I’m at the age where health care professionals say I need to watch what I eat and for the most part, I’ve been behaving. But, I’m on vacation this week in Western New York and because I’ve been somewhat good in my eating habits, I took a little break while visiting the Erie County Fair, now in its 175th year. During this year’s visit, rather than tour the fun house or grip for dear life on one of those rides that now turn me green, my parents and I were on a foodie adventure.
I can’t remember the last time I attended this fair, New York State’s second largest only behind the State Fair, but as soon as I walked through the gates with my parents, memories of those fair days gushed back. When I was a kid we really didn’t buy much fair food other than a bag of cotton candy or ice cream cone when we left after a long day. We were one of those families who packed it in. The menu was typically fried chicken, hard-boiled eggs, blueberry muffins and maybe something healthy like fruit. My mom pointed out picnic tables in a shaded grassy area and reminded me which one served as our home-base during those fair days.
“Did you see the new food that will be at the fair?” My mom had texted about a month prior to my visit.
Thanks to an article in The Buffalo News, we were able to narrow our menu choices down but once at the fair, needed to find each of the specific foods on our “must-try” list. We even stopped a couple of security guards in our quest to find the “baconana.” They directed us to the information booth.
Here’s a run down of what we tasted:
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Found at Little Buck-a-Roos, this is probably the best deal at the fair because everything from this food tent is $1. Hot dog? $1. Chicken nuggets (3 count)? $1. Hamburger. $1. Add .50 for cheese. Plus, the grilled cheese was just as it should be, greasy and crisp on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Drop a tip in their bucket and the whole team shouts, “thank you.”
Mac and Cheese Dog – This was my mom’s conquest and was a Nathan’s hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese accented with crumbled bacon. She’s a fan and would buy it again.
Deep-Fried Gummy Bear – After reading the review in The Buffalo News we were hesitant in trying because the reviewer was not impressed. It wasn’t bad and could have been cooked a little more because although the outside was crisp, it was a little doughy inside and the gummy bear was still pretty solid, although some of it had melted. One of the men who took our order said they don’t keep it in the oil long because it would liquify the bear. I suppose it would be like deep-fried butter.
Italian Sausage – Kinda difficult to screw up this classic and this one did not disappoint. This was my dad’s quest and he said the portion size was larger than previous years. Maybe it’s a sign of the economy improving? Who knows.
Deep-Fried Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Served fresh out of the grease, these were amazing little cubes of heaven. Soft, hot and garlicky inside while crisp and firm on the outside. They were accompanied with a sour cream sauce, which I didn’t pay attention to what it was but complemented these cubes nicely.
Deep-Fried Avocado Fries – These were probably my fave fair food because they were crispy on the outside but not overly drenched in coating which maintained the integrity of the avocado flavor and soft texture. The coating had a slight touch of spicy heat. The accompanying sauce was almost like mustard and sweet-and-sour sauce combined. I’d definitely have these again.
Baconana – Honestly, I’m not really a fan of frozen bananas because when eating them I feel like I’m a toothless kid gnawing on a teething cookie, but seeing the word “bacon” triggered my “must-have” button. After placing my order, the gal reached in the freezer for a naked, frozen banana. She dipped it in melted chocolate then rolled it and covered it in crumbled bacon. The result? I didn’t feel like a toothless kid because the banana wasn’t frozen enough to chip a tooth. Combined, it was a sweet, savory, crunchy and creamy party in my mouth. And yes, I’d buy it again.
Tell me, what’s your favorite fair food?