Monday, September 29, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #164

Lobster and French fries, with lots of ketchup, from the show the Cartoon Network doesn't want you to see - "Beware the Batman." Find out why here, and these fries are from episode 23, "Choices."

Friday, September 26, 2014

French Fry Diary 618: Richman's Ice Cream

Richman's in the Echelon Mall was my first real job. When I say real, I mean I was paid above the table and I actually needed a Social Security number for it. I was at the mall, saw the 'help wanted' sign, and asked for an application. I remember the kid at the counter, Dave was his name, first guy I ever met with a rat tail (yes, I'm dating myself), said manning the ice cream counter out front let you see all the girls walk by in the mall. This would be an awesome job!

I got it, and after buying a couple pairs of white pants, white shirts, pinning a badge on and topping it off with a paper hat, I was ready to go. The first day I spent scooping ice cream, weighing and putting it back in the bucket. I had to get the weight right before I could scoop for the public. For the next week, I rocked the front counter, meeting girls, and getting digits. As I suspected, awesome job.

Then counter training ended, and busboy/dishwasher training began. Star in the front to troll in the back overnight. This job was not fun. It seemed like I would never get back to the front, and as the holidays approached, I scored the primo job at the top of the mall food chain, at a record store.

That wasn't the first time at the Echelon Mall Richman's however. My cool big sister took me there once years before. In a lesson of learning the value of money, I had to earn enough to go to this 'grown up expensive restaurant.' I also learned things later while I was employed there. The government takes a lot out of your paycheck, and always carefully examine your food - you never know when a fly will die unnoticed in the rum raisin ice cream. I have never had that flavor, ever, since then.

I've told the story of the other thing I learned on an early episode of The GAR! Podcast, but I'll tell it again here. My first day on my dinner break, I ordered the Basketburger, and the waitress and multiple cooks kept calling back in the kitchen "Basketburger" and "Employee meal." I would later learn it meant to do it right, not mess with it, and if it fell on the floor, to throw it out. Yeah. Glad I was an employee.
Not a Richman's Basketburger, but you get the idea...

The Basketburger was a bigger than McDonald's burger on a sesame seed bun, a pickle, cole slaw, and crinkle cut fries. I didn't know then, and believe it or not, I never saw into the kitchen, but I'm pretty sure the fries were frozen and deep fried even though they didn't taste that way. They were pretty good and didn't taste greasy.

Working at Richman's was an educational job, fun at times, and the fries were pretty good too. Well worth it for the short time I was there.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

French Fry Diary 617: Old Bay Seasoned Fries

Like Kleenex and Xerox, Old Bay Seasoning is very conscious of their trademark, and in recent years has been taking back its territory. For instance, rather than the traditional silver foil edition, Herr's Old Bay Potato Chips now bear the image and logo of Old Bay Seasoning, same for their Old Bay Popcorn and Cheese Curls. When I first saw these Old Bay Seasoned Fries in my grocery store's frozen section, I thought it was much the same situation.

Old Bay Seasoning dates back almost eighty years to Maryland where bars often offered crabs for free as they were so plentiful. This special blend of spices that make up Old Bay Seasoning when put on the crabs made patrons thirsty, and therefore they bought more beer. Just like peanuts in the rest of the country, don't you know. Now the blend is one of the more popular seasonings around, especially on variations of the favorite fried food.

The fries are coated with a little batter and that same Old Bay seasoning with 'the iconic blend of eighteen spices.' Also notably some of these natural cuts are really long, a couple measuring eight or nine inches long. Wow, those must be some huge potatoes. The directions gave two cooking options - baking and deep frying. I went with the baked option.

I did find that the directions were a bit off however. When I pulled them out halfway through to turn the fries, they were brown on one side and nearly done. I gave them a few more minutes and took them out, cutting about eight minutes off the recommendations. They were just right, your mileage may vary, but keep an eye on them in the oven.

I was expecting an overpowering seasoning like with Chickie's & Pete's Crab Fries or the Herr's potato chips, but these are quite pleasant, with just the right amount of Old Bay. I was very surprised, and liked these a lot. I wanted more. Old Bay Seasoning should definitely be protective, and proud, of their trademark on these fries. Recommended.

Friday, September 19, 2014

French Fry Diary 616: Ancho Chili Cheeseburger Potato Chips

"Feel Alive!" is what's written vertically on the side of the bag of these chips. One might assume that this is because they're manufactured by Blair's Death Rain, a hot sauce company, which is owned by Extreme Food. I've tried the their Buffalo Wing chips before, and the heat definitely made me 'feel alive.'

Like my first try from Blair's Death Rain, this is also a 'meat' chip. Fully called Blair's Death Rain Ancho Chili Cheeseburger Cauldron Cooked Potato Chips, these chips have no MSG, no transfats, are gluten free, kosher, and are of only medium heat.

The 'cauldron' cooking gives them the same twisted shapes as kettle cooked chips, but what really makes them stand out is the heavy coating of spices and seasoning. I think there might be more seasoning than chip, and it's very hot. So hot, medium or not, these aren't for me.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #163

These steak frites were the special at Toscana in Cherry Hill a few weeks back. The Bride and I were going to go but family stuff kept us otherwise busy. We will get there soon though.

Added bonus, Gigio Longo of Toscana Cherry Hill also has a very cool comic out called Adam 12 that you should all check out. Fries and comics, always a good match.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

French Fry Diary 615: Tommy's! Roasted Cajun Potatoes

I saw this at the Shop-Rite and had to grab it for later inspection. This bag of steam able potatoes (usually not a good sign) just emanated fun with its packaging. Tommy's! (complete with exclamation mark) Roasted Cajun Potatoes just looked like it would be worth the price of admission, good or bad. I was sold.

Now Tommy's! is not the southern California burger chain nor the famous Los Angeles burger joint, it's apparently its own thing, connected to the healthy freezer food retailer Tommy's Superfoods. This packaging depicting the cowboy with the gator is slightly different than what I could find online. Keeping with the Superfoods line these are vegan, non-GMO, BPA free, POFA free, with no transfats.

They are however microwave steamable, and for French fries, even healthy ones, that's often not good. They can be nuked in the bag, in a microwave safe plate, or even just fried on the stovetop in a skillet. That last one is probably how I should have done these, maybe next time. In the nuke, the blew inflated like microwave popcorn and it filled the space with damp steam.

These potato wedges besides being 'blended' with roasted corn, and onions, are also seasoned with Tommy's! Cajun Style Baby spices. Okay, truth, once these potatoes are on the plate, they smell good, but they are not pretty. The mess reminded me a bit of ill-prepared breakfast potatoes at an abandoned buffet. It's a good thing they taste so good.

The potato wedges don't have crisp or crunch because of the cooking method, but they're also not wet it soggy. This is a solid cook, and they have a baked potato quality, soft and hot. The corn and onions are a surprising addition and the spices pack quite a hot kick.

I liked these quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the next time so I can try the stovetop method, or maybe reheating them in the oven to get a bit of a crisp. Recommended.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #162

These freezer-burned but baked frozen crinkle cut fries are just as miserable as the place where I found them - Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly. Not where you want to go for fries...

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #161

Not just birthday fries, but Bottomless Steak Fries from Red Robin. Had a great time Saturday night at the Cherry Hill Red Robin with friends, and thumbs up for their customer service, great folks at this restaurant.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

French Fry Diary 614: Walkers Ranch Raccoon

Over in the UK, Lay's Potato Chips are known as Walkers Crisps, and they have the Do Us A Flavor contest there too. Several folks, including a recent episode of The Nosh Show (it's also the episode where they try the US DUAF competitors), have brought one of those flavors to my attention.

It's called Ranch Raccoon. Yeah. Let that sink in for a moment all you who thought Cappuccino and Chicken & Waffles were a bit much. Ranch. Raccoon.

Here's how the fine folks at Walkers describe this flavor: "A delicious combination of gamey meat flavour, with accents of sour cream and a garlic kick. They compliment one another beautifully."

The flavor came from the mind of one Robert Gibson, who initially rejected ideas like 'Doughnut Burger,' and decided that if Cajun Squirrel (apparently a real flavor) worked, why not Ranch Raccoon? Wow. I have no words.

Ranch Raccoon is up against some pretty stiff competition in this year's Walkers Do Us A Flavor, including Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ Sauce, Chip Shop Chicken Curry, Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup, Sizzling Steak Fajita, and Cheesy Beans on Toast.

Well, if there's one thing I can say for the Brits, it's at least they had some fun with the contest. And I think it's also worth mentioning that Pickled Onion, Roast Chicken, and Prawn Cocktail are all regular flavors for Walkers Crisps. Would you try any of these flavors?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

French Fry Diary 613: Birthday Goodies

I have a pretty important landmark birthday coming up later this week, and I wanted to talk about freebies, specifically birthday freebies from fast food and chain restaurants. For the sake of the blog here, I'm on an awful lot of email lists for these restaurants so of course I'm on their birthday list as well. I should add that there's a substantial lack of the favorite fried food for free.

Denny's is the granddaddy of these bad boys with their free Grand Slam breakfast on your birthday. You get two eggs, two pancakes, two sausage links, two slices of bacon - but no breakfast potatoes or hash browns. Sad. IHoP goes one better with a free breakfast that might just include hash browns.

Friendly's will give you a three scoop sundae, Dairy Queen does a Blizzard, Chili's a brownie sundae, and Cold Stone Creamery, Baskin-Robbins, Rita's Water Ice, and Ben and Jerry's all have ice cream in a cone or cup. Also in the cold club are Smashburger and Zinburger with milkshakes, and P.F. Chang and Outback both get you free dessert.

Sonic, Charlie Brown's, Red Lobster, Famous Dave's, Moe's Southwest Grill, Qdoba, and Fuddruckers play it safe and mysterious by saying you're just get a free gift. Maybe it's a watch? Hmmm… all I wanted was fries… Don Pablo's goes right for the wallet with the lazy birthday tact of a gift card.

Red Robin rules with not just a free burger, but also a side of those bottomless fries. Houlihan's gets you a free entrée, Johnny Rockets a free burger, and my friends at Cool Dog Café are good for a free hot dog. Hmmm… I'm thinking Cool Dog for lunch maybe and then Red Robin for dinner…