Normally, I’d be sharing another simple + seasonal recipe that’s healthy and easy to prepare; most likely a fresh, nutritious side dish highlighting veggies from our summer garden which is doing really well this year, but since The Don’s been in and out of the hospital for the past two months, my heart really hasn’t been into it. I still have a few recipes from the Zucchini Throwdown to post and there’s a ton more zucchini and cucumbers piling up on the kitchen counter waiting for inspiration – maybe this weekend… In the meantime, with the OC Fair in full swing and my serving as one of the judges for the Concessionaires Cup Awards, I’ve decided to devote this week to all things fair and fried!
The theme for this year’s OC Fair is very simply, “Let’s Eat!”, and that’s just what I did yesterday, along with Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, when we shoved our healthy eating habits to the side to dive into tasting the many fried, grilled, smoked, sweet, savory, decadent, heart-stopping, mega-sized munchies affectionately known as fair food.
The Concessionaires Cup is where the concessionaires “strut their stuff”and compete for awards and bragging rights in this annual competition. Andrew and I were seated on the Promenade stage as entries for fried sides, snacks, sweets, grilled foods, and single item “mains” were placed before us. We weren’t shy ( no forks and knives here) … some of the entries are major league massive and require practically unhinging your jaw to take a bite: e.g. Chicken Charlie’s grilled chicken sandwich and the Burger Joint’s Belly Buster Burger. What concessionaires choose to enter varies each year, we didn’t have any of the chocolate covered bacon, fried zucchini, or funnel cakes but I know they’re out there!
So join in on the fun! For a day, throw caution to the wind and enjoy some of these Concessionaire’s Cup fair food winners:
Trophy for Best Single Item was awarded to Burger Joint’s Belly Buster Burger (below). A very juicy burger with a unique focaccia-like sesame seed bun, the photo doesn’t do it justice – I should have put my hand next to it so you could see that it’s the size of a Chicago deep-dish pizza and could feed a family of 6!
Fried Sides: Australian Battered Potatoes – perfectly cooked sliced potatoes with a crispy batter and your choice of sauces. Andrew liked dipping them first in cool, creamy sour cream and then the sweet, spicy chili for a delicious contrast of flavors, I liked the kick of the jalapeno cheese sauce.
Fried Sweets: Chicken Charlie’s Deep-Fried Klondike Bar – to get the full fair experience you should take a bite of this baby so the cool, creamy vanilla ice cream drips down your chin and you can lick the chocolate drizzled pastry crumbs off your fingers! Sorry I didn’t get a photo of this – but as judges we were there to taste and only had a chance to take a few shots before and after. Visit the OCRegister’s Food Frenzy for photos from last year and more on Chicken Charlie’s devotion to everything fried. Second prize went to the giant Texas Donut’s Maple/Bacon Donut that’s as big as your head:
Fried Entrees: Chicken Charlie’s Fried Beef Ribs– frying adds a surprising, delicious crispy crust to the tender meat swathed in a tangy, not too spicy BBQ sauce.
Grilled Entrees: Chuck Wagon Pork Ribs – the real deal: smoky, tender meat that yields when teeth meet bone – that’s the joy of eating ribs! 2nd prize went to the Monte Cristo Sandwich – grilled cinnamon french toast with turkey, ham, and swiss cheese offers a delicious sweet/savory combination.
Hot dogs/sausages: Pink’s Royal Dog, created when Prince William and Princess Kate visited LA in June; two hot dogs in one bun, topped with mustard, cheese, onions, pickle relish with two slices of bacon and a spoonful of Pink’s famous chili. All the flavors you love and that all-important snap you get when biting into Pink’s world-famous hot dogs. Awarded the Concessionaires Cup for Best in a Bun.
Baked sweets: JP’s Cinnamon Rolls – try them with the nuts on top! They’re in the white Parade of Products building back in the corner.
Fresh Sweets: Terri’s Berri’s Chocolate Madness – lots of fresh berries gives this decadent dessert a healthy component 🙂 along with chocolate dipped red vines, chocolate dipped marshmallows on a stick, and white chocolate rice krispie bars on a stick! Awarded the Concessionaire’s Cup for Best on a Stick, too.
Terri’s Berri’s with their trophy.