Crazy Grazin' Day was a little warmer than it was when we were there on Sunday, and that allowed for a day-long, glorious walk through the less-attended Fair. We knew it would be better when we drove to the old neighborhood and parked less than a block from our old house. Nobody on Orchard St. was out parking cars (though, in fairness, it was just past Noon-thirty).
Just as I did last year, I need to bring up an ongoing disappointment of Crazy Grazin' Day; the Fair touts smaller portions for a lower price, and except for a few instances, all we did was save a few quarters on a full size order. Therefore, we would have preferred to eat more variety, however what we did eat filled us to the top of our gullets.
On to the food reviews, in chronological order...
Charcoal Grill Roadhouse Beer Battered Onion Rings ($3.00) - Meh. This was for My-Sugar-Na, though I did have a couple of the big, round rings. They were OK, nothing special. They were not "deep-fryer' hot, and tasted like they had been sitting for awhile.
Machine Shed Deep Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich ($3.00) - My-Sugar-Na doesn't know what she's missing with this hot, gooey, melty, crunchy, gooey disk of numminess on a stick. Between the weather and the peanut butter, I downed an entire bottle of water after this.
Mi Linda Cuba Cuban Sandwich ($6.00) - This is where my concern about regular-sized portions comes begins. First, $6 may be a lower price than normal (by a buck) but it was not what I consider a "grazin' " price. Non only that, but a full sandwich coming just about 10 minutes after the PB&J, I was starting to get full and I'd only been at the Fairgrounds for a half hour! But I do like Cuban Sandwiches and decided that I wanted to try this. A proper Cuban has pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and a pickle on a crusty bread and grilled in a Panini press. The sandwich at Mi Linda Cuba was very good, but loses points for not having the mustard or pickle robbed it of the vinegary component to offset the smoky meat. It was a very good sandwich. But it was not a Cuban.
Burrito Xpress Large Chicken Quesadilla ($5.00) - Another full-sized portion at a slightly reduced price, My-Sugar-Na used this as her lunch while I ate my not-a-Cuban. She said it was good, but "just a quesadilla". It was served with a handful of nice crisp tortilla chips and a salsa that was a touch on the higher side of the medium tolerance.
Jake's Deli Reuben On-a-Stick ($4.00) - After lunch, we did walk around the Fair for awhile, and ducked inside the Wisconsin Products Pavilion to cool down and set a spell. However right after walking in, I spotted this stand. I do enjoy Jake's Deli, and was curious as to how they were gonna stick it. Turns out, the stick is for decoration only. This was one messy, messy sandwich. It was on a rye bun instead of grilled, but it was very good. This was a half portion that was a sight for sore eyes on a full stomach.
Ultimate Confections Chocolate Covered Licorice (4 for $1.00) - My-Sugar-Na is way more of a sweets person than I am. I tried one, and didn't like it at all. My wife, however, really liked it, posting on her Facebook page "Oh my gosh, I've died and gone to heaven". I finally got her to admit that there is a heaven.
Wisconsin Honey Producers Honey Lemonade ($2.00) - Someone heard me complain about full portions at a slightly reduced price, but when I really needed a full portion... This lemonade is normally $3 for a 16 oz glass, and the Grazin' portion rivaled the juice one could squeeze from a walnut. I needed refreshment (from both being very warm, but from a sloppy, saucy stick of Reuben) and just got thirstier. But it was very good. Nice and tart.
Sidewalk Sundae Cheesecake On-a-Stick ($4.50) - Another sweet for my sweet. A piece of frozen cheesecake, dipped in chocolate than rolled in sprinkles. For cheesecake, I thought it was very good. But I am not a big sweets eater, so I need to defer comments to my wife, who said "Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm. Almost licoricey". Whatever that meant. I think she liked it.
By this point, we were probably three hours in, and though quite warm, the crowd....
was far smaller than Sunday, which made it easier to negotiate the grounds. We didn't know if we wanted to go home for a few hours to decompress and relax before part two, so we went into the Horticultural building... where I spotted what I consider - BY FAR - the greatest attraction of the State Fair...
That's right. The two most powerful air conditioning ducts this side of the Pecos River. You know when you are very warm, and sweat is dripping down your head and you walk into an air conditioned building and can feel the sweat start to evaporate? This is more like the feeling of sweat turning into ice crystals. Now, for some of you that have followed my sense of humor for the past five years of blogging, you sometimes can't tell when I am serious.
But when I photograph air conditioning vents, I am being remarkably serious. These vents are worth the price of admission.
We decided to drive the short distance home and relax for a couple of hours, and set out to return around 6:30 PM. Again driving to the old neighborhood, a few lawns had cars, but not one at our former house. It is hard enough that we chose to sell the house and move on as the kids got older, but to see a State Fair Parking Season go on unattended. My heart dies a little each day.
We continued Grazin' through the evening...
Double K Pizza Burger ($5.75) - This posed a conundrum. The burger met the description (Italian Seasoned Patty with Mozzarella Cheese Center) to a T. And it tasted pretty darned good. But there isn't enough food there for the reduced price, much less the regular price of $6.75. This is an overpriced sandwich compared to a lot of food at the Far. But my tummy doesn't have an allowance, so it was happy anyway.
Sprecher Everything & Sprecher Landing Sprecher Soda Flavored Sorbet ($1.00) - That's a lot of description for a little scoop of sorbet. But it was perfect. A small portion of an ice cold treat that tasted very much like, well, root beer sorbet.
Crutchee-s Fresh Lemonade ($3.00) - Though it was markedly cooler in the evening (and with the sun setting rapidly) it was still warm enough to warrant more beverages. The fresh-squeezed lemonade stands produce a delightful product.
Mille's Italian Sausage Cannoli ($3.00) - Almost heartbreaking to go to one of the two best Italian Sausage places on the grounds and order a routine cannoli. The filling was good and creamy, but it tasted like it was made a couple of days ago and sat in the fridge until we ordered it (Unsolicited Side note; for a wonderful cake made with cannoli filling, head to the Canfora Bakery in Bay View. They made this cake for us, reasonably priced, and I can still taste it).
Slim McGinn's West Reuben Roll ($2.00) - Much easier to eat and almost as good as the Jake's Reuben. Kudos, too, to Slim McGinn's for the smaller portion. I had tried not to copy too many places that I had grazed last year, but these are that good. And again like last year, it allows me to drop the name of former-Brewer Ruben Quevedo.
Pork Schoppe 1/2 Pork Burger Sandwich ($2.00) - I did notice her eyes roll (through her sunglasses) when she took that first bite. Not only do they honor the smaller portions, its a good thing they did, as it triggered My-Sugar-Na's "Uncle Reflex".
Wok in the Park Dragon Wings ($2.00) - An interesting combination of fried chicken pieces, sitting under a spicy Asian sauce that one might find in a ramekin in a restaurant. The sauce was very spicy, and though the chicken pieces were stunningly small, it was a $2 portion, and a nice way to complete my fooding.
In all, we spent about five or six hours at the Fair, and had a great time. When we were there on Sunday, we weren't there to eat so we didn't look at too many menus. Today, though we were limiting ourselves to the Grazin' menu, standing in line at all of these restaurants gave us lots of ideas of things we want to try. It looks like we are going back Friday night. We won't be going just for the food; we've barely set foot in the Expo Center for our yearly garbage purchase.
Since Crazy Grazin' Day is always the Tuesday of the Fair, these past years blog entries contain our previous State Fair food reviews.