The Del Mar Fair has been around since 1936 offering agriculture, games, music, shows, and of course ample amounts of food during the summer. The fair is important to the community as it brings San Diegans together for the summer bonding over food and fun. The fair brings back childhood memories full of laughter, tons of food, and an overall fun day. The big question-- what are you going to eat? There's pizza, Mexican, American, seafood, Greek food, dessert stands and let's not forget about all the fried foods.
What's been the buzz for the past few years and is still going strong in 2011, is the fried food. People are amazed, shocked, intrigued and some a bit queasy at the thought, but it has essentially taken over fair food. Some stands have taken such ordinary items like: bacon, butter, jerky, BBQ ribs, frog legs, snickers, or corn and deep fried them. With things either slathered in chocolate or fried to a golden crisp, or both, the fair is sure to take your taste buds on a ride full of sinfully sweet, salty and dare I say it, greasy goodness.
As you get deeper into the fair you can find more crazy concoctions of food that both fascinate and leave one wondering the after effects of trying such a dish. There are a few interesting dishes that attempt to combine salty and sweet to enthrall the taste buds, such as the bacon doughnut or the Krispy Crème Chicken Sandwich. A large majority of these deep fried goodies can be found at Chicken Charlies stand. While many may turn their head ensuring others they will not be trying any fried food, Chicken Charlies always seems to have a line full of people waiting to get a taste of one of the fried concoctions made available. Don’t worry Chicken Charlies has two stands at the fair this year, so if one line seems too long, just stroll on over to the other.
Chicken Charlies deep fried foods include: frog legs, twinkies, oreos, Girl-Scout Cookies (Thin Mints), Klondike bar, brownies and Kool-Aide. Many may be wondering how you deep fry Kool-Aid, it's Kool-Aid mixed with Charlies sweet batter, then fried like doughnut holes, then decorated with cherry-flavored powder sugar. Chicken Charlies though is not the only place that sells fired treats.
Last year’s infamous Heart-Attack Café has changed its name and it is now referred to as Deep Fried Butter Stand. This year you can get Deep-Fried Beer-Battered Bacon Bliss, Deep-Fried Chocolate-Covered Bacon on a stick and Deep-Fried Pigs in a Blanket or the Chocolate-Covered Corn Dog.
Saunter over to Del Mar Diner for a deep-fried corn-dog, Golden Hash Brown corn dog or a sweet potato corn dog. The Funnel Cake Express offers a deep-fried Candy Kabob; where the Mexican funnel Cake Stand has the deep-fried, Baby-Ruth-filled Jalapenos. Along with new food there are also new food booths, such as Pink's and Everything Cheese. Pink's has the 'Rosie O'Donnell Dog', a 7-inch Hoffy all-beef hot dog topped with mustard and onions, chili and sauerkraut and the 'Martha Stewart Dog', a 7-inch Hoffy all-beef hot dog topped with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream. Everything Cheese is a kid-friendly booth with kid-sized Pizzas, Mac and Cheese Cups, Deep Fried Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Sticks, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, baby carrots with ranch dressing, celery sticks and juice boxes.
For fair-goers that prefer a traditional restaurant setting, sit-down restaurants like The Carving Stand, Red Star Café, Saddle Club and Turf Club are available. Red Star Cafe has a happy hour available during weekends from 5:00pm-7:00pm, where you can get an Ensenada-Style Beer-Battered Fish Taco with a 14-oz Tecate Draft Beer or Grilled Bocwurst on a bun topped with Sweet, Sour Red Cabbage with a 140z Heineken Draft Beer, either for $9.95. Or try the Craft Beer Tasting, everyday at 5:00pm, where you can sample various craft brews in the Crusin’ California Exhibit Bar. For those wanting to get the dinner and show experience, there are Concert Gourmet Dinner Packages, where you will enjoy dinner at the famed Turf Club, followed by a concert in the Grandstand, prices range from $100-132, depending on which performance you go to. The deals don't stop at the sit-down restaurants.
There are deals and more fun events almost every day for both the family to enjoy and those over 21. Head over to the Infield to attend the Culinary Art Series, which is held every day at 2:00pm, or the Wine Tasting, held each day at 4:00pm and 5:00pm. The Culinary Art Series is composed of a state-of-the-art kitchen where chef from all over San Diego will be cooking some of their favorite recipes. Fair goers will get to watch and will even be given the recipe to take home. If you are 21 or over be sure to try the Wine Tasting where you can join the San Diego County Vintners Association for free tastings; it is limited to a certain number of participants, so arrive early to sign up. Come on Tuesdays to try the Taste of the Fair Tuesday, where you can try a tasters portion of a featured for item for $2 at each food booth. Before you leave make sure you end the day on a sweet note.
For those with a sweet tooth looking to fulfill that craving check out the Gingerbread Shop. Indulge in the delectably, sinful hot fudge brownie, Gingerbread Cake or even try the Eton Mess, the rumored dessert served at the Royal Wedding of Kate and William, made up of strawberries and raspberry puree with vanilla ice cream, meringue bits and whipped cream served in a plastic champagne glass. Stop by Dixie's Mini Doughnuts for a sweet fried treat-- you can even watch these little doughnuts being made, or try the enormous Texas Doughnut to get a sugar buzz going. If ice cream is what you're after then Farrell's is the place to go, where you can get scrumptious sundaes that will send you into a whirl of delight.
For those with food allergies or special dietary needs; you can bring in your own food and non-alcoholic beverages. If you are on a gluten-free diet, try the falafel or salad at the Roxy booth, they also have Artichoke Sandwiches and Garlic Battered Fries. Other areas in the fair have grilled corn on the cob, grilled veggies at Pan Fried Chicken, and Chicken Kabobs at Chicken Charlies. For something healthy head over to Albertsons Rejuvenation Station; where you can get fruit bowls, salads, Naked Juice, nuts and baked chips. Also try California Pita and Potato Co. for a selection of Pita sandwiches and baked potatoes. Keep in mind that there are restrictions: you cannot bring glass containers and metal knives and forks, all beverages must be in sealed containers. Coolers are allowed, but remember just like a purse or bag you bring, your cooler will also be searched before you enter fairgrounds.
The smells will excite your senses, the sounds will bring you back to childhood fun and the shows, games and shops are carefully weaved in to ensure you stay entertained and the fun doesn’t stop. The fair has something for all no matter your age, with their kid-friendly rides and games and beer and wine tasting events for the adults. With all the both tasty yet unique food to try, make sure you visit the fair before its last day, Monday July 4.
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