The Observer this week set out to sample all the new fair foods that didn't make the Big Tex competition finals. Here, part three of our deep-fried review:
1. Fried beer batter Even the woman who sold us this snack confessed she'd rather drink beer than eat it. This salty dish is an amen to that: It looks faintly like a beer-battered fried scallop, but the insides are made from a stack of soggy Ritz crackers.
2. Golden millionaire nuggets These nuggets -- sold under the snappier name of "fried gold"-- are stuffed with condensed milk, pecans, crushed pineapple, whipped topping and lemon, and taste like something a church member would bring to a potluck if she was feeling extra wacky. Millonaire's Pie is apparently a dessert that holds up when shrunk and deep-fried: The sweet, sticky nuggets are positively lovely by fair food standards.
3. Waikiki fried watermelon It may not be the right season for fried watermelon, since the serving we tried was mealy and flavorless. Paired with the right piece of fruit, the golden batter could be worth seeking out.
4. Super twister tater This unending mound of shaved potato could double as a centerpiece -- or provide the perfect greasy counterpart to a meal of fried hot dogs and hamburgers. Spiral chips are hugely popular at other fairs, but the vendor swore to me it had never before been offered at the State Fair of Texas. (Which just goes to show, don't believe everything you hear at the fair.) He also sells a sweet potato version, served with marshmallow cream sauce.
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5. Deep-fried peanut brittle This was the hardest item on the fair's new food list to find, mostly because the folks at Happy's haven't officially put it on their menu. But if you ask for it, a grinning fry guy will reach into his cooler for a slab of brittle. The candy doesn't quite stand up to the heat, so the snack's basically a beignet with a tooth-pulling taffy center that gradually crystallizes. Still, the batter's perhaps the tastiest on the Midway.