The fair season is kicking off once again and the doors to the San Diego County Fair will be open June 8 until July 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The theme for this year’s fair is Game On! focusing on classic board games as well as the more computer-oriented variety. And to fit that theme, the entrance features a rotating Donkey Kong climbing a Jenga tower with arcade machines at either side. As for mascots or interesting characters, this was the hardest to pull off. Last year there were aliens walking around to fit in with the Out of This World theme. Instead, there were giant replicas of chess pieces, Connect Four and cakes decorated as games scattered throughout the fairgrounds.
There was one exception. One person was walking around dressed as a pig to promote Big Bite Bacon Fest on June 16. If there wasn’t enough bacon already, this day (sharing it with Father’s Day) promises to fulfill any porcine fantasy. Cost is $55 per a person and includes unlimited tastings of all things with bacon, craft beers along with admission. Donut Bar will be selling their Jim Beam Maple Bacon Donut and other stalls plan to have similar pork-based products. If you can’t make it June 16, there is still a lot of food to be had, with or without bacon.
One thing that caught my eye was the bacon beer by Bacon-A-Fair. It’s root beer infused with visible floating pools of bacon lard and several bacon swizzle sticks. There’s really not much to make this creation, just soda and crisp bacon. (A perfect waste of bacon if you ask me.) Bacon-A-Fair’s other new items are boar skewers threaded with veggies with pineapple, their addictive jalapeño jack cheese-wrapped bacon and drizzled with garlic butter and bacon truffle fries.
Chicken Charlie’s steps up to the plate again and this year introduces the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe. It’s as exactly what a ground beef with tomato sauce on a glazed donut tastes like. Out of curiosity I took one bite and that was enough; it seemed a lot of people felt the same way. Chicken Charlie’s tries to out do each other every year. Other new items include bacon pickles (my feelings are mixed on this), deep-fried cookie dough and waffle dogs (both which were unavailable at the media party).
On the sweet end of the spectrum, bags of bacon-flavored cotton candy will be sold at the Odyssey. With its odd brown color, it looks anything but unappealing but might be a nice sweet-salty treat for someone who enjoys dredging their bacon in maple syrup. As someone that doesn’t like cotton candy, the bacon flavor with the fluffy texture is a bit off-putting.
A surefire hit this year is the Piña Colada parfait from the Gingerbread Shop. Formerly called the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, their newest offering isn’t as sweet as you’d expect (despite the copious amounts of whipped cream) and served warm. They had a misstep last year with their overly sweet butter beer inspired by Harry Potter.
With all the bacon-centric items going on, it’s easy to miss the healthier options, notably The Turkey Shack. Sliders, sausages, sandwiches, bowls and turkey legs are available for the health-conscious consumer.
I’m hoping next year that bacon goes away completely, and this year’s solitary day devoted to bacon will be its final send off.
There are other days devoted to food than just bacon. There’s an International Beer Festival June 21-23 for $55 that touts unlimited samplings of more than 300 beers from around the world with fair admission. (For $90 you get all the above and it bumps you up to the VIP brewers lounge plus early admission and unlimited food pairings.) Wine lovers should attend the fair on June 15 for the Wine Festival. Tickets are $58 per person and includes fair admission and unlimited samplings.