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The Deep-Fried Review of the N.C. State Fair or I Can’t Believe I Ate That

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook no longer wears the crown or sash of Deep Fried Ambassador, her commitment to Fried remains strong as always. This past weekend, Team Practical Cook headed to the fair to try, well, almost one of everything.

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

This year’s sensation is the Deep-Fried Mini Cinnamon Roll with Bacon Sprinkles. Hot, sticky, and bacony. Wow, just wow. It was disturbingly delicious. We scraped off the bits for the Eldest so she could remain true to her vegetarian ways.

How was it? Roll the tape:

We also tried the Deep-Fried Girl Scout Cookies (aka, Caramel Delites) and were less wowed by them. Beautiful, but empty.

Deep Fried Girl Scout Cookies: Caramel Delites (aka Samoas)

Deep Fried Girl Scout Cookies: Caramel Delites (aka Samoas)

The single most requested item: fried okra from the State Farmers Market food stand. It was the bomb, as always. That was lunch. Followed by corn and an apple dumpling. I actually lost count of the desserts.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

So if you are heading to the fair this year, do not go halfway. Upon hearing that certain individuals weren’t planning to eat anything fried, the Eldest offered a mildly Elvis-like sneer and said, “why bother going?” And that is how I know I’m raising my children properly.

If you don't eat fried, why bother going to the fair? -- The Eldest

If you don’t eat fried, why bother going to the fair? — The Eldest

If you haven’t been to the fair in a while, consider going on a weekday, or early. It’s not as crowded, and it is a lot of fun. Don’t miss the endless samples in the made in NC tent and the Kerr Scott building. Also, we love the oversized vegetables and creative art made from them.

Say pumpkin pie!

Say pumpkin pie!

This is our fall family tradition. We go, we eat an obnoxious amount of Fried, and we break every rule of common sense. Then we go home and have a nice salad. Have you been to the fair this year? What fried goodness did you try?

Fearless on the Ferris Wheel.

Fearless on the Ferris Wheel.

Send your celery and carrot sticks to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Broccoli Pasta Recipe.

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Highlights from the N.C. State Fair: Top 5 List(s) (with video, of course!)

Gentle Readers, what an honor and a privilege it has been serving as your Deep Fried Ambassador at the 2011 N.C. State Fair. It is with a heavy heart, hopefully only metaphorically, that I must relinquish my badge and my parking pass, and return to my kitchen to steam vegetables for the next two weeks. The good news, there are two more days in which to create your own fair memories, so run, don’t walk.

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

Welcome to the N.C. State Fair Memory Lane, Large Pumpkin Edition

Here are highlights from my journey, broken into two categories: Deep Fried Food and Experiences.

First, let’s roll the tape on 3 of my Top Five Deep Fried Foods:

1. Fried Chicken at Hunnicutt’s. Hot, crispy, peppery, this was a winner. To be fair, polling other people around my table, the fried chicken is the dish to order there. Also consider the veg plate, some of the best field peas I’ve ever eaten. They were like a Southern dal, if Indian cooking utilized pig instead of ghee.

Fried Chicken, Field Peas, and Limas at Hunnicutt's

Fried Chicken, Field Peas, and Limas at Hunnicutt's

2. Barbecue Sandwich at Pik-N-Pig. I would eat this sandwich outside the fairgrounds, and hold it up against top barbecue in the area. If you’re not heading to Lexington today for the BBQ Festival, head to the fair and eat this sandwich.

Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

3. Fried Okra at Farmer’s Market. Perhaps you’ve noticed, I’m a connoisseur of fried okra. This ranks on my top 5 list. Well battered without being overly heavy, piping hot (it was 10:30 AM, I’m not ashamed to admit), and not slimy (haters), every member of our crew ate this, with the Eldest ranking it on her fave fried list.

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

4. Fried Cheese at Wisconsin Cheese. This should be filed under guilty pleasures. I’m not a ranch fan, but this is quintessential bar food. The crisp was perfect, the cheese was melty, and I almost wanted fries to dip into it. Sick, I know, but a week of deep-fried ambassdorship will do that to a person. I’m sure the other flavors are good too, but I went cheddar both times.

Deep Fried Cheddar Cheese (Yeah, It's That Good)

Deep Fried Cheddar Cheese (Yeah, It's That Good)

5. Deep-Fried Brownie at Chef’s D’Lite. It is worth the hype. Chef’s D’Lite rocks the fried (I had their banana pudding as well), and tends to go with a tasty but heavy coating of batter. They weren’t my top deep-fried Oreo makers, but that thick batter WORKED on a cakey brownie. The cinnamon sprinkled on the top, a perfect counterbalance. I didn’t find this overly sweet, it wasn’t sickening, and I am not a fan of hot brownie sundaes, so this is saying something.

My Fave Deep-Fried Sweet: Deep-Fried Brownie from Chef's D-Lite

My Fave Deep-Fried Sweet: Deep-Fried Brownie from Chef's D-Lite

Now for the highlights reel, including some of my Top 5 Experiences:

1. The People. From the Deep-Fried Crew to last year’s Ambassador (@pretty_swell) to the food vendors to the Food Bank Peeps and the many, many Deep-Fried friends who helped me taste, what an experience. Thanks to one and all, you were amazing and made the experience one to remember. If you’ve been to the fair in the past, and don’t think you belong there, go back and try again. I’m pretty converted and will be back next year.

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

2. Village of Yesteryear. Speaking of the people, the generosity of these people in explaining their crafts to the Juniors was impressive. These are long hours, a labor of love for many, and non-stop traffic. I learned a lot in the stops we made around the place. Way to go, good job bringing the old into modern times. They weaved and hammered, I tweeted about it. Harmony.

Good Night Ferris Wheel, I'm Still Afraid of Your Magestic Heights

Good Night Ferris Wheel, I'm Still Afraid of Your Magestic Heights

3. Overlarge Vegetables. As a foodie, it’s impossible to resist. The varietals, the beauty, the pageantry, the obscenity of bounty and size, not to be missed.

Gene Simmons Cow refuses to face the camera.

Gene Simmons Cow refuses to face the camera.

4. Animals of All Ages. Not only did I see a cow who looked like Gene Simmons, I got to see baby animals nursing and jumping about, and cows on the runway. Cows define “bucolic” for a reason. I could’ve watched them for hours, like watching the ocean.

Crochet Krispy Kreme Burger, Just Because

Crochet Krispy Kreme Burger, Just Because

5. Prize-Winning Baked Goods, Junior Edition. I root for the up and coming cooks and bakers. Practical Cooks are everywhere, putting their time in at their home kitchens, the next generation to feed us. I salute you.

Deep Fried Ambassador, Amy Lewis (aka The Practical Cook) interviewed by Alyssa Marcus from the North Carolina News Network.

For the new readers, thanks for joining us, I hope you’ll stay for the ride. For my original crew, we’re getting back to a little less deep-fried tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for the kind words, the comments, and the support online and in person. It means more than you know.

The Sun Sets on Another Day at the N.C. State Fair

The Sun Sets on Another Day at the N.C. State Fair

What are your fair highlights? Share them in the comments below, or Tweet with #ncstatefair as the hashtag.

Send your deep fried confessionals and serious, ahem, cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up tomorrow, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Maple Butter.

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Deep-Fried News: Kool-Aid and Bubble Gum at the N.C. State Fair (with video taste test)

Gentle Readers, good news, The Practical Cook is not under a Deep Fried Embargo: she can tell you what is frying at the 2011 N.C. State Fair! Prepare to return to the days of Saturday morning cartoons (at least for me), it’s Deep-Fried Kool-Aid and Bubble Gum, with a side of Lemon Sticks. Wow, let’s get started, shall we?

Yeah, I think there are tickets available.

Yeah, I think there are tickets available.

First came the update on what’s new at the fair. Good news, more family-focused rides, and more rides in general. Perfect stops between snacks or more opportunities to lose your fried, depending on your level of tolerance.

Deep Fried Warmup with Murphy House Fried Chicken (and salad!): Awesome!!

Deep Fried Warmup with Murphy House Fried Chicken (and salad!): Awesome!!

Second we learned that there are more entries in almost every category. That’s basically more fair for your buck, think about it. Just good basic math at work there. So you’ll need a plan of attack, and possibly a buddy system. For the plan, download the N.C. State Fair App (called the Food & Fun Finder, yes please).

Look what's frying at the N.C. State Fair!

Look what's frying at the N.C. State Fair!

And now, here’s The Practical Cook, your Deep Fried Ambassador, with a special video sneak peek at the Fried:

What are you going to eat at the fair? Is there anything you will not eat? Post a comment below, or Tweet me with #ncstatefair to challenge me to try something on air!

Send your questions and double-dog dares to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Tomorrow, Bringing the Fair Home: Biscuit Doughnuts!

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