Friday, November 28, 2014

Random Tater Pics of the Day #174 and 175



Homemade Vegan Sweet Potato Pies, a special pair of random holiday tater pics from my good friend and French Fry Diary contributor Robin Renee. Mmmmm...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks, and Take Your Pick



If you're still wondering what you'll be making tomorrow for Thanksgiving beyond the turkey and the cranberry sauce, I might have something for you.

Click here for thirty-five amazing mashed potatoes recipes from the nice folks at The Cooking Channel. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

French Fry Diary 630: Room Service - TCM Cruise Day Two


Room service on board the Disney Cruise is almost a tradition at this point. So after a late night seeing The Sea Hawk on the big screen (yeah, still on the TCM Classic Cruise on board the Disney Magic), both The Bride and I had the munchies, so we figured what better time to get room service, especially with the new limited hours of the restaurants and the no-go anti-self-service policy Disney had initiated on the cruise so far. If we wanted food or drinks, it was room service or we were out of luck.

I was hoping for steak fries but got natural cuts. That's okay, they were soft, hot, and good. While I had my usual room service fare of a hot dog, The Bride got her macaroni and cheese. The food came quickly, even by Disney Cruise standards, along with a fancy variety of condiments. We were pleased with out late night treat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

French Fry Diary 629: Carioca's - TCM Cruise Day Two


Another of the renovations of the 're-imagined' Disney Magic is the replacement of Parrot Cay, always one of my favorite restaurants on board with Carioca's. It has roughly the same flavor, only now with an animated mascot. 

By name, Jose Carioca was one of the original Three Caballeros, with Donald Duck and Panchito, from the film of the same name, Saludos Amigos, and other features and shorts. Jose is unfortunately one of those characters forgotten to the mists of time, but thankfully, and hopefully on his way to a comeback. I'll miss Parrot Cay, but still this isn't bad.

There has been really only slight remodeling and repainting. They have added lots of Chinese lanterns a la Tangled hanging from the ceiling, but really not much else. The restaurant still a tropical flavor, all it's really had is a name change,
some new lighting, and a brisk rebranding.

On the surface however, one thing that hasn't changed much is the menu. This may as well have been Parrot Cay. I got the Roasted Honey BBQ Chicken Breast, and it was very good, and the sauce was also very good. If there was any crushed sweet potato, as advertized, on the plate, I couldn't find it, or rather, taste it. I probably should have gotten a side order of fries like I did the previous night if I wanted to appease my tater jones.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Random Tater Pic of the Day #173



This four foot tall Mr. Potato Head is in the Toy Story section of Disney's Oceaneer Club, the Disney Magic day care center. It also houses the non-potato-related Avengers Academy. But back on topic, just think how many French fries you could make out of this guy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

French Fry Diary 628: Cabanas - TCM Cruise Day Two


For apparent health reasons (we are in the middle of a worldwide ebola scare, and cruise ships are well known for spreading germs like wildfire, so I do get it, but still…), Disney is attempting to kill the all-you-can-eat buffet concept with guilt. As I mentioned in an earlier post, you may no longer serve yourself. *

If say, a huge percentage of the reason you choose Cabanas is for the breakfast potatoes, you can only get a small serving of them. And if you ask nicely for more please, they will give you a proper non-verbal shaming before finally, after an appropriate pause, giving you another small serving.

Another negative to having a server in front of each station to give you your food at the 'all-you-can-eat' buffet is bacon. A serving of bacon is two small strips, period. Try, just try asking for more. And there is no longer any such thing as crispy bacon and not so crispy bacon. If you wanted one of the other previously, you could just pick them out and put them on your plate. Now, The Bride who likes crispy bacon and I who like it not so crispy, got the same bacon, despite our instructions. You have zero control on what you get to eat at a buffet.

The same goes for the wonderful breakfast potatoes on board. These are great chunked broiled, spiced, and marinated small red potatoes that are a number one reason to go to Cabanas for breakfast. Suppose you want them soft one day and crispy the next, the server will just plop a small spoonful on your plate willy-nilly, crispy or soft. The image you see is three servings by the way.

What I did get was very good, but you should never have to leave an all-you-can-eat buffet hungry, right? I did. And don't even get me started on asking for those tiny paper cartons of milk, especially if you want one for cereal and one or two to drink. Talk about a server stink-face! Perhaps it's not just health reasons, maybe Disney is running out of food…

* The situation did resolve itself, check here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

French Fry Diary 627: Animator's Palate - TCM Cruise Day One


We were on the Disney Magic, but it was a chartered cruise, the TCM Classic Cruise, so many of the Disney aspects have been toned down. Such was the case with our first dinner of the cruise at Animator's Palate. We still got a bit of a show, animations on the walls, but nothing so spectacular as the Crush interactive show, or the animation show on the bigger boats, or the regular AP show on the Magic either. I'm not complaining, just saying.

While the Disney Magic has been renovated and overhauled, there are a few things that have stayed the same. One of those is the menu. Several times (click here and here) I have ordered the same dish and each time it has not turned out to be what I wanted or liked. Sometimes I have liked it, and some times… well… However, enough time passes between cruises that I forget that I don't like that. Such is the case with the Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Bacon Bits and Chives.

It's a trap, to quote Admiral Ackbar. It always looks good, and I always order it. And I usually am not so thrilled with it. This time, it was not good. It's a good thing I ordered a side of fries with dinner. Along with those great baked steak fries the Disney Cruise is famous for, I got the Ginger-Teriyaki dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin, with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes with Bok Choy and a Tamarind-Barbecue Reduction. The entrée was just terrific, with the potatoes having just enough heat.

Dinner was very good, except for the soup. We made new friends with our table mates and had a pleasant time. I just have to remember no soup when we return to the Disney Cruise next year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

French Fry Diary 626: Cabanas - TCM Cruise Day One


This past October I had the opportunity to go on the TCM Classic Cruise on board the Disney Magic. It was my fiftieth birthday gift from The Bride.

After you board, you have time on your hands as your rooms take some time to get ready, and sometimes your luggage takes some time to arrive as well. The Disney Cruise lets you make the most of your wait time by opening their huge buffet up on the top deck, Cabanas. It's like a Florida tourism feeding frenzy.

First things first, buffets on the Disney Cruise work different than traditional buffets. They are station based as opposed to line based. If you want French fries, you go right to the French fries as opposed to waiting in a single line until you get to the French fries. Also, new on this trip, due to supposed health reasons, they have servers who get the food for you. You can't do it yourself any more. Not so happy about that, and I'll talk about it in another post. I get it, but it is what it is.

I got, or rather my server got, some chicken and those wonderful baked steak fries the Disney Cruise is famous for. The chicken was thin cuts, very spicy and citrusy, of which I was only allowed two pieces, and I got a reasonable amount of the fries. You can see what a serving size is, plus what I got when I asked for more please would be from the picture.

The fries were very good, but you can see how folks are being shamed into smaller portions by the powers that be. Happy, but not happy, if you know what I mean.

Monday, November 17, 2014

French Fry Diary 625: Dominic's Tavern


They always say start with a joke, so I will. This one comes from my friend and fellow South Jersey Writers' Group member Jessica Walsh. What day do potatoes fear the most? Friday. Ba dum dum.

Jessica is the co-editor, along with Amy Holiday, of the new SJWG speculative fiction anthology Reading Glasses, and she also found us this great place for the aftermeetings of the SJWG - Dominic's Tavern.

I have to say up front I really like this place. We got to go several times before we moved our meeting venue to another town. Still I think the extra hike would be worth it for Dominic's. It has a friendly biker bar vibe, lots of big screen TVs, and waitresses in pseudo-Hooters wear, but not too over the top. No matter how you slice it, Dominic's is far far superior to either Applebee's of the Phily Diner.

What I usually get are these terrific big chicken tenders with a spicy kick. They're called jumbo tenders and they kinda remind me of the Cap'n Crunch Chicken that Planet Hollywood used to have back in the day. And the tenders come with large natural cut regular cut French fries on the side. They are a bit greasy but crisp on the outside, and hot and soft on the inside, the way a good fry should be.

The SJWG, including Jessica, Krista Magrowski, Amy Holiday, Mieke Zamora-Mackay, Janice Wilson, Karen Harbin, Mark Doenges, and others have had a great time at Dominic's in our aftermeetings, recommended. And (shameless plug) don't forget to click on their names to see the terrific work of these great local writers. Good food, good conversation, good friends, good times.

Friday, November 14, 2014

French Fry Diary 624: Wholesome Goodness Potato Chips


Wholesome Goodness, whose slogan is "love foods that love you back," has been showing up in local Rite Aids and Wawas recently. Besides potato chips they also sell healthy cereals, sauces, granola, broths, and juices. They say their mission is "to replace food that has become highly processed, loaded with sodium and fat, and made with ingredients you can't pronounce." Let's see how their potato chips are.

As usual I opted for the Barbecue Flavored variety of Wholesome Goodness Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips. They have no transfats, no MSG, no cholesterol, and even though they are cooked in vegetable oil (containing one or more of the following: canola, corn, or sunflower). They are also kosher, all natural, and have no preservatives.

True to their word however the hardest ingredients to pronounce are paprika and torula yeast. They seem to have a problem with many ingredients, and are quite proud to go so far as to ban one hundred and twenty-six ingredients used by other companies.

Upon opening the bag I was struck by a wonderful smokey barbecue aroma. The taste of the chips themselves did not disappoint either. The barbecue flavor is subtle and understated, it's nice with no burn. They have the twisted shapes promised by kettle cooking that is so perfect for dipping. These chips were really good.