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Skimming food & drink @ LA County Fair

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Four middle-aged folks with good appetites but certain physical limitations could do only so much damage to the culinary offerings on Labor Day, bur damned if we didn't try. We started at around 10:15 with a new addition to the Universal Fair Foods list (i.e. frozen bananas, corn dogs and the like), chocolate-covered bacon. This comes semi-frozen in a little takeout container, four pieces (plus a totally unnecessary packet of salt!) for $20; the covering is actually a very good dark chocolate, and the bacon had a nice crunch, but alas not a lot of flavor. They really need to get their bacon from Kentucky if they're serious about this. It did give us a nice start to the day, though.

After watching a lamb being born and viewing other mostly appealing (and much less soggy) livestock, we stopped at Dr. Bob's ice-cream place, of which we had read much good on this board. Y'all spoke truth: this is great ice cream. We had blueberry, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and cranberry sorbet, all excellent; Mrs. O also had a taste of the soy sauce and said it was amazingly good, though not what she wanted just then. I'm thinking a single-scoop cup or cone is about $3.50, but since mine was bought for me I could be wrong.

Perhaps an hour or two later we were ready to settle down for lunch. We found a semi-shady table in the alley across from the art museum, and not coincidentally in the thick of plenty of food vendors. Our friend Mrs. M and I queued up for the Juicy's BBQ & Sausage, then I realized that their sausages do not include Italian, which is my de rigeur Fair Food, so I skipped over to the Italian joint on the east side of Bldg. 5 for a proper Italian with peppers & onions ($8), then scored a pint cup of Rolling Rock ($10) at a draft-beer stand on the way back. Our buddy M had been brought a BBQ sandwich from Juicy's, and Mrs. M was now off in pursuit of a King Taco taco. Mrs. O finished her frozen pink lemonade and set off at this point looking for anything interesting. My sausage was in most ways satisfactory, though I remembered that the ones I'd buy at the Tennessee State Fair, which I usually had to consume squatting on a curb, would drool juice down my forearms and off my elbows, while this one was utterly drip-free. Nice spicy flavor, though. I didn't get to sample the BBQ, since it was gone by the time I next looked up, so I guess it was OK. Mrs. O showed up with a Zucchini Dog, which she'd expected to be vegetarian but it wasn't, and she still needs to explain that to me. Mrs. M finally got her taco after waiting in two different lines forever; it was good, but she said from now on she'd stick to their real-world locations.

For dessert, I figured I'd get some fries from the kinda fancy-looking place that was advertising "Frys" along with their bloomin' onions. That was a mistake, and I urge everyone else to avoid it: the fries were thin, and the proper color, but at the same time soggy and flavorless, and the so-called "ranch dressing" was not even good enough to have come from a decent mix. Six dollars very poorly spent, and I'm damned glad I didn't get one of the more elaborate versions.

It was mostly bottled water (and another pink lemonade for Mrs. O) for the bulk of the afternoon. The women went shopping in the erstwhile exhibit halls, now sadly given over to acres of As-Seen-On-TV crap, while M and I amused ourselves by looking at outdoor spas, then wandered up to the rail museum area, to which I had never been. That turned out to be huge fun (among other things, I discovered that the WW2-era Big Boy loco is 9 1/2 months younger than I am!), though I quickly began wishing that the bells and whistles were operated automatically, rather than by any noise-lover who might be in the driver's cab. Incessant clangage and hootage made conversation occasionally difficult. Then around four or five o'clock we decided that a sit-down and a glass of wine sounded like a really good idea, so we called the Missuses for a rendezvous in the Home & Garden building down the hill, where the wine-tasting hall is. That is a very good deal: flights, tastes and glasses of all the Medal-winning wines for quite reasonable; don't remember what flights and tastes go for, but a glass, one of those stumpy 6-oz. plastic stems poured full, was either $6 or $7 (I'm guessing it must depend on which sort of medal it had gotten, though I could easily be wrong). One of Target's "Black Box" wines was among the offerings, but we both picked a pinot noir whose name I can't remember, too bad because it wasn't particularly good. The place and the servers are extremely welcoming, though. Highly recommended.

After more wandering around amongst the Home Improvements, this time in cool gathering darkness, we came to the edge of the main midway. Mrs. O was making noises about wanting to go on the Zipper or something, when the M family suggested a ride on the Skyway, their treat. We did, it was fun, and then there we were the better part of a mile from the Midway again. So we all got various dessert items (a corn dog in my case, $7 and very nice), and then after more pleasant conversation discovered it was getting on for 9:30. So we re-boarded the Skyway, headed for the gate this time, and took our very footsore leave. I'd spent about $35, with nothing to show for it but a tummy full of fat and carbs, but I went to bed happy and slept like a baby. Only not so soggy ;-)

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  1. Thanks Will

    I'm going with a friend on the 27th. I'll sure avoid those fries!

    1. I enjoyed reading your review!! I was there on Sunday also with DH...we didn't put nearly enough of a dent in the food options as we did in the wine tasting hall. I had a huge grilled turkey wing at Juicy's while hubbie had a sausage with onions and peppers. Both were vert tasty and hard to finish; the turkey wing was so rich! I washed it down with a refreshing Shock Top (beer from the Bud lounge), while husband stuck with the traditional Bud. We walked around quite a bit, drank some more beer, but didn't build our appetite up until later...after we left we actually stopped at The Foundry on the way home for their Sunday night market menu (I'll post about that later). We visited the petting farm, 'fake' forest and got a mini tree to plant at home, we had fun going on some of the rides also. But most of the afternoon we spent in the wine hall, enjoying a few wine flights -- $11 for 5 tastings. It was a fun day!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Obessed

        Very glad to get straightened out on the flights. Part of the fun of getting old is the way a bit of ambient noise can render speech incomprehensible, unless the meaning can be conveyed by one or two well-articulated words spoken loudly. I remember something about "tastes" and "eleven dollars", but never got it figured out. The by-the-glass menu with printed prices, though, was a breeze.

      2. ADDENDUM: Mrs O has posted a list of what everyone ate, and here's what I missed:

        Mrs. O: "Champagne" at the wine-tasting room, and a deepfried White Castle. The "Zucchini Weenie" was a big zook hollowed out and stuffed with a hot dog.

        M: I forgot his Pink's hot dog with chili; I wonder if he has?

        1. I was there on Labor Day as well, working the Corvette Raffle Booth (sponsored by Rotary Int'l., with proceeds benefiting local charities) from 2-6. We spent the rest of the time sampling various fried, fermented & BBQ'd items. Highlights for me: the thick-skinned, NY-style egg rolls (n.b., they contain only vegetables) served up at the nominally "Thai" stand; and of course the wine pavilion. For $11, you can get five "tastes" which, if you've got a nice server, winds up being a couple of glasses' worth. A good deal. I don't have my cheat sheet in front of me, but the best wine I tasted was a Hahn Pinot Noir from somewhere in Monterey County.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jack Flash

            Right. Wish I'd got that. I had the other pinot noir (Falling Something?), and it was drinkable, but lacked that nice clarity I've enjoyed in some pinots. This one was a tad murky, if that's at all decipherable.

            Next year (unless they turn this room over to some commercial enterprise, too) I will try the tasting thing. Five for $11 is a good deal, and it looked like people were getting from two to three ounces there.

          2. I went yesterday with my best friend O. Arrived about 5pm hungry as hell at what used to be the Mexican Village but is now called Plaza de las Americas. O craved Barbque and I Mexican so she went to the Chuuckwagon and I went to King Taco. Order 3 tacos at $1.75 each, easily the best bargan at the Fair. The carne asada was citrusy well seasoned. The alpPator was delicious too. The chicken was appointingly bland. Even the salsa verde couldn't help. O's pulled pork sandwich plate( $13.75) was tasty the was tender and smoky. True low and slow cooked tatse. The slaw was creamy and tasty too.

            We wandered through the FairVeiw barns looking at the animals. When we were wandering back I noticed a sign for dr bob's ice cream featured flaovrs among the usual suspect was soy sauce icream. SOY SAUCE ICE CREAM!!!!??? My mind reeled at the thought. I had to try it. I get in line and ask for a sample. OMG! At first a salty carmel flavor hits my tongue then a nutty then and after taste of butterscotch. I have never tasted an ice cream so complex. I ordered a scoop (all I couldafford) and the next half hour was in constant ice cream ecstasy . If you are going to the Fair and see a dr bob's ice cream shop GO THERE! If soy sauce in listed as a flavor please try it. You won't regret it.