I am full of the milk of human kindness. On a related note, I’m also full of about 27 pounds of fair food.
Today was the 2017 North Carolina State Fair media luncheon. Each year the Ag Department holds this event to give the press all the information we need to cover the fair.
And this is where vendors show off the edible inventions that will have their debut this year.
Everybody that visits the fair every year (and if you don’t; shame on you, and get yourself to the fair this year) has their favorites.
Today I had a couple items that may become an annual must.Neomonde Bakery and Deli has a tent every year for baked goods and demos near the chapel. But they also serve hot food at a spot near Dorton Arena. And that’s where you can get their lamb burger. It has fresh mixed greens, caramelized onions, and a harissa yogurt sauce all on their freshly baked brioche bun. It’s pretty darn tasty.This year La Farm introduced a hand pie. This particular hand pie might remind you of a particular rectangular pastry tart from your youth that comes from the grocery store. My mom never bought them, so I never developed a taste for them, but Petey was raised on them, and still occasionally indulges.My very own grown-up kid may never eat those mass market, cardboard things again. He loved Chef Lionel’s pies filled with fresh strawberries and Nutella. The chocolate/rye pastry was perfect. It was flaky and delicious, drizzled with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with big sugar crystals.
The award for craziest treat that probably shouldn’t have tasted so good came from Chef’s D’lites. They had one of those deep-fried sweets that are usually stunt foods. But the deep fried key lime bites worked. The crispy/creamy/bright/citrusy combination was irresistible. It’s probably a good thing they’re only available once a year.After downing all this crazy fair grub, we get to vote on the best new food at the fair. The winner this year, Steve Troxler, Agriculture Commissioner informed us, won by a landslide.
It was the arepas from Arepa Loca. Arepas are little Columbian savory cakes made of masa, split and filled with meats and veggies. They’re a popular street food found in many Latin American cultures. You may know them as gorditas or pupusas.
I asked the owner to fill it the way he likes it. He stuffed it with beef, veggies and topped it with some guacamole. They were fresh cakes with fresh, bright fillings and were the favorite of everybody at my table. I just hope that their newfound fame doesn’t make the lines too long so I can get some more at the fair.2017 is the 150th NC State Fair, and if you go on Thursday (10/12), you can get in for $1.50. Food vendors will be selling $1.50 portions, and state fair staff will be handing out free rides and other prizes to attendees wearing commemorative buttons handed out to the first 15,000 folks through the gates when they open at 3:00PM that day.
If this column sounds a little like I’m drunk, I’m really not. I am flat out giddy. I love the fair. It is one of the highlights of my year. If you need to get up with me for the next couple weeks, I’ll meet you in front of the waterfall at Dorton Arena. If I’m not there, I’ll be home sleeping it off, getting ready to do it all over again in the morning.Thanks for your time.