The Knott's Boysenberry Festival is just around the corner, so Knott's Berry Farm invited local reporters out to the Wilderness Hall tonight for a first taste of this year's food and beverage items.
Knott's Boysenberry Festival starts March 18 and runs daily through April 24. Dozens of boysenberry-flavored, dressed or accented items will be for sale throughout the park and the California Marketplace again this year, with about a dozen available for us to sample tonight.
Of course, Knott's always tries to grab attention with some over-the-top, Instagram-worthy item at the Boysenberry Festival, and this year it's a Monster Boysenberry Pulled Pork and Slaw Sandwich, adorned with a massive beef rib and onion rings.
You can find that one at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant during the festival. (No word yet on pricing for anything.) We were not able to sample that one, but I did enjoy another seemingly outlandish festival dish.
Knott's signature dish is fried chicken, so anything that brings fried chicken and boysenberry together will get my attention. And this open-faced sandwich brings some bacon jam and argula along for the ride. The boysenberry? It's the jelly stuffed inside the donut upon which this fried chicken breast sits. And that's a new boysenberry horchata alongside to wash it all down.
The sweet and savory flavors hit here, along you should probably take the time with a knife and fork to reconstruct this unwieldy spectacle into a manageable fork-full that includes each flavor in a single bite. It's worth the effort. But if you just want to grab the thing, open wide and go for it, well, you be you.
Just make sure someone is shooting it for the 'gram.
Also new this year is a Crab Sushi Roll with a Boysenberry Aioli and a Spring Fling Salad with Shrimp and a Boysenberry Vinaigrette.
It's all nice enough, but a crab sushi roll surely ranks as one of the most ubiquitous food items in Southern California. A boysenberry aioli brings it on theme, but does not otherwise distinguish it beyond any of the countless other yummy crab rolls in the community. I always will welcome a nice salad in a theme park, especially with some shrimp on it. But Knott's sells its boysenberry vinaigrette by the bottle now, and I have one in my refrigerator. So I'm probably more likely to recreate this one for lunch at home than choose it while inside the park.
Knott's also sells its boysenberry BBQ sauce, but the sauce-slathered meatballs on mashed potatoes is a festival classic.
I also tried the boysenberry cowboy chili with mac & cheese and Fritos.
There's not much heat in this chili, perhaps due to the sweetness of the boysenberry. The rich mac and cheese balances what little sharpness the chili offers, but the Fritos bring some welcome crunch. In all, it's more warm, hearty comfort food than an exhibition of flavor.
For dessert, I sampled the boysenberry mousse chocolate cake.
Boysenberry is not an overly sweet fruit and complements well a wide variety of flavors. Count chocolate among them. The cake lies at the heart of this dessert, which is covered in a photo-worthy purple glaze.
Many festival items will be available a la carte, but the sushi, salad, chili, chocolate cake, and the donut sandwich will be available on the six-item festival tasting card, priced at $50, or $45 for season pass holders.
For discounted tickets to Knott's Berry Farm, please visit our travel partner's Knott's Berry Farm tickets page.
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I agree -- give me a donut stuffed with boysenberry jam or the fried chicken with a spicy boysenberry sauce (or fry the chicken in a boysenberry flavored coating, even) but I haven't seen it done successfully when combined.
I was a complete skeptic, but was stunned to taste that it actually worked for me. I think that abandoning the idea that this is a sandwich is key. Just knife and fork it.
That way, the donut (which is yeast-raised, but not glazed) becomes just a bit of additional tasty breading. The boysenberry becomes a slightly sweet condiment that complements the smoky, salty bacon jam and the sharp, bitter arugula.
The bacon jam and arugula make this dish. Without them, yeah, this would not work.
Was it tough getting through the dish with a plastic knife and fork? That was my first thought when I looked at the picture.
The knife actually was pretty well serrated. So, not bad. I've had worse.
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I just can't get into the donut-as-a-bun food trend. On paper it seems like an amazing confluence of ingredients to epitomize gluttonous excess, but I have yet to try a donut-bun dish that delivered on its promises. Either a glazed donut is used, which shrivels under the weight of the innards, or a cake donut is used, which is dry and tasteless. It looks like Knott's is going with the open-faced glazed donut approach here, but I think subbing donuts for bread in sandwiches is a trend that needs to end.