Monday, October 10, 2016

French Fry Diary 721: Foodies, Parx Casino 2016

I had kinda promised I'd never come back to Foodies again, but trapped at Parx Casino in Bensalem PA, with Chickie's & Pete's closed due to a sporting event, and the promise of Foodies being completely redone, I gave it a second chance.

Now there's an Earl of Sandwich and Bambu Noodle House there, and of course, Foodies. Looking at the menus for the other two places and then the average selection at Foodies - I had to wonder why it was called that. Foodies is apparently not for foodies.

The fries were heat lamped natural cuts, but at least they didn't have any foreign debris as they did last time. They tasted like they had been under a heat lamp for quite some time, even though all food made to order as promised on a sign by the ordering station. I really wish I had gotten chips.

The more these fries cooled off, the less appetizing they became. I ended up tossing more than half of them out. This was not much better than my last foray into Foodies. Maybe I should have tried the onion rings, but then again, I thought that might have been pushing my luck… Not recommended.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Fry Hard

Here's an awesome and simple recipe from Tasting Table for how to make rustic potatoes. Check it out right here. Mmmm... fries...

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #252

Some of you may or may not know, but The Bride and I are in the process of moving, or may have finished by the time this get posted. The thing about moving is you find things you had either forgotten about... or in this case, you have no idea what they are.

Written in handwriting neither mine nor The Bride's is this note, perhaps one of the saddest I've ever seen...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

French Fry Diary 720: Wise Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

I had recently reviewed Wise potato chips, noting the decline of Herr's with the rise in quality of Wise. As Herr's seems to be pushing their kettle chips hard, based on how packed Wawas are with them lately, I wanted to give Wise's opposite number a look and taste.

Wise seems to concentrate on the small batch aspect of kettle cooking on their packaging, something that as with fries, with chips, is very important. Sadly, like many of the Wise chip varieties, these were hard to find. I finally wrangled a bag of the Original. They keep the ingredients simple: potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. Additionally these chips are gluten free, with no MSG or preservatives, and zero transfats.

When I opened the bag, I got that great Wise potato chip smell I've come to expect, but looking inside, I was kinda disappointed. These were quite small chips, many just over an inch in diameter, not at all the size or shape shown in the art on the package. To Wise's credit it is noted that the illustration is "enlarged to show detail."

The potato chips are quite crunchy, as well as thick and twisted the way kettle chips should be. These are fine for munching, but not nearly big enough for dipping. I would be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed, but still I would get these again.

Friday, September 16, 2016

French Fry Diary 719: Hampton Inn, Lakeland FL

One of the great things (or not so great things, depending on your outlook) is the complimentary breakfast providing at some chain hotels. Sometimes it's just some old breakfast cereal and coffee, sometimes an actual working kitchen and kitchen staff, but mostly it's somewhere in between. In between is what we had at the Lakeland Hampton Inn in Lakeland FL while we were house hunting recently.

Oh sure, there was cereal, and a variety of bready things with toasters available, but the real star was the waffle making station, for which there was a long line. Hidden away in a corner of the kitchen area though was a covered hot plate with omelets and breakfast potatoes. I was happy.

The breakfast potatoes were redskin chunks with peppers and onions mixed in. They were quite hot with a spicy and buttery taste, made just right, a little crisp but with a soft but firm center. I got two servings they were so good. I feel like I found the pot of gold under the rainbow. Great breakfast to start a full day of house hunting, hopefully I'll find a house as good as these potatoes.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

French Fry Diary 718: Waffle House

On our most recent trip to Florida house hunting we had to stop for breakfast, and rather than something easy and predictable like McDonald's or Chick-fil-a, we opted for somewhere we'd (or I'd) never been before, and a staple of our new chosen place to live - Waffle House.

My expectation was something franchise-y in line with maybe Denny's or IHoP, but that's not what Waffle House is like at all. It was really more diner-ish than anything else, and filled to the brim with southern charm and hospitality. I loved it.

The menu showed an interesting take on hashbrowns (how they spelled 'em on the menu), disc-shaped, almost as if by cookie cutter or burger maker, but that's not what we got however, and honestly, while I was intrigued by the menu pics, I was not disappointed in what was served.

These were shredded potatoes, well cooked, but still moist and soft within. I got them plain, while The Bride got them with melted cheese. I have to admit they did need something, I at least salted mine. It's a good thing they have a variety of hashbrowns toppings like sautéed onions, chunked ham, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, mushrooms, chili, and gravy. Or in the vernacular - smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped, or country.

I also got ham, but before I could order, I had to ask - what is the difference between city ham and country ham? Our waitress Stacy, full of wonderful truck stop charm, broke it down for us. City ham is sweet and country ham is salty. I got the city ham, which was awesome, and washed it all down with some Mister Pibb, mmmm…

The Bride also got a waffle, because really, you can't go to Waffle House and not get a waffle. And I loved ordering with Stacy, it was a great negotiation as what could work as a special or a meal deal. "Just tell me what you want, hone, we'll make it work." I loved it. We will definitely be going back to Waffle House.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #251

As I mentioned when I covered the SJWG surprise party at The Vault, friend and fellow writer Vince Sparks got me a very thoughtful and special gift - a French Fry Pen, to 'make my writing sizzle.' I love it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

French Fry Diary 717: Manny's Original Chophouse

This is my new favorite restaurant. No ifs, ands, or buts, Manny's Original Chophouse is it. Recommended by our realtor Rusty on our first house hunting foray into Lakeland Florida, I fell in love quickly. We had been looking for a place comparable to The Pub (that's what we were in the mood for), but soon realized how much better Manny's was than The Pub. Welcome to Florida.

There's 'call ahead,' and we did, but we were seated right away on our first visit (as with our second and third as well). The waitress wrote her name in crayon, along with her manager's name, on the paper tablecloth on top of the real tablecloth so we wouldn't forget it if we needed it.

First came the bread. Fresh baked hamburger rolls are what they looked like with buttered tops and they were hot and wonderful. We could have eaten them like that and been happy, but they came with ramekins of both regular butter and sugar cinnamon butter. Adding the butters made these better than any sticky bun I have ever had, wow, melt in my mouth wonderful.

And the appetizers did not end there, then came the onion rings. We got the half-order, which was enormous. I can't imagine what the full order is like. These were super-thick sweet onions, lightly breaded with crushed fine Panko, a heavenly onion ring. Truly, these were the best onion rings I have ever had, ever. And on all three visits, the bread and the rings were superior every time. Consistent perfection. Even before the entrees came, we were full, and Manny's was our new favorite restaurant.

I got the grilled chicken smothered in Manny's BBQ sauce on rice, with hot natural cut fries. The fries were okay, and delicious in the sauce, but the second and third times I opted for the baked potato, which was huge and mouthwatering with butter. I found my potato target there, as well as the amazing onion rings. The Bride has tried the steak pieces and the fajitas and the garlic smashed potatoes. On future visits I can't wait to try the steaks and the teriyaki chicken.

Manny's family is from Greece, and they have several restaurants in the central Florida area. We've tried two of them and look forward to eating at the rest. I cannot recommend this place enough. For friends and family, when you come visit us in our new home, we'll be taking you to Manny's so you can see, and taste, for yourselves. This place is that good.

Monday, August 29, 2016

French Fry Diary 716: The French Fry Dipping Sauce Poll Results

A long time ago, before I got sick in December, I started a poll here on the blog about what your favorite dipping sauce for your French fries was. In truth, I did it twice. The first time I was chastised for leaving certain dipping options off the list, so I revamped it, but I did keep count of the votes from the first poll and have added them in to the final tally. So now, the answer to the question - What is your favorite dipping sauce for your French Fries?

Overwhelmingly, the biggest vote-getter, with almost half the votes, was ketchup. So, now that we got the unimaginative folks out of the way, we can concentrate on the more interesting choices. But before we do that, let's eliminate those that nobody picked - sour cream and marinara. Both were made as suggestions to add to the second poll, but neither volunteer agreed that they liked them, so there you go.

Oddities that only a few folks voted for in the "other" option included specifics like T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniels BBQ sauce and Roy Rogers BBQ sauce, both favorites of mine, as well as bourbon mayo or remoulade. I also like the peach bourbon sauce at Red Lobster, which got a vote as well. It seems that no matter how you slice it (or stir it), alcohol is popular in dipping sauces. Taking up the single vote end of the spectrum were also mustard, wasabi, tartar sauce, sriracha, butter, Arby's 'horsey' sauce, and just plain ol' hot sauce.

The next highest vote-getters were aioli and steak sauce, followed by ranch, another of my faves, sweet and sour, and the combined vote for peanut butter and peanut sauce. Next highest performers with 10% each of the vote are two more of my favorites - ice cream and teriyaki sauce. Then come honey, a frequently mentioned Asian treat, and curry, which I have every time I visit the British Chip Shop. Then came mayo and honey mustard, yuck.

The big guns, besides traditional ketchup of course, were cheese - The Bride's favorite, which comes in many varieties (perhaps fodder for a future poll), and my favorite, milkshake. The latter has recently come out of the closet as a strong contender for dipping. Second place went to UK fave vinegar and my personal favorite (tied with shake), barbeque sauce, and I would go along with those who specifically mentioned Jack Daniels and bourbon varieties.

So, do you agree? Did I miss your favorite and you'd like to get a late vote in? Feel free to comment below, I'd love to hear what you're dipping your fries in!

Friday, August 26, 2016

French Fry Diary 715: The Vault

After South Jersey Writers' Group meetings we would sometimes all go out to a bar/restaurant for shoptalk and friendly chat. One place we had gone a couple times, but ironically I'd never tried the fries, was The Vault in Runnemede NJ. That said, I never thought I'd be surprised there, but I was.

Lured there by The Bride to have dinner with a couple I did not particularly like, I was pleased to find my friend, fellow writer, and President of the SJWG, Krista out front. I thought this was a happy coincidence until we went inside. Yeah, they got me, I was sooo surprised. With my upcoming move to Florida, the South Jersey Writers had planned a going away party. I can't believe so many folks got together to do this for me. I love these people.

I was so happy to see Amy, Jessica, Marie, Sarah, Gail, Erika and her husband, Janice, Kahlil, Shelley, Vince, Cassandra, Ewart, Jord, Tom, Bill and his wife, Gregg, Jennifer, Patti, even my brother-in-law Bruce, and friend and FFD contributor Marni were there. What a wonderful surprise! And if I forgot anyone, my apologies, but there were a lot of you there!

And there were cards, and Marie got me a wonderful Captain America mug, which I hope I won't get harassed for, and along with a very sweet and thoughtful note, Vince got me a little something I'll feature here on FFD very soon.

And then there were also fries (bet you thought I forgot this was French Fry Diary, didn't you?). I had ordered a serving of the crab fries. While not Chickie's & Pete's, these regular cuts were very hot and spicy, and covered in Old Bay seasoning. Delicious, and even better when crisped in the oven once I was home. Mmmm…

Special thank you to Krista, and everyone else in the South Jersey Writers' Group. I am going to miss you all so much.