San Diego County Fair: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid
I look forward to the San Diego County Fair media party each year. It’s a chance to see some former coworkers, catch up and— of course— to sample the food. The problem with the media party— which is open to all people associated with the media in either radio, television, online or print— is that the menus are limited. Fortunately, everything is served in manageable samples.
This year’s theme is Race to the Fair with an emphasis on cars and racing. On display are cars (including the Ectomobile from “Ghostbusters”), mini remote controlled cars and turkeys that race. Yes, I know the last one is a bit of stretch but maybe the losing turkey is smoked?
While no losing turkeys were consumed during this party, what was available is mostly deep fried. There are usual offenders: french fries, zucchini strips, onion rings. And the ones are more commonplace, especially at fairs: Twinkies, frogs legs, avocados, frozen Klondike bars and butter (all seen last year).
This year, the newest offering is the deep-fried Kool-Aid. Yes, Kool-Aid.
I saw this trend toward deep frying drinks a few years ago at the Orange County Fair with deep-fried Coke. It’s a bit of a stretch to call it a deep-fried drink when in reality it’s really just beverage-flavored dough. Same thing with the Kool-Aid. Strawberry-flavored Kool-Aid to be exact.
It’s an interesting take on the concept by Chicken Charlie’s but not fully evolved. I detected undissolved Kool-Aid granules in some bites of their fluorescent pink donut hole-sized portions. Chicken Charlie’s also had a deep-fried brownie which is a hit or miss depending on who you talked to. The Chicken Charlie’s stand appears to be the king of deep-fried dishes; their menu also includes Girl Scout cookies, pb&j sandwiches and White Castle burgers— yes, all fried.
At the party, an unknown vendor was walking around and pushing “cornacopia” to attendees. What looks like a biscuit on a stick is in actuality a corn on the cob portion battered and deep fried. The batter was halfway cooked and the accompanying spicy honey sauce didn’t help the dish. My opinion: stick with the grilled corn-in-the-husk served near the entrance.
Another miss is the chocolate-covered corn dog, pushed again by some unknown vendor. (I’m beginning to think that these vendors like to be unknown in case of failed food experiments.) I like to try a little bit of everything but I passed on this completely. The combination of hot chocolate sauce and sprinkles covering a corn dog failed to entice a taste from me.
One item that was a hit in both concept AND taste is the Eton Mess Pudding by the Gingerbread Shop. I usually pass on this place— the gingerbread house theme always seems out of place especially at the start of summer— but it was their sign about this dessert being served at Kate and William’s wedding that drew me (and others) in. Their Eton Mess pudding is macerated strawberries and raspberry puree with vanilla ice cream, meringue bits and whipped cream, served in a dainty plastic champagne glass. The different textures was a nice touch and I’m sure even the burliest of men might enjoy this without having to extend a pinky finger.
I saw they had rides at this year’s party, which seemed like a big gamble considering all the, um, “food” options. Based on personal experiences, be sure to stay away if you have a full stomach or just after consuming deep-fried chocolate-covered bacon butter (or whatever).
The San Diego County Fair will be open to the general public on June 10 and running until July 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Read last year’s post here.