Sunday, August 15, 2010

Iowa State Fair!

Good morning everyone! Here's hoping you're enjoying a nice, relaxing weekend (hey, the temperatures in the greater Des Moines metro are below 85 degrees for the first time in what feels like a month!) Maggie and I are a little bit sore (and crispy) today from our day yesterday at the Iowa State Fair.

Look at all the people!
Yes, the Iowa State Fair, considered by many to be the greatest state fair of them all. The fair is best known for its amazing assortment of food (most of which can be found on some form of stick) including pork chop (on a stick) tenderloin (also on a stick) chocolate covered cheesecake, s'mores and  bananas (all on sticks). The standard fair food is there as well - such as corn dogs, hot dogs, cotton candy, burgers - as well as some not so standard features such as tiramisu (on a stick...or course) and margaritas.

As Maggie so simply put it yesterday - "This place is a food lover's dream....or their biggest nightmare"

So, for today's blog post, we'd thought we would have a little fun and document our journey through the midway of the Iowa State Fair. Two food lovers and culinary connoisseurs journey through the adventure (or nightmare) that is fair food.

I've got two tickets to paradise...well, to the fair anyway

Our afternoon started with my favorite fair food - the corn dog. We spotted one particular stand that was selling only corn dogs (I prefer to go with those who specialize - if you defer your attention to the 'world's largest burger' or deep fat fried shrimp on a stick - how can I trust your corn dogs are your top priority?) $4 bought me a normal sized corn dog (I contemplated the $5 foot long corn dog - which was the popular seller due to its obvious better value - but I knew that we would be eating a lot of interesting foods and thought better of bogging myself down with the first course).

The corn dog was exactly what you expect a corn dog to be. (I only indulge in one a year, usually at the fair). Cheap hotdog deep fat fried in dough - so, you know...tasty! Crispy on the outside, hotdoggy on the inside. Like a good corn dog should be.

Next, we searched for Maggie's favorite fair food - the gyro. The Greek classic (pronounced eee-rohs with the eee sounding closer to a y than e. Don't pronounce the 'G' and it's not a Gy-roh as so many call it!)

The gyro, which was composed of grilled lamb, onion, tomato and cucumber sauce was fantastic (according to Maggie - I never got a bite! Only kidding...she did offer the last bite) and certainly one of the best foods on the midway. However, at $7 it's also one of the most expensive.

With our tummys full at the moment, we turned our attention to the fair's other attractions. While I won't bore you with the things we looked at in the Varied Industries Building (including the Iowa State and Drake booths, to appease the inner alumni in Maggie and I respectively)

Drake did bring their giant inflatable bulldog, however... (which is an attraction by itself!)


I will profile the one food related attraction we did stop by...

Yes, the famous butter cow. Last year, Maggie and I toured the fair and didn't get a chance to see the famous butter bovine. This year, being the good Iowans that we are, we felt obligated to at least look at one of the fair's greatest claims to fame.'s a giant cow sculpted out of butter! I'm sure it's a lot of hard work to make and it is cool to see in person (and certainly the most popular attraction in the Agriculture building) but there isn't a whole lot one can say that isn't already implied in the phrasing 'butter cow'.

As we wandered back down the main drag - we came across another famous vender. The purveyor of deep fat fried candy bars and Oreos (this year adding the 'famous' Twinkie log to their menu) However, their line ran 20 people deep on each side. Recalling from last year's experience with their menu (where Maggie and I both felt like tranquilized grizzly bears after eating deep fat fried snickers and oreos) we decided to pass this year.

Not pictured - a line of equal size on the opposite side

Instead, I wandered over to the A&W booth for a ice cold root beer float. At $5 for a normal sized cup that they called a 'large', this easily had to be one of the greatest rip offs of the fair.  (Next to the $2.50 small bottled water that everyone was selling). It didn't even include that much ice cream (the ice cream to root beer ratio was a paltry 1 to 12 at best!) It was, however, delicious and a much needed cool down on a warm day.

Next, we tracked down the item that Maggie had been searching for since we arrived. Frozen cheesecake, dipped in chocolate...on a stick. Oh. My. Goodness! This little slice of heaven was easily the best thing we ate at the fair! It as delicious as it sounds, and at only $4 it's a reasonable price too!

The best fair food...PERIOD

Finally, we ended the evening at Jalapeno Pete's for Maggie's company get together. (It was nice to put faces to some of the names I hear about everyday - hello to everyone that reads the blog!) Where we indulged in one last food item - fried chicken. It might be because Maggie and I expect more out of chicken nowadays (since we've cooked it a dozen different ways already) but we were greatly disappointed in the chicken. There was absolutely no flavor whatsoever in the breading! It was a lazy dish at best - one that we wouldn't recommend unless it was free (like it was for we didn't complain too much!)


And there you have it - the journey of two foodies as they traveled across the culinary carnival that is the Iowa State Fair. We easily could have eaten more - but we kept everything in reason and didn't gorge ourselves (we have a wedding in under three weeks after all!) but we did leave feeling satisfied. We're already looking forward to next year's fair...

That's all we have for you today. Here's hoping you enjoyed our unique twist on a blog post today. It's fun to do something a little different every once in a while. We're back tomorrow with our ingredient list for the coming week. Be sure to check back tomorrow evening to see what we're up to. Until then,


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