Wednesday, May 28, 2014

French Fry Diary 587: Iron Hill Brewery Sweet Potato Fries

Attending a social event at the Iron Hill Brewery with the South Jersey Writers (quick plug, membership is now open!), I finally had a chance to try the sweet potato fries.

On a previous trip, I was stunned by the amount of favorite fried foods that were served at this chain, and pledged to return and try some of the variations. It was a toss up between the onion rings and the sweet potato fries, and based on the opinions of the folks I was eating with - one a dedicated Iron Hill fan - I settled on the latter.

So while talking about writing techniques and other shop talk, I got my regular, a burger, plus a side of the sweet potato fries. The burger was big, juicy, and very filling, definitely something to come back for again. The fries were also big and thick, soft hot wedges of sweet sweet potato. They were very good while hot, but not as much as they cooled, but I would definitely get them again. Recommended.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sarah Goes to Rehoboth Beach

This entry is part guest blog, part Somebody Else's Fries, and part Random Tater Pic of the day. Very cool blogger, fellow writer, FFD contributor, and friend Sarah Hawkins-Miduski recently visited Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.

Here is her blog entry about her trip and the delights she saw, including a cool fish and chips place, and the Dogfish Head Brewery with their amazing fries and bacon-stuffed onion rings. Enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2014

French Fry Diary 586: Archer Farms Potato Chips

Just to be clear, Archer Farms is really neither a potato chip maker nor distributor as we usually think of them. Archer Farms is Target, and you'll only be able to get these chips at Target - it's their store brand. The last time I was in Target, looking for Kettle Brand Sweet & Salty chips, because the website said mistakenly they were there, I ended up walking out with these.

I was attracted to the lattice cut first and then had to double down when I saw they had Sweet & Spicy Barbecue flavor lattice cut. Sold. I've been waiting for Herr's or Cape Cod to do barbecue for a while, but it seems Target did it first. It just seems like a natural next step to me, but then I love the barbecue flavor and the lattice cut.

As excited as I was to try them, I mucked up opening the bag. I ended up just cutting it open with a scissors. Of course had I taken a moment, I would have figured out how to properly pull the tab on the front to open the ziplock reclosable bag. It's easy once you know about it, but if you don't examine the bag closely before attempting to open, well, they might as well have come from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

The potato chips are thick and twisty as a kettle chip should be, and that along with the lattice cut make them just perfect for dipping. The barbecue flavor has all the traditional ingredients but with a bit more kick than usual. The molasses in there gives it just a tinge of sweetness. I dig these a lot, thumbs up.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #150

Friend and FFD contributor Cindy went to Taverne Gaspar, a gastropub north of the border in Montreal, and got (what else would you get in Canada?) poutine!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kale Chips

Here's a recipe for Kale Chips from Christine Gallary at

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: About 45 mins | Makes: 2 servings

Kale has a certain vegetal flavor that you either love or hate. No matter which camp you’re in, it’s hard to resist the deliciousness of these crispy chips, which are subtly spicy from togarashi powder. Warning: Once you start snacking, it’ll be hard to stop.

It’s best to use dinosaur kale (also known as black kale, Lacinato, or cavolo nero) rather than curly kale because its broad, flat leaves crisp up more evenly.

Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush to make these chips.

Ingredients: 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon togarashi powder, 1 pound dinosaur kale, 3 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for coating the baking sheet.

Instructions: Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Using a pastry brush, coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil; set aside. Combine the salt, sugar, and togarashi in a small bowl; set aside. Remove and discard the center ribs and stalks of the kale. Tear the leaves into rough 3-inch pieces. Wash the leaves and dry them thoroughly.

Place half of the leaves in a large bowl, drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil, and toss with your hands until the leaves are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with half of the togarashi mixture (about 3/4 teaspoon) and toss again with your hands until the leaves are thoroughly coated. Place the leaves in a single, even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the kale chips are crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, place the baking sheet on a wire rack, and let the chips cool for about 3 minutes. Using your hands, carefully transfer the chips to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining kale, oil, and togarashi mixture. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

French Fry Diary 585: Pineapple

I have been hearing about this place for quite a while from friends and family, and from Foursquare, so we finally decided to try it. If I'm being honest, all the Chinese restaurants we have fairly local are... just adequate. You know, they're not bad, but they're not great either. So we have been tentatively on the lookout for a new good Chinese restaurant, and Pineapple was supposed to be great.

Pineapple is a small place, not unlike our normal Chinese food place (which does not have French fries, it should be noted), and it's tucked into a just as small shopping center I'm actually familiar with. Along side the Berlin's Gaetano's, Stormwatch Comics, and Los Amigos, if you look close, you can find Pineapple. It's not easy to find if you don't know where to look.

On our first trip, we ordered online (a handy thing, and a definite plus) and picked it up to eat at home. I got the teriyaki chicken on skewers (which can be ordered with all white meat if desired, which I did), with broccoli and rice. The chicken was really good, better than I usually get at Chinese restaurants. The terrific teriyaki sauce also comes on the side. I saved some of it for later to use on other stuff, including the French fries Pineapple also has.

The fries in question were regular cut deep-fried frozen fries delivered in a classic diner styrofoam container, and they were awesome. They were especially awesome when dipped in the teriyaki sauce. I think we have definitely found a new Chinese restaurant locally. Pineapple lives up to their rep, and we'll be back.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

French Fry Diary 584: Kettle Brand Sweet & Salty Potato Chips

I am easily tempted by new flavors of potato chips, firstly for the opportunity to write about it here, and secondly because I like potato chips. It's nicer though when said new flavor also sounds like something I might like. Such is the case with Kettle Brand Sweet & Salty Potato Chips.

Being Kettle Brand they are appropriately healthy with no preservatives, no MSG, no transfats, and no GMOs. They also all natural, gluten free, and were cooked in safflower and/or sunflower and/or canola oil. That last part had me a bit worried… don't they know what kind of oil it is? …but I'll let it slide.

These kettle cooked chips have as flavoring the fairly obvious sea salt plus sugar and dried cane syrup. Hmmm, that should make for an interesting taste. They are salty but the sugar overwhelms the salt, but not unpleasantly. These are very tasty and addictive potato chips. I would say they would be good for dipping but I wouldn't want to take away from the actual taste of just the chip. The are very good, recommended.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #148

Oh yes I did. Tater tots on a waffle maker!

Special thanks to dear friend and sometimes FFD contributor Andrea for infecting my brain with this wonderfully delicious idea.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

French Fry Diary 583: The Mystery of Burger Chef

I've been doing this French Fry Diary in one form or another for over a decade. And even before then I considered myself something of a connoisseur of not only French fries but also fast food. I have always known the ins and outs and even the arcane knowledge of the fast food joints in the area. Imagine my surprise when I found out about a local chain that I not only never heard of, but I had also been inside of, and dined at. This is the mystery of Burger Chef.

AMC's "Mad Men" has brought this specter back to life recently in their final season, as Burger Chef is actually one of their potential clients. The weirdest part for me is that the local Burger Chef was a stone's throw from where I live now. Burger Chef in Marlton NJ was right behind where Kohl's is now. The big store was formerly a Bradlee's, a Jefferson Ward, and at the time of Burger Chef - a Two Guys. Man, the nostalgia is killing me.

Burger Chef started in 1954 in Indiana, and from there expanded throughout the United States until 1982 when General Foods, who owned the chain, sold off all the restaurants to Hardees. They had a very distinctive sign, stylized like McDonald's or In-N-Out Burger, instantly recognizable. They created the first fast food combo meal, and before Roy Rogers did it, they offered a bar where you could dress your own burger. They had their own animated mascot called, what else but the Burger Chef, and his sidekick Jeff. They had a ball at Halloween, and engineered some great promotions with properties like Family Circus, King Kong, and Star Wars, among others.

Apparently blocked out of my memory is the fact that I had actually been to the Marlton location, and perhaps the Hammonton one on the White Horse Pike as well, as a little boy. My big sister and her husband/then-boyfriend used to take me. Even then I was a catastrophically picky eater, and Burger Chef offered a burger called a 'Plain Jane.' It was as you may have expected, a plain hamburger that you could (if you wanted) dress at The Works Bar. I don't remember it at all, but I wish they were still around.

You're waiting to hear about the favorite fried food though, aren't you? Well, it's hard to say, as I don't remember. From fuzzy images online and even fuzzier ones on video, they look to be either shoestrings or regular cuts, and while they look good, who knows? This was several decades ago. Below is a YouTube montage of some of the Burger Chef television commercials, and if you're interested in the Marlton NJ location of Burger Chef, click here for an entire website about it, cool stuff.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

French Fry Diary 582: One Potato Two Potato Hawaiian BBQ Kettle Potato Chips

This is another odd potato chips snack that comes to me from my friend Bob by way of his partner Marni. Both are always on the lookout for potato-ey (and sometimes not so potato-ey snacks, I will get even with her for those disgusting chicken skin chips though) snacks and it's very appreciated.

This time Bob was out in the wilds of Pennsylvania, prime chip making country, and picked up these chips - One Potato Two Potato Hawaiian BBQ Kettle Potato Chips. They come from a company called One Potato Snacks in Womelsdorf, PA. It seems pretty cool, with intriguing flavors, and tater trivia on their packaging and website.

These chips have a good kettle crunch, good size, and not too much twist. They have a nice barbecue flavor with a spicy but sweet kick. These are all natural, gluten-free, MSG free, and cooked in sunflower oil. Recommended. I would definitely try these again. Thanks, Marni and Bob!

Monday, May 05, 2014

French Fry Diary 581: Lay's Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt Flavored Potato Chips

Another entry in the longest potato chip name contest, this variety of Lay's caught my attention mostly because of the lattice cut. I've really dug the lattice cut chips from both Herr's and Cape Cod, so I figured I'd try these as well.

The lattice cut is similar to the other two types, although like most Lay's, not as thick, but still pretty good for dipping. When I first opened the bag, the heavy aroma of garlic hit me like a wall. These are very garlicky, definitely not a kissing snack.

I have to wonder what you would dip these chips into that would complement the garlic flavor. I'm not really a traditional dip guy so I asked friends and folks on Twitter. Suggestions included onion dip, marinara, and white bean hummus.

And you know what they always say about potato chips - you can't eat just one - the powerful garlic aroma will limit you with these. They're good, but be warned.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Hungry Girl Recipe-a-Palooza

Here's a quick sampling of some of the French fry related recipes that have been presented on the Hungry Girl website, and suggested to me by friends and readers:

Sweet Cinnamon Fritter Fries

Hot Stuff Bacon Cheese Fries

Garlic-Parm Sweet Faux-tato Fries

Baked Potato 'n Turnip Fries

Special thanks to C.L., Mary, Tandy, and Robin who all pointed me toward these Hungry Girl selections. You gals rock!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

French Fry Diary 580: PNC Field

On Easter Sunday, we were invited to a minor league baseball game at PNC Field in Moosic PA by the brother-in-law and his family. It was sunny but cool with a nice breeze, otherwise I might have burned. Good game, I guess, as baseball games go. The nephew enjoyed his first game, the nieces got their faces painted, and all three loved the bounce house.

The game was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs and we got to see it from a suite. Hmmm... now I know I'm not local, so I could be wrong, but aren't Lehigh Valley and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre essentially the same area?

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about it here is that there were potato products. Duh. The homemade kettle chips were awesome - hot, and just the right thickness. It is so hard to get that right. And they also had natural cut fries, big regular cuts, nice. They were both very good except for the food proviso of all sporting events - there were crazy expensive. At least they didn't charge for parking at PNC Field.

Food was good, family was good, and oh yeah, the game was good too. Thanks to the brother-in-law for putting this together.