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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

French Fry Diary 714: Burger 21

Burger 21, a chain with most of their restaurants in the Florida area, is now in New Jersey. They currently occupy the same place as The Doghouse in the Voorhees Town Center, opening there about two years back. Burger 21 offers a gluten free menu featuring burgers, shakes, and fries with a variety of dipping sauces, including sweet stuff for their sweet potato fries. All of their fries are cooked in soybean oil. I had been to the NJ location a few times and the quality of the food and service were wildly inconsistent so I was hesitant to write a review that would be on target.

Upon visiting Lakeland Florida house hunting, The Bride and I went to a Burger 21 there, and found it to be quite a pleasant experience. It was nice to see a familiar place in Florida where many things are much different, a good sign especially in the ninety-degree heat. I got a great thick burger on a grilled buttered roll and it was delicious. But it was the fries that were the stars.

The fries were frozen shoestrings deep fried, and were very good hot, but got cold fairly quickly. Not to worry, they were eaten quickly. As I said, the ones in New Jersey were inconsistent both in size and style, but these were near perfect. The Bride got cheese and ale as a side, and many other sauces were available at their amazing sauce bar, such as ranch, ketchup (both Thai and regular), ragin' Cajun, barbeque, mustard (regular and honey), chipotle mayo, apple cider, and toasted marshmallow.

To top it all off, the waitress who took our order was very friendly, and we found we had "Doctor Who" in common. She made a joke about our house hunting and to look for a home that was bigger on the inside. We took it as a good omen for that day of looking at homes. And we'd definitely come back to Burger 21, in Florida.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #249

From our recent Disney Fantasy trip, this is lunch at Cabanas, the top deck buffet on board. Not just some sweet juicy ham, but the two potato stars of the Disney Cruise Line - the roasted red potatoes and the steak fries. Mmmm...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

French Fry Diary 713: The Sunroom at Borgota

Usually when going to the Borgata in Atlantic City, it's mandatory to visit Fatburger in The Cafeteria (now the vastly inferior by all indications Marketplace Eatery, but since the Borgata has seen fit to remove Fatburger, there might not be any reason to visit any more. There is still the Sunroom however, the last restaurant standing when it comes to good fries at the Borgata.

The Bride and I have visited the Sunroom three times in the past and have always enjoyed ourselves. This restaurant, whose menu was designed by Food Network favorite Geoffrey Zakarian, is unique in the hotel casino, a oasis mirage in a desert of glitzy decadence. There is a giant water wall, trees with lights, skylights, and the constant sound of running water (though not enough to make one have to use the restroom). If you look up, it's like you're in a jungle, A+ for atmosphere, though it can be a bit dark, but apparently all the good restaurants are.

Looking at the menu, the truffled fries with Parmesan were $10 and the classic fries were only $8. Wow, these better be good fries. There were also tiny little ketchup bottles, as if regular sized ketchup bottles had a baby, and the Coke was served in small aluminum bottles for $4 each, the aluminum supposedly keeping the cold in. The Bride got the Water Club Sirloin Burger, which she liked, and I got the dry aged steak skewers with tamarind, which were awesome - but you're here for the fries, the main event.

The Bride got the classic while I went for the truffle fries. They came in a brown paper cone, very elegant display. These fries were fresh cut regular cuts and were not really greasy, but soggy and limp. I think they might have been much better with one more shock fry as they needed a serious crisp to them. There was a heavy but even dusting with large granules of Parmesan, not too much but a lot, giving a good cheesy taste. Each fry was dusted, even as I dug deeper into the cone. There might also be a bit too much truffle oil - it has be used sparingly.

These fries would be amazing and close to perfect if I took them home and reheated them in an oven for three to five minutes - just enough to crisp them. And despite the positive reaction I got from many folks after I Tweeted a then-live image of these fries as we were dining at the Sunroom, these were far from perfect. Yeah, they look good, but they need a little work.

They were very good while hot, even if over-cheesed and over-truffled, and the portion-size was huge. I would definitely get them again, and definitely come back to the Sunroom, especially now that Fatburger is gone. Damn you, Borgata.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #248

This photo was taken on our recent 2016 voyage on the Disney Fantasy.  This was the Character Breakfast at Animator's Palette, featuring some great ham and bacon, but sadly those terrible hash browns.  

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

French Fry Diary 712: North Bowl

Last month after the Writers Coffeehouse sponsored by the Philadelphia Liars Club (and if you're a writer in the area, and haven't been to this monthly event, shame on you) friend and fellow writer Amy Holiday invited The Bride and me, and the other writers from the SJWG who attended, out to dinner. Because of my predilection for potato-ey things, she picked a place known for its tater tots - North Bowl.

Yes, it's a bowling alley, but it's a cool retro bowling alley, and they have house made gourmet tater tots. It doesn't get better than that. Located in the gentrified Northern Liberties/Fishtown section of Philadelphia, it might be a little difficult to find, and parking is at a premium, but it was worth the trip. The d├ęcor is cool retro, you might not realize at first you're in a bowling alley, and of course, there's the tater tots.

To cover our bases for the review, we all ordered different types of these housemade gourmet tater tots. I kicked it old school with the original; while others got the garlic tots with garlic, herbs, and shaved Parmesan; and the crabby tots with old bay and cheese sauce. The tots appeared to be just standard tots, frozen and possibly deep fried, but they didn't taste that way - they were pretty good.

The Bride, and The Dark Crystal in from San Francisco (we miss you, girl!), went off the tater trail and got the cheeseburger mac and cheese, declaring it quite tasty as well. We were all too full to try the funnel cake fries for dessert, maybe next time. If nothing else, it's yet another reason to come back to the area.

The afternoon was a good time with friends, fried foods, and good conversation. I am really going to miss these folks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

French Fry Diary 711: Good Thins

I saw these while fighting with the pharmacy automatic refill system at Walgreens (don't do it, it rarely worked, at least for me). This new potato/wheat snack from Nabisco is called Good Thins (or stylistically GOOD THiNS).

They're baked, and have no artificial flavors or colors, no cholesterol, no partially hydrogenated oils, and no high fructose corn syrup. I didn't even know that last one was a thing with potato snacks.

I got the original flavor, because as regular readers know, I'm so darned adventurous. These Good Thins, which have 60% less fat than regular potato chips by the way, also come in sweet potato, spinach & garlic, rice, chickpea, with more to come.

Sealed in a foil bag inside a box, these silver dollar sized discs have a Cheez-It texture but a Pringles taste. More cracker than chip, they do have a bit of that you-can't-just-have-one addictive potato chip quality. Quite better than I expected, these are really quite good.