No one comes to the Florida Strawberry Festival without sampling the local favorites: strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie and the works.
There’s more food tucked away in this little part of Plant City than most people know about, and many of the items are quite good. But some of the offerings that one can get on the festival grounds go beyond convention. If anyone’s feeling adventurous, read on to see some of the craziest, most unusual meals to be eaten over the 11-day festival.
DEEP-FRIED STRAWBERRY BURGER
This one’s not for the faint of heart.
Burger fans with a sense of adventure will want to find the Carousel Concessions vendor on the grounds near East Independent Street, because this offering isn’t so easy to come by anywhere else. To a degree, this burger is what it sounds like — a deep-fried hamburger served with strawberries — but it’s the little things that set it apart.
After this burger is cooked on the griddle, it’s coated in strawberry batter and deep-fried. Then, it’s placed on the bun, topped with bacon, strawberries and strawberry glaze, and customers can then order whatever toppings they’d like with it.
This one’s not terribly weird by definition, as it’s very similar to a peanut brittle. But, speaking in terms of peanut brittle, Strawberry Festival officials describe it as being unusual.
Unlike traditional brittle, Ambrosia candy is soft and flaky. This stuff can be found in the west grandstand exhibit.
FUNNEL BACON STICK
Bacon fans attending the Strawberry Festival will also be in the right place at the right time, as there’s no shortage of opportunities to load up on tasty “meat candy.”
One of the quirkier options on the grounds is the Funnel Bacon Stick, which can be bought at the Best Around stand at the grandstands entrance. This strip of bacon is placed on a stick, then dipped in funnel cake batter and cooked. It’s then topped off with caramel sauce to add a little sweetness.
KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUT BURGER
For anyone who ever believed that doughnuts would work better than hamburger buns, this is a dream come true.
This one is probably better-known as the “Luther Burger” around the country, because it was alleged to have been invented by deceased singer Luther Vandross. It’s a hamburger (or cheeseburger) served normally, but with two Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts in place of the buns.
This burger can be had at the Carousel Concessions stand, and the nearest heartburn medication can be found at the CVS on the corner of Baker and Alexander streets.
This one’s also easy to remember, because there’s only one vendor at the Strawberry Festival serving spaghetti.
Spaghetti Eddie’s, on the south side of the grounds, has probably every spaghetti dish anyone could want for sale. But the dish with the local twist is available only to an exclusive group: anyone who enters its eating contest.
They’ll take on the strawberry spaghetti, which is simply a spaghetti dish served in a strawberry sauce. Of course, since this is an eating contest, there will be a large amount of spaghetti slathered in a large amount of sauce in every dish. This one might only be for the bravest of foodie souls.
On Monday, March 2, Spaghetti Eddie’s will host the eating contest in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent at 5 p.m.
Gator tail is a Florida favorite, but many readers probably aren’t aware that people actually cook and consume them.
If tuna is the “chicken of the sea,” then it’s not inaccurate to think of gator tail meat as the “chicken of the swamp.” When cooked correctly, gator tail nuggets are white, moist and surprisingly flavorful. And indistinguishable from chicken nuggets at first sight. There’s a reason why it’s so popular down here.
It may also be the easiest thing to find: just remember that the Hungry Gator is serving the gator near the Armory back.
Also in the Armory back is Maverick’s Chocolate Barn, which should be any chocoholic’s first stop at the Strawberry Festival.
While it lacks the same visual appeal as the traditional chocolate-covered strawberry, Maverick’s chocolate-covered bacon is still a popular item. It’s simply a strip of bacon, dunked partly into chocolate, and these things tend to sell quickly.
STRAWBERRY TEXAS TATERS
It may look like a pile of potato chips, but a plate of Texas taters is actually more like a casserole.
These thinly-sliced potato dishes are a fairgrounds delicacy out West, and the Strawberry Festival’s version will be served with a drizzle of strawberry sauce on top. It’s a different take on a strawberry-potato combination usually seen at the Strawberry Festival’s Strawberry Mashed Potato Pie eating contest. And the nice thing is, this one doesn’t have to be eaten in a time limit. Head to McRath Concessions near East Independent Street if this sounds like a good meal.