The new dish that caught my eye was Knott's Boysenberry Pizza — especially when I learned that this was not a dessert pizza, but a savory one.
A Boysenberry cream cheese provides the "sauce" base atop a surprisingly good crust. It's not a perfect Neapolitan blistered crust with an airy crumb, but it is as close to that as I've seen offered via counter service in a theme park. Knott's has topped the pie with diced Black Forest ham, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and arugula, with a Boysenberry/Sriracha drizzle.
Boysenberry is not a cloyingly sweet flavor. There's a tart undertone that cuts the sweetness of this hybrid of a raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, and Loganberry. That makes the Boysenberry a friendly pairing with both sweet and savory tastes — a flexibility that Knott's chefs have exploited with this annual festival.
With its cream base, the Boysenberry pizza runs into the same challenge as any white pizza — that it needs some sharp flavor to balance the creamy sauce. But that tart element Boysenberry delivers gives this cream cheese a head start over a traditional Bechamel. With the onions, arugula, and the drizzle in the mix, the pizza actually needs a few dollops of goat cheese to bring it back into balance, with the ham providing a extra boost of satisfying depth. Warning, though: One rich slice of this will fill you as it wows you, so don't succumb to the temptation to grab a second slice. Try something else, instead.
Fortunately, the Boysenberry Festival abounds with more than 75 options.
After the pizza, my next choice among the dozen or so options provided last night would be the Boysenberry meatballs, a nice serving of protein amid the ocean of carbs. Okay, with that sauce, this isn't exactly the Keto diet here, but it'll do once you've grown tired of all the bread.
Speaking of, also new this year is fry bread. Have you been hankering for an elephant ear stuffed with a Boysenberry-tinged cocoa-hazelnut spread? (In other words... Boysenberry and Nutella?) If so, Knott's has you covered with this one.
The Boysenberry/Nutella combo also fills the Boysenberry crepe.
Your choice here basically comes down to whether you want a crispy cinnamon crust or a more nuanced crepe (with a side of whipped creme!) encasing that filling. Or, if you want to caveman this with your hands (fry bread) or get all fancy with a fork (crepe). Whatever your mood.
As for other dishes, the Boysenberry ravioli didn't do anything for me — a one-note flavor where the advertised garlic and tomato just couldn't cut through all the creme. Nor did the Boysenberry corn dog taste enough unlike a regular corn dog to be worth the effort. I did like the fried alligator bites with Boysenberry sauce, though.
No, it's not as tasty as the gator you can find in Central Florida, but it's the best I've had in Southern California and will hold me over until my next trip back east.
Finally, yes, the deep-fried cinnamon bun Fun Bun and fried cheesecake Fun Stick return this year, too.
They're both wonderful messes, best enjoyed with a group of friends who'll tear into it with you and laugh about it. But, frankly, to me, neither tastes as good as an old-fashioned slice of Boysenberry pie. I'll take that, a slice of the pizza, and a skewer of the meatballs and call that a very tasty Boysenberry lunch.
Knott's Boysenberry Festival runs April 1 through 23. Prices for individual items were not yet available.
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