by Ned Oliver
Amid the sea of funnel cakes, deep-fried candy bars and corn dogs at the State Fair of Virginia, a vendor out of Florida has assembled a list of new offerings that makes deep-fried butter sound passé.
With its menu, advertised on giant banners above the tent-based operation, D&J Concessions makes clear that it intends to win the annual battle of one-upmanship that dominates the fair food scene. And, for the most part, it does.
D&J's best new offering by far is the deep-fried ham biscuit ($4). It takes Pillsbury-style, tubed biscuit dough, wraps it around a piece of smoked ham and throws it in the deep fryer -- no batter necessary. The result is crispy, doughy and yes, very greasy. The simplicity (only two ingredients) makes it almost like eating real food.
Then there's the Twinx: a Twinkie that's been stuffed with a Twix bar, and then is wrapped in bacon before being batter-dipped and deep-fried ($7). The finished product is dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup. It's a monstrosity, but surprisingly good. The bacon adds a salty, meaty chew that manages to complement the Twinkie. But the whole thing could do without the Twix, which has a crunchy cookie center that only gets in the way of the confection's pleasant, spongy texture.
Food innovation has its limits, and the sloppy Joe served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut crosses all of them ($7). The presentation is nice: The doughnut's glaze glistens after a short ride on a flattop grill and a sprinkle of cheese adds color. Otherwise it's just as gross as it sounds. Canned sauce does nothing to complement the pastry's sweetness. The meat topping is too heavy for the makeshift bun, instantly turning it into a weird, soggy mess.
This might not surprise anyone, but I left Meadow Event Park with serious heartburn. So if you go to sample the culinary offerings, bring plenty of your favorite antacid to ensure a pleasant ride back to Richmond. D&J is located on the festival loop across from the BMX stunt show. The fair runs through Oct. 5. statefairva.org .