The pictures for this post took a while to process. I went a little crazy with my camera. Enjoy!)
Like watching fireworks at Disneyland, the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa is one of the highlights of the summer SoCal experience. Every year, Cat and I trek out to the fair to pet fluffy animals and eat an unwholesome amount of deliciously unhealthy fair food. This year was no exception. Given the recent downsizing at my company, we were in desperate need of some fun and sun.
Our little group of family and friends was destined to get lots of fun, but precious little sun. Ultimately, that turned out for the best. Even with the overcast and occasional drizzle, the heat from the sun and crowds was fierce.
However, trying to stay cool is part of the quintessential fair experience. There's so much to see and do. We certainly weren't going to let the weather get the better of us.
The girls had a lot of fun petting and looking at all of the animals. Cat kept asking if she could have a little black sheep. I offered to get her a pygmy goat, but she held out for the sheep. Maybe one day when I get that small farm I've been dreaming about retiring on...
Of course, the best part of any fair is all of the fair food. There are a dizzying number of food stalls at the Orange County Fair, each of them offering distinctively deadly treats. I'd originally intended to try everything, but I underestimated the variety, portions, and prices. Fair food is expensive! Good thing you get a lot of it.
My old friends, the Smoked Turkey Legs, were in attendance with their crisp skins barely keeping the tender, salty meat from falling off of the bone. Even with the paper wrapper they gave me to hold the leg, the scalding juices still managed to burn my fingers; literally finger-licking good.
The Polish Sausages were the length of my forearm and as thick around as my wrist. My mother-in-law gave me an end piece off of hers to try. It had a nice pop, and the peppery meat matched well with the bell peppers and onions. The roll was thick and crusty, a good foil for the strongly flavored sausage.
The Cheese Fries were a frightening homage to the tastiness of fat. Crispy curls of fried potatoes smothered with a nacho cheese sauce in a sinful orgy of lipid love. The center of the mound was practically all nacho cheese, held together by fragile wisps of soggy fries. I had to stop myself after two.
The Corn Dog was a monstrous, foot-long club of meat encased in a thin coating of cornmeal batter. There was an even larger World's Biggest Corn Dog, but I didn't think my arteries could handle it.
Amazingly, most of the corn dog was taken up by the hot dog. The cornmeal barely covered it. This was actually a drawback for me. As a child, my favorite part of a corndog was always the crunchy fried cornbread encasing it. Let's face it. Most hot dogs used in corn dogs taste pretty insipid. I would have liked more batter on my meat club.
Another problem was trying to eat the thing around its stick. Maniacal Penguin generously offered to demonstrate his preferred technique. I'd never seen anything quite like it.
The wife (Cat and I are married! Woooo!) can never pass up an opportunity to have some Dippin' Dots, the ice cream of the future. The tiny beads of flash frozen ice cream bounced across my tongue like rogue ping pong balls before finally yielding their sweet essence. The Chocolate Dippin' Dots were surprisingly pale. I wonder if flash freezing affects the color.
The Chubbypanda award for Most Frightening Food Creation goes to the Hot Cinnamon Roll stand. Maniacal Penguin and I were fortunate to catch, and film, a fresh batch of these ooey gooey monstrosities being created. The voice you hear in the video below is mine.
Crazy amounts of butter, sugar, and cinnamon were used. There's a bakery in NorCal called "Butter Sugar Flour", which I had the opportunity to visit and will blog later, that came to mind while I was watching the Cinnamon Roll Master at work.
The sliced rolls were allowed to proof in the pans before baking, then coated with icing before serving. It's amazing how bad cinnamon rolls really are for you. I found myself simultaneously entranced and repulsed.
After eating, we checked out the "Parade of Products", a massive indoor display of various goods and services offered by small, independent mom & pop operations. A number of the stalls were selling food products, kitchen gadgets, cookware, and other food-related items.
We also visited displays of local arts and crafts, including impressive live demonstrations of woodworking, pottery, and glassblowing. The glassblower was probably my favorite.
The girls wanted to go on one of the roller coasters. We then took a ride on the largest Ferris wheel in the park before turning our steps toward home. I love the fair.
The Orange County Fair - Fun for the whole family. The fair food is frightening, but delicious. Some of the animal husbandry and farming displays really bring home where our food comes from. They, and the scary fair food, really reinforce my commitment to Slow Food.
Orange County Fair
(July to August every year)
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Orange County Fair Official Site