They called me "Food Media": The LA County Fair food post

Last year, the LA County Fair invited my family to partake in the sights, sounds and festivities that make this annual celebration one of the most popular events in Los Angeles. I ate food. And blogged about it.

This year, they recognized my forte and invited Fury and me to a preview night. For Food Media.

Free beer. Who said blogging would get me nowhere?

Fury started his own blog recently and has already internalized the first rule: always have a camera at the ready.

As we sauntered up to the sign-in table (VIPs saunter, FYI), I was handed my badge and Fury got his. His said "Guest" on it.

Here's the disclosure part: the people on the Rogers Ruder Finn PR team are the nicest people around. That's all I really need to say. I already mentioned the free beer.

Let's eat!

This is a Korean-Inspired Taco from the Calbi Truck.

You kind of have to get around the ravenous kid to see the actual taco. So here's a picture of the truck, instead:

The whole Korean-BBQ-meets-Mexican-fare thing has been wildly popular in Los Angeles, because it is a culinary combination that works. Also, Koreans and Mexicans. While the Calbi truck isn't the first on the block to do this, I'm happy that there are alternatives to waiting in line for 90 minutes to get your Korean shortrib taco on. Because when you invest an hour and a half of your life in a food truck, it leads to this (yes, I ate that ALL in one sitting. Then hibernated for the winter).

Next, Cheesecake-on-a-stick. I have a personal rule: never pass up any food on a stick.

I wish I remembered the name of the vendor, or took a picture of the stand. I tried Googling it and still couldn't find the name. My bad, but I tried.

This was Fury's favorite: the Nutella Crepe from the Crepes Bonaparte Truck.

While it is healthy to indulge, I also feel that it is very important to eat some vegetables at every meal. I think the Chimichurri sauce on that pulled pork slider from the Piaggio Argentinian Food Truck has green in it.

This is Piaggio himself. Thanks for the veggies!

And now, the reason why so many people go to the LA County Fair: Chicken Charlie's! He's the guy that has never met a food he couldn't deep fry. I kind of worship this man. This year, Fury and I sampled his Fried Kool-Aid and Fried Ribs.

The Fried Kool-Aid is featured in the video below. As for the fried ribs, I really was kind of wary at first. I love ribs because they are fatty. Fatty is delicious. But even I would be afraid to dip that madness in batter and fry it without a large side of Pepto Bismol dipping sauce. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Chicken Charlie merely dusts the ribs with his own blend of spices, flour and cornstarch, rather than thick batter. That way, when you fry it, the ribs get tender inside and crisp on the outside, with no batter to weigh it down. Then, he slathers it with his own recipe tangy, spicy BBQ sauce to cut through the oil and fat. It's really heaven. And this here was my personal moment of zen:

Chicken Charlie approves.

How did we end this night of sanctioned gluttony? By riding the mechanical bull, of course. It's all in the video below. 

With tummies full of food and beverage, properly shaken, not stirred, Fury and I ambled (VIPs who have overindulged amble, FYI) back to the car. As we removed our badges, Fury made sure to point out "next year, my badge will say my name on it!" Aim high, blog boy!

Do you want to saunter in and amble out of the LA County Fair like a true Food Media Pro? Then just let me know in the comments below that you want to enter my drawing for a 4-pack of tickets (including a parking pass). The LA County Fair runs from now through Oct. 2, so even though I'm totally late on this post, there's still time to enjoy it.

I will be in China for the next few days on business, and will try to figure out time differences and pick a winner this Friday night. My blog is banned in China (wouldn't you do the same if you could?), but my comments are emailed to me, so it should be no problem. Unless they figure out I am BusyDad and give me work detail fixing up the Three Gorges Dam. In which case, it was nice knowing you. At least it'll allow me to work off those ribs.

Watch Jim Eat

This is not a gourmet post. This post contains no recipes. This post is about me eating. In the most visceral way. Why? Because when you decide to haul your family to the LA County Fair, you better be willing to get your grub on.

I've driven to the fair 4 times, and have attended it 3. That's how horrific the traffic getting there is. One year, we spent an hour and a half on the freeway exit ramp. By the time we made it off the ramp, we were over it. I hopped right back on the freeway and went home.

So why did I end up behind this on Labor Day?

Good PR. As a former PR person, I'm a sucker for a relevant pitch. I'm not going to mention her name or Twitter handle in case she prefers to remain behind the scenes, but the PR person for the LA County Fair saw me tweeting about how much my new Verizon Droid was driving me nuts and how short its battery life was. She immediatley emailed me about tickets to the fair (with wine tasting tix), and sent me an iGo Charge Anywhere.

Hey, I don't run advertising on this blog, but if you offer me an opportunity to drink for free and solve a pressing woe at the same time? You're getting a post. Does this suffice for disclosure? Good enough for me.

I'm not really into rides. I actually won't ride anything that completes a circle more than once. I will throw up. I don't do carnival games either. I have no place in the house for a 5 ft Sylvester. That leaves beer and food.

But as bad luck would have it, I was (and still am) on the Paleo Diet, otherwise known as the Caveman Diet. Basically, I can only eat meat, vegetables and fruit, i.e. whatever our hunter-gatherer ancestors could rustle up. No dairy, no sugar, no starch. Alcohol is also a no-no, but I want to lose weight, not my sanity, so, no. Beer is greenlighted in my version of Paleo.

I'm not sure if the Caveman Diet actually requires you to eat like a caveman, but...

Turkey legs are totally Caveman-compliant.

So are porkchops-on-a-stick. I have a personal rule: if it's cooked in a stick, I eat it. You think I'm kidding. I ate coccoons on a business trip to China back in '07 because they were lightly dusted with garlic-chili powder and grilled on a stick.

It's not a County Fair without people trying to sell you a hot tub.


In my opinion, it's also not a true fair without a fried dough stand. But I think that's a California problem, not an LA County Fair problem. People in CA are SO MISSING OUT because if you haven't had fried dough, you simply haven't experienced all life has to offer. Every carnival or fair on the east coast, no matter how tiny, has at least one fried dough stand. Funnel cakes don't come close. Don't even try to convince me. If anyone can tell me where in this great state I can find a hunk of fried dough, I will owe you for life.

Moving on...

I'm glad these guys bought "Awesome County Fairs for Dummies" and read that no fair is complete without at least one python molurus bivittatus, better known by its 3rd grade name, Freaky Albino Snake.

And it's always fun to get caught on the wrong side of the tracks...

Nearly getting squashed by a train makes you re-think your life. My immediate thought was, "you only go to the LA County Fair once a year. What's a little fried carb really going to do to my diet?"

Friends, when you fall off the wagon you might as well get mangled in its spokes. May I present to you the "Everything Fried" food stand:

Going back a fuller, carbier man.

Friends don't let friends wear thier jeans this low. If my gut relocated itself to my ass, I'd be a hotter man.All in all, it was a killer time. I only have one regret. I came on the wrong weekend:

But you? You can take advantage of the above. I'm giving away two general admission tickets (concerts are extra, but can you really put a pricetag on Hall and Oates? Or Bad Company?). Just leave a comment sharing your favorite fair/carnival junkfood indulgence by midnight Thu Sept 23 and I will do a random drawing on Friday morning.