By Linda Bladholm
The Miami-Dade County Fair is in full tilt, and for many folks it's food that brings them. Enter the sprawling grounds and the smells of sugary sweetness, popcorn and smoked turkey legs waft on the air.
This year Pat Moroney, concessions director, brought in some new vendors. They live most of the year in mobile homes, working the fair circuit across the country.
Paul Paron copped his roast beef sundae from a cattleman who made a similar concoction at the Iowa State Fair a few years back. The sundae is made by slow-cooking top round until fork tender. The pulled shreds are sandwiched between drifts of mashed potato, smothered in brown gravy, sprinkled in melted bits of cheddar cheese and topped with a cherry tomato.
The Aussie shack is a tribute to meat pies, a hand-held pocket of piecrust stuffed with ground chuck or chicken wrapped around a thin layer of puff pastry. Rodney Bahr, a former construction worker based in Wisconsin, also sells beef sausage rolls and creamy caramel on a stick.
Blue Sky Creamery is the scientific result of Will Schroeder and T.J. Paskach, two chemical engineers who met at Iowa State University and invented a machine that freezes dairy custard into dense and creamy ice cream in a second. They only make vanilla, but you can get it topped with hot fudge, chocolate syrup or caramel.
Gene Koykas from New Jersey is a retired executive chef who started doing fairs two years ago. He serves up Swedish meatballs in dill sauce, Belgian waffle sticks with jam and paninis, plus smiley fries shaped like a happy face with the texture of mashed potatoes under a golden crust.
Gary Bailey is the picture of health with his salad and wrap stand. He offers fresh greens with a choice of toppings from candied pecans to strawberries and choice of homemade dressings. From savory sundaes to instant ice cream, there's something new to try this year at the fair.
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Belgian Waffle Sticks. Photo: Linda Bladholm