Just when you think everything but the kitchen sink has been battered, deep-fried, sugar-dusted and put on a stick for your enjoyment, the Fair at the Pacific National Exhibition rolls out a new roster of outrageous eats.
Vendors from around the region have spent the winter months perfecting the crazy genius (or sometimes just plain crazy) of their newest concoctions. Global food trends, mash-ups, and all-out over-the-top-ness are on deck for the 2018 Fair at the PNE.
True, you can still get a plain hot dog, lemonade, cotton candy, and some mini-donuts (including Those Little Donuts that are celebrating a milestone 50 years as a PNE vendor), and you can also find smoothies, salads, and less gut-busting fare.
There's also a backlog of epic eats that have become new classics, from all manner of pierogies and poutines, award-winning BBQ, apple pie milkshakes, ravioli "chips," drinks served in fruit vessels, churros, dressed up mac and cheese, and more.
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Earlier this summer the PNE teased us with their list of 20 insane new foods debuting at the Fair this year, and we got to take a little tour to taste-test a few of them.
From the truly mind-bending Milkshake Burgers to caramel apples coated in roasted crickets, to the sweet and crunchy Kit Kat "Fries," and an attempt to duplicate the Insta-famous Wat-a-Melon, not everything is for everyone (that's for sure!) but it's all definitely worth talking about.
Check out some of the most outrageous and noteworthy fare at the Fair this year:
Smoking Charcoal Soft Serve
Drawn right from the food trend that's so in it's actually out (like in New York City, where they've banned foods with activated charcoal), this is surprisingly tasty soft serve that's dense, lightly sweet, and has a sort of pina colada vibe going on--and it's dark and is served in a cup spewing smoke from dry ice. Instagram bait that's actually quite tasty, you'll find this from Marchant Concessions of Summerland BC.
Sure, you can get them without booze, in flavours like Strawberry and Lime, but you can also get a Dark and Stormy with rum, or some Frose, and enjoy it in most parts of the Fair--all but a few areas are licensed now--once you get one from S'luscious.
Deep Fried Cheeseburgers
They take a pizza-style dough and wrap it around a patty with cheese, and boom, it's a deep fried cheeseburger. Definitely a calorie bomb, this guy from Tin Lizzy would go well with a pickle on a stick from Pickle Pete's. PS, Pickle Pete's is where you'll find the surprisingly good Bacon Wrapped Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (yes, it's deep fried).
Perhaps the second-most divisive item on the list, the truly bonkers meld of savoury and ice cream (i.e. Salted Caramel or Garlic) and a burger from the new 50's diner-style booth from longtime vendor Brian Jones of BB Food On The Go, is a pretty intense experience. Ambitious appetites only, you've been warned.
The Diggity Dogs stand is continuing to create next-level hot dogs. This year they've got a whole world of concoctions, including a new Korean BBQ dog and a Southern Comfort dog. The base dog is quite good, so while there's a lot going on here, the flavours are good.
Why not take Nonna's meatball and make it "Fair-sized"? It's a pretty tender and savoury bite, perfect for sharing. Now if only someone sold 10-lb plates of pasta...
Kit Kat Fries
The best of the new sweet bites at the Fair this year are these deep fried Kit Kats from Stephen Ford of Steve-O's. You get four pieces per order--a whole Kit Kat bar--and they do that magic thing of being soft and gooey on the outside with the batter and the drizzle of chocolate sauce to staying crisp on the inside with the wafers.
Cricket Caramel Apples
Okay, so this is the most divisive item: A caramel apple coated in roasted crickets. The new "superfood" is definitely catching a lot of attention in this format, and those who took the bite said it had a pleasant nutty flavour and texture.
Those Little Donuts
Not new by a long shot (they've been on the fair circuit since 1948) this stand came on board as we know it in 1968, and they are poised to serve their one-hundred-millionth mini donut this summer. Get 'em while they're hot. No seriously. It's when they are their absolute best.
The Fair at the PNE is on from August 18 to September 3, 2018. Find information about admission, hours, special events, parking, directions, and more online.