October 6, 2015

Everything’s bigger (and fried) at the Texas State Fair.

Here’s what two chefs think about this year’s fair fare.

Funnel cakes and corny dogs are child’s play. This year The State Fair has rolled out a menu that is not only creative (ahem, Smoky Bacon Margarita) but also. . . well, kind of gross at times. Yet Chefs Richard Blankenship (head chef at CBD Provisions) and Ruben Toraño (executive pastry chef at The Joule) were not intimidated: they opted to try all of the fair’s hot foods of 2015—tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

To break it down by numbers:

Dishes consumed: 7

Calories consumed: roughly 1,500, individually

Miles walked (while searching for the food): 3.5

Unfortunately, not everything was good. Actually, some of the dishes were just plain terrible. Check out their reviews below, and heed their warning:  just because you fry something doesn’t mean it tastes good.

Fried Red Velvet Oreos: Red velvet Oreos dusted with powder sugar and covered with frosting.

At first glance:

Richard: The frosting on top is freaking me out—it looks like mayo.

Ruben: I’m hungry so it looks good to me.

The final ruling:

Richard: Wow, it’s a stronger red velvet flavor than I thought it’d be. It’s not bad or good though. Although there is definitely too much frosting on it.

Ruben: It has a really traditional Oreo flavor—after all, red velvet is really just chocolate with red food coloring. The fried batter doesn’t really taste like anything. I’d work on making it more flavorful.

Pollo Queso: Spicy shredded chicken combined with cheese, bacon, and siracha sauce rolled into a ball and crusted with pretzels then deep fried. Served with jalapeño ranch sauce. 

At first glance:

Richard: These look like they were worth the wait and getting super lost to find them.

Ruben: Pollo Queso… a finalist for 2015. Let’s see if they live up to the name. They look really good since they just came right out of the frier.

The final ruling:

Richard: Wow this is so dope. It’s really zesty, spicy. But I would definitely kick up the spice a bit. The outside is fried perfectly, though.

Ruben: These are like Mexican meatballs. I don’t think I’d change anything on them. I’d stick three of them in a taco and serve them up.

Fried Guacamole Bites: Avocado mixed with cheddar, Monterey Jack cheese, and salsa, dipped in batter and deep fried. 

At first glance:

Richard: This hot creaminess just doesn’t seem safe… I’m going to eat it all to make sure.

Ruben: Presentation is a little lackluster. I don’t love the way the crust looks.

The final ruling:

Richard: Fried guacamole was okay, I guess. I didn’t like the crust, it would have been better with the pretzel crust from Pollo Queso.

Ruben: I feel like this is food-born illness central. These are really creamy. Too creamy—I don’t trust them.

Pumpkin Spice Donut Chip: Deep fried donut with ice cream and candied maple bacon.

At first glance:

Richard: If I had to live at the fair and eat here every day, this is what I’d eat for breakfast.

Ruben: Wow, this is the best presentation so far. It’s actual ice cream, which is a bonus point from me.

The final ruling:

Richard: This donut is so dry. Looks so much better than it tastes. It can’t even be saved.

Ruben: Too bad this just tastes like a dried out donut. I can see what they are doing—just taking a Krispy Kreme donut and sticking it on a panini maker. I’d fry the donut a little longer to bring out the pumpkin spice flavor better.

Cowboy Corn Crunch: Fried balled corn and cheese (elotes). 

At first glance:

Richard: The presentation is really simple. I’m surprised there isn’t any sort of dipping sauce to go along with it.

Ruben: We’re eating so many things that are in the shape of croquettes today. Logical for the fair, but a little repetitive when you’re trying it all.

The final ruling:

Richard: This dish is easy to make but really good. It’s simple—they didn’t try to do anything weird with it. I’d maybe add a little more spice to it if anything.

Ruben: I think more jalapeño would be key to making this dish a home run. It was really creamy, but in a good way compared to the fried guacamole.

Smoky Bacon Margarita: Electric green Margarita infused and topped with bacon.

At first glance:

Richard: I’m not looking forward to drinking this, I’m scared of it. The color is really frightening.

Ruben: I’m thirsty. We’ve eaten a lot of fried food. Bring it on.

The final ruling:

Richard: This just isn’t good. Hands down the worst thing we’ve eaten today so far. It tastes like sugary drink mix topped with old bacon.

Ruben: I don’t like the bacon flavor—it clashes with the Margarita. They just put bacon on this for the sake of putting bacon on it.

Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly: Fried carrot cake rolls topped with cinnamon sauce and served with whipped cream.

At first glance:

Richard: I like the presentation with the sugar carrot. I’m ready to eat it.

Ruben: This dessert is why I came to the fair. It looks like an egg roll wrapper filled with carrot cake cinnamon roll inside.

The final ruling:

Richard: Wow, the cinnamon glaze is amazing. It’d be really good with coffee.

Ruben: This didn’t let me down. I only wish the whipped cream dip was the cream cheese frosting we had from the Red Velvet Oreos. That would have added a little more dimension to the food.