Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eggin' at the Fair.

LIKE A CORNDOG:  But with an egg
That there is something I thought was an original — something no one’s every really done before. It’s adeep fried battered hard boiled egg, and it’s one of the many things you’ll find this year at theArkansas State Fair. That’s the thing, though — even though the dish makes its first appearance this year, it’s not completely original.
SIMILAR?  Sambal Telur
  • SIMILAR? Sambal Telur
No, there’s a dish called Sambal Telur in Indonesia that is essentially battered and deep fried hard boiled eggs with sambal sauce (a tomato-chili sauce) out of Malay. Then again, look from one to the other and there’s not all that much to compare. There are eggs and a frying process. That’s about it.
So what does a deep fried battered hard boiled egg taste like? And what’s the one true new original product we know that’s coming to the Arkansas State Fair this year? Go check it out, on the jump.
First off, the deep fried battered hard boiled egg. I was hesitant — I mean, after all, I’ve eaten more eggs this summer than I usually consume in a year. But that’s what I get paid the big bucks for — trying out food so you know what to expect.
(I hear laughter from the boss out there somewhere — he knows how much I make doing this.)
Well, frankly, it’s a corn dog with a hard boiled egg instead of a weiner. There’s not as much flavor to the cornmeal batter as you get with a corn dog, but that’s because there’s no exchange of grease between what’s batter-dipped and the batter. That being said, it’s a nice clean flavor. The egg is just salty enough to not taste bland. The batter is unsweetened.
But dip it, that’s a different story. There are a couple of different dips available. The stone-ground mustard was all right, but I really liked the jalapeno ranch with it. Gave the whole thing a nice bite, kinda Southwestern.
So, how’d I get this preview? The State Fair folks held a press conference today to talk about what was coming up at this year’s big show. And they pulled out all the stops and shared with us what’s going to be served up by vendors this year. Pretty awesome, actually.
HARD WORK:  Grav samples a Donkey Tail
Not that I haven’t already been doing a lot of research. I just got back from the Texas State Fair, where photographer Grav Weldon and I spent a few days in Dallas and traversed the vast span with hundreds of thousands of other fairgoers. We were especially keen to discover new foods that might be introduced at the Arkansas State Fair, and to give you the big story behind some of the more infamous items to come from there this year. Later on, I’ll be bringing you the story of our fried beer experience. Trust me, you’ll want to stick around for that.
But back to the subject at hand — what’s new and unusual at the Arkansas State Fair? While I’ve discovered Fried Gator on a Stick at several Arkansas festivals, battered and deep fried broccoli at the Finish Line CafĂ© at PTC’s South Campus and fried dill pickles just about everywhere, there are two items that I have seen nowhere else. The first one — I’m kicking my own butt over because I didn’t get a good shot of it. But it really doesn’t matter. It’s the BBQ Rabbit Sandwich, and frankly I just wonder why. I mean, rabbit is quite tasty. It has a particular flavor I find rather enjoyable. But shredded and stewed in a sweet barbecue sauce and it might as well be chicken. Really. If you’re going to get it, just realize you’re paying for the rights to say you ate something cool and leave it at that.
Or get a Goat Wrap. Another thing where the photo just didn’t come out (what the heck was up with my camera this morning, anyway?), I found it to be far more satisfying. And we’re not talking about rocket science here. It’s basically a tortilla wrapped around a nice pile of smoked chopped goat served up with a regular or spicy barbecue sauce. And it’s great. The full flavor of the goat comes through — somewhere between beef, wild boar and racoon, in my opinion. If you’re wanting to brag about your exotic meat experience, here you go.
ORIGINAL:  Chocolate Smooches
But the truly unique item at the Arkansas State Fair might surprise you. You’re going to wonder how come no one else has thought of this yet. It’s the thickly battered, deep fried Hershey’s Kiss, and it’s called a Chocolate Smooch. Each Kiss hit’s the deep fryer somewhat frozen in its coating of dip, which puffs out quite a bit. Each one is dusted with powdered sugar. I like this. This is the perfect sharing item for the fair this year. The finished product is a little smaller in mass than a doughnut, and it’s a lot like a chocolate filled doughnut, just not that sweet. The dough is salty enough to provide a good balance. This is the dish I’ll be ordering when I go to the fair with friends — so I can share the experience.
There’ll be a lot more these coming days about the Arkansas State Fair and all its food. Stay tuned.

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