Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The Very Best Frenchfries in Roanoke
One of my first jobs--this is 1964, mid-summer--was at King Arthur's Round Table, a barbecue fast-food joint owned by a family of Greeks in Asheville, N.C. I was a cook and occasional counter guy. This is where I learned to both cook and to appreciate real frenchfries.
Frenchfries, I'm sure most of you know (following the Freedom Fries xenophotic Republican exercise of 10 or so years ago), have absolutely nothing to do with France, but were named for an 18th Century restaurant owner in Boston named Mr. French. He invented the fries.
Meanwhile, France actually stepped in along the way with a recipe that topped Mr. French's and it is based around three cold-water washes of the fries. That's how I learned to cook them and until just recently, I never had a better fry than the ones I made (I used to make them for my kids--years after King Arthur's--and they loved them; this was at a time that they wouldn't eat anything that didn't come in a box with a prize).
The "until now" portion of the previous sentence has to do with the fries at New York Subs in the Roanoke City Market building, a big-sandwich stall that specializes in Philly cheese-steak-type grub. They're the best danged fries I've had since KA's. These fries are quite different from the ones I learned to make and they even have skin on some of them. They're coated with what looks like a cornmeal mix and fried a little too long, which makes them slightly crispier than you'd expect. The coating is wonderful and the crispness is addicting.
If you're on a diet (like I am), forget everything I just said. If you just want a great scoop of fries (and they come in this paper thingy), try these. They cost $1.94 per serving and they're worth four times that.
(Pardon the quality of this photo, by the way. I took it with a telephone--I still can't get used to saying that--at a table in the City Market Building today at lunch as my wife was talking to me. She stopped in mid-sentence, put on her stern face and said, "Pardon me, but am I interrupting something important?" I had to shoot quick.)