Friday, January 30, 2015

Lay's Do Us A Flavor 2015

It's that time of year again... what do you think would be a good flavor for a new potato chip from Lay's? Rules can be found here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #184

Here's a blast from the past for the South Jersey folks. Who remembers the Holly Ravine Farm and the Cowtail Bar?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

French Fry Diary 645: Laundromat Luncheonette

This memory is a very old one. When I was a little kid, my family didn't have the kind of things that other families had. We weren't poor, we were never poor. But let's just say we were a bit slower on the curve from everyone else.

It was a long time before we had a color TV, a stereo, a microwave oven, a dishwasher (well, maybe we had one of those, it was me), cable TV, an air conditioner, and a washer and dryer. Actually a few of those things we never had, but for the purposes of this entry, it's the washer and dryer I want to talk about.

No washer and dryer meant weekly (at least) trips to the local laundromat in the next town over in Berlin. All the dirty clothes would be put into pillowcases, packed into the car, and a few hours would be spent at the laundromat. There are many things to remember about that place. There were the full color picture Bibles chained to the bottom of the chairs, the Canada Dry Sport Cola in the soda machine, meeting an African-American boy for the first time and playing under the folding tables, and the penny gumball machines that also had peanuts and pistachios in them.

Despite all that, it was easy for a little kid to get bored. Sometimes I would go watch the car wash, and sometimes I would walk around the entire strip mall building the laundromat was in. It also included a dry cleaners, a paint store, a luncheonette, a liquor store at one end and a Sears pick-up center at the other. Honestly I think only the laundromat still remains, everything else has changed.

There's an AutoZone where the Sears used to be. I have fond memories of the Wish Book catalog at Christmas, and my dad getting his boat there, with what my childlike memory says were S & H Green Stamps. Bonus points if you remember them. And the liquor store at the other end of the strip is now a Risqué Video.

Every once in a while my mom would send me up to the luncheonette to get a snack to share while we waited for the laundry to get done. The snack? What else? The favorite fried food. I still remember the luncheonette, like a tiny diner squeezed into a strip mall-sized store - a store length counter with maybe half a dozen small booths along the opposite wall. The name however escapes me. Was it Nan's Luncheonette? Maybe. It could've also been Pat's, or Lynn's or something completely different.

The crinkle cut French fries, probably deep-fried, in a small paper box - circa the very early 1970s, were thirty-five cents, a quarter and a dime. At the time, with a comic book costing a quarter, this seemed like a fair price. It certainly beats the eight-dollar fries at the Old Homestead Steakhouse.

This is a very old memory, sharing French fries with my mom at the Berlin laundromat, but it's a very good one. I'm going to go do some laundry now, and maybe have some fries too. And I definitely miss my mom, and my childhood.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

French Fry Diary 644: KFC's Double Down Dog

You've probably seen or heard about this. Available for a short time at KFC locations in the Philippines, and at a count of only fifty sold per day, the Double Down Dog is a cheese-filled hot dog, wrapped in a bun-shaped piece of boneless fried chicken, with a zig-zag of mustard on top. Mmmm… (well, except for the mustard)

People are shocked and outraged of course. These are the health conscious folks who would never go into a KFC anyway, so really, why should the rest of us care? The health Nazis are not in KFC's demographic. Do we tell them what kind of flavorless non-bread cardboard bread they should eat and not eat? No.

I could definitely see myself trying the Double Down Dog (which honestly is not so far off from KFC's original Double Down), sans mustard of course, at least once, but I can't see doing it more than that. It's a once in a lifetime (make of the pun what you want, Health Nazis) treat, and I think that's why it's a limited time item.

Despite the limitations, they are selling out crazy in the Philippines. If you're there, and planning on getting a Double Down Dog, don't forget to get fries with that!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Grilled Smoky Cheddar Potatoes Packs

This one comes from Betty Crocker by way of the Just-Potatoes Yahoo! Group.

Grilled Smoky Cheddar Potatoes Packs 4 servings

Ingredients: 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces), 2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® Bac~Os® bacon flavor chips, 2 medium green onions, sliced (2 tablespoons)

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Place potatoes on 30x18-inch piece of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle with salt. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon chips. Wrap foil securely around potatoes; pierce top of foil once or twice with fork to vent steam. Cover and grill foil packet, seam side up, 4 to 6 inches from medium heat 45 to 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with onions.

See the whole recipe here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

French Fry Diary 643: More Crisps from the UK via Canada

You might remember I got a wonderful gift from my big sister a few months back, who in turn got these chips from her friend Kelly in Toronto who had recently visited the UK. Here are the rest of those chips.

Walkers Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips - full name Distinctively Salt & Vinegar with Real British Vinegar - The Bride went right for them, as she really likes salt and vinegar chips. She liked them, stating, "Salt and vinegar chips are good." Ain't she cute? I asked for one, and she replied, "You're not going to like them." She was right, but not in the way that say some of the Lay's Do Us A Flavor chips were not liked. They were okay, but not my cup of tea, or um, even chips.

Speaking of Do Us A Flavor, another of the bags from Kelly was from the UK's version of the Lay's (Walkers there) contest. These potato chips, or crisps, were flavored thus: Scrumptiously Smoky Bacon with Pork from Norfolk. Wow, that's specific. When the bag was opened there was a very pleasant smoky aroma, a good sign. They were quite good, and reminded me of the chips I'd had a while back at the British Chip Shop, only better. The Bride likened them to Bacos. Thumbs up for these.

The bag o' chips, I mean crisps, are from The Real McCoy's and are advertised as 'man crisps,' thick with deep ridges full of flavor. The flavor in question is Flame Grilled Steak. Biting into them, they have more of a thick crunch than might appear from the pics. I don't really taste the steak, and neither did The Bride, but they did have a pleasant smokey flavor like the other meat chip on this review. The company also puts out Flavors like Thai Sweet Chicken and Sizzling King Prawn among others.

Again special thanks to my sister Bobbie and Kelly for sending these along.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joanne's Bacon Hash Browns

A week or two ago I featured a recipe for Bacon Hash Browns, which actually proved very popular on Pinterest. It also inspired friend and fellow South Jersey Writers' Group member Joanne Costantino to actually attempt the recipe.

Not only was it a hit with her family, she saved a few for me and brought them to the next SJWG function. They were indeed delicious. Thank you, Joanne!

You can check out Joanne's blog here and Follow her on Twitter here.

Also please Follow French Fry Diary on Pinterest here and check out our discussion group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #183

Do not anger the Potato Clan. More Awesome Passive Aggressive Notes Left for Jerk Drivers can be found here. Thanks to Marni for hipping me to this on the Facebook.

Speaking of which, French Fry Diary can be found on Facebook here, and also on Pinterest here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

French Fry Diary 642: LongHorn Steakhouse

We've been here before. It might not seem like it, but we have. The deep fried breaded onion snack followed by beef is a gig we've done before, both at the Outback and the questionably named Texas Roadhouse. Even the Lone Star Steakhouse, sadly no longer in our immediate area, used to do that.

It makes me wonder if all three are the same restaurant, but no, each onion is trademarked. So each restaurant is just a competitive twin. Are those onion things really that good? Yes, decadent, but good.

My buddy and podcast partner Ray and I had been making an accidental tour of steakhouses lately, so the LongHorn Steakhouse seemed as good a place to go next as any. I was a bit tentative as the Cherry Hill location has gotten some bad word of mouth. I decided we should see for ourselves.

That is of course, once we got there. Ray set his GPS to the Lone Star Steakhouse, which as I mentioned is nowhere to be found around here. It took a while for us to meet, obviously. While the parking lot was full, the dining room was not. Not sure if that's good or bad.

The menu, supposedly brand new at the time, was huge, and thick as a textbook. The decor was very wooden and old school. There were some cowboy and western motifs, but the big attraction (or at least what my eyes went to) was the huge chandelier made of antlers. Don't know if they're real, but wow.

We got the Texas Tonion, trademark, but it doesn't need the trademark. It really doesn't need it. It's nothing like its counterparts, it's just a long plate of just meh onion petals. For the price, a little over seven bucks, comparative to the Bloomin' Onion, I feel ripped off. An order of onion petals, and only okay onion petals for that matter, is not worth the price of the exotic wheel of deep fried death and goodness I expected. I was not happy.

My chopped steak came with thinner longer onion straws. They were better than the steak. The fries were natural cut regular cuts, only warm but okay. The baked potato was very hot and very good. There's not much else to say about the food. The service was okay. There was nothing though that I would come back for, even though Ray said the LongHorn near him was better. That's too far though. And I'm still a little steamed about that Texas Tonion...

Friday, January 16, 2015

French Fry Diary 641: Trader Joe's South African Style Potato Chips

A recent trip to Trader Joe's I discovered something new in the snack section, a mysterious black bag of potato chips I had never seen before. Officially titled Trader Joe's Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning, the package promised 'classic potato chips with an exotic smoked flavor.' Well, I'm down with that, into the cart and home they went.

A glance at the ingredients and the back of the bag hype revealed they weren't all that far off from standard barbecue chips. They had paprika, chili powder, garlic, sea salt for a little extra something different, and then things got interesting as they also had seasonings like basil and parsley. This seasoning mix is usually used in fish or poultry when grilled, called in Afikaans, the braai, as barbecues are a social custom in South Africa, much like it is here. How exotic it actually is, I guess we'll find out in the tasting.

Upon opening the bag a not unpleasant aroma rushed out, not unlike barbecue flavor potato chips with maybe some (surprise) basil and parsley thrown in. The actual taste is quite different. I expected a barbecue chip but that doesn't quite come across. It's a big thin crisp chip but the flavor is overpowered by the basil, parsley, and paprika, with just a slight after burn. These are excellent dipping chips for cold dips like ice cream.

These are good chips with a big unique taste, and certainly more palatable than many of the Do Us A Flavor contestants the last two years. Interesting, tasty, and even a bit addictive, these South African potato chips are definitely worth trying.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bacon Hash Browns

These Bacon Hash Browns come from the Gourmet Traveller blog.

Bacon Hash Browns, makes 12

Ingredients: 3 medium potatoes, 1 small onion, 3 rashers streaky bacon, chopped, 1 tbsp self-raising flour, 1/2 tbsp milk, 1 egg, freshly ground black pepper, vegetable oil (for deep-frying), sea salt

Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes and onions and place in a large mixing bowl. Finely chop the bacon and add to the same bowl, together with the flour, milk, egg and a good grinding of black pepper. Mix well to combine.

Heat 3 inches of your oil in a deep pan and place heaped tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture in to fry – you will need to do them in two batches. Deep fry for 2 minutes until the edges start to turn golden then flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain on kitchen towels and season liberally with salt.

Eat immediately, or keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

You can see the full recipe here

Friday, January 09, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #182

Friend and frequent French Fry Diary contributor Cindy sent this one along from The Keg Room in New York City.

"Hot homemade potato chips at the Keg Room across the street from our hotel in NYC. Total yum. Not at all salty with a spicy blue cheese dipping sauce. Awesome. They totally smoke the Friars Nook."

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes Commercial Revolution

Recently potatoes have taken front and center place in television advertising. Actress Marcia Cross, the flaming redhead best known for her roles in "Desperate Housewives," and a decade before that "Melrose Place," is at the center of this ad campaign.

Albert Bartlett has introduced a new (well, not so new, but new here) red potato to the United States, neither Red nor Russet, the Rooster Potato is one of their prizes and they're pushing it hard, on TV. They also market the Anya, Blonde Bella, and Sundance Potato varieties.

The above was the introductory ad of this campaign, and the full commercial, looking every bit like it's selling conditioner, is here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

French Fry Diary 640: Ponderosa Steakhouse

There was a time when you couldn't turn a corner in this area without running into a Ponderosa restaurant. They have all gone away. I think I'd have to drive all the way to New York state or Virginia to find one now. I don't know what we did to offend them, but they're gone. One particular old girlfriend and I used to go there all the time, we loved it.

Ponderosa was part buffet, part cafeteria style, part self-serve, and part service restaurant. They were not as classy as, say the Rustler Steak House or the Bonanza, the latter of which is owned by the same company, but it's not like a Burger King either, ya know?

I would always get the same thing, the two grilled chicken breasts and a side of fries, sometimes the chicken would even come with a barbeque sauce. And when I wasn't in the mood for fries (it does happen), Ponderosa made absolutely awesome baked potatoes. As crazy as this must sound, and as many times as I was there, I don't think I ever once got a steak. Or if I did, I went right back to the chicken, I liked their chicken that much.

The fries at the time, this would have been waaay back in the 1980s, were simple regular cuts, and as I remember you got a pretty good portion. Looking at their current menu online, the baked potatoes look just as awesome, and the fries are pretty much the same, just natural cuts with the addition of some pepper as well as the salt.

From all indications, Ponderosa seems to be more of a buffet type place now, as opposed to what it once was - more Golden Corral than Rustler. Maybe someday I'll get up to NY or down to VA, or maybe on the next trip to Orlando because I saw one there too, and find out.

Friday, January 02, 2015

French Fry Diary 639: A Double Shot of Martin's

My friend Marni does a bit of traveling regionally, and when she does she is always on the lookout for new and different potato chips. A recent excursion brought two different kinds of Martin's potato chips to my attention.

Martin's is local to the south central Pennsylvania area, and make a variety of salted snacks, but that's not unusual, this area is hot with chip companies, especially those created after the Second World War. Martin's has a certain distinction as being a Presidential favorite, served on Air Force One several times.

The first bag was Martin's almost redundantly named Kettle-Cook'd Hand Cooked Potato Chips. Their claim to fame is that they're done the 'old fashioned way,' slow cooked one batch at a time. Very crunchy, they have a clean taste, which was refreshing. Great for dipping. Thumbs up.

The second bag was Martin's Bar-B-Q Waffle Potato Chips, which were, according to the packaging, 'bursting with flavor.' In this case, waffle is just another word for simple ripple cut chips. They are flavorful though, a nice heat with a bit of an aftertaste bite.

These chips also appeared to be slow cooked to that same crunch mentioned above, making them, with their ridges even better for dipping. These are awesome dipping chips.

This was a good delivery from potato chip Pennsylvania, thanks, Marni!