Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trail of Potato Chips Helps Nab Thief

My buddy Ray hipped me to this one from the Huffington Post, recently and inexplicably a cornucopia of potato-related news here on French Fry Diary.

The suspect robbed a Subway of several salty snacks and inadvertently left a trail for police with them. The full story can be found here.

Thanks, Ray!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #56

Mr. Potato Head as Batman, the Dark Knight. Photo taken at All Things Fun!, South Jersey's premiere comics, gaming and toy store, located in West Berlin, New Jersey.

Friday, July 27, 2012

French Fry Diary 398: London Fish and Fries

We've talked recently about the McDonald's monopoly on the favorite fried food at this year's Summer Olympics in London, well, now here's a related item from down under, specifically Mickey D's in Australia and New Zealand.

The McDonald's restaurants down under are offering, for a limited time of course, Flavours of the Games. One of the 'Flavours' is London Fish & Fries - battered and fried fish strips with tartar sauce and McDonald's French fries. Shouldn't that be chips though?

The other offerings include the Beijing Chicken, the Sydney Stack, the Barcelona Omelette, the Atlanta Pork McRib, the Athens Apricot and Peach Pie, and the Paris Choc Delight. Hmmm... I wonder much a flight to Australia costs?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

French Fry Diary 397: The Mashed Potato Vending Machine

My buddy Terry hipped me to this one. Believe it or not, this machine, at 7-Elevens in Singapore, dispenses mashed potatoes, and yes, gravy, into a cup.

Apparently for one dollar (two if you pair it with a Big Gulp), you can get a cup of mashed potatoes, followed by gravy on top. The machine is made by Maggi, an international branch of the Nestle family of companies. The gravy, or it might be 'special seasoning sauce,' is also made by Maggi. Sources say you can also get Barbecue mashed potatoes as well. What, no butter?

No word if these amazing vending machines will be coming to the United States any time soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

French Fry Diary 396: The Friar's Nook, Magic Kingdom

This place has haunted me since our last visit to Walt Disney World. I had gotten a few recommendations for the homemade potato chips at this window in the wall counter service place in the Magic Kingdom called The Friar's Nook. When I looked it up I saw they also had Teriyaki chicken nuggets and that sounded great to me so I figured I had to try it. Sadly the night we finally made it to the Magic Kingdom, it rained very hard and many places, The Friar's Nook included, had closed down for the night. I determined to get there next time.

Here's next time (this was in March). As you can see from the photo, they are closed. I asked a Cast Member who told me that The Friar's Nook is only open during the summer (and apparently when it's not raining as well). As I stood there in disbelief with sweat pouring off of me, it took a serious reality check for me to realize that in Florida, just because it's ninety-six degrees out, that doesn't mean it's summer. I raised my fists to sky and shouted "Friar's Nook!" William Shatner style. I will have you and your homemade potato chips someday, this I swear...

Monday, July 23, 2012

French Fry Diary 395: Chick-fil-A and Choice

Whether it's McDonald's keeping other restaurants off the Olympic grounds in London, or the Burger King employee standing in bins of lettuce, it hasn't been a very good couple of weeks for fast food restaurants. But probably the biggest and most controversial news is the one that nobody, or at least nobody sensible wants to talk about - the gay cow in the middle of the room - that Chick-fil-A is anti-gay.

Apologies ahead of time, folks, the fry guy is going to talk politics, but at least it is sort of topical to the favorite fried food.

The news about Chick-fil-A is better covered here. The statement that Chick-fil-A is anti-gay is just not entirely true. Chick-fil-A is pro-heterosexual marriage. And yes, it is a game of semantics. I am pro-choice for instance, but that doesn't mean I support abortion. I'm pro-choice because as a man that decision is not meant for me to make. This too is one of those things, sooo gray, and not black and white.

I have a hard time with this issue because I like Chick-fil-A a lot, and also because I have many gay friends. Some of whom, I should point out, work for Chick-fil-A, and even run franchises. We've talked about it, and while the company's policies and opinions are very strongly against gay marriage, they themselves have never experienced any problems from corporate. It is a conundrum.

Although I love Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries, and a lot of their chicken menu as well, I will not be going there as often, if at all any more. Still I want to support my friends who work there, but not necessarily the folks who run the company. I guess I'm pro-choice, and anti-Chick-fil-A corporate.

Remember, you can always make your own waffle fries (maybe I'll post a recipe for them soon), and yes, you can even make your own chicken sandwich…

Hopefully in the future Chick-fil-A will change their official stance. After all, losing a major percentage of their customers, as well as the Muppets, is just not smart business.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #54

Apparently, in the game Portal 2, the villainess of the first game, GLaDOS, has had her personality trapped inside a potato battery, by the villain of this game, Wheatley. Here's an image of that potato battery trap.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

French Fry Diary 394: Chef Mickey's, Disney's Contemporary Resort

When it comes to the infamous Character Breakfast at Walt Disney World, one place comes immediately to mind, and is the great granddaddy of the event, because they do it the best, and they do it right. I'm talking about Chef Mickey's in Disney's Contemporary Resort. You all know the Contemporary, it's the giant A-frame hotel near the Magic Kingdom with a Monorail station right inside the hotel. The characters that come right to your table there are the big ones - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip and Dale, the A-team. And from what I can remember, the food was pretty good too.

As it was the nephew's first time at WDW, we just had to do the Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey's, no way around it. The way it works is you sit down and the characters (just the big five now, I guess having Chip and Dale was a little too much like having rats begging for scraps, I guess…) come to you. One at a time, Goofy, Mickey, and the whole gang come and visit you, with or without kids, and cavort. Cavorting includes dancing, pantomiming, posing for pictures, and even signing autographs. The nephew was thrilled, smiling like it was crazy town. He loved it. He even broke into dance himself spontaneously. Now that's some kind of happy.

The food was buffet style. Our waitress was Melinda, who handled drink orders, explained everything, kept the party going, and basically saw to our every need. If you could tear yourself away from the Mickster and friends, there was a generous selection of breakfasts, some Disney exclusive, at the buffet to choose from, and that also included some decadent desserts.

In the favorite fried food category there were more than a few choices, but before I get there, it should be noted that we had real bacon that morning as opposed to the shredded bacon pieces we were served at Sunshine Seasons over at The Land in EPCOT. In the potato department they had those planks of processed potato that look similar to McDonald's Hash Browns but are sooo not. The sign over them called them 'potato crisps,' which was kinda appropriate because they tasted like bland cardboard Pringles. I took one, had a bite, and didn't have any more, that bad.

Luckily there were other types. I also tried the creamy breakfast potatoes which were shredded hash browns baked in a creamy cheesy butter sauce and had a crispy top. Not bad, not my cup of tea, and besides they also had the tradition Disney diced and cubed breakfast potatoes. Lightly seasoned to a golden brown, soft and potato-ey and hot, and mixed in with chopped onions and peppers and fried. Disney breakfast perfection. On the menu a 'cheesy bacon potatoes' was listed but could not be found.

Café Mickey's is still one of the best breakfasts in WDW. All this and a show too, what a deal. And of course, the nephew had a terrific time. That made it all worth it right there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

McDonald's Goes Solo for Olympics?

There seems to be quite a French fry controversy going on in London of late for the Summer Olympic Games. Certain corporate sponsors, McDonald's among them, are requiring not only product dominance at the games but also sole occupancy.

On the grounds of the Olympics, if you want Burger King or Wendy's fries, you'll have a long walk and a long wait. McDonald's has product exclusivity. You can of course buy local favorites fish and chips however. It ain't London without fish and chips.

You can read the full story here, and special thanks to my friend Dom for hipping me to this fry-intensive new item.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Best and Worst Onion Rings

This will be the last one on this slant, I promise. Recently the Huffington Post did a survey of appetizers in chain restaurants looking for the best and worst in various appetizers. We've seen potato skins and French fries so far, this time, we have onion rings.

Yeah, that's right. The Huffington Post did this. Again. Just when I think I'm wasting my time talking about French fries all the time, an almost legitimate news source proves me wrong by going even more trivial. Talk about niche!

What bothers me most about the survey this time is that they have their facts wrong. They list T.G.I.Fridays and Applebee's as not having onion rings. That second one is odd because I have an Applebee's review in queue that includes onion rings. Friday's has onion rings, and although it's been a while since I've been there, I'm pretty sure Planet Hollywood does too. Research research! Chili's are definitely up there, as are Red Lobster's, but Cheesecake Factory's rings didn't look like that the last time I was there.

Anyway, if you're interested in the Huff Post's findings and opinions, the full article is here. Enjoy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

French Fry Diary 393: Special Double Holiday

July 13th 2012 is a very special day here at French Fry Diary, and despite it being Friday the 13th, it's actually very lucky. Not only is it Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A, it's also National French Fries Day.

So make sure you get out there today at some point and have the favorite fried food at your favorite restaurant, or better yet, make your own fries at home, but whatever you do, don't forget to celebrate National French Fries Day.

And if you like Chick-fil-A, and feel so inclined, dress like a cow, and get free food. The details are here. And while you're there, don't forget to have some of those yummy Waffle Potato Fries.

Now just for fun, here's a video of a cow eating French fries...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #53

I've been trying to get to Tattooed Mom on South Street in Philly for some time as I have gotten many recommendations. Recently The Bride, after dear friend The Dark Crystal's one-woman show, got there and took this pic.

These waffle fries were covered with "real cheese wiz but it had obviously been sitting around for a while before it came out." She also reported, "The fries were not bad, but the cheese was glooped on the top, leaving the fries underneath cheeseless."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

French Fry Diary 392: Sunshine Seasons, The Land, EPCOT

The Bride gets very overzealous when it comes to Disney World. She got it in her head that we had to be at Epcot at god awful o'clock in the morning. Extra magic hours, she called it. It just meant they were open earlier for resort guests. So we rushed out, no time for breakfast, mind you, although I had been Jones-ing for that trademark Disney breakfast potatoes and bacon, and we got to EPCOT when they opened.

After doing Test Track several times (the family, not me, I have a heart condition, remember?) we were all pretty hungry, but we started to realize there wasn't any place to eat for breakfast. After consulting various apps on our iPhones and asking real human Cast Members, we were directed to the food court at the Land. The Land, on my first visit to WDW, and on my honeymoon, had terrific fries but they have since changed them. Same thing with the mac and cheese The Bride used to love. No matter, we were there for breakfast, not lunch or dinner.

The Disney Dining Plan is a wonderful thing. When you are going out to restaurants where you sit down, it rocks. It is highly recommended, especially for those experiences, I love it. However, when trying to decipher the mysteries of what constitutes a snack, or a counter service, and what you are entitled to on each… I swear you need a slide rule. What I eventually got from the Plan for breakfast I don't actually know, but I do know I walked back to my table carrying a tray with bacon and breakfast potatoes.

I was a tad disappointed in the bacon, and the bro-in-law really hated it, but since I had been waiting for bacon for nearly four hours, it was good enough for me. I received a good-sized cholesterol-threatening lump of bacon on a tiny paper plate. No real strips of the wonder food, but more like shredded pieces of it in a big mound.

The favorite fried food came in the form of diced red potatoes with just a bit of onion and pepper, served on the same sized plate as the bacon. They were soft and delicious with golden seasoning. The serving I received was quite small compared to the giant helping of shredded bacon I got, but it was still quite good. Looking at other folks' plates who got the full breakfast, I felt better as I still got much more bacon and potatoes than they did.

Still, all things considered, the family had a good breakfast, and we were all re-energized to go take on Soarin' and the rest of EPCOT.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

French Fry Diary 391: Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort

When planning our most recent excursion to Walt Disney World, a short family vacation (The Bride, her folks, her sister, her husband and their son, the last of which was seeing the magic for the first time), The Bride wanted everything to be perfect, and that included the meals. We got the Disney Dining Plan so that made some things easier, but we still had to pick the restaurants.

The Bride and I had stayed at Coronado Springs once before, and that was where we were all staying this time. When we had been there before we had a wonderful romantic dinner at the Maya Grill, the modern Latin-American restaurant at the hotel, so I suggested it for the whole family this time. The Dining Plan would handle it so no problems with price. It was a big hit.

We were also joined this night by a cousin and his ladyfriend who live in the area so we had a full party. Our waiter Berk delivered fast and quality service, although the bro-in-law didn't think so, but personally I think that's his problem. ;-) The atmosphere was great as a solo guitarist played simple acoustic tunes in the atrium, some oldies, some traditional, even some new stuff.

Thanks to my catastrophic pickiness with food, the menu was a bit daunting. I did find something good, but I am sure they would have provided whatever I asked for. This is Disney after all. I settled on the Arrachera, a Mexican prepared flank steak, that's a sirloin steak served with Yukon gold potatoes, and vegetables to me and you. You know me, I exchanged the vegetables for fries if they had them, and they did.

Our meals came rather quickly, I was impressed, the bro-in-law wasn't. But the conversation was good, as was the company, so perhaps I just hadn't noticed how much time has passed. The steak was very good, the mashed Yukon golds with garlic and other not-so-fun foreign objects (edible, don't get me wrong) not so much. It was a good thing I also got the fries.

The French fries in question were steak fries, just standard frozen steak fries. They were baked, not fried, and had that soft and hot potato-ey consistency inside the semi-crisp shell. Good and simple. Sometimes simple is best.

Dessert included a variety of things including the chocolate mousse shot that I got, as well as the coconut flan The Bride said was to die for. It was a terrific night out, and one of the best meals I've had in a while. Two thumbs up to the Maya Grill.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #52

This hot dog snack with the kettle-cooked potato chips comes from the Cafe Rix at the Coronado Springs resort at Walt Disney World.

Friday, July 06, 2012

French Fry Diary 390: Herr's 1853 Barbecue Potato Chips

I told you all about the mystery box. Well, this is what I got inside. All Natural 1853 Kettle Cooked Barbecue Potato Chips. Also on the bag it says "sliced extra thick" and "sweet and smoky." All true.

Now I can't find these in any store, or on the Herr's website for that matter, so this is a real treat. Thank you, Herr's. Now of course, I have a lifetime supply. I talked about these 1853 babies, and briefly the barbecue type, when they first came out two years ago but here's a more proper review of that flavor.

These are chips with a proper thickness and a kettle cooked crunch that's not too much, it's just right. The seasoning is also just right, and has a smoky flavor that Herr's other barbecue styles don't. Their thickness and the curvy shapes and bubbles made by the kettle cooking make them terrific for dipping. Bonus - no transfats, no cholesterol, low sodium.

I really like these, and their regular variety as well. However I wonder if I've got the last bags of these. They have a November 2012 expiration date. The clock is ticking. Thank you again, Herr's.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #51

For the American Fourth of July holiday, here's a pick from the Recipe Girl website of Red White and Blue Potato Salad. Check out the recipe here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

French Fry Diary 389: The Mystery Box from Herr's

The Bride got the mail the other day and brought with her a huge cardboard box for me. It took me a few moments to figure out what it was, but once I saw the return address was Herr's in Nottingham PA - I knew exactly what it was.

I take online surveys all the time, but the ones I enjoy most are surveys about my favorite things, among them would be potato chips. I've done Herr's surveys before, always fun, and as an incentive to do the survey, you could win a case of snacks. Guess who won this time?

I'm surprised that I still won. When they asked me what I wanted a case of, I suppose I may have been a pain in the ass. I first asked for the 1853 chips and then the barbecue variety neither of which I have been able to find since 2010. I also mentioned the Lattice chips, the Honey BBQ, and two or three others. I thought maybe I'd get a variety.

This was good though, surprising, and large eight ounce bags, twelve of them - the mythical, and thought lost to the crumbs of time - All Natural 1853 Kettle Cooked Barbecue Potato Chips. Truly a lifetime supply. Thank you, Herr's!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Best and Worst French Fries

The Huffington Post is currently doing a survey of appetizers in chain restaurants. The other day I covered here them looking for the best and worst in potato skins. Now they have reached the good stuff, the favorite fried food - the best and worst of French fries.

And yeah, that's right. The Huffington Post did this. Just when I think I'm wasting my time talking about French fries all the time, an almost legitimate news source proves me wrong by going even more trivial.

I really don't agree with their findings. Of course in any fry competition between the chain restaurants, it's a matter of lesser of the evils. They are essentially all lousy natural cuts except for a couple batter styles. No big shakes if you ask me.

Their goodness or badness depends completely on the foods that complement them, or what there is to dip the fries in. On that basis, I would go for Red Lobster as best. Huff puts them in fourth place. I guess they have never tried the peach bourbon bbq sauce

Anyway, if you're interested in the Huff Post's findings and opinions, the full article is here. Enjoy.