Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

French Fry Diary 09: The Potato Onion Web

On a recent trip to Orlando Florida I discovered a place called CityWalk’s Rising Star. It’s karaoke with a twist – you do it on stage with a live band and back-up singers. Terrific fun.

Now what’s that got to do with the favorite fried food I hear you ask, well, I’ll tell you. Rising Star has the usual variety of bar foods available to guests while they watch or wait their turn, and on that menu is a magical item called “The Potato Onion Web.” It’s described simply as beer-battered potato and onion, but it’s all that and more.

Served in a basket, it appears to be nothing but golden brown hot fried lumps but is really a mix of battered and deep-fried chunks of crunchy, but soft in the middle, potatoes stuck together with frizzled onions. It’s a cholesterol nightmare and a heart-attack-waiting-to-happen but it’s oh-so-delicious.

If you get down to Orlando, definitely check this out. Oh, and the show is good too.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

French Fry Diary 08: Aboard the Disney Wonder

Cruises are notorious for the never-ending parade of food on board ship. The Disney Cruise Line is no different. What is different on board their two ships, the Magic and the Wonder, is the quality of the food. Personally I’ve only cruised on two other lines, the Disney Cruise proving to be vastly superior in comparison.

I’ve traveled on the Magic my first two times and the Wonder my second, including this most current trip. The ships are virtually identical with one major difference – the dress-up restaurant on the Magic is Lumiere’s and Triton’s on the Wonder. But both ships have variations on the favorite fried food.

Starting with the morning, the breakfast potatoes at Beach Blanket Buffet up on Deck 9 came in a few different varieties. There were hash browns of the flat tater tot style, closer to store brand than McDonalds, but nowhere near as greasy and just as tasty. Also available were potato wedges, baked and seasoned, and soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The final type were stir-fried scalloped potatoes – my personal breakfast fave on the cruise (potato-wise at least) – made from reds and cooked perfectly in that nebulous area between crisp and baked potato goodness.

In the fries category, natural cut shoestrings came as a side with most offerings at Pluto’s Doghouse. For free fast food sides, not bad, hot and tasty, and they certainly compliment the giant hot dogs they have. My only complaint would be that the last thing I want on an open deck in the Caribbean is hot food. Still good fries though.

The prize find of the trip however, as far as the favorite fried food goes, would be at Triton’s. The French fries available at lunch seatings (and dinner if you ask nicely) are very close to the best fries on Earth (those found at Cooke’s of Dublin in Orlando, FL). Obviously fried then baked, these fries are thick cut, three-quarter inch by three-quarter inch and perfectly delicious. The only problem would be the sparse amount one gets, but as with most things Disney, you only need but ask and you shall receive. Just ask for more.


Monday, September 22, 2008

French Fry Diary 07: Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Orlando

You want snacks, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a cornucopia of snacks, and of course the number one snack is the favorite fried food – the French fry.

On our most recent trip to WDW, we stayed at the Polynesian Resort. It’s one of the main on-property hotels, one of the big three, the one with the island theme and the flaming luaus. Heck, it’s even a monorail stop.

Their 24/7 kid-friendly snack shop/restaurant is called Captain Cook’s Snack Company. Referred to by more than one employee here as their version of McDonalds, it’s really more like a Wawa meets cafeteria with nicer trimmings sort of place. Really, the only thing that says Disney about the whole place is the friendly atmosphere and service, and the Mickeys and Minnies on the cups and napkins. Come to think of it, one must wonder the why of the name – yes, Captain Cook was a real pirate, but Captain Hook was a Disney pirate.

The official blurb reads: “A 24-hour walk-up counter café on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Features include egg sandwiches, bakery bar, hamburgers, pizza, hot/cold sandwiches, salads, and snacks.” Snacks. That would be the fries, people.

My visit was in the morning, so I, of course, got their breakfast potatoes. After marveling at the concept of being given a beeper for my short order I picked them up and proceeded to eat. At first glance they appeared to be quite similar to the potato wedges one might get at KFC, only not seasoned so darned much. After a taste they proved to be more.

They were in fact potato wedges, but freshly cut and baked, lightly seasoned and then sautéed. I doubt they were fried. They had the wonderfully texture of a boiled potato inside but cooked just enough. Yes, it was a short order, but filling enough to be a meal. Good stuff.

I wonder what their fries are like? I got to find out later that day. Nothing to write home about (blogging is a different story…). They are standard-tasting deep-fried natural cuts, but the magic is in the post cook/pre-serve technique. After the deep fry, the fries are shaken in a metal mixing bowl with a splash of salt and shaken some more, a la Belgian fries. Bravo. Fun to watch, just okay to eat.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

French Fry Diary 06: The Steakhouse, Harrah's Atlantic City

For my birthday this year, the Bride used up her comps at Harrah's Atlantic City and took me to The Steakhouse there, a place I had always wanted to go. Well, that’s not exactly true. I like steakhouses, so going to any steakhouse is someplace I always want to go, but perhaps not that one in particular, but still.

The Steakhouse, as it is simply called, is a well-to-do place, one that if it were not in the middle of a casino would definitely have a dress code. On our visit we saw evening wear and jean shorts and sandals. The steaks were to die for, so juicy and tender, a knife was hardly needed to cut it. There was also a interesting variety of breads available before the main course.

And now we get to the, pardon the pun, meat of the meal – the fries. I was a bit tempted by the onion rings, having seen them brought out to another customer. They were thick, crunchy and served vertically on a stick a la Red Robin, but our waiter, when asked what he preferred, suggested the fries. "When else will you have a chance to have real Belgian fries?" True, true, and so I was sold.

I cannot deny that I was impressed by the presentation. The fries came in a wax paper cone, just like Belgian fries are supposed to, and this deep cone came in a specially made metal container. The cone was stuffed with natural cut fries, not exactly Belgian fries, but close. The problem was that the ones on top, the ones I could see at first that were bursting from the cone, were barely warm and kinda crunchy. And not good crunchy, mind you, crunchy as in rock hard and unbreakable by fork or teeth.

The good news was that the fries underneath, kept from the air by the 'bad ones,' were quite tasty and everything promised. And the cone and metal container were deep enough that there were quite a few of these. I then did what I should have done at first, just dumped the whole cone onto a plate and ate from there. I’ll know for next time.

So, Harrah's Steakhouse fries – A+ for presentation, B for taste and D for continuity. Worth a try. But I’m still getting the onion rings next time too.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

How to Make French Fries

Another tutorial on the art of making (baked) fries from scratch, this one from xJianwei92x with musical accompaniment.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Speed Painting with French Fries

Info from the artist:

What do you do with fresh McDonald's French Fries and 10 packets of Ketchup? You paint with them of course. 50 min speed painting plays in 4 mins. Ketchup as paint and french fries as a paint brush.

I had to remove the original song because of copyright infringement. Unfortunately the YouTube AudioSwap beta also reduced the quality of the video. When I get a chance I will upload a new higher quality video. I am also in the process of having some limited edition posters and artist prints made. I will be selling these prints on eBay to raise money for the CARE World Hunger Campaign.

Please check out my other videos where I draw with more traditional mediums. Coming in April I am starting a series of instructional videos on how to draw portraits. I am also holding a contest on YouTube soon to win your own portrait. So subscribe to my channel to keep updated.

Now to answer some questions…

The painting Measures 14x11 inches on foamcore surface. It is not permanent the video is the art.

I do custom portraits in a variety of mediums. You can find some info at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Lansing State Journal Knows Fries

A recent article in the Lansing State Journal not only praises the favorite fried food but also offers up a cool recipe and even some interesting variations on the fry. Check it out here.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fries Get Political

A coincidental name is putting a new spin on McCain's latest ad campaign.

McCain Foods Limited, the world's largest producer of frozen French fries and potato products, has started their new ads proclaiming "Why McCain Should Be in the White House."

No, not that McCain, but the fry people. It's a clever ad, and not an endorsement of either candidate, but it definitely gets attention.

I know I'm voting for McCain... fries!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Matthryn and the Many Facets of French Fries

The wonderful world of Google Alerts recently hipped me to the blog of Matthryn, and their celebration of National French Fry Week. Almost every day of that week featured a blog entry dedicated to the favorite fried food.

Among the goodies we received, there was an introduction, a short story, a portrait, a run-on sentence, a poem and a conversation.


Mmmm... Fries...


Saturday, September 06, 2008

French Fry Diary 05: Maoz

Yep, I went to a vegetarian restaurant.

The big thing was that my friends Crystal and Anthony just couldn't wait to tell my wife that they had taken me to, and that I had eaten at, a vegetarian restaurant. Me, who never ate right and especially never ate my vegetables, and here I was at Maoz, a quirky cool tiny little vegetarian restaurant take out place on Philadelphia's eclectic South Street.

Maoz, just for the record, is an international franchise with locations all over the world, but only a handful here in the States, and we're lucky enough to have two in Philly.

Back at the vegetarian restaurant. The fix was that Glenn was there for the fries. Heck, you could lure me through the gates of Hell with the temptation of French fries. Now the fries at Maoz had an additional allure - they were Belgian fries (at least on the menu), and Belgian fries are the gold standard of French fries.

Other than the tasty selection of Coke products, these classic pomme frites called "Belgian chips" here at Maoz were the only dangerous item on the menu. Everything else was the usual healthy fare that every good vegetarian restaurant should have.

While I was at first excited by the prospect of Belgian fries, and I did enjoy them, I was a bit disappointed on closer inspection. They were really steak fries - par-fried, frozen and store bought. While they were in fact cooked and served in the traditional manner - they were still steak fries. They tasted quite similar in taste to the steak fries (called Fat Fries there) at Fatburger.

Now like I said, this doesn't mean they weren't good - they just weren't Belgian fries is all. I'd still go back, and now I can say I've been to a vegetarian restaurant. Believe it or not, it's true.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Rock On, Patty Fisher

Remember that old NRA gem about "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns"? Not my favorite organization, but in concept the tagline does have merit. All over the country, government and citizen groups are going after fast food, trans fats and cigarettes with much more vigor than truly dangerous things like drugs.

Apparently fast food, and not lack of self-control, is responsible for childhood obesity. Fast food has been around for quite a while, and to my thinking a few generations have survived the evils of fast food before this one. But, heaven forbid we should blame the parents, let's just blame the food.

Patty Fisher of Mercury News recently wrote a very cool and thoughtful article on the subject of banning fast food restaurants near schools. Check it out here.

Rock on, Patty Fisher!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Poutine is one of the worst tortures one can do to the poor French fry.

It comes from the French, or more accurately the French Canadien folk. It should be noted, despite the name, the French are the ones who lay claim to creating the favorite fried food, but we all know it was really the Belgians. I think that, right there, should tell us how much we should trust the concept of the poutine.

Poutine, roughly pronounced poo-teen, as in poop and teeneger, which is also very telling, is the process of drenching poor French fries in cheese and gravy. Just to make sure it's even more inedible, it's usually cheese curds and hot brown gravy. Come on, really, what did French fries ever do to you?

You can find a powerfully pictorial recipe for poutine here. The fries sure look good before getting tortured, don't they?

Despite my dislike for this variation on the favorite fried food, I have been assured it is quite tasty, and is actually quite popular in the great white north. All across Canada, chains like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC all have choices of poutine on their menus. If you're into it, enjoy!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

POTATO-RECIPE on Yahoo! Groups

More than just French fries.

Marla in Las Vegas runs a very cool recipe group on Yahoo! called "POTATO-RECIPE" that features recipes that involve the wonderful potato - including the fried variety.

According to the description: "fried, boiled, steamed, roasted, baked", come on now, does it get much better than that?

Click below to join in on the fun!



Monday, September 01, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

Not all French fries are traditional, or even from traditional potatoes. A twist of the favorite fried food is to make them from sweet potatoes. Mmmm... orangey goodness.

They're not easy to find though. The only place I have found them consistently is at Whole Foods, a wonderful and unique store with lots of hard-to-find stuff.

The Preppy Cricket reviews Alexia (makers of some very cool kinds of fries and fry-like items) brand sweet potato fries on her blog. Check it out here.


Peace, Love and French Fries

On a visit to Peterborough Locks, LiveJournaler Madly Cool AKA Wallflower took this photo of the "Hippie Chippie."

Peace, love and French fries, indeed!

Check out the rest of the entry here.