State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
There is no denying that much of my heart belongs in the state of Wisconsin, where I spent many summers of my life. So when Michigan loses a football game to Wisconsin, I may hate it, but I’m also weirdly more okay with it than I am with losing to just about any other team. But what does this have to do with food? Well, Wisconsin produced a fast food place called Culver’s, which is actually in Phoenix. So afters years of not being in Wisconsin, I revisited the Scottsdale location of Culver’s to see if it could bring me back to my days in Wisconsin.
When in the Twin Cities, I almost always feel the need to get a Jucy Lucy. Or, I just avoid burgers entirely. Yet, on this trip my path led me to Freehouse, a microbrewery that is so incredibly popular that we had to wait longer for a table than the hostess had told us initially. Seriously. Fortunately, we were able to get things started with a couple of beers and some cheese curds before taking our seats.
No trip to Canada is complete without at least one stop for poutine. Yes, even outside of the French side of Canada. The internet told me that Poutini’s in West Queen Street West had some of the best in town and I was eager to see if they could live up to the lofty expectations. Like other poutineriess, it had a few different options, but I was most intrigued by their Layered Poutine. This included an extra layer of cheese in the middle, and as much as I like bacon and other such things, this seemed best.
The 8 oz. Burger Bar in Melrose has intrigued me for a long time. It combines two of my favorite things, burgers and bars, into one, so I knew eventually I would have to see how well that combination works. I recently got my chance and even went online to check their menu before going. On that menu I saw something that made me want to go even more: Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds. Cheese curds are one of my favorite things in the world and although I prefer them un-fried, I will eat them anytime I see them offered. Excited about these curds, I stepped into 8 oz. Burger Bar.
Then I looked at their menu and almost cried.
Edit: This location is gone, but A & W still lives elsewhere.
I always have fond memories of trips to A & W from when I grew up. I always loved their root beer floats and their curly fries. So when I stumbled upon an A & W in Hawthorne, I knew I had to return to relive my glory days.
Unfortunately, as with so many other childhood favorites, my hopes were too high for A & W. This particular A & W was merged with Long John Silver’s, which made me sad to hearken back to the days when an A & W could have a restaurant all to itself, and not just any restaurant. These were the drive-thru sorts where you parked next to a menu and were waited on in your car. It seems those days are all but gone, and despite the generic and washed out design of this A & W/Long John Silver’s amalgamation, I hoped that the food would make up for it.