Food & Drink

Top five fun foods at the 2016 Miami-Dade youth fair

This year was Gregory Thompson's first time eating an elephant ear and visiting the fair.
This year was Gregory Thompson's first time eating an elephant ear and visiting the fair. cportilla@miamiherald.com

The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition is known for its rides and kids’ art, but many visit just to try the fun festival foods.

This year, the fair marks its 65th anniversary and, as part of the celebration, it’s introducing alcoholic beverages and offering 170 food and drink stands for patrons to choose from. Of course, all are delicious and vary from conch and seafood to corndogs and barbeque.

Here are this year’s top five, must-try fair foods:

▪ Elephant Ears

Jane Harris, also known as “Mama Jane,” has worked the elephant ear stand for 32 years. Now she’s the kitchen food director and responsible for creating new concoctions with her famous funnel cakes and fried-dough elephant ears. Harris is also credited with creating the pizza funnel cake that went viral on social media, and most recently created a cream and guava topping for her deep fried elephant ears. Another new food item is her “funnel-bacon-on-a-stick,” a slice of thick bacon smothered in batter and topped with a maple syrup sauce she whipped up.

An elephant ear with guava and cream will cost you $7.

▪ Arepas

Thirty years ago, Richard Bello’s dad began working festival crowds through his stand Arepa Queen, with its famous arepas de choclo. Arepas are a staple in countries like Colombia and Venezuela. As a native of Bogota, Colombia’s capital, Bello’s company is known for its circular flat corn patty made with sweet maize (corn) and farmer's white cheese in between, typically grilled on a stovetop grill or flattop until the cheese melts. Arepa Queen is also the premier arepa vendor for the Goya Food company and is currently working on a gluten free version, which is due in the coming months.

One arepa will set you back $5.50. If you buy two, you get one free.

▪ Pinchos, Chuzos

Food on a stick is a popular fair item. Sonia’s Latin Food is serving up skewers known as pinchos or chuzos, with grilled pork and beef chunks. Sonia Amitrano and her husband, Ralph, have been fair vendors for the last 20 years. They specialize in bringing an array of Cuban-inspired dishes. Their bestseller is the beef pincho. They also sell “chicharron” or pork rinds, another popular item among fairgoers.

A beef or pork pincho costs $8 and the chicharron bowl costs $7.

▪ Lemonade

Darrel Desgranges from Land O’ Lakes, Florida, has been working with the Netterfield company for 30 years. Now, as the unit manager of the corporation, he’s quenching thirsts with his signature lemonade at fairs and events. A perfected recipe of lemon juice, water, sugar and ice, he says most people think the ice may be too much but he’s got it down to a science. Once the ice melts the remaining water is the perfect balance for the lemon and sugar. What’s the secret to making the perfect lemonade? It’s all in the shake, Desgranges says, making sure to mix all of the ingredients together for a perfect drink.

A regular cup of lemonade is priced at $4 and a souvenir cup is $7.

▪ Corn on the Cob

Michael Kramer’s grandfather started his corn-on-the-cob stand in 1971 and is one of the longest-running concession stands at the fair. Now, he sells hundreds of ears a day and has a line of over 15 employees ready to serve the hungry crowds. Corn is also one of the few vegan options at the fair and Kramer also added new toppings to the yellow kernels. The Mexican corn is cob dipped in butter and topped with crema, chili power, limejuice and Parmesan cheese. Another popular favorite is the elote en vaso or corn in a cup mixed with mayonnaise and other spices.

Prices for corn vary from $4 for regular corn, $5 Mexican corn and $5 for the elote en vaso.

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If you go

▪ What: Miami-Dade County Youth Fair

▪ Where: Tamiami Park, 10901 SW 24th St. (Coral Way)

▪ When: Through April 10, except March 28-29 and April 4-5

▪ Cost: admission is $14, free admission for kids to age 5 and seniors 65 and older

For more information, visit www.thefair.me

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