With rides, games and entertainment, there may be something for everyone at the Pacific National Exhibit. But one of the best parts of the fair is the food.
Many beloved food stands will be returning and this year newcomers make up 30 per cent of the PNE’s food vendors. Hungry patrons can expect to find the usual deep fried, sugar coated and bacon wrapped fare but there are also some surprises for the brave connoisseur.
Here are some of the top eats to try at the PNE this year.
Best Canadian flavour
There’s nothing more Canadian than maple and bacon. And while the Fried Veggies stand is based out of Kansas, it offers one of the best Canadian flavoured options at the PNE — the Maple Bacon Donut Burger. It’s definitely not your average diner cheeseburger. This burger patty is topped with cheese and bacon and sandwiched between two whole donuts with maple frosting. Salty, sweet, cheesy and full of meat, it’s the perfect fair snack and it’s made with fresh donuts from Nuffy’s Donuts in Richmond. This is the Stremmel family’s first year at the PNE and it’s sure to be a memorable one with their unique burger.
Most surprisingly delightful
Red velvet is normally associated with desserts, but Pub Grub is serving up red velvet chicken strips and they’re not as weird as you think. Suzanne and Perry Pourier, who’ve been a staple at the PNE for 14 years, say they hit on the recipe idea because customers kept asking for sweet and sour sauce with their chicken strips. The red velvet batter coating (made with funnel cake flour) adds the right amount of sweetness. Paired with honey mustard these chicken strips are deep fried genius. It’s no surprise that the pair who brought deep fried Oreo cookies, jelly beans and Pop Tarts to the fair would come up with such an original snack.
Best healthy option
While the PNE is a great excuse to cheat on your diet and quit counting calories, options are available for the health conscious. Curry in a Hurry celebrates its 35th year at the fair and has plenty of tasty whole wheat wraps full of veggies. The latest creation is the Vegetable Kathi Roll which has a flavourful combination of spicy and sweet. It’s vegetarian but the taste will satisfy even the heartiest meat lover and is flavoured with a unique tamarin chutney. The Kainth family was one of the first to bring ethnic flavours to the fair. Raj Kainth, who remembers manning the cash while standing on a milk crate as a kid, says his five-year-old son will be the fourth generation to join the business.
Tastiest cool treat
In 1957 Elvis performed at the PNE during one of only three performances outside the U.S. This year he’s back, at least in name, with The Fat Elvis at Rocky Point Ice Cream. The King’s namesake features hand-churned chocolate ice cream, sliced banana, local strawberry jam and peanut sauce in a grilled brioche bun. Husband and wife team Jamie and Yvette Cuthbert of Port Moody hope fair goers are all shook up by their PNE debut and enjoy their handcrafted, locally sourced ice cream. Among the unique flavours they offer are Earl Grey and honey, lemon basil, blackberry sage and even beer flavoured ice cream (a crowd favourite). So don’t be cruel and treat yourself to a sweet, cool treat.
Best classic with a twist
Mini donuts are a PNE classic. The warm sugary treats can be bought by the bucketful or sampled off a stick. This year the Mini Donut Factory decided for its PNE debut to offer a twist on the fair favourite with red velvet mini donuts coated with cream cheese glaze. Another red velvet newcomer, they are sweet and delicious. But there’s a trick to eating them off of a stick. “It’s a little labour intensive, but it’s totally worth it,” says Jason Au owner of Tin Lizzy Concessions.