Monday, September 15, 2014

A day spent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair.

Canned sausage gravy – Now that's home cookin’; Mouse flavored cheese curds?!?! Ulp!; I don't want no stinking butter on my corn – I want mayo and queso Cojita!

From left: Firetrucker taps, Veneration IPA, The Herd, Cane Blade Double IPA.

It was good to find the Metro’s newest brewery – Firetrucker – representing itself among the taps at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. Quite familiar with Firetrucker's brews, I returned to the Tent over the course of the day to sample IPAs from around the state. Veneration IPA from Okoboji Brewing Company of Spirit Lake had a light bitterness and went down easy, perfect for a hot summer – if we had gotten one this year; The Herd, a West Coast IPA from Davenport's Great River Brewery was robustly flavored; and the Cane Blade Double IPA from Backpocket Brewing of Coralville was exceptionally hoppy.

The Three Buck Bowl at Steer N Stein consisted of a pair of potato skins, topped with scrambled egg, salsa, shredded cheddar, and sour cream. A bargain but not adventurous in flavor.

Bauder's Brownie Blitz – cream cheese brownie bits, with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and flakes of coconut was a fun treat, though I had to eat away most of the cream to get to the delicious brownie bits. I would love to see this return to the Fair next year but layered like a parfait.

The Smoked Brisket and Bacon Mac N Cheese from the Rib Shack was very creamy, possessed a fair amount of meat without being distracting, and the pasta sported a decent texture. This dish would be exemplary if it were baked with a crumb topping. The Salad Bowl’s Caprese On-a-Stick offered cherry tomatoes, shards of basil leaf, and mozzarella balls on a skewer. A balsamic vinaigrette drizzle clung poorly; a reduction might work better.

A deep-fried Tater Dog On-a-Stick from Brenda Smith Concessions tastes like a hot dog with a basket of fries. One thing I’ve noticed about deep-fried wieners is that they tend to taste saltier than their grilled or boiled counterparts. Though I abhor ketchup on a hot dog, or worse on a corn dog, the Tater Dog benefits from a dollop of the red stuff.

After a few hour’s rest home and a positive blood glucose test, I was emboldened to return to the Fair for evening eats. Having had a disappointing experience with a foot long chili dog from a Fair vendor back in 2012 [see blog post], I was pleased to find a legit dog at the Coney Corner. It excelled on all facets: wiener, bun, and most importantly, the chili. A goodly dash of chopped onion with a ribbon of mustard did not distract from the reasonably spicy chili, yet made the dog all the more better. My fond affection for Campbell’s foot long corn dog is sorely tested.

A great disappointment was the inedible brick that was the Deep Fried Mac & Cheese from Hotchkiss. The batter crust that held the unremarkably flavored macaroni and cheese together was quite crunchy and greasy. The dollop of flavored sour cream on top was the most enjoyable part. I was pretty much put off eating anything else, but a cool scoop of Bauder's Chocolate Royale ice cream salvaged the moment.

The Depot taco stand shamelessly uses photos of Tasty Tacos to promote their own fare.

I would be reticent not to mention my earlier visit to the 2014 Iowa State Fair to sample Parlo Pizza’s superior wood-fired-oven pizzas [see blog post].

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