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Fairground food - the Big E

flourgrrrl Sep 10, 2008 08:44 PM

I'm hoping to indulge in some good old-fashioned junk food at the Eastern States Exposition next week. I haven't been to a state fair type thing in over a decade. Any recommendations for not-to-be-missed carnival delicacies? Funnel cakes? Corn dogs? Is there anything new on the midway?

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  1. c
    catsmeow RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 05:24 AM

    I, too, am going and haven't been ro a fair type thing for many many years. I've heard the cream puffs shouldn't be missed. I'm looking forward to other suggestions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: catsmeow
      NE_Elaine RE: catsmeow Sep 11, 2008 07:21 AM

      I heard the same thing about the cream puffs and tried one last year. It was ok. It might have been that it was the end of the day and I had already sampled quite a lot of the fair, but I was not that impressed.

    2. t
      treb RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 06:02 AM

      Maple syrup candy in the Vermont building.

      1. xcptnl RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 06:35 AM

        I have not been in years (over 20) so I only remember that is fair food x100! They did not have the cream puffs back then (or I missed them) but my boyfriend is a huge cream puff fan so I am sure he will be checking those out! I just need fried dough and some sort of greasy sub (sausage/pepper/onion is sure sounding good right now).

        1 Reply
        1. re: xcptnl
          flourgrrrl RE: xcptnl Sep 11, 2008 05:06 PM

          Yeah, the cream puffs seem to be a recurring theme! They're even mentioned on the Big E website. I'll definitely check those out!

        2. m
          mjoyous RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 06:37 AM

          1) Poppy's fried onion rings
          2)Not just maple sugar candy, but maple sugar cotton candy (fresh, not bagged) at the VT bldg
          3) and, of course, Maine baked potatoes smothered in whatever you love.
          Then there are tons of other things, including the creme puffs and giant eclairs, plus I like Del's lemonade in the RI bldg.
          Can you tell I'm jonesing for the fair? Missed the Big E last year and can't get there till the last week this year, but will be there rain or shine!

          2 Replies
          1. re: mjoyous
            Chris VR RE: mjoyous Sep 11, 2008 10:45 AM

            I tend to stick to the State Pavilions for what I think is the best food at the Big E.

            1) An ice cold glass of maple milk from the Vermont Pavilion. Or from the stand in the Farm Center.
            2) Maine baked potato at Maine pavilion
            3) Del's Lemonade at Rhode Island and while I'm there I'll get Clam fritters if I'm in the mood.
            4) Blueberry Cheesecake Sundae thing.. Maine, I think.
            5) Apple Crisp with ice cream or cider donuts - Vermont Pavilion
            6) Maple cream cone at Massachusetts Pavilion
            7) Fudge from... New Hampshire I think. I always park on that side of the fair and get the fudge to eat in the car on the way home.

            Outside of the state pavilions, I always go for the fried cheese curds. I'll often stop for the cream puffs. When I want to sit down and have someone bring me a beer, I'll go to the Sam Adams beer garden at Storrowton Tavern, but the food is nothing special.

            There's a few places in the Better Living center that are worth a stop. The jerky from Heidi Jo's Jerky is usually pretty good.

            There's a list of food vendors on this page, but not much detail: http://www.thebige.com/fair/fair_be_a...

            Friday the 26th is New England Specialty Food Day, where all the State Pavilions have vendor tents out front (vendors that aren't there during the rest of the fair). If you can arrange it, it's worth trying to go that day, plus the traffic and crowds are a bit less insane on the weekdays.

            1. re: mjoyous
              flourgrrrl RE: mjoyous Sep 11, 2008 05:07 PM

              I'm not a huge cotton candy fan, but maple sugar cotton candy sounds fab!

            2. invinotheresverde RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 08:46 AM

              I second the ME potato and raise you fried cheese curds.

              I'll be there on the 22nd!

              2 Replies
              1. re: invinotheresverde
                doc1969 RE: invinotheresverde Sep 11, 2008 09:01 AM

                Center cut pork chop sandwich near the Better Living Center. Baked Potato from the Maine Building. Lobster Roll from the Maine Building. Tom Thumb donuts remind me of going there as a kid.
                I'm looking for something new and different. Anyone?
                Is there a listing of food vendors anywhere?

                1. re: invinotheresverde
                  mjoyous RE: invinotheresverde Sep 11, 2008 09:55 AM

                  hmm...I'll have to try the fried cheese curds!

                2. p
                  ParentMK RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 09:46 AM

                  There's an incredible array of food to chow on at the BigE...

                  RI Building: I love the clam fritters
                  MA Building: Clam chowder is great
                  Vermont: The maple stuff is good, but Ben and Jerry's usually has very limited flavors there too if you're an ice cream fan
                  NH: I'm pretty sure they have blueberry stuff galore there
                  Maine: The baked potato of course

                  Other fair food:
                  the little sugar covered donuts
                  Millie's pierogi's
                  Fried dough (I prefer mine with lots of chocolate on top)
                  Beignets (Louisiana little fried doughnut pillows)
                  Fried oreos (at the same place as the Beignets)
                  Fried cheese curds are awesome

                  and there's always other random delicious things to be found too, those are just some of my favorites!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ParentMK
                    flourgrrrl RE: ParentMK Sep 11, 2008 05:09 PM

                    The clam fritters are what I remember from my childhood (a good memory). That and the Welch's grape soda stand where they gave away free samples(ultimately, a bad - and quite purple - memory!)

                  2. s
                    stormshadow RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 09:54 AM

                    CHEESE CURDS!!!! Also, the Greek stand (forgot name) makes a killer Gyro right off the spit. Can't get them like that in CT. APPLE FLAPPEN!!!!

                    Avoid--the Clam chowder in a bread bowl, London broil sandwiches--tough as nails, pizza, Millie's pierogies--sorry, you can get much better at a Byzantine church bazaar,

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: stormshadow
                      ParentMK RE: stormshadow Sep 11, 2008 01:14 PM

                      I think it depends on the kind of pierogi you like. If you're a fan of boiled pierogi you won't like Millie's. If you like the more traditional Russian flat-top fried pierogi then you'll enjoy Millie's... as a wicked Polach who's been eating traditional homemade Polish food from generations of Aunts, Moms, Grandmas, and Great Grandmas, Millie's aren't bad for the flat top version.

                      1. re: stormshadow
                        zhecht RE: stormshadow Sep 24, 2008 11:07 AM

                        I've heard a rumor that the Apple Flappen stand has been AWOL this year. Can anyone confirm or deny?

                        1. re: zhecht
                          cheereeo RE: zhecht Sep 16, 2009 10:16 AM

                          It was missing last year. SO I think it's gone. Miss that little guy that would fall down in front of you and the bells going off.

                          1. re: cheereeo
                            kattyeyes RE: cheereeo Sep 16, 2009 05:26 PM

                            That sux. I used to walk around proudly with the "I only came for the Apple Flappen" sticker (and powdered sugar all over the front of me). PLEASE someone report back on Friday and let us know if the Apple Flappen stand is back. I want to get up there this year, just not sure when...

                          2. re: zhecht
                            kasiav RE: zhecht Oct 2, 2009 07:02 PM

                            Sadly confirmed at the big E last year.

                          3. re: stormshadow
                            MacshashRIP RE: stormshadow Oct 1, 2009 07:41 AM

                            """"""Also, the Greek stand (forgot name) makes a killer Gyro right off the spit. Can't get them like that in CT."""""

                            yeah you can....a couple places. Off Sisson Ave. in Hartford next to Mr. Tuxedo there's a little greek deli that does em off the spit, and also on the Berlin Turnpike Cavos does em off the spit.

                            1. re: MacshashRIP
                              kattyeyes RE: MacshashRIP Oct 1, 2009 06:08 PM

                              You speak the truth re Cavos on the Pike in Newington (located next to A&P Liquors, where MotoPhoto used to be)--those are some killer gyros indeed! And if you like those, I totally trust your judgment on the other recommendations. ;)

                          4. Infomaniac RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 12:35 PM

                            The Big E is where I bought my first Soda Club machine, and I think they are in the Better Living Center. I liked the machine so much I bought another one the next year for my summer place. Highly recommend.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Infomaniac
                              catsmeow RE: Infomaniac Sep 14, 2008 07:19 AM

                              What is a soda club machine? Thanks

                              1. re: catsmeow
                                Infomaniac RE: catsmeow Sep 14, 2008 07:54 AM

                                It's a product to make your own soda.

                                1. re: Infomaniac
                                  catsmeow RE: Infomaniac Sep 15, 2008 08:03 AM


                            2. h
                              hollerhither RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 01:04 PM

                              Definitely eat in the state houses, and only the state houses. The RI fried seafood is fun. There are two sources for lobster rolls, ME and MA, I think. One of them has bigger chunks of lobster than the other and is slightly pricier. Since I can never remember which is which, I usually end up having both. ;)

                              Cider donut makes a nice snack. The cream puff made me slightly ill -- incredibly cloying.

                              Where are the cheese curds? I can't believe I've missed them...and will also note to self for future re the gyro as I think I'm taking a year off from the Big E!

                              1. trufflehound RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 01:54 PM

                                My favorites in no particular order
                                Midway-Fried cheese curds
                                Somewhere in an alley near Storrowton- Apple Flappens
                                RI=Clam cakes
                                VT- Pizza and good brews, maple candy(sugar?)
                                ME-Blueberry pie, lobster rolls. Sorry, I don't find the tater worth the wait.
                                MA-Finnish pancakes, lobster roll(cheaper and maybe better than ME), honey candy
                                NH-Apple pie/crisp
                                AAA has tix for $10.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: trufflehound
                                  flourgrrrl RE: trufflehound Sep 11, 2008 05:12 PM

                                  Thanks for the AAA tip. Apple Flappens sounds like a twist on the hackneyed phrase "S*** Happens."

                                2. trufflehound RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 05:22 PM

                                  jUST FOUND THIS FROM THE mw DAILY NEWS.
                                  Food is practically endless in supply and diversity. The famous Big E Cream Puff is back plus dozens of other sweet confections. Other Big E favorites from each New England state and around the world include baked potatoes; lobster dinners; Italian, Latin, Indian and Greek fare; and kettle corn. New this year, look for the pot roast sundae and gorgonzola fries.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: trufflehound
                                    flourgrrrl RE: trufflehound Sep 11, 2008 05:30 PM

                                    Mmmmm...gorgonzola fries.....mmmmm.....

                                    And pot roast sundae *does* sound intriguing. Thanks for the tip!

                                    1. re: flourgrrrl
                                      Alica RE: flourgrrrl Sep 11, 2008 08:20 PM

                                      Oh my!! I have not gone in awhile but i am sure going to try to get there for all of these food recs!! I remember, the baked potato with fixins, the apple pie, the corn dipped in butter...

                                      1. re: Alica
                                        trufflehound RE: Alica Sep 12, 2008 01:59 PM

                                        And the guy saying mmm. buter,buter.buter.buter corn.

                                        1. re: trufflehound
                                          Alica RE: trufflehound Sep 12, 2008 07:45 PM

                                          Oh my god! Flashback!!!

                                          1. re: trufflehound
                                            Lee Gordon RE: trufflehound Sep 12, 2008 11:27 PM

                                            "Butter, butter, butter, butter corn. Dipped in real butter"

                                            And my favorite part: "With real salt and real pepper."

                                            None of that fake salt and pepper for me!

                                    2. r
                                      ratbuddy RE: flourgrrrl Sep 12, 2008 02:30 PM

                                      Hopefully they have steakums in the CT area again, love those things.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: ratbuddy
                                        luvthemdogs RE: ratbuddy Sep 15, 2008 11:19 AM

                                        Steak-Umm sold out to a national a couple years ago. No longer CT

                                        1. re: luvthemdogs
                                          ratbuddy RE: luvthemdogs Sep 17, 2008 09:48 AM

                                          Crud, you are right. From the website,

                                          "Steak-umm is headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania."

                                          That's a shame..

                                          1. re: ratbuddy
                                            luvthemdogs RE: ratbuddy Sep 17, 2008 11:12 AM

                                            Yup, used to be out of Pomfret, CT. They have not been at the Big E in 2 years.

                                      2. krisrishere RE: flourgrrrl Sep 13, 2008 08:38 AM

                                        Maine Baked Potato - Maine Building
                                        Blueberry Pie - Connecticut Building
                                        Tempura Vegetables - by the big stage

                                        Definitely end your day at the Big E with those little cinnamon donuts...yum. I'm not in New England anymore, so I'm living vicariously through you guys :)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: krisrishere
                                          mjoyous RE: krisrishere Sep 13, 2008 03:51 PM

                                          have tried the tempura veggies twice, different years, thinking--hmmm--vegetable matter. but in the land of deep fried everything, these seem to be the worst. both times were so greasy, with a seriously bad taste to the fat, that the greasy beignets tasted like healthier food. both times the order ended up in the garbage. recommend you skip.

                                          1. re: mjoyous
                                            krisrishere RE: mjoyous Sep 14, 2008 05:39 AM

                                            Really? That stinks. I haven't been there in about 8 years..just going off my memory.

                                            1. re: mjoyous
                                              hollerhither RE: mjoyous Sep 14, 2008 07:01 AM

                                              Yeah, I second that re the tempura veggies, sad because it's such a good idea in theory! :) (The mushrooms weren't half bad, though.)

                                          2. b
                                            bellinator RE: flourgrrrl Sep 14, 2008 06:15 PM

                                            Just went there this afternoon... What an unbelievable amount of food (and real temptation for gluttony)! Of the "Statehouse Eats", Maine had the better lobster roll, with a good amount of meat and not much filler. Massachusetts looked soggy and a bit too minced. Great beer - Hofbrauhaus had some excellent German brews in the Food Court (same price as BudLite in other places) and Opa-Opa had a nice selection as well.

                                            The bit disappointment was the clam fritter in RI's statehouse. Woof! There were loads of fritters, nary a clam. Seriously, in an entire bag, maybe ONE fritter had even the slightest flavor of clam. You'd be better off getting fried dough or funnel cake - at least that way, you'd get chocolate or some sort of topping.

                                            My first time going - boy, the Big E was an experience! :)

                                            (Oh, and one word to the wise...don't go on the roller-coaster rides *after* eating a smoked turkey leg. I'm regretting it, even hours later! Heehee.)

                                            1. i
                                              irishnyc RE: flourgrrrl Sep 14, 2008 06:19 PM

                                              We're going for the first time next weekend. Can't wait! I came to the NE board hoping there would be some reports. I'll be keeping my eye on this.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: irishnyc
                                                xcptnl RE: irishnyc Sep 15, 2008 07:37 AM

                                                We went Saturday and really enjoyed ourselves. I had not been in 20 years and my boyfriend had never been - he was pretty impressed! We ended up not eating much - he got his creampuff though! We did get some fresh kettlecorn to take home, fudge from the NH building - much fresher looking than any other place and some cotton candy. I love Maple products so the maple cotton candy is to die for in my opinion! We got there too early and ended up doing a TON of walking around waiting for things to open so we ended up being too exhausted to eat much and I am regretting not getting the lobster roll in the Maine building. CT building had the steamed hamburg place there set up outside too! I want to go back and just do the state buildings again and the Better Home building - love that one too!

                                              2. l
                                                lonborgfan RE: flourgrrrl Sep 17, 2008 05:55 AM

                                                Heading there today. Can't wait.
                                                Here's my take-
                                                NH kettle korn is the one to buy. Made fresh and bagged immediately after popping, not stockpiled.
                                                Finnish pancakes in MA bldg are nice.Flan-like taste that I get once a year.
                                                Agree on RI clamcakes. If you like clams, forgo them. For me it's more of a tradition, I eat a few for the taste and pawn the rest off on whoever I'm with.
                                                Ditto on loving the maple sugar cotton candy.
                                                White Hut has a stand behind the Coliseum near the Midway. They are always good for a nice little cheeseburger with onions that won't fill you up. God forbid you eat one large thing and be unable to nibble your way thru the E!! : )
                                                Haven't had the pot roast sundae but my understanding is that it is like a shepherd's pie type deal. Meat, corn, potatoes topped with a cherry tomato as the sundae top.
                                                I'll think of you all as I eat my way through the fair! (And when I'm doing an extra 2 miles tomorrow to work it off!)

                                                1. m
                                                  moskey RE: flourgrrrl Sep 17, 2008 10:06 AM

                                                  Check out this article from a link in the Hartford Courant.


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: moskey
                                                    brookerme RE: moskey Sep 17, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                    Steamed cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries are by Roscoe's Big Dog and are available 6 days a week in downtown Hartford along with the best dogs around.

                                                    1. re: moskey
                                                      Chris VR RE: moskey Sep 17, 2008 06:15 PM

                                                      That is a GREAT pictorial rundown of some of the best chow at the Big E. No cheese curds though! It whetted my appetite for our trip this weekend.

                                                    2. 5
                                                      56carol RE: flourgrrrl Sep 17, 2008 03:56 PM

                                                      Hi! I miss the BIG E! I would go w/ family every year.Have not been since year 2000! Lived in Ct.same town 46 yrs. moved Fl. 2002 I still think of it at this time. My kids always loved the BIG cinnamon Buns AND Giant pretzels! I always loved the stands of homemade crafts I miss it! Hope you all enjoy it! 56carol

                                                      1. s
                                                        smr220 RE: flourgrrrl Sep 18, 2008 01:38 PM

                                                        I was wondering if anyone has seen or found where the gorgonzola fries are supposed to be? My husband and I wanted to try them, but after walking through the whole fair, could not find them at all.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: smr220
                                                          leM RE: smr220 Sep 23, 2008 05:18 PM


                                                          The fries with gorgonzola dressing & gorgonzola cheese on top are on New England Avenue near the corner by the Young Building & the end closest to the Mallary Complex. It's in a row of food stands and is right next to a funnel cake stand. It's just a place that sells curly fries and hot dogs and chili fries, and if you peek into the stand, there's a paper plate sign that mentions the gorgonzola-y goodness.

                                                          So if you walk in via Gate 9A, you pass the Mallary Complex on your left and go straight ahead, bearing right when you come up to the Young Building. You'll see a Strawberry Shortcake booth, then the Funnel Cake booth as you bear left onto New England Ave. and then the Fry booth is there on your left. I marked the general area on this map (check the original linked above if you need more detail):


                                                          1. re: leM
                                                            catsmeow RE: leM Sep 23, 2008 07:30 PM

                                                            How were they?

                                                            1. re: catsmeow
                                                              leM RE: catsmeow Sep 24, 2008 07:28 AM

                                                              They were so good that I might go again Thursday just for them.

                                                              They were those skinny, fresh cut, curly fries and then they pour some smooth, thin dressing over the top (like the texture of ranch, creamy but vinegar-y with a gorgonzola flavor), and top all that with the crumbled gorgonzola. The dressing gave it a tangy "chips & vinegar" feel and then the gorgonzola rounded out the tang with plenty of creamy.

                                                              I was also pleasantly surprised about how much gorgonzola they put on top - it was a generous amount considering the cost of the cheese. The plate cost $6, and was completely worth it.

                                                              Even my 4 & 1 year old sons loved them!

                                                              1. re: leM
                                                                catsmeow RE: leM Sep 24, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                                I missed them! That was the one other thing I was hoping to find but had read prior to my going that no on could find them. I assumed they weren't there. Oh well. Next year.

                                                                1. re: catsmeow
                                                                  leM RE: catsmeow Sep 24, 2008 09:18 AM

                                                                  We actually stopped and asked at an information booth because we couldn't find it on our own either. I half expected that we wouldn't get an answer, but the woman in the booth knew exactly what we were talking about. I figured it helped that it had been mentioned in the local news, I think.

                                                                  But yeah, the only indication that the gorgonzola fries were served at that particular booth was the paper plate hung -inside- with the gorgonzola mentioned as a topping.

                                                                  Catsmeow, maybe I'll have a plate for you on Thursday ;)

                                                                  1. re: leM
                                                                    catsmeow RE: leM Sep 24, 2008 07:02 PM

                                                                    Enjoy :-)

                                                        2. s
                                                          soilman RE: flourgrrrl Sep 18, 2008 06:19 PM

                                                          My last visit to the fair was 1950. I have pleasant memories of VT maple sugar candies, italian sausage grinders with fried peppers and onions, Joey Chitwoods Hell Drivers, the draft horse pulling contest, and earthy odors of the animal barns. Appears that the maple sugar goodies have survived.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: soilman
                                                            lonborgfan RE: soilman Sep 19, 2008 09:47 AM

                                                            Couldn't find the gorgonzola fries either.
                                                            Thanks Soilman for a true blast from the past. I'd totally forgotten about Joey Chitwoods Hell Drivers- always a highlight. If you walked the fairground now you would still know your way around. State buildings haven't changed much, the Coliseum still looks the same although now seems so much smaller than I remembered it as a kid and the Better Living Center still has the people selling floor mops and cookware. The sausage grinders, candy apples and cotton candy have all survived along with the Lions Club chicken dinners.The fishing pond in the VT building is no longer there. If you're able you should get there. Food is always crazy and the memories are always fun.

                                                            1. re: lonborgfan
                                                              litefoot RE: lonborgfan Sep 19, 2008 10:00 PM

                                                              Joey Chitwoods was a yearly event. Kids loved it and have to admit I miss them. Went Tuesday night, $5 after 5 M-Th, what a deal! And found a parking space for $5!

                                                              There are at least 3 cooking demonstrations in the International Building at the Harvest NE Kitchen Theatre. Last year we saw Lydia. Went to the demonstration this year and saw the chef from Storrowton gave a New England fare demonstration. Learned some interesting facts about NE, like sweet potatoes are native to NE. Guess I should have known that because of Thanksgiving but it never occurred to me. There are samples after the cooking show. http://www.thebige.com/fair/chefsched...

                                                              I prefer the kettle corn outside the Massachusetts Bldg. It wasn't as sweet and the NH bldg, and it did stay pretty well for 2 days (didn't last longer than that). Also love the sweet potato fries outside the CT bldg. Haven't had the nerve to try a steamed burger. The Lions Club has a barbeque chicken dinner which is very good (it is located on the corner of the avenue where the state buildings meet the avenue that goes to the rides). Corn dogs were pricy but found one for $3 on the midway by the Better Living Center.

                                                              My advice to you, shop the fair. Prices are different, and don't go for the first food item you see that looks good. There's so much to choose but its expensive, be picky. Visit the Grange Building, there are homemade jams, jellys, salad dressing and marinades available made locally. It's across from the state houses.

                                                              1. re: litefoot
                                                                trufflehound RE: litefoot Sep 21, 2008 05:54 AM

                                                                Not true. Sweet potatoes are native to South America, as in 5000 years ago.

                                                          2. c
                                                            catsmeow RE: flourgrrrl Sep 21, 2008 12:00 PM

                                                            Yesterday, We conquered the Big E. I have to thank all of the posters for helping narrow things down to the best of the best. Where to begin...clam fritters, missing clam and had a few. It was fried so what's not to like? Moved on to a Finnish pancake with blueberry syrup. Yum. It reminded me of the center of a German pancake. I then had a maple cream cone to cleanse the palate ;-). Next, the Maine lobster roll. I was disappointed with this one. Although plentiful, the lobster meat had a washed out taste to to it. I got a frozen hot chocolate to help wash it all down. Not very good. Definitly not like the one I get at Serendipity's in New York. I only had a few sips not wanting to waste valuable tummy space. Onward to a steamed burger. We didn't really care for it. I guess it's an acquired taste. I like my burgers grilled not steamed. I'm not sorry I tried it though. From entering the gates, I had an eye out for the fried cheese curds. I thought it was hopeless until just before we left. As full as I was, I wasn't leaving until I tried them. Bingo....found them. Very good. Again, a fried item so what's not to like? A few bites of a cream puff and a few bites of a perogi, and I thought I was going to OD on food. Not to worry...I brought home a smoked turkey leg, maple cotton candy(it shrunk to a pizza dough sized ball but still tastes good) and eclair figuring I would eat again sooner or later. I never had a smoked turkey leg before and wanted to ty it. I thought it was so funny to see people walking around eating Flintstone sized turkey legs! Now the eclair...one of the best I've ever had....even a day later. All in all, I never thought I'd never want to eat again. A lot of fun, a lot of walking, and a lot of eating. Lot's to choose from and it helped to have some sort of plan of attack after reading the posts here. Thanks.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: catsmeow
                                                              flourgrrrl RE: catsmeow Sep 23, 2008 05:27 AM

                                                              Glad you had such a good time at the Big E, cat! I'm the OP who was originally looking for guidance on good fair eats, but now - tragically - it seems that I will not be attending the Big E this year. Still, if others have benefitted from this thread then (* bows humbly*) my work here is done.

                                                              1. re: catsmeow
                                                                Science Chick RE: catsmeow Sep 23, 2008 07:35 AM

                                                                We hit it yesterday (Monday). Nice going on a weekday without the crazy crowds, although there was still PLENTY of activity. Had a passable veggie burrito w/refried beans over near the Better Living Center just to hold us over. The seafood chowder from the Rhode Island Bldg was awesome..tons of shrimp, scallops and flounder! I agree about the lobster roll in the Maine bldg ($9...maybe I should have tried the $7 version in the MA bldg?). Tasty but a bit washed out of flavor. The smoked salmon on a stick in the Maine bldg was fabulous, as was the blueberry pie. We couldn't bring ourselves to wait in line for a baked potato...but, man, they looked great. Finally, a slice of pizza from American Flatbreads in VT was great! I hadn't realized that the MA restaurants have diverged from the VT originals...what a difference!

                                                                We were only there a few hours, so all in all a good chow experience!

                                                                1. re: Science Chick
                                                                  invinotheresverde RE: Science Chick Sep 23, 2008 08:27 PM

                                                                  I was there Monday also, and we did:

                                                                  Tempura veggies- always solid, with no need to dip

                                                                  Veggie potpie- awful, never order again, flavorless crust, lack of filling

                                                                  Maple cotton candy- I just love this

                                                                  Apple crisp w/vanilla- best I've had at the Big E

                                                                  Maine potato- medium size line, big size delicious

                                                                  Kettle corn!

                                                                  1. re: Science Chick
                                                                    sheppsmom RE: Science Chick Oct 25, 2009 04:24 PM

                                                                    You should have tried the Maine Potato, the wait is only about 12 min max. Hopefully you go to try it this year. They are great. Baked not microwaved and fresh not held over. The ovens start at 8:00 and are opened every 15 minutes. This year the potatoes were not as large but you got two to fill the boat.

                                                                2. s
                                                                  Scargoe RE: flourgrrrl Sep 23, 2008 08:11 PM

                                                                  I was at the Big E today, Tuesday and the Ct building was giving away samples of lobster bisque, clams and oysters on the half shell and scallops. Couldn't make a meal of it but the price and the food was right. Much shorter line than for a Maine potato too. I think it was the Ct Seafood Council sponsoring it and I don't know if it is every day or just today. Right next to the WDRC radio booth.

                                                                  1. s
                                                                    stormshadow RE: flourgrrrl Sep 24, 2008 08:09 PM

                                                                    I never could understand why people would wait in line for a BAKED potato......c'mon peeps, cant you do this at home? :)

                                                                    1. r
                                                                      RandyL RE: flourgrrrl Oct 5, 2008 07:54 AM

                                                                      Nuttin like the Pork Chop Sandwich from the Pork Palace.....cheese curds with ranch dressing a must....and the Latino booth served up tatsy food as well

                                                                      1. m
                                                                        modbetty RE: flourgrrrl Sep 13, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                                        I'm bumping this thread up since it's that time of year- the Big EAT! Reading about what people got last year makes me want to make the 6 hour drive from my home in PA just for things like maple sugar cotton candy and fried cheese curds. Unfortunately that seems like a long way to drive, plus pay admission fee, just for food. But I'm sorely tempted!

                                                                        The fried cheese curds have been my fave food at the Big E ever since I can remember. I was thinking about it just the other day, and I'd be really surprised if the folks that own the Big Cheese truck only work the BIg E and that's it? I'd think they'd do a circuit of some sort, hitting fairs and things, but have not been able to find anything online about it.

                                                                        If anyone goes to the Big Cheese fried cheese curd stand this year, can you ask them if they only do the Big E? Again I'm tempted to make the drive, but if I could get the curds some other time that would alleviate this cheese monkey on my back!

                                                                        Please do report back as to what you got this year!

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: modbetty
                                                                          Chris VR RE: modbetty Sep 14, 2009 06:58 PM

                                                                          They announced a new burger on Facebook: " It’s a huge hamburger, topped with melting cheese and crispy bacon, all served on a fresh, gooey glazed donut!"

                                                                          Blech, if you ask me.

                                                                          1. re: Chris VR
                                                                            ratbuddy RE: Chris VR Sep 15, 2009 04:51 AM

                                                                            Chris, it's called a Luther burger and I can't figure out why anyone would actually want to eat one.


                                                                            1. re: ratbuddy
                                                                              Chris VR RE: ratbuddy Sep 15, 2009 06:46 PM

                                                                              They've dubbed it the Craz-E burger or something like that. I agree, you'd have to be crazy to eat one.

                                                                              1. re: Chris VR
                                                                                cheereeo RE: Chris VR Sep 16, 2009 10:15 AM

                                                                                I thought that was a joke. Can it really be for real?

                                                                                1. re: cheereeo
                                                                                  PrincessBakesALot RE: cheereeo Sep 16, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                                                  The "burger in a donut" was a big draw at some minor league baseball park last year. Must have been a hit with someone!

                                                                          2. re: modbetty
                                                                            Scargod RE: modbetty Sep 14, 2009 07:29 PM

                                                                            http://www.dannyslittletasteoftexas.com/ I believe this may be worth the trip. I haven't had it, but I may this year.

                                                                            1. re: Scargod
                                                                              krisrishere RE: Scargod Sep 15, 2009 08:10 AM

                                                                              I've been to their restaurant a few times and I really enjoy it.

                                                                            2. re: modbetty
                                                                              zhecht RE: modbetty Sep 16, 2009 06:19 PM

                                                                              From the article at http://www.courant.com/entertainment/... comes a description of the other new foodie "highlights":

                                                                              "So what else is new in eating at the Big E? Lots. "Designer waffles," for one. Have a peanut butter and jelly waffle, or one with fluff. Or have a Vermont Waffle with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup.

                                                                              "There's also "Walk-Away Nachos."

                                                                              ""They take a bag of Doritos, open it up and pour in beans, sour cream and guacamole, and you walk away and you can eat 'em," Lavoie says. "Everything you would want on nachos."


                                                                              L"avoie is also excited about the addition of elephant ears (a little like fried dough, but with a doughnut-like texture). And proving that there's no food unsuited to the Big E treatment, on hand will be fried green beans, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried baloney sandwiches and deep-fried Gorgonzola fries.

                                                                              "Lavoie already is looking to future fare. Specifically, she has her on eye a dish called Deep-Fried Butter, which is exactly that.

                                                                              ""Maybe you'll see that next year," she says."

                                                                              The deep fried pickles sound good (I had them at Rein's years ago). I'm hoping the deep fried butter is a joke.

                                                                              1. re: zhecht
                                                                                Scargod RE: zhecht Sep 16, 2009 06:51 PM

                                                                                I wanted to go, but all that you have mentioned sounds gross! Don't they have cotton candy or is that just in the South? Yea, that's gross, too... What, no gross food?

                                                                                1. re: Scargod
                                                                                  Chris VR RE: Scargod Sep 17, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                                                  Actually I have to say that the maple sugar cotton candy in one of the state pavilions (can't remember which) is really good.

                                                                            3. cheereeo RE: flourgrrrl Sep 16, 2009 10:21 AM

                                                                              I search for the homemade potato chip vendor every year--I just wish they gave you dip like they used to--used to have this great horseradish dip in years past. And I second the Latino booth--My God, those pork rind things--chicharrones- are incredible, just eat them sparingly.
                                                                              Look at the picture here from Sonia's Latin Grill:
                                                                              And I like to get a pickle at Storrotown Village.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: cheereeo
                                                                                krisrishere RE: cheereeo Sep 16, 2009 11:45 AM

                                                                                I always was a big fan of the tempura mushrooms with the horseradish dipping sauce. Also frequented the Latino booth for some pinchos. Good times, good food.

                                                                              2. f
                                                                                foodwallguy RE: flourgrrrl Sep 16, 2009 05:35 PM

                                                                                This fair is in my hometown, so we get the 17 day pass and usually go 11 or 12 times. the fried cheese curds is on my food wall, as well as the white hut "cheeseburger fried" and the maine baked potato. If you can only get there on a weekend, the Billies Baked Potato is just as good an the maine, but without the 2 hour wait. Friends of mine love the fried pork skin fron the latin stand. the vermont flatbread stand in the vermont building is great as well as the cabot cheese. In the RI building, the lobster chowder (at $10) and the lobster ravioli with the vodka sauce are great. Too much to list!!!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: foodwallguy
                                                                                  ljsinct RE: foodwallguy Sep 17, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                                                  My favorite is the Pork Chop Sandwich at the Pork Palace. So good! And Dell's frozen lemonade and the RI Clam Chowder in the RI building. I second the pickles too!

                                                                                2. j
                                                                                  joe777cool RE: flourgrrrl Sep 20, 2009 11:11 AM

                                                                                  Ok, went last night and here was our experience

                                                                                  Giant Turkey Legs - meaty but SUPER salty....and I like salt
                                                                                  Sausage Sandwich - have you ever had a bad one?
                                                                                  Garlic Naan - some Indian stand....delicious
                                                                                  Maple Cotton Candy - rediculous
                                                                                  Apple Cider & Apple Cider Donuts in Vermont building - worth the 2 hour drive from RI alone, DO NOT MISS THIS!!!
                                                                                  Lobster Roll in Maine Building - $8 and full of fresh meat....how can you beat it?
                                                                                  Fresh Ravioli - RI building (Vendas) - very good

                                                                                  My only issue is with the price at many of these stands.....average price on many items is $6-7.....which is average for what you get, but it would be nice to see some of these stands with some $3-4 specials, 1/2 portions.....I want to try many different things, I dont need a HUGE portion of deep fried veggies, 24 mini donuts, 1/2 rack of ribs dinner etc. My fiancee and I would have tried many more vendors but few to none had any "tasting specials." If we really like it we would have bought more, especially if you are going back multiple times.

                                                                                  Just as an example, we went to the Phantom Gourmet Rib festival.....ALL the vendors had tasting plates some called it a recession special, 3 or 4 ribs, not just a whole or half rack plus sides, just so you could give em a try.

                                                                                  First time back in 8 years, give yourself PLENTY of time.....you could be there for 2 days and still miss alot. I underestimated the size, wont do it next time!

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool
                                                                                    stuck in Hartford County RE: joe777cool Sep 20, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                                    I went on opening day and had a really nice time, although I think that $10 for parking is too much. The state houses had the best food. The ($8) Maine lobster roll was terrific- I didn't even see any mayo, although they say they use it. Large chunks of lobster in a split top roll- the best food at the fair. The VT cheese was good. CT steamed burger was weird but OK. Didn't see the fried pickles, but I tried a corn dog from some amusement vender- I really wanted to like it (I like hot dogs, I like cornbread, I like fried...) but I hated it. I tried to pick off the bland, fluffy "cornbread" but the stuff was REALLY hot and I burned my fingers! Cooled off with Dels soft frozen lemonade, though and was happy again. The Maine potatoes look so disgusting they are probably good, but I watched several people eating them and I lost my appetite, briefly. Tried jerky for the first time (Better Living Center)- not bad- I brought some home. I bought some chocolate there, also, but it was terrible. The Pez things are cheap ($1.50) and my son really loved it- you can get everything Pez in the CT building. Didn't know the Pez company is in CT... I also bought a $7 Timex watch for my daughter in the CT building. I saw some really funny stuff at the Big E- crazy, obscene tee-shirts, crazy tats, crazy people, and crazy food (those turkey legs are ridiculous!). I really enjoyed the day!

                                                                                    1. re: stuck in Hartford County
                                                                                      kattyeyes RE: stuck in Hartford County Sep 20, 2009 03:19 PM

                                                                                      Who was doing the steamed cheeseburgers in CT--was it in the CT buildingg?

                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                        stuck in Hartford County RE: kattyeyes Sep 21, 2009 07:40 AM

                                                                                        No, it's outside on the side of the building. I didn't pay attention to the name of the place, but they are apparently the "inventors" of the steamed hamburger (which really wasn't that great, in my opinion). Stop at 5 guys in Farmington on the way up to fair if you live in CT if you want a tasty, cheap (messy) burger.

                                                                                        1. re: stuck in Hartford County
                                                                                          kattyeyes RE: stuck in Hartford County Sep 21, 2009 10:00 AM

                                                                                          No, that's OK. I was just curious. I can get steamed cheeseburgers right in my own town. Just wondered who were selling them. Not everyone loves them. I wouldn't dream of stopping for food EN ROUTE TO the Big E--grazing is part of the fun!

                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                            xcptnl RE: kattyeyes Sep 21, 2009 11:51 AM

                                                                                            I saw those last year and wanted to try one. We are going this weekend!!! I cannot wait to gorge myself and then waddle back to my car. This year we are doing the state buildings first! Hopefully they will not be as crowded as they were last year-we goofed and did not go into them until afternoon. Not sure what i was thinking other than I had not been to the Big E in 20 years so I was a newbie all over again!

                                                                                            1. re: xcptnl
                                                                                              JudgeMaven RE: xcptnl Sep 21, 2009 01:46 PM

                                                                                              Of all the buildings I think the Vermont one is the best food-wise and CT the worst. I could spend all day eating in the Vermont capitol replica. (I'm an apple/cheese/maple/Ben & Jerry's lover)

                                                                                              1. re: stuck in Hartford County
                                                                                                coldduck RE: stuck in Hartford County Sep 23, 2009 03:45 PM

                                                                                                Just made a brief run up to the Big E. I'll be going again Sunday for a little more time, but I just want to say that I have a lot of trouble pulling the trigger on a $4 ear of corn and a $4 slice of pizza (Connecticut Building). My general impression is that the food is way too expensive.

                                                                                                1. re: coldduck
                                                                                                  Jimmy Cantiello RE: coldduck Oct 1, 2009 08:24 AM

                                                                                                  Don't know if it's been mention in this thread but I read that the big food hit of this year's fair are the chocolate covered bacon slices. A couple from Plainville, Ct. have been making approximately 300 hundred a day and they've been selling out at $2.00 a pop.

                                                                                                  Another offering for this year is a peanut butter, provolone and bacon pizza. I kid you not.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jimmy Cantiello
                                                                                                    hotwing RE: Jimmy Cantiello Oct 1, 2009 09:54 AM

                                                                                                    Tried the chocolate covered bacon and couldn't beleive how good it was. You say a couple from Plainville Ct. makes them. Do you know where to get them other than the fair?

                                                                                                    1. re: hotwing
                                                                                                      kattyeyes RE: hotwing Oct 1, 2009 06:11 PM

                                                                                                      I hope this isn't considered off-topic as I have no idea where to purchase chocolate-covered bacon in CT. But that's gotta be the easiest thing in the world to make. Just get some nice Callebaut or other quality chocolate in the supermarket, grab your favorite bacon, and--dare I say--go hog wild! ;)

                                                                                                    2. re: Jimmy Cantiello
                                                                                                      Scargod RE: Jimmy Cantiello Oct 1, 2009 10:10 AM

                                                                                                      Uhmm, Jimmy.... are you holding out on us? Did you try the pizza? Was it any good? Were people trying it? Tell me you tried it!

                                                                                                      1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                        Jimmy Cantiello RE: Scargod Oct 1, 2009 11:56 AM

                                                                                                        Unfortunately I have no firsthand knowledge of either food. I read about them in a Connecticut Post article. But I definitely would like to sample both. I'm guessing if you Google the chocolate covered bacon you might be able to track it down.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jimmy Cantiello
                                                                                                          mmalmad RE: Jimmy Cantiello Oct 2, 2009 06:28 AM

                                                                                                          Went last night, the Rhode Island Clam chowder, and Maine lobster rolls were excellent, nice pieces of claw meat, plain and simple.

                                                                                                      2. re: Jimmy Cantiello
                                                                                                        zhecht RE: Jimmy Cantiello Oct 4, 2009 08:47 PM

                                                                                                        We had the peanut butter, provolone, and bacon pizza. It was being offered by Randy's Wooster St. Pizza in the Connecticut Building. It's normally offered at their locations in Manchester, Southington, Storrs as the "Skippy's Dare" pizza. It was good but the peanut butter wasn't as evenly distributed as I would've liked. Didn't see the chocolate bacon.

                                                                                      2. stuck in Hartford County RE: flourgrrrl Oct 2, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                                                        Took the kids this time and my son made me promise to post that the "Big E Burger is THE BEST". Frankly, it looked (and smelled) gross, but he loved it. It's a hamburger in a donut with bacon (although he did not get the bacon). He ate it in like 10 seconds. Hard to believe this kid won't eat scalloped potatoes, but ate this thing with such gusto. It was painful to watch. Then he bought this really cool Arnold Palmer mini golf game from the Better Living building. 5 of the 7 guys watching the mini golf demo had also eaten (and loved) the burger. Must be a guy thing. I tried the hard cider in the CT building, and didn't like either sample. There was a foul finish/aftertaste. Did you all know that the Pez HQ's are in Orange, CT? They don't give tours (too bad) but are looking for 8-10 year old test subjects. They just e-mailed me today asking if I could bring my class (we're too far away-sigh...). I saw the chocolate covered bacon and had one of those "oh my gosh did I really say that out loud moments" when I suggested that they dredge and deep fry them to ensure the ensuing heart attack. Oops! At least the guys had a sense of humor- they pretended to think about it. People were buying the stuff.

                                                                                        1. c
                                                                                          colby54 RE: flourgrrrl Oct 2, 2009 06:24 PM

                                                                                          just came back from the Big E...lobster roll at Maine building was wonderful..loved the clamcakes in RI..very light and flavorful even though not a lot of clams in them. Cider donuts in Vermont were amazing...took 1/2 doz home. everything we ate had a lot of bang for the buck...so much so that we didn't want anything on the midway...State specialty foods were the best!

                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                            joe777cool RE: flourgrrrl Oct 2, 2009 08:15 PM

                                                                                            Ok, 2nd visit tonight.....hilights

                                                                                            *Crazy Burger - my fiancee said it was absolutely delicious......I havent looked at her the same since she consumed it lol!
                                                                                            *Chocolate covered bacon (CT bldg) - TBD, we got 2 slices and took them home we were so full
                                                                                            *Apple Cider and Apple Cider Slush (VT bldg) - again - worth the drive alone along with anything else at the Cider Mill stand
                                                                                            *Thai garlic chicken skewer (behind CT bldg?) - $4 for a big skewer of marinated grilled thighs.....not too bad

                                                                                            FYI the owner of the chocolate covered bacon stand, Rosie Blake's World Class Chocolates New Britain CT 860-225-8425, gave us some interesting info. She told us the best values are going to be in the state buildings because the food stands in the midway have to pay a portion of their sales to the Big E while the vendors in the state buildings do NOT. That is why you can pay $1 for a bottled water vs $2.50.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: joe777cool
                                                                                              kattyeyes RE: joe777cool Oct 3, 2009 05:24 AM

                                                                                              Oh, neat to know that the choco-bacon folks are Rosie Blake's. They used to come in from time to time and sell their chocolates where I worked.

                                                                                            2. Science Chick RE: flourgrrrl Oct 4, 2009 08:43 AM

                                                                                              Here's the States building roundup from yesterday (in the rain!).

                                                                                              Maine: Potato great, lobster roll good, wild blueberry pie delicious, smoked salmon kebobs were the best of all, though!

                                                                                              RI: Lobster bisque and corn/shrimp chowder were awesome. However, clam chowder from across the way (Kenyons?) was absolutely awful. Tasted canned! I brought it back and they refunded, no problem.

                                                                                              MA: Excellent clam chowder and lobster rolls. More "shredded" style meat, but a bit more generous than the Maine one and $7 instead of $8.

                                                                                              VT: Mac and cheese....ok, a bit oily. I prefer creamier style. Maple cotton candy great...slightly burnt flavor (like burnt caramel) that was yummy.

                                                                                              I could have sworn that in previous years we got a hand-dipped caramel apple from one of the State buildings. Did I miss this....didn't go into CT or NH???????

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                                Chris VR RE: Science Chick Oct 4, 2009 08:58 AM

                                                                                                I definitely saw caramel dipped apples yesterday in a few of the buildings- NH, VT and I think also MA.

                                                                                                Also, The Bie E in the rain is awesome. Only a 5 minute wait for the Maine baked potato at 12:30! and no real wait for anything else. Totally the way to go.

                                                                                                1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                                  hotwing RE: Science Chick Oct 4, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                                                                  I tried the smoked salmon on a stick in the Maine building when I went 2 years ago and also this year and have to say both times it was the best fod I ate at the fair.

                                                                                                  1. re: hotwing
                                                                                                    stuck in Hartford County RE: hotwing Oct 5, 2009 07:45 AM

                                                                                                    Maine = Salmon???? I laughed when I saw the salmon on a stick, much as I laughed at the choco bacon! But was I ever wrong! About the salmon. Log onto this website for a tutorial on Maine and salmon. Who knew?

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