Tag Archives: fried okra

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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Filed under Fried, Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: The Eddy in Saxapahaw, NC (with video)

When my friend Rocking Writer says “hop in the car, I’ve got a new place to show you,” The Practical Cook hops without question. A most excellent curator of the hidden spot and meandering pathway, RW rarely misses. Thus my latest adventure in eating at The Eddy in Saxapahaw, NC.

Outdoor Seating at The Eddy in Saxapahaw, NC

Outdoor Seating at The Eddy in Saxapahaw, NC

If you haven’t been to Saxapahaw lately, you’re missing out. First, there’s the outdoor seating. Second, the view. And third, the brewskis.

Beer in the great out of doors.

Beer in the great out of doors.

Now for the food. Here are my video thoughts on the subject.

When in NC, eat pig, that’s my motto. Okay, maybe not completely my motto. I went for breadth and had a salad, a side, and a small plate. Rocking Writer got the watermelon tomato salad. It was good, very refreshing, but not quite as spectacular or bold as Crook’s Corner. Still a worth entry.

Watermelon Salad at The Eddy

Watermelon Salad at The Eddy

I went for the mixed greens with pork belly. I really heart pork belly. Problem, the salad came up without the pork belly.

The Pork-Bellyless Salad at The Eddy

The Pork-Bellyless Salad at The Eddy

The salad is gorgeous, and is respectable on its own, but the real star came later. It was a mistake, understandable, and it was fixed, but it took awhile. However, I wanted a moment alone with the pork belly when it arrived.

Let them eat pork belly!

Let them eat pork belly!

Next up, the slider, a pork rib number with some sauce. Being a huge fan of these from Korean Taco Truck research, I was happy to get a hit without chasing down a truck. For me, the meat was good, but it needed contrast. There was a spicy slaw listed on a entree which would have been awesome. As it is, a little dry, a little dull.

The Pork Rib Slider at The Eddy

The Pork Rib Slider at The Eddy

Next up, fried okra, done whole. This seems to be a new trend. Alas, really great execution on the crunch and presentation, but I wanted more salt, a wedge of lemon, or some paprika or cayenne in the batter. Very good stuff here, but a small tweak could launch this okra into the stratosphere.

Fried Okra, Whole Pod!

Fried Okra, Whole Pod!

Gentle Readers, if you’re wondering if The Practical Cook has turned into a negative nellie, fear not. She has saved the best for last. Meet my new best friends, the Brussels Sprouts. Don’t be a hater. These were buttery, perfectly tender without being mushy, and with a high char/garlic profile. I left other food on the table just to finish them. It was not easy to share.

Brussels Sprouts at The Eddy, I Love You.

Brussels Sprouts at The Eddy, I Love You.

I would and will return for those little gems. And since there was so much veg in the meal, bring on dessert. We went for the Tres Leches Cake with Salted Caramel. It was truly delightful: moist, balanced, not overly sweet. A perfect end to the very savory meal.

Tres Leches Cake at The Eddy

Tres Leches Cake at The Eddy

In conclusion, I think The Eddy has a lot of potential. The staff is helpful and engaging, even if the pace can be a bit slow sometimes. This is a place to relax and take your time. And there are extreme bright spots on the menu and great potential everywhere. I will return for the sprouts and to try some of the mains. Fall is the perfect time to dine outside.

Have you been to Saxapahaw lately? Post a comment or Tweet away (#saxapahaw).

Suggest a restaurant for review at 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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Tomorrow, Kitchen Tool Talk: Everyday Cooking Magazine.

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Filed under Restaurant Reviews