Bacon, artichokes, candy bars,cookie dough, lemonade and even corn. Just about anything and everything can be dipped in batter and dunked into a deep fryer at the Washington State Fair. I know because I just spent the day in Full Glutton Mode.
I went searching for grub guaranteed to get you a lecture from your mother or doctor. I’m talking food covered in gravy and cheese; bacon that’s been deep fried inside waffle batter; blobs of peanut butter encased in puffy fried dough. And, yes, I even found the Fleischkuechle booth (I’ll tell you how to pronounce that in a moment). Let’s call this The Tour of Food That Will Kill You Slowly. Check back next week for more fair food features.
STOP 1: BACON BACON BACON
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Location: At the Midway Boulevard, near Grand Avenue
Payment: Cash or cards
Back story: This is the first year for the Bacon Bacon Bacon booth, and boy were the first-year jitters on display Friday. Counter staffers were friendly, but epically disorganized. Be warned, they’ve not yet worked out the kinks. Later in the week might be different.
Must try: Waffle-fried bacon, $5.99. It was embarrassing how quickly we devoured this tray full of bacon fried inside waffle batter. The dish seesawed between smoky, salty and sweet and tasted perfectly executed for fried fare. The portion size also proved a decent value and was great for sharing.
Bacon-stuffed cheeseburger, $8.96. It was described as a 50-50, with a patty split between burger and bacon. Not even close to that ratio. The pretzel bun was burned; sloppily applied secret sauce created burger slop. Not enough crunchy cool veggies offset the greasy cheese and bacon. PASS. Turn around, head to Monster Burger for a flame-grilled burger. Better value (relatively speaking - the fair never is a good value).
Slab bacon on a stick, $7.49. Are you kidding me? A fat piece of bacon for how much? The quality of that single slab of bacon threaded onto a skewer could not command that fat price. The bacon was more fat than meat, and had too much chew. And the “maple syrup” dipping sauce? Wasn’t. More like the stuff in the bottle, which I call High Fructose Maple Nightmare. PASS.
[caption id="attachment_15835" align="aligncenter" width="480"] A beef turnover from the Fleischkuechle booth.[/caption]
STOP 2: FLEISCHKUECHLE
Location: Gold Gate. Across from the Merry Go Round and Longhorn BBQ Booth
Payment: Cash or cards
Back story: This business has been a South Sound staple for 50 years, with more than 20 logged at the fair. Sisters-in-law Pat Jorgensen and Pat Tuthill operated the Fleischkuechle trailer on Fairview Drive, near the red gate, for 17 years before they lost their spot. They took that as a sign to retire and sold the business to family friends, Virginia Vrieze and her son Ben. They still use the same recipes, fryers and techniques. Last year was the first year the Vriezes operated inside the fairgrounds - they’re going strong in year two. Everything tasted great.
How to say it: Depending on your European address, you would pronounce these fried hand pies flish-KOOSH-lay or flish-KEESH-lay. They’re a Russian-German hybrid and come in meat or fruit varieities.
Beef turnover, $6.50: Tucked inside the signature flaky dough, the crescent shaped fried pie turnover tastes just as I remembered - a salty flattened meat patty with a tender texture and big, beefy flavor. Fried meat pies don’t get better than this.
BTT, $6.75: This was a recent addition to the menu, courtesy of the Vrieze family. BTT stands for Bacon Tasty Turnover. It was that same flattened out beef patty, but embedded with bacon and punched up with jalapenos and cheese. Delicious.
Peach turnover, $6.50: For those with a sweet tooth, get this. Peach pie filling, with a hint of cinnamon, came in a turnover dusted with powdered sugar (or cinnamon sugar, if you like). This pie also came in apple and cherry.
[caption id="attachment_15839" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Deep-fried mac and cheese from Totally Fried.[/caption]
STOP 3: TOTALLY FRIED
Location: Blue Gate. Near Showplex, close to Earthquake Burgers booth
Payment: CASH ONLY
Back story: This booth has spent several years in the prime location near Earthquake Burgers. Every year, they find more things to deep fry. And every year, on opening day, half the menu is unavailable. Always a bummer. We returned three times in three hours and half the menu was unavailable.
Deep-fried mac and cheese, $6.99. So this is what deep-fried nirvana tastes like? We have a winner, my friends. It’s the kind of dish that you’ll want seconds of, even though you know it will create some kind of coronary blockage (there’s always a stent, right?). Be careful biting into this, the interior was steamy. It wasn’t too cheesy and the pasta retained its bite. Nice job.
Deep-fried PB&J, $4.99. Three peanut butter balls stuffed into puffy, sweetened corn dog batter and fried until it was a delicious mess of peanut butter yum - on a stick. This treat was high on the goo factor - the ratio favored peanut butter to jelly. The only thing missing was a glass of milk, but you can fix that by heading toward the Kielbasa booth, take a right and head to the Darigold Dairy Barn. Chilled milk is $2.50 a glass there.
Deep-fried artichokes, $6.99: Execution was mediocre. And three ‘chokes encased in a crunchy coating for how much? Rip-off. PASS.
Deep-fried pickles, $5.99: It would’ve been better with ranch dressing, but they were out. Four dill spears were crunchy coated with a jacket that fell off almost immediately. PASS.
[caption id="attachment_15843" align="aligncenter" width="300"]
Someone get me some Tums.[/caption]
STOP 4: SAUCY SPUDS & GOURMET FRIES
Location: International Village, inside
Payment: Cash or cards
Back story: This is the first year for this booth. This was a mix-and-match deal where you pick your potato - a brick of curly fries; sweet potato waffle fries; tots or steak fries. Then, you pick a sauce - gravy, chili or hot liquid cheese. Finish it with three toppings of your choice. This booth did not fail my deep-fried expectations.
Brick of curly fries, $7.99. This was a tower of curly fries that had been compressed into a giant fry log. We opted for “gravy” on this one and what was piled onto our fries couldn’t remotely be construed as gravy. Think of it as some kind of plasticized gravy substance. It was tasty, but had a questionable texture - until we had the counter worker load it up with bacon bits, onions and sour cream. Holy fry moly, that turned it delicious.
Steak fries, $7.99. This was a smaller portion, which meant not as good a value. Our cheese topper was exactly like that molten cheese sauce you get on convenience store nachos. We threw on some black olives, bacon and sour cream. Glutton’s paradise, but not really enough for sharing.Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Have a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.