The Orange County fair opened Friday in Costa Mesa, and its new food additions have already taught us several lessons: You can fry anything if you set your mind to it, fusion knows no bounds and bacon belongs on everything. Here are several of the newest additions to the fair's food scene:
If you're with the fair's early crowd and want to try some breakfast, you may want to check out Bacon A-Fair's new French toast bacon bombs. These balls of sweet dough are filled with cream cheese, wrapped with bacon, deep-fried and topped with whipped cream, syrup and cinnamon sugar. And each one comes on a stick, in case you want to share.
Biggy's owner Dominic Palmieri said last year's bacon-wrapped pork belly went over well with the fair crowd. And that's why this year, he decided to step it up a notch by debuting a bacon-wrapped pork belly corndog. It's pork belly on a stick wrapped in two feet of bacon, breaded and fried with your choice of dipping sauce.
If hearing "fried butter" makes you want to eat a salad and run around the block, you aren't alone. But in reality, eating a fried butter ball is like eating a mini rolled-up pancake, unless you actually eat the glob of butter in the middle, by itself. To make fried butter or "butter balls," butter is frozen, slathered in batter, fried and then topped with syrup and powdered sugar.
For $8, you get four butter balls or one fried Nutella. To make fried Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread is frozen, dipped in batter, fried and served on a stick.
Staying true to its Hollywood theme, both of Pink's Hot Dogs' new items are pop culture-inspired. The Daenerys Mother of Doggies is a not-so-subtle nod to "Game of Thrones" character Daenerys Targaryen. The owners Dale and Celia Smith are fans of the show who said they wanted to create something inspired by the fireproof character. So they took their spicy Polish dog and made it hotter with Sriracha, sauerkraut, onions and red radish. They top it with some sour cream to cool it down, but you still need water with this one.
The Lord of the Rings Dog consists of a beef hot dog, onion rings and barbecue sauce. Because the super spicy dog isn't for everyone, the Smiths said they've sold more Lord of the Rings Dogs.
If fried food isn't on your diet, Dara and Dane Baldwin's smoothie booth has a new pineapple drink on the menu. It's a blend of pineapple juice and cream of coconut topped with coconut shavings (there's no added sugar). And you drink it right out of an open pineapple, complete with an umbrella. Next to the smoothie booth is the couple's cinnamon roll booth, where they are sticking to the traditional cinnamon rolls.
"We don't mess with that," Dara said.
There's nothing wrong with classic fried chicken either, so why doesn't Chicken Charlie's just serve that?
"I wanted to have fun with it," said owner Charlie Boghosian, also known as Chicken Charlie.
New to Chicken Charlie's this year are bacon-wrapped fried chicken legs; chicken in a waffle on a stick; and steak and lobster nachos. Yes, you can eat steak and lobster at the fair — grilled steak and fried lobster are tossed with Doritos and nacho cheese.
Fair food is a family business for the Boghosians. Chicken Charlie's brother, Tony Boghosian, runs the Pineapple Express booth, which has a new creation of its own. The brothers decided to put their own spin on their favorite restaurant dish — shrimp fried rice. Rice balls are breaded and fried and placed on a stick with fried shrimp. You can dip them in soy, cocktail or teriyaki sauce.
Texas Donuts has a new doughnut, and just like all its other doughnuts, it's definitely meant to be shared. The "s'moreo" has everything a s'more has — marshmallow creme, chocolate and graham cracker — but this booth added crushed Oreos to the mix.
Tasti Burger added two new burgers to its menu this season, including the bacon cheddar brat burger. It has your burger basics: meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato. But this burger is topped with a bratwurst, bacon and barbecue sauce as well.
Also new this year: Bacon Nutella pickle (Pickle O' Pete's), deep-fried pizza log (Apple Fries), Diabilito sundae (Fruit Caboose), Kool-Aid hot wings (Chicken Charlie's), Dole whip (Crutchee's Ice Cream), bacon-wrapped baked potato (Bacon A-Fair), All American Reuben burger (Grant's Tasti Burger), pickle fries and pickled Cheese on a stick (Pickle O' Pete's), Som-Mor-Bacon (Fruit Caboose), bison burger (Juicy's), lasagna sandwich (Pignotti's Pasta), Oreo churro (Dutchmen's Funnel Cake).
The Orange County Fair is open noon to midnight Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. The fair will continue until Aug. 14 at 100 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. More information is available here.