I can’t decide which of the desserts did me in.
Was it the fried bacon, fried pie or fried funnel cake? The fluffy toupee of whipped cream atop the strawberry shortcake?
I have my suspicions.
Touring the state fair is always a caloric nightmare, as well as a place to spend piles of money. Fair food is not cheap, but you already knew that.
Just call my annual tour of fair cuisine “taking one for team readers.” You’re welcome.
Here are a baker’s dozen desserts that I piled through to help you decide which dessert to ruin your diet with at the fair.
FLEISCHKUECHLE FRIED FRUIT PIE
Find it: Fleischkuechle truck, near Gold Gate.
The truck is operated by mother-son duo Virginia and Ben Vrieze, who bought the business and recipes in 2011 from family friends. Its signature item is a crescent-shaped beef-filled fried pie pronounced flish-koosh-lay.
The sweet version of fleischkuechle is my favorite fair dessert. Of the cherry, apple and peach hand pies, I’ve got a special affinity for the peach with velvety cubes suspended in a syrupy, not gloppy, filling and tucked into a pocket of dough, fried until golden and flaky.
CHOCOLATE-CARAMEL-PECAN TURTLE CREPE
Find it: Crepe Chalet, next to the Coca Cola Stage.
This tucked-away booth is a favorite find not just because of the eggy, substantial crepes, but because the restaurant’s rarely busy even at peak times. Find it hidden behind the Snack Shack food booth.
The menu lists crepes both savory and sweet ($5-$8.95), with an emphasis on sweet (eight of 11). I lamented over strawberry Nutella and banana chocolate, but wound up with the turtle, a crepe folded over and drenched liberally in chocolate and caramel syrups with sweetened-and-roasted pecans tumbled across the plate.
DOLE WHIP FROZEN DESSERT
Find it: At Duris concession stands.
It’s dairy-free, fat-free and reported to be vegan-friendly and gluten-free. If you’re familiar with the popular frozen treat served outside the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, this is that stuff. It’s a light, refreshing whipped-frozen-pineapple-flavored dessert with an ultra-creamy texture.
Find it: Lady Luck Cowgrill Up, near the South Skyride terminal.
It’s Thanksgiving jammed into a waffle cone. The Spanaway bar and steakhouse models its dessert after a classic sweet potato casserole, swapping the whipped yams for sweet potato fries and dual drizzles of marshmallow and caramel sauce. Dig to the bottom of that cone to savor all the sticky marshmallow sauce.
TRIPLE BACON DOUGHNUT
Find it: Original House of Donuts truck near the bingo tent on the midway.
Find the doughnut that mashes up breakfast flavors at the Lakewood-based Original House of Donuts truck, which is serving for the first time at the fair.
What I love about the bakery’s maple bar is the crackly sheen on the maple frosting. The bar had been split, filled with a sticky frosting and topped with crumbled thick-cut bacon.
FISHER FAIR SCONE
Price: $1.50 each.
Find it: Throughout the fairgrounds.
Yes, it’s a fair classic. Yes, it’s still a decent bargain at $1.50. And, yes, that’s real butter slathered onto the scone with a smear of raspberry jam.
Find it: Fisher Scone booths.
If you like shortcake, strawberries and Fisher scones, this will be your ideal dessert pairing. A warm split scone soaked up the syrup from sugared strawberries and came topped with a dome of whipped cream. I asked for an extra scoop of strawberries and was kindly obliged.
DEEP FRIED BUTTER
Price: Five for $5 or 12 for $10
Find it: Near the bingo tent on the Midway.
Yes, fried butter sounds like a Scottish food dare. And, yes, it’s truly delicious in the way only a big pat of butter fried in dough can be. As it fries, the butter pat slips away and glazes the interior of the hollow puffs. Finished with raspberry syrup or cinnamon sugar — or both.
Find it: At Duris concession stands.
Watch the counter workers stretch the giant flaps of dough — shaped like elephant ears, of course — that they hand stretch and run through a hand-cranked dough roller before tossing into the fryer. I like mine finished with cinnamon sugar and butter, but there’s also jam.
Find it: The Funnel Cake Booth near the Showplex (other locations also serve their own versions).
Batter is flung into a fryer and fried until it’s a crispy, golden brown mass of crunchy stuff. You can pick from a variety of toppings and I recommend something flavor packed, such as the maple-bacon version, because funnel cakes are pretty bland without something tasty on top.
Find it: Kaleenka Piroshky booth near the Showplex.
I’m a sucker for the fried yeasty piroshkis at this regionally famous food stand you’ll find serving at a number of events. On the apple piroshki, I wished the ratio of dough to filling skewed more in favor of the apple-and-cinnamon pie filling.
WAFFLE FRIED BACON
Find it: Bacon! Bacon!! Bacon!!! booth next to the Village restaurant building.
If gluttony is your jam, order this battered-and-fried bacon served with a side of maple-flavored syrup. The execution was off on my visit; the batter too brittle, the bacon too crisp. Don’t put this high on your try list.
DEEP FRIED KEY LIME PIE
Find it: Totally Fried booth near the Blue Gate.
I don’t know what was worse, the steep price for such a small wedge of fried pie or the anemic pucker on what was touted as key lime pie. Take a pass on this one unless you just have to try a novelty food.