Is it possible to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair even though you’re gluten free? In true Minnesotan dialect I’ll give that a “Heck Yes!”. You can even pair Minnesota wines with them to capture a true local feel. On Sunday, Stephanie Meyer had a wonderful time speaking on this very topic at Minnesota Wine Country, to educate people on some great wine that is being produced in our state in tandem to our favorite gluten free foods scattered around the fair. Most people think the choices might be limited for those of us who are allergic to gluten, but I can honestly say you won’t leave hungry or feeling deprived.
Even though the ferris wheel ride is about to come to a hault and the last pronto pups are being slathered with mustard, I wanted to recap our selections because these choices will be available next year as well, so keep this in your back pocket as valuable ammunition.
1. Stuffed Grape Leaves on a Stick (also vegetarian) from Holy Land with a La Crescent white from Falconer Vineyards in Redwing, MN.
This middle eastern specialty stuffed with perfectly cooked rice, garlic, onions, delicate spices and a cool cucumber Tatziki sauce goes great with the light, subtly sweet La Crescent wine. We loved how the apricot notes in the wine played nicely with the mint & lemon flavors in the grape leaves. Plus, both are so refreshing on a hot day. And what a bargain – just $2 for the three leaves on a stick.
2. The classic Pork Chop on a Stick with Frontenac Gris from Parley Lake Winery in Waconia, MN.
In my opinion, the Frontenac Gris is one of the best grapes being grown in Minnesota. Similar in style to a Pinot Grigio, we found it perfect for the well seasoned and simply grilled Pork Chop on a Stick. Medium bodied and clean in style, the wine had just enough acidity to cut through the richness of the pork to create the perfect balance.
3. Fresh Cut French Fries with Raspberry Wine from Winehaven Winery in Chisago City, MN.
Hands down my favorite state fair food – the hot, salty, crispy french fries from the flagship Midway location. They’ve never wavered in consistency and are probably the safest of all the gluten free foods because nothing else is fried in the same oil. We paired them with the lovely Raspberry wine because sweet and salty are a match made in heaven.
Red wine & chocolate. Enough said. :) Okay, but really, to find a mass produced gluten free brownie that isn’t dry or taste like bean flour is a major win. French Meadow does an amazing job with their gluten free selections at the fair so be sure to check them out. We also love their spicy Risotto Poppers (Arborio rice balls with black beans, cheese, scallions and spices, hand-rolled and dipped in tapioca flour and egg wash, then dipped in gluten-free crushed corn tortilla chips), but unfortunately they were all sold out for the day.
Some of my other gluten free favorites at the fair include the Sweet Dream Washington peaches from the produce stand, the falafel balls on a stick from Holy Land, and the classic Chicago Dog with a gluten free bun. And if wine isn’t your thing, there’s several stands that serve gluten free beer as another option.
Next year as you make your annual trek to the great Minnesota get together, be prepared to love the people watching, love the animals, love the inevitable heat, and love the fair food along with everyone else! And in the meantime, I’m going to work on developing a gluten free Pronto Pup, the one thing I still truly miss.