Friday, April 27, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #45

A coupon for free fries at Steaks on South. No expiration date. I can't think of a better reason to go into the city than for free fries, can you?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Woot Tests Out TopChips

The wonderful folks who brought me that really cool shirt a while ago also have a video podcast where they test out stuff so you don't have to. In this episode, they do TopChips. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

French Fry Diary 366: Ruffles Smokehouse Style BBQ

Just a few days after I was lamenting the fact that no one local carries BBQ flavored Ruffles, I find these, almost a substitute, Ruffles Smokehouse Style BBQ Flavored Potato Chips. Wow, how's that for a mouthful. Why do chip products always have such long names?

Anyway, I couldn't wait to get this bag home and try them. Just look at those juicy dry rubbed ribs on the bag... mmmm... Once open the aroma matches the picture. The chips, standard Ruffles, but darkened by spices, are almost brown. If anything they are too spicy. A glance at the ingredients reveals the usual suspects, plus MSG. Not good.

A handful of these are good and hot, with, as I said, perhaps too much seasoning. Any more than that however is like kissing a smoker, or licking an ashtray. Thumbs down on these, but still looking for Ruffles BBQ...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Fry Diary 365: Hawaiian Luau BBQ Kettle Style Potato Chips

My friend Marni has a skill, well, besides those. She has this amazing ability to win contests, contests of any kind. Recently she won a contest on Facebook and the prize, wait for it, was potato chips. She won a selection of Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips, from Hawaiian Snacks, some of which she shared with French Fry Diary.

Marni gave me a whole 8 oz. bag of the Luau BBQ Potato Chips, a beautiful orange bag with pictures of Hawaiian native people barbecuing on a sunshine paradise beach, framed in lotus flowers. The bag also promises the chips to be 'sweet & spicy' and 'crispy & crunchy.'

Inside were, as promised, very crunchy and crispy kettle chips, but not so much barbecue flavor. At least not at first. There's a slow burn going on in your mouth, have some cold beverage handy, cuz it lingers. Being good kettle chips, they're great for dipping, preferably ice cream for me, as it would add a good contrast with the hot vs. cold.

Marni also got the original version, and the Maui Onion. The Originals were pretty typical. Hawaiian Snacks also makes onion snacks, in the onion and bbq flavors. All in all I was impressed, and would like give them all a try as well. Good stuff, thank you, Marni!

Monday, April 23, 2012

French Fry Diary 364: Select 7 Panko Breaded Onion Petals

I had a long day, I was hungry, and it was late so my options were few. So when I approached the 7-Eleven, like an oasis in the desert, I knew I would be stopping for a snack. I got a hot dog. It's easier to ignore how long they've been there and what they might be made of at that hour. And Cool Dog, the first stop for dogs, wasn't open.

I was still hungry and was aisle by aisle shopping the 7-Eleven, and I found these - the Select 7 Panko Breaded Onion Petals. 7-Eleven or not, I snatched them up. I have recently been on a Panko drive so I had to have them.

Once home I found they could be cooked three ways - microwave, baked, or deep fry. Deep frying is a lot of work, and anyone who's had supposedly crunchy food microwaved knows it rarely works, so that was out too. Baking it was. For the record, I gave them a few more minutes in the oven than they suggested. And the Aussie Sauce will be saved for The Bride and her salads. It is just salad dressing, is it not? I myself prefer barbecue sauce for my fried onion treats.

Baked they are quite crunchy and tasty, with more of a hint of Panko than the ShopRite Panko Onion Rings promised. And the portion provided by the small box is enormous. Despite the 7-Eleven store brand, these are very good. I like them a lot. I look forward to trying them deep fried, and maybe even microwaved.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #44

Today's Random Tater Pic comes to us from I Can Has by way of my Twitter buddy CKscullycat. Obviously it's a cute play on Jack in the Box, but cuter. I'll have a medium kitty fries to go, please.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

French Fry Diary 363: Checkers Undercover

The Bride and I like reality television a lot, probably too much. It's sort of like eating too many French fries (how can there be too many fries??), you know it's bad for you, but you end up doing it anyway. One of the programs we've watching lately is called "Undercover Boss."

The premise has the CEO of a big company going to work for his own company, in disguise, and at the bottom of the ladder doing grunt work. In this way, they get a first hand look at the problems and victories going on in their business from the ground up. While in disguise, they can't break character, at least not until the big reveal at the end of the show.

A recent episode featured Checkers & Rally's CEO Rick Silva (no relation to my friend and fellow writer Rick Silva) going undercover within his company. When he found the conditions at one of his restaurants less than satisfying, he said screw it, revealed his 'secret identity' and shut it down! Go Rick! Yet another reason to love Checkers.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

French Fry Diary 362: Checkers Rally's Famous Fries

I was surprised and delighted to find these in my grocer's freezer section as I like Checkers quite a bit, and with Checkers Rally's Famous Fries, now I can have them in my own home without the run through the drive-thru. Props to the Checkers folks.

Now the directions offer the option to either bake or deep fry these spicy batter coated babies, but let me tell you - don't deep-fry them. Just chalk that one up to I did it so you won't have to. These are not good deep-fried.

Now baked is a whole other thing. Not only is there less grease than deep frying (or even from the restaurant if I'm being honest), but these large shoestrings are near perfect from the oven. You can regulate the crispness, and they are always soft and hot in the inside. The seasoning on the outside make any additional seasoning pointless. These are just great baked.

If you're making dinner, these pair well with a burger, and the fries are skinny enough to stack on the sandwich, and also add that great seasoning flavor to it as well. Thumbs up for Checkers Rally's Famous Fries.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

French Fry Diary 361: Checkers

Checkers and Rally's are the same place, and essentially the same food, but here in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, we only have Checkers.

Checkers is predominantly a drive-thru and/or walk-up restaurant, even though there are a few tables outside, I don't think they get much use - its not Sonic. The lunchtime I visited the place was dead, no drive-thru traffic even - which is a shame because the food is pretty good. And notably, the customer service is also very quick, and usually pretty accurate too.

The burgers are big and tasty, although this time it did take some effort to get a plain burger. Speaking of Sonic, I think the shakes at Checkers are thicker and better, and excellent for fry-dipping. They also have the usual fare of chicken, fish, and hot dogs as well, but it's the favorite fried food we're here to talk about.

The French fries at Checkers are long (sometimes very long) regular natural cuts with a thick crispy batter coating, salted and black peppered. This orange colored spicy skin gives them an extra zing and crunch that contrasts the soft hot potatoey insides. These are darn good fries, but make sure you have a beverage handy to balance the heat. It's a good heat though. They're also great for sandwiching and, as I said, shake dipping, which will also cool some of that spicy fire.

The Checkers fries also nuke well in microwave once you get home, at least twice, sometimes three times, making them an excellent drive-thru fry that can be had later. Recommended.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Rachel Ray, Snack of the Day, PopChips

I've talked about PopChips here on French Fry Diary before.

Here's Rachel Ray talking about them for her Snack of the Day sequence:


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Grilled Cheese Day

Today is officially National Grilled Cheese Day, so why don't you make yourself a grilled cheese, or go out and have someone else make one for you?

Of course, if you want the best grilled cheese around, you'll have to go to the Pop Shop in Collingswood, New Jersey. Not only do they have dozens of variations on the grilled cheese, they went spatula to spatula with Bobby Flay over grilled cheese.

And as long as you're at the Pop Shop, don't forget to get some of their great Pop Fries! Happy Grilled Cheese Day!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

French Fry Diary 360: 7-Eleven Bacon & Cheese Potato Stix

The last time I was at a 7-Eleven getting a Coke Slurpee I noticed a sign on the door advertising something called Bacon & Cheese Potato Stix, and for only a dollar. I thought, hey, I like bacon, and cheese, and I love potato products - so I decided I'd try one of them the next time I hit 7-Eleven. This was a very very very bad decision.

I now know the origin of all the horror stories about convenience store food. First, considering all of the other deep fried breaded tube items on those rollers, including various hot dog like tubes, I really hoped what I took home was actually a Bacon & Cheese Potato Stix thing.

The thing was hot when I left the 7-Eleven but five minutes later at home, it was vaguely warm and hard as a rock. I had to saw with a knife to break it in half as you see in the pics. I admit I only took a couple bites but that was enough to make me sick. I saw no bacon, and tasted neither bacon nor cheese. The potato was like old cold McDonald's hash brown bits... and I don't know what the green bits were. It was terrible.

Let's file this under I did it so you won't have to, and I did it to save your lives. 7-Eleven Bacon & Cheese Potato Stix - highly NOT recommended.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

French Fry Diary 359: Alexia Beer Battered Onion Rings

Now, other than Mrs. Paul's Onion Rings which I just can't find in the frozen grocery section anywhere any more, Alexia makes the best frozen onion rings. They have a panko breading that makes for a perfect crunch. But these aren't either of them, and I'm also not fond of beer batter. That's not good when I haven't even opened the box yet.

Like many potato chips I've reviewed, these rings have a whole bunch o' names. Officially they are "All Natural Alexia Gourmet Quality Crispy Beer Battered Onion Rings with Sea Salt." They also have a number of other adjective-like phrases on the box as well like "made from real Spanish onions" and "craft beer battered." I'm out of breath, and I'm only typing this stuff.

Well, the good news is that they have zero transfats. Tastewise, they are still beer battered onion rings. They are thinner than most however and that equal crispiness. I tried them deep-fried and baked, and other than the former being greasier, there wasn't much difference. They are better than most, and even better with barbecue sauce or sprinkled with seasoned salt or paprika.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #42

Here's a pic of the wonderful potatoes made by family friend Roland for our Passover seder this past weekend. As always, they were terrific.

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