Sherman's Food Adventures: Food @ The Fair at PNE 2018

Food @ The Fair at PNE 2018

Bummer.  I was out-of-town for the media food day at the PNE this year!  That meant I would miss out trying some of the new, strange and plain weird eats available during The Fair from August 18th - September 3rd.  No matter, I was going to check it out for myself anyways on the same day as the Lost in the 80's concert.  However, I was still able to sample some of the more popular creations for this year along with a few classics.  I tried not to overlap things from the past few years though as I wanted to stick with the latest offerings.

Before I got to the sweet stuff, I got some savoury items (although this one was sweet too) first including something that on the surface, looked rather boring.   At the PNE-run Waffles with Benefits, I went for the Traditional Chicken & Waffles featuring a Southern fried chicken breast, whipped butter, syrup and gravy.  I'm not sure if the chicken was really a down-south version, but it was good nonetheless.  Fairly large and crunchy, the piece of chicken was moist and tender inside.  The side of gravy was a nice consistency and had a pleasant hit of sage.  As much as it appeared to be too much syrup, it was the right amount drizzled over the fluffy waffle.  Next up, I went for a Chicken Poutine at the Fry Guys.  This was pretty much a standard poutine with cheese curd and gravy plus chicken.  I thought the fries were fried enough so that they could stand up to all of the moisture.  Although a bit salty, the gravy was thick enough and definitely hot enough to melt the cheese curds.  I thought the chicken was tender and meaty, but a little plain.

Okay, let's get right down to it.  One of the more polarizing items to grace the PNE food lineup is the Cricket Caramel Apple.  Yup, it is a caramel apple coated with many many crickets.  I'm not afraid to admit that this was a bit daunting to try.  I've eaten grasshoppers before and all I can say about them is that they were crunchy and nutty.  And yes, the crickets weren't any different here.  However, the copious amount of caramel did hide the actual flavour of the cricket.  So it was mostly texture.  Not particularly scary if you weren't looking at the critters.  Over to something a bit more familiar, we made our way to the classic Those Little Donuts.  I'm sure most people have had this before, but did you know that this is their 50th year in operation?  From as long as I can remember, they were just as soft and fluffy as with every year.  Consistently delicious and a fair favourite.

Back to the new, we were treated to 2 flavours of Deep Fried Coffee including Coffee Crisp and After Eight.  Based on the past years of trying deep fried <insert liquid item>, these fritters or donuts were always a little lacking in texture.  However, these were on point being fluffy and light with only a bit of crispiness on the outside.  They weren't very sweet either and there was definitely a coffee flavour.  The sweetness was taken care of by the designated topping such as the Coffee Crisp and After Eight.  So these were pretty sweet, but the Kit Kat Fries (from Steve-O's) were even more sweet.  However, it was the inherent sweetness from the candy bar itself and not from the chocolate glaze drizzled on top.  In fact, the fluffy batter was not sweet at all.  So if you like Kit Kats, this is something that tastes like the candy bar, but just deep-fried.

Now for something that was pretty dramatic to look at.  So much so, everyone around us wanted a picture.  It was like the ice cream paparazzi!   Yes, the Smoking Charcoal Soft Serve was not only in a shade of black, the activated dry ice added a smoke show.  Gimmicky?   Absolutely, but what the hey, this is the PNE!  As for the soft-serve itself, we found it to be very creamy and not overly sweet.  There was very little charcoal flavour, but that was a good thing as we didn't feel a strong taste would be appealing.  Moving away from all the sweets, we took the walk up Miller Drive over to the Crazy Italian.  This year, they are offering up the 1lb Soprano-Sized Meatball made with pork and beef topped with their homemade tomato sauce.  This gigantic thing was moist and tender throughout.  It was mildly-spiced and plenty meaty.  The tomato sauce was mild as well with a light tang.  This was a meal in itself!

One of the more understated items at The Fair is the Pizza Corn Dog from Corn Dog King.  It didn't look much different than their classic corn dog, but it was very much unique.  Hidden within the Italian-herbed batter was melted mozzarella and of course, a hot dog wiener.  It came with a side of marinara sauce that really helped create the flavours of pizza.  We thought this was a well-executed concoction.  At first, we thought it was undercooked, but the melty cheese fooled us into thinking it was batter.  Our final food purchase of the night (before the concert) was the Vegetarian's Nightmare from Gator BBQ.  For $32.00, it included buttery potatoes, baked beans, beef brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs.  Always a good value since it consists of mostly meat and can feed more than 2 people.  We found the brisket to be a bit dry, but the pulled pork was on point.  The ribs were smoky and fatty while retaining an appealing chewiness.  This filled up any remaining room we had in our stomachs as we made our way over to the concert.

*Some items were complimentary*

The Good:
- As usual, some weird things such as the cricket caramel apple
- BBQ from Gator, Prairie and Misty Mountain are great values
- You won't have problems making your sweet tooth happy

The Bad:
- Not really a bad, don't be afraid to check out the PNE food stands, they are pretty good
- Do not buy the first thing you see, be sure to compare, not all are created equal


Anonymous said...

I really wanted to try the deep fried cheese burger, but just couldn't find the stand. I don't know if this item actually made it to the PNE. Anyways, I was kind of exhausted looking for it after walking around and around, so I just chose the usual standby, the ribs and brisket from Gater BBQ. The brisket had some nice fat and was a little dry, but nothing extra BBQ sauce couldn't remedy. I was thinking about the item you ordered, but it would have been too much food for me.

Besides a fresh beavertail covered in cinnamon sugar, I also tried the deep fried strawberries dipped in funnel batter, and the lava whip. That was it for me this year. Looking forward to next year's offerings.

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