Lovers of deep-fried foods, rejoice! The Arizona State Fair is now in full swing. Whatever food you can think of, the odds are good that someone has deep fried it, covered it in bacon, or both. We went out this weekend to indulge in some of the more unusual eats (hold the chocolate-covered scorpion, please), and can't wait to tell you all about them.
Bacon Batter Corn Dog The folks at Mustard's, right in the middle of the midway, tout the award-winning nature of their bacon batter corn dog (pictured above). It's exactly what it sounds like, a regular corn dog with crumbled bacon in the batter. The bacon didn't give much bacony flavor to the corn dog. But, since the bacon was cooked before going into the batter, it gave the corn dog and extra-crunchy texture that was very enjoyable. I'd say it's worth the upcharge over a plain corn dog.
Bacon Cotton Candy I know bacon makes everything better, but the bacon-flavored cotton candy available close to Kiddieland may be a bridge too far. The flavor was . . . unusual. At first, the novelty of sweet cotton candy with a salty hit of bacon was enjoyable, but I got tired of the flavor pretty quickly. One of my friends gleefully devoured the rest of the bag, though. I suggest splitting a bag among your entire party; someone is sure to love it and steal the bag from everyone else.
Deep Fried Lasagna When we saw deep-fried lasagna on offer at an XXL booth on the west side of the Fair, we weren't sure what to make of it. It was sort of like a chimichanga, but with noodles in place of the tortilla, and cheese and a selection of meat on the inside. The whole mess was breaded, then deep-fried. My research shows that it's been on the menu at a casual chain restaurant, but a ridiculous dish like this belongs at the Arizona State Fair.
It certainly didn't do much in the looks department. Thank goodness looks were deceiving; it was freaking delicious. The crisped pasta outside contrasted well with the gooey interior. Marinara sauce made it extra-savory, giving more depth than your usual deep-fried Fair fare. Even better, $10 for a full one is a reasonably priced lunch main course for two. This one is definitely worth a stop.
Bacon-A-Fair is one-stop shopping for all things covered in bacon. The list on the program was impressive but was just a drop in the bucket compared to the full menu. One could argue that the signature item is a smoked turkey leg wrapped in a full pound of bacon. You can feel your cholesterol level go through the roof just by breathing the air around the stand. I wish I could tell you how it was. Alas, I was already stuffed to the point that I was nearly overcome by the bacon fumes. Can someone who tries it do me a favor and report back?
Overloaded Baked Potatoes These suckers looked almost as big as a football once they were fully loaded. And hey, since it's a baked potato instead of something deep-fried, that means it's healthy, right?
Deep Fried PB&J S'mores I feel like the PB&J S'mores available near the Tilt-a-Whirl might have been trying a little too hard. There were layers of marshmallow crème, peanut butter, and jelly, sandwiched between graham crackers before getting the traditional deep-fry treatment. Instead of everything coming together, it came across as being not quite PB&J, not quite s'mores. It was a soft ball of lightly sweet, lightly peanut buttery deep-fried soft carbs. I think from this booth, the better bet is a deep-fried Oreo sundae. The hot deep-fried Oreos and cold soft-serve ice cream are a very enjoyable juxtaposition.
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Deep Fried Nutella Nutella is already divine in its own right. One could argue that deep-frying Nutella is gilding the lily. I say that in this case, too much of a good thing is amazing. The folks peddling deep-fried Nutella at Sweet Cheeks (what a smirk-inducing name) on the south end of the grandstand are, in my book, guilty pleasure demigods. Apparently the admiration is mutual; the lady who runs Sweet Cheeks recognized me.
The warm Nutella gets a sinfully gooey texture akin to hot fudge (speaking of which, how have I never seen a deep-fried hot fudge sundae at the Fair? Concessionaires, I know you read this; if you have deep-fried hot fudge or Nutella sundaes next year, I will love you forever.), which is pleasantly contrasted by the crisp, deep-fried exterior. I know this is dastardly unhealthy, but I'm strongly considering sneaking back in just for this one.
I was sad I missed one thing: The onion ring corn dog. When we were there, the Big Dogs stand on the southwest side of the Fair wasn't yet offering them. I'll have to head back soon to try one. And hopefully they'll also bring back the crave-inducing sweet potato corn dogs they had last year.