The most anticipated two weeks of the season is finally here, The Fair at the PNE is open and running daily. And as always, it is serving up live entertainment, one of kind exhibits, a fully stocked marketplace, and of course plenty of new and interesting carnival eats. And in this post, I was invited down bright and early to check out the latter. So here is what is new and noteworthy, and what you can expect at this year’s Fair, for food.
For the more visual review, click the link below for my latest video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.
Our morning started out at the “Elotes and Totchos” where we had the perfect breakfast dish. Tater tots dressed like nachos in three different flavours. This is the “carnitas” with saucy pulled pork, onion, tomato, cilantro, and chipotle mayo. It tasted exactly as you expect it to: delicious! Crispy potato nuggets, juicy salsa, and luscious cream.
At the new “Revel District”, in the “Mexican zone” is the “Cerveza Bar” where you can get Mexican beers and fun cocktails. The former also included a limited edition release beer by local Vancouver brewery, “Parallel 49”. In honour of The Fair the brewmasters at “Parallel 49”, have created an easy drinking Mexican style beer. Made with GMO-free corn, a Mexican yeast, and a lower alcohol content. It fits the booth they are available at, and offers Fair goers and easy drinking beer. It is only available at their taproom and at the PNE, for the duration of The Fair.
If you are looking for a cocktail, they have one that is both tasty and fun. The “Tipsy unicorn” is glittery liquer flavoured in either an orange mango or blue raspberry. Each is mixed with vodka, and served with a billowing trail of smoke. This head turner drinks like juice.
At “Corn Dog King” they were playing off the popularity of ramen, by coating their dogs on a stick with it. Pork hot dogs, wrapped in cheese, dipped in a cakey batter, rolled in crushed up raw ramen noodles; and then deep fried for a salty, sweet, and crunchy treat. I was surprised by how much I liked this! This one is worth trying, the ramen adds something to it, besides calories.
“Rick’s Pizza” sells pizza by the slice, and this year they have more than just pepperoni and cheese. This is the “dill pickle pizza”, a thin crust with white cheese, plenty of tangy pickle slices, and a heavy dusting of dill. You must like pickles to enjoy this one. There is no masking itss distinct taste and no way to avoid it. This would be great with some beer and/or as a side to some barbecue.
At “Tin Lizzy Concessions” they are offering Fair goers “deep fried chicken skin”. Described as the best part of the chicken, coated and deep fried in an airy and crunchy crust. It was tasty, but a little too greasy and ashy for my tastes. I missed the juiciness that you get from fried chicken, after you have eaten the skin.
At “Jimmy’s Lunch” they were celebrating 90 years at The Fair, across 4 generations. Here we had their grilled onion beef burger with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and their ketchup relish. So simple, yet so good. If you are looking for something more filling, this is what I would recommend. Not to mention they have plenty of covered seated to shield you from either the sun or the rain.
At “Freakk Fries” you can enjoy the longest fries in North America. To date, they are the only place to get fries that are almost 5x longer than your regular sticks. Each order of crispy footlong fries is available in one of six different dressings and/or seasonings.
The garlic Parmesan is their most popular.
Chipotle mayo gives you double the spice with heat in the drizzle, and a shake or two of chilli flakes.
And the ranch bacon reminded me of eating a baked potato, but more travel-ready. They also have butter chicken, sour cream and cheese; and chocolate drizzled fries, for those with a sweet tooth.
At the “Rice burger” truck we enjoyed Japanese flavours sandwiched between two “buns” made from pressed and grilled white rice. It was basically a more portable way to enjoy “chicken katsu” and/or “beef yakiniku” over rice. The latter was easier to eat, but left me wanting more sauce, and a crunchy element like fried onions to give it some texture.
I preferred the flavour of the chicken rice burger with crispy fried chicken and tangy mayo, but it required you unhinging your jaw, in order to get the perfect full bite.
For even more pickles we headed to the “A Sweet Mind Candy Co.” booth to try their newest cotton candy flavour: pickles. A green tuft of fluff that smelled like pickles, but didn’t quite deliver on the punch of tangy, sour pickles. Great for those who actually don’t like pickles, you can enjoy its faint essence.
At the soft serve hut they were doling out butterbeer flavoured ice cream. I splurged and ordered it with smoke for whimsy, but was still disappointed by its presentation. I expected better branding, a cup more aligned with the “Harry Potter” franchise (where the flavour originated from). Or at least something similar to the photo on the booth itself. Though just as well, as I didn’t get to enjoy most of it. The clerk struggled to complete the dessert, flighting against how quickly it melted. It was messy well before it got to me, and as a result I wasn’t able to finish it. I don’t like trying to catch up to melting ice cream; most of it ended up over my hand. As for the flavours, it was like a watered down butterscotch, and the green wafer roll was coconut pandan; great on its own, but not complimentary to the soft serve.
In short, there are plenty of reasons to visit The Fair, and plenty to see and eat to keep you there the whole day. Come once a year, if not a handful during their very limited, two week run. Don’t deny your cravings.
PNE, THE FAIR
2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 5J1