2017 Wisconsin State Fair Trip 4

Sad but true fact – this was our final trip to the fair this year. An out of state wedding is pulling us away from dairyland during the last few days. I know what you’re thinking…who has the audacity to get married during the Wisconsin State Fair?!? Yeah, same thing I was thinking. I offered to stay home – with the kids – let Tara have a weekend to herself, at a wedding, alone. That’s just the kind of guy I am. But alas, we didn’t see eye-to-eye on that gracious offer and away we go with nothing  but dreams and indigestion to remind me that there is still fair fun to be had.

Anyway, we made our last trip without the kids and the taste of freedom was almost as sweet as the beermosas we had over at The Micro. My Door County Brewing Co. Apricot Dude Ranch beermosa paired up nicely with our first two foods of the day. The new All American Breakfast Sandwich and the old favorite Donut Breakfast Sandwich. When you can’t decide between two foods, get them both. That’s what I say at least.

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The All American had two crispy hash brown patties sandwiching your standard breakfast sandwich fare of egg, bacon, and cheese. This was good. I could eat it regularly. I think I’m still partial to the Donut version as that glazed donut adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance those salty breakfast foods. Either way, you won’t go wrong with one (or both) of these.

We managed to catch most of the Sporkies Judging live and in person during this visit and I have to say – I think I should’ve been up there. Just because I love all of the foods. Like children, or lost puppies. I’m like the Statue of Liberty for food. Give me your fried, your bacon, your battered, your muddled messes yearning to be eaten…

Anyway, back to reality. I snuck over to Brew City to grab the Three Little Pigs dish and brought it back to eat and dream of my glory days as a Sporkies judge.

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These bacon wrapped raviolis were delicious. Great blend of pork and cheese and flavor on the inside with crispy bacon on the outside and a great tasting BBQ-y/Ranch-y sauce on the side. These could have won (or at least came close) in my humble opinion.

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Light crowds and no kids took us back to Tropics at the Fair to get a couple 20 oz Miller High Life’s to wash down another round of Deep Fried Grilled Cheese Bites. They were even better the 2nd time around and are probably my favorite of this year’s fair. Here’s a close-up to further whet your appetite.


Wanting to make the most of our last time here I ordered a Fat Elvis Shake Shake next.

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You have to try it yourself to decide, but I thought it had all the elements of a great dessert (and that includes the bacon pieces throughout.) The deep fried fat elvis (basically a battered and fried peanut butter cup) was an especially nice touch.

Tara grabbed a classic cheese on a stick next to balance out the sweetness we just took in. Always a solid choice.

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I opted for the Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger sliders (as they are 1/3 of the Sporkies nominated Triple Threat). I should have known not to trust anything from the Budweiser Pavilion though.

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They were fine as far as sliders go but there was nothing really special here aside from the pretzel bun. They didn’t (or forgot to) put the slaw on them – which rubbed be the wrong way. I went back up and was told “we aren’t doing that any more, but you can have a side of it if you want.” Weird. Anyway, I got my side, stuck some slaw on top and finished them off.

Couple more kid free beers to wash it all down and that was all she wrote for food at the 2017 State Fair.

I’ll have one more wrap-up post and I’m hoping to get another guest blog from my fairer half as well. Until then…

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2017 Wisconsin State Fair Trips 2 and 3

We attended 3 out of the first 5 days of the fair. A 60% occupancy rate for you stat fans. Not too shabby. I attended work 3 out of the last 5 days as well – but much more begrudgingly. So, what did visits 2 and 3 bring? Read on to find out.
First off though, the weather Friday evening – upper 60’s and beautiful. I’ve never not sweated at the fair and while I didn’t break that streak (eating and drinking is hard work!) I was more comfortable than I’ve ever been. I probably didn’t take enough advantage of the weather – I could have eaten much more and but we were lucky enough to have some out-of-state friends with us and I usually like to leave the piggish behavior to the animals in the swine barn when we’re in good company.
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The first food of the night wasn’t my own but my fair foodie in training, my 7 y/o Beckett’s Unicorn Twinkie.
Judging by the sheer velocity and ferocity he ate this with – in addition to licking the stick clean – we’re going to have to judge this one a rousing success. I didn’t get a taste but it looked pretty good – perfectly golden browned with nice frosting drizzle and glitter garnish.
Desperately wanting to join in the eating I set out on a mission to find the cheese curd and brat tacos. These are towards the back over by the dog pier jumping stage – at a little trailer called Poncho Dog. Find it. I asked Tara if she wanted any before I ordered – she said she’d “try a bite” so I thought one would be enough but when I got up to the window the friendly purveyor said it was only $3 more for a 2nd – I gladly obliged.
2 Tacos in hand I was ready to dive in. These were amazing. I know you’ve heard me say that about food in the past but if you only try one new food at the fair this year – consider making this it. More like a “Chalupa” then a Taco, it was crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside with just enough lettuce and chipotle sauce to balance it all out. I probably would have liked a few more brat slices thrown in there but it’s hard to complain about something that tasted this good.
Unfortunately, there are bugs at the fair this year. Edible bugs. People are drawn to this. I don’t blame them, I don’t judge them, I just don’t understand them. That being said, I hesitantly followed our party over to the “Exotic Meats” stand towards the south end of Grandstand Avenue to check them out. Seeming like a pointless endeavor to eat a cricket on a chip or as part of nachos – the bug eating veteran we were with ordered straight up bags of crickets and worms/larvae. I stood back at a safe distance – as did Becket – while we watched in horror as crickets were crunched and chomped.
Semi-eager to understand how anyone could do this, I gave in and decided I’d at least try a worm. I don’t know why but it seemed better. It was cheddar flavored I guess.
Was it better with cheddar? Hardly. It was maybe much ado about nothing as one tiny worm barely registered in my mouth, but it made its impact in my mind and I quickly threw back my remaining dried cranberries (bought for 50 cents in the WI Product Pavilion) to erase the reminder of worm in my mouth.
Deep fried cheese curds, donut grilled cheese, Leinenkugel’s State Fair Ale and Drunk Tots wrapped up the night making me feel much better about myself and my choices in life.
Trip 3 brought us more great weather (albeit a bit warmer) and a chance to redeem myself a bit more and pack in the foods.
A sleeping 2 year old in a stroller took us to the north end of Grandstand Ave and right into Sprecher Landing – a great hidden gem of an area to sit down and enjoy something Sprecher-y. I got a root beer float doughnut and Beckett got a plain ol’ root beer float. Both were as good as you could expect.
The beer battered bacon wrapped cheddar sausage on a stick caught Tara’s eye as something I’d likely be interested in (she knows me) and she pointed it out. Like a moth to a bright light I flew right over there without speaking a word.
They did all the right things when creating this one. Beer batter, bacon wrap, on-a-stick, and cheddar inside. So it was impossible that it would be bad. And it wasn’t. But, it was a lot to handle, and I needed a souvenir size cup of Coke from the root beer barrel to wash it down – making me feel slightly guilty about what I was doing to my body. Not to worry, the feeling was flighting and more foods were had.
  Another Sporkie Finalist and one on my list of must-tries were the Spaghetti and Meatball Mozzarella sticks. I was hesitant to fork over $9 for these but they were big enough to share (which I did for once) and they were actually really great. The meatballs were outstanding and the spaghetti, mozzarella, parmesan mix up was spot on. The red sauce was on the side letting us each have it just to taste. I recommend this one.
Off to Brad and Harry’s for some more deep-fried cheese curds (3rd time for those keeping score at home). But don’t worry about me. The whole family enjoys this tradition now. We struggled to find any unique shapes so here’s a picture of one that looks loosely like New Jersey.
With just enough time and appetite left for dessert I opted for the Cherry Pie Wonton.
It was just like it sounds – sweet cherry pie filling (the from-a-can type) inside a nice crispy flaky wonton skin. Chocolate drizzle, powdered sugar, and whip cream on top helped spruce it up. It was overall nothing too special but still nothing to shake a stick at either ( ‘specially since it wasn’t on one). I’d probably skip it and get something more interesting like Monkey Business if you’re in the market for something sweet.
And that’s it so far. The fair isn’t over yet though and I’m not done with it either. Check back again soon.

Fair Night Tonight

Going to the Fair after work today. Here’s how it looks through my eyes:

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Stay tuned for some fresh new food reviews soon!

2017 Wisconsin State Fair – Day 1 Part 2 (The Food)

A little threat of severe weather can’t get between me and my fair food – we still managed to get a hearty serving of the fair and its food. The first day is always a little overwhelming – the sights, the sounds, and a list full of new foods with nothing crossed off.

A hard left out of the tunnel entrance lead us  organically down to the Spam wagon and to what may have been inorganic Spam Fries.

But guess what? I don’t care what they were made of (as long as it’s not crickets.) Factory ham beats crickets every day and twice on Sunday. But anyway, these Spam Fries; salty, crispy on the outside, hammy spammy on the inside . Great! I liked them with ranch, because they didn’t seem unhealthy enough on their own.

Adjacent to the Spam is the highlight of the Fair year in and year out, the Milwaukee Bucks Milk House. Two new flavors this year; chocolate peanut butter and salted caramel. Both were really good with the edge going to the chocolate peanut butter – like a melted Reeses in your mouth. The only major issue is that the boys can each drink at least a milk-a-piece so even with my trademark 4 milk carry – I’m not left with enough milk to satisfy my craving. It’s ok, it’s worth it to raise a couple milk drinkers.

Brad & Harry’s Cheese Curds are next and since we have them every year (and almost every trip) the new game is, “find a cheese curd that looks like something.” This batch had this:

   

Back to the new foods list and over to Water Street Brewery for Yardbird Nachos.

These were pretty good. Rich and really filling to eat alone (which I did). Turns out “chicken cracklings” are basically deep-fried chicken skin (maybe they were battered a little too) so they’re basically the best part of your bucket of fried chicken. The toppings were great too with some nice fresh salsa. Give these a try.

Time to feed the kids some more and what better than a 12″ corn dog (which I ate half of because that’s what dads do – or that’s what I do – either way).

Tropics at the Fair was the next target to cross our path and I moseyed up the bar and ordered some deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich bites. I talked to the owner as well and got you all some insider information – the cheese is battered in bread batter – something they came up with. When you cook it, it turns into bread around the cheese – deep-fried grilled cheese bread.

These were even better than I hoped they would be. Even the tomato dipping sauce was great – inspired by homemade tomato soup (more insider info). These are highly recommended – by me and my family.

Last stop for the day was appropriately Saz’s for dessert. Monkey Business.

Two little dessert burritos were excellently prepared. The burritos may have even been banana flavored – I think – I couldn’t exactly tell. Either way, they were crispy and full of everything good. Peanut buttery, bacon jam, caramelized banana. These were great. Soooo rich though. Please don’t be me – don’t eat them both yourself. I ended up couched for a good 2 hours after we got home from overdoing it today. Tara never wants to share these weirder things with me. Don’t get me wrong – she encourages me to get them…and life insurance. Weird.

Be back soon.

 

2017 Wisconsin State Fair – Day 1 Part 1

We went, we pushed it to the limit, and it poured just as we were ready to walk out. Lessons? It is really hard to run on a stomach full of fair food and you don’t really need “just one more thing” when you’ve already had 5. Reviews coming later tonight after my food coma / nap.