One of the things that is a surprising reason to go to Knott’s Berry Farm is not any particular ride or show. It’s the food that is something to behold when visiting the park. And one particular time to go to sample some amazing cuisine is during the Boysenberry Festival.
The Festival started only a couple years ago to commemorate the humble beginnings of the first American theme park: a boysenberry farm. The Knott family was not in the entertainment business, but the berry cultivating business at first. This led to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, and eventually the delicious boysenberry delicacies at the park today.
At a special preview I got to sample much of the fare that is coming to the park for the few week festival. The chefs have been hard at work to make new items that use boysenberries. And they have outdone themselves this year. Among the possibilities are Boysenberry BBQ Short Ribs, Boysenberry BBQ Metballs, Pulled Pork Boysenberry BBQ Sandwich, Boysenberry BBQ Chicken Sandwich, Alligator Bites with Boysenberry Aioli Sauce, the ever scrumptious Fun Bun, a new Fun Stick, Flautas with Boysenberry filling, Boysenberry Trifle, Cinnamon Chips with Boysenberry Dip, Panna Cotta, Boysenberry Cotton Candy, Boysenberry BBQ Wings, and Boysenberry Salsa. Yes…everything has a little boysenberry in it. In addition to all these are some wines that are from California and elsewhere to pair with the various foods.
How did everything fair?
Let’s start with the Short Ribs. These were served with rice and a BBQ dipping sauce. They were marinaded for 12 hours, and were very tender and delicious. The meat peeled off the bone with ease, and were so good to eat. Paired with the sauce, they were one of my favorite new items.
The Boysenberry Meatballs were skewered on a stick and had been soaked in the boysenberry sauce. They were nice bite sized pieces. They had excellent taste and even had a small kick to it.
One of the surprising tastes I liked was the Pulled Pork Sandwich. I’m not a big pulled pork person, but I would gladly have this again. There was just enough sauce to give that boysenberry flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering. It’s definitely still BBQ. The bread was amazing! It had a soft center with crispness on the edge. Just a terrific sandwich.
Another great sandwich was the Chicken Sandwich. This had a light BBQ sauce to it, but combined with the cabbage and great bread it was a gourmet sandwich. I would expect to find it at a fancy restaurant, not a theme park!
Some of the great desserts to be had are the Fun Bun and the Fun Stick. The Bun was introduced last year, and the Stick is this year’s new dessert delicacy. The Bun is like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese filling, fried in a batter, then topped with boysenberry cream cheese. It’s sweet and got that cinnamon roll spice to it. The Fun Stick has a cheesecake inside, with boysenberry cream cheese mixed, then deep friend in batter, topped with boysenberry cream cheese. It’s cheesecake on a stick to a whole new level! Both were rich and oh so tasty! They are not to be missed.
Another very good dessert were the Flautas. These have a crispy tortilla-like shell wrapped around boysenberry filling. It was a great combination with a more salty outside and a sweet jelly inside. I really enjoyed them.
A returning favorite of mine is the Trifle. This cake bottom with boysenberry ice cream on top is the best combo of dessert goodness. It’s truly a sampling of what the park has to offer. The ice cream is sweet and creamy. The cake is moist and flavorful too. Put together with whip cream and boysenberry on top makes it the dessert of choice for me.
The new Panna Cotta was a fluffy boysenberry custard that was light on the boysenberry taste, but I think it worked well for it. Granola and a little berry jam was sprinkled on top. It was a lighter dessert, and I think it fits well in the mix of the rest of the taste choices.
One of the best finger foods in the park are the BBQ Wings. These are glazed with the Boysenberry BBQ Sauce that is now available for purchase at the park. I do like spicy hot wings at times, but not very often. This, however, has the best balance of spice and sweet. It’s more sweet than spicy. And it still takes a lot of napkins for hands and mouth after!
Something new for purchase is a Boysenberry Salsa. I was intrigued to taste something like this. Salsa is more salty and spicy to me. This was a great fruit tasting dip. Paired with the tortilla chip it makes for a good contrast of flavor.
As far as drinks I sampled I had a tropical fruit wine from the Wagner vineyard and a Smashberry wine from the Central Coast. Also on hand was the now famous Boysenberry Beer and Boysenberry Punch. Each made my taste buds tingle delightfully! I am not a wine fan, and the two that I had were sweet for me to enjoy. The beer I always enjoy. The Punch is always good.
Knott’s has outdone itself this year with all the offerings for the Boysenberry Festival! Like last year, a tasting card and wine tasting package is available. This is good news for those of us who can’t choose one thing! And let me tell you that you don’t want to have just one thing at this festival! It may seem odd to go to a theme park just for the food, but it’s well worth it. And Knott’s still has great rides and entertainment for the family. Be sure to visit the park March 19 – April 3 to enjoy the Boysenberry Festival!