Friday, April 24, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #191

Sadly I missed out on this potato party, but thanks to friend and French Fry Diary contributor Robin Renee for hipping me to this!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #190

Wow, that's a whole lotta fries…  and everything else...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

French Fry Diary 659: Cape Cod Waffle Cut Barbeque Ranch Potato Chips

When I first saw these at Rastelli's, I must admit I was pretty angry. The store had gone from a place I would go because they had Charles Chips to a place I likely wouldn't go otherwise. Oh, they still carry Charles, but only in the $14 tin cans.

I was vowing to never come back unless this changed when I saw the Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in the Waffle Cut Barbeque Ranch variety. They were worth a try, even though of course there was no guarantee that Rastelli's would ever have them again.

I had tried the Sea Salt flavor a couple years ago and praised the dippability factor of these chips. They are still aces in that department, very thick and still better than Herr's Lattice Cut chips. The barbeque flavor is solid and smoky, so the chips are good whether you dip them or not.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

French Fry Diary 658: Logan's Roadhouse

We had a late night dinner option open on our first night in Celebration, Florida, and we had a few choices. We tried to pick something from Urbanspoon, FourSquare, and traveling up and down the Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. We could go back to Steak 'n Shake, maybe go to a real, open, Ponderosa Steakhouse, or try something new. We went with the third option and ended up at Logan's Roadhouse.

I at first I thought this was the only one, but quickly realized this was a chain, not that there's anything wrong with that. It was certainly the happening place to be the Friday night we went, parking lot packed, neon lights everywhere. Just like the old Lone Star Steakhouse, which has sadly moved from our South Jersey/Philadelphia area, there were peanut shells all over the floor. A bucket of peanuts was at our table, and we were subconsciously encouraged to throw our shells on the floor. Allergies be damned!

The menu and atmosphere was pretty typical for the Lone Star, LongHorn, Outback, Texas type restaurants, which was fine with me. We got the tower of onion rings, which is actually a call back to Red Robin or Chickie & Pete's but still terrific. The Southern Onion Tower, as they called it, was a tower of onion rings on an upright stick with two sauces, southern dipping and ranch. These were big, thick rings with a crunchy bread crumb coating. They were delicious and we ate them all.

Of course, that would have been better with utensils and especially napkins. We had to finally ask for them. Our waiter was not the most attentive we have ever had. It was quite a long wait for refills on our drinks and water. When we finally got them, he was not endearing himself to us. The Bride said 'thank you,' and he replied with a huffy and dismissive 'mmm hmm.' It was almost a verbal finger snap.

I ordered the chopped steak, medium, but it was more rare than anything. If that was medium, I should have asked for well done. The fries were natural cut shoestrings, very crunchy and good. The fries I liked a lot. I would have liked more of those, but because of the huge portions, we took most of our meal back to the hotel.

Our room was equipped with a microwave, so we had leftovers for lunch the next day. The nuked chopped steak was perfect, but the fries did not take so well. That said, I am sure they would have been better reheated in a conventional oven. All in all we liked the food very much, but the customer service not so much.

Monday, April 06, 2015

French Fry Diary 657: Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen

On our way to Florida for a much-deserved vacation, we arrived at Philadelphia International Airport early, and had enough time for a quick breakfast. Choices are limited, although places one wouldn’t expect to be open for breakfast were. Case in point - Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen.

They actually had a nice selection of breakfast foods, most of them in a sandwich, wrap, or omelet, so I ordered a la carte. I had a choice between plank-like hash browns (like McDonald's, but as with the ones on the Disney Cruise, vastly inferior) and breakfast potato chunks. Because they looked good, I went with the chunks, and bacon, because, well, bacon.

These were heat lamp potatoes in the worst way. When I say 'heat lamp,' I mean like they were under a heat lamp for a while. Yuck. They had red peppers, which was a plus, but were also only warm, looked old, felt dry, tasted stale. They were just not good at all. The image may look good but I assure they were not.

Of course they also gave me a huge serving of bacon, which was perfect and awesome. It's been a long time since I've had bacon this good. That's four stars for the bacon, but none for the potatoes. Also on the good side, they had Orange Crush, which is always great, even for breakfast.

For the record, in its traditional menu, which is only lunch and dinner, they don't seem to have the favorite fried food. Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Featured Blogger at PhillyGrub

Many of you already know, but I'd thought I'd give a shout out here, after all, I'm not shy. I was recently the Featured Blogger at Philly Grub. You can read the interview here.

This was a real honor and aw shucks moment, and thank Marilyn a lot for the exposure, and please everyone check out her Philly Grub blog and Twitter. Philly Grub rocks.

And while I'm in promotion mode, you all do know that French Fry Diary is also on Pinterest, and has its own Facebook group, right? Also occasionally I'll be talking French fries on my two podcasts - The GAR! Podcast and The Make Mine Magic Podcast - check them out.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Honey Butter French Fries

McDonald's in South Korea has relented to a craze going on in that country recently. Last year Calbee made huge sales with their honey butter potato chips.

These chips had the taste of sweet bee honey with rich French gourmet butter, which caused sellouts and one bag per customer policies at many stores.

And now, McDonald's has come out with Honey Butter French fries. Seems like a natural choice. You can read about it here.

How do you feel about Honey Butter French fries? Something you'd try, like, or ignore?

Monday, March 30, 2015

French Fry Diary 656: Passover Potato Chips

A strange thing happens around this time every year. Shop-Rite starts carrying lots of off-brand potato chips (and potato sticks), one that even I, regarded as a chip expert by some, have never heard of. It's because of Passover, and like the sweeter tasting yellow cap Coca-Cola, there is extra need for kosher potato chips.

Herr's and other major brands offer kosher or parve potato chips, but as I said, Shop-Rite brings in more specialty items during this time of year. They are usually placed in one special section of the store, the Shop-Rite I visited in Cherry Hill had a larger than usual area. I plucked a couple samples from the display to try, and review of appropriate.

First up is Kettle Chips BBQ from Manischewitz, the king of kosher products, best known for their wine, matzo, and even potato latkes. These chips are pretty good on the healthy scale, with no transfats, no cholesterol, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors. The chips are thin with a nice crunch, heavy seasoned but with a mild smoke flavor.

Bloom's is a company that specializes in kosher products. They "search the globe to bring you the best," including cakes, candies, chocolate syrup, potato stix, potato chips, and potato snack fries. I chose one of the last bunch, Bloom's Bar-B-Q Fries.

After tasting these flat French fry shaped potato strips, I'm glad I opted for the barbecue flavor, because otherwise these flat (in more ways than one) things would have been flavorless. I did not like these. At all.

Next up are the Diddles, no seriously, that's what they're called. These potato snacks made from potato flakes are imported from Israel and distributed by the Paskesz Candy Co. I picked up the Diddles B-B-Q Potato Snacks. Yes, they're called Diddles. These are hollow cylinders similar in texture to flavorless cheese puffs and not in a good way. They did not smell good when I opened the bag and did not taste much better. Ick. Seriously if you told me these were made of styrofoam, I'd be inclined to believe you.

Lastly I tried the Lieber's offering. After Diddles, I was hopeful that this last bag would be more, oh I don't know, conventional. Referred to as simply Lieber's Ripple Potato Chips and being made from only potatoes, cottonseed oil, and salt, these looked like exactly what I needed.

These chips were quite nicely thick with good ridges, perfect dipping chips. There were a bit salty however, and while I like salt, especially on potato chips, this was a bit much. Also, there were a lot of black spots and burnt edges, things you don't usually see anymore in the big brand names. All in all, a decent chip, except for the salt.

So we have a weak two out of four for this selection of Passover potato snacks. Perhaps I selected badly. Any recommendations for next time?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

French Fry Diary 655: The Dandelion

Guest post by Jessica A. Walsh

Fed up with the cold of February and going mad with cabin fever, I stumbled over to uwishunu for some ideas of something to do over the weekend in Philadelphia. A list of ten foods to eat before winter ends caught my eye. Looking for a new place to try for brunch, I scrolled past the briskets and stews, and paused at a photo of the Scotch pancakes at The Dandelion, an English style pub situated in a large converted Victorian house located near Rittenhouse Square at 18th & Sansom Streets.  

After perusing the menu online, they had me at pickle brine bloody Marys.

The Dandelion is a very cool spot. It boasts several floors, winding staircases and many rooms all with different feels, several fireplaces, small bars and unique decor. My husband and I being bar people, we sat ourselves at a six person bar in a room with floor to ceiling windows adorned with thick drapes covered in dog print. Shelves on the walls held hundreds of porcelain statues of dogs of all breeds.  

After ordering a bloody Mary and a beer flight, we started with an English cheese board. I was intrigued by the quince paste and make it a point to always try at least one new thing when provided the opportunity to do so. The board came with three English cheeses, three types of house made crackers, grape chutney, the quince paste, honey, and grapes to cleanse the palate. I refused to look up quince on my phone and excitedly spread a little of the gelatinous rectangular paste onto a cracker.  It’s just a fruit, I later learned, not unlike a pear. The cheese board was lovely, as far as cheese boards go. I’ve only ever had one that truly disappointed.  

After a second bloody Mary and a relaxing wait, my scotch pancakes and Cumberland sausage arrived, as well as my husband’s burger and fries. When he told me he was considering the burger, I had gently suggested that he might like to try something different. The bartender, overhearing me, smiled a knowing smile and with a sort of reverence, said, “Get the burger. And let her take a bite.” Those few words would later increase his tip over the 20% mark.

But first for the pancakes. Sitting on top of these small, thick cakes were maple apples and a mound of light as air cinnamon creme that melted all over my plate, and was heavenly. The Cumberland sausage was authentic and delicious. I smiled after every single bite. Well done, uwishunu!
As for the burger, yes, I did take a bite, and it was the best damn burger I had tasted in a long time. Beautiful fresh brioche, house-blend aged beef, apple smoked bacon, Vermont sharp cheddar, Brooklyn brine pickles, and Churchill sauce. I have no idea what Churchill sauce is, but I will tell you that this burger was worth every penny of its $16.50 price.

But what about the fries, you ask! First of all, they came alongside a small glass jar of large malt salt with a little wooden spoon. Very thick, at least half an inch in diameter, these fries were crisp on the outside and hot, perfectly baked potato on the inside. In fact, they were so thick that I actually put mine down between bites! After my fry, I said to my husband, "I don't think a fry has ever taken me six bites before."

I loved The Dandelion. Great ambiance, great service, great food, GREAT FRIES!

Today's guest post here at French Fry Diary comes from Jessica A. Walsh, super cool friend, fellow member of the South Jersey Writers' Group, and a terrific writer, editor, and blogger. You can read her uplifting and inspirational blog The Cracking Nut here, check out the Reading Glasses anthology here, and Follow her Twitter here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #189

Friend and French Fry Diary contributor Robin Renee sent this one along from yesterday's St. Patrick's Day. In her words, "Potatoes and cabbage to celebrate the day. Erin go bragh!"

Thanks, Robin!