Wednesday, March 23, 2016

French Fry Diary 692: Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

Chocolate covered potato chips. As it says on the bag of Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, "Can you imagine?"

I remember the first time I saw such a thing. I was maybe nine and my big sister Bobbie had taken me to Strawbridge's in the Echelon Mall and among the other exotics inside the glass candy counter like rock candy and fancy cashews and orange jells (the last both still favorites), were rippled potato chips covered in chocolate, both milk and dark. Can you hear the trumpets?

Nowadays you can find them at most indie and chain candy stores, and at Trader Joe's. Of course Joe has them, he even has, wait for it, chocolate covered orange jells. I know, madness. And it's supposed to be a health themed grocery store. Shhhh... don't let the secret out.

Joe's chips are also ripple chips, very crunchy and salty, and drenched in luscious milk chocolate. These are so good. You get about a dozen chips in a bag, which is fair, but my favorite way to eat them makes more (well, maybe). I put 'em in the fridge then smack the bag on the counter - instant bite-size pieces.

These are great, a terrific sweet and salty snack. Recommended.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #232

Here's another in our series of fictional fast food places we wish were real. From the Quentin Tarantino universe of film continuity, this is Big Kahuna Burger, most notably from Pulp Fiction and From Dusk till Dawn. Wow, I just love those golden fries...

Monday, March 21, 2016

French Fry Diary 691: I Hate Answers.Com

For quite some time I have planned a post over at my other blog, Welcome to Hell, about Answers.Com, and why I hate them so much. But the opportunity presented itself here at French Fry Diary first, so here you go.

The culprit that brought me here is the 'article' (and I use the term loosely) called "10 Food Things Only People That Grew Up in the Midwest Understand," and no, I'm not giving out any URLs in this blog post, because I don't want anyone going to Answers.Com. I hate them that much. Do not go there.

Here's my problem. They present 'articles' that are usually countdowns or top tens that are really series of twenty or so clicks and pages long. I do understand why they do this. It's so you see twenty or so different ads, and might, just might, accidentally click on one of those ads as you monotonously click through to see the rest of the article. I hate it. For instance, getting back on the topic, this article has in excess of twenty-five pages to click through to see all of the '10 Food Things.'

Among the 'Food Things' listed are mayonnaise on French fries, more European than Midwestern, but really, when has simple fact-checking ever stopped Answers.Com? They claim it adds a little different flavor than traditional ketchup. Really? What a revelation!

They also say that Midwesterners know that onions belong in fried potatoes. Well, yeah, onions and potatoes are friends. The much-missed Little Shanty taught me that. Man, do I miss those fries… Of course Answers.Com insists it's only a breakfast thing, they don't know how to live. They also mention fried cheese curds, distant cousin of the French fry and the onion ring.

So if you want to spend twenty minutes to a half-hour clicking through some mindless ads and 'facts' that aren't checked, just to learn that soda is called pop in the Midwest, go for it, but me, I'm out. I am officially boycotting Answers.Com, and no amount of pictures of the favorite fried food will lure me back.

Friday, March 18, 2016

French Fry Diary 690: The Three Broomsticks

After a rainy frustrating morning getting lost in Universal proper, but for the most part enjoying some of Harry Potter land, or whatever it's called - Wizarding World of harry Potter - is that it? One of the reasons I'm not so thrilled with Universal is their insistence on being the anti-Disney, sometimes to the point of being downright rude.

Case in point, when I was waiting for The Bride and friend Kat to meet up for lunch. I got to The Three Broomsticks first, and had a bit of a wait, which I unfortunately had to take outside in the rain, or in the soggy entrance of the place. You can't sit and wait inside unless you buy something. When I made a joke about my Magic Band, I was sternly asked to leave. So for me, Universal = rude and no sense of humor. They really made me not want to come back, and this was quite some time before we even had lunch.

I actually had high hopes for The Three Broomsticks after Sarah Hawkins-Miduski's mention on her blog here. Those potato wedges look good, right? They weren't, at least for me this time, that is. They were supposedly seasoned, really?? They were also quite dry as if they had been under a heat lamp for some time.

After an exhausting wait outside, there was an exhausting wait inside as well. Close quarters, body odor, and a general wet dog smell due to the rain outside made this line one of the worst. Sadly, the food wasn't much better. As many folks have noted elsewhere, Harry Potter land does not have soda. The butterbeer is like drinking super-sweet liquid vomit as far as I'm concerned, so I was stuck drinking apple cider, which was a nice change of pace, and the best part of the meal.

I was not impressed by Three Broomsticks at all. As with all bad experiences, I am of course willing to give this place another shot, but would rather not as they did their best to make me feel unwelcome and unsatisfied.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #230

From the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the groundbreaking "Steamboat Willie" by Walt Disney himself, Mickey peels a lot of potatoes...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

French Fry Diary 689: Famous Nathan

I like documentaries, so there's that, but folks that know me know the real reason I watched Famous Nathan, the bio-doc about Nathan Handwerker and his restaurant empire Nathan's Famous. Yeah, for the fries.

Regular readers know that I count Nathan's Famous Jumbo Crinkle Cut French Fries among the best fast food franchise fries, so of course I'd like some possible background on them. While Famous Nathan is a doc on Nathan Handwerker, you never know, there might be some insight on the fries.

The first thing on that front that caught my attention were the old pictures of the original Nathan's at Coney Island. The price I saw for fries (although the potato chips were more prevalent, at least in the old days) was five cents, which is cool, but I also noticed something else.

Nathan's had a lot of stuff for sale like malteds, different flavored sodas, hamburgers, potato chips, and roast beef. Look close, you'll even see fried sea food, barbeque, and chow mein. Clam chowder, frog's legs, shrimp - what couldn't you get at Nathan's?

The bio-doc goes on to reconstruct Nathan's journey to America, his rise in his chosen field, include interviews with family and friends, as well as feuds. Everyone in the doc is a larger than life character who plays a part in the world of famous Nathan and his empire on that corner in Coney Island. This is a delicious treat full of wonderful stories.

Fries aside, Famous Nathan, while failing in the best way as a biography because Nathan Handwerker was a hard man to get a handle on, the film is an amazing look at the American Jewish experience in the 20th century. The home movies may be of a specific famous family, but the tales are that of every family. This is America. Highly recommended.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #229

So is this a thing now? After decades of dipping French fries into milkshakes myself, it seems that it's finally caught on. This screen capture from a recent episode of "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" might just be the beginning of all that as time traveler Jax, half of the superhero Firestorm, introduces the art of dipping fries in shakes to 1950s Oregon...

Friday, March 11, 2016

French Fry Diary 688: Moon Dog Grill

I have to say it was refreshing to see the new food court at the Moorestown Mall, as opposed to construction area that was here last time I visited. This court has been redone several times, as a matter of fact, I think this may have been the first food court I ever visited, waaay back in 1985 - if I recall correctly, to visit a place that sold only French fries. Ah, youth. The latest remodeling is nice, with high tables including outlets for electronics being a modern improvement, but the real surprise and treat was seeing the MoonDog Grill.

Nestled amongst the other court restaurants like Subway, SaladWorks, Suki Hana, and Philly Steak among others, including the Yard House, is the MoonDog Grill. In case you've been under a rock somewhere and don't know, the MoonDog Grill is brought to us by the same wonderful folks who ran the much loved Cool Dog Café. I have been on a forced hiatus for the last few months, but when the new place opened in the Moorestown Mall on January 2nd, I was inundated with emails.

The word of mouth has been incredible, with so many folks telling me this is the crew from the Cool Dog Café. It's not everyone however as Shawn has moved out on his own, but Bernadette and Ira are still there, so it's the same great customer service, really the best service around, the type that makes you feel like friends, like family.

The menu is a little bit smaller, but still the same great food, and - wait for it - still the same fantastic fresh cut French fries. Always one of the best in South Jersey, these natural cuts are cut fresh and twice fried, so you know they know what they're doing. The paper bag to hold in the heat is an old school touch, and they still have all the special fry sauces from the Cool Dog days.

That's enough of my personal obsession. You're also going to be hard pressed to find a better hot dog or burger for the price. The Sabrett all-beef dogs have a great snap and are deep fried to perfection, and the burgers are 100% Angus beef, hand formed and never frozen. All the food is cooked to order and to your specs. This place is aces.

Most of tables in our area of the food court had MoonDog food on them, so they seemed to be doing a pretty brisk business the Saturday afternoon we visited. I wish the folks at the MoonDog Grill the best in this endeavor and it gets my highest recommendation.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

French Fry Diary 687: Herr's Chickie's & Pete's Crabfries Potato Chips

Whenever someone asks me who has the best French fries, and especially the best locally made fries, there is always one name that comes up - and that's Chickie's & Pete's. Their trademark Famous Crabfries are truly fabulous. In many ways, those pixie crinkle cuts with their special Old Bay seasoning and white cheese for dipping are Philadelphia.

Now, two local potato giants - Chickie's & Pete's and Herr's- have come together for one potentially sensational product. Yeah, Crabfries Potato Chips. The full name of the product is exhaustingly (take a deep breath) Herr's Chickie's & Pete's Famous Crabfries Seasoned Potato Chips with White Creamy Cheese Sauce Flavoring. Fifteen words. That's probably a record.

As I love Crabfries, I was pretty excited when I heard about these, but then I also heard they also had the cheese flavoring in them. I love the fries, but the white cheese not so much. The Bride loves it, but I usually give it all to her for dipping. This detail made me wonder if these chips would be as good as I first thought. Notably cheddar cheese is listed third in the ingredients.

When I opened the bag, the aroma was not unpleasant, but additionally it was not what I expected either. I didn't smell Crabfries. Clearly this is not a Lay's Do Us A Flavor chip, but that may be a good thing. The chips themselves as depicted on the package were wavy ripple chips, a nice homage to Chickie's & Pete's crinkle cut fries.

My first bite however brought that special Old Bay seasoning home. This was exactly the taste of the Crabfries, and after a couple more chips I got the cheese flavoring as a cumulative aftertaste. These are very good, I liked them a lot. Much like the Crabfries, these are very hot, so have something to drink close by. Thumbs up for these chips.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Random Tater Pic of the Day #228

More proof that dipping French fries in milkshakes is not just a fluke that a small minority are into. This admittedly unflattering screen capture is from a recent episode of Showtime's "Shameless."