Friday, October 15, 2010

Exotic meats off the midway.

RABBIT ON A BUN:  Barbecue sauce optional
I’ve picked up a bit of criticism for not featuring some of the more healthy items at the Arkansas State Fair. And yes, there are a couple I have just outright forgotten to expound on.
Now, the healthiest and yet most exotic place to eat on the Fairgrounds this time around happens to be a mighty far walk from almost any gate, which in a way makes it a more healthful adventure.
And when you walk up to this place, it doesn’t seem like much. It’s a little yellow trailer just north of the rabbit facility, across the street from the FFA’s big petting zoo. But there are three original items here you won’t find at any other state fair, anywhere.
The one you’ve heard so much about are the Chocolate Smoochies. I’ve been calling them Smooches because I think I heard them wrong right off the bat and that stuck with me. But there they are on the sign — Hershey’s Kisses (or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) wrapped in a biscuit dough and deep fried. There’s a sugarless version, though I cannot imagine why.
These little bombs of joy are tasty, and you get four of them for $4. Good deal. Best for sharing. But that’s not the healthy bit. For that, you have to go for some goat or rabbit. No joke. Go look on the jump.
I’ve been by this booth a couple of times. They weren’t open the moment the Fair opened on Friday, but that was fine. I came back. My first trip back was with Grav last Sunday. We photographed the Cabritas Wrap ($7) while we were there. This is absolutely the healthiest thing we found at the Fair this year. Strips of goat are smoked and served up with chunks of tomato on a tortilla. There are a couple of different barbecue sauces you can add, if you like. The meat is clean, tasty and yeah, that’s goat.
We also had to share some Chocolate Smoochies. C’mon, they were right there. We’d walked all that way back for them. You should, too.
Went back yesterday with another one of my photographic cadre, Elizabeth James. Now, I tried the BBQ Rabbit Sandwich at a preview before the fair, and I thought it was more sauce than meat then, but several people had asked me to go back and give it a better shot. Hunter has been recovering from the sniffles, so this was really the first chance I’d had to be at the Fair and in a position where I could go get this delicacy for myself.
And it was a different beast. The tender shredded rabbit had been marinated in the sweet barbecue sauce, sure — but it was also much cleaner. For $7, you get a pile of rabbit meat on a bun. The sauce is up to you.
All three of us tried it — yes, did I mention Hunter was with us? Hunter was completely uninterested in the bread. She just grabbed shred after shred of rabbit from my fork. Beth and I split the sandwich and tried it with some added barbecue sauce.
Now, yes, it does have a chicken-y flavor to it. But this time around I could tell it was rabbit, and it was tasty. Yay. Very good.
But how did these things come to be offered at our state fair? Well, the folks running The Feed Trough say the meat is from two families who farm goats and rabbits. Makes sense to me. Their endeavors are getting a lot of media attention — and a lot of repeat customers.
So how do you get to the Feed Trough? If you’re starting at the Main Gate, head straight back to the end of the Midway, turn left at the Swine Facility and go up the hill. The little yellow trailer is on the right just past Mitch’s. Of course, you have just three days to try this delicacy for yourself. You’d better get going.

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