Big summer barbecues, the kind that are synonymous with the Fourth of July and family reunions and backyard cookouts, serve as prime spots for quirky, paper-plate-crowding combos.
That's why it isn't all that unusual to have a pork rib and a bite of cherry pie, together, all at once. Or a piece of melon that might have slid through some salsa. (Pretty good, actually, what with the hot and sweet elements weaving together, deliciously.)
Summertime's penchant for offbeat cuisine combos shines brightest, though, not in our backyards but at the county fairs, which often serve as lively labs of memorable food-makery. Some truly who-woulda-thought-that foodstuffs arise each year at these rides-and-concerts-and-everything-else affairs, with the OC Fair, in Costa Mesa, always serving as a supping stalwart of the quirkiest degree.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Some of the most creative dishes for the 2017 festival, which runs Wednesdays through Sundays from July 14 through Aug. 13, have just been revealed, in the hours following the Fourth of July, just when you were wishing you had one more piece of salsa-covered cherry pie.
Be not sad, adventurous eaters. Instead, prepare to nosh upon...
The Krispy Kreme ice cream chicken sandwich: True, there've been Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches in the past, but consider how the creamy dessert might change it up. You can find it at Chicken Charlie's, which will also be making a luau chimichanga and fried peanut butter meatballs.
Unicorn Nitro Pop: Saunter on over to RCS Cowboy Kettle Corn for "a colorful cup of kettle corn and whipped cream" that's enveloped by cotton candy. The piece de resistance? It's "submerged in liquid nitrogen."
Bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts: The flavorful Brussel sprouts revolution continues, at Bacon A Fair, which is sticking the little orgs of leafy goodness on sticks, after bathing them in olive oil and giving them a roll-around in some Parmesan cheese. Prefer something sweet? There's Pineapple on a Stick.
Flamin' Hot Cheetos: You'll see this popular add-in, mix-in, and temperature-toasty topper at a number of OC Fair stands in 2017, including Enzo's Pizza, Biggy's and The Corn Shack. Might you be eating these spicy Cheetos on a pizza pie, then, or atop cheese fries, or dusted onto a corn on the cob? Oh, you definitely might be.
Cowboy Sundae: Sundaes, as a rule, are sweet, but over at the Chuckwagon prepare for a meaty and/or savory creation that involves beef or beans. Still craving an actual bit of sweetness after your savory sundae? D&D Country Fair Cinnamon Buns has a unicorn pineapple bomb and a unicorn freeze on the menu.
Happy Flamin'-Hot-Cheeto-ing, Krispy-Kreme-ice-cream-chicken-sandwich-ing, summertime lovers of lavish, unusual, snap-a-pic-of-it plates. Be ready to see photos of the seriously tempting, I'll-try-it dishes on your social media feeds as of Friday, July 14 when the historical Costa Mesa fair opens the gates for the first time this year.
Who'll be first among your friends to try the new bites? Will it be you?