Monday, November 23, 2015

French Fry Diary 686: Potatoes Three Ways

From the late October 2015 Disney Magic cruise talked about on this episode of The Make Mine Magic Podcast, this dinner pic is from Carioca's, where I had potatoes three ways.

First, there was the Jack Cheese Twice Baked Potato, then the Roasted Root Vegetables that included carrots, turnips, celery, and sweet potatoes julienne cut into French fry strips, and finally topped off by the steak fries side dish that our servers Brendon and Andrene made sure I had every night. And the Ribeye was good too.


Friday, November 20, 2015

French Fry Diary 685: Trader Joe's Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

When the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer arrived at my door for November, I perused it as usual, always looking for something new and interesting, or much more rare, something I usually purchase there that's on sale. What a Thanksgiving surprise when I saw Turkey & Stuffing Kettle Potato Chips right there in the front page - touted as Thanksgiving dinner in a chip. I knew what I was getting next trip to Trader Joe's.

So after getting the Trader Joe's usuals, and being sorely disappointed they were already out of Advent calendars in mid-November, I got these unique chips home. The Flyer promised something out of science fiction, like a meal in a pill, but honestly their description sounded more like Violet's gum in Willy Wonka, right down to the gravy. This description made me a little scared to try it. No one wants to be juiced like a giant cranberry, ya know?

Much like this year's Do Us A Flavor contest entries, the ingredients include a mysterious item called 'turkey & stuffing seasoning,' but at least Trader Joe's tells us what's in that in parentheses after that. Some chemicals and fancy words, but more satisfying than just the word 'seasoning.'

Upon opening the bag (after cutting off the top, it was from Trader Joe's after all), a pleasant aroma hit me, potato chips, maybe some garlic, good stuff. As with the aforementioned contest entrants, I had The Bride try one first. She thought they were okay, getting the turkey flavor right away, with the stuffing coming cumulatively after a few more chips. No gravy running down her throat though.

I experienced much the same in this thick and crunchy kettle cooked chip. Not bad at all, these chips definitely fall into the category of other meat chips I've tried and reviewed. They're pretty good, but with that weird Jelly Belly vibe of this-shouldn't-taste-like-this. I also think, and this may be a weird reverse engineering idea, but I think they might be really good crushed up and used in stuffing. They are definitely worth a try once a year for Thanksgiving, and no Oompa Loompas in sight. Yet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

French Fry Diary 684: Steak Fries on the Disney Magic

I have mentioned our waitstaff from our two Disney Cruises this season before. Brendon and Andrene are the best.

At our first dinner at Animator's Palate I ordered French fries of course, and got the terrific steak fries one usually gets on board toward the beginning of the cruise. I mentioned how much I enjoyed them, but my brother-in-law went the extra mile, saying that if I got fries with every meal I'd always be happy.

This triggered what I like to call the Creme Brûlée effect. On a previous cruise, friends Dom and Cindy had raved about the Creme Brûlée dessert and their waitstaff made sure they always had it, even when they came back on a later cruise.

Because of the bro, we had steak fries every night of the cruise and when we returned two weeks later for the TCM Classic Cruise. Yeah, they are that good, and I was in French fry heaven, whether I liked it or not. Who am I kidding? I loved it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

French Fry Diary 683: Wendy's Baconator Fries

Recently on the way home I had the munchies and on a whim I pulled into the Wendy's drive-thru. As long as I was there, despite not really liking their fries any more, I decided to get an order of Wendy's Baconator Fries, if for no other reason than to write about them. Yes, I'm doing it so you won't have to.

Wendy's Baconator Fries are named after the burger of the same name, and is a regular order of Wendy's crappy new natural cut sea salt fries, with cheese sauce, shredded cheese, and bits of applewood smoked bacon. As expected, these were the same crappy fries, half-covered in yummy cheddar cheese, and bacon. The bacon was the biggest surprise - thankfully not burnt or crunchy, but good perfectly done bacon.

If I'm being honest, this was a nice snack, really good hot, and not so much (except for the bacon) as they got colder. I still can't help wishing for Wendy's to bring their old fries back. That would have made them perfect.

Monday, November 16, 2015

French Fry Diary 682: An Open Letter

I love you folks. You send me pictures, comments, and sometimes your own experiences at places I have reviewed, and I love it. But sometimes I get feedback on the French Fry Diary site that is mean, personal, or just downright insulting. Sometimes it's from folks who work for places I have reviewed negatively. I get that.

Sometimes it's from folks who I have termed 'health Nazis' who think fast food and junk food are among other such evils (and sometimes worse than) as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. That's fine. I like French fries, so I'm going to write about them. My point is - you don't have to read about them.

I have often wondered why people who hate what I do would insist on reading my blog. I don't get that. If you think fast food is poison, why would you take the time to stop and read (and comment!) on a blog dedicated to the celebration of fast food??

I don't like broccoli, so I don't order broccoli in restaurants, and I certainly do not read about broccoli online. Why the hell would I be reading about broccoli? Seriously, if you're a reader, and you hate what I'm saying, why are you here? I would really like to know. Please, explain it to me.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

French Fry Diary 681: Funyuns Steakhouse Onion

I love the Bloomin' Onion from the Outback. I love the wannabe versions at other chains. So when I saw this new Funyuns flavor on the shelf at Wawa, I had to try them.

There's a big picture of the Bloomin' Onion on the bag, and while they can't actually call it that, you know that's what it is. The back of the package promises the zesty flavor of a steakhouse onion blossom and dip. Hmmm… dip? I'm not crazy about the dip. Maybe this was a mistake. Oh well, I guess there's only one way to find out...

Opening the bag, they kind of smell like the dip, but the immediate taste is definitely Funyon, with maybe a little bit of a smokey spicier kick, nice. The dip - a sour cream vibe, verified by the ingredients list - does come in as a cumulative aftertaste though, but not enough to discount these babies. I like them.

I would probably prefer the regular Funyuns over these, and definitely would rather have have a real Bloomin' Onion, but these Funyuns Steakhouse Onion Flavored Rings were really good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

French Fry Diary 680: Mayfair Boardwalk Grill

The last time we visited the Silverball Museum, we had the favorite fried food there, and it was really pretty good, but as we were leaving we passed a simple shack on the boardwalk, and I knew that was where we should have eaten instead. When we went back to Silverball for The Bride's birthday celebration, I fixed that oversight.

We arrived on the Asbury Park boardwalk early in the afternoon, and as I hadn't had breakfast yet, I figured a snack was in order. Yeah, hot dogs for breakfast, and me being me, I had to get fries too. I was given a number like at the butcher shop and asked to wait. This alone meant to me that I was lucky being the only one there at the moment, and that the lines could get very busy indeed.

The Mayfair Boardwalk Grill is an Asbury Park tradition, family owned and operated for over fifty years. As I waited and chilled on the park bench there on the boardwalk with bicyclists and kite-fliers and seagulls and dog walkers going by with the beach right there - I felt like I was in the middle of the opening credits sequence of "Three's Company."

The wait was short, and well worth it. The awesome foot long hot dog, cooked to splitting crispy perfection on a flattop grill was snuggled into a regular-sized roll. Sooo good. And it was accompanied by frozen regular cuts that were deep-fried. They looked burnt, really burnt, but that was just a look, these fries were perfectly crisp, and soft, fluffy and hot inside. This was a delicious meal, so simple, and highly recommended.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Farewell Cool Dog Cafe

I woke up this morning, some 1200 miles from home, but still with the connection to Facebook, to some very sad news.

The Cool Dog Café in Cherry Hill NJ has closed their doors.

Here was the message on their Facebook page:


"We are sad to inform all of you that today, Oct. 31, was the last day for Cool dog Café. As with many things, time can change people’s outlooks and desires. So it is with Cool Dog. Partners Shawn and Ira will be moving on to pursue their individual dreams. Shawn is now working with the Stephen Starr restaurants in Philly and enjoying his new culinary experience very much. Ira is working on a new venture in the area and will let you know when something is definite.

"We want to thank you for your loyalty, friendship and support over the past 5 years. A restaurant couldn’t ask for a better group of people as their customers and we’ll miss you. But we’ll be in touch. Meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday season and again, from all of us at Cool Dog Café… THANK YOU."

This came as a shock to me as it did to many folks. Not only was Cool Dog an awesome place for hot dogs, French fries, burgers, and fun - it was a place for family. And truth is that Ira and his wife in the front, Shawn in the back, and the entire staff - they were friends, and family too. Coming to Cool Dog was like coming home, like being welcomed by family.

They certainly treated us like family, through good times and bad, this was a restaurant that made everyone welcome. Every time we had friends from out of town, they always wanted to go to the Cool Dog Cafe. And I know many folks upset they won't be able to have one last dog at their favorite place.

That said, best of luck to Ira and Shawn in the future, looking forward to the next big thing from each of you. We will miss you, Cool Dog!