Saturday, October 26, 2013

The North Carolina State Fair food tour, 2013 edition

As is our tradition, a group of us went to the State Fair this past Thursday night to walk around, bask in the neon glow, check out the people and rides and animals and vegetables, and most of all, to try the weird food on offer there.  For the second straight year, I followed my "one bite" plan:  Try as many dishes as I wanted, but eat only one bite of each and share the rest with others in the group.  It worked well enough that after four hours of walking around, I left the Fair happy but not over-stuffed.

Enough talk:  Let's get to the food.

Scott had ordered a funnel cake, so I had a bite of it to start my Fair experience. 

Click on an image to see a larger version.

Sarah began with her traditional pretzel, so I took a bite of it as well.

I ordered and shared the pretzel dog, which provided its usual yummy doughy meaty bite of goodness.

The brisket sandwich really needed sauce but was otherwise okay, though no better.

Next up was a taste of Gina's fried cheese (in this case, mozzarella).

How could we possibly improve on last year's Krispy Kreme cheeseburger?

By adding bacon, of course.

I have only myself to blame for ordering it, but fortunately, others were brave enough to share it.

I next found myself face-to-donut with the newest Fair sensation:  The Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe.  Seeing it in person, I could not bring myself to buy it and put even a single bite into my mouth; it just didn't look good.  So, with a little regret, I walked on by.

Scott consoled me with a bite of his chocolate-covered cheesecake-on-a-stick.

Sarah's deep-fried mac-and-cheese bites were not what one would normally serve after cheesecake, but I was game, and my nibble was tasty.

The cheese-covered, locally made, spicy hot dog (really a sausage), on the other hand, was a perfect next stopping point.

After walking a bit, another sweet treat was clearly in order, so Sarah stepped up by ordering and sharing the mini donuts with cinnamon and sugar.

Those little rascals are reliably good year after year. 

I enjoyed my traditional North Carolina State cherry vanilla ice cream, but I forgot to take a picture of it; sorry about that.

I did, however, capture the buttered corn-on-the-cob that Ticia later shared. 

On a brisk autumn night, hot corn-on-the-cob is a delight.

Lest it seem that all I did was eat, let me share a few more Fair images, many of them courtesy of Gina. 

This combo didn't appeal to me, but I loved the sign.

How can you not like a vendor that will sell you a calzone and then give you a wedgie?

I didn't risk walking near that stand.

Huge watermelon, anyone?

That would take even our beach crew a while to consume.

The melon, though, was a tiny baby compared to this year's winning pumpkin, which tipped the scales just a hair below 800 pounds.

We are talking one giant pumpkin, folks.

No pumpkin could be bigger, of course, than Elvis, though this statue doesn't do him justice, and I'm not commenting on his weight.

This cow's serenity brought us all back to the moment, which the cow seemed to inhabit perfectly.

Be the cow, Luke, be the cow.

What's a state fair without a best-of-show-winning mermaid cake?

Not the North Carolina State Fair, that's for sure.

Some folks rode the flying swings.

I did not, preferring instead to keep my feet on the ground.  

Did I mention the amazing fireworks show that capped the evening as we were about to get into our cars?

Okay, one more fireworks photo.

Peace out.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wow, do I want to see this movie!

This UK trailer for Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, is great.  I went from being lukewarm about the film--of course I'd go, but not with high hopes--to being quite excited about it, all in the short span of two and a half minutes. Check it out, ideally in 1080p on a big monitor.

If the movie lives up to the trailer, it should be both a great ride and, for bonus points, a solid exploration of some of the key themes that have always troubled Captain America.

April 4 next year should be a good movie day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Escape Plan

In a post nearly four months ago, I said I would have to catch this action flick, so on the last night of CONtraflow I treated myself to a late showing of it. I know that many of you are now thinking, "Wow, he really will see anything," and of course that's mostly true, but this one proved to be an entertaining bit of fluff.

Yes, we had to tolerate Stallone sitting and thinking, but the director wisely distracted from this cerebral activity with lots of graphics. Stallone and Schwarzenegger looked old, but they still have presence, and they were clearly having fun together. Jim Caviezel took a break from his Person of Interest duties to deliver a similarly muted performance as a bad guy, the warden of the impossible-to-escape-from prison in which Stallone finds himself. You already know the plot, but that doesn't matter, because the movie implements it reasonably well and with good pacing, so the ride is fun.

If you're up for watching these two old action stars have fun with a prison breakout story, you'll enjoy Escape Plan. I did.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A food truck name I could not resist

Dr. Noodle

Think about it: He's a doctor, and he has noodles, or perhaps he's a doctor of noodles, a noodlist, or maybe he's a noodle who's learned to pass as a human doctor.  The possibilities are endless.

In any case, when I ran across this small food truck a few weeks ago, I had to know more about the good doctor, including how well he handles his noodles.  Sadly, he was out of the Phad-Thai, so I went with the Singapore-style street noodles with chicken.

They were delicious, with just a bit of heat to offset the simple flavors of the noodles and the chicken.

Why Dr. Noodle even offers fish and chips is simply beyond me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yeah, he's watching


Why Cone Man, of course, day and (here) night.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

What is he watching?

Anyone who dares to venture down my driveway.

Yeah, that's right: You do not want to cross Cone Man.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the road again: CONtraflow, New Orleans, day 4

After some morning work and a shower, I headed to the airport. The rental car return area at New Orleans airport is about as inconvenient as anyone could make it and still have it on the airport grounds, but after dropping off the car and walking the block or so back to the terminal, everything went swimmingly.

Flight times meant I had to grab lunch at the airport, but with a chicken po boy easily available, that wasn't the bad meal some airports guarantee.

The first flight departed and landed on schedule, so I had plenty of time in DFW to grab a tasty Red Mango parfait. I even went crazy and substituted the vanilla bean frozen yogurt for the normal "traditional" flavor.

After over an hour of work in the Admirals Club, I made the long walk to my gate and arrived just in time to learn that the flight was going to be an hour and a quarter late.

Back to the Admirals Club, back to work. 

All of that is behind me now, though, and I am happy to be home.  This week promises to be a very busy one, but it will include a visit to the North Carolina State Fair, so I can hardly complain.

At a dinner this weekend, I mentioned to some folks that one of my favorite short movie speeches was the Count's final words into the microphone at the end of The Boat That Rocked. Most had not heard it before, so I will end this trip's report with it.  Enjoy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On the road again: CONtraflow, New Orleans, day 3

Today, I caught up a little bit on sleep, which is to say that I had no con duties and so passed much of the day alternating long naps with stretches of work. It was delightful. During that time, I didn't eat anything, because I wanted to go into the city to grab dinner.

As evening crept closer, I had to make a tough decision: go for something elegant and upscale, such as John Besh's vaunted August, or opt for a more down-home, funky meal. The latter won tonight. Fortunately, Jude, a local friend, had supplied me with a list of interesting alternatives, so after much thought and Web browsing, I opted for a trip to Boo Koo BBQ.

To eat at Boo Koo, you first have to find Finn McCool's Irish Pub, a neighborhood gathering place that sits on a corner in an otherwise residential district.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

As you can see from this shot of the building's corner, the joint was hopping. 

Once you're there, you enter through the bar's main door, hang a sharp left, and walk until you run out of walkway. The Boo Koo order window awaits you.

We shared an order of the deep-fried truffle mac and cheese, which was absolutely delicious.

For my dinner, I chose the barbecue combo plate, which featured a little each of brisket, pulled pork, and pork ribs, with sides of baked beans and bleu cheese and cilantro slaw. 

Every single bite was tasty, with the brisket the star. Sitting outside on a picnic table, the sun setting, people all around laughing and talking and drinking and eating, I was incredibly glad I'd chosen to come there. I have a lot of trouble feeling like I belong anywhere, but being around so many people who clearly did belong with each other, I felt good, even happy.

As I was leaving, the neighborhood live oaks struck me as stunning reminders of the durability of a place that has lived through more than its share of grief.

This particular tree was magnificent, its trunk more than a yard in diameter.

In a very New Orleans contrast, walking up to the pub I'd noticed a few steps down from that tree these police barriers.

I wish I'd been able to spend more time in New Orleans, but this visit served to increase my desire to come back again.

Having learned about a local ice-cream maker, Creole Creamery, I of course had to sample their creations for dessert. The array of flavors was impressive indeed.

Every one I sampled was yummy.  If I lived here, they'd definitely get more of my business.

Tomorrow, I fly home!


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