A is for Apple, as in Fried Apple Pie. The classic handpie gets a deep fried treatment at the hands of the folks with Carousel Concessions on the east side of the Cotton Bowl. For 7 tickets ($3.50) you can take away a crisp apple filled confection that will likely far surpass any typical fried pie in the area. My photographer, Grav Weldon, says “That is exactly what the crust of a fried pie should be, absolute perfection.”
B is for Bread Pudding, which shows up a lot of different places at the Texas State Fair. Newton’s Concessions (several locations all over the fairgrounds) has a version called the Awesome Bread Pudding. It’s a cinnamon packed pudding that’ll fill you up. This is what it looks like “naked;” it also comes with a nicely spice-full rum sauce.
Another version can be found at the Caribbean Foods place over north of the Magnolia Beer Garden, where they sell a Fried Bread Pudding. It’s a condensed slice of bread pudding fried in butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s a small sweet, but at 5 tickets ($2.50) it’s a cheap treat.
Then there’s El Bananarita -- one of the hot new foods at the Texas State Fair. It’s a banana wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep fried and covered with Sugar, cinnamon, honey whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry. We’re talking serious dessert here for 10 tickets ($5) at the Funnel Cake Stand on Fun Way in the Midway area.
And then there's the Deep Fried Biscuit and Gravy. This is actually more of a soft roll filled with white cream gravy (no meat) like a filled doughnut, dipped in batter and deep fried. We were surprised to find it was actually a meatless entry. The frying process brings the cold gravy up to medium warm temperature. Created by the Belgian Waffle people who brought you Fried Beer last year.
Then there’s the Critter Fritter, a cornmeal-packed ball of goodness. Start with a jalapeno pepper, stuff it with ground beef and Cheddar cheese, wrap it in cornmeal and deep fry it and cover it in nacho cheese. You can pick one up for six tickets ($3) and have a ball.
|This is Mizz Ruth|
It's also for Donkey Tail. The folks at Smokey Joe's BBQ came up with the idea that won a Big Tex in 2006. It's still popular -- a beef weiner split and stuffed with Cheddar cheese, wrapped in dough and deep fried. Ms. Ruth from Smokey Joe's has been making an award-winning chili for 49 years and if you ask real nice I bet you can get some of that on there, too.
F is for the Frozen Arnold Palmer, a new twist on an old favorite that combines a little Southern Hospitality with the brain freeze of a Slushee. It’s a nice cooling and refreshing treat that isn’t a day-glow color for 10 tickets ($5) from the Frozen Sweet Tea stands around the fair.
If you’re going to talk about frozen things, you should mention the Deep Fried Frozen Margarita. Jake at Desperado's Mexican Restaurant was explaining this to me. He takes the restaurant's signature frozen margarita mix (complete with tequila) and blends it with funnel cake mix. It's deep fried and served up in a margarita glass... with more frozen margarita mix (complete with tequila) poured over the top.
Comes topped with whipped cream. You have to be 21 to try this -- it has about the equivalent of a shot of tequila in it. It’s one of the finalists for this year’s Big Tex Awards, and it’s 12 tickets ($6).
F is also for Deep Fried Frito Pie, another delight you'll find at Bert's Burgers and Fries. Last year's Best Tasting Big Texas Award Winner is a collection of Fritos topped with chili and cheese, battered and deep fried and served up with salsa and sour cream. Still just as tasty as always. At Bert's Burgers and Fries in the Midway Food Court.
I is for Ice Cream, as in the Viva Las Vegas Fried Ice Cream. A big ball of vanilla ice cream rolled in cornflakes, dipped in batter, deep fried and then drizzled with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles and topped with a cherry and a guitar shaped piece of pastry dough. It’s a lot of sweet, cold and hot together -- but you need to eat it quick or you’ll have ice cream soup. 14 tickets ($7) at Barrera’s on the Midway.
Also, if you’re looking for cheap beverages, you’ll find a variety of fruit juices, milk, flavored milk and tea at the Oak Farms kiosk in the middle of the Coca-Cola Food Court for 3 tickets each ($1.50). The only other drinks you’ll find cheap are the water guys selling a cup of water or the Fried Bubblegum people who have coffee -- both at 3 tickets apiece.
cappuccino flavored ice cream and whipped cream, drizzled with maple syrup and instant coffee flakes… and yes, it does taste just like a designer latte. It’s 10 tickets ($%) at Desperado’s Mexican Restaurant stand east of the Cotton Bowl.
M is for Fried Meatballs. Made by the Bert’s Burgers and Fries folks, this is the latest entry from the same folks who won the 2010 Big Tex Award for Best Tasting with the Deep Fried Frito Pie. Big fat meatballs cut in half, dipped in batter, deep fried and served half a dozen at a time with marinara sauce and shredded cheese, it’s like eating a meatball sub without the bread. You’ll find Bert’s Burgers and Fries in the Midway Food Court, where it’s been for longer than I’ve been alive.
Then there's the Chocolate Nut Fudge. This is a log of chocolate fudge being cut up at the fudge stand inside the Exhibit Building. I don't think I've ever seen something so massive before made of fudge. Probably weighed 25 pounds or more and it smelled sinful. $6 a slice, two for $10 or buy 3 get one free ($18 for four) -- and it's one of the few places at the fair where you must pay cash, not tickets.
And then there's the Fried Cheesecake. I mean, how else could you make cheesecake better than to heat it up? Wrapped in a wonton-like dough, this popular dish from Bert’s Burgers and Fries on the west side of the Cotton Bowl is both tasty and easy to eat. We loved the melty flavor of the real cheesecake and the fact that it didn’t go all over the place. Bert’s, by the way, has been at this location for 35 years at the Fair, though the Bert family has been participating in the Texas State Fair since 1919, originally with a cafeteria and roller rink.
Pig on a Stick we found at the Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair, but with a gourmet twist. These are bacon-wrapped section of Hans Mueller sausages that are deep fried and served up with jalapeno slices the folks at Bailey’s candy themselves. They're 14 tickets ($7) and you'll find Bailey's inside the Coca-Cola Food Court.
Then there's pudding, as in the Deep Fried Banana Pudding. The pudding is wrapped in the tortilla, it's fried and then whipped cream and powdered sugar are added. I heard someone going on and on about how it was this fantastic crepe. Face it -- it's a banana cream hand pie. Really. But sweet. It's 8 tickets ($4) at BW's Famous Fried Ribs in the Coca-Cola Food Court.
And of course there's another finalist from this year's Big Tex Awards -- Deep Fried Pineapple Upside Down Cake. One of my favorites. It's actually quite small. It's a thick ring of pineapple dipped in cake batter, deep fried and served up with cherries and whipped cream -- and it is dead on right. I could inhale these things. They're 6 tickets ($3) so they're not exactly going to break the bank. Find it at Big as Texas booths.
P is also for pickles. Pickles are in this year. In addition to traditional pickles and the Kool-Aid Pickles that came out at last year's North Carolina State Fair, there are now Sweet Tea Pickles, which are somehow more tart and flavorful. We only found this variation at Cassie’s Fun Food along the Midway. It’s tarter than a Kool-Aid Pickle but with an additional sweetness that anyone who loves sour suckers is going to adore. Four tickets each ($2).
S is for the Sweet Jalapeno Shrimp Corndog from the Belgian Waffle folks. That's right, the folks that brought you fried beer have come up with something far more palatable this year -- a corndog with three shrimp instead of a weiner inside the batter. The whole mess is dipped in a sweet jalapeno sauce right before serving. Tastes a bit like General Tso's Shrimp. At 12 tickets ($6) it's more expensive than a regular corn dog -- but it's still pretty darn unusual.
Another T would be Turkey Legs -- which you'll find all over the fair. The best ones we found were at Benavidez, across from the swings on the Midway. Big, fat, juicy and fragrant, it's the best way to feel like a caveman (plus, if you wrap yours up tight it looks like an aluminum club).
ntroduced at the Arkansas State Fair in 2009), this is a bag of Nacho Cheese flavored Doritoes opened up along a side and topped with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, black olives and jalapenos. Constructed when you order it, if you’re meat-free they’ll hold the ground beef for ya. It's 12 tickets ($6) and you'll find it at the orange booth on the south side of the Cotton Bowl, right next to the Fried Bubblegum stand.
You should go read what I wrote for Serious Eats on the subject. If you really want to try it, you'll find it at the orange booth on the south side of the Cotton Bowl. It's 9 tickets ($4.50) for those three little balls, though I can't imagine why you'd want to try it unless you're under the age of 10.
For more information and to see the 25 best, check out the article we did for Serious Eats.