Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Feasting at the Fair

Carnival rides. Pig races. Weird Al Yankovic. These were all highlights of Food Comma's trip to the OC Super Fair this summer, but we all know the real star of the show is the food. Where else but at the fair can you indulge in all the crap you'd never normally eat—while it's also deep fried and/or on a stick?

We made sure to arrive hungry, but despite my growling stomach, the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich did not look appetizing. As you might gather from its name, the sandwich features a fried, processed chicken patty plunked into a sliced, glazed, jelly-filled Krispy Kreme donut.

Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich

On the other hand, the beef sundae held a lot of promise: a cupful of mashed potatoes underneath a pile of smoked pulled beef slathered with barbecue sauce and topped with a grape tomato. The problem was that the potatoes tasted distinctly of the instant variety, chalky and bland. But I'm looking forward to experimenting with the sundae idea at home.

Beef sundae

Next up, the deep-fried White Castle. Since there's already a bun, the additional fried batter around the burger really just makes the whole thing way too doughy. Disappointing.

Deep-fried White Castle

It wasn't edible, but the hand-sewn fabric cheeseburger, winner of the Blue Award, whatever that is, in the crafts competition's junior fiber arts category, was cute. It even had fabric potato chips and watermelon on the side.

Award-winning cheeseburger

We ended our junk food journey with a repeat treat from last year, the Huell Howser from Pink's. Are there two hot dogs in it because Huell repeats everything his interviewees say?

The Huell Howser

Alas, the OC Super Fair has already packed up for the year, but the 2010 LA County Fair is just around the corner, with, I'm certain, many of the same gut-busting delectables. As the fair's website says, "undue the top button on your pants and dive in."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let's Meat: The 2nd Annual Korean BBQ Cook-Off

Signage on the street was minimal, but visitors needed only follow the great cloud of smoke rising over Wilshire, and the mouth-watering scent of charred beef and pork, to find the 2nd annual Korean BBQ Cook-Off this weekend in Los Angeles.

Clockwise from top left: galbi sausage with kimchi on a brioche bun (Seoul Sausage Company), traditional bulgogi (Soowon Galbi); cheeseburger (Kalbi Burger); spicy pork ribs (Ham Ji Park); LA galbi (BDC Tofu House)

Any repeat attendee could tell that the contest’s organizers learned a lot from last year. With a bigger venue, printed vendor maps, voucher system for meals and drinks, and plenty of port-a-pots, this time around the cook-off evidently resolved the overcrowding, inspection delays, and food shortage issues of the inaugural event.

Waiting in line for Ham Ji Park

Food Comma also learned something from last year. Upon arrival, my companions and I purchased several vouchers and then fanned out, each getting in a different line so we could reconvene with a variety of dishes to share. The longest lines by far were for Kalbi Burger and Ham Ji Park, whose customers waited for up to 45 minutes. Lines for some other restaurants, like Soowon Galbi and O Dae San, were only a few people deep.

Judges Jonathan Gold, Ludo Lefebvre, and Sandra Oh

Again, we skipped the Choco-Pie eating contest, and missed the soju mix-off, but were sure to catch the awards ceremony featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, rock star chef of the moment Ludo Lefebvre, actress Sandra Oh, and councilmember Herb Wesson. Park's BBQ, a franchise of a Korea-based restaurant, took top honors and was also deemed the fave of Chef Ludo, who said he found inspiration at the cook-off for next week's LudoBites menu.

The winner

More pics from the Korean BBQ Cook-Off:

Jonathan Gold greeted fans after the cook-off

Photo op with Hite Man

Chef Ludo declared his passion for kimchi