I could write about the end-of-summer bounty appearing at farmers' markets across the state, the beautiful heirloom tomatoes, the coming end of the sweet corn, the transition from summer to winter squash. But instead, I give you this.
It may be nearly fall harvest time, but far more importantly, it's State Fair time! And while you can, if you try, eat healthy foods at the Fair, we really don't bother. One year I saw a mother tell her child, "No, honey, you can't have that, it's not healthy." I fear for that child--for if one can't eat bad-for-you food at the Fair, what's the point of life itself?
So here it is: my family's food journey on the opening day of the State Fair. Funnel cakes above, freshly deep-fried and drenched in powdered sugar. A bit much for me, but everyone else liked it.
Every year we try a few of the new items, and it's usually hit or miss. At times, it's a bit of a stretch what the vendors come up with and hawk as must-have food. This year was no exception. The Fry Dog (no photo, sorry), a French-fry wrapped, fried hot dog on a stick--was meh. Not bad, but not exciting. When we read that there would be a bratburger, DH got all excited imagining what that could be: a brat split open on top of a burger, topped with kraut and cheese? Alas, no.
Just a patty made out of brat meat, served on a pretzel bun. Again, not bad, but not unqiue enough to qualify as fab Fair food. Although it did give us the opportunity to enjoy this:
The one thing we tried that did send us into ecstasy was found here.
No, not chocolate-covered bacon, although that's available (as it was last year--are you listening, all you Wisconsinites who are gloating over its premier at your Fair this year??). Nope, this is bacon at its best, thick and meaty, cooked perfectly (just crispy, but still chewy). Bacon this good is worth celebrating.
Hard to argue with that.
Keep your naughty comments to yourself. I should add that later in the day Teen 2 went back for seconds, and it wasn't quite as good--fattier than meaty. Hopefully that's the exception.
The Teens are big into sweet treats. This was Teen 2's first food of the day.
Deep-fried s'mores on a stick, drizzled with chocolate. Yeah, I know--it screams novelty, but Teen 2 liked it.
Although he did note that the inside could have used more filling.
The gorilla bread, sold at the same stand that markets the Fry Dogs, was pretty darn tasty.
A warm, meltingly fresh caramel roll. Om nom nom.
And, of course, we never visit the Fair without picking up some of these:
Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven. No, we didn't get any Pronto-Pups; Teen 2 just liked the headgear. Corn dogs are so, you know, basic.
Teen 1 always gets one of these.
Deep-fried candy, in this case Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I think this stuff is gross, frankly; it's so sweet it makes my teeth itch. But given the brisk business they do every year, apparently I'm in the minority on that.
He also likes this.
Pizza on a stick. Sounds like another goofy novelty, but it's kind of like a calzone, and actually not bad.
As for me, my perennial Fair favorites don't involve sticks, but they do involve deep fryers.
Fried pickles with ranch dressing. You can also get them stuffed with cream cheese, or just unfried pickles on a stick, or pickle dogs, which are pickles wrapped in cream cheese and pastrami. I happen to prefer the original version, all crunchy and sour.
But no matter what else I eat, this is always, always, my favorite:
Deep-fried cheese curds. I know some places don't have these at their state fairs, and I'm sad to say that I must consider those fairs to be substandard. How can it be a complete fair without cheese curds??? Little salty, squeaky cheese pieces, lightly battered and fried? No place makes curds like the Fair, and I live in anticipation of them each year.
So there you have it--a fat- and sugar-filled trip to the Fair. If you'd like to see what we did besides eat, check out my column at WCCO.com. While I recover, I'll be away from blogging until after Labor Day. Enjoy the end of summer--and go get some cheese curds!!!