Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2016
This year was a modest one for food adventuring at the Canadian National Exhibition.
Between work obligations and a different kind of adventure, I was only able to make it down to The Ex for one big session on September 4.
My spider-senses told me this wasn’t going to be a banner year for stunt food and, well, it wasn’t.
That said, I still knocked down some weird and crazy stuff. Here’s what I ate…
Fran’s Bacon Croissundae. This was a vanilla ice cream sundae with chocolate and strawberry sauce, stuck in the middle of a croissant, with a stick of bacon stuck in the middle of all of that. It was also my breakfast. The bacon was kinda unnecessary and this felt like a rare misstep for Fran’s. 6.1/10
Brewster’s Salt Water Taffy, Banana. Sarah had brought these home from a previous Ex trip. Although they’re pretty standard taffy strips, they’re from a genuine through-the-generations family recipe from an independent food purveyor, so points for that. 6/10
Raclette-Suisse. “Broiled Suisse raclette cheese scraped over a bed of crispy-fried potatoes and pickles.” For the simple pleasure of hot, melty cheese slathered on hash browns this was pretty great. 7.2/10
Canada Dry Cherry Vanilla Ginger Ale. If you’ve read any of my past C.N.E. food reports you’ll know all about my sadly failed attempts to escape the oppressive ubiquity of Coca-Cola products. It can’t be done, so instead I’ve chosen to embrace the adventure. Sometimes, like when you combine cherry and vanilla with your ginger ale, that adventure isn’t necessary. 5/10
Epic Burger’s The Churro Burger. It’s cheeseburger inbetween two churro “buns.” The burger itself was benign, but the combination of churro + burger wasn’t exactly harmonious. There was little structural integrity (it began to fall calamitously apart after two bites) and didn’t really make any sense. I ended up deconstructing the whole thing and eating the individual pieces separately.
Churro “bun”: 7/10
Churro “bun” with cheese stuck on it: 6.7/10
Hamburger patty: 6/10
The Churro Burger: 5/10
P.S. When I got my burger I was in line with a police officer who was buying the Krispy Kreme Hamburger (see my 2011 review). Cops really *do* like donuts!
Salted Caramel Fudge. Hitting up the fudge booth is one of my C.N.E. vices. The salted caramel may be the tastiest and texturally most awesome one I’ve tried yet. 8.3/10
R.I.P. Gene Wilder. I’m more of a Blazing Saddles person myself.
Championship Carrot. These are what championship carrots look like. The part I enjoy most about this is knowing that someone pulled those out of the ground and said to themselves, “These are fucking perfect. I’m totally going to enter them into the C.N.E. vegetable competition and win a goddamn ribbon.”
Butter Woes. Churning up the butter with my woes.
“Big Barrel Root Beer.” This was a bit of duplicitous fuckery. When I saw a couple of these “Big Barrel Root Beer” vendors around the grounds I was stoked. What was this strange new root beer? I had to have me some of this delicious new (not Coke brand) elixir. Then I bought some. It was just Barq’s Root Beer from a fountain tap hidden behind the barrel. Bullshit. 1/10
Eat My Bowl Roast Beef In A Bowl. It was just slightly gristly roast beef and gravy in a bread bowl. With some mild horseradish sauce. Meh. 6/10
Deep Fried Butter Tart. Deep frying things tends to make them more awesome in most cases. But when you deep fry a butter tart it mostly just erases the butter tart’s identity and leaves some gooey sugar pie slurry in the middle of some fried dough. It doesn’t suck, but it isn’t magical either. 6.4/10
Fran’s Blueberry Pie Milkshake. One of this year’s premier stunt foods, the Fran’s Blueberry Pie Milkshake featured a slice of real blueberry pie blended with real ice cream along with whip cream, rainbow sprinkles, Smarties, cotton candy, a chocolate wafer and an actual piece of blueberry pie on top of it. At no point did this thing suck — the pie was good, the wafer was fun and the actual shake was really good. It felt more like a mining expedition than a taste journey, though. First you had to deal with the cotton candy, then you had to navigate the cream ‘n’ sprinkle outer rim (getting sprinkles ALL over yourself). After that you had to break through the blueberry pie layer, until finally you were able to unlock the murky blue shake core. It was tasty, but it was also a chore. 7.1/10
Cookie Dough Me Deep Fried Peanut Butter Cup. Cookie Dough Me’s set-up is impressively locked down. They’ve already got piles of deep fried things — Oreos, cookie dough bits, peanut butter cups — on the ready in hot trays, looking to all the world like a series of trays of Chinese chicken balls. Except, instead of micro-squares of chicken surrounded by tasty batter, these have chocolate goodness. The peanut butter cup was surprisingly delicate, all things considered. Its butter cuppiness did, however, get diminished somewhat by the deep frying. 7/10
Bug Bistro Bug Dog. An all-beef frank blended with cricket protein and covered in Red Hot, lime slaw and mustard-roasted crickets. Before I started I picked off the roasted crickets that were the most “leggy.” I’d heard that the legs get caught in your teeth and that was the level of gross I wasn’t prepared to deal with. The hot dog itself was a bit greasy, but I couldn’t tell whether that was the result of reckless prep or the dog being greasy. And with the sly trick of putting crunchy coleslaw on the dog along with the roasted crickets it completely disguises any textural creep outs you might get from eating bugs. Basically, the hot dog tasted like a hot dog. And if you gave it to someone at a barbecue without it being covered in roasted crickets they’d probably have no idea they were eating a part-beef, part-bug protein wiener. 7/10
Things I ate at the CNE in 2015. Including Corrado’s S&M Burger and Iron Skillet’s Frosted Flakes Chicken On A Stick.
Things I ate at the CNE in 2014. Including Fran’s Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle and Coco’s Fried Chicken Cocoa Chicken.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2013. Including Nutella Jalapeno Poppers and the S’more Dog.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2012. Including the Chocolate Eclair Dog and Bacon Nation Nutella BBBLT.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2011. Including the Krispy Kreme Hamburger and Deep Fried Twix.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2010. Including Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag.
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