Thursday, October 3, 2013
Taste test: 11 fried foods from State Fair of Texas — a love and hate list
Biggest letdown: fried Nutella.
FAIR PARK With the determination to try "anything fried," eight Pegasus News and GuideLive staffers headed to the State Fair to say howdy to Tex 2.0 and stuff our faces with battered 'n' fried food. We planned to taste test all eight fried food finalists from the Big Tex Choice Awards this year, but we did you
one three more: We also tried the fried red velvet cupcake, the fried red velvet funnel cake and fried peanut butter and jelly with banana sandwich. Just for fun.
While none of us are full- or even part-time food critics, we are full-time eaters. We ranked each food on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and then averaged all the scores.
Here's the skinny on the State Fair's Texas' battered, deep fried foods, beginning with the best:
Biggest surprise: Golden Fried Millionaire Pie (4.7 out of 5)
Stuff pineapple and cream cheese into a pie crust. Boring, right? Absolutely not: The Millionaire Pie was the favorite of many on the panel, with each bite of flaky crust and creamy, sweet inside dotted with little bites of pineapple. Each person cited a different thing he or she loved about it: "the toasted coconut," "the custard center," the crust's "pillowy texture." Win.
The one you must buy: Deep Fried Cuban Roll (4.2 out of 5)
The fried Cuban roll won Best Taste at the Big Tex Choice Awards, and the judges were right. It's shaped like an eggroll and stuffed with moist, salty, slow-cooked pork, plus ham, swiss cheese and pickles. It comes with a side of "mojo sauce," which puckered with what tasted like pickle juice. Of all the dishes, it tasted the least fried. If you're anticipating that this is a fried Cuban sandwich, however, you'll be disappointed; our Chase Wade called it a "classy Hot Pocket." That's a compliment.
The next few on our list were good but not great.
Fernie’s Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole (3.4 out of 5): It's shaped like Texas, so obviously that's a plus. It tastes like your mom's King Ranch casserole -- chicken, green chiles, cream of mushroom soup -- and had a beautiful fried crust. It tasted even better with "salsafied" sour cream but was a little goopy inside.
Spinach Dip Bites (3.3 out of 5): With the exception of one panelist who absolutely hated this dish, the majority of the group thought these little balls of creamy, cheesy spinach/artichoke dip were tasty. They're a safe bet for vegetarians.
Southern Style Chicken-Fried Meatloaf (3 out of 5): Middle-of-the-pack is exactly where this belongs. It tasted like meatloaf, fried -- nothing more, nothing less. The zingy ketchup gave it some character. If offered Dairy Queen's steak fingers or these, we might go with DQ.
Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (2.4 out of 5): Winner of most creative in the Big Tex Choice Awards, this one-meal bite certainly is creative. But it tasted overwhelmingly like stuffing, with occasional bites of unappetizing pieces of turkey. The orange cranberry sauce and gravy on the side helped bring the turkey to the table, but the whole shebang certainly didn't make us gobble it up.
Here's the bad news:
Biggest letdown: Awesome Deep Fried Nutella® -- their name -- (2.3 out of 5)
Oh how wonderful this could potentially be! Nutella is spread between sheets of phyllo dough; then it's rolled and deep fried. The result was an overly flaky dough that stuck to the roof of our mouths, with Nutella globbed lifelessly inside. Where we thought we were getting dessert, we got unsweet dough surrounding a chocolate hazelnut spread that, frankly, tastes better straight out of the jar.
You're fired: Texas Fried Fireball (2.2 out of 5)
Even the spiciest eaters might need water with these fried balls of pimento cheese, pickles, cayenne pepper and bacon. The chipotle ranch cooled them off, but they were still reminiscent of mediocre queso encased in fried crust. Give us a pimiento sandwich instead.
The bonus bites:
- Fried red velvet cupcake: An absolute must for red velvet cake lovers. The cupcake was moist and the batter gave it a buttery crunch that was fun to bite through.
- Fried peanut butter and jelly with banana sandwich: It looks like a Monte Cristo, but it tastes like the best damn PBJ you've ever had. The adorable triangle-shaped pieces are easy to eat, making it one of the only fried dish we could eat without making a mess.
- Fried red velvet funnel cake: The presentation is a little goofy, as it looks like a plate of red worms, but it comes slathered with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. If you're crazy for red velvet, try it. Otherwise, the cake is more dense than a regular funnel, and the consistency took a little getting used to.
Awesome Deep Fried Nutella® - 12 Coupons ($6)
Deep Fried Cuban Roll – 12 Coupons ($6)
Fernie’s Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole - 10 Coupons ($5)
Fried Thanksgiving Dinner – 14 Coupons ($7)
Golden Fried Millionaire Pie – 14 Coupons ($7)
Southern Style Chicken-Fried Meatloaf – 2 pieces for 12 Coupons ($6) or 3 pieces for 15 Coupons ($7.50)
Spinach Dip Bites – 10 Coupons ($5)
Texas Fried Fireball – 12 Coupons ($6)
Total: $48 (including 2 pieces of chicken-fried meatloaf) or $49.50 (for 3)
The panel included Sarah Blaskovich, Rand Duren, Britton Peele, Ann Pinson, Tiney Ricciardi, Shannon Sutlief, Chase Wade and Amanda Wilkins.
Posted by Sarah
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