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DINING: When boy meets soy at Indiana State Fair

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Dining - A&E

It’s the Year of Soybeans at the Indiana State Fair, a theme that carries over into the so-called “signature” food. And while the little wonder certainly contributes mightily to our regional economy, the mention of it doesn’t exactly send the salivary glands into manufacturing mode.

Still, as they do each year, organizers staged a signature food competition in conjunction with The Indianapolis Star. The top five dishes are available for purchase during the fair from their respective creators. Here’s what I found as I made the rounds to each of them:

For an appetizer, I started with the Deep-fried Tofu with Dip ($3) from Ulrich Concession inside the Ball State University Ag/Hort Building. But maybe I wrote that wrong. Is there a singular for tofu? Because all I could stomach was one of the oddly textured foursome skewered on my plate. The formerly healthful non-meat—made from tofu, of course—was deep-fried in soy oil to a crunch-free consistency. The spicy dressing provided to dip couldn’t mask the fact that this is, well, tofu.
 

Dining You can trust the American Dairy Association to create a simple, delicious grilled cheese sandwich. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Also in the skewered department, Barto’s Catering and Concessions concocted a delicious Honey Sweet Chili Garlic Soy Marinated Beef on a Stick with Sesame

Ginger Soy-infused Sauce. I just wish the guy in charge weren’t so rude about the whole thing, stating that the announced $2-per-stick price was only on Tuesdays and refusing to give the promised dipping sauce.

The American Dairy Association and the Indiana Pork Producers both strutted their stuff successfully. I was concerned when the Pepper Jack Sandwich on Sour Dough ($3) was handed to me so quickly from a warming tray at the Dairy Barn. But what I was so casually served turned out to be an ideally toasted (crunchy but not dark) sandwich of spicy melted-and-still-warm cheesiness. The soy connection is a bit of a stretch—the cheese is made with the milk of soy-fed cows—but that’s OK. Oh, and extra points for the pricing. No grilled cheese sandwich anywhere should cost more than $3.

The pork producers offer what they call a Bacon-Flavored & Fabulous Pork Burger ($5). Again, the soy-relation is tenuous—this time, the process began with soy-fed pigs. But the result, while not quite “fabulous,” is remarkably smooth, subtly (for State Fair food) flavored, and made all the better by tangy, thin barbecue sauce from Shoup’s Country Foods in Frankfort.

I almost skipped dessert, since I lean toward the non-chain offerings at the State Fair. But the powers that be awarded Baskin-Robbins a place in the pantheon for its Deep-fried Ice Cream ($5). It’s hard to argue with a dish of ice cream on a hot day at the fairgrounds, but here the crunch (fried in soy oil) and character were lacking. Perhaps I should have gone for the not-in-competition Deep-Fried Fruit instead.•

Lou Harry

__________

Next week, we return to this month’s series of reviews of new arts district eateries.

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  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

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