Lobster, alligator and buffalo fried delicacies are among the eight finalists for this year's State Fair of Texas best tasting and most creative foods.
Fair officials in Dallas announced the finalists before sunrise Tuesday. Winners will be chosen Aug. 30 by a panel of celebrity judges.
The other finalist foods include fried cowboy corn crunch, with sweet corn, jalapeno, cream cheese and a hint of smoky bacon. Fernie's holy moly carrot cake roly has carrot cake coated with cream cheese. The Lone star pork handle includes a marinated chop, dipped in batter and deep fried. Pretzel-crusted pollo queso features shredded chicken, cheese and bacon rolled into a ball, crusted with pretzel breading and fried.
The smoky bacon margarita -- is self-explanatory.
Read about them in more detail below.
Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy by Abel Gonzales
For the first time in Big Tex Choice Awards history, lobster has made its way on the menu. Adding a flair of fair to a traditionally sophisticated dish, this seafood spread includes an entire lobster tail, breaded and deep fried to perfection. Served with a rich sauce combining lemon butter and Champagne gravy, the Chicken Fried Lobster is not your typical carnival concoction. With the lavishness of a lobster dinner and the fried factor of a traditional fair food, this dish will satisfy both a fondness for fanciness and a craving for the classics.
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Cowboy Corn Crunch by Isaac Rousso
In a state known for its cowboy culture, this creation captures the quintessential taste of Texas — all in one bite. A kickin’ mixture of sweet corn, minced jalapeño, rich cream cheese and a hint of smoky bacon, the Cowboy Corn Crunch is the perfect blend of savory and spice. This flavorful tot is fried to a golden, crispy brown and served in a unique palm leaf cone, proving especially convenient when walking while snacking around the fairgrounds. Get your taste buds ready, the first bite will knock your boots off!
Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest by Cassy Jones
Also making its Big Tex Choice Awards debut this year, alligator throws a whole new flavor into the mix. Giving fairgoers the true Cajun experience without having to travel all the way to the swamplands, the Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest blends rich alligator meat with Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, onions and garlic. This flavorful mixture is then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried to the perfect golden brown. Served atop a “nest” of shoestring potatoes and drizzled with a chipotle sauce, this dish will make you feel like a real ragin’ Cajun!
Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo
Taking a unique spin on a traditional dessert, this sweet treat turns carrot cake into a heaven-filled roll. Golden-baked bread swirled with cinnamon has been flattened and filled with moist carrot cake, plump raisins and crunchy julienne carrots. Rolled with a light coating of cream cheese and then breaded in a mixture of panko, graham crackers, cinnamon and nutmeg — holy moly this is far from your typical dessert! Drizzled with cream cheese frosting and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, this divine confection is served with extra caramel on the side as well as a caramel macchiato cream sauce.
Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo by James Barrera
Sweeter and richer than the highest quality cut of beef, buffalo meat is another “first” on the Big Tex Choice Awards’ list this year. This dish takes lean ground buffalo and gives it the Texas treatment — flavored with a Mesquite smoke and rolled in Pequin chili pepper, known as our state’s official native pepper. The meat is then crusted in crushed Corn Nuts® and dipped in a batter made from Shiner Bock Beer®, also native to the Lone Star State. Lightly dusted with bacon bits and served with a chipotle cream sauce, the Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo is a tiny taste of Texas.
Lone Star Pork Handle by Justin Martinez
Meat lovers are in for a treat with this hearty helping of deliciousness. The Lone Star Pork Handle takes a hand-cut bone-in pork chop, marinates it with a rich pork rub, then dips it in batter made from Texas' own Lone Star Beer®. The seasoned pork chop is then smothered in toasted breadcrumbs and deep fried to a crisp, golden brown. Finished off with a coat of bourbon barbecue glaze, this savory dish will leave you nothing short of satisfied. As defined in its name, the bone serves as a handle, making this item convenient and easy to carry!
Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso by Allan Weiss
With a hint of Tex-Mex in both its name and its flavor, the Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso is just the right amount of spice. Shredded chicken is combined with a rich blend of cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha sauce. Rolled into a ball and crusted with a crispy pretzel breading, this item is then deep fried to golden perfection. Served with a jalapeño ranch dipping sauce for an extra kick, this dish is crunchy on the outside while keeping its center perfectly soft and gooey for the ultimate savory experience.
Smoky Bacon Margarita by Isaac Rousso
An unconventional pairing of flavors adds a subtle smoky taste to a traditionally tangy drink. The Smoky Bacon Margarita takes the smokiness of freshly-cooked bacon and infuses it into a frozen lime margarita. With just a hint of smoke, this drink still captures the zesty citrus flavor of a traditional margarita. Finished off with a pinch of bacon crumbles on top, this thirst-quenching drink is served in a collectible souvenir cup for an added funky flair. Sip on this refreshing beverage and cool off from the Texas heat! Contains alcohol — must be 21 years of age.
Creators of these concoctions will compete for a chance to become a finalist for the title of Best Tasting and Most Creative.
"With more than 50 entries in the first round this year, deciding on the final few was far from easy," State Fair spokeswoman Karissa Condoianis said.
Judges for the competition will be Dallas Maverick Devin Harris, former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson, YouTube host Dan Rodo and restaurant owner John Tesar.
All proceeds from the Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony will be donated to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Program, which has awarded scholarships to more than 1,600 students for a total of more than $4.5 million.
The State Fair of Texas runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 18.
Online: 2015 Big Tex Choice Awards