Friday, June 27, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #156

This Somebody Else's Fries edition comes from my big sister Ginny, on the Facebook.

She dined recently at the Connecticut Avenue Hilton in Washington DC. They brought these 'hand rubbed' fries to the table in this basket as a side to an excellent crab cake. That's a lemon in the yellow netting there, what my sister thought was a nice touch. Indeed, they know how to do it at the Hilton.

Thanks, Ginny!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

French Fry Diary 595: V Cut Spicy Barbecue Potato Chips

These V Cut Spicy Barbecue Flavor Potato Chips from Jack 'n Jill are another of the chips from the wonderful Christmas package I got from friends Dom and Cindy.

I was a little afraid of these chips because while they're from Jack 'n Jill, they're manufactured in the Philippines, and I had a couple friends from there warn me off of the V Cuts. And then there was also the peel off ingredients sticker, and it's not the first time it's happened. I know it's most likely because of a misprint or typo, but still it makes me think maybe they forgot something or are trying to hide something.

The chips themselves aren't that bad, but then again they aren't that good either. They gave very tight ripples like Ruffles but are on a thin chip. They also have the same grainy taste as other Jack 'n Jill chips. The barbecue flavoring is most definitely spicy, and there's a burning aftertaste for a while, and not in a good way.

I appreciate the gift, and usually I love barbecue potato chips, but I wouldn't try these again.

Monday, June 23, 2014

French Fry Diary 594: Zapp's Cheddar & Smoked Bacon Potato Chips

Friend and frequent FFD contributor Marni found these limited edition potato chips for me. I've reviewed Zapp's before and have usually liked their stuff. This time we have, in the tradition of potato chips with long names, Zapp's New Orleans Kettle Style Cheddar & Smoked Bacon Flavored Potato Chips. And as if that's not enough, they're also Limited Edition and Made with Real Cheese.

Not as thick or twisty as some kettle chips, at least these bacon chips have a bacon taste rather than just a smoky taste. Unlike the Kettle Brand Maple Bacon chips I reviewed recently, they are not left tasting just like barbecue chips. There is a slight cheddar aftertaste. It appears that bacon is one flavor that is sometimes difficult to capture in a potato chip.

These are not quite what I expected, or what they were advertised as, but still pretty good. Thanks, Marni!

Friday, June 20, 2014

National Onion Rings Day 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014 is National Onion Rings Day, so how are you going to celebrate?

Maybe you could go out to dinner to your favorite restaurant, or better yet, your favorite restaurant that has your favorite onion rings.

Some of my favorite rings include those at Little Shanty, Raglan Road, Long John Silver's, or those great coconut onion rings at Bahama Breeze.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

French Fry Diary 593: Weight Watchers Smart Ones

I'm not a good diet guy, besides the obvious fact that I write a French fry blog, I think many diet versions of foods lack fundamental taste. I don't mind low fat pancake syrup. Regular Jell-O is better than the no sugar stuff but I'll still eat it. Of course, on the other hand anything other than whole milk tastes like flavorless white water, and surely urine is yummier than Diet Coke.

Anyway, I've done Weight Watchers before, and didn't do too bad at it. The Bride currently does a steady diet of WW Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine microwave meals. While shopping for her I found something of interest to both me, and the blog - Smart Ones French fries.

The two meals in question are Chicken Strips & Fries, and the more traditional Fish & Chips. It should be noted that these aren't the regular TV dinner style nukables, but microwave trays like the Ore-Ida Easy Fries use.

The Fish & Chips included 'salt & pepper crinkle cut french (sp) fried potatoes.' Pretty standard crinkle cuts with duh, salt and pepper. The Chicken Strips & Fries included 'ranch seasoned french (sp) fried potatoes.' Other than Weight Watchers' insistence on not capitalizing the word 'French,' these were pretty good. Natural cuts that were somewhere between regular cuts and shoestrings, these were a little limp but still good. They needed seasoning, so obviously I didn't taste the ranch seasoning. These were not bad at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

French Fry Diary 592: Merry-Go-Round Fashion Cafe

This may have fallen so far down through the cracks of the internet so that barely anything proves its existence, but it's true. The Merry-Go-Round Fashion Cafe was a thing.

Merry-Go-Round was a hip and cool place for girls and guys, well, mostly girls, to do their trendy clothes mall shopping in the 1970s and 1980s. It was what Chess King was for guys, and much cooler than The Gap. MGR followed trends, if you saw it in the movies or on MTV, they had it in the store. And the clerks were almost always hot chicks who looked like they walked out of a John Hughes movie.

Well, in the early 1990s before MGR went bankrupt they came up with an intriguing outlandish idea. They would open up restaurants inside their mall clothing stores, and call it the Fashion Cafe. Crazy or not, they did it, and I thought it was pretty cool, and have fond memories.

In The Bride's and my engagement days we used to go to the Deptford Mall often, and usually we would eat at the Fashion Cafe as it was a favorite. I have to confess we rarely shopped there, but we ate there. Occasionally we'd hit the music store across the hall or the food court upstairs for dessert, but hardly ever MGR. Sorry, it's the truth.

I know I had a usual favorite, probably a burger and fries. I remember the shakes were big and good, and the fries were straight cuts, usually quite long. And yeah, I would dip them in the shake. I know the service was pretty good as I recall tipping fairly high. The concept was a bit odd, but I remember we always had a good experience there.

The Fashion Cafe is a much missed piece of early 1990s nostalgia. Do you remember it?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

French Fry Diary 591: Bacon Crisps at the British Chip Shop

The Bride and I recently dined at the British Chip Shop, and it was great. We love the British Chip Shop, hell, I love the British Chip Shop. I got my usual, the chicken and chips, accompanied by RC Cola, and it was fabulous. But we got an appetizer that was, at best, confusing.

The first time we visited the British Chip Shop, some four years back, we got these awesome homemade crisps (potato chips for us Yanks) as an appetizer and loved them. When I saw Bacon Crisps on the menu under Pub Snacks, I figured that might be them and ordered.

Described as "Smoky bacon flavoured potato chips served with Sarson's malt vinegar aioli," no matter how you sliced it, it sounded good. I was expecting those homemade chips however, and what I got was… well, no misdirection here, I got what I ordered. It was my misunderstanding that fueled any frustration. I got a small bowl of potato chips, with a serving ramekin of aioli. The chips were warm and wonderfully bacon flavored as promised. They were delicious.

I do wonder however if the BCS might someday bring back those homemade crisps? They were awesome. The bacon crisps were good, but not as good as the homemade ones.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

French Fry Diary 590: Eatrageous

Promoted as 'the new spin on chips,' Eatrageous potato snacks are indeed something different. They're not fried, they're not baked, as a matter of fact, they're not even technically potatoes. Made from potato flour, yellow pea flour, rice, sunflower oil, and sea salt... Eatrageous is at best a potato-ish snack.

Created through 'clean cooking technology' (a 'thermal flash process') and shaped as tubes, they certainly are different. They are all natural, vegan, kosher, with no cholesterol, no saturated fats, no transfats, no GMO, gluten free, and less than 100 calories per serving - so one would think they're relatively healthy for a snack.

The space age silver bag opened easily, which was something quite unexpected. The percentage of healthier snacks that are easy to open (especially those from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) is extremely low. Now these snacks are much smaller than one might think from the image on the bag, and the aroma from the Original Sea Salt flavor at least was similar to that you get from a bag of Bugles.

The 'chip' itself is a solid piece with points at the end supposedly to optimize dipping, but personally I think they're just a bit too small for that. Maybe if they were 25% bigger it might be a different story. They have a shiny shellac like surface that gives a hearty snap of a crunch, but quite honestly, very little flavor.

This is of course could be alleviated by the aforementioned dipping into something flavorful, or you could try one of the other available (and unique) Eatrageous styles like Wasabi Ranch, Crunchy Mac 'N Cheese, or the one I should have looked for and gotten, Sweet & Smokey BBQ. I'll withhold a full opinion until I try that last one, but until then, Eatrageous are definitely worth trying. Make your own decision on this 'new spin.'

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

French Fry Diary 589: T.G.I. Friday's Loaded Fries

Now I love T.G.I. Fridays, so I know their menu fairly well, even though I don't get to go as often as I might like. And knowing their menu, I know that they don't really serve this item, T.G.I. Friday's Loaded Fries, in the restaurants. While they have a variety of French fry-like products, I don't think they even have crinkle cut French fries like these. Potato skins, yes, French fries, no. We'll forego that bit for now and review this frozen grocery treat as is.

These are very similar to the microwave fries I've reviewed before, the Ore-Ida Easy Fries. Same directions - cook 'em in the box, but then add the cheese and bacon. Other than having to melt the cheddar sauce in running warm water, this is a pretty easy prep.

The box comes with the same type of microwave box, and two packets, one with cheddar cheese sauce, and the other with shredded cheddar and American cheese, and bacon bits. There's a four minute plus fries cooking time then an additional minute with the toppings. The problem is you get a soggy box pan with the fries glued to the bottom with cheese.

Once you've pried the fries from the cheesy glue box, they're not bad. They don't have the crispness of the Ore-Ida Easy Fries, no matter how else they are close to them. I wonder if the size of the box (slightly bigger) or the additional cook time for the toppings has anything to do with that. These are not bad in a pinch, but I think it might be easier to do Easy Fries and apply your own toppings when they are hot from the microwave.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Curley's Father's Day Challenge

Can you eat four and half pounds of French fries? Got nothing on tap so far this weekend on Father's Day? Then you might be a candidate for the annual Curley's Fry Eating Contest in Wildwood! Check out the details here.

Thanks to buddy and podcast partner Ray Cornwall for hipping me to this.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #154

It's not easy being an X-Man...

P.S. If you're interested in my non-potato-related opinions of the new X-Men: Days of Future Past movie, you can check out my written review here, and listen to The Bride and I talk about it on The Make Mine Magic Podcast here.

And while I'm shamelessly plugging away, you do know you can find French Fry Diary at Facebook and Pinterest too, right?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #153

Certain restaurant Twitter accounts are getting very very good at what's become known as 'food porn.' Burger King has been a fierce competitor, as has Red Lobster.  Here's one from the Outback.

And remember, you can follow my French Fry Diary posts as well as a whole lot of other stuff at my Twitter here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

French Fry Diary 588: Kettle Brand Real Sliced Potatoes

Last time I reviewed a Kettle Brand product (the Sweet & Salty Potato Chips which absolutely rocked) I got into trouble on the Twitter with someone arguing the actual healthiness of the potato chips and/or the oil they were cooked in.

Let me be clear. This is a foodie blog about French fries, potato chips, onion rings, and junk or fast food. We're having fun and not being all that serious. It's not rocket science. If a potato chip has no transfats, no preservatives, no GMO, is gluten free, and made from natural ingredients - that's about as healthy as potato chips get. To be healthier, you would need to NOT eat the chip. Got it? A health food blog this is not, and if you're looking for nutritional advice here, you have much bigger problems.

That said, I was excited by a new Kettle Brand chip I saw at Whole Foods called Real Sliced Potatoes so I decided to try them. For the record, they are gluten free and all that stuff I said above. Add to that low sodium and no cholesterol. And they are not all that new. These are Kettle Brand's baked chips with a cool new rebranding. It does however beg the question of if these are real, are the others fake sliced potatoes, but we'll just let that slide. The rebranding worked, and caught my attention.

Real Sliced Potatoes come in different flavors like Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Hickory Honey Barbeque, the intriguing Cheddar & Roasted Tomato, and the new Olive Oil. Guess which one I tried? If you know me at all you know it was the BBQ flavor.

These chips are awesome, crispy, sweet and spicy, and have a good thickness, great for dipping. They are very similar to Trader Joe's Baked Hickory Barbeque Potato Chips, which I also love, but these are better, sweeter, just awesome - I think I've found a new favorite potato chip. Recommended.