Thursday, October 22, 2015

The 2015 North Carolina State Fair food report

The other night, a group of us headed to the Fair for our usual hours of strolling, snacking, gawking, and chatting.  For a few years now, I've managed the potential caloric onslaught of the Fair by trying anything I wanted--but trying only one bite of most things.  This strategy worked well again this year and enabled me to sample bites of a huge range of Fair foods.

First up was my traditional Fair starter:  the pretzel dog on a stick.

Click an image to see a larger version.

It was everything one could want from a pretzel dog and entirely delicious.

Sarah began with her traditional pretzel--salt and buttery topping this time around--and let me have a bite.

Look at that topping glisten!  Oh, yeah, it was a tasty pretzel indeed.

We then dove into the Fair and only came up for air at one of the bigger sources of fried and dipped foods.  Scott opted for his traditional frozen, dipped cheesecake on a stick.

He also let me have a bite, and it was quite good.

At that point, we hit a streak of serious fried weirdness, and the strangeness took hold.  I sampled single bites of the deep-fried moon pie (which also included more other ingredients than I can remember),

the deep-fried Reese's cup wrapped in bacon,

and the deep-fried oreos.

Each one was good enough that I enjoyed tasting it, but none made me crave a second bite.

At that point, it was time for what passes for health food at the Fair:  a ham biscuit.

Salty, fatty ham in a perfect southern biscuit; what's not to like?  It was delicious.

We hadn't planned our next stop, but the sign advertising bacon fried in maple syrup was too tempting to resist.  Here, Kyle goes in for a bite.

We did not stop for this attraction,

but we were sorely tempted.

Nor did we enter this shop,

though who wouldn't want to live in the House of Swank?

After a quick visit with the bears, a tradition Scott and I practice, the twenty-something men in our group decided turkey legs were the order of the day.

If JJ Abrams had only made the upcoming Star Wars film with glistening turkey legs instead of light sabers, no one would be able to resist the slick turkey force of their assault.

I bet you've never read that phrase before.

Anyway, Scott let me have a bite, and it was quite good.

Fried pickles have become a Fair staple,

and for good reason, because they are delicious.

What's that?  You worry that the noble tube steak has not yet appeared?  Fret no longer.  A bacon cheddar (and I use that term very loosely, as this yellow substance is more polymer than food) dog

slid down our collective gullets next.

No visit to the Fair is complete without some N.C. State ice cream, in this case a bowl of cherry vanilla that Kyle and I shared.

I did eat multiple bites of this frozen goodness.

You might wonder why this weirdly brown, oddly sauced piece of meat has chocolate-covered whipped cream on it,

but you'd wonder only until I told you the disturbing truth:  this is a deep-fried Klondike bar, a surprisingly good concoction.

Should you order deep-fried mac-and-cheese, you might expect that the combination of the already fattening macaroni and cheese with the fry dough would be enough of an artery clogger for any dish, but at the Fair, you'd be wrong.

You obviously need dipping cheese (again, a term I'm using loosely here).

My friend and colleague, Sharon, told me that the one thing I absolutely must not do at the Fair was try what she declared had to be the sickest dish yet on offer:  the pickle wrapped in peanut butter and deep-fried.

If you expected me to do anything other than run straight for that oddity, you don't know me.  The most amazing thing about this dish is that almost everyone who tried it thought it was at least okay, with some declaring it quite good.

For the last shared item of the Fair, we went old-school.

You can't go wrong with a thin-patty bacon cheeseburger.

We walked and walked, admired and bought crafts, watched with the open mouths of children as the fireworks painted the sky, and thoroughly enjoyed another North Carolina State Fair.

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