It’s that time of year again in Vancouver, The Fair at the PNE is taking place and no trip to the fair would be complete without some of the new treats and family favorite dessert items to be eaten. I was happy to be invited this year by the PNE’s Media Relations Team along with some of my favorite food bloggers (Sherman of Sherman’s Food Adventures, 604foodtography, The Food Queen and Alvin Lee) to check out some of the highlight’s of this years Fair at the PNE.
We started our tour in the Showmart Building with a stop at the Monkey Butter booth owned by Gillian and Kathleen Gook. They are a small, local East Vancouver business that was started in a home kitchen in 2011. Monkey Butter specializes in uniquely flavored, high quality small batch peanut butter. We were given samples and the standouts for me were the Bacon PB and the Salted Caramel PB. As we were leaving they were kind enough to hook us up with a sample jar of peanut butter. In my case I was given a jar or White Chocolate and Raspberry PB, it tasted like a PB&J sandwich without the bread!
Next up we stopped by the Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes booth. Every year they serve up different, creative deep-fried treats like deep-fried Oreos, jelly beans and pop tarts. This year they’re introducing a couple of new treats to widen people’s waistlines.
They have taken the traditional funnel cake and topped it with whipped cream, crispy bacon and real maple syrup. If your going to have a funnel cake this is the way to have it! What made this a winner for me was the light and airy funnel cake mixed with the whipped cream, bacon and maple syrup it really was a great bite, I enjoyed it so much I went back for seconds.
The other new treat this year is a Canadian classic with a twist-the deep-fried wagon wheel. As a kid I enjoyed these but since then I haven’t indulged so when I saw there take on them I was interested to see what it would be like. Well it tasted alright but the deep-fried part felt secondary and didn’t enhance the wagon wheel, also I had no Idea why the Fruity Pebbles were there but they added some nice color.
Just down the path past the PNE Prize Home is a booth owned by Ken Powers of Powers Chocolate. The sign up top say’s Fountain’s and Fruit’s and by fountain’s they mean this:
A 5 tier chocolate fountain, well make that two of them! One spewing milk chocolate and the other dark chocolate.
They have a selection of fruit kabob’s as well as marshmallows that you can have coated in some pretty great chocolate. If you’re a chocolate and nut lover try the milk chocolate covered marshmallows then doused in ground walnuts, it wasn’t overly sweet and the marshmallows are nice and light. If chocolate dipped things aren’t your thing they have drinking chocolate for you enjoyment.
Time for some gelato from La Casa Gelato. La Casa has a huge store in East Van with 200+ flavours and has attracted the attention of Martha Stewart and CNN, I’ve been a couple of times since I lived close by growing up and let’ just say it’s an experience. This year at the fair they’re featuring Bacon Maple Gelato as well as Durian Gelato along with a wind selection of other flavors.
I’ve never eaten durian before but I have this a try. Sherman put into words what my taste buds couldnt-fruity gameness! After this I tried the bacon maple and I wasn’t a fan, the bacon was mushy and the gelato wasn’t set up totally.
Our last stop on this fair food feast was Granny’s Foods. Hailing all the way from the great state of Texas this is there 1st time at the Fair at the PNE. Granny’s specializes in dessert treats and were put on the map big time last year with deep-fried Coke! So not to be outdone they’ve brought us deep-fried Kool Aid and deep-fried cheesecake.
My favorite was the deep-fried cheesecake hands down. It had a flaky coating and a sweet, creamy inside, they also sprinkled some cinnamon on it. They also sell chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick that I think would be great if you’re a cheesecake lover.
You might ask how do you deep fry Kool Aid?
It all starts as a batter flavored with super concentrated Kool Aid, it looked like tub of what I was going to need after all this fried food.
And then you get this, I will say it’s better than the fried butter craze a couple of years ago but the cherry flavor didn’t work for me.
With all of us feeling the need to eat something savory BBQ was in order-plus our tour ended right next to what I call BBQ Lane. The Food Queen and myself got some BBQ treats from Smoke and Bones.
The Food Queen’s sandwich was packed with pulled pork, she said it was quite delicious and hit the spot.
My choice was called the Robson Bite-1/3 rack of Pork Ribs and your choice of Beef Brisket or Pulled Pork for $13. The meat on my ribs was moist but the messy cut of the ribs didn’t appeal to me. My beef brisket on the other hand made up for the messy cut ribs, it was smoked beautifully and was nice and juicy. The sauce they used was just alright and could have used more tang or zip.
Sherman went with a new entry this year to the PNE’s BBQ Fest, the Smokin’ Babes.
For $22 Sherman got a 2 meat and rib plate, the 2 meats were pulled pork and beef brisket. I sampled his plate and I have to say that his meats were dry and stringy, the beef brisket lacked the signature bark BBQ is known for. While the ribs were cut beautifully and the meat ample and came away from the bone cleanly they also were on the dry side. Sauce wise they had a winner there that’s for sure, it has a slight sweetness and tang to it. In a perfect world my meat on my plate and their sauce would have been a great combo.
At the end of the day I had fun hanging out with my friends and getting to sample the treats at the PNE. If you’re in the mood for some deep-fried fun then that’s the place for you!