Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Evan Hilton Makes Mashed Potatoes on Vine

Animator Evan Hilton made these mashed potatoes for the Food Network, and their Thanksgiving Live series.

For more of Evan's Vines, check him out here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

French Fry Diary 543: Ore-Ida Simply

This is another step in the recent bandwagon toward healthier French fries. Ore-Ida has come out with a new sub-brand of frozen French fries called Simply. The varieties include Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries; Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries; Olive Oil and Sea Salt Homestyle Wedges; and Roasted Garlic and Herbs Homestyle Wedges.

I was able to get hold of the first type listed above, and it's worth mentioning that both 'country style' and 'homestyle' are just fancy ways of saying natural cut, or with the skin on. On the healthy scale, these fries are gluten free, with less fat, less calories, less carbs, but unfortunately a whole lot of sodium, more than usual actually. Something to watch for the health conscious.

The 'simply' part of the product name is that the only ingredients are the ones mentioned above in the product descriptions, so the Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries are just that - olive oil, sea salt, and potatoes. Simply also has its own new cartoon mascot, Ore-Ida Mae, made up only of natural ingredients.

Wow. Once prepared, pun intended, they were 'simply' the worst fries I have had in quite some time. I made them per the directions and they were more than a little overdone, and the directions for other Ore-Ida products work fine in my oven. Where they weren't overdone, they were limp. I could taste neither olive oil nor sea salt in or on these natural cuts. Their most outstanding quality, I have to add, is their blandness and lack of any flavor or seasoning.

These fries were terrible. Granted, I may have just gotten a bad bag I suppose, but based on this experience, it will be quite some time before I try another Ore-Ida Simply product. Sorry, Mae.

Friday, November 22, 2013

French Fry Diary 542: Howard's Crispy Fried Chicken Skins

I love my friend Marni, I really do. And I love that wherever she goes, she's looking for new and interesting snacks for me to review here on French Fry Diary, but with this entry... I'm beginning to think she's mad at me for something. Something bad.

Marni got me these ...things. Howard's Crispy Fried Chicken Skins. Yeah, folks, these are exactly what they sound like they are. And not the tasty skin you can pull off your KFC and enjoy, this is just disgusting. I thought I was going to throw up.

Howard's Snacks also makes other yummies like pork skins and popcorn. From their website: "We knows all Fried Pork Skins..." I'm just guessing all our base belong to them too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

French Fry Diary 541: Potato Express

I'm not sure whether I was being spammed, or if this was sent to me deliberately because of this blog, but I've gotten an email ad for a new 'as seen on TV' product called Potato Express.

 It is some kind of insulated bag that cooks baked potatoes (and more!) in the microwave oven.

They claim 'perfect potatoes in just four minutes.'

There's even a commercial that shows you all you need to know:

Hmmm… let's just see what the Epic Review Guys think of that:

Yep, kinda what I thought too…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #122

I guess I have t eat my words when I said the other day how impossible it might be to get a plain French Fry Burger from Burger King. I might further have to apologize to the King of Burger, because this is where this plain French Fry Burger came from. Will wonders ever cease?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

French Fry Diary 540: The Potato Knish Shortage

Folks shopping early for Hanukkah may have noticing a serious problem in their expeditions. There is a nationwide potato knish shortage. Yes, I'm serious.

Due to a September fire at the Gabila's Knishes Factory, the number one supplier of potato knishes in the country, there is a shortage. The machinery used to make them was damaged, thus creating the problem. Otherwise, Gabila's makes and sells more knishes worldwide (so far, well over a billion) than any other company.

According to a Facebook message from the company promises to have the famous square knishes back in stores just in time for the upcoming Thanksgivukkah. Let's hope so!

Monday, November 18, 2013

French Fry Diary 539: Get Atomic at Cool Dog Café

You get LOTS more fries and rings than pictured here, but we were sharing.
The Atomic BBQ Sauce is one of three new sauces at the Cool Dog Café in Cherry Hill, along with TNT Mustard and Garlic Aioli, mmm. We had a friend visiting who had wanted to try Cool Dog because she'd heard so much about it, so what better time to go?

I ordered my regular, The Bride got hers, (isn't it great to have a local place with such good food where we can have 'regulars?') and our friend, who's a chef, caterer, and foodie herself actually got two different dogs, and the onion rings. She was very well impressed and would definitely be back.

With my required order of Cool Dog's award winning fresh cut fries, I also got an order of the Atomic BBQ sauce. It was sweet, but hot with a little bit of a kick, I loved it. The sauce was great for dipping, it was good on the fries, and the rings, and even on the dog (hint hint, if you're looking for ideas for future dogs, this is it).

And of course, the big news - is that the Hanukkah Dog will be returning to Cool Dog Cafe the week of Thanksgiving/Hanukkah, so get your appetites ready now!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grilled Steak Potato Kebabs

Today's recipe comes from Best Recipestry, by way of Just-Potatoes, and you can see the whole thing here.

Grilled Steak Potato Kebabs


FOR THE CHIMICHURRI, PURÉE: 2 cups fresh mint leaves, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1 /2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp. each red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp. ground sumac or minced lemon zest, 1 shallot, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste.

FOR THE KEBABS, TOSS: 6 red or yellow new potatoes, ends removed, cut into 24 (½-inch-thick) slices, 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, 11/4 lb. beef tenderloin or top sirloin, cut into 2-inch chunks.


Preheat grill for two-zone grilling, heating one side to medium and the other to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

For the chimichurri: purée mint, parsley, 1/2 cup oil, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, sumac, shallot, and pepper flakes in a food processor; season with salt and black pepper.

For the kebabs, toss potatoes with 2 tbsp. oil; thread six potato slices onto each of four skewers so potatoes lay flat. Toss beef with 2 tbsp. oil. Evenly divide and thread beef onto each of four skewers. Season kebabs with salt and black pepper. Grill potatoes over medium heat, covered, until brown and soft, about 7 minutes per side.

Add beef kebabs to grill; cook over medium-high heat, covered, to desired doneness (about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare). Let kebabs rest 5 minutes. While resting, brush kebabs with chimichurri. Serve remaining chimichurri on the side.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 576 cal; 47g total fat (8g sat); 75mg chol; 86mg sodium; 15g carb; 3g fiber; 30g protein.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

French Fry Diary 538: Landscape of Flavors, Breakfast

This place was a bit of a shock, made more so because we were at Disney. I really hope this is an anomaly. From the moment the day before, when I had FourSquared from Landscape of Flavors, I had a few folks email me and Tweet me that I had to try breakfast there, especially the breakfast potatoes and/or the tandoori potatoes.

Indeed, I have only heard good things about this food court since it, and its hotel, Art of Animation, opened. The more remarkable tales tell of folks coming all the way across the bridge behind it from Pop Century for the food. I admit my curiosity was piqued, because I like Pop Century.

The customer service was abysmal. Skipped lines, forced to buy items not wanted, and just a total crap attitude. No one was going to get a 'What Would Walt Do? pin here, that was for sure. So it must be the food, right? Once breakfast was gotten back to the table, I'm really not so sure.

I was planning to get the tandoori potatoes but quite frankly, that did not look all that appetizing. Maybe I missed out on a serious potato delight, but really I just didn't want to even try them. I opted for the regular breakfast potatoes instead, along with some barely warm, dry, overseasoned Challah French toast. What a waste of Challah bread.

The potatoes were of the shredded variety, not the usual tasty diced throughout most of Disney, and over at Pop Century. These shredded potatoes are then baked a la kugel, sliced up and served in squares.

Sounds good, right? Not really. For the most part it's a soggy mess, with occasional a pepper speck or two for flavor. The only good part is the top skin which took most of the heat baking. What good is a breakfast potato dish without a little crisp to it? These needed crisp, they needed seasoning, and after a few moments it was like eating cold mush. Suddenly the tandoori potatoes didn't seem like a bad choice.

This was by far one of the worst breakfasts I've had at Disney. Maybe they deserve a second chance, but it will take quite a bit to get me to come back. Just say no to Landscape of Flavors.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #121

These Somebody Else's Fries come from my podcast partner Ray Cornwall. He had these "really good room service fries" at the Four Points Sheraton at Philadelphia Airport. Thanks, Ray!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dining on the Disney Fantasy

We've been talking about the meals (and the potato-ey offerings) on board the Disney Fantasy ship of the Disney Cruise Line for a few weeks now. If you haven't had enough already, here's an extra special treat.

If you liked reading about the dining on the Disney Fantasy, you might also like listening to The Bride and myself talking about it. For those of you who aren't aware, we're doing a Disney-focused podcast called The Make Mine Magic Podcast, which you can hear here.

Not just about French fries, but all of the food offerings and dining options on board are up for discussion. Check out the podcast here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

French Fry Diary 537: Celebration Night at Enchanted Garden

After a night suffering from a thankfully 24-hour bug, and a special thank you to the newlywed couple who helped me out, especially the man who escorted me to the medical center, I was back on track aboard the Disney Fantasy. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing, and these two gentlemen were very caring and thoughtful. The next morning I awoke, fever broken, and voracious, diving right for those great roasted potatoes up at Cabanas. I was back.

Our final night on board was a good one, and not just because I was feeling better. First I was feeling good enough to eat. As an appetizer I tried the Grilled Potato with Goat Cheese Napoleon. Wow. The potato part was very good, but I'm not sure why they called that other stuff cheese. Nope, Tiggers do not like goat cheese.

Now all week I had been using the new app for my iPhone that only works on the boat called 'Disney Fantasy Navigator.' It was basically an electronic version of the daily schedule given out everyday on the boat. In the dinner menus for everyday I kept reading about this Golden Chicken Strips with Barbeque Sauce served with Steak Fries. As it turns out this was a kiddie offering, but by the end of seeing it all week, I wanted it, and ordered it. Sadly, they were out of steak fries. I guess the good fries go first.

For dessert, The Bride was sung to for her birthday, and we were both sung to for our anniversary. Combine that with a luscious dessert called Chocolate Decadence, as well as baked Alaska, and this was a very good night.

And remember, French Fry Diary is now on Facebook, come on over and join the fun and the discussion!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Animation and Potatoes

I was not feeling well at all this night, but wanted to come to dinner at Animator's Palate to see the show. You draw a little guy and then it is animated into the show on the screens throughout the restaurant. Here's what it looks like:

As I was not doing well that night, I ate light, a baked potato. Our servers insisted on bringing two baked potatoes. Never argue with people who handle your food. I enjoyed what I could of one of them. I wish I could have enjoyed more.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #120

Another night at the Royal Court on board the Disney Fantasy, and here's another tater pic. These golden brown swirled beauties are whipped Yukon Gold potatoes. They were delicious and the best part of that night's meal. They had a heavenly texture, lightly crisp on top protecting a soft hot buttery inside of tender potatoes. They came with my almost as good peppercorn encrusted steak.

And remember, French Fry Diary is now on Facebook, come on over and join the fun and the discussion!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

French Fry Diary 536: Room Service, Disney Fantasy

The last few times we've done the room service thing on board the Disney Cruise, it's been the middle of the night or early morning while chilling and watching one of the constantly running OnDemand movies on the cabin television. This time it was different. I'll tell you, as much as we enjoyed her company, bringing the mother-in-law with has thrown off our schedule completely (I kid, Mom, I kid).

This time we got room service after The Bride and her mom went ashore to Costa Maya to hang out with the dolphins, while I stayed on board, read, wrote, and had steak frites. When they got back, they were beat and didn't want to do anything but rest, so room service was the call of the day.

Among the goodies ordered for this in-room spur of the moment feast were hot dogs, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, salad (some of us were being good), and yes, of course, French fries. The best part was not only did the girls share with poor embattled me (not easy sharing a cabin with two women), but the fries were the steak fries I was looking for earlier. How awesome is that?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #119

Friend and FFD enabler Marni recently went to Red Lobster and got the Crab Bake, here are her observations: "Got the Crab Bake at Red Lobster and in it are these crispy potatoes. Lightly crispy fried potato chunks." Thanks, Marni!

Monday, November 04, 2013

French Fry Diary 535: Steak Frites, Royal Court, Disney Fantasy

I was hoping to get another taste of those terrific steak fries that I had gotten at the Royal Court the other day on board the Disney Fantasy, but it didn't quite work out. The menu changed. The burger (gluten-free) was still there, but so was steak frites, so I opted for the new choice rather than the old reliable.

As always the service is incredible, and if I had any problems or concerns, I am sure they could have been remedied, but let's just suffice to say I didn't get my steak fries. They might have been out of them as I didn't see anyone else with them either. Still what I got was very good.

The steak frites was a wonderfully succulent strip of grilled steak with a garlic butter, served with natural cut French fries. Now these fries were the same I have dissed before when talking about Disney before, not bad, but not spectacular either, but soaked in the juice of the steak and the garlic butter, they were very, very good. A wonderful lunch meal, Disney scores again.

Friday, November 01, 2013

French Fry Diary 534: Enchanted Garden, Disney Fantasy

Today was a good food day on board the Disney Fantasy, between breakfast at Cabanas and lunch at the Royal Court, I wasn't sure what to expect at the Enchanted Garden for dinner. I need not have worried.

I got the steak option available every night that is for the folks not interested in that night's particular fare. With that I got a baked potato, which was one of the better such I have had in quite some time. I mashed that sucker up with a fork, smothered it in butter and went to town. And yeah, the steak was very good too.

That's three for three today, and the third day on board. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully it's something potato-ey…