The 2012 State Fair of Texas opened September 28, celebrating with a festive theme called "Big and Bright." Blogger Brad Murano, founder of The Brad's Adventures in Food, went to the fair on opening night as he has nearly every year since 2005.
Rainy weather on opening night presented an obstacle, but he persevered. His mission: seek out, photograph and finally sample the finalists for the 2012 Big Tex Choice Awards.
"While not one of the Big Texas finalists, this 'cyclone potato' a.k.a. 'tornado potato,' was stil hard to resist," Murano says. A whole potato was placed on a stick, cut in a spiral and deep fried.
The deep-fried mac-and-cheese slider has macaroni with three cheeses that is baked, battered in bread crumbs and fried, then placed on a slider bun with a griddled beef patty. "I found that just a bite of the fried mac-and-cheese part was fine," Murano says. "I liked the waffle fries."
For the fried Mexican firecrackers, spicy chicken, cheese and jalapeno are wrapped in masa dough and deep fried and served with fiery TNT sauce. "I liked it," Murano says. "What can I say? The GF just looked at me. She passed."
The fried bacon cinnamon roll won the Big Tex award for Most Creative. Crispy fried bacon crumbles fill a cinnamon roll dipped in a sweet pancake batter, which is deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. "We nodded and smiled," Murano says. "Okay. Good enough."
The fried pork wing is a pork rib slow-cooked for six hours, lightly deep fried and coated with a smoked-bacon chipotle glaze. "It was fine," Murano says. "We had a few bites."
Picnic on a stick is a skewer with three alternating pieces each of spicy fried chicken, sliced dill pickles and tater tots. Then it's dipped in batter, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. "Ha! Yep! The GF wouldn't touch this one either," Murano says. "Meh. More for me."
Deep-fried jambalaya — jambalaya with shrimp, Cajun sausage and seasonings, coated in lightly seasoned flour and fried — is served with spicy ranch sauce. "This won the award for Best Taste," Murano says. "I agree — not bad!"