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Thursday, August 31, 2017

what's better than fair food? (hint: nothing)

it's almost l.a. county fair time, folks!

like last year, i got to go to their pre-opening media day with my friend irma and a couple of other friends from school.  and like last year, it was insanely hot as we're experiencing an extra super duper intense heat wave right now.  but hey - it's fair time, and you know what that means...fair food!

we met up at the check-in table, which happened to be right next to one of chicken charlie's massive food booths.

the setup for media day was a little different this year, being a lot closer to the entrance and condensed a bit so that the offerings were mostly right next to each other.  the first thing we noticed as we walked in was the afters ice cream truck.  they have several locations throughout soCA and are known for the "milky bun," which is basically a fresh donut that they stuff with housemade ice cream.

beyond that we came across the bug bar.  yeah, i said it - bugs.  they weren't completely set up yet, so we took some pictures and moved on.

because we knew he'd have some of the most popular offerings at the fair (and also because he's a really nice guy - super personable and great to talk to), we went back over to chicken charlie's to see what new concoctions he'd come up with for this year's fair.  and sure enough, he was behind the counter explaining one of his newest creations...the cotton candy ice cream sandwich.

it's exactly that - cotton candy that's been packed down to create a two cookie-like bases, with creamy vanilla ice cream smushed in between and then rolled in fruity pebbles.

he also had his famous maui chicken bowl - half of a pineapple stuffed with grilled chicken teriyaki and a scoop of rice.  this is a top seller and probably one of my favorite things of the day.  also probably one of the healthiest things you can find to eat at the fair.

on the other end of the spectrum, you have this:  a krispy kreme chicken sandwich...but with ice cream and a bit of jelly and more fruity pebbles.  it sounds weird, looks even crazier and i had to take at least one bite of it.

it's not something i'd actually order, but i'm glad i tried it.  if nothing else, chicken charlie really knows how to cook a piece of chicken.

oh, and that cotton candy ice cream sandwich?  it's actually really delicious.  i only managed about a quarter of it because i knew we'd be trying a ton of other stuff over the next couple of hours, but i guarantee you it'll be a huge hit with kids and adults alike.

the other new item this year was the funnel cake burrito.  oh yeah.  funnel cake with cinnamon and apples rolled into a tortilla, topped with more apples, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a caramel drizzle.  i'm sure you can guess that i didn't partake in this one, but my friends did and said it was crazy delicious.

these fresh potato chips drizzled with cheese from the tasti chips booth are always a winner.  so yum.

pink's brings their entire hot dog lineup to the fair.  they also offer lots of variations on cheese fries - chili, bacon, carne asada...you name it, it's here.

the plant food for people booth offers vegan eats.  you know that's not my thing, but here's their menu and a shot of their tacos and nachos.  they use marinated jackfruit in place of the meat.

when we were in san francisco last year, we had a treat called "dragon breath" - a fun fruit loop-ish snack soaked in liquid nitrogen so that it would look like it was smoky.  well, this year at the fair there's a new snack called nitro pop candy.  it's basically the same thing, except that they use cotton candy-coated kettle corn.  fun and tasty.

and they said that when you order it in this unicorn floatie, you can bring it back to the booth during your visit for a refill.  that's kinda cool, right?

the same booth does fun unicorn cotton candy, which you can also order in a glow-in-the-dark version at night time.

when you go, be on the lookout for the flamin' hot cheetos booth. there you can get monster-sized corn dogs, corn on the cob, corn in a cup, cheese fries and even pizza coated in flamin' hot cheetos.  they'll also be offering up some bacon-wrapped corn dogs and other savory snacks.

ever tried exploding boba?  it's very different from the typical chewy boba balls.  when you suck these up through the giant straw and bite down ever so gently, they explode and flood your mouth with sweet juicy goodness (that was a pretty gross description, huh?).  if you don't like regular boba, maybe this will be your jam.

these syringes are filled with nutella, which they insert into a slice of cheesecake.  sadly, they didn't have any samples ready for us to try, but i can't imagine that you can go wrong with nutella and cheesecake.

back at the bug bar, we were handed samples of these cheddar and sea salt flavored chips.  they look and taste a lot like sun chips, but these are packed with protein thanks to...cricket flour.  yep.

the bug lady was also hand-dipping crickets and jumbo beetles in chocolate.  i couldn't even look at them, but my friend irma took one for the team and gave it a shot.  she said all she tasted was chocolate, but that it was also crunchy and to definitely have some water at the ready.

we were surprised at the lack of news outlets at the event this year.  the local ABC station was the only one i saw:

but there were tons of food bloggers present.

the texas bbq booth was serving up waffle fries covered with cheese, bbq sauce and chunks of grilled brisket.  i think this was my most favorite item out of everything else i tried.

i was pretty sweet-ed out by then, but we'd saved the afters ice cream truck for last.  they were scooping up two special, fair-exclusive flavors.  here's the strawberry funnel cake:

and a mango ice cream topped with chamoy sauce and a sprinkle of tajin seasoning.  i knew the old lady would be all over this, but i had no way to pack it up and take it to her.  sorry kid, you'll just have to wait until we have family day at the fair.

we each received a swag bag with all sorts of fun stuff inside, including an admission ticket for the fair.

and then on our way out, we made a new friend in the form of paco, the two-toed sloth.

it was such a good time, and despite the extreme heat we left all amped up and excited to visit the fair for real.  opening day is tomorrow, and it goes all the way through september 24th.  i bought tickets on groupon awhile ago, and there are lots of other discounts from grocery stores and costco.

plus, we've gotta go see if my cookies place this year.  i don't have high hopes, but you never know!

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