Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Food Finds at the NC State Fair

We went back to the State Fair today and tried some new food items, several of which were surprisingly good. We also visited with some old friends at the Got To Be NC tent, where you can sample and purchase tasty NC sauces, seasonings, ice cream and more. The folks who make Zing Sauce were there as usual, and we sampled a delicious new salmon & cream cheese spread made with their sauce. They were kind enough to share the recipe with me, and you can get a copy when you order Zing Sauce from the Carolina Sauce Company. We also said hi to the folks who make Durn Good Hot Sauce and Seasonings, who were sampling their zesty products. Down past the Durn Good table, Greg tried the Brightleaf Hot Dogs and raved about their "red hots" (bright red hot dogs with a pleasant spiciness) and smoked sausage.

We were too late for the Neomonde bread baking demo across from the Village of Yesteryear, but the enticing smell of baking bread was still wafting from the tent opening, making me yearn for some freshly baked bread. Maybe we can visit there on Sunday when we go back for our final fair trip.

Back at the Ragin' Cajun booth, Greg tried the Sausage Po'boy, which turned out to be more of a sausage sandwich rather than a traditional po'boy. While the sausage was authentically flavorful and spicy, the sandwich came with non-po'boy toppings including American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onion, and no remoulade. It was still good anyway, Greg said, although it was huge and quite messy to eat - don't forget to grab plenty of napkins and a fork!

Speaking of messy foods, there is no neat & tidy way to enjoy roast corn dripping in butter, with the husks pulled back and wrapped around the end to make a handle. But boy, is it good!

I had to try a muscadine cider slushy, made with NC's famous muscadine grapes (no, it doesn't have alcohol in it), and I was pleasantly surprised at how amazingly good it was: Intensely grape-y with real muscadine flavor and none of that sickly-sweet artificial flavor of regular convenience store slushies. I bet it would make an amazing muscadine frozen daquiri with a splash of rum (or a muscadine margarita with tequila). You can find muscadine slushies at the Ragin Cajun, but I think they might be available at other vendors as well. And they were giving out free mini samples in one of the exhibit halls, in case you want to try before you buy.

I had to have one of the few fried foods I really like: Fried okra from the State Farmer's Market truck near the grandstand. As always, the okra was freshly fried to perfection, with golden crispy breading that wasn't soggy and the okra had NO slime at all. Definitely a taste of Southern heaven, and for only $1.50 it's a steal. I've never had any of the other fare from the NC State Farmer's Market truck, but their biscuits look huge and smell great, and they also have cobbler, banana pudding and other traditional NC foods.

The biggest surprise of the night was the chocolate covered bacon, from the strawberry shortcake vendor with the giant inflatable strawberry on top (up from the lake & before the Village of Yesteryear). It was remarkably good! The bacon comes "woven" onto a skewer and is coated with an excellent dark chocolate "shell". The flavor contrast of the salty, smoky bacon and the sweet but intensely chocolate coating is quite appealing, and the texture was not bad: Though not exactly crispy, the bacon was definitely not limp (more "toothy") and the chocolate coating was similar to the shell on ice cream popsicles (yes, the chocolate covered bacon is served chilled). Because it comes on a skewer and the chocolate shell is solid, this isn't messy. I can't imagine eating a whole bunch of this since the flavors are so rich, but the single piece on the skewer was a nice big piece, plenty for Greg & me to share after having indulged in other fair food. Would I have chocolate covered bacon again? Yes, I think so. Heck, I might even try making it at home!

Zestfully yours,

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