Friday, February 28, 2014

French Fry Diary 560: The Treehouse, Audubon NJ

I love The Treehouse in Audubon NJ. They have been very good to us at the South Jersey Writers' Group. It's where we hold our monthly Blogfests as well as many other functions. They are really nice to us, and besides that, it's a terrific coffeehouse, and Rob always makes a killer chocolate milkshake that is just awesome.

We got to talking one afternoon and he hipped me to Donkey's, which is now my favorite cheesesteak place. I had also promised that sooner or later I would try the potato-ey product that he served up at The Treehouse, their hash browns. I finally got around to it one Sunday I arrived extra early for one of the SJWG's Blogfests.

The hash brown is a pretty standard frozen square variety, but it was served hot and was quite tasty. But look close at the picture - yeah, baby, grill marks. Grill marks are decoration, frills, and basically proof that a food item sat on a grill. It's that extra touch of cool. But really, it's the difference between a mediocre steak or burger and a great steak or burger - and in this case, a hash brown. The grill marks make this hash brown. It rocked.

The Treehouse, come for the atmosphere, come for the coffee, the service, the Blogfests, the milkshakes, and come for the hash browns. Great stuff.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Battered Tartan - Temporarily Closed

Shame, but looking forward to going back when they're back in business. You can check out my review from 2012 here, and their website here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

French Fry Diary 559: Writing and Onion Rings

It's been a couple years since I've been to Bahama Breeze. I've been there more than a few times, sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad, but always, above it all, the Island Onion Rings are awesome. They are, with their coconut shavings and Panko bread covering among the best, period.

When my friend Marni got sick, she passed along the doorprize she won at Women 2 Women to The Bride and me, that doorprize? A free Happy Hour at Bahama Breeze, woo hoo! So we scrambled together and asked a whole buncha folks, but Tuesday being the middle of the week, and a blizzard looming, and a variety of other reasons, only a handful of folks showed up. Most of them were my writer friends.

Having just talked about inspiration and motivation over at the South Jersey Writers Blog this week, it was a topic heavy on my mind, and the company of writers is always a strong motivation to write and get work done. So amongst a barrage of appetizers, and those fabulous Island Onion Rings, we settled in for an evening of writing chat, made new friends, and just in general had a good time.

It was close company and good food. Fran Metzman, Terry Mergenthal, Maryliz Clark, her husband, Jim Knipp, his wife, and The Bride and I had a terrific time. And Jim, just for the record, those O-rings tasted just great after reheat in the oven at home. Trust me, you regret not taking them.

I have to say that Bahama Breeze in the Cherry Hill Mall went above and beyond to make us feel welcome, serve us perfectly, attend to our every need. The chef even came out and chatted with us, and we talked about how the onion rings were made.

Stuff like this goes a long way toward future visits. Our wait staff was perfection. It will be a very short time between visits to Bahama Breeze next time. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

French Fry Diary 558: Indian Chief Tavern

A few months back, The Bride performed at the second annual charity event called Women 2 Women 2. Women 2 Women is an advocacy group with the mission of bringing female artists together to share a night of music while raising awareness and funding for Women's causes, locally and nationally. The event features talented female performing artists from all over the Philadelphia tri-state area, from all walks of life, to share their love for their craft, music.

These performers offer a diverse range of music while raising funds for this year's chosen charity, Providence House in Burlington County. Performing that night were: Janet Bufano, Kathi Cooley, Megan Knight, Stephanie Davis, Britt Marie Zammer, Rachel Evans, Arianna Burmeister, Sandy Hall, Chrissy Hartline, Susan “Sooze” Lake, Tina Brand, Nikki Zammer, Kate Bradshaw, Danielle Denning, Carolyn, Christine & Cynthia Barbadoro, and of course, The Bride, Jennifer Walker.

The Bride was awesome and rocked the place with her renditions of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," Network's "Rock Me" and "Stand and Deliver" by Adam and the Ants. I thought she was the best one, but then again I'm biased. Seriously, she was fabulous, and Women 2 Women raised a lot of money for Providence House. You can see more details, more pictures, and even a video or two, here.

Why am I writing about that here? Well, we had dinner at the Indian Chief Tavern before the event began, and I got, as you might have guessed, French fries. I went simple, and usual, and got a burger and fries. The fries were deep fried regular cuts, crisp, not greasy and surprisingly good. It was also a great burger, pre-formed, medium well and served on a perfect large sesame seed bun. The perfect burger was complemented by the fries.

This was so not what I was expecting from this place. One end of the building was the bar and stage area, while the other was the restaurant I had not heard good things about. Granted what I ordered was essentially bar food, but it was awesome, as was everything else the folks in our party ordered. This was a great dinner that got us ready for a great night of music. The unfortunately named Indian Chief Tavern, and Women 2 Women, both get a thumbs up!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

French Fry Diary 557: O!Karto

These 'Italian Potato Chips' were part of my Christmas present from friends Dom and Cindy, a selection of rare and exotic chips.

They are not really chips, more a potato concoction like Munchos or Pringles. Made from dehydrated potato flakes, starch, and granules, they are square shaped tubes, looking like regular cut French fries at a distance. This is apparently 'Italian style.'

The fact is they are not Italian at all. These Orion O!Karto Italian Potato Chips are Korean. They come in this flavor, Italian Gratin, and Chili Chili. The cartoon mascot on the bag, Mr. Karto, says, "O!Karto is unique and amazing type of potato snack. This Italian style snack 'O!Karto' is from high quality potato and fit for everyone."

The bag says they're cooked in sunflower oil, I guess that's the fit part. Although it's worth noting the ingredients also list vegetable oil, as well as palm and soybean oil. Your guess is as good as mine - much like the best by date, which is in Korean.

The Bride expressed interest in trying them, so I made her taste one first. She commented on how sweet they were. There's that, they are sweet, but I wasn't really getting the gratin. They could have used a bit more seasoning, even though I suspect the Chili Chili might have been too seasoned.

Because of their shape, these 'chips' might be interesting for dipping, especially in milkshakes or ice cream. They're a bit thin so maybe not. Taste wise, not bad, I would definitely try these again. Thanks, Dom and Cindy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

French Fry Diary 556: Joe Chips

I go to Whole Foods quite often. Their meat department in Marlton is easily among the best in this area. That said, I stopped looking for potato chips there a while ago. I've reviewed the few I have wanted from their selection, and since they stopped carrying Michael Season's, I have even stopped going down the snack aisle there.

Had the Joe Chips not been at the check out in the 'impulse' section, I never would have seen them. Curious for something new, and in the mood for chips (I know, when am I not in the mood for chips?), I grabbed two bags, the regular and the barbeque of course.

Joe Chips are made the same company as the more recognizable Joe Tea. Why would an iced tea company go in the potato chip business? Well, it makes a little more sense when you know that Joe is the black sheep of the family going into tea. Potatoes are actually his family's business for more than a couple generations.

The Classic chips boast all the good stuff - kettle cooked with sea salt, cholesterol free, gluten free, no transfats, no MSG, lactose, preservatives, artificial anythings, or peanuts. Yeah, no peanuts, they went there. And the story on the back of the bag indicates they are cooked in batches, another gold standard of modern potato chips.

The chips themselves are not bad, very tasty and addictive. I honestly did not expect them to taste as good as they did, because they are cooked in the one negative - vegetable oil. These chips have a nice middle ground between regular chips and thick crunchy kettle chips. And while maintaining the wonderful twisted shapes of kettle chips, they are also quite big as well, a perfect dipping chip.

Off Road Joe's BBQ Chips were the other ones I got. I'm really not sure why these are 'off road,' but we'll see. These chips have the same texture and structure as their plain counterparts but with a subtle sweet and smokey barbecue taste. All in all, I prefer the Classic chips even though these are barbecue.

Notably, Off Road Joe's BBQ Chips were also included as one of the treats in my Christmas package of chips from friends and frequent FFD contributors Dom and Cindy. This was a very pleasant surprise from a tea company, and from my friends Dom and Cindy. I would definitely get Joe Chips again.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #130

Recently on Twitter when I good-naturedly teased friend, fellow writer, and occasional French Fry Diary contributor Sarah Hawkins-Miduski for going to a French restaurant and not getting French fries, she sent me this.

Nice, I guess that makes up for it. ;-)

The question still remains, why don't French restaurants ever have French fries?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #129


Just a quick apology for my absence, as first health issues and then lingering internet problems have kept me from keeping this blog up to its usual schedule. Hopefully we'll be back on track soon. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, February 07, 2014

French Fry Diary 555: Alexia Smart Classics Crinkle Cut

Most of the grocery frozen French fries are coming out in new healthier or health-conscious versions of their products. And if you're a regular reader of the blog, you already know I'm a big fan of Alexia so I'm pleased they've jumped on the bandwagon.

Taking a tip from some potato chip brands, they have however gone with the impossibly long name of Alexia 98% Fat Free Smart Classics Roasted Crinkle Cut Fries. Whew. Sorry, out of breath typing all that. But still, it's not as long as some potato chips' names.

The first thing I noticed when looking at the bag was the picture of the fries, displaying brown-edged crinkle cuts. Sure enough, checking the ingredients, I found an old trick of fat free fries - apple juice to provide browning.

When I pulled them out of the oven, the way they had browned kinda had a freezer burn vibe, in the way they looked at least. Some of them tasted all right, most however did not. Some of the fries had cooked through, some hadn't, and they were all bland and in need of seasoning.

Healthier, but not tastier. I guess Alexia can't be on target all the time. These were a disappointment.