You'll be able to order a whole lobster tail, fried and served with lemon-butter Champagne gravy, at the State Fair of Texas this year. Maybe everything really is bigger here.
Expensive, too: Fried lobster concessionaire Abel Gonzales says his new dish will be "by far the most expensive dish I've ever created, and possibly the most expensive dish at the fair this year."
[UPDATE: It will cost 60 coupons, or $30. Yes, $30 for a dish at the State Fair!)
It's the first year the fair has served fried lobster. Ditto fried alligator and fried buffalo. Those foods are but three of eight Big Tex Choice Awards finalists. It's the 11th year the State Fair of Texas has hosted the food contest, which has seen some seriously strange creations over the years such as fried butter, fried Thanksgiving dinner and fried Pop-Tarts.
Here's a look at this year's State Fair of Texas fried finalists:
- Chicken-fried lobster with Champagne gravy: Concessionaire Abel Gonzales dreamt up a "seafood spread," says the fair, of breaded and fried lobster tail served with lemon-butter Champagne gravy. (And yes: The gravy actually has Champagne, from France, in it.) Whereas fried lobster used to be a delicacy at fine-dining restaurants such as Dallas' Fearing's, now it will be available outside, from a State Fair of Texas street vendor.
- Cowboy corn crunch: In one bite, you'll get sweet corn, jalapeño, cream cheese and bacon, "rolled up like a tater tot and fried," says Isaac Rousso, whose fried Cuban roll won "best taste" last year. Rousso has two finalists in the Big Tex Choice Award -- a rarity.
- Fried alligator: Remember when an alligator ate a Texas man? Now you can be a Texas man (or woman) eating alligator. Concessionaire and chef Cassy Jones combines alligator meat with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, onions and garlic, all deep fried. Each morsel is served atop shoestring fries and drizzled in remoulade. It's Jones' first time as a Big Tex Choice Awards finalist, though she's been serving her famous fried collard greens at the fair for years.
- Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake: This sweet treat is cinnamon bread, flattened and lined with carrot cake, raisins and carrots, then rolled. The pastry gets coated in cream cheese and finally breaded with sweet ingredients such as graham crackers and nutmeg. The dessert is named for concessionaire Christi Erpillo's mom, Fernie. Erpillo goes by @thefryqueen and is famous for her deep-fried peaches and cream, the fair's "best taste" winner in 2009.
- Fried beer-battered buffalo: You've never had fried buffalo at the State Fair of Texas before. Concessionaire James Barrera is glad to be back with his first finalist dish since he was a Big Tex Choice Awards winner in 2005 for fried ice cream. His new dish is ground buffalo coated in Pequin chili pepper, crusted in Corn Nuts and fried in Shiner Bock batter. It comes topped with bacon dust -- or "magic dust," as Barrera puts it -- and chipotle cream dipping sauce.
- Lone Star pork handle: The handle part? That's the bone that you hold to eat this fried pork chop with bourbon barbecue glaze. It comes from Justin Martinez, creator of 2014's "most creative" item, funnel cake beer.
- Pretzel-crusted pollo queso: Concessionaire Allan Weiss takes shredded chicken and combines it with cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha, then fries it. It comes with ranch dressing. (Because ranch.)
- Smoky bacon margarita: The only drink on the list, Rousso's margarita is mostly not fried. It's a traditional margarita, made for 21 and up only. The fried part comes in with the bacon crumbles. ("Of course the bacon is fried," Rousso says. He's a veteran of the fried food contest.)
All of the new finalists will be available for purchase at the State Fair of Texas, which runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 18 in the Fair Park neighborhood of Dallas.
Prices aren't yet available for the dishes; we'll report soon on how much that fried lobster will cost -- in addition to prices of the others.
One will be crowned the best-tasting new fried food at a special competition at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 30. A second will receive the "most creative" title, an honor bestowed upon fried bubblegum (2011), fried beer (2010) and fried latte (2007), to name a few.
Judges include Dallas Mavericks player Devin Harris, former Dallas Cowboys player Drew Pearson, YouTuber Dan Rodo, chef John Tesar and Dallas Councilwoman Tiffinni Young.
Fairgoers who want to sample all the fried finalists on Aug. 30 can buy tickets for $100 online. One of the audience members will be selected, randomly, as a judge. Consider it the ultimate battle of the bulge.
Find a full calendar of of State Fair events here.
Take a look at how the bacon margarita and the cowboy corn crunch are made:
Some of the wacky foods from 2014 were fried Sriracha balls, fried bluebonnet and funnel cake beer.
Peek at the 2015 fried foods in this photo gallery:
Follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.