This day is not to be confused with a national food holiday we had almost a month ago to the day – National French Fries Day – even though they’re technically celebrating the same thing 😉 You can eat your french fries on National French Fries Day in any shape you wish: curly, crinkled, wedges, Belgian-cut. But on National Julienned Fries Day, there’s only one way to eat your fries: shoestring!
The art of julienne knife cutting, in culinary terms, is quite simple: it’s when food is cut into thin, long strips, to create a rectangular shape. You can do this to almost any vegetable, and when it’s done to potatoes that are then deep fried in oil, it’s commonly called “shoestring fries” in the United States. It makes for a very crisp, deeply cooked French fry. Since all of the fries are julienned to the same shape and size, it makes sure that all of the fries in a batch cook evenly and uniformly; you shouldn’t get any burned crispies or raw holdouts in an order. The most popular fries in the country, possibly the world–fast food fries–are shoestring, which makes them easier to prepare, cook, serve, and eat out of those bright red and yellow fry boxes.
The biggest problem with the fact that julienned fries are so popular is that…people think they’re easy to make. They are not! How many times have you gone to a diner or restaurant and ordered their fries, which they claim will be perfectly cooked and golden brown, only to receive a lump of messy, greasy, poorly cooked potato sticks that even a gallon of ketchup won’t fix? Even with the added benefits of julienne cutting your potatoes, shoestring fries still need a high level of expertise to get them right. And no one in the city gets them right better than The Spotted Pig. This high-end British burger joint makes an excellent hamburger, but what really wows people here is the mountain–a literal mountain–of shoestring fries on the side. You can order them with your meal or as a side dish, but either way, you are getting a boatload of perfectly cooked shoestring fries, seasoned with garlic and rosemary, giving it an extra culinary touch that most restaurants won’t bother with for French fries. But it’s the little things like that, that make Spotted Pig’s fries so coveted: the line to get into the restaurant can be super long, but the wait is worth it for their delicious food. Best of all, the Spotted Pig relies on those spices to season the fries and only puts on a smidgen of salt, whereas 90% of the shoestring fries I’ve eaten in my life have been salted to death. It may seem like a daunting task to finish a mountain of shoestring fries, but trust me, once you start popping these suckers into your mouth, you won’t want to stop until they’re all gone!
The Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St (between Hudson St & Greenwich St)
“The magic of the Spotted Pig French fries? How quickly a mountain this tall can disappear. An enormous haystack of shoestring fries is woven through with shreds of fried rosemary and crispy garlic; some fries are darker, some lighter, but despite their slender cut, all are simultaneously crisp and pliant. Get an order for $7; better yet, get ’em alongside one of the better burgers in New York for $17.”–Serious Eats
“Impossibly crispy and perfectly salted with bites of rosemary and garlic surprise… These fries threw a party on my taste buds. Seriously… these fries will change your life. While you’re waiting for your table, you will see approximately 100 orders of these babies towered impossibly high teetering on every waiter’s hand as they walk past. Watching everyone else devour these skinny bits of fried potato happiness is agony… but noshing on your own plate is totally worth the wait. The fry tower might seem daunting… but I promise that you will be licking your fry plate clean and wishing you had a double order.”–Maggie Talks Loud
“The shoestring fries are amazing as well. Incredibly tasty on their own, they amp up the flavor a notch by adding fresh rosemary and fried garlic to the mix. Oh how I love me some shoestring fries!”–NYC Tastes
“First of all, I must say that the Spotted Pig has trumped Pearl Oyster Bar in having the best shoestring fries. These strings of potato were fried with fresh slivers of rosemary and garlic slices. The rosemary slivers become rosemary fries (so aromatic!) and the garlic chips add just that bit of kick you need.”–What Shi Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My first observation is it was bigger than I remembered…(I’ll spare you the obvious joke), and it was waging War like ancient Empires for territory with a mountain of garlic fries. Perfectly shoestring cut with the right amount of salt and some sort of chopped leafy green herb make McDonald’s fries taste like cardboard. The element that sets the fries into savory orbit, sliced garlic that is fried to crispy perfection interlaced with the fries. Every few bites of golden fries comes a subtle crunch of a mini garlic wafer. These fries could warm to coldest of souls on this chilly January afternoon.”–Andrew C.
“You know you are eating a good burger when you don’t even feel the need to reach for the ketchup. Mainly because you don’t want to dilute the wonderful taste of the cheese that just makes the burger melt in your mouth. They serve a house beer which is a cask beer and compliments this burger very well. The shoe string fries tower over the burger to make the plate that much more aesthetically pleasing to my starving stomach. Although a little cumbersome to tackle the fries at first they will soon disappear all together.”–Chris D.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!