Sunday, June 24, 2018
Dining

Here are some of the outrageous foods to be found at the 2017 Florida State Fair

I don't know precisely when state fair food became a game of shock-and-awe one-upsmanship. I'm going to speculate that it started with a corn dog. Followed by a bigger corn dog. And then some savvy entrepreneur started contemplating what else could be done with all those wooden sticks.

Or maybe there was a serendipitous deep-fryer accident.

"Whoa, look what happened to that Twinkie!"

But there you have it, the state fair modus operandi: What can feasibly be balanced on a wooden stick, or slid into the deep fryer for a crunchy-exteriored-molten-interiored mind-blow, or piled unflinchingly onto funnel cakes?

The Florida State Fair, annually one of the country's first state fairs of the calendar year, runs through Feb. 20, with an outlandish number of shock-and-awe comestibles. Evidently we have introduced to the world such showstoppers as the Red Velvet Funnel Cake and the Pizza Funnel Cake (which went for its 15 minutes of fame on Food Network's Carnival Eats show in 2016).

The thrill rides have nothing on these gut busters: This year, let's start with the White Cheddar and Bacon Pretzel Dog.

Or there's the Florida Firecracker, a burger stuffed with jalapeno poppers and bacon, slow roasted and served on an 8-inch hoagie roll with cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

But those are just the warning shots. The crowd favorite for 2017 has been crowned: This year brings the Cheesy Fried Enchilada Funnel Cake from the always-outrageous McGrath family at Best Around concessions. Envision corn meal funnel cake batter mixed with enchilada spice topped with queso and ground chorizo. Erp.

I also heard something about a steak sundae, which I can't unhear. On the sweet side the debutantes are Kettle Corn Ice Cream and the Nutella Oreo Funnel Cake. How could either of those be bad? This year's fair also boasts the debut of the Alaskan Soda Jerk, a one-of-a-kind soft drink concession stand serving old-timey root beer floats and nostalgic boardwalk delights like cherry lime aides, as well as shakes and malts.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Comments
See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color yo...
Published: 06/22/18
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Published: 06/20/18
Restaurant review: Chile Verde is serving up very solid tacos in an unlikely spot

Restaurant review: Chile Verde is serving up very solid tacos in an unlikely spot

ST. PETERSBURGThere are a lot of decommissioned gas stations across the country. Some have been reinvented, cleverly made over as upscale restaurants. There’s Big Star in Chicago, Elaia & Olio in St. Louis, Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Va., even Bi...
Published: 06/18/18
From soft serve to ice pops, 12 places to get frozen treats

From soft serve to ice pops, 12 places to get frozen treats

I know we have three more months or so of hot-as-dog-breath Tampa Bay summer, but let’s start things off on the right foot with some frozen treats. Ice cream is on my mind after a recent visit to Disney Springs, when I found love in a perfect scoop o...
Published: 06/13/18
Five restaurants worth checking out at Disney Springs in Orlando (w/video)

Five restaurants worth checking out at Disney Springs in Orlando (w/video)

LAKE BUENA VISTA Disney Springs has swiftly become a playground or trial balloon for the country?s celebrity chefs. Art Smith, Masaharu Morimoto, Rick Bayless, Guy Fieri, Tony Mantuano, Wolfgang Puck and others are already on board, with names like ...
Published: 06/13/18
A hook-to-table food experience in Tampa Bay

A hook-to-table food experience in Tampa Bay

Going fishing is like doing your taxes. If it’s something you dive into just once a year you end up relearning the whole thing every time. Jake Whitfield eyed me, no judgment, and decided to cast for me the first time, my little wriggling greenback z...
Published: 06/11/18
Ceviche closing in South Tampa

Ceviche closing in South Tampa

TAMPA – The Ceviche restaurant at 2500 W Azeele St. is closing.Caledon Concepts, which operates Ceviche restaurants in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, said the restaurant’s last day at that location will be June 16."The expiration of the lease for...
Updated one month ago
Deal alert: Hard Rock Cafe has 71 cent burgers for its birthday

Deal alert: Hard Rock Cafe has 71 cent burgers for its birthday

SAVE THE DATE: HARD ROCK B-DAYOn June 14, 1971, the founders opened their own American-style diner in an old Rolls-Royce dealership and called it Hard Rock Cafe. They had a vision to combine music, memorabilia and all-American fare. Here’s a tip: To ...
Updated one month ago
Restaurant review: El Chapo Taco fills a need with fun, friendly Mexican spot in Gulfport

Restaurant review: El Chapo Taco fills a need with fun, friendly Mexican spot in Gulfport

GULFPORTWhat do we know about El Chapo, a.k.a. Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán? He ran the Sinaloa Cartel, even from prison, and first appeared on Forbes’ billionaires list in 2009. He’s 5 feet 6. He’s the father of 12 or 13 children. He has a talen...
Updated one month ago
National Doughnut Day is back. Where to get free doughnuts, doughnut beers and more

National Doughnut Day is back. Where to get free doughnuts, doughnut beers and more

Believe it or not, Friday is already June 1, which means National Doughnut Day is back with sweet deals.The day was created to celebrate the Salvation Army’s "Doughnut Lassies," who served the treats to American soldiers on the front lines during Wor...
Updated one month ago