Friday, Sep 13 2013 03:16 PM

The novelty stuff: A gut check of new fair foods

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Gustavo Angulo from Big Bubba's Bad BBQ cooks shish kabobs on the grill next to the food stand at the Kern County Fair in 2012.

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By STEFANI DIAS, Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Whether you like your food deep-fried, on a stick or both, this year's Kern County Fair has you covered. Jeannie Burton, supervisor of fair commercial exhibits and concessions, shared the details with us, along with her annual nutritional promise: "There are no calories in fair food. None."

Challenging that statement is a number of gut-busting new options. Along with fried cheese curds, egg rolls and french fries, other items taking an oil bath include: grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, banana and pineapple bits, baked potatoes (halved) and pickles (whole).

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What's new this year

Chocolate strawberry waffle ball

Fried pickle

Fried grilled cheese sandwich

Fried baked potato

Fried pork chop on a stick

Fried banana and pineapple bits

Fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich with powdered sugar

Fried waffle on a stick with powdered sugar

New Mexican fish concession, including a shrimp, octopus and abalone cocktail and a ceviche and shrimp tostada

Garlic fries with jalapenos

Maple syrup and bacon funnel cake

Funnel cake on a stick

Torpedo dog (bacon-wrapped hot dog with grilled onions and peppers)

Koolickle (dill pickle steeped in Kool-Aid)

Maple bacon sundae (bacon topping over ice cream)

Roast beef sundae (mashed potatoes, beef and cheese, topped with a cherry tomato)

Returning favorites

Chocolate-covered bacon

Red velvet funnel cake

Frozen mangoneado (mango with chamoy chili sauce)

Source: Janet Sanders, marketing coordinator for the Kern County Fair

Speaking of pickles, Mac's Patio will offer what it calls a Koolickle. Burton described the process to create the oddly named cured cucumber:

"You take a regular dill pickle that you see in a bin. You put Kool-Aid in with it, and it turns the pickle pink. It's pink instead of green." She said the flavor is not altered, but you can judge for yourself.

Mac's Patio (and its sister concession, Mary's Ice Cream) will serve a few new items, from sweet (chocolate strawberry waffle ball) to savory (torpedo dog -- "A hot dog wrapped in bacon. Then it's got grilled green pepper, grilled onion, grilled heartburn"). Things get a bit mixed up with two sundaes, one ice cream with a maple bacon topping and the other a mock dessert, with mashed potatoes piled with roast beef, cheese and topped with a cherry tomato. Fans of combining maple and bacon will want to seek out the appropriately topped funnel cake at the Toucan concessions, which will offer a funnel cake on a stick.

For eagerly mobile fairgoers, there will be deep-fried waffles and pork chops, both served on sticks.

On the healthier side, a concession has expanded outside the Villa Festiva area, offering a menu focusing on fish. Two guaranteed items are a shrimp, octopus and abalone cocktail and a ceviche and shrimp tostada.

Burton said concessionaires this year, like the last, stepped up their offerings with creative options.

"We just asked everyone to come up with new ideas that they can handle in their stand. Depends on what their main menu is, especially if it's deep-fried. You can't mix (some food prep)."

Burton highlighted some additions from last year as they surprised some fair staff.

"Frozen mangoneado, it was new last year. We didn't know about it until almost the end. It's great. Strips of mango with chamoy sauce in a cup. The red velvet funnel cake is fancier, no calories on top," she joked.

Finishing the rundown, she reiterated another fair axiom: "The No. 1 reason they come is the food."

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