Thursday, July 13, 2017

Funnel Cake, Santa Cruz Boardwalk

A walk along the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk is filled with an array of tempting, horrible-for-you, extremely overpriced, carnival fare.  Garlic fries or sweet potato fries.  Chips-on-a-stick with a DIY seasoning station!  Deep fried veggies, hot dogs, cheese, Oreos, Twinkies, even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  Caramel corn, or caramel apples.  Perfect looking soft serve cones with chocolate dip.  Dippin' Dots.  Even Dole Whip!

But when I was there a few weeks ago, I walked past it all.  I had my eyes on a different prize: funnel cake.
Funnel Cake Stand. 
While most items are offered at multiple stands, funnel cake is only available in one location, midway down the boardwalk.  The stand sells only two items, funnel cake and shakes.

Funnel cakes come in only 4 styles: Original (just powdered sugar), Chocolate Strawberry (with strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce), Oreo Sundae (with oreo crumble, whipped cream, caramel, and ice cream), or, Apple Pie (with seasoned apples, whipped cream, caramel, and ice cream).

Now, an aside.  I grew up with fried dough, rather than funnel cake, and it never came with these sorts of toppings.  It came buttered, and then you added powdered sugar, regular sugar, or cinnamon sugar via shakers yourself.  Sometimes the fancy places had bavarian cream you could have plopped on top.  But whipped cream, ice cream, and all these fruit toppings?  No.  That is not what you put on fried dough!  But I like all those things, and Yelp reviews rave about the Apple Pie funnel cake in particular.  So we got it.

Unfortunately, our funnel cake was awful.  Even though I didn't like the funnel cake at Great America either, at least that one had yummy soft serve and toppings.  This one ... had nothing redeeming about it.
Apple Pie Funnel Cake. $10.99.
"Cinnamon sugar, seasoned apples, whipped cream, caramel, & a scoop of ice cream."

I watched our apple pie funnel cake being assembled with wide eyes.

Yes, there was a funnel cake in there ... somewhere.

It did start with a funnel cake, not freshly made to order, just plucked from a rack, lukewarm.  Minus one point, funnel cake, and fried dough, should be made to order!

Next, it was sprinkled with powdered sugar.  In retrospect, this move made me laugh, as, um, there was so much other stuff piled on top, and it was all sweet, that the powdered sugar was entirely lost.  Why bother?

Next came cinnamon sugar, again from a shaker, again totally lost in this craziness, particularly given the seasoning on the apples.

And then ... the "seasoned apples".  Mounds and mounds of apples in sweet goo.  Seasoned goo, I suppose.  They weren't too mushy, but that is about all they had going for them.  Another diner commented that they were like McDonald's, but, honestly, even McDonald's has better apple pie filling than this.  The apples completely ruined this funnel cake, and, they covered the entire thing.

Next up was whipped cream, generic, from a can, around the outer edge.  A generous application of this too.  But why have just whipped cream, when you can have ice cream too?  It also came with a scoop of generic hard serve vanilla ice cream in the center.  Both these elements were highly mediocre, but at least quasi helped cut the sweet from the apple goo?

And then, to top it all off?  Caramel from a squirt bottle.  It was entirely unnecessary, given all the apple goo.  This thing was too sweet as it was.

It *did* look good, in a way.  It was nicely assembled.  But ... it was not good.

The funnel cake itself wasn't hot and fresh.  But honestly, it barely mattered.  I couldn't really get to the funnel cake.  I tried to take just from the edges, but, it was impossible.  You did not get to taste the funnel cake in any way, no matter how hard you tried.

I really did not like this, although I consumed far more of it than I expected.  I think I *wanted* to find something redeeming in it so badly.  Maybe if I had gotten a plain one I could have at least enjoyed the funnel cake?  Clearly, I do not recommend this.  The $10.99 price is high, but, it also was insanely large, and 4 of us did not finish it.


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