Geddes, N.Y. — You know you’ve spent too much time at the State Fair when your sweat reeks of peppers and onions minutes through the first mile of this morning’s jog. And then at Mile 2, you lick your forearm because you catch a whiff of hours-old Utica Club beer (DON’T JUDGE ME!). And by Mile 3, the lamb from yesterday’s gyro reintroduces itself in ways you shan’t mention.
Yep, welcome to Day 18 of the New York State Fair. We’re hours away from the end of this oh-so-long run. It was fun, don’t get me wrong. The food and drinks here have never been better, and the dainty crowds have allowed us to get this cuisine without a wait. But it’s almost time to get back to normal.
So today, we’re preparing a menu that will help our bodies for the days to come. It’s time to get acclimated to life without Fair food. Consider this a State Fair detox.
I write about food for syracuse.com and The Post-Standard, and I relied on readers to tell me what’s good in Central New York. I met and dined with a dozen readers who offered their suggestions on the best food and drinks here. We’re going to leave you with a few healthy options, simply because we want to return to the 2022 State Fair.
Breakfast: Spruce Cowffee in the Horticulture Building ($6)
A reader picked up on my intolerance of lactose. She suggested I grab a cold-brew coffee with milk from Spruce Haven Farm in Union Springs.
The Guatemalan coffee has about 30% more caffeine than your typical cup of joe. It was roasted and ground at Paul deLima in Liverpool and then shipped to be cold-brewed at Beak & Skiff in LaFayette.
From there, they mix it with whole milk from their farm that’s been stripped of its lactose.
“It’s high in protein, low in sugar and lactose free,” said Doug Young, the inventor of Spruce Cowffee and owner of Spruce-Haven Farm. ”It’s perfect for before and after a workout.”
This morning boost is sweet, creamy, and it caused my sensitive digestive system no harm.
Lunch: Kachumbari salad at the Congo Box at the end of Restaurant Row, just beyond the West End ($5)
So many readers urged me to try this stand over the past several days. This food truck is probably in the worst location given to any food stand at the Fair this year. It sits in front of the Youth Building (CLOSED!) at the dead-end of Restaurant Row.
Christos Stelios, the chef of this stand out of Utica, specializes in grilling marinated meats, such as lamp chops and chicken. Readers say he makes a fantastic rice and beans.
Today, though, we’re being healthy. Kathy Goff of Camillus suggested I try the Kachumbari salad. This is a seemingly simple side dish that became my entrée. It’s a mess of uncooked cucumber, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and a few chili peppers. I didn’t detect any oil, just some lime juice perhaps. Regardless, my body thanks you.
This salad probably packs a whopping 80 calories, and it tastes so good. Thank you, Kathy!
Snack: Corn at Tadros’ roasted corn stand on Broadway, and another just outside the Dairy Products Building ($4)
All this walking around makes a person hungry. I ran into Monica Fobbs, who was here visiting family from Maryland. She didn’t want sausage. She didn’t want a wine slushie. She didn’t want a bacon bomb. She wanted an ear of corn.
That’s the beauty of this stand. You can get an ear of fresh local corn cooked in its own husk, and you can get it dunked in butter, or you can turn this ear into a Mexican street corn and have it painted with mayonnaise, butter and other spices.
I’m detoxing, so I went commando. No butter. No salt. Just corn. Monica went with the Mexican street corn. “Wow,” she said. “This is aMAZING!”
Dinner/Drinks: Greek salad with lamb at Kiki’s on Restaurant Row ($8, plus $2 for meat of choice) and a Day Trekker IPA from 42N Brewery in East Aurora ($6)
While I usually end my day with a gyro for the 12-minute ride home, I decided to give my tummy a break. Bob Cosselmon, the owner of Kiki’s, made me the traditional Greek salad. There is no lettuce here. Rather than a bunch of leaves, we started with a bed of cucumbers and onions. He mixed in a few chopped tomatoes and Kalamata olives.
Now this is where it gets stupid. I paid $2 for some lamb meat. This is the same lamb I have on my nightly gyro. The proportions were a little off, because I got enough lamb for at least two gyros. Listen, I’m not complaining; I’m just trying to be healthy here.
To finish it off, Bob plopped a bunch of his Tzatziki sauce and feta cheese over the veggies before drizzling some olive oil over everything.
Best salad I’ve ever had, in and out of the State Fair.
It went well great with the ‘Beer of the Day’ from the nearby Beer Garden. Erinn McDowell, the owner of this stand, picked this easy-drinkin’ IPA from Aurora because we all knew we needed to get ready to face life again. And for those of who didn’t really care about what tomorrow brought, she offered this as a way to ease into a good session.
>> The Ripcords, Noon at Chevy Court
>> Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, 1 p.m. at Chevy Park
>> Resurrection: A Journey Tribute, 4 p.m. at Chevy Court
>> Cheap Trick, 6 p.m. at Chevy Park
Tickets: Admission this year is $3 at the gate; children under 12 are free every day, and those 65 and older get free admission. The Fair will not accept cash at the gates this year. Buy tickets in advance on etix or use a a credit card at a nearby kiosk.
Hours: Door open at 11 a.m. each day this year, three hours later than previous fairs. The buildings close at 10 p.m., but the Midway shuts down at 11 p.m.
Parking: The parking lots surrounding the fairgrounds can accommodate more than 23,000 cars. Parking is $5 (advance sales or EZ-Pass) for all lots. They will not accept cash this year. (Click here for parking map and directions.)
Masks: Face masks are required for everyone inside buildings. If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear one outside. Workers will have masks available at each building’s entrance.
Other rules: You can bring coolers with food and non-alcoholic drinks. No pets are allowed, unless they are working dogs or in a competition. All bags, backpacks, coolers, purses and fanny packs are permitted but subject to search upon entry. You cannot bring firearms or other weapons, signs, roller blades, skate boards or bicycles onto the grounds.
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