What is genius? Who would think to wrap a slice of bacon around a chunk of dill pickle, anchor it with a skewering pick, and then pop it in a deep fryer? And then to pair it with a Sloppy Joe burger with a glazed Krispy Kreme donut as the bun? The answer: Chicken Charlie's.
What about something that looks like what it is not? The French call this a “trompe l'oeil” — we call it an optical illusion. Texas Style BBQ calls it a BBQ Beef Sundae.
These are just a few of our favorite things sampled at the L.A. County Fair Food Preview, where we get a sneak taste of the newest menu items available at the Fair during its month-long run. The Fair opened Friday at the Pomona Fairplex.
Among the items we liked the best:
The BBQ Beef Sundae from Texas Style BBQ and runs about $7. They start with a paper sundae cup, fill it with mashed potatoes instead of ice cream, pave the dome with barbecued brisket slices, and top it with a cherry — a cherry tomato, that is. This is probably one of the healthier food options this year.
This year's rage is Chicken Charlie's Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe. The combination of a sweet, soft doughnut and ground beef cooked in a spicy, sweet sauce may seem like a novelty, but it also works. We enjoyed the juxtaposition of flavors. $7.75. Also available is a Krispy Kreme Sandwich featuring two full doughnuts, two ¼ pound burgers and two slices of cheese. $9.95. Our tip is to take a bite before adding condiments. We suspect it is loaded with fat, salt and calories, but then you are only having one this year, right?
Charlie's also offers four bacon-wrapped pickles on a skewer for $6.75. This is a tasty novelty, and the pickle keeps its crunch.
Try the Jalapeno Chips if you're craving a unique comfort food. These freshly-cooked potato chips are super thin, practically translucent, and they turn crispy as they cool, absolutely elegant in simplicity. But you can order them topped with warm and spicy jalapeno cheese sauce. This is a nice change from a baked potato and much more satisfying than a bag of ordinary chips. The chips are said to be gluten-free, using 100 percent pure allergen-free peanut oil. Each basket is hand stirred until done. At Tasti-Chips, $7.54. You can ask for them unsalted.
Bacon Nutella on Sourdough is perhaps the best indulgence at the Fair. The sub-sized slice of sourdough bread smells wonderful with its slathering of Nutella and sprinkling of bacon chunks. It is a mix of sweet and savory, but what a mix. The simplicity of this dish allows the flavors to burst, blend and play out across your tongue. At 10 Pound Buns, $7.11 for a full slice or $6.19 for a half-slice.
The Mango Smoothie from Cornucopia Cafe is better than ambrosia. It was 101 degrees the day of the preview, and the smoothie was cool (and cooling!) The cafe also offers piña colada and strawberry smoothies, $5.29 each.
A small, just-right-for-a-child size corn dog comes with a basket of tasty curly fries from Monster Dog Grill . The corn dog is $5.50 and curly fries $8.75. Perfect for less adventurous eaters (and small children). The grill also will offer its popular hot dog in a bun with grilled onions and peppers.
Crawfish Etouffee looks like a bowl of refried beans, but it's taste is much more complex. It has a nice Cajun spice snap with a soft fish undertone. A mound of firm rice in the bowl gives the offering a little bulk and soothes the heat just a tad. It's a mini Mardi Gras for the mouth. At Harold & Belle's to Geaux, $10.
We may not go to the Los Angeles County Fair just for the food, but it certainly is a magnet that gets us to return.