After arriving home at work, changing clothes and parking the 11th car (and last) on our property by 6:00 PM, My-Sugar-Na walked to the State Fair. I knew it was Crazy Grazin' day, and I knew my wife had some stuff she had wanted to try.
What I didn't realize is that she had a map printed out, plotted with the foodstuffs that she was interested in trying. It was so cute, excited almost like (a) a school kid whose never been to Great America, or (b) the anti-Nicolas Cage in those dumb National Treasure movies.
I've decided to critique the items that we chose to try. (My qualifications? I am 300 pounds. Now keep reading.) Keep in mind that for the most part, my wife chose what we were eating (although I did call a few audibles). Also, I know that yesterday was a high calorie, hig fat romp through the Fair. Finally, I did NOT have the stuff I normally enjoy (Charlie's Italian Sausage, a cream puff, a Rupena's Hungarian Griller, etc). Everything that we ate was from the Crazy Grazin' list. Here goes...
- Chimichanga from Fiesta Garribaldi ($1.50) - I have been a big fan of Fiesta Garribaldi since they opened their first location about ten years ago on 84th & Morgan. I had the steak chimi, while My-Sugar-Na had the chicken. This first item I had was by far the best thing I had at the Fair yesterday. It wasn't particularly large, but it was loaded with cheese and meat, served with a little too big dollop of sour cream and choice of green or red sauce. My wife wasn't as impressed as she is not a fan of peppers, and she detected too many in hers. Not knowing that this was the best thing I would eat, I headed to the next stand with anticipation.
- Andoullie Sausage Jambalaya from Thunder Bay Grille ($2.00) - This is probably the second best thing I ate at the Fair (notice this trend? It continues). I am not a big fan of creole food (not enough cheese!) but this was pretty good. The rice was moist, the sausage had a good snap, and the portion seemed fair for two bucks. My wife did not try this item.
- Apple Strudel from Cafe Innsbruck ($1.50) - This was pretty good. It seemed quite odd being in the Cream Puff Pavillion and NOT having a cream puff, but the strudel was warm and the pastry flaky, telling me it was pretty fresh. Both my wife and I enjoyed this dessert along with...
- Root Beer Float from Got Milk? Double K Dairy ($2.50) - We were both disappointed with this... which is tricky because it is hard to screw up a root beer float, right? I understand that the discounted Grazin' prices are intended for smaller portions, but this portion was too small for the money. We got a 12 oz cup with a small scoop of ice cream that melted instantly as the warm root beer was added.
- Half order of Onion Rings from Miss Katie's Diner ($3.25) - It was right around this point in which both My-Sugar-Na and I realized we hadn't actually enjoyed the Fair, and we are just cramming food on top of food. The onion rings were pretty good, but plopping fried food on top of apple strudel and a root beer float did nothing the make our stomachs happy. We did take that opportunity, though, to sit on the Pitch's patio to eat the onion rings. They had a two man band playing (a keyboardist and a drummer), and exactly one not-quite-senior-but-past-middle-aged couple was dancing. The musicians may have been competent, but they were bantering with this dancing couple in between songs (like a news anchor and a weatherman), with about 14 other people looking on. The musicians (two players isn't a band, is it?) started Proud Mary, and this couple broke out into the "Eddie Murphy as White People Dancing" dance. It was painful. It was sad. And we couldn't look away. You know what would have been better entertainment as we sat on the patio eating our onion rings while the family behind us was eating their chicken dinner and the couple sitting at the bar was making googley eyes at each other? Nothing. I am not quite sure why these restaurants bother with live music. This isn't Summerfest, and the din of bad music playing is usually more annoying than it is enjoyable.
- Frozen Banana from Sidewalk Sundaes ($3.00) - I did not have this as I am not as into sweets as my wife is. It looked like a frozen banana, dipped in chocolate, with some sprinkles sprinkled. My wife did report that it was very cold.
- Mini Cinnimon Roll from Gramma Honey's Cinnimon Rolls ($2.00) - I did not have this item, either, as I went to the stand next door (see right below). My wife reported that it was good, but she was just about done with sweets.
- Half Reuben Sandwich from Krautland ($3.00) - Its not Jake's, or Benji's for that matter. It was packaged corned beef with some sauerkraut and cheese, heated in a panini grill. It tasted OK, I guess, but the bread was mushy as if it had been made a while earlier. My disappointment with the food was increasing.
- Fresh Lemonade from Crutchee's ($3.00) - I don't know what the regular price is (so I don't know if this was a deal or not), but this was a 12 oz cup, and it hit the spot. It was cold, sour, but sweet, too. Very nice.
- BBQ Chicken from Mike Murphy's Swingin' Door ($4.00) - Not so sure who Mike Murphy is, but he makes the absolute worst chicken sandwich on the planet... or at least that the wife and I have tasted. The chicken wasn't identifiable as food. It was ground so far down that it was the size of cous cous, with an overwhelming amount of grocery store barbeque sauce on a standard issue hamburger bun. My-Sugar-Na had bought this (I didn't want one) took one bite and turned up her nose and was about to throw it out. In the "You Don't Waste Food" department, I took it upon myself to finish this disaster... I took big bites so I could try to taste as little as possible. Didn't work. 12 hours and two teeth brushings later, that taste is still there. But as I am choking down this horrible sandwich, I looked at the table to my left and saw a teenage couple eating... Subway. A sandwich you can get from just about every strip mall in Milwaukee. I know that not everybody defines their life by food, and there is the thought (my ex-wife was in this category) that you can't go wrong with a chain restaurant because it is a safe choice (you know what you're getting). But how can this society have fallen so far that the hundreds and hundreds of food choices from local restaurants (like Saz or the Charcoal Grill) and from vendors that cart their little stand from State Fair to State Fair are eschewed for a sandwich at Subway? You know what, at that place in time, my barbeque sauce and cous cous sandwich was STILL a better option than having a sub fron Subway. I don't know if my wife was upset about this her chicken sandwich, if she was getting full (I know I was), if she was tired of me complaining about the Subway couple, or if it was the developing migraine, but her Fair enjoyment was just about over. We headed to the exits, but not before the one thing that I saw on the Crazy Grazin' Days flier that I really wanted to try...
- Mini Brat Corn Dogs from Saz's ($2.50) - If My-Sugar-Na's BBQ Chicken sandwich ruined her grazin, this item did it for me. I was so looking forward to this and it kind of intentionally was last on the list. But the order given to be was horrible. Maybe if I had them two hours earlier (when they had apparently been cooked) it woundn't have been so bad. They corned batter was hard, and when I bit into it, it disintegrated, leaving a lukewarm, shriveled, tough piece of bratwurst. And I had five of these things to make it through. The BBQ chicken was a disaster- it was what it was. But this had so much potential, and if I had gotten some right out of the fryer and the bratwurst was hot and juicy, this could have been a wonderful conclusion to my grazin'. Instead, I got to eat possibly the two worst Fair items I have ever had within about 15 minutes of each other.
After the brat corn dogs, we began our walk home. Overall, we had some good eats... and the stomach ache to prove it. Although it seems like we ate a lot, the portions were reasonably sized and we shared some, so it wasn't a matter of overeating. I'm sure it was just the combinations.
Luckily, we have four more tickets, and My-Sugar-Na and I plan on using two on Sunday evening to actually enjoy the Fair... look at the animals, walk through the Expo Center, etc. And to avoid Mike Murphy at all costs.