DECATUR – This year's overwhelming winner of the annual Decatur Celebration taste test, with a rating of 5 out of 5, was the Addictive Creation's Deep Fried Cheesecake, located on the north side of Central Park.
“It shouldn't be legal,” said taster Tom Lisi.
Lisi along with four other new Herald & Review employees were selected to be a part of the coveted taste-testing team. Reporters Claire Hettinger, Joey Wagner, Lisi, and Executive Editor Chris Coates had never attended the annual festival. Jaylyn Cook, a Decatur native, had previous opportunities to try the Celebration food like the funnel cakes.
“It was nice to step out of my comfort zone and try something different,” he said. “It was all good.”
Runner-up was given to Mama Chan's. Along with serving Asian appetizers, it also served Thai iced tea and coffee. The vendor is a well-known restaurant in Moweaqua. The testers were amazed at the uniqueness of the Asian food.
“This sauce is amazing,” Hettinger said.
Several finicky eaters were part of the group. Both Hettinger and Wagner are admittedly picky when it comes to food. Both were surprised by the experience and happy with what they found.
The first food to be tested was the Crab Fritters. Wagner doesn't like seafood and was worried about trying the hush-puppy.
“It was very good and didn't have an overwhelming seafood taste,” he said. “And it was easy to share.”
The fried balls are made with real lump crab meat and fried. They are served with homemade remoulade, which is describe as tartar sauce with and attitude.
Cook was fond of seafood and was happy with the taste.
“But I like how it was easy to carry around and you can eat it easily,” he said. “That is important to me.”
The Taco Fries were one of the most anticipated foods for the group. For $7, the large helping is a meal that could easily feed a family of four. Coates has two small children. He thought of all the foods he tried, this was the most kid-friendly.
“The kids would like these,” he said.
Another one-dish meal was the Big Mac Daddy. The vendor has visited the Celebration in the past, but with different foods. The owner Randy Twyford decided to bring his mac and cheese dish and his cheesy potatoes. Each dish has meat and barbecue sauce layered on top.
Miss Piggy's pork chop was a surprise for the testers. Wagner, who is not a barbecue fan, was impressed with the savory meal.
“It was just mellow enough that it was nice, but not overwhelming,” he said.
Meats, such as pork chops, are a tricky food to cook at fairs and festivals. The group was happy with the texture as well as the taste.
“I love how tender the meat was,” Cook said. “It was easy to eat. It fell apart nicely.”
Coco Bongo not only had the tropical drinks ideal for the Celebration, they also had the atmosphere. A basic drink cost $5. However, the fruity drinks can be served in novelty cups ranging in prices up to $24. The vendor had a large television screen facing the customers, adding to the lounge image.
“The TV is a nice touch,” Wagner said.
Lobster Mac and Cheese was one of the priciest item at the festival this year. Customers are offered three choices ranging from $12 to $20.
“They had big bowls for the food,” Hettinger said. “And the people are very nice.”