The latest novelty foods tend to get the press during the annual run of the California State Fair, but what fairgoers look to be eating most enthusiastically are the old standbys - cinnamon rolls, funnel cakes, corndogs and tacos.
French fries, too, especially when they're the hot, salty and pungent garlic fries of Gordon Biersch. A basket of the crisp and creamy garlic fries, along with one of the brewery's cold pilsners, is all body and soul really needs during a break from the animals and art.
The ambience doesn't hurt. The Gordon Biersch stand is near the center of Cal Expo, close to the wine garden, which, incidentally, looks more popular than ever, and also provides the best people watching on the grounds.
At any rate, you take your fries and your beer and grab a table in a small grove of towering redwoods, just down slope from Smokey's Ranger Station. In the hustle of the fair, it's an isolated and calming retreat, with the splash of a nearby fountain and a soft breeze about all the action you will hear and feel.
Also nearby is the micro-brew stand, where you can get a cup of a classic like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Rolling Rock, or a more limited production beer, such as the Firestone Double Barrel Ale. That's a different beer than the one that topped the Men's Journal tasting mentioned below, but it's from the same brewery. If you try the Double Barrel you might as well step back over to the neighboring Gordon Biersch stand and have another round of fries; the fair's only going to be here through Monday.