Monday, March 30, 2015

French Fry Diary 656: Passover Potato Chips

A strange thing happens around this time every year. Shop-Rite starts carrying lots of off-brand potato chips (and potato sticks), one that even I, regarded as a chip expert by some, have never heard of. It's because of Passover, and like the sweeter tasting yellow cap Coca-Cola, there is extra need for kosher potato chips.

Herr's and other major brands offer kosher or parve potato chips, but as I said, Shop-Rite brings in more specialty items during this time of year. They are usually placed in one special section of the store, the Shop-Rite I visited in Cherry Hill had a larger than usual area. I plucked a couple samples from the display to try, and review of appropriate.

First up is Kettle Chips BBQ from Manischewitz, the king of kosher products, best known for their wine, matzo, and even potato latkes. These chips are pretty good on the healthy scale, with no transfats, no cholesterol, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors. The chips are thin with a nice crunch, heavy seasoned but with a mild smoke flavor.

Bloom's is a company that specializes in kosher products. They "search the globe to bring you the best," including cakes, candies, chocolate syrup, potato stix, potato chips, and potato snack fries. I chose one of the last bunch, Bloom's Bar-B-Q Fries.

After tasting these flat French fry shaped potato strips, I'm glad I opted for the barbecue flavor, because otherwise these flat (in more ways than one) things would have been flavorless. I did not like these. At all.

Next up are the Diddles, no seriously, that's what they're called. These potato snacks made from potato flakes are imported from Israel and distributed by the Paskesz Candy Co. I picked up the Diddles B-B-Q Potato Snacks. Yes, they're called Diddles. These are hollow cylinders similar in texture to flavorless cheese puffs and not in a good way. They did not smell good when I opened the bag and did not taste much better. Ick. Seriously if you told me these were made of styrofoam, I'd be inclined to believe you.

Lastly I tried the Lieber's offering. After Diddles, I was hopeful that this last bag would be more, oh I don't know, conventional. Referred to as simply Lieber's Ripple Potato Chips and being made from only potatoes, cottonseed oil, and salt, these looked like exactly what I needed.

These chips were quite nicely thick with good ridges, perfect dipping chips. There were a bit salty however, and while I like salt, especially on potato chips, this was a bit much. Also, there were a lot of black spots and burnt edges, things you don't usually see anymore in the big brand names. All in all, a decent chip, except for the salt.

So we have a weak two out of four for this selection of Passover potato snacks. Perhaps I selected badly. Any recommendations for next time?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

French Fry Diary 655: The Dandelion

Guest post by Jessica A. Walsh

Fed up with the cold of February and going mad with cabin fever, I stumbled over to uwishunu for some ideas of something to do over the weekend in Philadelphia. A list of ten foods to eat before winter ends caught my eye. Looking for a new place to try for brunch, I scrolled past the briskets and stews, and paused at a photo of the Scotch pancakes at The Dandelion, an English style pub situated in a large converted Victorian house located near Rittenhouse Square at 18th & Sansom Streets.  

After perusing the menu online, they had me at pickle brine bloody Marys.

The Dandelion is a very cool spot. It boasts several floors, winding staircases and many rooms all with different feels, several fireplaces, small bars and unique decor. My husband and I being bar people, we sat ourselves at a six person bar in a room with floor to ceiling windows adorned with thick drapes covered in dog print. Shelves on the walls held hundreds of porcelain statues of dogs of all breeds.  

After ordering a bloody Mary and a beer flight, we started with an English cheese board. I was intrigued by the quince paste and make it a point to always try at least one new thing when provided the opportunity to do so. The board came with three English cheeses, three types of house made crackers, grape chutney, the quince paste, honey, and grapes to cleanse the palate. I refused to look up quince on my phone and excitedly spread a little of the gelatinous rectangular paste onto a cracker.  It’s just a fruit, I later learned, not unlike a pear. The cheese board was lovely, as far as cheese boards go. I’ve only ever had one that truly disappointed.  

After a second bloody Mary and a relaxing wait, my scotch pancakes and Cumberland sausage arrived, as well as my husband’s burger and fries. When he told me he was considering the burger, I had gently suggested that he might like to try something different. The bartender, overhearing me, smiled a knowing smile and with a sort of reverence, said, “Get the burger. And let her take a bite.” Those few words would later increase his tip over the 20% mark.

But first for the pancakes. Sitting on top of these small, thick cakes were maple apples and a mound of light as air cinnamon creme that melted all over my plate, and was heavenly. The Cumberland sausage was authentic and delicious. I smiled after every single bite. Well done, uwishunu!
As for the burger, yes, I did take a bite, and it was the best damn burger I had tasted in a long time. Beautiful fresh brioche, house-blend aged beef, apple smoked bacon, Vermont sharp cheddar, Brooklyn brine pickles, and Churchill sauce. I have no idea what Churchill sauce is, but I will tell you that this burger was worth every penny of its $16.50 price.

But what about the fries, you ask! First of all, they came alongside a small glass jar of large malt salt with a little wooden spoon. Very thick, at least half an inch in diameter, these fries were crisp on the outside and hot, perfectly baked potato on the inside. In fact, they were so thick that I actually put mine down between bites! After my fry, I said to my husband, "I don't think a fry has ever taken me six bites before."

I loved The Dandelion. Great ambiance, great service, great food, GREAT FRIES!

Today's guest post here at French Fry Diary comes from Jessica A. Walsh, super cool friend, fellow member of the South Jersey Writers' Group, and a terrific writer, editor, and blogger. You can read her uplifting and inspirational blog The Cracking Nut here, check out the Reading Glasses anthology here, and Follow her Twitter here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #189

Friend and French Fry Diary contributor Robin Renee sent this one along from yesterday's St. Patrick's Day. In her words, "Potatoes and cabbage to celebrate the day. Erin go bragh!"

Thanks, Robin!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Some time ago I told you folks what I had discovered about tater tots and waffle makers.

Yesterday author and blogger Kait Nolan shared not only her same secret shame, but also a recipe for what she has named Totwaffles.

Check it out here, and don't forget to check out the rest of Kait's website as well, and buy/read her books.

Monday, March 16, 2015

French Fry Diary 654: Guinness Potato Chips

My friend Taryn had hipped me to this on the Facebook just a few days before I saw them in a store and picked them up. What are we talking about? Beer flavored potato chips, or more specifically Guinness/Burt's Thick Cut Potato Chips Hand Cooked With Care.

I picked them up at the English Gardener Gift Shop, right across the street from the British Chip Shop in Haddonfield NJ, along with other wonderful stuff from across the pond like fudge, boxty, and The Bride's favorite, Ribena. Seriously, when you go to the Chip Shop, don't forget to cross the street afterward.

The chips themselves comes in two flavors, Guinness and Guinness Rich Beef Chili. I got the first one. The second seems a little scary, even for Do Us A Flavor. And just for the record, the Guinness flavor isn't beer or even alcoholic, but a unique blend of roasted barley and hops. Honestly I'm not fond of either, but some folks might dig it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

French Fry Diary 653: Crunchy Cookie Chips

This is an interesting item. My friend Marni, who is always on the lookout for potato chip oddities, found these for me. From HannahMax Baking, these are Crunchy Cookie Chips. She got me the Chocolate Chip variety but they also come in Sea Salted Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, Cinnamon Sugar, Original, and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip.

Why am I talking about them here though you're probably wondering. Because they're more than cookies, they're chips. As the packaging promises, "Tastes like a cookie, eats like a chip." That's just about right on target with these large flat crispy and crunchy chocolate chip cookies. They also have that addictive chip vibe of not being able to eat just one.

And it gets better. These Crunchy Cookie Chips may seem decadent but the truth is they no artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, transfats, or GMOs. The sugar, sodium, and cholesterol are all there but at reasonable levels. Sounds like a win-win.

These are very good, so if you like cookies and you like potato chips, you can kill two birds with one stone. Buy two bags, as they will go quickly. Glass of milk required. Thanks, Marni!

Friday, March 13, 2015

French Fry Diary 652: Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips

It is a rare occasion that I get to review a new flavor of Ruffles. Hell, I can't even get the flavors I like, like simple barbecue or even the ultimate. For some reason the folks at Ruffles just don't want to distribute to South Jersey. If they did, I know I'd buy them.

Anyway one new flavor did pop up in the local Wawa, not something I'd normally be interested in, but I'm in South Jersey, and beggars can't be choosers. Similar to those great Ultimate chips, these potato chips are giant Ruffles, with ridges twice as deep as usual, and also have a Classic Hot Wings flavor inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings. You might
remember I wasn't impressed with Buffalo Wild Wings, so I wasn't really looking forward to these chips.

The bad news is these are just potato chips with a barbecue taste, they also have chicken wings taste, yeah, they're meat chips. For the most part, I hate meat chips. These have that weird chicken fat taste and they are far too hot with a lingering burn. Still, the great shape is perfect for dipping. I would have much rather had a different flavor in that shape however.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Midge Ure's Breakfast in America

Friend and French Fry Diary contributor Robin Renee brought this one to my attention.

Midge Ure, formerly lead singer of new wave eighties band Ultravox (among others) posted this pic to his Twitter, saying, "Breakfast in America. Serious health kick when I get home....!"

Thanks, Robin!

And just because, here's "Sister and Brother" by Midge Ure, featuring the amazing Kate Bush. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cruiseable Fries

"Tuscan Grille's fillet with house-made fries provides a filling way to end your day aboard a Celebrity cruise." 

This is from the new Cruiseable site, a new website with a mission to "make it much easier to discover and book great cruise vacations — and to have a little fun in the process," as co-founder JD Lasica puts it. 

A quick look around shows an ambitious site that doubles as a travel publication and a "cruise discovery engine." We thought we'd share some of the things we spotted that might be useful to you in planning your next getaway:

Cruise discovery: Cruiseable lets you browse through thousands of beautiful images of ships and destinations — accompanied by trustworthy travel journalism instead of marketing hype.

Technology: The website's filters atop any page help you zero in on the cruise that fits your style and budget. Coming in early March: the Cruiseable mobile app for iOS. 

Photo sharing: Their team downloaded, organized and optimized more than 10,000 photos from the cruise lines and tourism organizations — and made them available to travelers to use or share through the Cruiseable Galleria. Any traveler can add her own images to the mix. 

Travel guides: Cruiseable's travel writers and editors have put together dozens of smart travel guides, port guides and ship overviews. "In creating these, we've drawn inspiration from Trip Advisor, Fodor's, Lonely Planet and Pinterest," Lasica said. Check out their guides on Cozumelthe Galapagos, Puerto Rico or Bermuda.


Readers of French Fry Diary can use this discount code — XH784 — for a $50 per stateroom onboard credit (the equivalent of shipboard spending money) for any cruise or land vacation booked on Cruiseable between now and March 17. Head to Cruiseable, read, discover, learn, plan, dream, create a wish list — and if you want to cruise, just click Book now.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #188

Here's yet another fictional burger place, this one from the world of "The Simpsons" - Krusty Burger, seen here from The Simpsons Tapped Out game. Mmmm... cartoon fries...

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Random Tater Pic of the Day #187

This Somebody Else's Fries image comes from friend and fellow South Jersey Writer, Mieke Zamora-Mackay. On the Facebook she had asked where to go for lunch, and of course many suggestions were made, including The Pop Shop and the British Chip Shop (not just from me), but she decided on The Pour House in Westmont. She got the shrimp tacos and potato chips, which she pronounced as divine. The Pour House is now definitely on my list.