Friday, December 31, 2010

French Fry Diary 194: Tonic

Today's Somebody Else's Fries is another one from The Bride. She travels quite a bit for her work, so she gets to try a lot of new and different restaurants all along the east coast. On this day, she stopped by Tonic, a restaurant/bar in Pittsburgh, where she got something called 'Cowgirl Fries.'

These Cowgirl Fries were big natural cuts that had bacon, scallions, and a homemade cheese sauce on them. The Bride said, "they were good, but they weren't super-terrific." The panini of the day was much better. Hmmm... I'm not sure if that's an endorsement or not. I guess if I ever get out to Pittsburgh, they might be worth a try.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

French Fry Diary 193: Oceano's Family Restaurant

This Berlin NJ restaurant was not my idea. From the outside it looks like a fancy place but once you're inside, you realize it's just a diner. I was here, twice now, for a family get-together. Nice to see folks I haven't seen in a while, but just wish it was at a different venue.

The service was pretty miserable. I wonder if they cared that thanks to our party they had about forty people in their otherwise deserted restaurant. For my meal I got a chopped steak, onions and fries. The steak was very good but the fries, freezer burned regular cuts were not. Some were overdone, some were underdone, hardly any were edible.

The highpoint of the Oceano's visit was the placemat, one of those typical diner thingies with ads from local businesses. One such ad promised a "free chair message". Truly the highlight.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Twitter Fries

LucindaLunacy We have the back door open because it's so nice out. There's a distinct smell of french fry now wafting in from Genos/Pats. Pffft

Jentipede At New York New York... At the bar. The lights look like french fries. I'm hungry.

JoanneJupiterx Can't sleep, kinda hungry, making french fries, and watching spongebob ^^

keananagtalon It’s much easier not to know things sometimes. And to have french fries with your mom be enough.

miirachaan french fries always taste best when stolen from the person next to you. :)))

marisanunbhakdi Craving for french fries with aioli dip, with a glass of red wine..uhmmmm ;)

niccolus Philly Cheesesteak French Fries? I just stepped into heaven.

likelylikely Because of masterchef, I just learned why I could never deep fry really good french fries. You have to boil them before deep frying...

lelandjs Today I learned that Tater Tots can be turned into mediocre IHOP-style "home fries".

Nekkobus My attempt at making a breakfast hash has basically ended up as bacon fries topped with a fried egg. Fine by me!

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

French Fry Diary 192: Freaky Eaters on TLC

There's a show airing on The Learning Channel called "Freaky Eaters." In this American version of the original BBC series, the emphasis is on the freak. No one should as picky as these picky eaters are seems to be the point of this series. It's bad for you, and the Health Nazis are coming for you if you're like this.

Case in point - Amber the so-called French fry addict in the episode called, appropriately enough, "Addicted to Fries." It is mentioned early on, but never again, that Amber's lifelong eating of French fries, and only French fries, has not affected her heath at all. She just wants to know if there is anything wrong with her that that is all she wants to eat, and if there is anything wrong with her daughter who seems to be following in her footsteps.

The show hosts, Doctors Dow and Virgin, who try to help Amber are like a cross between rabid dogs and those shrinks on "Hoarders." They think there's something wrong with her, and that they have to fix her. Even though the fries have never impacted her health, they have to go.

Just for the record, and for those folks who do like the favorite fried food, Amber's weapon of choice is Ore-Ida crinkle cuts, deep fried in a pot of oil. Hmmm. Not the best way to do it. Unless of course you like greasy fries.

It does turn out that Amber does have something wrong with her, genetically. Her system can only tolerate French fries and a few other foods; anything else will make her sick. So it's genetic, and extremely rare, so she can't help it. Her daughter on the other hand has no such anomaly. So I'm watching this show, waiting for the two genius doctors to help the daughter expand her range of foods.

Nope. These Health Nazis won't let Amber be and insist she try new foods anyway, even if they make her sick. They basically ignore the daughter, who does need help. The doctors start by making Amber try French fries in different colors, which is absurd. Picky eaters have trouble with other colors and textures of foods, but they already determined she doesn't fit into that category, and yet this 'therapy' is forced upon her. What about her daughter?

On a side note, the rainbow fries do remind me however of those Funky Fries that Ore-Ida made for a while.

I love this. It's just like those darn Health Nazis when they complain about McDonald's and other fast food places. They would be happy if all the restaurants shut down and French fries were made illegal. Mind you, I have no doubt that cigarettes and alcohol would still be legal in their world. Wake up, people, blame the behavior, not the food.

The doctors finally do incorporate the daughter into the treatment and they got both mother and daughter to try a cucumber. The epilogue mentions that Amber has added fifteen new foods into her diet. There's no mention of her daughter.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

French Fry Diary 191: 7-Select Onion Rings

This is a review of 7-Eleven's Onion Rings, honest, it's just going to take a long time to get there. Due to traffic. Bear with me.

Okay, it was Free Slurpee Day 2010, or 7-Eleven's birthday, your choice, and I want to get my free Slurpee, specifically the Coke Slurpee, the granddaddy of Slurpees in my opinion. As opposed to recent years where Free Slurpee Day was all day, the folks at 7-Eleven restricted the celebration to certain hours so my friends and I were on a timetable to get there.

Yes, there's a 7-Eleven right in town, but it's not as easy to get there as one might think. You see, I live in Marlton, and the state of new Jersey has decided that circles, a traffic phenomenon, which has been simplicity for NJ drivers for almost a century, are now too hard to navigate. Why we have to bow to the idiot minds of out of state drivers too dumb to drive in a circle is beyond me, but now, no more circles. So they are eradicating the Marlton Circle for an overpass.

This construction has been going on for years, and quite honestly I see no end in sight. It has effectively divided my town into two towns. I am now, thanks to the construction, which seems busiest and loudest at three in the morning by the way when folks are trying to sleep, cut off from the Main Street of my town - where the 7-Eleven is.

I could walk there, if I wanted to jump multiple barriers and brave crazed and enraged traffic patterns, but that's just nuts. Walking has become a preferred travel option of late with the construction. For instance, it takes me two minutes to walk to the local Shop-Rite, however, if I wanted to go by car, it would take almost twenty-two minutes. Please, tell me how this is easier. The circle was terrific, and easy. And it got me to 7-Eleven quickly. Thank you, state of New Jersey, for ruining yet another good thing.

So after a couple hours, we finally got to 7-Eleven. Lo and behold we were greeted by a sign on the door that said "out of cups, no more free Slurpees." Actually the grammar and spelling were much worse, but that's beside the point. We highly suspected that the clerk was tired of giving out free Slurpees honestly.

Determined to get my Coke Slurpee fix, I bought one, because, really, with the construction, who knew when I would be able to get to 7-Eleven again? Something else caught my eye though, the 7-Select Onion Rings, regular flavor. See? I told you this was a relatively on-topic review.

At first I thought, at seventy-nine cents, that these were simply a cheap store brand of Funyuns. I mean, come on, how can you beat seventy-nine cents, right? These are onion-flavored rings of course, no real onion involved, but that's okay because the portion size is excellent (especially for the price, and there is 0 transfat.

The flavor comes from onion powder but really gives them their kick, and their addictive charm, is the sugar, and the brown sugar. The brown sugar just jumps right out at you in every bite. These are really good, I love 'em. I just wish there was a 7-Eleven closer than the other side of the construction so I could get them more often. Word is they also come in Louisiana Hot flavor as well.

Next time, more favorite fried food, and less bitching about traffic and construction. I promise.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

French Fry Diary 190: Roy Rogers on the NJ Turnpike: Breakfast

I was surprised on a recent visit to the Cherry Hill Roy Rogers, the one on the NJ Turnpike. I arrived at quarter after ten in the morning to find that they were still serving breakfast. I wanted lunch but had to settle for breakfast as I was hungry and didn't want to wait. Actually I didn't mind it being breakfast as there is also a Cinnabon there. Regretfully though, the Nathan's and the Carvel were both closed at that time of the morning.

The visit did give me a chance to sample the breakfast potatoes that Roy's serves, called 'Home Taters.' They are natural cut scalloped potatoes, deep-fried and packed into Roy's cool little fry-holding holsters. To say these were not satisfying is not just a reflection on the fact that I was expecting lunch and specifically fries.

These potatoes were dry and tasteless, and really not pleasant at all. They were soft, inside and out, in a bad way, and definitely a reason to avoid Roy Rogers for breakfast. Thank heaven for Cinnabon.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

French Fry Diary 189: Roy Rogers on the NJ Turnpike

I used to enjoy Roy Rogers and Roy Rogers fries quite a bit but over the last two decades, the fast food chain has seemingly disappeared from the South Jersey area. The only way to get that tasty Roy's food has been to get on the NJ Turnpike or take a field trip to Baltimore hitting the rest stops on the way. To me it was always infuriating when I would look at the Roy Rogers website and they would list a location for Cherry Hill – but you really couldn't get there without paying the Turnpike toll – or so I thought.
Recently through Facebook I learned that there actually was a way to get to the infamous Cherry Hill Roy Rogers without getting on the NJ Turnpike. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find out there was a back way, used by employees, and of course, an enlightened few consumers who knew about this 'secret' entrance. I was so glad to have the Roy Rogers option once again. On the afternoon I found out on Facebook, I actually rushed over (just five minutes away) to get my fry fix.
Yep, sure enough, here was the mythical Cherry Hill Roy Rogers, and I didn't even have to get on and pay for the turnpike, or have to take the long ride all the way to the next exit – five minute ride and boom – Roy Rogers. There was of course the elevated extortion pricing of a rest stop, but for me, at this moment, it was worth it.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

French Fry Diary 188: Roy Rogers

To quote Tommy Kiefer and Cinderella, the local glam metal band of that sadly lost era, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," and that's kinda how I feel about Roy Rogers restaurants and their fries.

They used to be everywhere, and I enjoyed them a lot, but then a few decades back, they all disappeared, except for on the turnpikes and on the way to Baltimore and Washington DC. Founded by the singing cowboy actor of the same name, Roy Rogers used to be the number three fast food place behind McDonalds and Burger King, a slot now held by the fry-switching folks at Wendy's.

I have fond memories of Roy Rogers, believe it or not. I played Dungeons & Dragons there. I read my comics there after picking them up on payday. I took dates there, yeah, I know, I was a cheap bastard. It was where I went with friends after the funeral of another dear friend. And the local Berlin Roy Rogers was once a Gino's where I got one of my first jobs. Roy's was a mainstay of my youth.

Roy's also has a special place in my heart if for only one non-favorite fried food reason - they serve their hamburgers plain. Being a catastrophically picky eater I like my burgers plain, 'regular grill' as some fast food places call it, just the burger and the bun as I have to stress whenever I go through a drive-thru or even go inside. As anyone who has asked for a special order at a fast food place will tell you - I might as well be robbing them at gunpoint, they don't want to hear it.

McDonalds is a major offender for getting orders wrong, White Castle is almost impossible, and despite what their ads say about 'having it your way,' Burger King has a shoddy record as well. And Checkers, just don't even bother, it ain't happening. Roy Rogers is the plain hamburger godsend in an apparently incompetent world.

Roy Rogers Restaurants have some of my favorite fast food French fries. They are golden brown regular cuts, crispy on the outside, and soft and hot on the inside. They're good for sandwiching, dipping and especially for running through a drive-thru for a quickie snack. Don't forget to get some of the bbq sauce from Roy's Fixin's Bar for dipping, some of the best.

These fries reheat well at home either in the microwave or the conventional oven, same for the burgers, I might add. They're terrific sandwiched in your burger and Roy Rogers bbq sauce is the best for dipping. And best of all, in true western tradition, the fries come in a holster. Now really, how cool is that?

In recent years, Roy Rogers has also gotten into the curly fry business with standard natural cut curly fries covered with that also standard spicy orange seasoning. Nothing special here, but I don't care as long I can still get their regular fries.

Come back to South Jersey, Roy Rogers, and I don't mean to the turnpike, back to somewhere we can actually get to when we want to, and with a drive-thru too. We miss you, come back!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

French Fry Diary 187: The Bride's Breakfast at Roy Rogers

Today's Somebody Else's Fries comes from The Bride who stopped at one of the turnpike locations of Roy Rogers. She stopped in at breakfast time and got some of their potato-ey breakfast fare, what they call "Home Taters."

These are big scalloped chips of natural cut potato. The Bride thought they were better than she expected, but needed seasoning. There was a lot of potato. Sounds like she'll be back. Maybe she'll take me next time.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

French Fry Diary 186: Herr's Ripple Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

I really wasn't sure what to think when I saw this on the shelf. Ripple chips are usually thick, and most times when chips are kettle cooked, they use extra thick slices. My mind boggled a bit when I saw that Herr's had a new Kettle chip - Ripple. I had to try them. I wondered how thick they might be. Would they be like Wise's delicious Cottage Fries that sadly aren't available any more? This would be a nice replacement.

When I got home and opened the bag, I was a bit disappointed. Thickness wasn't really a factor. In many ways, these chips were just the same as regular Herr's Ripple Chips. They were a bit greasier however, seemingly thinner, but cooked into the wonderful odd shapes perfect for dipping caused by the kettle process. Nice attempt, but overall, not a good chip. I much prefer the regular Herr's Ripple Potato Chips. Not impressed.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Barefoot Contessa Makes Onion Rings

On today's Food Network Fridays, we visit with Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, as she makes Crispy Fried Cornmeal Onion Rings.

This recipe comes from the episode "Steaks and Sides" of the Food Network series "Barefoot Contessa."


* 2 large Spanish onions (or 3 yellow onions)
* 2 cups buttermilk
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup (medium) yellow cornmeal
* 1 quart vegetable oil


Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, and separate them into rings. Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings, toss well, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (The onion rings can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours.) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When you're ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large pot or Dutch oven. (A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot will help you maintain the proper temperature.) Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning them once with tongs. Don't crowd them! Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried. They will remain crisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

See the original recipe here.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

French Fry Diary 185: Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que

Black Friday this year was spent chilling with my brother-in-law and my nephew, and before jumping into the crazy world of holiday shopping, the bro treated me to lunch at Famous Dave's. It had been some time since I'd been there and was looking forward to seeing what they had and didn't have.

Famous Dave's is a bit on the darker side of franchise restaurants like T.G.I.Fridays and Applebee's with all the stuff on the walls. It's like hunting lodge from hell d├ęcor, with bad country music and southern rock, interspersed with the occasional holiday song. Not the happiest environment, especially with ammo boxes on the wall, but the food is good.

Our waitress 'Famous' Keri happily announced that they had Pepsi products. I had noticed that the various barbeque sauces on the table were in Hank's Root Beer boxes but I was unsure if they offered it - they do. Pepsi worked though, nice and cold to counteract the hotness of the sauces.

Speaking of the sauces, after we ordered we were treated to a 'sauce tour.' A basket of homemade potato chips were served with five empty cups for sampling the five different sauces. They include: Sweet and Zesty, my personal favorite that I even have at home (Famous Dave's also sells these at supermarkets); Texas Pit, kinda hot for me; Devil Spit, this was milder than I thought it be, not bad; Rich and Sassy, was just good bbq sauce and my nephew's favorite; and Georgia Mustard, being mustard, I passed on it.

The sauce tour came with those homemade potato chips, similar to the ones at the British Chip Shop, only not hot, more like traditional potato chips. They were very crispy, but as I said, not very hot, but that's okay, they were for the sauces. I enjoyed them very much.

The burger was very good, just like a burger cooked on the grill at a summer cookout, just the way I like it. The fries that came with them were natural cut potato wedges with ripples on them, thin ones like on Utz Ripple chips as opposed to Utz Wavy chips, ya know? And they go with the fry, not against it like crinkle cuts. These ripples should allow for more crispiness, which I wish they were. Otherwise these were quite good, and the bbq sauces made them even better.

All in all, a great meal with family, and the fries were pretty good too. Thanks for lunch, Matt!

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Morgan Spurlock Does Science

This is a clip from Morgan Spurlock's 'documentary,' Super Size Me, his personal attack on the fast food industry. He ate nothing but McDonald's food for one month and then wondered why he wasn't feeling good. He then used his 'experiment' to 'prove' that fast food was not good for you. Heck, anything in excess is probably not good for you.

The clip shows more of Spurlock's brilliant amateur pop science. Because a jar breaks things down exactly like the living human body would...

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

French Fry Diary 184: Burger King Onion Rings Flavored Snacks

I saw these at Five Below and couldn't resist. Burger King makes semi-decent onion rings so I figured I'd give them a try. At first glance, these are Burger King onion rings, but not quite. Let's be specific. These are onion rings flavored snacks, made from corn meal and formed to look sort of like Burger King onion rings.

The taste is, well, interesting. Everyone who tried them had the same sort of reaction. A few bites and then a look came over their face, and then they didn't have or want any more. It was similar to when someone eats one of the less appetizing flavors of Jelly Belly. Yum, um, ew.
Well, at least they are zero percent transfat, but then again, so are rocks. They have a blandish flavor with an extra mild kick to them, but they are nothing like real Burger King onion rings. Five Below also had snack varieties of BK's French Fries and Ketchup, and also their French Toast Sticks, but I don't think I'll be running to the store to get them any time soon.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

French Fry Diary 183: Elevation Burger Is Coming

I was hanging out with my father-in-law yesterday and we decided to see a movie, Unstoppable with Denzel Washington. The only place it was playing was at the mall, so we headed to the Moorestown Mall. Now I don't go to the mall often, after all, it's not the eighties any more, ya know, and the last time I was at this mall was probably last Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw when I entered the food court - a sign indicating Elevation Burger was coming soon to that location!

Now, I've never been to Elevation Burger, but you need to know, I get recommendations all the time for where to go for the best fries and what places to review. There are four places that rank very high up in the category of recommendations, among them - In-N-Out Burger, Whataburger, Smashburger ... and Elevation Burger. The first two are far far from my happy home unfortunately, but the latter have locations just upstate. I was tentatively planning a roadtrip sooner or later for Smashburger and Elevation Burger. How nice of Elevation Burger to come to me!

So now I'm looking forward to 'Fall 2010' (hurry up, not much time left) so I can try their organic burgers, their milkshakes and especially their fresh fries cooked in 100% olive oil. Mmmm... fries...

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Friday, December 03, 2010

French Fry Diary 182: "America's Best"

"America's Best" is a recent mini-series on the Food Network. In the "Comfort Food" episode, Alton Brown and the Food Network database came up with a countdown of the best destinations for comfort foods, and one of those comfort foods is, of course, French fries.
Before we hit the favorite fried food though, they also talked about the best mashed potatoes. They went to L'Atelier inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. These high class mashers include French butter, lots and lots of it, perhaps as much butter as there is potato. And the potato used is fingerling, by the way. These are also perhaps the smoothest mashed potatoes as the fingerlings are smashed through a mesh net strainer, so zero lumps get through. Wow.

For the best French fries location, they chose the Boise Fry Co. in, where else, Boise Idaho. This is both a cop out and a bonanza, because rather than choose one fry they chose a place that serves dozens of kinds of fries. Dozens of different potatoes in dozens of different styles, with various seasonings and sauces.
They did spotlight their fries cooked in duck fat as having an out of this world taste. I have yet to try duck fat fries, let alone these, but I look forward to it. Apparently in the foodie world, duck fat fries are the gold standard for fries. The chef's specialty at the Boise Fry Company is the Bourgeois - the basket of fries cooked in duck fat, sprinkled with black truffle salt.

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