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Friday, June 3, 2016

Pizza Hut has French Fries?

A couple of nights ago the Grunion was driving us crazy for pizza and we were WAY TOO TIRED for that noise so we decided to get some delivered.  This is the first time in like 10 years we have ordered food to be delivered to the house (I have a paranoia/phobia-don't ask).

Anyhoo, Ace was looking through the options and it turns out that Pizza Hut was the closest/cheapest and ALSO THEY HAVE FRENCH FRIES!  Why didn't anyone tell me before now?  You all are slacking, seriously.  I ordered the "Cajun Style Seasoned Fries" just to be mysterious.

30 minutes or so later a kid's basketball sized weird plastic take out container was delivered. Never seen anything like it.  I guess it's what they put the wings in when people order them. Oh, and by the way Pizza Hut now has wings too, apparently-cause you know, pizza.

I was expecting these things to thoroughly suck.  In fact, before I even tried one I was thinking of all the words I was going to use to describe the suckage.  But....but....they are pretty good.

They were mostly crisp, and the seasoning (although it appears that there was way too much) was actually perfect.

I gotta say that Pizza Hut fries are a total yes.  Calculating an actual price is kinda hard on accounta there's a delivery fee and you gotta tip the driver but let's just say that even for a total of $5-$6 getting this amount of pretty good fries delivered to your lazy butt is a definite DO.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

El Pinto in Albuquerque NM

On a recent road trip, the Grunion demanded that we stop in Albuquerque on accounta he wanted to see if he could find Jessie from Breaking Bad.  We were tired anyway so we agreed.

We are in ABQ a few times a decade, and we ALWAYS stop at El Pinto when we're there.  It's an amazing tex-mex restaurant, and they have fries so they're fair game for a review.  It's located on a big chunk of land North of downtown.  It probably seemed like it was "way out there" some years ago, but ABQ has grown and now it seems like it's just in a suburb.

Over the years, it looks like it was built onto several times so it has that cool multiple dining room themes thing going on.  This is the bar.

This is what I call the flamingo dining room cause it's got tons of vegetation and a fireplace.

It even has a Titanic-like ceiling light.

This is a different dining area that I call "where the losers get seated".

Fries are $3.29 which is kinda steep. But the place is fairly fancy and you gotta figure they're mostly only there for kids and super old people anyway so the price is most likely designed to discourage ordering.

This is the order.  Decent amount for this type a place at this price.

Slightly battered (most likely frozen) but an overall good experience.

GRUNION:  Yo, these fries aren't Texan or Mexican at all!

GRUNION:  In fact, these are most likely descended from the original Belgian chips.

GRUNION: Pretty good, though.

If you are ever in ABQ, you should definitely stop by El Pinto.
They also have these red pepper rubbed ribs that are insane.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Red Robin VOODOO Fries

I've discussed Red Robin in the past.  Their fries are decent when combined with the fatty-fatty campfire sauce and are still "bottomless".  But there's something new brewing around the chain restaurant landscape-specialty fries.  Red Robin's stab at them is Voodoo Fries.

Whoa!  They've replaced the servers with table computers already?  This isn't even a higher minimum wage state!

Let's see....ah yes...bring me the ghost peppery goodness.

Red Robin still actually has servers.  They bring you drinks and food after you order it on the table computer.  Good thing too, cause you can't eat Red Robin fries without the added fatness of the super yummy campfire sauce (which is probably mayonnaise mixed with cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, bacon fat, and giggly snowflake kisses).  I realized on this trip that I've never bothered to try any of the other sauces.

This was delivered.  I love that it comes with A GIANT TUB OF RANCH DRESSING.  MERICA!

There'a a lot going on here.  Bacon, green stuff, batter-fried jalapeno slices, cheese "sauce".

They're quite good.  And plenty (even at 7 bucks).

Of course I ordered the bottomless fries and a giant cauldron of fatty campfire sauce to go with the voodoo fries.  Just as a quality check of course.

My (recently healthy-eating) buddy Jack was disgusted.  He ordered something called "hummus". Looked like cat puke to me.

Voodoo Fries at Red Robin are a definite do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Make French Fries with Chef Matt Boring

HOWDY! I'm back from my sabbatical to resume your fry education, dear readers.  Over the last few months I have tried many places, and the national trend seems to be for "natural" style fries.  This was probably precipitated by the newer uber-burger chains (Five Guys, Shake Shack, etc.) making a big deal out of showing off real potatoes in their lobbies.

Hey, I'm all for fresh cut fries if they're cooked correctly, but the sad fact is that they usually aren't. And my buddy Chef Matt Boring is about to educate you why.  This is Chef Matt.  When it comes to the science of fries, he is my go-to guy.  I'm not gonna list his CV, but you should google him.

A while back we got together and he showed me how you make fries.  Specifically, he made his special truffle-Parmesan fries.  YUM.

A day or so before he was ready to cook, he cut the fries and soaked them in water overnight.  Then he drained the excess starchy water that had accumulated.  Next he dried and then dumped the fries into a fryer with oil at 325 degrees.  This is called "blanching"and it's a super-important part of the process.  During the blanching, oil gets into the fries and builds a layer of starch cells around the outside of the fry.  This outer layer protects the fry as it is fried again at a higher temperature so they cook through.  After a few minutes of blanching, he rested them for a few minutes, and then fried them in oil that's around 400 degrees.

Then he bounced the fries around in a bowl with some salt, truffle oil, and some green stuff and voila!


Here's the thing: most restaurants (and certainly burger chains) don't have the space, the time, or the craps to give to have two different fryers going.  That's why the "natural" fries at most of these places are horribly inconsistent in texture, crispness, done-ness, and taste.  I have always maintained that whether they are frozen to begin with or fresh they have to be properly prepared.

So the next time you're at a restaurant that has fresh cut fries ask your server if the kitchen double cooks them.  My guess is the answer will be no.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Raising Cane's

For some reason, the people of NWA have lost all traces of epicurean sense.  WhatABurger(sp?) announced that they were opening one of their "restaurants" in Fayetteville and everyone went nuts.  There were lines.  There was the need for traffic cops.  For a stupid burger.  You are completely delusional if you believe that anything from Whatttaaaaaberger(sp?) is any good unless it's 2:30am and you're really drunk. 

This chicken finger joint Raising Cane's comes to town and the same thing happens.  CHICKEN FINGERS!  There was a line that screwed up traffic for several days.  What is going on?  It isn't like a real chef opened a real restaurant.  These are fast food joints and we are stampeding to them like morons.  Embarrassing.

So here's the fries from Raising Cane's (disregard the sauce, and that was for my other sauce blog).  $1.49 is a decent price for this amount.

I have to admit that it was cool that they are using "skinny crinkles".  You don't see that much outside of the Augusta-Macon corridor.

Cooked well, but tasted as bland as a cruise ship country band.  Boo.

Since most of the people in NWA have apparently abandoned their sense of taste, I almost feel guilty for reporting that the fries suck...almost.  4 out of 10.

P.S.  You will have to ask the guy from Luv Me Tenders if the chicken is any good.

P.P.S.  WhatABurger(sp?) is stupid.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ballard's on Block Island

When you visit Rhode Island, part of the agreement you sign when you cross the border is that you will ride the ferry to Block Island at least once during your stay.  I have no idea why this rule is in place, but I suspect it has to do with justifying the electricity that Block Island uses.  At least the Grunion was super-excited to ride on the ferry.

GRUNION: So there's dolphins and whales and sharks and stuff in this water?
GIBBY: Yuppers.

GRUNION:  Can we catch one of the sharks and one of the dolphins?
GIBBY:  Why?

GRUNION:  So we can watch them fight.  I heard that dolphins can whip up on sharks.
GIBBY:  Okay, that's not-

GRUNION:  Or maybe we could get a whale to swallow us so we could hang out inside.
GIBBY:  You are so weird.

This is the side of Block Island you see when you're pulling up.  Nice.  Not thrilling, but nice.

Ballard's was established in 1952 by the late Paul Filippi, Sr....blah blah blah. 

Whoa.  Kinda dead for lunchtime.

Beach view-check.  Appropriately over-priced($4.95) fries-check.  Let's do this!

Not bad looking.

Not bad looking at all.

Real potato skins still attached, crisp and hot with a fluffy interior.  And sea salt.  A nice touch.

I gotta say, in this setting, these fries are totally worth it.  9 out of 10.

The beach at Ballard's totally sucks, though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Smart Fries!

Scientists have been searching for a super-drug to make people smarter for centuries.  There have been countless examples of chemicals, plants, herbs, spices, foods, devices, techniques, and diets that are supposed to make you smarter.

They have all been foolish tragedies.

On a recent trip to Rhode Island, I discovered the secret to unlimited smartness:

Who would have guessed that for just two dollars paid at the dirtiest discount store I have ever seen I could gain so much?  And look at all these benefits!

Let's have a look in the bag.  That's a crapload for two dollars!


Strange disease-like texture.  Warts?  Well, they never said self-improvement was easy.

They taste really bad.  Like, disgusting bad.  But maybe my yet-unevolved brain doesn't recognize the taste as good yet.  Maybe after I eat the whole bag my smartness will make me understand that the disgusting texture and gross taste is the embodiment of total intellectual enlightenment.

I ate the whole bag and waited.  I wonder how long it will take until I'm smart.