Day 9 at the NYS fair: handpicked menu and program for the day
Geddes, NY – Arguably more people visited the fair on Friday than on any other day so far this year. The queues at some food stalls actually exceeded five and it took over 30 seconds to get a beer. This is a good thing.
Today you will have even more culinary options, with the return of food trucks. They’ll line up at Chevy Court from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and sell samples for $ 3. Unlike in recent years, this is not a food truck competition.
Menu of the day
I write about food for syracuse.com and The Post-Standard, I rely on readers to tell me what’s good in downtown New York. This is exactly what I rely on during the State Fair. I’ll take your suggestions and highlight the best food and drink here. If you eat or drink something that blows your mind, text me (315-382-1984) and I’ll give it a try. Heck, I might even join you for a meal and foot the bill. And that’s exactly what I did on Friday.
Entrance: Jerk chicken with a side of collard greens and an order of boiled peanuts at Henry’s Hen House in the Pan African Village ($ 18).
Kevin Henry Sr. has been cooking his Southern recipes at festivals, grills and other large gatherings for 14 years. It became so popular that he decided to open Henry’s Hen House at the State Fair in 2012. It has grown into a real family business with a dedicated following. At lunch on Friday, the line was regularly reconstituted with hungry people. I was one of them and I have to thank Bill Lydon and his fellow Syracuse firefighters for texting me about this booth. Their colleague at Station 2 on the north side is one of the cooks here: Greg Henry.
Kevin grew up watching his mother and grandmother cook. They are from South Carolina and her father was from Florida.
“When I was a kid I would rather watch them cook than go out and play with my friends,” he said during a post-grill break. “I was curious so I learned to cook. It was like magic.
Kevin designed his stand with an open kitchen for passers-by to watch them work. “It’s like ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’ You know, how can you see the Oompa Loompas making all that delicious candy? It’s the same thing.”
Watching them fry chicken and fish is like watching the Food Network. That alone is worth the price of this meal. Kevin’s suggested jerk chicken is slowly roasted with a homemade vinegar-based sauce seasoned with a variety of hot peppers and other spices. The Henrys use chicken thighs because they absorb the marinade better, resulting in a deeper flavor while retaining the peppery tang. An order that weighs more than a pound costs $ 10. You can get an order with two side dishes (normally $ 6 each) for $ 18.
I had to try the boiled peanuts. The shelled walnuts sit in a salt water bath overnight before going over the heat. Kevin uses one cup of salt for every gallon of water. He boils them for at least four hours.
“They end up tasting like a cross between salted potatoes and beans,” he said.
If you haven’t tried such a thing, you must. Kevin introduced the State Boiled Peanut Fair nine years ago when he brought 50 pounds of nuts. He sold then, so he brings in more each year. He now sells over 1000 books.
To drink: Guinness Draft Stout with Shamrock ($ 6.50). Peter Coleman, the longtime bar owner who helped turn the Tipperary Hill neighborhood into Syracuse’s own pub crawl, died on Wednesday. It’s only fitting that today’s menu features the fat Coleman who was a master in the art of pouring. Coleman once had a booth at the Fair just upstairs, where Bosco’s now stands.
The Shamrock, located on Broadway across from the Wade Shows Midway, is the only beer stand I could find that serves Guinness. Believe me, I spent a lot of time looking at each booth. It comes in a bottle, but owner Steve Sommers will happily pour it into a plastic cup for you, that way you would get it on St. Patrick’s Day at Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub. Sláinte!
>> Detailed daily schedule for Saturday, August 28
>> Stephen Phillips, 2 p.m. at Chevy Court
>> Waydown Wailers, 2 p.m. at Chevy Park
>> Vixen, 7 p.m. at Chevy Court
>> The Beach Boys, 8 p.m. at Chevy Park
The basics of the show
Tickets: Admission this year is $ 3 at the door; children under 12 are free daily, and children 65 and over have free entry. The Fair will not accept cash at the gates this year. Buy tickets in advance on etix or use a credit card at a nearby kiosk.
Hours: Door open at 11 a.m. daily this year, three hours later than previous shows. Buildings close at 10 p.m., but the Midway closes at 11 p.m.
Car park: The car parks surrounding the exhibition center can accommodate more than 23,000 cars. Parking is $ 5 (advance sale or EZ-Pass) for all lots. They will not accept cash this year. (Click here for parking map and directions.)
Masks: Face masks are mandatory for everyone inside buildings. If you are vaccinated, you do not have to wear one outside. Workers will have masks available at the entrance to each building.
Other rules: You can bring coolers with food and non-alcoholic drinks. Animals are not accepted, unless they are working or competing dogs. All bags, backpacks, coolers, handbags and fanny packs are permitted but subject to a search upon entry. You cannot bring firearms or other weapons, signs, roller skates, skateboards, or bicycles to the field.
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