Our little apartment would’ve roasted us alive had we not left the premises this past weekend. After a summer of moderate weather, temperatures hit over a hundred degrees throughout the city seemingly out of nowhere. To escape our overheated pad, I suggested to The Astronomer that we troll for cute dresses in an indoor mall. He nixed that idea and offered that we head to an air-conditioned bar for NFL action instead. I couldn’t get behind that plan either. In the name of compromise, we sought respite in the least likely of places: the L.A. County Fair.
Spending the day in Pomona probably wasn’t much cooler than staying at home in Pasadena, but it was far and away more fun. It’s not every day that I can attend a pig race and then eat barbecued ribs afterward. No sirree, just once a year when the fair rolls into town.
The L.A. County Fair is equal parts food, rides, and exhibits. We focused solely on eating and observing during our visit. Before deciding what to consume first, The Astronomer and I strolled through the fairgrounds scoping out the goods. The 1/2 pound dogs glistening in the sun looked mighty enticing roasting next to a pile of onions and peppers. Truth be told, these were the largest wieners I’d ever seen.
The giant turkey legs nearby smelled and looked terrific as well. My friend Laurie attended the fair a few weeks before and reported that the turkey legs were seriously delicious.
We eventually stumbled upon Chicken Charlie’s mesmerizing booth and couldn’t pull ourselves away. The menu boasted “totally fried” Klondike bars, White Castle burgers, avocados, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Twinkies, frogs legs, smores, and best of all, Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches.
We deemed the Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich the most ridiculous creation of the bunch and ordered one to share. When we lifted the “bun” to smother the patty with honey, we spied a puddle of jelly in the center. As the junk food gods would have it, it was a raspberry jelly-filled doughnut!
The Astronomer bravely took the first bite and seemed to enjoy it well enough, so I went in for a taste as well. The glazed doughnut was soft and sugary, while the meat was two notches above the chicken patties my elementary school cafeteria used to serve. Eaten together, it was a sweet and savory mash up, not unlike a monte cristo sandwich. The sandwich was also the ideal size; had it been any bigger, we would’ve been sick.
Next, we hopped on over to Fair Fix, one of a dozen booths selling deep-fried sweets like Twinkies, Oreos, and cheesecakes.
With so many gluttonous choices to consider, it was difficult picking just one. Since I’d been curious to try deep-fried Oreos for years now, they edged out the deep-fried cheesecake. The man behind the counter asked if I fancied my Oreos with powdered sugar and chocolate syrup on top. I answered, “Yes, please.”
While I was hesitant to taste the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich, I dove right in with the Oreos. I was expecting the cookie to retain its signature crunch, but battering and frying caused it to wilt into a cake-like state. I liked the deep-fried Oreos, but probably won’t order them on a future outing.
After filling our gullets with all fat and no nutrients, we checked out some of the fair’s non-caloric fare, including a junior rodeo…
…a world-famous Mexican trick roper name Benny Martinez…
…a sheep shearing demonstration…
…a bee farm…
…and the highlight of my day, pig races!
The little pigs were so fast that my camera could barely catch them in action. It was a pleasure hooting and hollering for the little guys! After the races concluded, the master of ceremonies handed out coupons for free bacon courtesy of Ralph’s supermarket.
By the time dinner rolled around, the novelty of deep-fried foods had thankfully worn off. Instead, we lined up for Texas-style ‘cue. Our lightly sauced ribs were the tastiest things we ate all day. The meat was smoky and tender, while the sauce was tangy and spiced real nice. It was a pleasure gnawing the bones clean under the shade of a tree.
The Texas toast served with the ribs wasn’t ideal, but it soaked up the sauce from our fingers like a charm.
Our final bite of the day was a cup of chocolate mint Dippin’ Dots, which is one of the cheapest and tastiest molecular gastronomy experiences available. It had been at least a decade since my last serving of icy dots, and I gotta say, it tasted even better than I remembered.
Before leaving for home, The Astronomer and I checked out some of the culinary exhibitions. Plenty of ribbons were awarded to pickles- and preserves-filled jars…
…as well as artfully baked cakes. I hope to enter some goodies into the competition next year—cook-off style!
The L.A. County Fair is in town until October 3. Check out the complete set of photos via Flickr.