Off The Menu: Fair Trade Foods Stay Focused on Bacon, BBQ



While the opening day of New England’s “Great State Fair,” The Big E in West Springfield, is still several weeks away, state fairs across America have been underway since the middle of. summer.

Much of these oversized recreational and farming gatherings has been the halfway dining experience, an often outrageous assortment of ingredients and flavor combinations. With most state fairs canceled in 2020, the edibles midway through this year proved particularly creative and feature the outrageous, the over-indulgent, and even the downright odd.

Bacon and barbecue remain popular motives for fair dealers; Wisconsin State Fair this year featured chocolate bacon and blue ribbon cookies and barbecue stuffed sweet potatoes.

The Gator Claw On-a-Stick, a grilled alligator forearm drizzled with ranch dressing and served with the claw still attached, was certainly called “weird.”

A bit of all that comfort food distinguished the win-win chicken dinner served at Indiana State Fair by Urick Concessions. Dinner included mac and cheese, coleslaw, and chicken with popcorn served in a waffle bowl.

At the Iowa State Fair Oasis Concessions, the concessions created a sweet excess in the form of peanut butter, marshmallow fluff and cocoa krispies mixed together, frozen on a stick and dipped in chocolate.

Fried foods were important at the State Fair of Texas. The bacon jam corn bombs were a popular and shareable treat; Made from corn hushpuppies, they were topped with bacon jam, ranch dressing, and candied jalapeño peppers.

Cross-cultural flavors characterized the Texas BBQ Brisket Banh Mi, a sandwich that married Southeast Asia to the South of the United States. Baguette stuffed with ground beef brisket and barbecue sauce, the sandwich gets its Vietnamese flavor references from the cilantro, cucumber, daikon radish and grated carrot used to garnish it.

In the best tradition of crispy fries, a Texas State Fair dealer developed Deep Fried Ritz. Signature crackers are topped with a swirling strawberry cream cheese filling, breaded, deep-fried, topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkled with sweet Ritz cracker crumbs. A fresh strawberry garnish is offered as a final grace note.

The midway range of dishes for this year’s Big E is still largely a secret, although it has been revealed that The Big E Bakery will introduce a new surprise flavor.

For more information on the next Big E, visit

On Saturday, August 28, Champney’s restaurant at Deerfield Inn in Deerfield will host another of its “Fancy Nancy” Breakfast Series. Organized for young and old alike, the lunch will include a reading of the modern children’s classic “Fancy Nancy” by Jane O’Connor.

Those present are invited to “dress in a chic way”. A full children’s menu will be available as well as the restaurant’s regular offers. Reading will begin at 11:30 am, and reservations are suggested.

Champney’s will also offer “Jazz on the Patio” on Friday, August 27, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Ron Smith and the G Notes will be at his residence.

The reservation number for either event is (413) 774-5587.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store have added two new bacon-centric items to their menu.

Mac n ‘Cheese with bacon is now available as a side dish. It consists of macaroni and cheese garnished with pieces of bacon, green onions and Parmesan cheese.

Cracker Barrel introduced a Bacon n ‘Egg Hashbrown casserole that layers potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese. The casserole is finished with fried onions, diced tomatoes and green onions; buttermilk cookies are served on the side.

Both items are supposed to retain the “permanent” menu status.

Dairy Queen will mark the start of the pumpkin spice season on August 30 with the introduction, for a limited time, of a Blizzard Pumpkin Pie treat made with chunks of pumpkin pie and soft cream. vanilla.

Pumpkin puree and cinnamon-spice cookie butter are the flavoring ingredients that Dairy Queen mixes into their Pumpkin Cookie Butter Shake.

Both “Pumpkin Season” offers will be available at participating Dairy Queen stores starting August 30.

The Figaro restaurant in Enfield continues to offer “take out family meal specials”.

Sized to serve four or five people, the special take-out packages include ziti and meatballs, chicken parmigiana, zuppa mussels, pork loin with potatoes and vegetables or veal piccata with ziti. All packages include salad and bread.

Orders can be placed by calling the restaurant at (860) 745-2414.

Dunkin ‘has rolled out its seasonal fall menu items, and it’s no surprise that pumpkin spice dominates.

A range of pumpkin-flavored coffees and coffee drinks are currently available, along with a new pumpkin-infused coffee drink – a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew topped with cold pumpkin cream mousse.

Pumpkin glazed donuts are back in the baked goods storefront, as are pumpkin muffins.

A trio of apple-flavored items are also part of Dunkin’s fall lineup. They include an apple cider donut, Dunkin ‘apple and cranberry refreshment made from green tea, and a coconut and cranberry and apple refreshment made from coconut milk.

Teresa’s Restaurant in Ware will present “Chicago: Total Access” on Saturday September 11th.

The tribute show will include a cocktail party from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., a six-course family dinner of Italian-American dishes at 6 p.m. and a show at 8 p.m.

Tickets, which cost $ 50 (a price that includes taxes and tip), can be ordered by calling (413) 967-7601.

Like so many other businesses, seafood wholesalers who sell to restaurants are experiencing unprecedented operational difficulties.

Demand for seafood is unusually high as restaurants reopen at the same time as overall seafood production is declining. The result? Wholesale prices skyrocket, with some species doubling in price from pre-pandemic levels.

As a large portion of the seafood used in the United States is imported from South America and Asia, global supply chain issues are reducing supplies landed at US ports.

The seafood caught in the country is also affected by the widespread labor shortage facing the entire economy.

Restaurant owners are therefore faced with the unpleasant alternatives of increasing menu prices or accepting lower profit margins on seafood.

Fortunately, industry experts are predicting that prices have peaked and will start falling in September. However, they warn that fish and shellfish prices are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.

The Big Dinner Box at Pizza Hut is back.

A family-friendly package that includes two medium-sized, one-topped pizzas, five breadsticks, and a choice of pasta or eight wings, the package is a limited-time offer at participating Pizza Hut stores.

You can find more information about the large dinner box at

With more than 6,700 restaurants worldwide, Wendy’s has made the decision to aggressively embark on the development of “delivery only” locations. Earlier this month, the chain announced plans to open 700 “ghost kitchens” in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Ghost kitchens are restaurant food production facilities that do not have a customer service area or a dining area. Instead, they exclusively take care of delivery operations carried out either by third-party services or by a brand’s own delivery staff.

Executives at Wendy’s said the ghost kitchen plan is part of an effort to gain market share, as ghost kitchen locations will be located primarily in underserved urban areas.

Restaurant pop-ups aren’t big news anymore – unless they’re created by hospitality industry heavyweights like American Express and

These two organizations announced Platinum Coast, a “very first floating pop-up restaurant”. The 225-foot barge will be moored on the East River in New York City and will feature tables and semi-enclosed “cabins”. A team of celebrity chefs has been recruited to create the menus for Platinum Coast, which will run from September 17-21.

To reserve a table on Platinum Coast, a guest must be a member of the American Express Global Dining Access Program. Four hours of service – lunch, aperitif, dinner, and late night – are available daily, and each part of the day has a different prix fixe menu. A three-course lunch will cost $ 115 and dinner will be priced at $ 200 per person.

For more information on Global Access Dining, visit

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at [email protected].


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