Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Cow & the Curd

Okay, it's not French fries or potato chips, it's not even onion rings, but it is a fried food, and it is a local Philly sensation, so I'm down with this. My buddy Ray hipped me to this great food truck, The Cow & the Curd, that you might see on the streets of Philadelphia. The owner, Rob Mitchell, and his chef, Mark Tropea, make fried cheese curds.

Here's how:

To find The Cow & the Curd, look for them on the Facebook, and on the Twitter.

Monday, July 29, 2013

They're Back

From the Frito-Lay Facebook page, the three final flavors of the contest earlier this year, are now all available for consumption. Get 'em while you can!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #111

Today's pic is from a food cart down the block from The Bride's offices on JFK Boulevard in Center City Philadelphia.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #110

Frozen French fries at the Dollar Tree on what used to be the Ellisburg Circle in Cherry Hill. And yep, they're only a dollar, and no, I didn't buy any...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

French Fry Diary 506: DEVO

The band DEVO has had a long history with potatoes, spuds and French fries.

Members of the band, as well as fans of the band, have been referred to as spudboys, and one would assume, spudgirls. It's even got a documentation on Urban Dictionary, ahem, first definition, not second.

And their album cover for the 1982 release, Oh, No! It's DEVO, even features the band members as potatoes.

Furthermore, "That's Good," one of the singles from the album, and a video release, ran into some trouble with MTV censors. Apparently a French fry penetrating a donut, followed by a happy woman, was just too much for them. Here's the video, you judge.

Plug time - for more DEVO, check out today's entry on my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell, and today's stop on the Robin Renee Blog Tour - The GAR! Podcast, where we interview Robin in this week's episode.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

French Fry Diary 505: The Bottom of the Bag o' Chips

I'm finally there, finally at the bottom of the bag o' rare potato chips from Anchor Food Finds that The Bride got me for Christmas. Here are the last three bags.

Dirty Sweet Potato Chips - Yeah, these again, from the folks who just want to have the chips with the absolute longest name. Dirty, like Zapp's, is owned by Utz. I did not like these at all. Taste, smell, all bad, and no, they hasn't even come close to expiring.

Utz "The Crab Chip" - Speaking of Utz, other than the Herr's silver foil (however now with new packaging more reflective of Old Bay marketing), these are usually the only Maryland Old Bay seasoning chips we see up here in the Philadelphia area.

As opposed to the above mentioned Herr's, "The Crab Chip" has Chesapeake Bay Crab Seasoning instead of Old Bay. It doesn't have as much of a bite, so it's not as hot, but it does have a bit of an aftertaste. Not bad, I would get these again.

Blair's Death Rain Buffalo Wing Chips -These are truly in the rare category. Not only are they buffalo wing flavored, but they're made by a company that specializes in hot sauce, owned by another company called Extreme Food. That's why these are last. I'm afraid of these potato chips. But then again, who wouldn't be afraid of something called Death Rain chips?

All that said, they are not bad, but there is quite a bit of heat. It should be noted that these were the 'Medium' heat chips, so it could get quite a bit hotter. I'm not a big buffalo sauce guy, preferring barbeque instead so maybe that also put me off, but I have to say these kettle chips aren't bad. I could be talked into trying other Death Rain chips.

And that's it, the end of the bag o' chips. Not a bad holiday gift from The Bride. I wouldn't mind getting it again next year. Hint hint.

Monday, July 22, 2013

National Hot Dog Month

July, besides having National French Fries Day on the 13th, is also National Hot Dog Month. So it's National Hot Dog Month, and really, other than grilling some frankfurters up yourself, the best way to celebrate the occasion (in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area at least) is a visit to the Cool Dog Café in Cherry Hill. And that's just what The Bride and I did this weekend.

A couple dogs and an order of onion rings were the weapons of choice. I was admittedly so hungry, I started on my dog before I remembered I wanted to take a picture. Mmmm... one quick and easy dinner at the Cool Dog right away.

Don't forget to get on over to the Cool Dog Café to celebrate National Hot Dog Month. And while you're there, get some of their terrific French fries too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

French Fry Diary 504: Kobe Grill & Buffet

The sign went up over a month before they opened. Kobe Grill Sushi & Seafood Buffet in big red neon letters. Everyone was talking about the new place opening up in what was currently a dead strip mall, even the K-Mart and SuperFresh had vacated. There was nothing here, nothing but the big red neon sign, and folks working tirelessly inside to renovate and construct. Now, after less than a month open, the sign reads Kobe Grill Sushi & Seafood uffet. That's not a good omen.

When you walk in there is a quite beautiful lobby entrance, fountain, sculpture, and water wall between the lobby and actual restaurant. I should say up front, this place was way fancier than the buffets I have been to, even at the casinos. This place was huge, and despite what it says on Foursquare, it wasn't all that crowded. Maybe the novelty and newness has worn off after a month? I know that the sign maintenance has.

As soon as we were seated, and had our drink order taken, they brought us lobster, two halves of lobster, one for each of us. I guess it was free half-lobster night. I'm not a eating-the-inside-of-a-fish-thing's-scary-armor-skin-type guy, so I passed. They took mine away, and I couldn't help but wonder what they did with it. I hope it didn't end up on someone else's plate. The Bride wasn't too thrilled with hers, and didn't eat much.

The buffet was not large. It was spread out over a large area, but really, not all that much offered, and for catastrophically picky eater me, not all that much either. On my first foray into the buffet (or uffet), I got buttered potatoes and sweet fried plantains. Both were very good, and the potatoes were very soft and well cooked buttered wedges of potato, succulent. These were very good, two thumbs up. I got seconds on those babies. However the French fries were regular cut frozen fries, which seemed to have lived beneath the heat lamps for much longer than I would to think about. Not good.

There was grilled steak available but it didn't seem like anyone was ready cook any new for you. No, scratch that, they seemed unwilling to. We also seemed to have multiple people waiting on us due to the lack of crowd. We couldn't find butter or knives. Is this the TSA? Some of the food was very good, and some really not, and the customer service was also not, despite being plentiful. And when I say really not, I mean really really not good. This was really not a good experience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #109

And really, Artie, what's wrong with that?

Currently rewatching "The Sopranos," and this screen capture was just too irresistible not to grab.

Monday, July 15, 2013

French Fry Diary 503: Ruffles Crispy Fries

I had only just heard about Ruffles entering the fry-shaped snack market when The Bride snagged me a sample at a 7-Eleven near her office. Usually these things are made from corn rather than potato and unless you get them flavored, they are relatively flavorless. I was hoping for more from Ruffles.

Other than being ridiculously hard to open, the first thing I noticed is that they are made from potatoes, not corn, just potatoes, salt, and vegetable oil. That's it. Notably, I got the Original, but they also have Cheese. They look like natural cut French fries, and according to the packaging, are sliced from real potatoes.

They feel like old burnt French fries, and as I said, they look like natural cuts, but they smell and taste like giant potato sticks. And for a special treat, do like they say on the bag and heat them up in the microwave (just not in the bag). Warm, they are terrific, a great fry or chip substitute for a sandwich lunch or snack.

I like them, they're good, and quite honestly, more than a little addictive. I'm glad The Bride only got a sample bag. If you can find them, pick them up, because I'm not sure how long they'll be around. These are really good, thumbs up.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

French Fries Day 2013

July 13th is French Fries Day, be it National French Fries Day or Happy French Fries Day, I suppose that's really up to you.

There are many celebrations going on in the tater world today, believe it or not. News services are alive with suggestions as to where the best fries are. Various towns in Idaho are hosting picnics and parades. And of course many restaurants have fry-oriented offers and promotions today.

The French and Belgians are fighting (as always) about who invented the favorite fried food. We all know it was Belgium, but in this one case, somehow the French won't surrender.

The question is - how will you be celebrating today? Will you be cooking your own fries? Will you be going out to dinner, and getting fried spud as a side? or will you purposely seek out your favorite potato and celebrate specifically. Whatever you do, enjoy.

For me, I celebrated for dinner last night, by making Paula Deen's recipe for the favorite fried food.  There's an image to the left of the finished product.  Mmmm... fries...

Shameful woman, but I gotta say, she knows how to make a damn good French fry.

Happy French Fries Day, folks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

French Fry Skulls

"We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus

We've talked about this a few times already on The GAR! Podcast. I have nothing against Miley Cyrus, or even Hannah Montana for that matter, I'm just not fond of this song is all.

Anyway, in the first minute, the video features a skull made from, yeah, you guessed it, French fries. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cow Appreciation Day 2013

Chick-fil-A has had some bad times in the last couple years. As I have said before, just because the owner is a twisted misguided man, doesn't mean that everyone in the company agrees with his opinions. There are some very cool Chick-fil-A franchises locally that fully support gay marriage and are in fact owned by gay families with gay employees. So, don't believe the hype.

Anyway, tomorrow, July 12, 2013 is the annual Cow Appreciation Day. Go into your local Chick-fil-A dressed as a cow and you get free food. And whatever you do, don't forget those great Waffle Potato Fries!

And as long as we're talking free, don't forget that today is Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven…

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Even a Broken Clock Is Right Twice a Day

I was not going to post this. Honestly when Paula Deen started her fall from grace recently I had decided not to reference her on this blog any longer. Forces have aligned to change my mind.

Folks who know me, and know how I put this blog together know that I have a huge backlog. Right now, I have dozens of posts that I have not yet put up. Among them was a recipe for French fries by Paula Deen. I saw it and figured I wouldn't be able to use it any more, so before I tossed it, I tried the recipe. The fries were awesome.

I mentioned it to my partner Ray on The GAR! Podcast, and he thought I should post it. I have heard from several listeners that thought I should as well. I figured, what the hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Let me just say for the record, I don't like the woman, but I like the recipe. Here are Paula Deen's formerly redacted French fries…

The full recipe can be found here.

Monday, July 08, 2013

French Fry Diary 502: Location Location Location

A couple months back I reviewed the House Made Chips at Arby's. I was delighted, not only by the chips, but also the customer service. Notably, this was at the Arby's in West Berlin NJ.

I had several folks confront me both here and elsewhere about how they did not like the chips at all. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I was a bit taken aback. I thought the chips were great, and even returned to the scene of the crime to try them again, still great.

Today, however, I visited the Marlton Arby's, where I got a bag of the overcooked chip debris you see pictured. Wow, these sucked.

It just goes to show you not every fast food outlet will prepare and cook an item the same way. Even though consistency is what fast food is supposed to be about, it's really about location location location!

Friday, July 05, 2013

French Fry Diary 501: The Melting Pot

Ray and his lovely wife have been trying to get The Bride and me to go to The Melting Pot for almost a decade now. After dragging Ray to Zinburger the night before, we all made impromptu plans to hit The Melting Pot in Philadelphia that night.

For those of you not in the know, The Melting Pot is a fancy chain restaurant that, similar to Benihana, is known more for the experience than anything else. It's a fondue restaurant where essentially you cook your own dinner, bookended of course by dipping food in cheese first, then later for dessert, chocolate. It's awesome.

There's a hot plate on your table and a pot into which your waitress puts various dips. The first course was a variety of bread you could dip in hot cheese. Mmmm. Then came salad. I'm sure some of you must have heard of this - raw green leafy vegetables in a bowl - very exotic, but no dipping. Dessert as I said was chocolate, as in various fruits, marshmallows, and even Rice Krispies treat to dip into it.

Your entree, and this is where it connects to FFD, potato people, is a variety of raw meats that you choose from the menu. You basically fork the meat (I got steaks) and place it in the hot pot for a while where it marinates/boils/deep fries. The stuff comes in various flavored and if you like well done, it could take a while. Next time I think I'll get the chicken FYI.

Anyway, dinner also comes with an assortment of vegetables. There're carrots, celery, and what's that under the broccoli? Yep, raw red potato wedges! Ray had kidded me beforehand that there were no French fries, but there were, kinda. The potato, like the steak, took a while to cook, but well worth it when done.

All kidding aside, I loved my experience at The Melting Pot and highly recommend it to all. It was a terrific fun night out with friends and a unique dining experience. And they even had potato product!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

French Fry Diary 500: Zinburger

Zinburger at the old racetrack in Cherry Hill has been open for a while now, after seeing them set it up for several months. There was a lot of anticipation here, hearing about how good the food and service was even before they opened. And then there was the odd combination of a gourmet burger place with a wine bar. I couldn't wait to try it, and try it I did, four times before writing this review.

Every time I've been it's been busy, but the wait is always short, or else you are seated right away. The one time we did wait, they took a cell number and texted us when the table was ready. Nice use of cutting edge technology, well, cutting edge for a shopping center restaurant. In the times I have visited Zinburger, the crowd has ranged from dates and families to noisy teenagers and hipsters from the city, all depending on what time you go, sometimes it's loud, but always worth it.

The booths are very big, obviously built with larger folks in mind unlike the torture racks, ahem, I mean seats at Bobby's Burger Palace, also in Cherry Hill.

Our waiter the first visit, Marcus, and all waitstaff on later visits, were very very attentive. I was impressed with the customer service. They gave descriptive explanations of the dishes, and offered many off-menu choices, just like in 'real' restaurants. Marcus was particularly proud of the food (as well he should be) but he referred to it as 'product.' That kinda bugged me.

The prod-, I mean food, came very quickly, fries first. It should be noted that we were given a choice to have the fries come with our meal, or when they were ready. Duh, of course we wanted them when they were ready and hot - and did so on every visit. On the first visit, the fries were hand cut natural cut shoestrings, not hot, but just fairly warm. On visits that followed, they were hotter and better. As a matter of fact, everything about Zinburger got better with each visit. It's almost as if practice made perfect.

These fries were a good mix of crispy and hot, and not too greasy. The portion size would've been terrific had the menu not said it was enough for two. It really wasn't. And sadly they got cold rather quickly. And the colder they got, the less appetizing. They were like Elevation Burger fries on a bad day. But that was just the first time.

The second time we got the double truffle fries, with truffle aioli and truffle oil. They got just the right amount of truffle oil, which can be disastrous when there's too much, but buried the fries in Parmesan cheese. They were a bit soggier than before but stayed hotter longer. Notably, the last two times I went to Zinburger, the fries were perfect.

Speaking of perfect, the burgers, every time, were awesome. The entrees came very quickly after the fries. Great care was taken in asking how we wanted them cooked, and explanations were given for each choice. I can't say enough about the service or the staff, top notch. They even have a burger than caters to my catastrophically picky appetite, the Plain & Simple Burger. I got it Angus but they also have Kobe available. Next time. The burgers were very juicy and enjoyable, awesome.

On the second trip to Zinburger, and every one after that, we also got the onion rings. They were a little bit different each time, sometimes bite-sized, sometimes big, sometimes skinny, but always very crunchy, and always with barbeque sauce. Yeah, that's right, Zinburger knows that onion rings are awesome dipped in barbeque sauce - extra points for that. The sauce was hot but subtle, I even put some on my burger.

The restaurant's main thrust is that it is of course also a wine bar, and the wine has its own menu, and the regular menu indicates which wine would be best with what foods. There are soft drinks for the non-drinkers, as well as some absolutely awesome shakes, malts, and floats.

I love this place, and can't wait to go back. Bring your appetite, and your wallet - while it's not super-expensive, it's also not McDonald's either. Thumbs up for Zinburger.