Sunday, April 25, 2010

French Fry Diary 105: KFC

KFC is of course shorthand for Kentucky Fried Chicken. The name change was for brevity, and to remove the word 'fried' to appease the Health Nazis, and not as urban legend says, because they no longer serve chicken. Sheesh. They’ve been around for decades, since Colonel Harland Sanders founded the chain in 1952. Known primarily for their trademark fried chicken with eleven herbs and spices. While their focus is chicken, they have always had potato side dishes – which is what we’ll be concerned with, especially the French fries.

In the 1980s and 90s KFC used to have shoestrings that were very good and crispy but those are long gone. Now they have natural cut potato wedges. I don’t go to KFC often but I was prompted by recent TV commercials. The primary objective for this visit to KFC was to try the new "Get a Grip" Boneless Filet.

At first glance, it’s fairly reminiscent of the boneless chicken breast filets Chick-fil-A used to sell back in the day, you know the same ones they now only serve in sandwiches. Bonus on the KFC version is that they come in an almost-fry-like cardboard pocket. As far as the filet itself goes, the grilled is better than the original recipe, and Chick-fil-A still does it better. Period.

As I said, currently KFC’s fries are of the potato wedges variety with a spice black peppery seasoning and possibly batter-fried. Being wedges you don’t get as many with an order unless you order the large, which is really large, a box the size of a whole meal. These wedges are pretty good, not great but not crappy either. Excellent when hot, crispy and always soft and fluffy in the middle. Bonus – they can be baked or nuked in the microwave later for leftovers.

Of the rest of the KFC menu, my favorites to order are the Honey BBQ Sandwich and the Honey BBQ Boneless Wings. This is notable as the KFC Honey BBQ sauce is excellent for dipping, for any fries. While I wish KFC would go back to the shoestrings they used to have, the potato wedges are still pretty good.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

French Fry Friends

Among the places outside of my driving range that have fries needing reviewing is In-N-Out Burger. With their wonderful secret menu and fresh-cut French fries, they have yet to be reviewed here on French Fry Diary.

Friends Ed and Dina Evans of All Things Fun! (the best and coolest comics, toys and gaming store in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area), knowing of my shameless obsession for French fries, stopped at an In-N-Out Burger on their trip to Las Vegas a couple weeks back - and not only did they have some delicious foodstuff from In-N-Out, they brought me back souvenirs. Cool friends.

You can check out the rest of their adventures in Las Vegas, where they attended GAMA, as well as a couple other places of culinary interest, here.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

French Fry Diary 104: Alexia Waffle Fries

Much like curly fries, the odd more 3-D shape of waffle fries might make baking more difficult for an even cook than deep frying – so I had my doubts on baking Alexia’s Waffle Fries. I like Alexia, and their frozen Onion Rings are top notch in my book, so I decided to give these a shot.

When it comes to fully peeled and cut vs. non-fully peeled and cut in the package – it’s about five to one. For me this is good as I prefer the latter over the former. Nothing against the potato skins, just my preference. These are very spicy, as listed: sea salt, pepper, onion and garlic – they’re almost golden brown with the seasoning before they even go into the oven.

The directions say about twenty to twenty-five minutes and that’s about right, but keep an eye on the smaller pieces as they will be done first – some even when you do your mid-bake turning. When they’re done, they are best hot right from the oven. Have something cold on hand for not only the heat but the spices. Some are uneven, but for most of them – when they are good, they are real good.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Simple Truth about White Potatoes

This one comes from SparkPeople, in their article "15 Simple Truths about Food," this is #7:

Myth #7: White potatoes are 'simple' carbs that should be avoided.

Truth: The low-carb fad of the late '90s still lingers today, and many people still believe that white potatoes should be avoided at all costs. White potatoes are a healthful whole food. Just because they're white doesn't mean they're bad for you. Unlike refined foods like white rice and white bread, potatoes are nutritious, whole, rich in fiber and totally unprocessed. The potato can be a great source of energy and nutrients, including vitamins C, B-6, and folate and fiber (4 grams when you eat the skin). The key is to eat the right portion size and rethink your add-ons (and cooking method).

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

French Fry Diary 103: Outback Steakhouse, Marlton NJ

The Outback, significant by its Australian motif, for me, falls into a similar category as Tony Luke’s. If you’re going to the Outback, you’re going for the Bloomin’ Onion and/or the steak, not for the fries. And that’s a shame, because the fries could be good.

The resident favorite fried food at the Outback is the Bloomin’ Onion, no ifs, ands or buts. If you’re going there and not ordering one – it’s like going to Baskin-Robbins and not getting ice cream. This is the tastiest and spiciest of the breaded onion delicacies, and from what I hear, the dipping sauce isn’t bad either – but being a catastrophically picky eater I haven’t tried it.

The other reason to go to the Outback is the steak, it is a steakhouse after all, and indirectly the burgers as well. My burger was delicious, juicy and just right. The meat is always great with that extra spicy zing. But the meat is not what we’re here to talk about.

Secondary of the side dishes we would concern ourselves with are the Aussie Fries, regular natural cuts that usually also have that extra zing as well, pepper I think, but today’s batch lacked that. They were greasy, soggy and just not good. I think the photo included shows how many of them I actually ate.

John, the owner/manager (I’m not sure which or maybe both) came out to ask how our meal was. This usually happens when I start taking pictures of the food at the table. Hmmm... I wonder why. He also offered us a chance to fill out a survey as well. Good experience, all in all. The sister-in-law gives particularly high praise for the sweet potatoes. Food was great, except for the fries this time.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Alton Brown’s Perfect French Fries

This week’s Food Network Friday we’re featuring Alton Brown from the "Fry Hard" episode of "Good Eats" with a quick lesson in how to make perfect French fries.

Yep, all the good stuff is in there... par-fry and shock-fry, change your oil, drain dry. Yep, darn good, if not perfect fries... Mmmm... fries...

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jack’s New Fries… Free!

Special press release from the folks at Jack in the Box:

After years of research, months of planning and several hours of trance-based meditation, I've decided to reinvent my French fries. I call them . . . My New French Fries. Felt like it was more important to spend time crafting the fries themselves, not the name. They're crispy, golden, delicious and salted just right for your tasting pleasure.

In honor of this groundbreaking news, I've decided to have a FREE Fryday on Friday, April 16th. All you have to do is walk in and ask for them. No coupons or anything. And just to be clear, everyone gets one free small fry. Like, an order of them. Not just one single fry. That would be silly.


Well, thank you, Jack. Nice hat.

Jack in the Box changing their fries is a bit of a quandary. Their fries have been alternately voted both unhealthiest and most fulfilling drive-thru item.

Jack’s fries previously (or most previously, they’ve had several different styles over the years) were natural cuts or curleys. The new ones appear to be shoestrings. Too bad the nearest Jack in the Box is about 500 miles away or I’d be there for the free fries on Friday too.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

French Fry Diary 102: Bahama Breeze

We went to Bahama Breeze at the Cherry Hill Mall on a family excursion so it was a big party. I had never been there but some of the family had before, and had liked it enough to come back and to recommend it.

The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the coconut-breaded Onion Rings, that surprisingly is not on any menu on their website. If it’s only available at the Cherry Hill location, it’s a serious loss to everyone else.

Our waitress Melissa seemed to have a problem with our end of the long table. She was almost determined not to move when taking our orders and we had to shout down to her. We also had to collect menus and dispense drinks for her. At first it was funny, as the meal continued it became very annoying.

The onion rings were huge rings, sweet and spicy, constructed into a lopsided but solid tower of rings (unlike the straight ones on a stick at Red Robin). The coconut added an extra zing to these crispy wonders with lots of onion. I loved these, and they would definitely be a reason to come back.

I got my usual burger, due to my catastrophic pickiness, and fries came with it. The burger was unseasoned and quite bland, and I didn’t finish it. The fries weren’t much better either. They were spicy natural cuts with black pepper. These had an odd spiciness compared to the delightful zing of the rings.

As the meal went on, the waitress never came down to our end of the table, except at the end where she finally cleared our plates. Bahama Breeze is not recommended, except for those onion rings.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

150 Years of Fish and Chips

Good Friday seems as appropriate day as any to post about this one.

The year 2010 is the 150th anniversary of the wonderfulness that is fish and chips. This website, click here, sent to me by friend Terry, contains an amazing 150 fun facts about the UK treat, including:

1 The UK has an estimated 10,500 fish and chip shops.

2 On any Friday, one in five takeaways are from the chippy.

3 They have a third fewer calories than other popular takeaways.

4 A portion contains 30 per cent of a female's recommended daily calorie intake and 23 per cent for a man.

5 Lancastrians claim the first chip shop – John Lees in Mossley, near Oldham in 1863.

6 Cockneys beg to differ, pointing to Joseph Malin's shop set up in Cleveland Street in London's East End in 1860.

7 In 1838 Charles Dickens wrote about fried fish warehouses in Oliver Twist. The warehouses were forerunners to the fish and chip shop.

For the other one hundred and forty-odd facts, check out the article here. Happy anniversary, and happy holidays!

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Pop Shop Cheesy Poetry Contest

From The Pop Shop in Collingswood, New Jersey:

Cheesy Poetry Contest - Enter today!

April is National Grilled Cheese month and The Pop Shop - with over 30 grilled cheese variations on its menu - is the place to celebrate! Along with being National Grilled Cheese Month, April is also National Poetry Month. The Pop Shop loves both, so we're hosting our fourth annual Pop Shop Poetry Contest.

We're looking for great poems, limericks or haikus about something Pop Shop related. The winning bards - one child and one adult - will each receive a free T-shirt and a gift certificate for a free lunch.

To enter, e-mail The Pop Shop or snail mail your entry to:

The Pop Shop Contest
729 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108

The deadline is April 26, 2010. Winners will be named on May 4 in a ceremony at The Pop Shop.

Click here to see poems from last year's contest.

And don't forget that Pop Shop fries go great with Pop Shop grilled cheese!

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