Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.
The difference between baby back ribs and so-called St. Louis ribs is not in the method of preparation, but in the cut of meet, hill food says. St. Louis ribs are spareribs that have been trimmed down to remove the "rib tips," mike0989 says; spare ribs are located near the belly of the pig, where the flavorful bacon comes from. (Rib tips themselves are beloved by Chowhounds like lemons and hill food, who consider them a delicious treat.)
Baby back ribs, on the other hand, come from the back side of the pig, near the loin, mike0989 says. mike0989 prefers St. Louis ribs, as they are more substantial; either baby back or St. Louis ribs can be interchanged in recipes, adjusting the cooking times as needed. But baby backs won't stand up to long smoking and actually do better with less cooking, 9lives says, which may be why they are more common at chain restaurants.
Discuss: St. Louis vs. baby back ribs
Photo by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
So juicing is a thing. Practitioners range from DIYers who occasionally liquefy a sheaf of kale to the sort of person who has bottles of cucumber-watercress delivered each morning. Juices are expensive, so look to Chowhounds to tell you where to find quality for the price.
Pressed Juicery is an LA-based chain with locations in and near San Francisco. Chowhound user dunstable sampled most of their juices at the Noe Valley location and says they taste OK, if spinach-kale juice is your thing, though there are some fruity options. The product isn't cheap or exclusively organic.
Project: Juice sells cold-pressed varieties at a pop-up out of The Station, a coffee bar near Jackson Square. Cold-pressing means the company uses hydraulic pressure to extract, and calumin says it results in a fresh-tasting product.
The owners of SoW are former Blue Bottle employees who took a tip from the third-wave coffee movement to produce made-to-order juice. Check out their locally sourced produce on display before heirloom herbs and greens are liquefied and poured into your cup. While you're there, someone order me a coffee, kale on the side.
Pressed Juicery [Embarcadero]
One Ferry Building, San Francisco
Pressed Juicery at Marin Country Mart [North Bay]
2257 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur
Pressed Juicery [Noe Valley]
3901 24th Street, San Francisco
Project: Juice at The Station [Jackson Square]
596 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco
2490 3rd Street, San Francisco
Discuss: Pressed Juicery – SF Ferry Bldg, who's tried it?
Photo from SoW
It's a reasonable question: a Chowhound user who is planning to visit Napa likes the idea of visiting The French Laundry, but the specter of a quadruple-digit bill makes Thomas Keller's famed restaurant a no-go. Are there any undercover bargains in Napa that are worthy of a special-occasion meal?
Napa expert CarrieWas218 says don't bother seeking out a "lesser known" restaurant in Napa: the area is well trod by tourists, locals, and daytrippers from the city. For her money, tapas at ZuZu make a memorable, affordable special-occasion meal. On another note, if you're willing to eschew Keller's precision for hearty French fare like onion soup and sole meuniere, Bistro Jeanty fits the bill.
As far as a tasting menu experience, you're not likely to find budget versions in Napa. Look south, to Commonwealth in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland, both of which offer tasting menus for under $100 with optional wine pairings for an additional fee.
Bistro Jeanty [Napa Valley]
6510 Washington Street, Yountville
ZuZu [Napa Valley]
829 Main Street, Napa
Commonwealth [Mission District]
2224 Mission Street, San Francisco
Commis [East Bay]
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland
Discuss: Is there such a thing as a poor man's French Laundry in Napa?
Photo from Commonwealth
Unlike regular scissors, which only have two blades, herb shears have six or even ten blades spaced evenly apart, and can quickly snip even segments of herbs. But are they a useful tool you'll reach for again and again, or should you just stick with knives and scissors?
While they're not at all necessary, some cooks who lack confidence in their knife work might find these unitaskers useful, kaleokahu says. They effortlessly create unerringly fine cuts at perfectly uniform dimensions, if that's important to you—well, effortlessly if you don't count the cleaning, kaleokahu says. mbCrispyBits, however, finds they make the process of snipping up herbs less messy than using a cutting board.
A few drawbacks: if the herbs are wet from washing, they will stick to the shears, HillJ says. A few turns in a salad spinner and some time on dry paper towels can help with this, but even herbs that are dry on the outside will stick to the many blades of the herb shears if they release moisture during the cutting, HillJ says. Ultimately, HillJ finds them to be a big waste of time and money.
Most Chowhounds opt to use a cutting board and a sharp knife to chop herbs—and some, like Isolda, use a pair of single-bladed scissors to snip chives and other herbs. Tinkerbell likes the effectiveness of an ulu (a curved-bladed knife with a curved bowl to chop in) for quickly chopping herbs with a rocking-back-and-forth motion.
Discuss: Are Herb Scissors Necessary?
Photo of herb shears and freshly snipped herbs by Flickr user mkreul under Creative Commons
Heads up, lovers of baked goods and reality-TV junkies. The new reality series The American Baking Competition premieres Wednesday, May 29, at 8 ET / 9PT on CBS.
The American Baking Competition is based on a hit show in the UK, The Great British Bake Off. The host for the American series is comedian Jeff Foxworthy (pictured, right). Judges are Chef Marcela Valladolid and baker Paul Hollywood (he’s also a judge on the British series). READ MORE
After cooking for years in the underground dining scene, husband-and-wife team Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff surfaced late last year with Muddy Leek in Culver City’s Arts District. The food preaches the gospel of seasonal and organic—Chowhound lil mikey checked it out recently and came away a believer.
Rich porcini ragu on garlic bread; a sophisticated egg-and-leek puff pastry with nasturtium sabayon; a tender flatiron steak with asparagus and garlic flan—everything was delicious. But the show-stoppers were the desserts with spring berries, especially a blackberry–lemon verbena pie in a soft crust that lil mikey loved. READ MORE
The pleasures of a sharp knife have motivated lots of home cooks to learn how to use a sharpening stone. Chowhound ukjason uses a well-soaked 1,000-grit water stone, carefully holding the knife at a 15-degree angle while honing. Still, even with a stone, ukjason can't get the blades as sharp as those on new knives fresh out of the box. Is it possible to achieve factory-level sharpness at home?
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with ukjason's sharpening method, tanuki soup says on Chowhound. But with practice and a few tweaks, anyone should be able to become a honing master. READ MORE
In a city where good Taiwanese food, both savory and sweet, can be hard to find, Yeh's Bakery in Flushing has emerged as a destination for connoisseurs of island treats. A popular specialty is the Boston pie (pictured), a spin on the Boston cream pie that's a world apart from the original. It's a supremely delicate, fluffy sponge cake filled with airy cream custard sweetened with a light hand, like many Asian desserts. "While it's really simple," Lau reports on Chowhound, "this is one of the best cakes I’ve had in an Asian bakery even in Asia." READ MORE
The owners of Bottino, an Italian hangout for the Chelsea gallery crowd, turned east last spring when they opened Chop Shop, a pan-Asian restaurant and bar just up the block. Gallerista small h, underfed and thoroughly decontextualized after a day of art, wandered in and was glad she did. READ MORE
Turkish restaurants may be few and far between in LA, but that doesn’t mean traditional dishes can’t be uncovered in the city’s collection of Mediterranean kitchens. Here’s where Chowhounds say to go for solid versions of Turkish kebabs, salads, and pastries. READ MORE