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.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wise Fries from McCain

Following the new trend set by Burger King with their Satisfries, McCain, one of the world's biggest frozen French fries manufacturers, has announced Wise Fries, low fat battered fries.

These fries, in a unique new crinkle cut design , will be a healthier choice for folks who like to bake their own fries at home.

As soon as they are available, I will be posting my own review here on French Fry Diary. If you get to them first, be sure to let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Easy Bacon Potatoes

This recipe is from Call Me PMC, by way of the Just-Potatoes Yahoo! Group. You can see the full blog entry here.

Here's the recipe for Easy Bacon Potatoes:

Yield : 4 Servings Serving Size : 1/2 cup

Ingredients : 2 c potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 potatoes), 1/4 c Greek yogurt, 1/2 c Hidden Valley Smoked Bacon Ranch spread, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 spring rosemary, 1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped, 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions : Fill a large pan with water. salt water and add rosemary sprig. Boil potatoes in water and drain, discarding rosemary sprig. Mix yogurt, spread and black pepper. Fold potatoes into yogurt mixture, careful not to break potatoes. Place in a shallow casserole dish and top with cheese and bacon. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.

And don't forget to visit Call Me PMC for more great recipes, some even including potatoes!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

French Fry Diary 527: Hamburger Mary's

When I first asked for recommendations for the Orlando area regarding this year's vacation, I got several for a place called Hamburger Mary's. I went to the website, and from all indications, it seemed to be a drag/cabaret/karaoke theme franchise restaurant/bar, almost as if the Dumpsta Players opened a place to eat. We made long term plans to go, and asked several folks to join us, however, the best laid plans of mice and fry lovers being what they are, most people had to drop out. Alas, we were competing with Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

So The Bride and I, after braving what is known as the I-4 parking lot, met up with Florida friend Terry, who has accompanied a few FFD road trips and even written an entry or two. Hamburger Mary's is in a mini-South Street-like section of Orlando trying to make a comeback called Church Street Station. The Bride and I were stunned at the low price of parking, but that others apologized for it being high because of a nearby event. Wow, I would trade Philly parking rates in a second for Orlando.

The first thing that struck me about Hamburger Mary's was how empty and quiet it was. For what sounded like such a partying kind of place was sooo not hopping for a Friday night. I was disappointed. And we were seated right in front of the stage. This could have been so much more. At least we had good company and conversation.

As an appetizer we got the infamous Mary's TA-TAs, and we got 'em loaded. These are assumedly store bought tater tots with real chunks of bacon and cheddar cheese. They could have been deep fried, but they weren't greasy, and really had the texture and taste of baked, very soft and tender, with chewy melty cheese. These were a real treat. And can you see the hidden Mickey?

I got my usual weapon of choice, a plain burger with fries; Terry got the wasabi burger, which he said he liked; and The Bride got a taco salad that she similarly enjoyed. My burger was great, a big chargrilled half-pounder on an equally big soft sesame seed bun (hard to find these days). It was near perfect, I loved it.

The French fries were regular cuts, battered and crispy on the outside, and deep fried. The taste and texture (though not the shape) kinda reminded me of Ore-Ida Crispers. They were okay, but not great. Although they did get better as time went by. You know that thing where dinner is over but you're still absentmindedly munching? Yeah, they're great for that.

I suspect this place is more about atmosphere than food, sadly we didn't really have much atmosphere. If we ever return, we will make sure to come on a night when something is going on other than just the food. I wanted more Dumpstas and less restaurant, I guess.

The best part of the meal came with the check, and that in itself was a promise of a better time next time when we do come during an event. The check came in a red studded high heel, which was totally awesome. Much like a bad movie with a great ending, the heel made the meal. Good time hanging out with The Bride and Terry.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Free Satisfries!

This weekend, Burger King's Satisfries are free. That's right, at Burger King this weekend, October 12th and 13th, the value-sized order of Satisfries, usually going for $1.29, will be free. Details are here.

If you've been thinking of giving these new low-fat, low-calorie fries a try, this is your chance.

I happen to like them, as you can see in my review here. Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #117

While I was away on vacation, there was another South Jersey writer filling in for me locally, taking pictures of fries.

Here's Sarah Hawkins-Miduski posing with her prize at Curley's Fries in Wildwood.

Thanks, Sarah! And don't forget to check out Sarah at The Obligatory Blog.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

French Fry Diary 526: Trattoria Cafe, Holiday Inn

This was the first time we had stayed off property on a trip to Walt Disney World, and in truth, it was only the first stop on a lengthy but sweet vacation. While The Bride did her charity thing with Give Kids the World, we stayed at the Holiday Inn, Main Gate East, in the midst of an amusement complex.

We were across the street from not only a Red Lobster, but also a huge rainbow lighted tower that we could see from quite some ways away before we arrived. That would be the world's tallest SkyCoaster at Fun Spot, for those wondering.

The first morning, after a hellacious night of delays and driving aimlessly while the GPS was trying to find its way, I went to breakfast. In the Trattoria Cafe/Food Court there was a choice between Continental Breakfast and the Complete Breakfast. Anyone who travels often knows that Continental is code for cereal and do it yourself toast. I went for the Complete with hot food, 'cause you know, I wanted breakfast potatoes.

In this case, the breakfast potatoes were large diced natural cut potatoes. They were nicely golden brown though not crispy or crunchy as they might appear, but soft and succulent, with a slightly hot seasoning.

The problem was, while they were fried, and probably delicious while hot, these were only just warm, and that from the buffet style heat lamps that were on them. The good news is that they were buffet style, and seconds were hotter.

The bacon was good (but then again when is bacon not good?), and the waffle station provided a hot breakfast treat. All in all, not a bad breakfast. On a morning where I was not feeling my best after some rough travel, it was enjoyable.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Daym Drops on Satisfries

Here's my brother from another mother, Daym Drops, with his thoughts on Burger King's new Satisfries...

Yeah, what he said.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

French Fry Diary 525: Utz Gourmet Medley Potato Chips

This is the first review of my 2013 vacation. The Bride arranged for us to fly first class down to Orlando, and I guess one of the perks is snacks. Not a tiny bag of peanuts, but snack bags of, well, snacks. The flight attendant brought around a tray of snacks for us to pick from. I saw the Utz name on a bag and snagged it.

The full name is Utz Natural Gourmet Medley Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, and these are chips made from three different potatoes - dark and light russets, sweet potatoes, and blue potatoes - to give the chips a festive four-colored variety. Oooh, very fancy, very gourmet.

I held onto them 'til we got off the plane and back to the hotel to try them and write about them properly. Why? We were delayed, having some bad turbulence, and holy cow, you should have seen me trying to type the above on my Nook… autocorrect, most of the time I hate you, but you saved most of the above when I was barely hitting any of the right keys.

The chips are pretty good, as Utz' kettle chips always are. The novelty here is in the color, as the taste isn't all that different except for the sweet potatoes. It is worth noting that the mixing of sweet and other potatoes give all of them a bit of a sweet scent and taste. A different treat, I liked these, good stuff.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Random Tater Pic of the Day #116

What an awesome dinner. My friend Terry sent this one to me - spicy chicken patties on English muffins and Nathan's fries.

Squint your eyes and you can almost see a hidden Mickey…