Corn on the Beach: Tropics at the State Fair
Serving the south end of the park, Tropics at the State Fair is hard to miss with their brightly colored painted bar and Caribbean flair. Tropics has already a pretty strong line up of food on their menu including Grilled Cheese Bites and the Island Torpedo. The latest addition, Corn on the Beach Bites, brings a Caribbean bent to the classic State Fair Corn.
The deep-fried corn mesa bites serve up a spicy, yet slightly sweet bite full of grilled corn, cilantro and cotija cheese. On the side is served a chipotle-lime ranch sauce which should not be mistaken as a sauce to calm the spice in the bite, but to enhance the spiciness and flavor. Corn on the Beach is Tropic’s owner Gregg Karnis’ spin on the traditional Mexican street corn (or elotes). While it could be mistaken as just another dish to add to the deep-fried fair food list, its flavors make it more than that. 3 out of 4 blue ribbons.
Apple Pie Nachos: Jayme’s Chipstix
At Jayme’s Chipstix, you will find foods that stick true to the vendor’s name, all things are either chips or served on sticks. Adding to the list of chip or stick inspired foods, the Apple Pie Nachos were added to Jayme’s Chipstix menu. The fair’s twist on arguably the most American dish definitely brought a buzz to fair goers. There were many Apple Pie Nachos to be seen eaten throughout the fairground.
However, the nachos didn’t quite live up to the standards that could be associated with American Apple Pie. The nachos are served cold, with apple pie filling, walnuts and caramel sauce over homemade cinnamon chips. While the flavor was there, the chips were instantly softened by the toppings and it was hard to get over the fact that the dish was cold instead of a warm piece of pie or a hot pile of nachos. Also, there is not enough chips to complement the toppings. 1 out of 4 blue ribbons.
Three Little Pigs: Brew City
Meat lovers rejoice! Brew City created the ultimate meat pasta dish, Three Little Pigs Ravioli, without the pasta itself. The bacon serves as the ravioli shell for this dish filled with pork, Gouda cheese, cream cheese, scallions, onions and brown sugar served with a delicious bourbon cherry BBQ sauce.
The Three Little Pigs is a State Fair Sporkies finalist, and for good reason. The bacon shell is perfectly crispy and the pork is very tender on the inside. The Gouda isn’t over powering and is a great flavor surprise throughout the dish. The sauce makes the dish complete adding a sweet creaminess to a very savory dish. The only complaint is we wish we could have more. 4 out of 4 blue ribbons.
Strawberry Basil Wine Slushie: Slim McGinn’s Irish Pub
Slim McGinn’s Irish Pub offers a new cocktail that sounds like it has all the fresh flavor that summer has to offer. Strawberry, basil and white wine concocted into an adult slushy definitely has all the ingredients worthy for a Wisconsin summer cocktail and was intriguing to sample.
The Strawberry Basil Wine Slushie was full of great flavor and was definitely on the sweeter side of the cocktail spectrum. However, as served, it appears a little unsightly due to the blended chunks of basil. Also, there was no slush to the slushie. It was more like a wine cooler than the advertised slushie. 2 out of 4 blue ribbons.
Chocomela Nachos: La Coppa Artisan Gelato
La Coppa Artisan Gelato has created a dessert nacho full of salted caramel and milk chocolate gelato, topped off with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a salty peanut sauce with peanut pieces on top of homemade cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
Located inside the expo center, La Coppa nails down all the perfect flavors in this dish. The homemade cinnamon sugar tortilla chips stay crisp even with all the gelato and whipped cream on top. The salted caramel and milk chocolate gelato is smooth and creamy and the peanut sauce and chocolate sauce round out a perfect dessert to satisfy any fair goers’ sweet tooth. 4 out of 4 blue ribbons.
Cricket Nachos: All Things Jerky
While I was not brave enough to try the cricket nachos, it was hard to ignore the new funky dish that had arrived at the state fair. Cricket Nachos are traditional ballpark-style nachos with crickets sprinkled on top. “They have a nutty, sunflower-like taste to them, they are protein packed and a sustainable protein,” says Jessica Jerky, owner of All Things Jerky.
The crickets are “popcorn textured,” according to Jerky and she encourages people to try something exciting. “The reception of the nachos has been really strong,” Jerky says. “Just be wild and try something different, be proud to say ‘I eat bugs.’”