Guilty pleasures: Greasy eats, fried treats will satisfy fairgoers’ every desire
If your arteries are up for it, you can spend a day eating your way through the Great New York State Fair. You can count on staple favorites like funnel cake, fried dough and anything on a stick. But each year, fairgoers’ expectations for outrageous and odd foods keep the vendors cranking out their craziest concoctions. Among the unexpected and overly indulgent, the heart of each successful stand is great food.
Crazy Combo – The Bacon Habit
For all those with a bacon addiction that just can’t be quit, The Bacon Habit has come to the fair this year to provide the crunchy, salty fix needed by bacon-loving New Yorkers.
We’re not just talking about your average breakfast plate. The Bacon Habit means business with items like bacon-wrapped chicken on a stick, beer-battered bacon and, by far the strangest flavor combination, chocolate-covered bacon.
“People have been stopping by every day to check it out,” said Tenisha Brown, an employee at the stand. “Some people love it, some people think it’s too weird to try, but a lot of people are like, ‘This is really good.’”
The Bacon Habit has an expert technique to ensure its salty-sweet signature doesn’t leave you with a sour taste. The first step is to fry the bacon until it’s evenly crispy, not burnt. Next, it dips the pieces in milk chocolate, salts them and freezes them until they’ve hardened enough to package.
Brown was right. Not a single piece was soggy or greasy. Each piece was thin but hearty, and the salty crunch went hand-in-hand with its smooth, chocolate coating.
“If you like chocolate and you like bacon, you can’t go wrong.” Brown said.
Fried – Deep Fried Specialties
When you hear “fried specialties,” do your mind and arteries automatically think triple bypass? Good, because Jim Hasbrouck, co-owner of Deep Fried Specialties with his wife Pam, has one right on the menu for you.
The Triple Bypass is a sampling platter that provides a taste of Fried’s classics: two Oreos, two chocolate chip cookies and half a PB&J. But there’s much more on the menu.
When Hasbrouck says he can fry anything, he means it. He and his crew are constantly looking for fun and unbelievable items to coat in their homemade, patented batter recipe and turn into deep-fried delicacies
“We go to Wegmans and just go down the aisle,” Hasbrouck explained, stretching out both his arms as if grabbing items and tossing them into his imaginary cart. “Those are always our best ones.”
Some of their latest concoctions include jelly beans, peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches, and lasagna, which is the most constructively impressive.
Now the Hasbrouks average $700 a day just off PB&J’s and work Deep Fried Specialties for five months, taking the other seven off.
“We’re taking our whole crew on a big vacation after this,” Hasbrouk said. “Vegas here we come!”
Exotic – Stix & Things
Walking through the fair can feel like the wild at times. Strong aromas wafting from right and left mix with the sounds of children screaming both in anger and delight. But if you navigate your way to the Stix & Things booth, your craving for a wilder side can literally be satisfied.
Every year, Phil Galuppi spends his vacation time at the State Fair dishing out unusual and rare grilled meats such as shark, alligator and kangaroo.
“We had to have something different to set us apart,” Galuppi said.
His strategy has been a success, and for the past 10 years, Stix & Things has been a standout at the fair for serving up food that is not only exotic, but simply delicious. That great flavor can be attributed to the quality and freshness of his raw ingredients.
That fact is almost unbelievable considering the distances Galuppi goes to get these incredible meats: shark from Boston, gator from Florida and kangaroo from Australia. Each is generously seasoned and grilled to perfection.
For a generous portion of imported, well-prepared meat, the prices are very reasonable at $6 for shark, $7 for gator and $8 for kangaroo.
Though the meats may be unusual, imagine how wild it would be to tell people you’ve eaten some of the world’s most exotic animals.
Over The Top – Big Kahuna
Behind the muggy grease rising up from the grill, Ben Wilson pops donut holes into the air with his spatula, shifting his shoulders right and left to catch them on their way down. Behind him, the menu board offers two infamous options: the Donut Burger and the Donut Dog.
I’m just trying to decide which one is less likely to give me a heart attack.
Last year’s major hit, the donut burger is exactly what it sounds like: a burger with the works sandwiched between a soft-glazed donut. But this year, the Donut Dog seems to outdo its predecessor. The Dog is wrapped in bacon, popped into a glazed Long John donut and drizzled in glaze, with an additional topping of maple syrup.
“I’m scared,” said Julian Rodriguez, an employee, as he turns over the slow-roasting dogs on the grill. “You know why? If I eat it and if I like it, I’ll just eat it everyday.”
You may think he’s joking, but this has happened before with the Donut Burger.
“After it came out, it was my first day and I tried one,” Rodriguez said. “I ate three a day.”
Between the three of us, someone had to try the Donut Dog, so I figured it might as well be me. Bite one was delicious. In my glee over the crisp, savory bacon-wrapped dog surrounded by soft, super-sweet dough, I proclaimed it was the best hot dog I ever had.
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