An Idaho russet potato and taco ingredients seem like an unlikely combination, but at the North Dakota State Fair, the pairing seem to fit together and make for a delicious meal or snack.
At Tracy's Idaho Taqueria, in front of the grandstand and near the thrill ride, The Big Sling, they're trying something new with the Idaho taco. It's a baked potato loaded with taco fixings and comes with a choice of beef or chicken. Gillian Ward, along with her husband and their daughter, Tracy, operate the food truck and travel around to various fairs and events. They have also worked at their food truck at the Las Vegas Speedway for NASCAR.
"We applied to come here (to the North Dakota State Fair) and this fit into our route," said Ward. "This fair has a very good reputation and we were very fortunate to get to come here."
Blake McMartin takes a bite of an Idaho taco, a new food item that’s a baked potato with taco ingredients, on Tuesday afternoon at the North Dakota State Fair. The food stand, Tracy’s Idaho Taqueria, is in its first year at the fair, but it was McMartin’s second visit to the stand for the new food item.
The idea for the Idaho taco came from the need to think of a food item that would land the family a spot at fairs because fairs have been doing fine before the creation of the Idaho taco, Ward said. "We decided to do a taco theme around the baked potato."
The great thing about the North Dakota State Fair, specifically Minot, Ward continued, is that it's a small town and word of mouth has been great. "Thanks (go out to) the kind people of Minot who have tried our product and told their friends," she added.
The Idaho taco is a contrast of flavors, Ward said. There's the contrast between the starch from the potato and the protein from the meat, as well as the contrast between hot potato and the cold taco ingredients, she added. People don't typically like lettuce, Ward said, but it's one of the cold ingredients and gives a contrast of flavors and is pleasing to the palette.
Since this is the first year that Tracy's Idaho Taqueria is at the North Dakota State Fair, the truck is located off the food midway. However, that doesn't stop curious fairgoers from wandering in their direction and wanting to try the Idaho taco on Tuesday afternoon.
One young man stepped away from his group of friends nearby and asked Ward if she served fries. It was the first time she'd ever been asked that, she said. He thanked her and walked away, but a small crowd gathered at the truck's window shortly after and about five Idaho tacos were sold.
Blake McMartin, who had become a recent visitor to the food truck, was the last in the crowd to order a baked potato with all of the taco trimmings. He could hardly contain his excitement about the Idaho taco that Ward was fixing. "This is my second time here," McMartin said. "It's awesome!"
Tracy's Idaho Taqueria was voted Best New Food on the Midway at the 2013 Calgary Stampede. Also, their name was given to The Food Network and a representative interviewed Ward via phone recently, Ward said. The representative thought the network might be interested in featuring the food stand in a segment for one of their shows.
After the North Dakota State Fair, Ward and her family will travel to Regina and then to the Minnesota State Fair, but this week people in Minot have the opportunity to try a new twist on an old favorite.
"I'm glad people have tried (our potatoes) and given us a positive reaction," Ward said.