Minnesota State Fair – What to eat and what to do

“The Great Minnesota Get Together” really is great in a strange quirky way.  There really isn’t everything quite like it.  From the crowds and the cheesy attractions to the stands laden with fried food on a stick and the portable carnival rides, the fair is truly one of a kind.  With so much to do, it is hard to pick and choose, but if you’re only planning on going once, make sure you make the most out of your time.  Know what food you what ahead of time since the lines are usually pretty long.

After many years of trying so many different foods, I’ve complied a list of all the foods that I will potentially eat.  There are fair classics and there are obscure novelties that can’t be found anywhere else.

Food to eat at the State Fair:

-Tom Thumb mini donuts: You can’t go wrong with a classic

-A malt or soft served ice cream from the dairy building:  Super creamy and fresh.  My favorite is the strawberry rhubarb malt.  It’s like a la mode pie.

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The dairy building

-Fried olives on a stick:  Herb breaded olives stuffed with cream cheese and fried to a crispy perfection.  Sold at the Fried Fruit stand.

-Fried Fruit on a stick:  The same stand.  This treat is similar to a pie with cooked fruit fried with a sweet batter around it.

-Pronto Pup:  Another classic that I ironically didn’t try until this year.  I think it tasted better than your typical corn dog since the batter wasn’t as dense and the dog was thinner.

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Pronto Pup with Mustard

-Pickle Dog:  A pickle wrapped with cream cheese and pastrami.  It seems very simple but for some reason, it tastes so good at the fair.

-Cheese curds: Another classic and a heart attack on a plate.  However, you got to try them.

-Deep Fried Candy bars:  It sounds nasty but they are pretty amazing.  I love the milky ways and the Oreos.  Make sure you share because there is no way I could eat all of it!

-Chilled Bread pudding:  Located at the Blue Moon Diner.  You can customize how you like your bread pudding with flavors and toppings.  It’s sort of like ordering ice cream, but it’s so good!

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Chilled Vanilla Bread Pudding with warm vanilla sauce and raisins.  

-All you can drink milk:  Although they raised the price, the all you can drink milk is still a great deal.  Choose plain or chocolate and keep coming back for more.  It taste pretty refreshing and offers a break from all the fried goodness.

-Root Beer from the Agriculture building: Root beer stands are everywhere, but the best is sort of a secret.  Located in the beer section of the Agriculture building, you can get both root beer and cream soda on tap for a pretty good price.  It’s all naturally brewed and is a far cry from the typical MUG stuff, but it is probably some of the best soda I’ve had.

What to do and see:

-Spend some time at the Midway:  It’s slightly sketchy, but it’s apart of the fair experience.    The rides are fun and you might as well take a shot at some of the games.

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The Mighty Midway

-Animal buildings:  Choose one animal that I’d like to see or go into the coliseum and watch a horse show.  It’s an interesting culture that’s cool to see.

-The Giant Slide:  A classic and it’s actually really fun!

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The top of the Giant Slide offers a cool view of the fair.  

-Exhibition buildings:  There are a lot of interesting exhibits that you can visit in the various buildings.  Cool educational opportunities too!

-Just walk around and people watch!  There are some interesting people that go to the fair.  It’s really fun to look around at everyone.

All in all, the fair will always be a great time no matter what you do but it only comes once a year so make the must out of it while you can!

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How to spend 48 hours in New York

Recently, I had the chance to travel to New York City for a couple days to tour the design studio of a cousin who works in the fashion industry.  That in itself was an amazing opportunity but I got to spend a lot of time touring and exploring the city itself.  I’d been to New York on another occasion to see and do all of the touristy stuff that one has to do on their first visit to New York.  However, this time I could fully enjoy myself and spend time doing thing that I really liked.

The 48 hours went by fast but I felt really satisfied with everything I managed to do.  There is so much going on and you practically have pick and choose everything, but when going to New York, you should choose to do things that you really like.  I picked restaurants that had food that I like and I did plenty of research on museums and plays beforehand.  That way I could be confident that I’d not regret my time spent in the city.  Research is key because the amount of choices in New York is extremely overwhelming.

After a morning of travel and checking into my hotel, I ventured over to the world famous Carnegie Deli for a giant lunch consisting of a pastrami sandwich and cheese blintzes.  The line is always long but the experience is well worth it and the food is truly classic.  They are known for their deli meats such as pastrami and corn beef which are served as different types of sandwiches.  Also, don’t neglect the complimentary homemade pickles as they are completely different in a good way than your typical grocery bought kosher dills.

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The classic sign illuminating Carnegie Deli.

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The giant yet amazing pastrami sandwich

Lunch at Carnegie Deli is a big ordeal.  The line is long and it takes a while to devour the giant sandwiches.  After you’re finished, you will feel obligated to walk around.  Thankfully, the deli is conveniently located a couple blocks from central park where you can stroll around for hours.  I chose to meander my way through the park on my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The park is a great escape from the city.  Although there are plenty of tourist, it is still really peaceful and enjoyable.  Take your time to explore the different paths and vistas.  Surprises await after every turn, keeping visitors curious and engaged.

Eventually, I made myself to the museum where I tried to soak in the cool air.  The temperature was brutally hot but thankfully, the trees in the park helped to provide a nice shelter from the sun.

The MET is huge and very overwhelming.  Have an idea of what you want to see since there is no way you can do it all.  I visited the european painting galleries since I’m more into european art but there is so much more to see such as ancient and contemporary art.  FullSizeRender-73

Between the MET and the park, my afternoon was shot but I felt like I’d done a lot since arriving in the morning.

That night, I had dinner at a great restaurant called Gramercy Tavern.  It’s an upscale fine dining place but being one of the best restaurants in the city, it was well worth it.  The food is contemporary American but there is an old fashion comforting feel about it.  I had the duck breast for my entry and the carrot cake for desert.  Sounding unassuming, the carrot cake was quite exceptional since it was a amped up version of the traditional American desert.  For me, Gramercy Tavern really embodied the finest in American cuisine and it was a perfect meal to have in New York.

I spent the next morning with my cousin at her office in the Garment District.  If you ever have the chance to tour the design studios of a clothing line, take advantage of it.  It is extremely fascinating for someone who loves fashion and you can learn so much behind the scenes.

After that, it was time to shop.  My hotel was conveniently located a couple short blocks from 5th avenue, the heart of New York shops.  There are grand department stores such as Saks along with designer flagship shops.  Although the prices are pretty hefty,  it is really fun just to look around and believe me, you wouldn’t be the only one window shopping.  Among the shops are large and more reasonable european brands such as Zara and Topshop.  It’s no wonder why these types of stores are taking over the world by storm.  They have everything for any kind of style and the prices are great for the quality you get.  FullSizeRender-76

By the time evening came, I’d finished my New York fashion fix and it was time to hit the theater.  After a great seafood dinner, I walked the bright streets over to Broadway to witness a fantastic rendition of The Phantom of the Opera.  Quintessential and classic, the show did not disappoint.  Anything on Broadway is going to be fabulous and you can’t go to New York without seeing something.  It is a great way to spend the night too!

With the show ending around 10, I exited the theater right near Time Square.  Take some time to admire the amazing lights of the world famous square at night.  It is truly incredible!FullSizeRender-77

The next morning, I had a leisurely breakfast and finished some more shopping before leaving and completing a short but satisfying trip.  Even 48 hours is fabulous in such a big city!

Carnegie Deli: http://carnegiedeli.com

Gramercy Tavern: http://www.gramercytavern.com

The MET: http://www.metmuseum.org

Where to eat in Minneapolis-Smack Shack

Nestled in the heart of the warehouse district, Smack Shack tries to transport you to a typical american coastal seafood joint even if the patio is shadowed by fellow old warehouses and tall apartment buildings.  Not only does it work but it goes beyond offering great food.  You might as well be eating a lobster roll right of the eastern shore.   The patio is great and fairly casual but the interior is modern, smart and fun, a far cry from what you’d expect from a place that sells divine fried chicken.  That’s just the thing.  You can enjoy great comfort food and guilty pleasures along side gourmet delicacy in a fun and sleek atmosphere.

To give you a taste of the range of the menu, I ordered lobster mac and cheese with all its creamy goodness along with a selection of raw oysters.  It was quite the combo but it worked and I enjoyed it to the last bite.  There are a lot of classic seafood choices but the menu is broad and everyone is bond to fine something appealing from the raw bar and lobster rolls to the southern fried chicken platter and the catfish.  There are sandwiches and seafood entries, in addition to plenty of sides and appetizers.

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A selection of fresh oysters that I chose from a vast menu that showcased oysters from both coasts.  The cocktail sauce was also a delight since it was laden with a huge glob of very fresh and strong horseradish.

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The classic clam chowder and I mean classic which is the BEST way it is prepared.  I’m a bit of the sucker when it comes to clam chowder but I’m also picky on how it is prepared.  Smack Shack’s “Chowda” was fabulous since they didn’t try to spice it up or anything.  If you like a good clam chowder then you will like this one.  I also put in some Old Bay seasoning which is pretty much my favorite seasoning ever.  It’s great stuff!

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The lobster roll is a signature of Smack Shack with multiple different kinds and preparations.  I was told that the classic  roll was a really good choice and tasted how a lobster roll should taste.

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The blackened cat fish is prepared with grilled potatoes, a loosely fried egg and béarnaise sauce which sounds like a strange combination but the mixing of unique flavors really blended well.  The fish itself was cooked perfectly and had plenty of flavor.

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The lobster mac was extremely creamy and delicious at the same time.  It can be ordered in a cup or bowl with the cup being the perfect portion if you want to order something else like me.

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The southern fried chicken entry with coleslaw and fries.  Enough said…

Overall, my experience at Smack Shack was exceptional.  Great food, a great atmosphere and something for everyone describes the newly opened North Loop joint.  Who knew that you could feel like you’re on the beach in the middle of Minneapolis!

Website: http://www.smack-shack.com

Address: 603 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

There is also a location in Chicago and one coming soon to the airport in Minneapolis.

August Style Guide

I can’t believe that August is already upon us.  Summer just seems to fly by.  For this style guide, being the last one of summer, I wanted to focus more on formal clothes since I feel that I’ve primary posted casual outfits.  Outfits like these are perfect for a summer’s night out, a nice dinner or even a wedding.  Enjoy!

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A simple, nice and casual outfit.  Shirt and shorts from Club Monaco.  Shoes are Sam Elderman’s classic thongs sandals from Nordstrom’s and the necklace in from Anthropology.  The chiffon material used in the top adds a more formal look and the high waisted shorts are a fabulous trend right now!

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Shirt from Milly, pants from AG Jeans and the shoes are AGL flats.  The shirt is quite a statement itself so there isn’t much need for elaborate accessories.  Here, I have a simple bangle from Kate Spade.  

My LWD for the summer (see what I did there).  This dress from Lilly Pulitzer is one of my favorites!  Wear with a pearl necklace and simple shoes.  The shoes here are from a boutique.  Also, a simple navy blazer goes a long way to add some class to an outfit plus it can keep you warm at night!  I found this one on sale at a small boutique.