Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #126



These are 'Potato Bakers' that I picked up at the Dollar General, for, wait for it, a dollar. These little microwave safe plastic plates are just to put your potato on while you bake it in the microwave. They can do double duty as the serving dish for said potato just as easily. Handy and cheap.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

French Fry Diary 549: Tayto Smoky Bacon Crisps


Here's one that comes not from my usual exotic chip getting source, Marni, but from her significant other, Bob. Tayto is a snack company from across the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Ireland, specifically a castle in the Ulster countryside. Check out their website, they have dozens of intriguing flavors.

The flavor I have today is Smoky Bacon. The smoky aroma jumped out as I opened the bag. The flavor of the crisps (their word for chips) was interesting. It made me immediately wonder if Irish bacon was different from American bacon.

The bacon flavor is very strong and overpowering, not that that is a bad thing. It makes you savor the flavor of each crisp, and makes you eat them slower, so as to enjoy them. These are a treasure. I would love to try some of Tayto's other varieties now. Thanks, Bob!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #125



These are Bavarian Fries. Officially called currywurst mit pommes, I got this pic from my old Vidcast partner Allison over on the Facebook. They come from a restaurant called Sebastian's Schnitzelhaus in Wrightstown NJ. I guess I'll have to get down there and try them out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

French Fry Diary 548: Return to Little Shanty Fries


This one is from a while ago, but still relevant as Little Shanty Fries always rocks. The Bride and I don't get to North Jersey as much as we'd like despite having friends up there. Our trip to the NJ DIS Weekend Meet offered up a little bit more time in the area than we usually have. And it's not just friends who are the draw, one of my absolute favorite restaurants is in Warren, New Jersey.

I loved Little Shanty Fries the first and only time I was there, on New Year's Eve 2012. I have to admit that before that visit I wasn't expecting much, but Jonathan Lidz' terrific little restaurant blew me away with some of the best food, and best fries around. I have been counting the days until I could return.

We arrived in Warren early and had lots of time to kill before they opened. The anticipation was killing me, taking a nap, browsing a flea market, perusing the Little Shanty menu online, and mostly, trying to forget the pretty lousy breakfast The Bride and I endured at the Time to Eat Diner earlier that morning.

Once again, like last time, when we arrived, there was no Jonathan. We keep missing each other. He's the wizard behind Little Shanty Fries, and we've chatted a few times back and forth on the Facebook, but I'd like to meet the guy in person to shake his hand and tell him how much I like his food. Maybe next time.

For our meal, I got the onion rings and French fries again, because really, who knows when we'll be in Warren again, and I loved them so much the first time. The gluten free onion rings were just as great this time, if not better honestly. They were crispier. I can't say enough how really good these rings are. The fries, natural cut shoestrings mixed with grilled (or deep-fried?) onions were just as good as the first trip, but it seemed like they had less onions this time, which took away a bit, in anticipation at least. Still it was a terrific meal.

The Bride tried the sliders, which she liked, and even though they may have confused the order a little bit, we were both very satisfied. And we both got the milkshakes, a welcome refreshing blast on an unseasonably hot Spring day. And now I'm back to counting the days until the next trip to North Jersey. Hey Jonathan, open one down here in the South Jersey area!

You can find Little Shanty at their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

French Fry Diary 547: Time to Eat Diner, Bridgewater NJ


This fairly famous diner was chosen as the last day breakfast site for the NJ DIS Weekend Meet. Time to Eat is a landmark in the North Jersey area, and it's a very Greek diner as everyone working there I encountered had thick accents. It was packed as per usual for a Sunday morning as most such diners are. I don't think either the DIS folks or the diner folks had any idea how many of us there would be. We arrived late, so the seating was dicey.

I got my diner usuals for breakfast, home fries and bacon. The home fries were shredded potatoes that seriously needed to be cooked a little bit more. I should have done what the bro-in-law sometimes does and ask them to just deep-fry them for extra-crispness. There were random onions, peppers, and maybe scallions mixed in, but far too few to be on purpose, maybe they just slipped in through sloppy cooking. These home fries also got cold very quickly, or maybe they were just cold to begin with.

This was a big order by the way. Again, there is something to be said about portion size at most diners. A side order is only a small order if it's actually a side to a meal, but a side order without an entrée will be huge. They will not skimp on the potatoes, and you will get a full-sized plateful of them. Don't try to test this with bacon however, you will be sorely disappointed.

While the food was not great, diners are about getting together with friends, not food for the most part. Or maybe that's just me waxing philosophical and making an excuse for the really crappy food. It is always nice to meet new folks, and make new friends. The company and the conversation were pretty good, most of it about, you guessed it, Disney.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

French Fry Diary 546: Red Robin Seasoned Steak Fries


I have a soft spot in my heart for Red Robin. It is, after all, the home of the Bottomless Steak Fries. So when I saw that they had frozen fries available to make at home, I quickly snagged a bag of these frozen fries. The bad news, of course, is that they are not bottomless.

With Arby's, Checkers, and Burger King all competing in the frozen fry game, why not Red Robin? They do make good fries. Their natural cut seasoned steak fries are awesome, and in the restaurant, always good for at least one refill, if not two. The package itself promises Red Robin's signature blend of seasoning salt, as well as quickie recipes for two different dipping sauces.

They are only directions for baking, so that's how I did them. I have to admit being a bit surprised at the high temp (425 degrees) and longer than usual time (30 minutes), but I always gotta follow the instructions for a first time cooking. And I also had a little concern over the amount of seasoning on the fries, it seemed like a lot. As they cooked, the whole kitchen was filled with the aroma.

To be sure, next time I will make adjustments to the time and temp. There were more than a few crispy critters, still edible, and mostly small pieces, but still more crispy than I like - and I like crispy. They were overcooked, but steak fries being thick and 'meaty,' it's hard to ruin them that way.

All that said, these were pretty good steak fries, but very spicy, spicier than I remember them being at the Red Robin restaurant. I would definitely get these again, adjust the directions, have a cold refreshing drink nearby, and enjoy... until I hit bottom, of course.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

French Fry Diary 545: 7-Eleven Hot Dog Potato Chips


Since I have known about them, I have been searching for Herr's Hot Dog Potato Chips, but after two summers I'm not sure I will ever find them (however if anyone has seen them in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area and wants to let me know where, I'm all ears).

That said, The Bride found these 7-Select Big Bite Hot Dog Flavored Potato Chips at the 7-Eleven near her office and picked them up for me. Big Bite, now there's a phrase that brings back memories. Having lived in a Wawa-centric area for the last couple decades, I had forgotten how important 7-Eleven was in my youth.

The Big Bite is the special name for the 7-Eleven hot dog, a late night snack on many a night back in the day. Big Bites could be good and fresh, or sometimes it could be a guessing game exactly how long said hot dog had been rolling under those heat lamps. That flavor however in a potato chip however is a whole 'nother thing.

I had to laugh at the picture on the bag, showing the chips next to a hot dog, declaring it a 'serving suggestion.' Nothing like a double shot of hot dogs, eh? Once the bag was opened, the aroma is interesting. Not surprisingly hot dog-like, but there is also a barbecue vibe going on here. No surprise there either as the ingredients show onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.

The chips are thicker than usual ripple cuts. The Bride tried them first, saying they tasted just like a hot dog with mustard. That turned me off a bit as I'm not a mustard guy, but I tried them anyway. Yeah, she was right, she pretty much nailed it on taste, and in her assertion that I would not like them.

On the plus side, they are cholesterol free and have zero transfats. I can see the appeal of these, but honestly, they're just not my bag of chips. Heh, see what I did there?

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #123



Here's this year's Hanukkah attempt to make homemade latkes for The Bride. It didn't hold together, making it basically just breakfast potatoes. Maybe next year...

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

French Fry Diary 544: Donkey's Place, Medford


Rob from The Treehouse in Audubon NJ, where the South Jersey Writers' Group hold their Blogfests, open mikes, and other events, recommended this place to me, and it has become my favorite new place. I'm talking about Donkey's Place in Medford.

The original Donkey's is on Haddon Avenue in Camden, in unfortunately not the best of areas. Started by former Olympic boxer Leon Lucas, whose punches were said to have the force of a donkey's kick, thus the nickname. Second and third generations of the family have since opened a suburban Donkey's in Medford where we visited. Joe, the owner, treated The Bride and I like royalty, and he gave her a rose because that's what they do on Sundays. Notably, we did not get special treatment, everyone got the very best customer service while we were there.

Donkey's II is a cozy little place, in one of the major crossroads in the woods of Medford. Sunday football was on flat screen in the corner, our table had a console Donkey Kong machine next to it, and we loved the simple menu with only a handful of items. Joe noted that the Camden location had an even simpler menu. There was a fridge with Mexican Coke, Sprite, and Fanta.

Regular readers know I have a weakness for Mexican Coke which has sugar instead of fructose, and is like tasting the 1970s. Mexican Sprite is incredible. Drinking it for the first time since I discovered the imported sugar Coke, was like having a Sprite for the first time in decades. I don't know what that crap I've been drinking called Sprite is, but it ain't real Sprite. They also had Slush Puppies, sort of a Slurpee, that The Bride was excited about, a piece of her childhood from the old Cherry Hill skating rink.

The cheesesteaks themselves are incredible, and unlike any other cheesesteak I, or probably you, have ever had. Served on a large poppy seed Kaiser roll, real pieces and chunks of steak, onions and provolone, this is a fantastic and different steak sandwich. I loved it. Rather than chopped beef, this is sliced, and there are so many onions, and also a wonderful au jus that makes the sandwich perfect. Be sure to specify cheez whiz if you want it. I loved the provolone, but like The Bride, I'm a whiz guy. I really loved this sandwich, and as I couldn't finish it there, I took it home, and it nuked perfectly.

Now the part you're reading this for, the French fries. These are standard regular cut frozen fries, deep fried, with a crisp seasoned coating. That would be the 'secret' Donkey Seasoning, also available at the table as well, good stuff, I taste some Old Bay, maybe paprika, maybe other seasoned salts, but very tasty. Crisp outside and soft and hot inside - everything a good fry should have, very good.

I gotta give Rob at The Treehouse thanks for hipping me to this place, and Joe at Donkey's in Medford. I have found my new favorite cheesesteak place. Awesome, and recommended. Get over to Donkey's and try the cheesesteaks, terrific food, and terrific customer service.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Evan Hilton Makes Mashed Potatoes on Vine



Animator Evan Hilton made these mashed potatoes for the Food Network, and their Thanksgiving Live series.

For more of Evan's Vines, check him out here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

French Fry Diary 543: Ore-Ida Simply


This is another step in the recent bandwagon toward healthier French fries. Ore-Ida has come out with a new sub-brand of frozen French fries called Simply. The varieties include Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries; Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries; Olive Oil and Sea Salt Homestyle Wedges; and Roasted Garlic and Herbs Homestyle Wedges.

I was able to get hold of the first type listed above, and it's worth mentioning that both 'country style' and 'homestyle' are just fancy ways of saying natural cut, or with the skin on. On the healthy scale, these fries are gluten free, with less fat, less calories, less carbs, but unfortunately a whole lot of sodium, more than usual actually. Something to watch for the health conscious.

The 'simply' part of the product name is that the only ingredients are the ones mentioned above in the product descriptions, so the Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries are just that - olive oil, sea salt, and potatoes. Simply also has its own new cartoon mascot, Ore-Ida Mae, made up only of natural ingredients.



Wow. Once prepared, pun intended, they were 'simply' the worst fries I have had in quite some time. I made them per the directions and they were more than a little overdone, and the directions for other Ore-Ida products work fine in my oven. Where they weren't overdone, they were limp. I could taste neither olive oil nor sea salt in or on these natural cuts. Their most outstanding quality, I have to add, is their blandness and lack of any flavor or seasoning.

These fries were terrible. Granted, I may have just gotten a bad bag I suppose, but based on this experience, it will be quite some time before I try another Ore-Ida Simply product. Sorry, Mae.

Friday, November 22, 2013

French Fry Diary 542: Howard's Crispy Fried Chicken Skins


I love my friend Marni, I really do. And I love that wherever she goes, she's looking for new and interesting snacks for me to review here on French Fry Diary, but with this entry... I'm beginning to think she's mad at me for something. Something bad.

Marni got me these ...things. Howard's Crispy Fried Chicken Skins. Yeah, folks, these are exactly what they sound like they are. And not the tasty skin you can pull off your KFC and enjoy, this is just disgusting. I thought I was going to throw up.

Howard's Snacks also makes other yummies like pork skins and popcorn. From their website: "We knows all Fried Pork Skins..." I'm just guessing all our base belong to them too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

French Fry Diary 541: Potato Express


I'm not sure whether I was being spammed, or if this was sent to me deliberately because of this blog, but I've gotten an email ad for a new 'as seen on TV' product called Potato Express.

 It is some kind of insulated bag that cooks baked potatoes (and more!) in the microwave oven.

They claim 'perfect potatoes in just four minutes.'

There's even a commercial that shows you all you need to know:



Hmmm… let's just see what the Epic Review Guys think of that:



Yep, kinda what I thought too…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #122



I guess I have t eat my words when I said the other day how impossible it might be to get a plain French Fry Burger from Burger King. I might further have to apologize to the King of Burger, because this is where this plain French Fry Burger came from. Will wonders ever cease?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

French Fry Diary 540: The Potato Knish Shortage


Folks shopping early for Hanukkah may have noticing a serious problem in their expeditions. There is a nationwide potato knish shortage. Yes, I'm serious.

Due to a September fire at the Gabila's Knishes Factory, the number one supplier of potato knishes in the country, there is a shortage. The machinery used to make them was damaged, thus creating the problem. Otherwise, Gabila's makes and sells more knishes worldwide (so far, well over a billion) than any other company.



According to a Facebook message from the company promises to have the famous square knishes back in stores just in time for the upcoming Thanksgivukkah. Let's hope so!

Monday, November 18, 2013

French Fry Diary 539: Get Atomic at Cool Dog Café


You get LOTS more fries and rings than pictured here, but we were sharing.
The Atomic BBQ Sauce is one of three new sauces at the Cool Dog Café in Cherry Hill, along with TNT Mustard and Garlic Aioli, mmm. We had a friend visiting who had wanted to try Cool Dog because she'd heard so much about it, so what better time to go?

I ordered my regular, The Bride got hers, (isn't it great to have a local place with such good food where we can have 'regulars?') and our friend, who's a chef, caterer, and foodie herself actually got two different dogs, and the onion rings. She was very well impressed and would definitely be back.

With my required order of Cool Dog's award winning fresh cut fries, I also got an order of the Atomic BBQ sauce. It was sweet, but hot with a little bit of a kick, I loved it. The sauce was great for dipping, it was good on the fries, and the rings, and even on the dog (hint hint, if you're looking for ideas for future dogs, this is it).

And of course, the big news - is that the Hanukkah Dog will be returning to Cool Dog Cafe the week of Thanksgiving/Hanukkah, so get your appetites ready now!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grilled Steak Potato Kebabs


Today's recipe comes from Best Recipestry, by way of Just-Potatoes, and you can see the whole thing here.

Grilled Steak Potato Kebabs

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHIMICHURRI, PURÉE: 2 cups fresh mint leaves, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1 /2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 2 Tbsp. each red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp. ground sumac or minced lemon zest, 1 shallot, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste.

FOR THE KEBABS, TOSS: 6 red or yellow new potatoes, ends removed, cut into 24 (½-inch-thick) slices, 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, 11/4 lb. beef tenderloin or top sirloin, cut into 2-inch chunks.

Directions:

Preheat grill for two-zone grilling, heating one side to medium and the other to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

For the chimichurri: purée mint, parsley, 1/2 cup oil, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, sumac, shallot, and pepper flakes in a food processor; season with salt and black pepper.

For the kebabs, toss potatoes with 2 tbsp. oil; thread six potato slices onto each of four skewers so potatoes lay flat. Toss beef with 2 tbsp. oil. Evenly divide and thread beef onto each of four skewers. Season kebabs with salt and black pepper. Grill potatoes over medium heat, covered, until brown and soft, about 7 minutes per side.

Add beef kebabs to grill; cook over medium-high heat, covered, to desired doneness (about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare). Let kebabs rest 5 minutes. While resting, brush kebabs with chimichurri. Serve remaining chimichurri on the side.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 576 cal; 47g total fat (8g sat); 75mg chol; 86mg sodium; 15g carb; 3g fiber; 30g protein.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

French Fry Diary 538: Landscape of Flavors, Breakfast


This place was a bit of a shock, made more so because we were at Disney. I really hope this is an anomaly. From the moment the day before, when I had FourSquared from Landscape of Flavors, I had a few folks email me and Tweet me that I had to try breakfast there, especially the breakfast potatoes and/or the tandoori potatoes.

Indeed, I have only heard good things about this food court since it, and its hotel, Art of Animation, opened. The more remarkable tales tell of folks coming all the way across the bridge behind it from Pop Century for the food. I admit my curiosity was piqued, because I like Pop Century.

The customer service was abysmal. Skipped lines, forced to buy items not wanted, and just a total crap attitude. No one was going to get a 'What Would Walt Do? pin here, that was for sure. So it must be the food, right? Once breakfast was gotten back to the table, I'm really not so sure.

I was planning to get the tandoori potatoes but quite frankly, that did not look all that appetizing. Maybe I missed out on a serious potato delight, but really I just didn't want to even try them. I opted for the regular breakfast potatoes instead, along with some barely warm, dry, overseasoned Challah French toast. What a waste of Challah bread.

The potatoes were of the shredded variety, not the usual tasty diced throughout most of Disney, and over at Pop Century. These shredded potatoes are then baked a la kugel, sliced up and served in squares.

Sounds good, right? Not really. For the most part it's a soggy mess, with occasional a pepper speck or two for flavor. The only good part is the top skin which took most of the heat baking. What good is a breakfast potato dish without a little crisp to it? These needed crisp, they needed seasoning, and after a few moments it was like eating cold mush. Suddenly the tandoori potatoes didn't seem like a bad choice.

This was by far one of the worst breakfasts I've had at Disney. Maybe they deserve a second chance, but it will take quite a bit to get me to come back. Just say no to Landscape of Flavors.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #121



These Somebody Else's Fries come from my podcast partner Ray Cornwall. He had these "really good room service fries" at the Four Points Sheraton at Philadelphia Airport. Thanks, Ray!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dining on the Disney Fantasy


We've been talking about the meals (and the potato-ey offerings) on board the Disney Fantasy ship of the Disney Cruise Line for a few weeks now. If you haven't had enough already, here's an extra special treat.

If you liked reading about the dining on the Disney Fantasy, you might also like listening to The Bride and myself talking about it. For those of you who aren't aware, we're doing a Disney-focused podcast called The Make Mine Magic Podcast, which you can hear here.

Not just about French fries, but all of the food offerings and dining options on board are up for discussion. Check out the podcast here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

French Fry Diary 537: Celebration Night at Enchanted Garden


After a night suffering from a thankfully 24-hour bug, and a special thank you to the newlywed couple who helped me out, especially the man who escorted me to the medical center, I was back on track aboard the Disney Fantasy. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing, and these two gentlemen were very caring and thoughtful. The next morning I awoke, fever broken, and voracious, diving right for those great roasted potatoes up at Cabanas. I was back.

Our final night on board was a good one, and not just because I was feeling better. First I was feeling good enough to eat. As an appetizer I tried the Grilled Potato with Goat Cheese Napoleon. Wow. The potato part was very good, but I'm not sure why they called that other stuff cheese. Nope, Tiggers do not like goat cheese.

Now all week I had been using the new app for my iPhone that only works on the boat called 'Disney Fantasy Navigator.' It was basically an electronic version of the daily schedule given out everyday on the boat. In the dinner menus for everyday I kept reading about this Golden Chicken Strips with Barbeque Sauce served with Steak Fries. As it turns out this was a kiddie offering, but by the end of seeing it all week, I wanted it, and ordered it. Sadly, they were out of steak fries. I guess the good fries go first.

For dessert, The Bride was sung to for her birthday, and we were both sung to for our anniversary. Combine that with a luscious dessert called Chocolate Decadence, as well as baked Alaska, and this was a very good night.

And remember, French Fry Diary is now on Facebook, come on over and join the fun and the discussion!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Animation and Potatoes


I was not feeling well at all this night, but wanted to come to dinner at Animator's Palate to see the show. You draw a little guy and then it is animated into the show on the screens throughout the restaurant. Here's what it looks like:



As I was not doing well that night, I ate light, a baked potato. Our servers insisted on bringing two baked potatoes. Never argue with people who handle your food. I enjoyed what I could of one of them. I wish I could have enjoyed more.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #120



Another night at the Royal Court on board the Disney Fantasy, and here's another tater pic. These golden brown swirled beauties are whipped Yukon Gold potatoes. They were delicious and the best part of that night's meal. They had a heavenly texture, lightly crisp on top protecting a soft hot buttery inside of tender potatoes. They came with my almost as good peppercorn encrusted steak.

And remember, French Fry Diary is now on Facebook, come on over and join the fun and the discussion!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

French Fry Diary 536: Room Service, Disney Fantasy


The last few times we've done the room service thing on board the Disney Cruise, it's been the middle of the night or early morning while chilling and watching one of the constantly running OnDemand movies on the cabin television. This time it was different. I'll tell you, as much as we enjoyed her company, bringing the mother-in-law with has thrown off our schedule completely (I kid, Mom, I kid).

This time we got room service after The Bride and her mom went ashore to Costa Maya to hang out with the dolphins, while I stayed on board, read, wrote, and had steak frites. When they got back, they were beat and didn't want to do anything but rest, so room service was the call of the day.

Among the goodies ordered for this in-room spur of the moment feast were hot dogs, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, salad (some of us were being good), and yes, of course, French fries. The best part was not only did the girls share with poor embattled me (not easy sharing a cabin with two women), but the fries were the steak fries I was looking for earlier. How awesome is that?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #119



Friend and FFD enabler Marni recently went to Red Lobster and got the Crab Bake, here are her observations: "Got the Crab Bake at Red Lobster and in it are these crispy potatoes. Lightly crispy fried potato chunks." Thanks, Marni!

Monday, November 04, 2013

French Fry Diary 535: Steak Frites, Royal Court, Disney Fantasy


I was hoping to get another taste of those terrific steak fries that I had gotten at the Royal Court the other day on board the Disney Fantasy, but it didn't quite work out. The menu changed. The burger (gluten-free) was still there, but so was steak frites, so I opted for the new choice rather than the old reliable.

As always the service is incredible, and if I had any problems or concerns, I am sure they could have been remedied, but let's just suffice to say I didn't get my steak fries. They might have been out of them as I didn't see anyone else with them either. Still what I got was very good.

The steak frites was a wonderfully succulent strip of grilled steak with a garlic butter, served with natural cut French fries. Now these fries were the same I have dissed before when talking about Disney before, not bad, but not spectacular either, but soaked in the juice of the steak and the garlic butter, they were very, very good. A wonderful lunch meal, Disney scores again.

Friday, November 01, 2013

French Fry Diary 534: Enchanted Garden, Disney Fantasy


Today was a good food day on board the Disney Fantasy, between breakfast at Cabanas and lunch at the Royal Court, I wasn't sure what to expect at the Enchanted Garden for dinner. I need not have worried.

I got the steak option available every night that is for the folks not interested in that night's particular fare. With that I got a baked potato, which was one of the better such I have had in quite some time. I mashed that sucker up with a fork, smothered it in butter and went to town. And yeah, the steak was very good too.

That's three for three today, and the third day on board. Let's see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully it's something potato-ey…

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

French Fry Diary 533: My Gluten-Free Lunch at the Royal Court


While on the Disney Cruise, as I've mentioned before, I don't usually go ashore for excursions and the like. I really enjoy staying on the usually quiet ship to read, write, and people watch. The Disney Fantasy's stop at Grand Cayman was no exception. I was re-reading Stephen King's "The Shining" in anticipation for the release of its sequel "Doctor Sleep," as well as doing some writing of my own, so I stayed aboard.

Round about noon, I got the nibbles and decided to hit the Royal Court for lunch, partially in hopes of getting those terrific steak fries I had gotten at this main restaurant on other DCL ships. However, once seated, there was something weird afoot. I knew something was up from the get-go.

My servers brought bread and rolls to my table, then a minute later covered it up and took it away. Oookay. When the chopped Angus burger I ordered arrived, it had no bun. It did have those awesome rockin' steak fries though. I loved them, they were delicious, as was the bun-less burger. Having gotten the steak fries, and the breakfast potatoes that morning, the cruise was now aces in my book.

The server brought the dessert menu and told me there were some great non-gluten choices. That's when it hit me. I asked if I could just have a regular dessert instead, and that's when it hit him. They checked my room number, consulted notes, and asked, "Are you Charlotte?" Bingo. They thought I was my mother-in-law who's on a gluten-free diet.

I explained that I was not her, we laughed, and I had chocolate ice cream for dessert. The Bride and her mom had a good laugh when they returned from shore, we found out how diligent the Disney cooks are, and I got some terrific steak fries. It's all good.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

French Fry Diary 532: Amora Moutarde


One of the things The Bride got involved in on this Disney Cruise is something involving a community of fish extender people. I know, sounds weird, but long story short, it's sort of like an onboard secret Santa - passengers give each other small gifts by hanging them on the fish ornaments outside their cabin doors. Sometimes the gifts are food, sometimes toys, and sometimes something from the giver's region of the world.

Today, we got a plastic bottle of mustard from fellow passengers who are either French or French-Canadian. There's not much on the bottle I can read short of the brand name Amora, and moutarde, which I'm relatively sure is mustard. What an interesting and generous gift.

What makes it relevant to French Fry Diary is the note they taped to back of the bottle. Their suggestion read thusly: "The Original French Mustard to eat with your meats, potatoes, hot dogs, burgers… and add a French flavor to your meals…" Now I'm not a mustard guy, but potatoes, really? Who puts mustard on potatoes?

Seriously, if anyone knows of any instances or recipes, hit me up, and maybe I'll feature it here on the blog. This is a new one on me, and I would like to learn more.

Monday, October 28, 2013

French Fry Diary 531: Cabanas, Breakfast, Disney Fantasy


I talked about this free form buffet before when I encountered it on board the Disney Dream. This morning we went there for breakfast before seeing an early morning showing of Planes in the Buena Vista Theatre. After an unlucky couple of days food-wise and no luck find breakfast potatoes other than those awful greasy hash brown slabs, I finally hit the jackpot.

Not only did Cabanas have grilled ham in pieces bigger than a half-dollar, but they had the most succulent and delicious breakfast potatoes I have every had. Big chunks of spiced potato, about half the size of a wedge, mixed in with peppers and onions. I had two servings of these awesome potatoes. Sooo good.

I guess that's a lock then, we'll be, or I'll be having breakfast at Cabanas for the rest of the trip. Those roasted breakfast potatoes are the best.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

French Fry Diary 530: Animator's Palate, Disney Fantasy 2013


We've talked about what happens in this Disney Cruise restaurant before, from the changing colors to the interactive characters. They lowlighted it a bit for our first meal there on this week long cruise. There was no big color changing dealie, but Crush the Turtle still made fun of me for being bald (the bastard). I have heard rumors that our return visit will feature some sort of new show. We'll just have to wait and see.

For tonight's meal, I had three different kinds of potato treats. As an appetizer, I got the bacon cheddar potato soup, which was thick and hot. It was good, but I didn't really taste all that much cheddar in it, and the bacon was just some crumble on top. Hot soup is always good however, and for me, not a soup person, that's really saying a lot.

It should be noted that these are all things I tried on my last cruise. With my ginger teriyaki dusted Angus sirloin, I got wasabi mashed potatoes and a side order of fries. The wasabi mashed potatoes were very hot, burn my mouth hot, make my eyes water hot. This was not the wasabi I love from Oh Yoko!.

The fries, while good, were not the ones I was expecting or wanted. The last few times at Animator's Palate I got the most delicious and hot steak fries with my meal. What I got tonight was the same old natural cut fries available from the snack counters upstairs and throughout the parks. The same old same old. Where were my steak fries from last time?

Food wise, this cruise was not turning out to be as wonderful as previous ones. I really hope that this is not a trend. Either way, we are still having a fabulous time. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Potato Tribute to Wonder Woman



This one comes from The Mary Sue, and through them, Kitchen Overlord.

This tribute to Wonder Woman is officially called Potatoes Diana, and you read all about it, as well as get the recipe, here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

French Fry Diary 529: Royal Court, Breakfast, Disney Fantasy


I have to say, that in all the time I have been cruising with Disney, this being my eighth, this was the first really disappointing meal I've had. There is, of course, always the option to just ask, and they would do whatever you wanted, but there's also that thing of not wanting to be a jerk. What is the old adage? Don't tick off anyone in a position to touch your food.

As a poor Christian boy married into a Jewish family, ham is something I rarely see, and grilled ham is even more rare. Unless I cook it myself, which I'm just not very good at, I'm just not getting it. In the past however, I have found the grilled ham at breakfast on the Disney Cruise very very good. And it was good this morning… the tiny piece I got. I was kinda stunned. I got three tinier bite-sized pieces from it. Perhaps, with the amount of overcooked bacon I got on my plate, perhaps they had run out of pig.

The hash browns that came with this breakfast were not the great breakfast potatoes that both Disney and their cruises are known for but one of those slabs of potato pieces, more Wawa than McDonald's. Greasy, disappointing, and unsatisfying.

Again, I suppose any of this could have been remedied by saying something to the server, but asking for more ham, medium-cooked bacon, and real breakfast potatoes. I sooo did not want to be that guy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

French Fry Diary 528: Steak 'n Shake


I was more than curious about Steak 'n Shake. Over the years, I had gotten a few recommendations to try them. And when I asked you folks where I should try in the Orlando area, even more recs flooded in, twenty total. So many recommendations, but all of a certain type - you have to go, you have to try these fries, they will be great to write about. Eerily no one said they were good. No one until someone The Bride was doing charity work with on the day of our adventure, who said they were good. That's one out of twenty. Hmmm…

As we planned our vacation, and set our schedule, it was getting harder and harder to get to S'nS before we went to Port Canaveral, we might have to postpone that FFD road trip in definitely. The Bride however noticed that not only was there a Steak 'n Shake near our hotel, but they were open 24/7, maybe we could do it after all. So we snuck out in the middle of the night for a late night snack. Yep, an adventure.

I was very surprised that this was a sit down place, although they also have take out. What I expected was more in line with a Sonic Drive-In type place, but got something quite different. I was reminded of Johnny Rockets in atmosphere, very bright, but without the singing and dancing. We were greeted as we entered and had to wait to be seated - like I said, not what I expected at all. The clientele at two in the morning was a young, happy, and lively late night crowd.

I came for the fries, but they also had new seasoned fries - Parmesan cheese 'n herbs, salt 'n vinegar, and sea salt 'n cracked pepper. Yeah, S'nS is really enamored of the apostrophe and letter N thing. We went purist and just got the fries, and onion rings. As we had just had Hamburger Mary's just a few hours before, we decided on trying one of the famous steakburgers 'next time.' On the table was Steak 'n Shake's Fry 'n Steakburger Seasoning, a mixture of salt, onion, garlic, paprika, and sugar. A good peppery paprika kick when we put then on the fries.

The fries were smaller shoestrings, not quite matchstick fries, and a little overdone, so maybe a bit too crunchy. They were still pretty good. And they were even better with the above-mentioned seasoning. They were a bit addictive after that. I just wish they weren't overcooked. And the seasoning was so good we bought some to go home. Can't wait to try it at home, and not just on fries. I think it could really jazz up chicken.

When we had discussed S'nS earlier with friend Terry at Hamburger Mary's, he expressed a preference toward steak fries and their thicker cousins, which I tend to agree with. He wasn't fond of S'nS, they just weren't 'his thing.' However, I think if these fries were cooked better they could be pretty good too, thick or not. I would like to give them a second chance.

The onion rings were okay deep fried beer batter ones, that The Bride liked, but I wasn't thrilled by. To wash it all down she got a Salted Caramel Pretzel shake and I got a chocolate one. The shakes were awwwesome. They alone would worth the trip back down to Florida. Steak 'n Shake was not what I expected at all, but it was a pleasant surprise. I'd come back. Thank you all, for the unique recommendations.