FRIED AND FANTASTIC
By Ashley Bennett
Everyone knows what time of year it is by now. There’s no denying the smell of delicious, fattening foods pervading the air. It’s not even the single aroma of carne asada tacos, sweet onion rings or pancake batter-covered hot dogs that gets our attention. It’s a combined smell that just screams fat in a cup, on a stick and food fried in more fat—which means the 91st L.A. County Fair is well upon us. We don’t attend every year just to sniff out a simple chicken kabob or street taco—foodies return annually seeking the truly weird, bizarre and delicious items.
The problem with the fair is that with some pretty inflated food prices, the food sometimes just isn’t as good as we expect. Which is heart-breaking when you take the price of a single order into consideration. For a decent meal that isn’t oversaturated with powdered sugar or other ridiculous toppings, your safest bet to fuel a walk around the Fairplex is Ten Pound Buns. As the name suggests, this booth (which has been working with the L.A. County Fair for quite a while now) uses a slice from a ten-pound loaf of bread, covers it with toppings and bakes it fresh. Among choices like the Meat Lover or European, my personal favorite is the spicy Buffalo Chicken; toasted cheese topped with a mildly spicy buffalo sauce, sizzling chicken and a little extra cheese. The cheese is gooey and mixes well with the hot sauce—and it’s all made to order. It’s not healthy, but it’s filling for a good price.
The Giant Blooming Onion on the other hand has become a perfected staple of annual fair food. Although it’s simply a fried onion that becomes sweet as it’s cooked—a side of ranch makes it a mouth-watering, crunchy treat. However if you’re feeling the need for protein, get the Brisket Sundae from Texas Barbeque, a hearty meal that tricks you into thinking you’re diving into a fattening cup of ice cream. It’s by no means a sweet dish; the tender brisket slathered with barbeque sauce actually sits atop a cup filled with creamy mashed potatoes and one sweet, red tomato to top it off.
Chicken Charlie’s is the food booth with bright, almost blinding, LED lights that repeats digital scenes (like a pickle and piece of bacon wearing viking helmets charging each other in some glorious food battle). It’s an overly ridiculous presentation of food but it’s here you’ll find the best fried food. This year, the most unique of them all is the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe. This extremity of sweet and savory creates an addicting but dangerously sweet item. The “buns” are traditionally glazed Krispy Kreme donuts and between that precious protective barrier of doughy glaze is a heaping mess of sloppy joe seasoned beef and shredded american cheese. For those of you who don’t already know the feeling of eating half a box of Krispy Kreme donuts by yourself, you’ll want to take it easy with this one. Although Chicken Charlie’s has retired Fried Kool-Aid from last year’s menu (as well as Fried Girl Scout Cookies and Pop Tarts) guests to the fair can still get a pastry mouthfull of the traditional Fried Twinkie (covered in chocolate or strawberry sauce) or some totally awesome Totally Fried Oreos.
The L.A. County Fair will soon come to an end with just one more weekend left to make the annual foodie pilgrimage to Pomona. Snag those snacks while you can!
Thru Sept. 29. L.A. County Fair, Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, (909) 623-3111; www.fairplex.com. Payment options vary by booth.