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Squid-ink, mac-and-cheese and a riff on pho among PNE treats to try

Squid ink Korean corn dogs, mac-and-cheese ice cream, pho tacos, bagel-themed street corn and a cotton candy-noodle dish are among the new taste treats at this year’s fair

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Most people aren’t sure what awaits when they bite into a Korean corn dog infused with squid ink and mozzarella.

Or lick from a cone filled with mac-and-cheese flavoured soft ice cream, bite into a bagel-themed cob of corn, try a Nanaimo bar mini donut or mix cotton candy and Shanghai noodles in a salty sweet chicken-veggie dish you might call dinnsert.

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“People don’t know what to expect, it’s not like any other corn dog,” said Karlye Dennis, who with her husband Scott have run their Little Coco’s Corn Dogs food truck at the PNE for 12 years.

The Korean squid-ink midway treat is, fair organizers say, one of the most talked about new dishes at the Pacific National Exhibition, which runs until Sept 5 except for Monday when it’s closed.

The corn dogs are flayed to look like a squid, cheese is added then the whole thing dipped in inked batter and Panko crumbs.

Karlye Dennis of Little Coco’s Corn Dogs in action with the Korean Squid Ink Corn Dog during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Karlye Dennis of Little Coco’s Corn Dogs in action with the Korean Squid Ink Corn Dog during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Close by, Seanna Pascal was whipping up portions of cotton candy noodles at her Noodle Bar truck.

It might sound crazy but you shouldn’t judge until you give it a try.

“Some people eat the cotton candy first, then the noodles,” Pascal said, which is frustrating after the R&D that went into finding just the right fusion combos of sweet fluff with savoury and tangy noodles in umami teriyaki sauce.

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“I tell them, ‘Oh, you’re supposed to mix in the cotton candy.”

Seanna Pascal of the Salt Spring Noodle Bar in action with the Cotton Candy Noodles during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Seanna Pascal of the Salt Spring Noodle Bar in action with the Cotton Candy Noodles during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

A Cree-Salteaux from Saskatchewan, Seanna has worked in the food truck for 11 years and owned it outright for five. Her noodles are made fresh every day, it’s the only hot-food concession at the fair that does not use any form of cooking oil (she uses water exclusively) and that is 100 per cent Indigenous owned.

“I was looking for fair food with noodle boxes,” Pascal said. “It’s a neat pairing, the cotton candy on top evens everything out. People are intimidated at first, but they try it and like it, and it’s fun.”

Tod and Cole Marchant tried a lot of combos before settling on their mac-and-cheese ice cream offering at Soft Serve. The Summerland couple, at their 27th PNE, introduced fairgoers to butter-beer ice cream in 2019 and cotton-candy ice cream last year.

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The mac/cheese ice cream is more peach coloured than the deeper orange of cheese sauce found in, say, KD, and the cheesy flavour is subtle, almost muted at first and a bit peppery.

And no, there is no ketchup add-on available — the Marchants are mac-and-cheese purists.

Cole Marchant of Summerland Soft Serve with the Mac and Cheese Soft Serve ice cream in action during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Cole Marchant of Summerland Soft Serve with the Mac and Cheese Soft Serve ice cream in action during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

“It took a couple of years to figure it out and make it edible,” Tod said. “If you can wrap your head around it, it tastes pretty good.

“The more you eat, the more it tastes like cheese.”

Again, don’t knock it till ya try it.

Giang Nguyen of The Taco Tigre with the Brisket Beef Pho Taco in action during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Giang Nguyen of The Taco Tigre with the Brisket Beef Pho Taco in action during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Giang Nguyen over at Taco Tigre took traditional street food from Mexico and fused it with his native Vietnamese pho for delicious tacos, which on Wednesday was a beef brisket with bean sprouts and hoisin sauce over fresh corn tortillas.

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“I come from a culture of street food,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been to Mexico maybe 10 times and I love the food there. It’s hand-held, easy to eat and tastes great.

“I like the spices, the hot sauce, and it’s very convenient, a taco is not a large meal, and I wanted to meld the two countries’ food.”

Giang Nguyen of Roasted Revolution in action with the Japanese Aburi Street Corn during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Giang Nguyen of Roasted Revolution in action with the Japanese Aburi Street Corn during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

He also owns Roasted Revolution, which makes Japanese aburi street corn, firing up a blowtorch to melt the cheese and Japanese mayo, one of two new dishes along with a bagel-themed aburi cob with cream cheese, poppy and roasted sesame seeds, and dried onion and garlic.

Both new offerings have been popular with Roasted Revolution selling about 700 a day since the fair opened on Saturday.

Raj Kainth in action with the Signature Samosas during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Raj Kainth in action with the Signature Samosas during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

And speaking of popular, Curry in a Hurry is still making its signature samosas, and making its 40th PNE appearance since Raj Kainth’s parents began the business 42 years ago. Today their son Raj runs things with help from his wife, son, nieces and nephews, and his mom Vipal still in the food truck, still making samosa dough by hand, still using a secret recipe.

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As times and diets change, so has the food at the fair.

Bailey Marshall of Acai Dude in action with the Smoothie Bowl during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022.
Bailey Marshall of Acai Dude in action with the Smoothie Bowl during a media event to promote the new dishes available this year at the PNE in Vancouver, BC., on August 24, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Nothing is evidence of that more than Acai Dude (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), the brainchild of transplanted Californian Bailey Marshall.

Originally from San Diego, she was vacationing in Bali four years ago where smoothie bowls proliferate and where also there was this character on the beach who would walk up to friends and say “Aw-saw Dude,’ as in what’s up.

Her food-truck name suggested itself, Marshall said.

“I thought Acai Dude would be a really good name for an acai bowl, I thought for sure the name would be taken,” she said, offering a reporter a bowl of her signature Acai High, which like everything she makes is vegan/vegetarian (coconut milk instead of dairy, for example).

Presentation is as important as taste, she added, and it seemed almost a crime, like digging into a work of art.

Almost. It was delicious.

gordmcintyre@postmedia.com

twitter.com/gordmcintyre


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Squid-ink, mac-and-cheese and a riff on pho among PNE treats to try Source link Squid-ink, mac-and-cheese and a riff on pho among PNE treats to try

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