Once again, that time of year snuck up on me. The CNE was in town and for the first time in years I was not there for opening day. Maybe that is what cursed this year’s two visits? The press releases of sneak previews of fair food failed to impress this year. Of the 20+ items I read about only one caught my attention/was something I had never had before: the deep-fried butter tart. Yes I was excited about the deep-fried cookie dough (who wouldn’t be?) but I had tried it a long time ago while in the States, so it was not new. I was intrigued by the crispy mustard-fried crickets on a hot-dog but I could not get past the fact that they still retained their cricket shape. All I could imagine was their legs getting stuck between my teeth like the straw from corn. *shudders*
I resolved to at least walk by the bug stand and look. I assumed the line would be out the door, thus giving me an excuse to find something else to eat. Not so, there was only one customer. They had a display hot-dog and I couldn’t do it, I chickened out. My sister had wanted a sushi burrito from SU&BU and one of the items on the list had been their take on the fish & chips done sushi style. But somehow it just did not seem all that appetizing, crispy wonton chips with salmon and roe- on a hot afternoon at the CNE? Plus I would be stealing a bite of the sushi burrito (call it a delivery service fee) so why get two things from one vendor? I was down to item three on my list of maybe-trys: The lobster and steak bao sandwich. It was ok when you got a mouthful of both, but at times it was just bun. And the lobster was served cold, while the meat was hot, therefore both ended up lukewarm. It was not a bad sandwich, but it was not amazing nor was it that wacky. We did not have time to grab dessert as it was time to go to the aerial acrobatics and figure skating show. As usual it was incredible and they amped it up again.
I vowed to do a better job for dinner. The plan was to get a poutine corn dog (sliced up hotdog, cubes of cheese and hash browns, all skewered battered and deep-fried) for dinner, followed by a double dessert: deep-fried cookie dough AND a deep-fried butter tart. Alas, it was not happening. I left my other sister in line waiting for the cookie dough (there were at least 10 people in front of her) and went off in search of the poutine dog. I could not find ti listed on the map in the Food Building for the life of me. I resorted to going to the information booth and sheepishly asking about where to find the poutine dog and the deep-fried butter tart. As it turned out the butter tart was all the way back at the midway. It got relegated to next time. The poutine dog was sold out, it too would have to be next time. I walked by Bug Bistro one more time, but still could not muster the courage (?) to order it. Tired, I gave up and just got a corn dog from the midway. The food building was crammed and I was getting hangry. I shouldn’t have been ignoring my phone, it turns out there were three different flavours of cookie dough. I don’t know why no one had mentioned this in the articles? Thankfully my genius sister got one of each. Oddly enough the best one was the red velvet, followed by chocolate chip with brownie coming in a dead last as it was far too rich.
Even though I had walked the 8km to the CNE from my house the previous day, the following day I set back out again. This time we were going to the CNE with our dad. During the planning of our CNE outings it had not occurred to us that going to the CNE two days in a row might be overkill. I had a spending hangover and a combination fomo/disappointment regarding the previous day’s food fails. I was desperately hoping to make it up on round two. This time I would have the poutine dog for lunch and then something wacky for dinner, grabbing the deep-fried butter tart in the afternoon when we pass by the stand.
The poutine dog was a salty, disgusting, nauseating fail. It was epic, but migawd it nearly killed me. And yet I kept eating it. I would take a bite, make a face, pause, sigh… and pick up the stick and start the process over again. Much to the amusement of my sister. It came with a side of gravy that I could not enjoy but that got me thinking: why don’t corn dogs normally come with the side of gravy? And my poutine dog was not exactly complete: it lacked the hash browns! They had been forgotten!! And the cheese was flavourless and all it did was sink into ever crook and cranny of my mouth and stick there. It was unpleasant. We never did find the deep-fried butter tart stand. By the evening I was so tired and my legs ached. I could not stand the thought of waiting in a long line, even though the Japanese-style fried chicken looked amazing. I instead got a hot dog, there was no line.
The actual highlight, despite all the food fails and misses was buying a venus fly trap plant which I am now trying to keep alive.