Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Best French Fries I've Ever Had



Until now, the best fries I'd ever had were in Ithaca, NY. It's no secret that I have a soft spot for the town, but it's with good reason.

A friend of mine who is also a former Chez Panisse employee is considering moving from the Bay Area, and Ithaca is near the top of her list. Partly because she's interested in a grad program there, but partly because it's one of the few towns in America that won't make a former Bay Area foodie feel like they live in the desert outside of the house in Beetlejuice.

So it was no surprise that I had great fries there, especially because the region is also known for something called salt potatoes. But yesterday, all that changed. Elise had a rare free night now that her new show is up, and there was only one thing on her mind: making fries.

They were the perfect fry, with crisp skin and light and creamy guts. She admittedly has a heavy hand with salt, but in this case it was just right, going toe to toe with the surprisingly sweet taste of the taters. Crispy, fluffy, sweet, salty - may my epitaph be so kind.

We have three guesses as to why they were so ethereal. First was her general skill, including the decision to steam and then fry. Then there was our luck of having the right potatoes chilling in the hallway thanks to our winter CSA. But the third and most unusual reason was the choice of fat, or fats, rather.

We just so happened to be low on all oils, so she made a blend of peanut, canola, and olive. We wouldn't have done so for any other reason but necessity, but it just might have been the killing stroke that made these the best fries of my life.

Now who's gorges?

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7 comments:

sethd d said...

"We just so happened to be low on all oils"

seems more appropriate for latkes. still, a great miracle happening is a great miracle happening.

Karen B said...

were the fries from Dijon? I am making mixed root veggie latkes tonight from our CSA--I was just going to do peanut oil since there's almost no oil in the cupboard as well but maybe I'll blend it...

Aaron said...

No, though those were wonderful as well. The Ithaca fries I had in mind came from a mysterious man who appeared at just a few farmers markets. He had a little cart with a single-stroke fry cutter and a vat of oil.

I think Dave said he worked at Maxi's. May he one day return.

Jay said...

you steamed the fries before you fried them? intriguing.

shaggy said...

It may very well be the steaming. Here on the Olympic Peninsula,WA, I steam ozette potatoes, then slice and pan fry in olive oil and butter, then salt and pepper. Best ever homefries. A few eggs with a slice of whole grain rye. This is OF the earth! A food scientist would be helpful. But in the end, local potatoes, local eggs, local bread. I'm not going all locavore, but...

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