Friday, September 29, 2006

Fair enough

Today I went to the fair with Sean and Nikki. I have heard that the L.A. County Fair is bigger than some state fairs, and I believe it. It's absolutely ginormous, with all the hoopla one might expect from a large state or county fair. When we walked in we were assaulted with the sight of a tiny girl throwing a real dart wildly out of control, the screams of fairgoers enjoying rides that no doubt barely passed safety inspections, and the smell of fried everything. We followed our noses... because, as you are about to see, I am all about fair food. I also like the home arts exhibits and the animals, but mostly I am there for the food. Especially if it's fried or served on a stick.

First score of the day: the infamous Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. My understanding is that this new item is exclusive to the L.A. County Fair -- and my question is, are other fairs clamoring for this delicacy? Conclusion: they should be.

Not nearly as hideous as it sounds, it features a chicken breast (grilled or deep-fried? Sorry, I can't recall, as I was too busy wolfing the thing down) and cheese on a sliced Krispy Kreme glazed donut. It comes with a packet of honey, which I recommend not using because this sandwich is so sweet anyway. It set the tone for the rest of the day: we vowed to eschew any foods we could find easily elsewhere and stick to only-at-the-fair cuisine. Mile-long hotdogs? No thanks. Egg roll on a stick? Now you're talking...

Here's an entire pig roasting on a spit -- not something a suburbanite like me sees every day. Boy, did it smell gooood.

The Krispy Kreme sandwich stand is right next to the home arts exhibit so we wiped the sugar glaze off of us and went in for a look around. The fair folks don't call it "home arts" anymore. Now it's all divided up into fancy-sounding categories like "Culinary Styles" and "Tapestry." Some things, though, remain the same, like the table-setting competition. This has got to be the dorkiest competition at the fair, though I really liked the winning entry, pictured above. It's kind of hard to see, but it has a Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Sean said, "We could decorate a table like that." Under which set of circumstances, he did not specify.

This was the aisle with all the Christmas crafts. Very pretty.

My two favorite items in the so-called Tapestry exhibit are pictured here. On the left we have a crocheted cactus garden, and on the right is a crocheted underwater kelp garden. I love finding odd knitted or crocheted things: eyeballs, digestive systems, monsters, cupcakes. They're so delightfully weird. These two items, which appeared not to be in competition and were simply presented for fairgoers' enjoyment, were the find of the day.

A knitted car cover. (The words are part of the knitting.) Nikki thought the makers cheated because they failed to include little pockets to cover the side mirrors.

Dammit, we missed it!

Apple fries: deep-fried apple slices rolled in sugar and cinnamon, served with an enormous dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of raspberry sauce. The verdict: tasty, but too limp.

Deep-fried corn on the cob. The verdict: appetizing, but it just tasted like regular old roasted corn on the cob drenched in butter.

We saw a celebrity.

We decided to pass on this attraction. Nikki figured it was just a few mile-long hotdogs in disguise.

The most utterly cute things at the fair were these pot-bellied piglets, which must only have been a few days old. This picture conveys neither how adorable nor how tiny they were: they were no larger than a full-grown, well-fed guinea pig and each could easily have been held in one hand. This pen held five piglets plus their exhausted-looking mother; when they weren't feeding, the piglets all climbed atop one another to keep warm in the ninety degree heat.

Another piglet, larger but nearly as cute as the pot-bellied variety. She went nuts, squealing and grunting, when the woman in the red shirt went into the enclosure next door to bottle-feed some baby goats. Her name was Olivia.

There were dozens of varieties of chickens and other poultry at the fair. I liked this rooster because he had such ridiculously long legs, he couldn't help strutting.

These sweet-faced guys were zonkeys, a cross between a zebra and a donkey. The one in the back seemed content to munch away on his hay, but the fellow in front looked like he wanted some human companionship. Too bad, because there were two fences between him and us.

Dr. Bob's Handcrafted Ice Cream is the best ice cream I've ever eaten. I had dark chocolate, Sean had cappuccino crunch, and Nikki had lemon sorbet -- all good, but mine took the blue ribbon. I ordered a single scoop and the kid at the counter dug his ice cream scoop into the vat three times to fill my cup. "That's a single scoop?" I squeaked, eyeing the enormous mound. "Yeah," he said. "Do you want me to put some of it back?" "Are you kidding?" It was amazing, but even with Sean and Nikki helping me, I couldn't finish it all. If you like premium ice cream, treat yourself to some Dr. Bob's; they do overnight delivery all over the country.

The sinking Titanic inflatable slide is possibly the most tasteless fair attraction I have ever seen. If I hadn't exceeded the weight limit, I would totally have gone on it.

Indian Fry Bread. The whole time we were nibbling on it, I kept thinking of Smoke Signals and "Hey, Victor!" I'm sure the garlic and parmesan cheese topping added to the authenticity. It was good, greasy fun.

These roses, part of the "Road to Morocco" garden exhibit, are hard to describe. They were injected with dye to make their petals change colors -- each one really looked like a rainbow. Even though they were real, they were so unusual-looking that they seemed fake.

Finally -- what the fair is all about. Thank you, powers that be, for the Texas Donuts booth.

Batter-dipped, deep-fried, AND on a stick! Sheer perfection. Once I had consumed my deep-fried Snickers, my day was done and we lit out for home.


~ Lucy said...

Dammit! I've been a few times with the kids but it was never as much fun as you described here. Although I did have the best tamale of my life at the fair. Still, next time I'm ditching the kids and going with you guys!

area51 said...


Chris said...

Fairs are definitely all about the food!