressed Watermelon and Rootbeer-Grit Croquettes.

Noon: Lucia Watson (Lucia’s Restaurant, Wine Bar & To Go) & Encore Farm; Tom Hanson (Duluth Grill) & 4 Quarters Holdings: Recipes featured will be Fresh Encore Beans with Summer Vegetables and Wild Rice Meatloaf with Beef-Stuffed Squash.

1 p.m.: Ian Pierce (128 Café) & Star Thrower Farm; Shane Wichtendahl (Arrowwood Resort) & Doraisamy Elk Farm: Recipes featured will be Lamb and Barley Risotto with Minnesota Skyr and Porcini-Crusted Doraisamy Elk Loin with Grilled Tomato Compote, Summer Squash, and Wild Mushrooms.

2 p.m.: Paul Lynch (FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar) & Red Lake Nation Fisheries; Bryce Lamb (Söntés) & Marshall Farms: Recipes featured will be Summer Goddess Red Lake Nation Walleye, Lemon Green Beans, Fennel and Radishes and Marshall Farms Braised Rabbit with Cerignola Olives and Sun Dried Apricots.

3 p.m.: Craig Sharp (Terra Waconia) & Elm Brink Farm; Tiffany Haag & Matt Jossart (Zellas) & Loon Organics: Recipes featured will be Red Wattle Kabobs and Summer Corn and Farro Cakes with Loon Salad.

4 p.m.: Live looping musician Noah Hoehn entertains with original music. Doug Peterson, president of Minnesota Farmers Union, & Bruce Miller, Minnesota Cooks, discuss the vital role of local, sustainable food with chef JD Fratzke and other chef guests.

Stop by the Eco-Experience
The Eco-Experience at the State Fair showcases renewable energy and exhibits on air, water, land, green buildings, organic agriculture, and renewable energy. New to the Eco Experience for 2011, the Green Crossing is a green building and landscaping exhibit featuring three green homes and landscaping ideas. You can even sample some “Minnesota super-food,” as Minnesota chefs showcase Minnesota foods such as blueberries, dairy, wild rice, honey, greens, squash, and pastured meats and eggs. Check out the Sustainability Stage schedule for daily events, including presentations on small green roofs, composting, and solar basics.

Visit the Minnesota Grown Booth
The Minnesota Grown booth educates fair-goers about the diversity of Minnesota products and where we can find them. Located in the Ag/Hort Building.

Sample Some Locally Produced Food
• (New!) Minnesota-made bottled Spring Grove Soda made with cane sugar, featuring these flavors: strawberry, orange, grape, root beer, cream soda, lemon sour, black cherry, and creamy orange.
• (New!) Yankee Apple Pie Chocolate Sandwich: Minnesota-grown apples sauteed with spices, topped with chocolate and grilled in Brioche bread–at Moe and Joes Coffee.
• Wild rice burgers, wild rice sausage, waffle fries, and wild rice corndogs–at Minnesota Wild Rice Specialties.
• Minnesota wild rice sausages with beef or pork and jalapeno cheese–at Sausage by Cynthia.
• Jams and jellies, maple syrup, maple syrup candy, American Indian fry bread mix, wild rice, wild rice pancake mix, wild rice soup mix, and Native American herbal tea–at Birchberry.
• Buffalo kabobs–at Minnekabob
• Minnesota wine, ice cream, and sausage made with Minnesota wine–at MN Wine Country.
• Bison jerky and meat sticks –from the MN Buffalo Association.
• Minnesota wine–at the French Creperie.
• Elk meat cookbooks, elk jerky, elk snack sticks and elk summer sausage–from MN Elk Breeders.
• Minnesota apples, apple cider, apple sauce, frozen cider pop–from MN Apples.
• Honey (liquid, spun, creamed, comb, whipped) in glass and plastic containers, honey jams, honey jellies, honey candy, cookies, ice cream, honey nut fudge ice cream, and honey nut frozen yogurt–from MN Honey Producers Association.

Consider Public Transportation
State Fair Express buses operate from 17 Twin Cities locations. For automated State Fair transit information, call 612-341-4287. Express buses drop off and pick up across from the Como Loop (Gate #9) and at the West Red Pedestrian Bridge (Gate #20) on the south side of Como Ave.

Consider Biking
This bike map shows the location of the State Fair bike corrals and recommends routes.

Did I miss anything? Have a great, green fair experience!