The scone, elephant ear and funnel cake alone probably would have driven me to the food coma I’m currently experiencing, but I just had to take a bite out of the new desserts at the Puyallup Fair – fried apples with caramel sauce, a waffle cone filled with sweet potato fries and something called the “apple wallup.” Sound like a bit much? It was, but a dining critic’s job is to observe traditional fair custom on opening day – to stuff my face full of fried food until I reach maximum carb overload. I earned an A-plus in gluttony. Read on.
Brand new at the fair
The treat: Apple fries, $6.99
The taste: Think of apple fries as little mini pie balls. We watched as Granny Smith apples were cut into wedges, battered, fried and finished with a dusting of cinnamon, a swirl of caramel and whipped cream. The apples were just tart enough to balance out the sweet toppings – just like a perfect apple pie. I gave extra points for the counter workers who made the fries to order – which also means you may wait a few minutes longer than you want.
Find it: International Dessert Village, in the booth selling the candied apples next to the frozen yogurt stand.
The treat: Cowgirl Candy Cone, $7
The taste: I thought it seemed weird to put sweet potato fries in a waffle cone, but I suppose when you consider that the entire thing is portable and edible, it makes sense for easy walk-around eating at a fair. Hot fries were crammed into the cone and drizzled with marshmallow fluff and caramel sauce. The flavor was like the Puyallup Fair collided with Thanksgiving – it tasted something like a sweet potato casserole. All the components were there – sweet potatoes, the marshmallows and caramel standing in for brown sugar. All that was missing was your Uncle Al sleeping on the couch.
Find it: Lady Luck’s booth, near the South Sky Ride Station.
The treat: Apple wallup, $6.25 ($7.50 with ice cream or whipped cream)
The taste: I really wanted to like this, but the execution was so poor, it left us scowling at the $7.50 pricetag. The base tasted like a plain flatbread topped with an apple pie filling (like the kind that comes in a can). Ours was left in the oven too long and the edges were burned. The flavor was flat and plain. We opted for soft serve ice cream over whipped cream for a topper.
Find it: Just outside Barn J. The Dawg House is a few steps away.
The treat: Fair Scone, $1.25
The taste: A hot scone slathered with butter and raspberry jam – this is the official taste of the Puyallup Fair. My only complaint is that the Fisher Scone folks seem to use less jam than they did when I was a kid, although my complaint could be a case of memory trumping reality. The scone I had today tasted just a bit too dry and an extra spoon of jam really would have helped that. On the plus side, the scones were left in the oven long enough to brown up just right. Every year, this dessert proves to be the best food value at the fair.
Find it: You can’t turn a circle without finding a Fisher Scone booth.
The treat: Elephant Ear, $6.75
The taste: If you’ve never had one, an elephant ear is hand-stretched wheat dough that’s fried and covered with either cinnamon and sugar or raspberry jam. They serve it on a stack of paper towels for good reason – it’s messy and unwieldy, which also makes it perfect fair food. I forgot to order mine “half and half” with the cinnamon sugar on one side and jam on the other. That’s the way everyone should order it.
Find it: Throughout the fairgrounds
The treat: Funnel Cake, $7.95
The taste: You can go traditional with the powdered sugar topper ($6.25), but I decided to go big this year – a funnel cake with chocolate and caramel sauce. This was a Frisbee sized dough cake floating in a pool of caramel and chocolate syrup – good luck trying to finish this one. You might want to search around for a knife to make the cake easier to cut – or at least don’t try and eat this one standing up.
Find it: Throughout the fairgrounds
Note: Totally Fried – the epicenter for over-the-top fried desserts – was serving a limited menu when I stopped by around 2 p.m. I’ll be back to try the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fried bubble gum. Stay tuned for that report of culinary mayhem.
Tips: Bring cash because most vendors don’t take plastic. Please note that some food vendors include tax, others don’t. Expect sticker shock, except for the scone, these desserts were all expensive for the portion size – also true of most fair food. Pack hand wipes, sanitizer and a bottle of water before heading to the fair.
Our pledge to readers: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all her meals (even the bad ones).