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Food critics dish on State Fair's best (and not-so-best)

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Fairgoers walk down the street in the morning light.
Fairgoers walk down the street in the morning light Thursday at the Minnesota State Fair.
Evan Frost | MPR News

A panel of foodies from around the Twin Cities convened at the Great Minnesota Get-Together to review what is arguably the fair's main attraction: food! Here's a look at the good eats and duds they devoured.

On the panel: Pioneer Press food writer Jess Fleming, the Growler magazine's food editor James Norton, and Joy Summers, editor of Eater Twin Cities.

The good

Grilled peaches at the Produce Exchange

"It's absolutely something that would be great for breakfast, that's a great first bite," said Summers, adding you can go sweet or savory with the dish. "You can do goat cheese with a little bit of herbs, or you can do a sweetened Greek yogurt with a Momofuku milk bar-style crumble that's gluten-free!"

Rainbow cloud roll at Rainbow Ice Cream

Rainbow cloud roll
Rainbow cloud roll at Rainbow Ice Cream, located in the Grandstand, upper level, east section near the elevator.
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

It's three scoops of ice cream sprinkled with fruity cereal and wrapped in a pillow of cotton candy. "It just sounds like a sugar bomb that's going to ruin your afternoon," Norton said. "If you just take one bite of it the strawberry flavor really comes through, the Fruity Pebbles give you this wonderful kind of crunchy texture and it just tastes like the fair in a bite."

Irish tater kegs at O'Gara's at the Fair

"It's basically a Reuben in Tater Tot form, with potato," said Fleming. "So, it's like everything I love, plus the sauce is thousand island." Fleming tried to stop at one bite but admitted to taking a few more.

Other honorable mentions

UpNorth puff pasty
UpNorth puff pasty at Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall.
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

• Bacon and cheese stuffed tot by Blue Barn
• UpNorth puff pasty by Sausage Sister and Me
• Berries and cream and slammin' salmon on-a-stick by Nordic Waffles

The bad

Pepperoni chips with roasted red pepper queso at LuLu's Public House

Pepperoni chips with roasted red pepper queso
Pepperoni chips with roasted red pepper queso at LuLu's Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater.
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

"I don't know why anybody needs just a fried pepperoni chip and a dip when it's not any of the good stuff that comes in pizza," said Summers. 

Carolina reaper pizza balls at Sabino's

"Unless you enjoy pain, in which case get the Carolina reaper bites," Norton said.

Zesty PB&J sausage at Gass Station Grill

"We sliced into it and basically a little grape turd floated out, I was done," Fleming said. "I mean, I tried it and it wasn't good either."