The LA County Fair has arrived. Time for me to bust out the elastic-waist skort.
Although there are plenty of activities and attractions at the County Fair, let’s face it: I’m here for the food. Fried, fatty, sweet, fatty, grilled, fatty, salty foods that would figuratively give “You Are What You Eat” host Gillian McKeith a heart attack while you’re having the real thing.
The fair was genius this year with its Labor Day Weekend promotion: Arrive between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, Sunday or Monday and only pay $1 admission. Considering it’s normally $17, that’s a great savings that I can use toward food!
The famed Outlaw Grill is really quite impressive. I’d love to have that at my next outdoor party. So what if I live in a tiny apartment complex?
From Outlaw: Yum!! Sweet griled corn, somewhat bland brisket (I don’t like BBQ sauce) and decently juicy sausage. I expect most fair food to be middling satisfying and large quantities. So far, so good.
Take note of this garish green, yellow and red stand. It’s situated between the Palms Marketplace and Grandstand Pavilion along Magnolia. You, like I, will associate it with greatness.
The stand’s apple fries sounded like a good idea: granny smith “fries” flash fried and then topped with cinnamon, sugar and whipped cream. Unfortunately, the fries were far too hot (see poor puddle of cream) and rather flacid. Yes, it could have used some fruity viagra.
The stand’s bacon chocolate was insanely good — dark chocolate with smoky and very salty tones. They keep frozen pieces in a Chinese takeout container. Not sure why they included a packet of salt since the chocolate itself was salty just licking it (yes, I licked it). I wonder if they use bacon fat in the chocolate. Check out my incisor indentation there.
Ugh, sweets overload. Time for some savory, so we walked right across the “street” to the BBQ place there. Although one woman was disappointed with the ribs — it distinctly lacked the smoky grilled flavor and was probably baked — I still enjoyed the succulent, tender meat that fell away from the bone with only gentle coaxing.
Time to cool off. In the wine and spirits marketplace, we signed up for a wine and cheese pairing seminar, taught by a perfectly French sommelier named Rene Chazottes. Excellent step-by-step process of getting us to notice the nuances. Shorthand of what we tried:
Toques et Clochers, Sieur d’Arques, Cremant de Limoux 2005 – brie
Cupcake Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – goat cheese
Chouinard Chenin Blanc 2008 – queso blanco
Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2007 – gruyere
Banfi, Centine, Red Blend, Toscana 2007 – parmeggiano reggiano
Barnard Griffin Syra Port – blue cheese
Probably my favorite part was Rene’s insistence that we try BAD pairings. This is my candid reaction to goat cheese and port.
We needed to soak up all that wine, so we hit the stands again, splitting up to conquer two tastes. I had the job of getting the savory. I happened upon a ceviche, which wasn’t the best I’d ever had, and even though I tried to ignore the cliched turkey leg, preferring to save that for RenFaire madness, in the end I couldn’t resist that siren’s gobble. Love smoked turkey skin. Super juicy inside. I also like foods that make me feel primal eating it.
For sweets, we returned to the colorful stand because really, how could you not try this? Apparently, its claim to fame is Mexican funnel cake, which won the prize last year at the fair. Instead of skinny squiggles of dough, the cake is made of looped churros, topped with whipped cream and strawberries.
We got the regular ($11.50 with all the trimmings). Droooool. I know people think I don’t like dessert, but that’s untrue. I just have a very low tolerance for sweets, so I don’t want to waste it on any ol’ crap. This was worth the double digits. The firm but airy churros kept their integrity despite the heat of the day, while the sandy cinnamon topping and whipped cream were kept in check by the tart strawberries.
I rarely rave about desserts, but I’m already trying to figure out how to replicate this experience without having to return to the fair. Anybody want to bring one back for me? I’m guaranteed to share.
LA County Fair
Fairplex in Pomona
1101 W McKinley Ave
Pomona, CA 91768
Sept. 5-Oct. 4 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays)