Fire up the deep fryers, the North Carolina State Fair is about to be upon us.
This annual cavalcade of cheese curds, bacon bits, funnel cakes and fried things on a stick doesn’t ask questions like “Should a doughnut be a sandwich bun,” only “Can it?”
And the answer is always yes.
On Tuesday morning, fair organizers unveiled about two dozen culinary creations that will be making their debut at the 2019 N.C. State Fair.
The smorgasbord of new foods runs is surprisingly sensible — a lineup of stuffed baked potatoes, a cookie dough milkshake — yet, adventurous eaters will find plenty to love and plenty of reasons to buy the large pack of Tums.
The North Carolina State Fair runs from Oct. 17 to 27 at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
For the most unusual dish this year, prepare to test the limits of sweet and savory with a red velvet funnel cake topped with cheese and enchilada sauces, coming from vendor Mediterranean Grill.
Last year’s “Crack-n-Cheese” seems quite quaint compared to Hickory Tree BBQ’s offering this year. The vendor is taking its trademarked mix of macaroni and cheese with smoked turkey barbecue, bacon, turkey cracklings and sauce, then stuffing all that inside a smoked turkey leg.
Year-round favorites Neomonde and La Farm Bakery typically let loose at the fair. This year La Farm is going savory and serving a stuffed Cuban sandwich, taking the bakery’s mini baguette and filling it with smoked pork and sweet ham, cheese, pickles and yellow mustard.
Neomonde is serving lamb nachos, with a base of crunchy pita chips and layers of ground lamb and onions, tomatoes, feta and a harissa yogurt sauce.
Woody’s Wing Wagon will once again fry up a new egg roll, this year making a Korean pork belly egg roll, following up shrimp and grits and Thanksgiving dinner from the last two years.
Sloppy Joe fans should seek out the Sloppy Pig from Bubba’s Bacon, a sloppy Joe on Texas Toast, with a cheese sauce and bacon bits.
Fat Boys BBQ is aiming to create the crown jewel of jalapeno poppers. Dubbed the JoCo HoHo, the vendor is stuffing a jalapeno pepper with cheese and brisket, frying it up and serving it on a stick.
With all the talk these days of fried chicken sandwiches, vendor Chef’s D’Lites is serving up a new contender. Named the Chickenator, the bun is cinnamon rolls filled with a fried chicken breast, bacon, spicy pepper jack cheese and a honey sauce.
Last year’s media favorite was the Jerk pork wrap from Cool Runnings Jamaican. This year, the vendor is doing a jerk chicken bowl with sweet plantains, rice, peas and a mango salsa.
If you’re coming to the fair for a sweets fix, this year you’ll find the “Campfire on a Stick” from Hot Chix Hotcakes and Chicken, where layers of small pancakes and marshmallows are covered in chocolate and sprinkled with graham crackers.
Fans of fritters and anything fried will find plenty to sample this year. The Cheese Curd Shack is frying up a fried garlic bread-inspired tray of cheese curds this year, while the Gobblin’ Gourmet is deep frying chicken and corn fritters, served with either a green mole sauce or maple syrup. Also, this is the first year for deep fried olives on a stick, coming from Old Style Foods.
In this season of pumpkin spice, the fair will have pumpkin spice two ways, with Douglas Farms making a butter-dipped corn on the cob topped with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spices and Old North State Kitchen making pumpkin spice hushpuppy with a pumpkin spice glaze.
For the full list of new fair foods and where to find them, visit ncstatefair.org/2019/Attractions/New.htm.