Friday, July 21, 2017

French Fry Diary 743: Wendy's Breakfast

Recently before getting on a plane to back to New Jersey (North Jersey, and those who know know that it matters) for a wedding, The Bride and I had some time, and the hungries for breakfast.  I carted our bags to the gate while The Bride searched for breakfast.  I was quite surprised when she joined me a bit later with a Wendy's bag. 

Honestly I was unaware that Wendy's did breakfast, but after a moment's thought, yeah, of course they did.  It had just never occurred to me to actually go there for breakfast.  And here at the busy Orlando International Airport, I suppose they must do a brisk breakfast business.  Notably breakfast is not listed on many of their websites.  They need to get the word out.

The Bride got an Artisan Egg Sandwich sans egg, essentially a grilled cheese with bacon, which she thought was just okay.  For me she got a biscuit, also just okay, nowhere near Bojangles or even KFC in quality.  The Bride also got breakfast potatoes, which were at the bottom of the bag.  I was both happy and wary. 

I was happy because, duh, I love the favorite fried food, and wary because many fast food breakfast potatoes are notoriously terrible, as is the case at Burger King, Chick-fil-A, and Roy Rogers.  I opened the bag and was pleasantly surprised.

At first glance, Wendy's Seasoned Homestyle Potatoes look similar to Roy's Home Taters.  Flat potato wedges, sometimes halved, and covered with a seasoned light batter, these were so much better that Roy's bland fare.  These were quite tasty and I wanted more when these were finished.  Definitely a thumbs up.  I'm going to have try more Wendy's Breakfast based on this experience. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Random Tater Pic of the Day #475

From Cabanas on the first morning of our June 2017 Disney Cruise, those fabulous roasted red breakfast potatoes, that morning with green peppers and onions.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Poll Reminder

For those of you who are unaware, to the left of this post, and all ongoing current posts is a special poll it might be fun to participate in.

The question of the moment regards Favorite Fast Food French Fries, specifically when you are on the road, and you get that craving for French fries, which drive-thru (or if necessary, go inside) is your destination?

Will you hit the first McDonald's you see, or will you go the extra mile for Chick-fil-A, or even do a bit of searching around for that elusive KFC or Checkers? What's your go-to Fast food stop for fries?

You can choose multiple choices if you want, but please vote, and let's see who comes out on top.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

French Fry Diary 742: Blue Apron

Now we had talked about Blue Apron before on The GAR! Podcast right here. My podcast partner Ray Cornwall had joined Blue Apron and gotten The Bride and me three free meals. As might be expected as I'm writing about it here, there were potatoes involved.

One of the dinners, the one we chose to make the first night, was Chile Butter Steaks with Parmesan Potatoes & Spinach. As a last-minute substitution, which happens sometimes to assure all the food is fresh, we got bok choy instead of spinach, and I was fiiine with that. Not a spinach fan, sorry, Popeye. As I mentioned, everything comes fresh, and everything you need -except the effort- comes in a box directly to your front door. To make the quartered potato chunks with Parmesan, in the box came three Yukon Gold potatoes, labeled and ready for action.

The potatoes get chunked, cut in half and then across into half-inch pieces, tossed in olive oil, notably not included, then put in the oven for about twenty minutes. Just before they were done, the instructions said to drizzle the Parmesan cheese over them then let them cook a few more minutes.

In the end, the steaks were good, the chile butter a little hot (and we didn't even use more than a third of the chile paste), the bok choy looked awful but tasted good, and the taters were pretty good too. I would have made some adjustments if we do this again. Not as much oil in the pan to cook the steaks, and I think I would have used some butter on the potatoes… but that's me.

We had a great meal, and decided to give Blue Apron another week. We'll see what happens, hey, maybe there'll be more potatoes…

Friday, July 14, 2017

French Fry Diary 741: Lay's Wavy Hickory BBQ Potato Chips

This one was written a while ago, but the chips still rock, so there you go...

I had picked these chips up for this year's Super Bowl, not realizing I hadn't written about them before.  Our Super Bowl celebration this year, our first in Florida, was just the two of us, and late in the evening.  Yes, it was quite a game, even though we watched most of it in fast forward, only hitting play for the mostly mediocre commercials, and of course the truly stunning and amazing halftime show. Lady Gaga definitely won this year's Super Bowl

Speaking of bowls, I got the Lay's Wavy Hickory BBQ Flavored Potato Chips mainly because the Lay's Wavy are thick and perfectly ruffled for dipping.  The dip in question was slightly melted vanilla ice cream, 'cause that's just how I roll. 

Unlike other Lay's BBQ chips, the Hickory flavor isn't overseasoned, doesn't burn, or have a hot after taste.  These are sweet and tangy to which the ice cream gives an excellent contrast.  Now that I have written about them, I'll remember how much I like them and get them again.  These are darned good BBQ chips. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

French Fry Diary 740: Swiss Chalet

The Bride and I went up to Toronto this past winter to visit my friend Andy for his birthday party. I didn't get to really try that many fries up there, managed to dodge the dreaded poutine, and remembered the hard way what winter is really all about after several months in Florida. It's damned cold up there, and forget Florida, it makes New Jersey look like a hothouse in the winter.

Anyway, while chatting music and movies, and books and toys, Andy ordered dinner for us from a place native to Canada called ironically enough Swiss Chalet. Knowing what a French fry guy I am, he also got their fries for me.

It's the thought that counts, but I have to say I was not all that impressed with their natural cut fries, and of course that may be because they were delivered, which always cuts down on quality and freshness. I bet they might have been better hot. The chicken however was very good, and they also have ribs and other stuff, including poutine, and any place that has Toblerone for dessert can't be all bad.

Still, as I said, it's the company that counts, and although we were only in Toronto for less than twenty-four hours, we had a great time meeting and hanging out with friends and family, and helping one of my best friends celebrate his birthday. Next time, poutine, and better fries, promise.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Marni Greene on Red Lobster's Potato Chip Shrimp

Here's a guest blog on Red Lobster's new Cape Cod Kettle Chip Crusted Shrimp from occasional FFD contributor Marni Greene, take it away, Marni, and thank you!

On Monday, my boyfriend and I got into our normal conversation about where to go to dinner.

“Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t care.  Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t have a preference.”

“Just drive me someplace with food because I am hungry.”

And this is how we ended up at Red Lobster.

A month ago, I had told Glenn about the new shrimp crusted with Cape Cod kettle chips and decided to go with a dish that had them.  The important thing to remember about me is that I have bad luck with my food at restaurants.  This time it was my skewer of red shrimp with BBQ sauce came out with raw middles so those had to go back.  Thankfully, the rest of my meal came out cooked so I ate that while I waited for my replacement.

The kettle chip shrimp came out not greasy and crunchy.  I don’t know why but it surprised me how much they tasted like potato chips.  I really did not think that it would have that much of a distinctive taste of the actual kettle chips.  I would love to see these as a regular menu item.  The shrimp came with a green onion dip that would probably taste really good for dipping plain potato chips in.  I went back and forth using this dip and cocktail sauce with lemon in it and they tasted great with both flavors.  I would definitely get these again.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

It's Pickle Season!

From dear friend and FFD contributor Robin, "I know it's not potatoes, but I am so psyched that one of my favorite snacks is back at Trader Joe's!! (And) Yes. It's delicious."

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Potato to the Rescue

This one comes from my friend and frequent FFD contributor Dom:

"Not a quintessential French Fry Diary-esque storyline, but, one day, it could be the fries that save humanity, and not the Avengers. Click here. It's just a shame they can't 'salt' themselves."

Cool, thanks, Dom!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Random Tater Pic of the Day #274

After meeting up with friends Anne-Sophie and her family in Norway at the World Showcase in EPCOT, The Bride and I stopped at Sunshine Seasons in The Land to split a quick breakfast. It had to be quick as we were on our way to the Disney Cruise next.

The Adult Breakfast included, obviously, breakfast potatoes with red and green peppers, eggs, overdone bacon (apparently that's the only way it comes at The Land), sausages, and delicious French toast bread pudding with a spicy kick of cinnamon. Yummy!

Monday, July 03, 2017

French Fry Diary 739: Whataburger

After over a decade of French Fry Diary, and literally over a hundred requests and recommendations for Whataburger, certainly the chain is on my French Fry bucket list. So when we made the move from New Jersey to Florida, and Jacksonville was on our route, we definitely had to stop at the Whataburger there and try it out.

Whataburger was started in 1950 by entrepreneur Harmon Dobson, whose idea "to serve a burger so big that it took two hands to hold, and so good that after a single bite customers couldn't help but exclaim, "What a burger!"" Starting in Corpus Christi, TX, the chain expanded to nearly 800 restaurants across the country, mostly in the south, but pretty much except for the northeast where I formerly resided.

The GPS was a bit wonky finding Jacksonville's Whataburger, but eventually our caravan found it. Besides The Bride and myself, we also had along friends David and Johnny, who were helping us drive our cars to our new home in Florida. Snowy the cat sat in his box in the car while we had burgers and fries, but don't worry, the windows were inched open, and I brought him some burger afterward to munch on. Snowy is a tough bruiser of a cat, and well loved and cared for - if he ate fries, I would have gotten him those too.

We ordered - burgers, fries, and onion rings - and got a number for the table just like Chick-fil-A also does these days. We got our sodas (Coca-Cola products) and they brought our food to us. I got a plain burger as I usually do, and was impressed that there were code words - 'plain and dry' - for the special order. Places where there are such names (like off the grill for Krystal, natural for Red Robin, or plain jane at the old Burger Chef, etc.) have lesser chance of screwing it up, which I like. The burger was also quite big, and very good. I was impressed.

The fries were shoestrings similar to McDonald's with a good crisp to them. They came in standard paper sleeves, and if you 'Whatasized' your meal, you got a box similar to a popcorn box full of fries. The onion rings looked beer battered, but they probably weren't - sweet but a little greasy, but not as greasy as they looked. I wanted to try the root beer milkshake they were advertising, but I was too full.

I suppose we could go back, but Jacksonville is far enough away at this point to warrant an airplane flight so maybe not. At least I got there once, but if it was closer, I'd definitely go more often. And I get to cross Whataburger off my bucket list now.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Random Tater Pic of the Day #273

Friend and fellow writer Dawn Byrne and her husband Joe were visiting Ocean City NJ recently and stopped at Ike's Famous Crabcakes. Dawn had never seen this type of fries before, thought of me, and took this photo from Joe's fish and chips platter.

These are a bit different, called Ike's Famous Butterfly Chips, they are thin, drill-cut potatoes, and covered with Ike's 'seacret' seasoning. Mmmm… chips… Thanks, Dawn, and everyone please check out Dawn's work on Twitter, Facebook, her blog, and her website.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy National Onion Ring Day

Today is National Onion Ring Day, or depending on how many you eat, National Onion Rings Day. So get out there and celebrate by having some of the second favorite fried side, onion rings!

Some of the best I've tried are at Red Robin, Manny's, Sonic, Bahama Breeze, Zaxby's, Red Lobster, Square 1, Long John Silver's, and the much-missed Little Shanty. Where will you be celebrating?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Onion Rings at Square 1

Thursday (tomorrow!) is National Onion Ring Day, so Square 1, who every Wednesday has a $4 special on their fabulous onion rings, is extending that special through another day to celebrate. Well worth a visit, these onion rings are among the best I've had.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fries - Deadly or Not?

Last week there was a bit of controversy, and several folks sent the articles my way, about how French fries can kill you. Can they? Apparently I'm still alive and kicking, but might I be gone by next week?

First there was this article from WSOCTV, a 'news' station in Charlotte, South Carolina. I put 'news' in quotes not because of any political 'fake news' nonsense, but because they got this article on fried foods killing us, with a title that includes key words like 'could' and 'suggest,' from a content farm, these sites are usually click bait and of low research quality and veracity. Just saying. The WSOCTV website also includes a 'news' story about people who believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. I think that should say all we need to know about WSOCTV news and their audience. Again, just saying. Feel free to read the article (both!) and enjoy.

Then there's this article, almost a direct rebuttal to the first about how potatoes won't actually kill you. This one is from some magazine called Popular Science, for those unaware, it's a science and technology magazine/website/network that has been around in some form or another for about a century and a half. They don't say fries are great for you, but they explain how data can be manipulated as in the article they refute. Fries are delicious, and great in moderation, and in combination with healthy diet and exercise.

So don't panic, folks, science is still on our side, as long as the current administration allows it to be…

Monday, June 19, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

French Fry Diary 738: Power Air Fryer

I got my QVC addiction from my late and much-missed mother-in-law, but really we each watch for very different reasons.  Mom was a shopaholic, so the entire channel was a vice, but as a foodie, I find myself drawn more to programs like "In the Kitchen with David" with the delightful David Venable.  Recently from that show, and pitch man Eric Theiss, we purchased a Power Air Fryer, and we love it. 

I had always been wary of some of the air fryers I had seen on TV, shopping oriented or not.  They never seemed to cook the food all the way through, fries Looking soggy, etc.  The first time I saw Eric on David's show with the Power Air Fryer, there was a sound the fries made when they hit the plate out of the inner fryer pot - the same sound fries make when shaken to disperse salt in a metal bowl - the sound of crispy fries.  They had my attention. 

After seeing them and the fryer on QVC a few more times, we made the purchase of, for an excellent price, the Power Air Fryer XL Pro.  We passed on the cookbook by Eric, but we did also get the barrel pan and the grill rack with the package.  In a few days the Fryer arrived, and we have been thrilled ever since.

Of course the first thing I made was French fries, Nathan's, which have been an air frying favorite ever since.  Following the simple picture touch screen directions - 400 degrees for 18 minutes - for fries, they came out perfectly golden brown.  I thought at first maybe a bit too brown, and that I had actually made charcoal, but no, they were perfect, crispy outside and soft and hot inside.  Near perfection. 

Over the next few days, hell, the next couple weeks, we had a whirlwind of experimentation, seeing what we could and could not cook in the Air Fryer, and there's really not much that you can't.  I learned that with those wonderful Nathan's fries, if you shake them halfway, and use more uniform sizes (I cut the longer fries in half) so they cook more evenly.  You can also adjust time and temperature as you wish as opposed to using the touch screen options.  These techniques are good tips for almost anything you cook.

I tried many different frozen fries options - shoestrings, steak fries, potato wedges, curly fries, waffle fries, tater tots, crinkle cuts, regular cuts - and also tried onion rings, as well as other stuff not usually covered in this blog like hot dogs, biscuits, hot pockets, motz sticks, scallops, shrimp, chicken, steak, burgers, hush puppies, cakes, and corn on the cob, that last one a particular favorite. 

There is of course a learning curve. As opposed to food being underdone as I assumed would be a problem, it's very easy to overcook, so keep an eye on what you're cooking.  Onion rings especially are easy to overdo.  You can even do handcut fries, which come out amazing.  So far the handcuts are the only item to which I've added oil, and then only a quick spray if at all.

The Power Air Fryer has been one of the best things we've purchased since we've been down here in Florida, besides of course the grill, which is my baby.  That said, I love my Air Fryer.  I don't miss our deep fryer, which we left in South Jersey, at all.  Thank you, QVC! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Random Tater Pic of the Day #272

This one comes from The Bride, a half-eaten potato salad from Zoe's Kitchen. What that says about it I will leave up to you...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

French Fry Diary 737: Robin Goes to Five Guys

Many folks here know my longtime friend and fellow creative Robin Renee, besides being a hell of a writer, and a terrific performer, she's also been a contributor here at French Fry Diary from time to time. She's also a vegetarian, and our collaboration on her current project Blog March 2017 indirectly to her trying Five Guys because of something I posted about President Obama digging the burger chain.

We texted back and forth after she had tried the Eagle Plaza location in Voorhees. She took lots of pictures, found the veggie sandwich just okay, but her fries were "…insanely salty."

I offered her some good advice for ordering fries at other places. Usually Five Guys doesn't count in this as they always cook them to order, but it might have helped in this situation. If you are worried about salt content, always order your French fries at fast food and other chains with no salt. First this will force them to cook a new batch, so they will be fresh and hot, and it also allows you the choice of controlling your salt intake but how much you put on yourself. It's a good tip and useful in these situations.

I of course felt bad and apologized to Robin again for making her go to yet another meat restaurant. I do this all the time without realizing it. The last time, I invited her to a steakhouse (The Pub), which luckily had a fantastic salad bar plus veggie selections. Sorry, Robin, I'm an idiot.

In her own words, "The good thing these days is that there's something veggie just about anywhere now," which is a good thing, because as I mentioned, I'm an idiot.

Please check out the Blog March, it's important. And if you feel so inclined, please join and/or donate to ACLU, vote, or register to vote if you haven't already, support People for the American Way, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, and Public Television.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Can You Eat Just Potatoes?

I love potatoes. I love potato chips, I love potatoes - mashed, baked, fried, even nuked – and I loooove French fries. But could I only eat potatoes? I might be happy for a bit, but even I'm not sure if I could eat just potatoes. I mean what about burgers and chocolate, right? You gotta have a balanced diet.

In all seriousness though, the website Digg, with their semi-regular feature What Would Happen If, asks the magical question - What Would Happen If You Ate Nothing But Potatoes?

Inspired by the astronaut character in The Martian who did in fact survive on just potatoes, the Digg team took a good scientific look at the prospect. Here were their results, right here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

French Fry Diary 736: The Garden Grill, EPCOT

Every time I've gone to The Land in EPCOT in Walt Disney World, I have always heard the same thing, that the food served in the restaurants at The Land is where possible grow and prepared right there at The Land. For those not in the know, The Land has an amazing horticultural, agricultural, aquacultural community. They grow everything there onsite.  And since I see potatoes on the Living with the Land omni-mover boat tour, one might assume, ya know? 

First things first, the Garden Grill is a revolving restaurant, set on a dais that turns ever so slowly as you eat over top the aforementioned Living with the Land.  The restaurant, like many in Walt Disney World, also features character meals, or more appropriately, a character breakfast.  Those in question here included Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Farmer Mickey.  For the uninitiated, a tip, Chip has a black nose and Dale has a brown one. 

What initially attracted me to the restaurant for breakfast, besides the promised "Hash Brown-style Potato Barrels" which I wrongly assumed to be fresh from the garden potatoes of The Land, was probably the ham, the bacon, the Mickey waffles, and cinnamon buns.  When we received our family style skillet full of breakfast, we were surprised, and not for the better.

Don't hit him, Jenn, it's probably not his fault...
The ham steaks had mysteriously vanished from the menu, and our skillet.  And while the warm and gooey cinnamon buns were to die for, not much else was.  The mini-Mickey waffles had done their time under a heat lamp and bacon was much too burnt and crispy for my taste, but that's okay as that's how The Bride likes it.  None for me though. 

And the hash brown-style potato barrels?  They were tater tots.  Frozen Ore-Ida or Ore-Ida knock off tater tots.  Disney had tricked me.  Not only were they really crappy heat lamp tater tots, they certainly were not grown in The Land.  At least Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale were fun, but I don't think I'll be coming back. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

Red Lobster Potato Chip Shrimp

Currently at Red Lobster, they're celebrating Lobster & Shrimp Summerfest. One of the dishes featured in this extravaganza is the new Coastal Lobster and Shrimp including "tender shrimp crusted with Cape Cod kettle chips to add a little extra crunch."

Potato chips also star in the new Cape Cod Shrimp and Chips, and that last one comes with fries.

You should always get the fries anyway, but don't forget the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, the real reason to go to Red Lobster at any time. Special thanks to Marni for hipping me to these meals.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dollar Fries

I posted about this over on the French Fry Diary Facebook group (and if you're not a member already, why aren't you?) when the deal first started, and thought it needed repeating, especially when combined with other fast food deal news.

Checkers and Rally's, for a limited time, are selling their small, medium, and large famous seasoned fries for only a dollar. The Fry Lover's XL size are excluded sadly, but until further notice, fries are only a dollar at Checkers and Rally's.

Now, if you have the fast food places in your town close together, you could end up getting a very inexpensive fry snack by first hitting Checkers and Rally's for dollar fries, then hitting McDonald's, where for a similar limited time, any size soft drink is only a dollar as well.

Sound like a deal? Yep, that's what I thought. Can't beat it. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

French Fry Diary 735: Fries on the Grill

The last week or so down here in Florida, besides being in the middle of a drought, the weather has been spectacular.  So, we've been grilling pretty much every day.  And if know me, or if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know there's going to be French fries in the mix. 

Now the brave among you will want to do them from scratch, that's not a problem. Cut the potatoes however you want, as fancy or as simple, with or without skin to your taste. Remember, small and thin will cook quicker, and also may fall between the slots of the grill, just as thicker might not, but will take longer to cook. I would advise coating the taters with a bit of oil and/or nuke them a little beforehand as I did here. They might take a bit longer, but they'll be delicious.

Even though Ore-Ida no longer makes its Grillers which were, as the name implies, perfect for the grill, and even if you don't make them from scratch, you can still have fries on the grill.  Any frozen fries, onion rings, or any potato product can go right on the grill.  And they cook faster than scratch, because they're already partially cooked when you buy them by the magic of par-fry.

Use a grill pan or basket if you're afraid they'll fall through.  A good one can be had for just a few bucks if you don't get fancy.  I use basically just a sturdy but disposable screen I got at the local Walgreens for a dollar.  If you choose, veggie baskets can get pricey, but it all depends on your needs.  I wouldn't use aluminum foil as some folks suggest, unless you like getting burned trying to retrieve those fries once they're done.

If your grill has a temperature gauge you can stay close to the instructions on the package, but remember with the lid closed, the grill is more like a convection oven than a traditional oven.  If no gauge, just keep an eye on them, but remember, the thinner the fry, the quicker the cook.  Golden brown is always good. 


Wednesday, May 24, 2017