Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paul's Fresh Cut Idaho Fries

We saw this place on South Street in Philly right after we'd had a full meal at Burger.Org. Curses. Too full. Couldn't eat another bite. I will be back however. I must try the Flutter Fries...

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

French Fry Diary 343: Burger.Org

For various reasons, four games in, and The Bride has yet to make it to a Philadelphia Wings home game. She also hasn't gotten to see our friends Judy and Marc who are also season ticket holders. Actually Judy is an old friend, went to high school with The Bride, and some college with me. Her husband Marc and I have become quick new friends. Although I think he was puzzled the first time he saw me taking photos of fries.

The Bride's first attend-able game was a day game so Judy and Marc planned a lunch get together beforehand. Knowing of my peculiar food fetish and catastrophic pickiness, they chose a burger place in Philly that also had, you guessed it, the favorite fried food. And that's how we got to Burger.Org.

Burger.Org has a healthy edge, serving all organic meats and offering a heavily vegan and gluten free menu. The meat had no artificial ingredients, antibiotics, or preservatives. 100% organic they claim, and that even includes stuff like the shakes and the fries. So basically everything you, ahem, I could possibly want, only healthier.

So what do you think I ordered? I got the burger, a Coke (yeah, I know, I was surprised too) and fries what else? The Bride was a bit disappointed that she couldn't get a cheeseburger, and we both were as they didn't offer shakes until summer. Notably the fries are considered Basary, which basically means meat. In other words, it's like the McDonald's beef tallow oil secret - fries cooked in the same oil as the meat.

I got the plain fries but they also had spicy, which I wish I'd gotten, and sweet potato. Marc got the sweet, and let me try one or two. Well, one, he didn't actually see me take the others. They were spiced with cinnamon, which was to die for. We have a new sweet potato fry champion.

The regular fries are fresh cut natural cuts and quite tasty but needed a little something something - a dipping sauce, some spices. And get them while they're hot, do much tastier hot, and excellent with malt vinegar.

The burger was awesome, one of the best I've had in a while. And the bun was homemade and terrific. The Bride enjoyed her sausages, and Judy and Marc enjoyed their wings. Really, there's not much that wasn't recommended, and the portions were huge. Cheese and shakes aside, this place rocked.

And the Wings? Yeah, they finally won. I guess The Bride is a good luck charm, and she'd better stop missing games...

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Oil Change

Nothing as drastic as the shenanigans at Wendy's or Burger King, Chick-fil-A has made a change in the favorite fried food at their restaurants recently. They made an oil change. Chick-fil-A now cooks their Waffle Potato Fries in 100% canola oil, as opposed to the peanut oil previously used.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

French Fry Diary 342: The Chopped Challenge

A while back I talked about an episode of "Chopped" where frozen French fries were one of the mystery ingredients. My buddy Ray, who initially turned me on to "Chopped," noted several things about the episode after I posted my review of it.

Ray said, "I'm glad you picked up on how dull those chefs were with the French fries. There were so many things they could have done with them. I'm surprised someone didn't try remashing them, or coating them in Japanese bread crumbs to restore the crunch, or something other than what they did.

"I have a brilliant idea - you should recreate that Chopped event. Buy the four ingredients, get someone to film you making a dish, and then put it up on YouTube. I'll even eat it."

Now I'm not so keen on filming me cooking, but I think Ray's got a hell of an idea, and I think I might take him up on it. Let's call it the French Fry Diary Chopped Challenge. What do you folks think? Should I do it?

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

French Fry Diary 341: Wendy's Vs. McDonald's

Wendy's is very proud of their new (are they still new at this point?) sea salt natural cut fries. They are/were so proud that they reached out to the online food blogger community several times to have us try them, compare them, and write about them. On occasion they even sent gift cards so we wouldn't have to pay for the fries and got a free meal of it. For the record, I am not always so swayed by the promise of a free meal and stay honest in my reviews. If you recall, I am not so fond of Wendy's new fries.

Quite some time ago, Wendy's ran a promotion and again reached out, this time to have folks compare their fries to those at McDonald's. They also asked that we take several folks along for the ride and compare them too. Now I ran into a problem. Most of my friends are fairly health-conscious. Me, I do it for love and so you don't have to. So it was very hard to find enough people to not only have one order of the favorite fried food, let along two. The gift cards, and the pending blog entry sat undone for some time.

Recently I decided, in the spirit of "I do it, so you won't have to," I decided to do something about it and do the comparison. I used the cards and quickly found out they had expired - not a problem, I completely understand. Wendy's probably thought I was a deadbeat for not doing the review - it's cool, I would have done that to me too. But anyway, I got my butt in gear and did the comparison. As I thought, Wendy's did not do all that well.

Here are the results...

Staying hot - The Wendy's fries get cold when they get old, and by old I mean about ten to fifteen minutes. McDonald's fries stay hot for some time, and even taste good warm, or cold. Win McDonald's.

Crispiness - While a few limp fries sneak in to both, for the most part they are both crispy. Wendy's do have a more potatoey taste, probably just because they are wider in shape. It's a tie on this one.

Dipping - This where the new Wendy's fries fail miserably, and their old fries would have beaten McDonald's easily. The new fries break and bend when you try to dip them in a shake or Frosty. Mickey D's don't do either, even in the extra thick Frosty, but of course, Wendy's older fries, being bigger than either contender here, could hold more shake. McDonald's for the win.

Sandwiching - McDonald's fries are always good for this type of sandwich planking, but Wendy's fries being flat and steak fry-like are perfect for sandwiching. Win Wendy's.

Reheating - McDonald's fries will reheat once in the microwave, and also bake pretty well in the oven once you've gotten home, and they have gotten cold. As I've noted before the new Wendy's fries, unlike their old ones, and their competitor here, do neither. Win for McDonald's.

That's an overwhelming win for McDonald's French fries over Wendy's new sea salt natural cut fries. Sorry, folks. It would be a whole different story if you had not changed your fries...

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

French Fry Diary 340: ShopRite Panko Breaded Onion Rings

When I saw these in the freezer section of my local ShopRite, I was really excited. Panko bread crumbs are the gold standard for onion rings, and being a store brand meant they were cheap. Also being frozen, it meant easy prep. I immediately snagged two bags of these babies.

First impressions were not great when I opened the bag. They looked pretty average, not covered in big crunchy Panko bread crumbs or made from giant whole onions as I had come expect from places like Red Robin and Bahama Breeze. And now I'm aware that 'Panko' is a way of cooking bread but it still bothered me a bit that word appeared nowhere in the ingredients.

I still couldn't wait to try them out and I was thrilled to see directions for both deep frying and baking. Feeling both industrious and hungry, I decided to do both.

I only did five rings of varying sizes in the deep fryer. They cooked very quickly and came out with a very crunchy outside and a hot juicy oniony inside. They were a bit greasy, but they were cooked in oil. Again, not what I expect in a Panko, but pretty good.

The baked batch, on the other hand, were like Baby Bear's bed, just right. Still crunchy, but tender as well, and not one bit greasy - ah, the wonder of baking. I put some seasoning on them, dipped them in BBQ sauce and they were great. Easy and great.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

French Fry Diary 339: Guys With Fries

Okay, I gotta say right up front here, this website is not for the kids, not work safe, and is probably not for everyone. While some folks might get a chuckle, get turned on, and/or enjoy it immensely, there's also a lot of regular readers of French Fry Diary who might be offended. I'm looking at you, loving enabling sister and caring mom-in-law, as well as quite a few others.

Okay, you've been warned. Me, being secure with my own sexuality, and being a French fry fanatic - I think this site is a hoot.

My Twitter friend @lisaluluquinn turned me on (not that way) to the Guys With Fries website, which features, well, hot guys holding fries, usually McDonald's French fries, ahem, among other things. Peruse at your own risk. I think it's great.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #35

While it is about a week too late for Valentine's Day, this is still a great picture and a great potato, heart-shaped potato, that is. Found on the Coast to Coast AM website.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Traditional Fish and Chips

Recipe courtesy Grant MacNaughton, Mac's Fish and Chip Shop

Show: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Episode: Global Traditions

Prep Time:30 min
Inactive Prep Time:8 hr 0 min
Cook Time:40 min
Serves:6 servings.

Authentic British fish and chips consist of a high-quality flaky white fish deep-fried in a thin, crispy batter served on a bed of large, twice-cooked chips (think fat fries). The key to avoiding an overly greasy product is to use a fry pot large enough that the addition of the fish doesn't reduce the oil temperature too much. Realistically, in a home environment, this will mean cooking each fish individually, but the results will be well worth the staggered serving required. Remember, never leave oil unattended and never fill any cooking vessel more than halfway with oil. Use any oil with a high smoke point and relatively neutral flavor such as canola, vegetable or soybean.


Twice-Cooked Chips:
12 large russet potatoes
Enough canola oil to half fill your largest cooking pot or deep-fat fryer

Dry Dredge:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Beer Batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons kosher salt
One 12-ounce bottle lager beer (the lighter and fizzier, the better)

3 pounds skinless, boneless large-flake white fish (we use wild Alaskan cod because of its quality and sustainability)
Enough canola oil to half fill your largest cooking pot or deep-fat fryer
Kosher salt
Good-quality malt vinegar, for serving


For the chips: Peel the potatoes and cut them into approximately 5/8-inch-thick chips (i.e. 5/8-by-5/8-inch-by-potato length). Store them in water.

Heat the oil to 275 degrees F. Thoroughly drain the chips and add them to the oil. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Fry the chips until they are soft to squeeze but not yet browned, about 10 minutes.

Once all the chips have been blanched, spread them on a sheet tray and store them in the fridge overnight.

For service, heat the oil to 375 degrees F and fry the blanched chips, in batches if necessary, until golden brown and crispy on the outside whilst still fluffy on the inside, about 5 minutes.

For the dry dredge: Mix the flour, salt and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside.

For the beer batter: Thoroughly mix the flour, paprika and salt in a large bowl. Whilst constantly whisking, add enough beer to stiffen up the mix. Whilst still continuing to whisk, add cold water until the batter resembles heavy cream consistency and contains no lumps.

For the fish: Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Fillet the fish into six 8-ounce portions, removing any bones, skin or blood lines that are present.

Dip the fish into the seasoned flour, tapping off any excess. Dip the fish into the batter, briefly allow the batter to drain off, and then gently place the fish into the oil, allowing the fish to float away from you. Cook in batches if necessary. The fish is ready once golden brown and trying to float, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove the fish from the oil with a spatula and allow to drain on a cooling rack before serving on a bed of chips with lashings of kosher salt and malt vinegar.

This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and may have been scaled down from a bulk recipe. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

French Fry Diary 338: Cook's Cafe Downtown

Welcome to the last day of our special week. While I'm busy running the Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES by my friend author Fran Metzman, another good friend of mine, Terry Willitts will be guest blogging here at French Fry Diary this week.

Today, Terry writes about Cook's CafĂ© Downtown…


Cook's Cafe Downtown has been in DeLand for many years, and I've been there before, though it's been a handful of years or so. A couple weeks ago, one of my helpers at the animal shelter offered to make a lunch run and we settled on Cook's. I had him get me a mushroom swiss burger and fries, and have no complaints whatsoever.

The burger was thick and juicy (not quite as thick as the Flippers' burger, but almost), the swiss cheese was melted to perfection, the slices of mushroom were fresh and HUGE (like onion rings, size does matter) and that perfect halfway point between soft and crisp.

The fries were excellent crinkle fries, well salted, warm and crisp, soft inside. I can't speak on the value, as I was treated to lunch, but I'm sure they're comparable to Flippers and most other burger joints.

Thanks again, Terry, for lightening my workload, and as always for being a friend of French Fry Diary, and me too!

If you'd like more of Terry online, check out his regular blog here, his daily year long journey through "Doctor Who" from the very beginning here, and his eBay page here.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

French Fry Diary 337: Flippers

We have a special treat for folks this week. While I'm busy running the Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES by my friend author Fran Metzman, another good friend of mine, Terry Willitts will be guest blogging here at French Fry Diary this week.

Today, Terry checks out Flippers...


Flippers Wings & Burgers opened in the second half of 2011, and though I'd been meaning to check it out (several volunteers at the humane society I work at had been there several times, singing their praises) I didn't make it until New Year's Eve evening. I'd called in an order for take out - Bacon BBQ Burger, fries and side of macaroni salad.

The burger was most excellent – very thick (easily over 1/2″ thick) and the bun was definitely not your low-end burger bun. The burger was cooked well, but still was juicy enough to appeal to everyone. The fries, while certainly frozen, were cooked to perfection and salted just right (not too much, not too little), and the macaroni was a bit of a surprise – I’m used to the creamy/mayo based mac salads, this was more of a pasta salad – oil based with bits of ham in it as well – quite good, once I got past the initial surprise.

This obviously was the complete opposite experience from Burgers in Paradise and I will most assuredly be returning - I hear their ribs are very good, and I look forward to trying them out. Also, being a wings fan, I'll have to try them as well. The food came to less than nine dollars, easily worth it.

Thanks, Terry! If you'd like more of Terry online, check out his regular blog here, his daily year long journey through "Doctor Who" from the very beginning here, and his eBay page here.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

French Fry Diary 336: Publix

We have a special treat for folks this week. While I'm busy running the Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES by my friend author Fran Metzman, another good friend of mine, Terry Willitts will be guest blogging here at French Fry Diary this week.

Today, it's Publix, a place I've actually gotten recommendations for, but alas there are none nearby, but Terry's got it covered...


Publix is a supermarket chain in the Southeast US, and they are noteworthy for their deli and bakery departments. (They also have great produce, decent prices, and great sales, especially their BOGO promotions.) Their deli makes some of the best subs - if you have one, you'll laugh at the idea of going to a Subway.

Recently, I had stopped in for some fried chicken (I prefer theirs to Popeyes or KFC) and saw they had fresh onion rings; I don't know if this is a new item, a seasonal one, or been there a while and I just haven't noticed (not entirely impossible.) I got a half pound of them with my chicken.

They were HUGE. I don't know about you, but I believe size does matter, especially when it comes to onion rings. The batter was light and crispy - not too crunchy but not soft or chewy. The onion was warm and taut and flavourful. These are the best onion rings I've had in years and highly recommend them, especially with an order of chicken, or perhaps a Publix sub. And stop by the bakery for a cake, pastry or other dessert.

Thanks, Terry! If you'd like more of Terry online, check out his regular blog here, his daily year long journey through "Doctor Who" from the very beginning here, and his eBay page here.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

French Fry Diary 335: Burgers in Paradise

We have a special treat for folks this week. While I'm busy running the Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES by my friend author Fran Metzman, another good friend of mine, Terry Willitts will be guest blogging here at French Fry Diary this week.

First up, Burgers in Paradise...


Burgers in Paradise is a relatively new addition to the Food Court in the Seminole Towne Center Mall in Sanford, FL. On a whim, I thought I'd pop in and try it out - I had not heard anything about it, so this was a completely blind date. It was December 12, mid afternoon, so the mall was packed with people doing their Christmas shopping, but I was just there to grab something to eat. I had planned to walk the mall, but one of my sandals blew out, and I still had a grocery run to make, so I stayed in the Food Court instead.

From the menu, it seemed they were a basic burger joint, with a little more variety than a Five Guys, but not the convoluted menu of a fast food restaurant. There was a line, but the wait wasn't that long, and the order taker (her name was Terri, which I only remember as my name is Terry) was very polite and in the Christmas spirit. The drink menu included fountain drinks (Coke products, iced tea) and bottled/canned drinks (water, flavoured water, Pepsi products), giving a decent variety. I ordered a Bacon Burger with cheese (strangely the Bacon Cheeseburger wasn't on the menu, had to get a Bacon Burger and pay for cheese to be added.) The food was cooked quickly enough (but fresh to the order, so it took a few minutes) on a black top. My burger, an order of fries and a large soda came to over nine dollars - pretty much what you can expect to pay for a combo for a good burger.
Sadly, this was not a good burger. It wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't good. When I sat down and got my burger out, I could hear the little old lady from the Wendy's commercial demanding to know where the beef was. The patty was VERY thin, I'm sure it was a frozen burger (not that I have any particular problem with that, but for $9+ for a burger and combo, it'd better be a thick frozen patty), and the bun was obviously something they bought at the local grocery store - just a run of the mill burger bun, not toasted, not buttered and heated on the black top, nothing.

But you're here for the fries, so maybe that was the saving grace of this blind date? No. Sadly, the fries were cheap frozen crinkle fries that weren't particularly noteworthy at all. Plus, I have to say that a good third of the order were the tiny crunchy, over-cooked ones that hardly have any potato inside. There is no way I should have paid more than $5 for the entire meal.

Sadly, this was not remotely a good experience and I won't ever return there.

Thanks, Terry! If you'd like more of Terry online, check out his regular blog here, his daily year long journey through "Doctor Who" from the very beginning here, and his eBay page here.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012


It happens sometimes. Whoops.

Apologies for yesterday's entry. Sometimes a video on YouTube will be available for a while, and then, mysteriously become unavailable. That's what happened yesterday. I also learned a lesson to double check myself here. I guess I'll just commiserate with some fries.

By the way, the link to Los Angeles' Fresh Fries is still good, check it out here. They are still one of my number one stops if I get out to the left coast. And their dessert fries are still a thing to behold, and be eating...

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Friday, February 10, 2012

French Fries for Dessert

We've seen dessert fries before here at French Fry Diary, but these sweet potato fries are just a little bit different. Hmmm... Elvis might like these...

This segment comes from "United Tastes of America," which airs on Food Network and Cooking Channel. Here host and food fanatic Jeffrey Saad checks out Peanut Buttercup Fries from the Fresh Fries food truck of Los Angeles.

Mmmm... enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

French Fry Diary 334: Laurel Hill Barbeque Potato Chips

I was a bit bothered by the words on the bag the first time I tried Laurel Hill Barbeque Potato Chips. These kettle-cooked chips apparently have "40% reduced fat compared to regular potato chips." Really? Regular potato chips? Way to go, Health Nazis, insult the very snack you're trying to sell. They might as well say, "Potato chips suck, but hey, try ours."

Beyond that, these are all natural with no transfats, so that's something at least. The back of the bag further proclaims that they are also kosher, gluten-free, and that they have no artificial colors or flavors. Apparently, they are also "downright delicious."

Folks who frequent this French Fry Diary know that I love me some Whole Foods, and when I saw these at the check-out counter there, it was a no-brainer purchase. Now while they are a bag of chips, I don't know if they are 'all that.' They do have a bit of a zing, and an aftertaste. I'm not sure what does that. The ingredients list some intriguing items like apple cider vinegar and honey powder - but those should be good things.

These chips are okay for a change of pace, but I wouldn't want them every day. There are many other better types out there, but these are still worth a try. Who knows, you might love 'em.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Burger King - Delivery

They do this in Europe and Asia, but then again they also put seaweed on their burgers and fries too, so it doesn't make it right. But this does sound like a good idea.

At ten locations in the Maryland and Virginia area, Burger King is testing out home delivery. That's right, place your order online, and shortly, your Burger King meal comes right to your door.

The full article from the Washington Post can be found right here. Special thanks to my friend Dom for hipping me to this service. And don't forget the fries!

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Monday, February 06, 2012

French Fry Diary 333: York Steak House

I have another flashback for you all today. The York Steak House was a chain restaurant back in the 1970s and 80s, primarily in mall locations, and that eventually closed its doors in 1989.

The York Steak House that I remember most was the one in the Echelon Mall. It stood out among other mall restaurants in that pre-food court age in that it was open past regular mall hours. So if you wanted a late dinner after 9:30 PM or just regular dinner on a Sunday after five, and didn't (or couldn't) leave the mall, York was your choice.

York was a cut above fast food, and a sit-down restaurant, so for a high schooler with a mall job, a dinner there was a 'dress nice' date. It ran cafeteria style, similar to the Rustler Steak House of the time, or the later Ponderosa. You picked your meal and paid at the cash register at the end of the line, and a waitress brought out your hot food.

For potato offerings, you could get a baked potato, for which York would charge you extra for butter or sour cream, or you could get steak fries. Both had the vibe of being under heat lamps a bit too long. The steaks as I recall weren't bad.

Does anyone else out there remember the York Steak House?

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

French Fry Diary 332: Burger King's New Onion Rings

Much like the hype Burger King had going on for their new French fries, they are doing the same for their 'new' onion rings this Super Bowl weekend. All weekend BK is giving away their new onion rings. Properly enticed, I decided to treat The Bride and her parents to lunch today.

I ran over to the Marlton Burger King with my order for lunch. The place was packed, more so than I've ever seen it. The lady at the counter informed me that the free rings were one per customer, but seeing how I was obviously ordering for at least four people, she let me slide. That said, when I got home, we were missing a Jr. Whopper. This was kinda frustrating, and a two for two for this BK, as the last time we got from there they similarly messed up the order.

Now on to the main event, the 'new' onion rings. I didn't see much of a difference in appearance, or in taste really, so I wonder if I was even served the new ones. They were crispier, just slightly. My mom-in-law also thought they were crispier, and thought they lacked the usual aftertaste. Of course, that could be because of using a different oil. They are cooked in the same oil as the new French fries after all.

As far as 'new' onion rings I'm not impressed. But that said, the old ones are good, but if they are passing them off as new - not so great. Of course, the weekend is still young, you can get over to your local BK and give them a try yourself, a value size order of the new onion rings will be free, one per customer, for the rest of the weekend. Also, props to Marni, for always being on top of fry news for me.

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