Sunday, February 24, 2013

French Fries are HOT

Crinkle cut, curly, with or without skins, frozen or freshly cut, french fries are popping up more often on restaurant menus as a side to a burger, or a stand-alone dish complete with exotic toppings that transform the lowly spud into something new.  Here are a few of our favorites -- please share with us any of yours!

Truffle fries are de rigueur -- and rightly so, in my book.  I tried the Parmesan Truffle fries last summer at Lexington Brass, an east side bistro, and have been craving them every since.  So when Kate and Dash and I stopped at The Counter for lunch a few weeks ago, I insisted we get them.  They are fabulous -- thinly cut, fried in truffle-infused oil, and then covered with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  My only advice, don't order alone, this is a serving for a crowd.

Sweet Potato Fries are becoming more and more popular as well.  If you can find them with lime mayonnaise, go for it, but they're great just lightly salted. 

I first discovered gravy on fries when I moved to New York and it was on a deli menu.  I know people who love it, but if I'm going that route, I'd rather just have mashed potatoes.

Cheese Fries are another popular item. Kate likes the ones at Shake Shack -- it's sort of like melted cheddar cheese sauce over regular fries.  (I'll stick with fry sauce, thanks.)

Of course, for those from up north, or Canada, you might be familiar with Poutine -- the fries are topped with cheese curd and brown gravy. We found it at a restaurant in Florida a few years ago, but lately it has been popping up on menus across the country, including  Pommes Frites.  Some friend of ours just announced they're leaving NYC, and asked for ideas about favorite things to do before leaving, and Pommes Frites was at the top of our list. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place in the East Village of Manhattan that only serves Belgian cut fries -- thick, with the skins still on. They're great on their own, but the real reason you go for for the 25-plus sauces.  In addition to Poutine, you can choose from interesting flavors like Vietnamese Pineapple Mayo, or Pomegranate Teriyaki Mayo.  Traditionalists can stick with ketchup or malt vinegar, but I recommend going with a crowd and sampling. (My family's favorites so far are the Blue Cheese sauce and the Organic Black Truffle Mayo.)

I will admit to craving fry sauce, and have taught my kids how to make it home. For more traditionalists, Stephens Gourmet Fry Sauce makes a great gift for your western friends who've moved east and can't get fry sauce anywhere. (It makes a great mother's day gift, too, hint hint.)

We've made \perfect french fries from Bobby Flay's cookbook: Burgers Fries & Shakes.  Plan ahead, though, because the secret is in soaking the starch out of the fries ahead of time.  Also delicious are his Southwestern Fries at Mesa Grill, which are seasoned with chile powder, cumin, salt and cilantro, and dipped in mayonnaise.

One final word on French Fries: YUM!