We visited the Butte County Fair for its closing day on August 28th, and couldn’t resist the temptation of the mouth-watering foods over there. Our first stop was Capital Cookery owned by Lucky Henner. This place has all the feel of an all American Diner.
If you’d like a change of pace from deep-fried, you probably don’t want to look any further than Capital Cookery. The stand caught our attention as we walked into the fairgrounds; its bright colors, lights and pictures of giant hot dogs and chili fries was enough to get our attention. The closer we walked, the aromas from the grill drew us in. When we arrived at the counter, we were greeted by a smiling server who was more than patient while we decided if we wanted fries with our order or not.
The cooks at Capital Cookery leave the deep fryer in the back for the fries, and they cook everything else right out front on a fire grill. Serving up Hot Dogs, and half pound hot dogs, Polish Dogs and Hot Links, Chips with Cheese, Curly Fries, Jalapeno Cheese Fries, and Garlic Fries, Chili/Cheese Fries, nobody leaves this stand hungry.
The staff, like everyone else we encountered at the fair was very friendly; they’d wave at passengers as they’d pass by on the Fair’s choo-choo train, while the conductor encouraged them to grab a bite at this hot spot.
Obviously, this stand specializes in sausages, so our choices were simple. Andrew ordered a half-pound Polish dog and I had the half-pound hot link. They’re not kidding when they call it “half-pound” – these links are literally a foot or more long! So, we decided we should leave room for dessert, and did without an order of fries.
And we weren’t disappointed.
Our cook grilled up some seasoned onions and green peppers along with our two half-pounders, then presented them on soft white buns. The links were far longer than the buns, but we didn’t mind at all.
The Butte County Fair offers plenty of seating and large picnic tables throughout the fairgrounds. We enjoyed listening to the live music playing and watching people dancing while we relaxed and bit into these masterpieces.
The peppers and onions were perfectly seasoned, and released a pop of flavor when bitten into. The links were plump and juicy with a perfect snap. Andrew topped his Polish Dog with mustard and ketchup, and I topped mine with relish and mustard. These links paired up with a Horchata for Andrew and Diet Coke for me were the perfect lunch on a very hot day at the fair.
After lunch, we continued through the fairgrounds and came across a Gypsy fortune teller. I suddenly saw mochas in our future. As unique as this stand is, it seemed like the perfect spot for an afternoon iced coffee drink. As it turned out, the Coffee Gypsy’s menu is as unique as its stand.
Consisting of eight coffee drinks, and an iced tea, the menu includes the Mystic Mocha, consisting of a dark chocolate and espresso, the Checkered Past Mocha, a combination of white and dark chocolate in espresso, the White Magic Mocha, a sweet white chocolate and espresso, or the Lusty Latte, which is a typical latte just with a funny name, the Raspberry White Mocha, a combination of sweet white chocolate and raspberry syrup, the Mexican Mocha, Mexican chocolate and espresso, or finally the Banana Split Mocha, consisting of dark chocolate, bananas and vanilla extract. The Gypsy also serves regular coffee and Raspberry Iced Tea.
For years, the latte was my coffee drink of choice, but more recently I’ve discovered that I love a good mocha. The basis for any good coffee drink is high-quality, robust coffee with a richness that’s not too heavy. Combine with it a high-quality chocolate that’s not too sweet or too bitter, and you’ve got the makings of a mocha at The Coffee Gypsy.
And if you’re wondering, The Coffee Gypsy isn’t really run by Gypsies, but the people behind the counter are as friendly as your local coffee house baristas. We had a great time just chatting with them about their unique stand and menu. And just like your neighborhood coffee shop, the friendly ladies at the Gypsy recognized us when we went back to the stand later in the day to let them know we had just reviewed their fine, mystic concoctions.
Although I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, the Checkered Past Mocha caught our attention. Andrew opted for an iced mocha, while I preferred mine blended. For an extra .50 cents, the Gypsy will blend the ice in your coffee until it’s a smooth, milkshake-like texture and top it with real whipped cream.
A perfect break on a hot day, the Gypsy’s coffee worked its magic, and we were soon feeling its cooling effects. This was one of the smoothest, richest and robust coffee drinks we’ve had in a long time. The perfect blend of white and dark chocolate tickled our taste buds with a sweet, chocolatey sensation that was neither overbearing nor flat. Having lived in San Francisco for a decade, I’ve had the luxury of sampling some of the finest coffee bistro’s in the state, but The Coffee Gypsy moves to the ranks at the top of the list. Actually, just visiting their stand was reminiscent of the old days in San Francisco, and now that I’ve found a new favorite coffee spot, I can say I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco.
As the day wound to its end, we were about to leave when we remembered that we left room for dessert, and it really wouldn’t be a “fair experience” without something sweet. Of course, no fair is a fair unless someone’s serving something dipped in chocolate. And, that’s precisely what we found at One Stop Ice Cream Shoppe. This nostalgic ice cream stand serves Soft Serve Cones, dipped cones, Waffle Cones, hot fudge sundaes with optional brownie, shakes, malts, floats, freezes, splits, dipped frozen bananas and dipped cheesecake.
Yes, I said cheesecake… which is what Andrew ordered. I sampled a banana split.
Imagine a generous slice of rich and smooth New York Cheese Cake encased in a hardened chocolate shell and topped with nuts; the chocolate combines with the cheese cake and melts in your mouth, juxtaposed by fresh, chopped nuts for a crunchy finish. You’ll need to unbutton your pants for this one – this rich dessert is hearty and bold, and will satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth.
The banana split was reminiscent of the ice creamery of yesteryear with three large scoops of ice cream framed with a fresh banana and topped with chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrup, fresh strawberries, real whipped cream, and finished with more chocolate syrup, chopped nuts and sliced cherries. This split isn’t served in a boat – it’s served in a yacht – and was an absolutely perfect finish to our day.
The closing day at the Butte County Fair was August 28, and for us it was a very fulFILLING day! We’re looking forward to catching up with and following Capital Cookery, The Coffee Gypsy and One Stop Ice Cream Shoppe as they roll into other county fairs. You’ll want to check back for updates as we check in with them again at their next venue.
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