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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Ouest Revisited: Eggy Ecstasy, for Starters

Hounds can’t stop talking about two delicious, comforting appetizers at Ouest. One is crispy poached egg with smoked duck breast and bitter greens. The other is a rich truffled “omelet souffle” with mousseline sauce.

This kind of hearty, well-conceived chow has won a devoted neighborhood following for Ouest, a five-year-old American bistro. Smart orders include roasted and braised meats and poultry, including roast chicken, grilled pork chop or rib eye, braised short ribs, and crispy pan-roasted squab. Also recommended: prosciutto-wrapped halibut, roast sturgeon with mushrooms and truffled rice, and a knockout appetizer of cauliflower custard with poached lobster, mushrooms, and leeks. Some find the dessert choices lackluster and dated.


Ouest [Upper West Side]
2315 Broadway, between W. 83rd and 84th Sts., Manhattan
212-580-3481
Locater

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Ouest

Big W’s Bar-B-Que Finds a Place to Park

Big W’s, which once dished up first-class barbecue from a truck, is now paying less for gas but more for rent. In a former deli around five miles up Route 22 from its old parking spot, it’s serving the same deeply smoky ribs, chicken, and pulled pork, among other things. Standout sides include slow-roasted potatoes and sweet, tangy, porky beans. “I drove 35 miles for the ribs–and I will do it again,” testifies steelydad.


Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Que [Dutchess County]
formerly Village Deli and Market
1475 Rte. 22, Wingdale, NY
845-832-6200
Map

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big w’s (wingdale/dover plains) is open!
big w bbq

Sweet Stone Crabs at the Lobster Place

Stone crabs are here, and the Lobster Place has landed some champs. “Oh, man, was it good!” sighs skeetereats, who favors the tender knuckle meat over the prized claws.

The store sells mustard to serve alongside. Don’t bother. The crabs are sweet and delicious without embellishment. The season runs through March, but the supply is unpredictable, so call ahead.


The Lobster Place [Chelsea]
75 9th Ave., at W. 15th St., in Chelsea Market, Manhattan
212-255-5672
Locater

The Lobster Place [Greenwich Village]
252 Bleecker St., at Leroy, Manhattan
212-352-8063
Locater

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If you’re craving STONE CRAB CLAWS…

Amid Blintzes and Borscht, a Surprising Burger at Veselka

Veselka is loved–or loathed, by some–for its sturdy Ukrainian grub. But few have even mentioned its charbroiled hamburger–until now. “One of the most underappreciated burgers in the city,” declares livetotravel. “It was a true revelation the first time I ate one.”

eastvillagegirl credits high-quality beef supplied by East Village Meat Market across the street. In addition, livetotravel says, this kitchen knows the meaning of medium rare.


Veselka Restaurant [East Village]
144 2nd Ave., at E. 9th St., Manhattan
212-228-9682
Locater

East Village Meat Market and Deli, a.k.a. J. Baczynsky’s [East Village]
139 2nd Ave., between E. 9th St. and St. Marks Pl., Manhattan
212-228-5590
Locater

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Best Burger?

On a Big Sugar High

The latest cupcakerie to pop up is Big Sugar Bakeshop. They have a massive variety of treats, and their cupcakes are way more affordable than the competition’s cupcakes (i.e., Leda’s).

Maxmillion goes for their hummingbird, coconut and mocha cupcakes. There are also small bites like fudge squares and peanut butter buckeyes, and cake whole or by the slice.

Cupcakes are $1.50-$2 apiece. Cookies are $1. Check the Big Sugar blog for daily specials.


Big Sugar Bakeshop Fernando Valley]
12182 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
818-508-5855
Map
Blog

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More cupcakes in Studio City.

Pork Burger Pigout

Obsessed with pork burgers, ipsedixit has been frequenting Wood Spoon when the need for a fix comes on. It’s hard to beat this baby, with good, crusty-yet-tender country roll, a very juicy pork patty, and roasted cabbage as garnish. Check out their version of chicken pot pie, too.


Wood Spoon
107 West 9th Street, Los Angeles
213-629-1765
Map

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Jonesing for pork burgers

Little Fish with Big Power in the Kitchen

Anchovies can enrich the taste of dishes without announcing themselves. An anchovy fillet will “provide that elusive umami flavor in a dish making it deeper and more savory,” says hotoynoodle, and yet nobody will know it’s there. Saute a chopped anchovy with the aromatics when you make a basic tomato sauce for pasta; it will melt into the sauce while adding a bit of oomph. Candy purees anchovies in the filling for deviled eggs for the same effect. JungMann adds them to turkey meatballs, saying he uses anchovies to “salt” food, bringing out its flavors.

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anchovies- how do use them?

Taking the Bite Out of Raw Onions

Soaking raw onions in cold water for 10 to 30 minutes before incorporating them into a dish takes away some of their bite. Adding lime juice to the water, or soaking the onions in straight lime juice brings out their sweetness beautifully, says galleygirl. bolivianita rinses onions, then soaks in red wine vinegar with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt before adding to green salads to reduce their bite.

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Why did I just soak my onions?

Congee

Congee or jook is an Asian preparation of rice boiled in water or broth until it cooks down to a porridge-like consistency. You can cook it to the consistency that you like. It’s a good way to treat leftover rice. It’s nice plain for breakfast, or as the first solid food when you’ve been sick.

Lots of good things can be added to it for a more substantial meal. It’s the perfect background for leftover roast meat, poultry, or dried or fresh seafood. A century egg is a popular addition. Fried won ton skins, cilantro, soy sauce, and whatever vegetables you have on hand can be stirred in. Try adding some gingko or pine nuts.

Garnish it with something crunchy on top, like cabbage or pickles.

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jook (congee), okayu, porridge, gruel

Kudzu Problem? Eat it!

Kudzu, the fast-growing plant that’s the scourge of the countryside, has been a popular source of food in Japan for thousands of years. In America, it started out as a remedy for erosion as a ground cover. Now it covers just about anything that holds still.

Do your part to save America from Kudzu, by eating as much of it as you possibly can.

The cookbook Kudzu Cuisine, with such offerings as: Chicken Soup with Kudzu Sprouts, Kudzu Flower Fritters, Crystallized Kudzu Blossoms, Kudzu Blossom Spread, Kudzu Blossom Ice Cream, Kudzu Blossom Syrup, Kudzu Blossom Vinegar, and Curried Carrots with Kudzu Blossoms.

Here’s a beautiful jelly, using the blossoms.

More, with pictures, on Wikipedia

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Culinary Kudzu–who knew?