Grazing your way through the L.A. County Fair

official post card
Official Post Card of the L.A. County Fair

Well, its that time of year again, and boy howdy did I have fun grazin’ my way through the Los Angeles County Fair the other day. It was Foodie night the other night, an invitation only event for us media and blogger types.  A great selection of vendors were open showing off their wares for our consumtion…and blogging later.

Of course for me it wasn’t all grazing, it was imbibing in some wonderful booze and wine and a detour through the Los Angeles County Model Railroads exhibit next to the food court.  The best part about the latter is that you get to go beyond the fence and get up close and personal with the trains and dioramas.  Win! 

In no particular order here is the run down of the goodies, treats and booze I grazed my way through with my 16 yo son Joey.

Tasty Chips.  This place is a ton of fun.  Fresh cut and fried Potato Chips.  Thicker than a Lays, but not as Salty.  My Son opted for the basic chip with BBW Aoli.  I went for the Ultimate, chips with carne asada, onion, blue cheese and a chipotle aoli.

Tasty Fries BBQ Aoli
Tasty Fries with BBQ Aoli
Tasty Fries Ultimate
Tasty Fries Ultimate

Next down the line was the folks at Fresh Fries.  They do some pretty amazing things with the old potato, mostly after they are cooked with a wide variety of toppings. The also do an excellent “Blooming Onion”.  Its a large sweet onion in a tempura style batter that isn’t too thick and remains crunchy.  We opted for the classic Ranch…fresh made and herbaceous, not to be passed up especially if you have a kid with you.

blooming onion half
blooming onion half with fresh made Ranch dipping sauce.

Chicken Charlie, these guys are a class all onto themselves.  Every year they pop something new onto the menu that is totally unexpected and deep fried delicious.  This year was no different, yes you can still get your deep fried cookie dough…but look to the deep fried twinkie with chocolate sauce for your desert but we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves here.  Appetisers anyone?  Go for the bacon wrapped dill pickle…half a pickle wrapped and bacon and fried to a crackly crunch smokie sweet and tart dill pickle in the middle.  Main course, sit still and wrap your head around this one.  Krispy Kreme Burgers….mini burger patties simply grilled severed between Krispy Kreme “buns”, that sweet and savory thing going for it.  Try at least one, its actually much better tasting than you would imagine.

deep fried twinkie
Deep Fried Twinkie in chocolate sauce from Chicken Charlie
Chicken Charlie bacon wrapped pickle
Chicken Charlie bacon wrapped pickle
Chicken Charlie Krispy Kreme burger
Chicken Charlie Krispy Kreme burger

Next on our journey of Fair Food, wasn’t food so much as fresh made drinks.  Fruit smoothies, coffee and iced mocha latte’s.  Yum.  Thirsty and want something cold on a hot afternoon that isn’t carbonated?  The Cornucopia Cafe is the place to stop.  My son opted for the Mango smoothy and loved it, I had the iced mocha…quite refreshing and a nice caffeinated buzz to go with it.

cold drinks duo
Cold Drinks - Iced Mocha and a Mango Smoothy from Cornucopia Cafe

10 Pound Buns.  Describes the size of the loaves of Sourdough Bread they use to make their signature open face sandwich.  Trivia alert: They will use 6,000 loaves of bread during the course of the L.A. County Fair.  The concept is pretty basic to all their sandwiches.  Sliced Sourdough bread slathered with garlic butter and cheese, toasted til bubbly then topped with all sorts of good fresh ingredients from tomato to pepperoni.  I opted for the Ulitimate which is topped with paper thin onion, tomato slices and chopped fresh cilantro and parsley.  My son opted for the desert version….nutella and bacon.

10lb bun nutella bacon
10lb bun nutella bacon
10lb bun ulitimate
10lb bun Ulitimate

Monster Dogs.  They do a decent corn dog, and terrific curly fries cut from  a whole potato before your very eyes.  Its classic Fair Food done well, kinda on the vanilla side of life, but kids will like it.

Corn dog
Corn dog from Monster dog
fresh curly fries
Monster Dog's fresh curly fries

One of my favorite stops at the Fair is Harold and Belle’s to Geaux.  Its a cajun place that does some outright amazing, totally unexpected at a fair, food.  Good stuff.  Fresh crawfish brought in daily and prepared a variety of ways.  My absolute favorite is their Crawfish Etouffe’.  A spicy brown gravy and veggie concoction severed over rice.  They were out of the bread pudding, and horrors my Joey the normally picky eater had to make another choice.  He surprised me.  He opted for the whole steamed crawfish.  He loved it.

Of course I have to back up just a bit on the whole crawfish.  Where I grew up they were considered bait and I was at a loss to explain how to get into the meat.  Have no fear, the good folks at Harold and Belle’s to Geaux will talk you through the process.  Simple grab the tail behind the head and twist and pull.  Off comes the tail.  Suck out the contents of the head then split the tail for the meat.  The meat is cooked in a spicy peppery broth so its all very tasty. The meat is sweeter than shrimp, but not as sweet as lobster.  He loved it and thats all that matters.

crawfish etouffe
Harold and Belle's To Geaux crawfish etouffe

Craving something on the alcoholic side? Well you have two options. Stop by Skinny Girl for their light in calorie full in flavor signature cocktails and wines. The cosmo is quite refreshing, just tart enough to quench your thirst.

Skinny Girl Cosmo
Skinny Girl Cosmo

Your final option if you are really into wines is take a jaunt over to the Wine Tasting pavilion. There they have an annual competition and award ribbons and everything to a variety of types of wines. You can’t go wrong with a flight or two of wine.

LA County Fair wine
LA County Fair wine

The Los Angeles County Fair runs through September 29.  All the information you could ever want on the fair can be found on their web site HERE.

More pics of the food, folks and the Miniature Railroad can be found on my flickr set.  All pics here are by me and embiggen with a click.