Friday, October 1, 2010

Save Deep Fried for the Fair

There are few eating events we look forward to more than the NC State Fair. With fall in the air and this year’s fair around the corner, we thought we’d pregame at the new Carnival Delights in Durham. Specializing in, well, carnival food, we thought this would be the perfect place to wet our appetites for the upcoming 10-day fried food paradise (Oct. 14-24).

In order to feel like we ordered a legitimate lunch, we started with hotdogs and fries—these are really the only non-dessert items on the menu. One of us went for the foot-long chili dog with cheese fries and the other a regular dog with chili fries. The food was prepared to order so it came out fresh, but it wasn’t anything beyond your basic hot dog and fries—they probably don’t have places like Joe’s Diner or King’s Sandwich Shop beat in this category.
After getting fairly stuffed on taters and dogs, we moved on to what we’d come for—true carnival food. As usual, we’d done some scouting on their website and had our stomachs set on trying the cookie pops (a deep dish chocolate chip cookie on a stick), cotton candy, and funnel cakes. But likely due to the fact that they didn’t have many customers, they did not have a lot of the food items prepared and we were disappointed to find out they did not have cookies pops or cotton candy. After striking out on two, we went with our third choice—a sundae funnel cake served GWG style with ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.
The funnel cake was good and fresh—thick and cake-like but crunchy around the edges. The ice cream on top added a cold, creamy compliment to the greasiness of the fried dough—we’d never tried it that way but enjoyed it, leaving nothing more than a few crumbs. The end was certainly the best part of the meal.

Other offerings at Carnival Delights include SnoBalls in 19 flavors, regular ice cream and corndogs. We wonder how long a concept like this will make it, particularly in a location surrounded by tons of food options. We were honestly a little disappointed that they didn’t offer anything a little more adventurous (what of the fried butter, fried macaroni and other concoctions that show up at the fair each year?). Then again, maybe these treats are best saved for the annual trek to the fried food Mecca in Raleigh—a little grease can go a long way.

If nothing else, they would be smart to stay stocked with the small offerings on their menu or they will leave people walking away and not coming back. In this economy we know it’s tough, so we hope they will work out the kinks. You may also be advised to bring a can of Febreeze or you will end up smelling your lunch for the rest of the day.

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