RALEIGH — A whopping 48 new food and drink experiences will be available at the 2023 North Carolina State Fair.
Media outlets were invited to sample some of the new foods at the N.C. Fairgrounds’ Dorton Arena. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler was on hand at the event, giving remarks about the efforts of farmers that make all of the delicious treats at the fair possible, as well as applauding the work of those involved in running the fair.
North State Journal had an early preview of around 30 of these morsels. Here are the top picks:
A number of the items this year have a dill pickle theme, including dill pickled flavored deep-fried cheese curds from the Cheese Curd Shack and The Dill Pickle donut from Fluffly’s Hand-Cut Donuts, which was a bit of a surprise.
The first images circulated of the dill pickle donut may make one think it will be a sweet and sour experience, however, the sample was on the savory side of the aisle with the dill pickle chip nestled in a dill-dashed cream cheese spread that was oddly satisfying.
The Colossal Shrimp skewers are, in this reporter’s opinion, the best in show for this year’s new fair foods. Oak City Fish and Chips has outdone itself with three giant butterflied shrimp tossed in a sweet and spicy mixture, deep fried, and served with half a lemon to drench them with. There will also be lobster and salmon skewers available during this year’s fair.
Not to be missed are the Crab and Shrimp Rangoon tossed in a sweet chili sauce. Waypoint Oyster Bar’s Rangoon was crisp and light, and the chili sauce was just the right amount of heat and sweet.
Also on the crisp and light side are the Little Locas Empanadas provided by Arepa Loca. These perfectly crispy, bite-sized empanadas come in chicken or beef. They make a perfect snack and shouldn’t be missed!
Of the desserts we sampled, many were overpoweringly sweet, with one exception: Chef’s D’Lites: Deep Fried Cinnamon Apple Bread Pudding Bites. These delicious little confectionaries were very balanced with the right blend of sweet, creamy cinnamon and the apple’s fruit flavor. We also recommend Waffle Chix’s Oreo Brownie Blast, which is not too big and not too small, but has a ton of Oreo crumbles and a creamy filling.
The Strawberry Cheesecake Slush is not only beautiful to look at, but it also had the best of both beverage and food worlds with a sweet Strawberry fizzy slush with a slice of cheesecake nestled inside the cup. Bring a straw and a fork!
If a full-on meal that will stick to your ribs is what you are craving, try Cool Runnings Jamaican: Jerk BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese Bowl or hit Lawrence & Perry BBQ’s “Slop Bucket.” The bucket includes crinkle-cut seasoned fries topped with authentic Eastern North Carolina BBQ drizzled with a tangy BBQ sauce, along with a helping of homemade mac & cheese, coleslaw, and baked beans.
Ethio Indi Alkaline & Vegan Cuisine was also among the dishes sampled, such as the African Spinach Soup & Ghanan Pounded Yams that offer a hint of spice with a touch of sweet.
If meat is what you crave, head over to Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ and grab the “Morning-After Stuffed Leg.” There was a lot going on in that leg, but it all worked and
For those hitting the fair at the start of the day, the Brisket & Waffles On a Stick from Fat Boys BBQ has everything you need to get your engine going, as will the Big Mac-Woody Egg Roll & Churros from Woody’s Sports Tavern & Grill.
The on-the-go-eaters can’t go wrong with the Hot Chix Walking Totchos – layers of crispy tater tots and potato chips, with fried chicken, beef or chili. That mixture is then topped with gooey cheese and your choice of Doritos, Fritos, or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Hot Chix Hotcakes & Chicken also offered Stuffed Mini Pancakes.
To see the list of all the new food offerings, visit: https://ncstatefair.org/2023/Attractions/New.htm.