Fun Fair fried food fandango

Ah…the sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes of the Los Angeles County Fair!

I’ve been a frequent visitor the fair since elementary school, when the school district would hand out free tickets to every child in the hopes that a parent or two would be necessary to chaperone that child (and pay admission price to get themselves in!).

Of course, when I was in elementary school, the fair still had that suffocatingly hot monorail, but I digress…

The occasion of this year’s visit was a Fairplex Friends get-together.
Fairplex Friends, according to a recent press release, “is an
independent, volunteer community group that serves the city of Pomona
and surrounding communities. It is dedicated to preserving the heritage
and high quality of Fairplex and L.A. County Fair.”

In other words, they help preserve the history and protect the future of the fair and its infrastructure.

This year’s get-together included a guided tour of the Hoofprints exhibit followed by ice cream sundaes provided by Dr. Bob’s, voted one of the 10 best ice creams in the world by a National Geographic publication.

The Dr. Bob’s sundaes?

They were, of course, really, really good,
but it was pretty much overkill to drench their ultra-creamy frozen
treat in hot fudge, whipped cream and peanuts. Dr. Bob’s ice cream is
pretty delicious by itself, and creating a sundae from it is just a bit
too much. Reminder for next year…just grab the ice cream and go!

On to the next stop…Chicken Charlie’s!

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For
those who don’t know, Chicken Charlie’s annual stops at the L.A. County
Fair (and other California fairs) attract fried food fanatics — and
curious eaters — like Lourdes attracts pilgrims.

If it’s edible
– anything from Spam to frog legs (“tastes like chicken”) and beyond
– Chicken Charlie’s will find a way to dip it in batter and deep-fry
it.

Every year they come up with some new fried concoction, and
this year was no exception — Chicken Charlie’s introduced the
deep-fried White Castle cheeseburger.

Having tried just a few deep-fried fair delicacies in the past — Oreos and a Snickers bar — I was curious to try more.

We
tried four “totally fried” items from Chicken Charlie’s menu: Avocado,
Oreos, Pop Tart and this year’s newbie, the White Castle cheeseburger.

The avocado

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Having
tried avocado egg rolls at some of the chain restaurants, I thought I
would be prepared for the taste of a deep-fried avocado. I wasn’t. The
avocado, sliced in thick pieces, battered and fried, was very rich. In
fact, a bit too rich. The main problem? The batter didn’t have enough crunch to offset the creaminess of the avocado.

With
the chain egg rolls, the crispness of the wrapper provides a
counterpart to the creamy avocado. Also, with the chain egg rolls,
there are other ingredients besides the avocado. With the deep-fried
avocado, all you get is avocado and batter. Dipping the pieces in ranch
dressing helped add a little variety. I would’ve liked to have tried
the pesto as well, but they ran out that day.

Sorry, Charlie. I think I would’ve been happier with half an avocado, a spinkle of salt and a spoon.

The Oreos
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Having
eaten deep-fried Oreos before, I knew exactly what I was in for. The
Oreos, which after being battered and fried, were covered with
chocolate sauce and sprinked with powdered sugar and rainbow sprinkles.
They fared a better fate than the avocado, but had a similarly fatal
flaw. Zero crunch. I like Oreos, and even if you dunk them in
milk, they stay crunchy. Not so when they’ve been deep fried. You get
the flavor of the Oreo, but it’s gone all soft.

Although
this was a friend’s favorite of the four, I’m not sure that I would go
out of my way to indulge in deep-fried Oreos again.

The Pop Tart

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In
my opinion, this was the winner! The battered breakfast food was
covered with strawberry sauce and, as with the Oreos, sprinkled with
powdered sugar and rainbow sprinkles. To me, the flavor and consistency
reminded me of stuffed French toast. If you’ve ever experienced “The Yummy” at Jerry’s Famous Deli, you’ve got an idea of what a deep-fried Pop Tart is like.

I’m hoping Chicken Charlie’s keeps the Pop Tart on their menu. I would definitely add that to my fair fare next year.

The White Castle cheeseburger

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I
wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a deep-fried cheeseburger, so
this was the biggest surprise for me. It wasn’t half-bad. The nicest
surprise was that pool of melted cheese that was formed from the heat
of the frying process and locked in by the batter. Yum! I am glad,
however, that I was sharing all this fried food, especially the
cheeseburger. I don’t know if I could’ve eaten a whole cheeseburger.

Of
course, Chicken Charlie’s isn’t only about fried food. They have a
smattering of non-fried foods as well, including grilled
corn-on-the-cob (which was pretty tasty), hot wings and chicken kabobs.
But it’s their fried foods that keep people coming back for more.

What do you think?

Did you get a chance to visit Chicken Charlie’s during either the Orange or L.A. county fairs?

Do you have a favorite stop at the fair?

Let Dine 909 readers know by commenting below!

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