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Highlights from the General Topics and Cookware boards. Food trends, food products, and burning questions.

Potatoes in the Raw

Eating raw potatoes may not be popular in this country, but it’s common in China, where HLing says julienned raw potato is mixed with vinegar and sesame oil for a refreshing summer dish. It’s crispy and not at all starchy. Sichuan restaurants serve that dish here. There are also stir-fried potato dishes that leave the potatoes quite crispy.

Go ahead and try raw potato, but do use the freshest potatoes you can find. (supermarket spuds are just too old.) Peel, slice, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. See what you think!

Caveat: A couple of hounds have reported being allergic to raw potatoes.

Board Links: Eating Potatoes Raw

Whozu? Yuzu!

Yuzu juice has just become something of a mysterious holy grail for chowhounds. liu tried some at Sushi Zo in Los Angeles (where it seems to only come with omakase meals), and raved mightily, and we’ve been trying to figure out exactly what she had…and where we can all find more!

Whatever it was, this juice is heavenly, with a great balance of sweet and tart. Liu may have sampled a pure juice, or, we suspect, a blend with pressed juice from the rind (where most of the flavor is).

You may be able to find yuzu fruit at Japanese markets, in the refrigerator case, though you’ll pay dearly (we’ve seen prices as high as $3-5 for just one fruit). You may also be able to find little 3.5-oz bottles of the juice for $12-$20. The bottled juice is really for cooking (it lends a broader, deeper flavor in any situation calling for lemon) rather than for drinking, though.

We await more details and sightings.

Board Links:Does anyone know about YUZU JUICE?

Daim Cake at Ikea

The Swedes love Daim cake. It’s made from an almondy biscuit batter that yields a thin cake. The cake is covered with chopped pieces of Daim candy (similar to Heath bars) and milk chocolate. It’s very sweet and rich.

The cakes are found in Ikea’s frozen food department; some stores sell it by the slice in the Cafe, too. JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester) likes the milk chocolate one best.

See a photo of Daim cake.

Board Links: Ikea–any worthy treats I should purchase?

Italian Meal Courses

The traditional ordering of courses for a classic Italian meal, says Robert Lauriston, is as follows:

Antipasto (‘pasto’ means meal, so antipasto means before the meal, i.e., appetizer)

Primo (first course, usually pasta or soup)

Secondo (entree), with contorni (vegetables on the side)

Dolce (dessert, often fresh seasonal fruit)

Cafe (coffee)

A salad course may be slipped in between entree and dessert, or a more substantial salad, such as Caprese (tomato and mozarella), can be served as a first course.

Board Links: Antipasto/Antapasti

Asian Potato Salad

Don’t be surprised to see mayo-based potato salad as an accompaniment to Japanese food or served as a “panchan” with a Korean meal. In Shanghai, many home cooks make this salad. Asians have had potatoes for hundreds of years, and mayonnaise has become surprisingly popular there, as well, especially in Japan (“the Japanese apparently put it on everything,” notes Ellen).

Board Links: Korean panchan —Origin of potato salad?

Licorice, Anyone?

Licorice comes in black, red, salty, or sugarless varieties. Here are some of the Chowhounds’ favorite online sources:

Economy Candy in NYC’s Lower East Side is a legendary shop that that stocks a large selection of black licorice,including Kookaburra brand, which some folks view with awe! Not many people seem to know these guys sell online.

Licorice International, out of Lincoln, Nebraska, has many types of imported licorice. Their Dutch and German selections are particularly worth a try; each has its own distinctive flavor. They sell salty licorice, too, which is very much an acquired taste. If you like red licorice, they offer a very nice sampler.

For a good selection of sugar free, try Dutch Sweets.

Board Links: best black licorice? by mail-order, pls

China Chalet: True Sichuan Flavors in Florham Park, NJ

China Chalet, despite a name that might summon scary visions of ma po fondue, actually serves authentically fiery and complex Sichuan chow made by a chef from Chengdu, reports A.West. Favorites include such regional standards as ox tongue and tripe in roasted chile-peanut vinaigrette, pork dumplings in red oil, chilled noodles with spicy sesame vinaigrette, diced chicken sauteed with three types of pepper, and braised beef or tilapia with Chinese cabbage in chile oil–and the good Sichuan stuff is on the regular menu.

Turns out A.West and his Sichuanese wife have been tracking this chef since he cooked at Springfield’s Cathay 22 a few years back. “He now knows us well enough that we’ve been letting him select most of our dishes for us. My suggestion for people who can eat spicy food is to tell the waiter you want to pretend you’re having dinner in Chengdu.”

China Chalet [Morris County]
184 Columbia Tpke., between James and Park Sts.,Florham Park, NJ
973-966-2828
Map

Board Links: Any Good Chinese Open Mondays in Westfield?

Corn on the Cob Shopping Etiquette

All those people at markets who tear back corn husks to expose the kernels (then toss the ears back for no apparent reason, leaving the corn to deteriorate) are practicing shockingly poor corn-buying etiquette, say hounds, who insist that it’s perfectly easy to find good ears without de-husking.

The selfish should note that this preserves the freshness of ears you yourself choose as well as those you’d otherwise have ruined for others!

ciaolette explains what to look for: The husks should be fresh and green, with no yellowing or dryness, and should sit close to the ear. The silk should be mostly green, with very little darkness. The cut stalk should be very fresh, not dried out. The ear should have good weight for its size.

Your editor, Caitlin McGrath, evaluates the kernels by running a finger up the outside of the cob to feel if they’re plump and uniform. Karl S points out that if you’re buying organic corn, there’s always a chance you’ll find a worm or some mold–it’s rare, but his smart solution is to always buy an extra ear, just in case.

Board Links
Farmstand etiquette

Rhubarb Facts and Trivia

Rhubarb is a stalk of many colors, ranging from dark red to pink to bright green. Red rhubarb is most common, but you’ll also see green rhubarb (don’t suspect it’s unripe).

Here’s an interesting bit of rhubarb trivia, courtesy of Karl S: strawberry rhubarb pie wasn’t originally a combination of rhubarb and berries. Rather, it referred to strawberry rhubarb, a bright red variety! Other worthy pie pairings are rhubarb-apple and rhubarb-blackberry-apple.

See information on rhubarb varieties at: http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/rhubarb-varieties.html

Even more esoteric trivia: actors, to generate crowd noise backstage, murmur the word “rhubarb” over and over. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard…

Board Links
rhubarb questions

Summer – and Blueberries – Arrive in New Jersey

Blueberries have arrived in New Jersey, and Ellen pronounces the first pick outstanding. Val Ann C, who scored some nice ones at the Sunday farmers’ market in Red Bank, agrees. The growers expect last year’s very good crop to be followed by an even better one, maybe the best in years, Ellen reports.

Around Hammonton in Atlantic County, count on Glossy Fruit Farms for berries and the Red Barn for super fruit pies. In midstate, Emery’s grows organic blueberries and offers a pick-your-own option–but this season’s berries haven’t come around yet. Neither have those at nearby De Wolf Farm, but all in good time.

Red Bank Farmers’ Market [Monmouth County, NJ]
W. Front St. and Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank
732-530-7300
Map

Glossy Fruit Farms [Atlantic County, NJ]
66 S Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton
609-561-8050
Locator

Red Barn Farm Market [Atlantic County, NJ]
51 S. Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton
609-567-3412

http://www.penzaspies.com

Locator

Emery’s Berry Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
346 Long Swamp Rd., near Pinehurst Rd. (Rte 539), New Egypt
609-758-8514

http://www.netpie.com

Locator

De Wolf Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
10 W. Colliers Mill Rd., near Archertown Rd., New Egypt
609-758-2424
Locator

Board Links
First Blueberries of the Season are Here