Gut-busters, pants-splitters and food on a stick. The eats I found at this year’s Puyallup Fair sound as if they were created on a whim, or maybe on a dare by Scottish cooks. Some of it is just plain delicious, all of it pretty much is stuff your mother told you never to eat. But, go ahead, defy mom and read on for some of the most caloric, delicious or adventurous bites I could find at this year’s Puyallup Fair*.
(*No arteries were injured in the making of this story. I hope.)
PANTS SPLITTING SANDWICHES
Half-pound heartache: Earthquake Burger ($9.30) Weighing in at a half pound and with a bun about as big as a small Frisbee, the Earthquake Burger earns fairgoers bragging rights for finishing one. (Good luck with that.) This won’t be the best burger you’ve eaten, but it might be the biggest. It’s also a fair tradition. The upcharges for cheese and grilled onions were worth the price. Find it: Earthquake Burger booth, over by the Americraft Showplex.A tale of two burgers: Across the fairgrounds is the Monster Burger booth, claiming to be the biggest burger at the fair. Although the Monster cheeseburger ($8.92) supplied tasty flame-grilled char, the burger lost points for an unseasoned patty and oily onions and peppers.
Chicken on a say what?: Krispy Kreme fried chicken sandwich ($6.25) In the “what in the heck am I eating” category is a raspberry jelly doughnut wrapped around a fried chicken patty. It might sound absolutely, ahem, delicious in theory, but the execution left me wanting more flavor unity. The doughnut was too sweet, the chicken too salty. My stomach was very upset with me.Find it: Totally Fried booth, near the Americraft Showplex
Is that a bun under there?: Killer Kielbasa ($8.50)A half-pound kielbasa smothered in sauteed peppers, onions and ’kraut on a hoagie. Be still my (soon to not be?) beating heart. If you buy one decadent thing to share at the fair, make it that. Find it: At the Sausage Shack, across from the Americraft Showplex
EAT IT ON A STICK
Fair classic: Krusty Pup ($4.12)A wiener coated in batter and deep fried. What’s not to love? It wouldn’t be the fair without a corndog that we so affectionately call Krusty Pups. Find it: You can’t turn a circle without finding one.
Sweet on a stick: Strawberries from Duris Farms ($6.50) Coat strawberries in chocolate, and I like ’em. Put ’em on a stick, and I’m in love. That these strawberries come from Puyallup’s Duris Farms makes them even sweeter.Find it: Duris stands
It’s its own stick: Roasted corn ($4.25)Roasted corn on the cob is one of the healthier treats at the fair. Until the guy at the counter dips it into that vat of melted butter (insert drool here).Find it: Throughout the fair, but I like the spice bar at Murph’s BBQ
Carb on a stick: Stick tato ($3) Think of these as fresh-fried potato chips speared on a stick. A little more frying would have made them crispy, not chewy. Chips come with a dusting of spice in three heat levels. The medium barely registered as spicy.Find it: At the brand-new Curry Cousin booth on the outside of the Americraft Showplex building.
Other stuff on a stick: Candied apples and cotton candy are the classics, but I heard lore about frog legs and pickles on a stick at the Totally Fried booth. They were out when I dropped by. Maybe you will have better luck.
GUT-BUSTER DESSERTS Sorry, folks. I tried to like these desserts that have been some of the most-talked-about splurges at the fair, but I thought they tasted terrible. The desserts below didn’t win in either flavor or texture. I’ll stick with tried-and-true scones, elephant ears and funnel cakes.
A shade of red not found in nature: Deep-fried Kool-Aid ($4.75) Don’t worry, it’s not actually liquid Kool-Aid, it’s a doughnut that has been flavored and colored with cherry Kool-Aid. Ours tasted raw and chewy and the color was scary. And two small discs at that price? Really? I could have bought three scones for less than that.Find it: Totally Fried booth, near the Americraft Showplex
Proving you can’t turn everything deep fried tasty: Deep-fried butter ($4.75)A cold, golfball-size orb of butter does not make for good eating, even if you fry it in a sweet batter and drown it in chocolate syrup. This tasted revolting. I applaud you if you can choke down ice-cold butter blobs. You should get an award for that. Find it: Totally Fried booth, near the Americraft Showplex. Also at the Duris booth by the Lost Child building. I didn’t have the guts to try it there at 5 pieces for $5.
Bacon fail: Bacon avalanche sundae ($4.95) My theory that you can put bacon in anything to make it taste better officially has been blown. The vanilla ice cream sundae with bacon bits and a bacon-flavored syrup had too much textural dissonance. The creamy, cold ice cream turned the bacon frigid, which became too much of a chewy chore. Pass.Find it: Dreyers booths
Our pledge to readers: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and all meals are paid for by The News Tribune. Reach her at 253-597-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Puyallup FairHours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Sept. 25. Admission: $11 adults, $9 seniors/students, ages 5 and younger get in free. Discount tickets at Safeway, Walgreens, Fred Meyer and South Hill Mall.Info: thefair.comTransportation: The fair has yellow Puyallup Fair Express buses that start running at 9:15 a.m. from four Park & Ride lots every 20-30 minutes: South Hill Mall, Lakewood Towne Center (behind Barnes & Noble), Tacoma Mall, and River Road/Fourth Street Northwest (adjacent to Kmart parking lot). Fares are cash only: $4 round trip, $3 one way and free for ages 23 months and younger on adult’s lap.Parking: $10 Monday-Friday, $12 Saturday-Sunday.