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

Pollos El Paisa: Stellar Chicken in Westbury, L.I.

As the name would suggest, Pollos El Paisa is all about the chicken. Colombian-style rotisserie birds are the don’t-miss order. For a taste of the rest of the menu, the bandeja paisa (mountain platter) includes the chicken plus fried pork belly, grilled skirt steak, fried egg, plantains, avocado, rice, beans, and an arepa. Highly recommended, says halokiti, who loves just about everything here except the salty seafood paella.

Also on the menu: fish soup, stewed beef tongue, grilled beef steak or pork loin, garlicky camarones al ajillo and other shrimp dishes, and more. “This place is great–a very good value and very good food!” raves Gastronomos.

Pollos El Paisa [Nassau County]

989 Old Country Rd., between Brooklyn Ave. and State St., Westbury, NY

516-338-5858

Locater

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Westbury Chicken

More Gelato, More Fro-Yo Flavors

Opening just in time for Christmas, the folks at Hollywood Gelato Company in Los Feliz clearly lack a sense of timing as well as geography. It’s cute inside, with a decent but not huge selection of flavors. Those flavors, by the way, are not nearly as interesting as the ones a few minutes away at Pazzo Gelato, comments Queequeg. The gelato itself, which isn’t made on-site, is actually too creamy, making it more like rich ice cream than gelato. A small cup is $2.95.

Change is in the air at Fiore, the tangy-yogurt place in Little Tokyo. Well, not the Pinkberry-knockoff decor–those Starck Ghost chairs are there to stay. But the name of the store is now “If,” perhaps adding an air of mystery, and they’ve branched out from their original two flavors (plain and green tea), adding sour and blueberry–or was that blackberry?


Hollywood Gelato Company [Los Feliz]
1936 Hillhurst
323-644-3311
Map

Pazzo Gelato [Silverlake]
3827 Sunset Blvd., at Hyperion
323-662-1410
Map

If Yogurt [Little Toyko]
formerly Fiore
134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall
213-626-0806
Map

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Hollywood Gelato Co in Los Feliz: Now Open!
Fiore Yogurt becomes ‘IF’

Ramen Alert: Sherman Oaks and West LA

Sherman Oaks has a new ramen joint, Koraku, a sister restaurant to the one in Little Tokyo. CarlieinLA checked it out and reports they have about 30 kinds of ramen as well as yakisoba, rice dishes and typical Japanese entrees like teriyaki, cutlets and on.

Miso yasai ramen comes with tons of fresh veggies (cabbage, mushrooms, and corn) but not so much pork. The portion of soup is generous, though, and the noodles fresh and perfectly cooked–they make it just behind the bar.

The place is small, but cute. Note that for the time being, it’s cash only.

Heads up, rameniacs: Santouka, revered as one of the best ramen joints around, just opened in the renovated West LA!


Koraku [East San Fernando Valley]
14425 Ventura Blvd., Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks

818-906-0045
Map

Koraku Restaurant [Little Tokyo]
314 E. 2nd St.
213-687-4972
Locater

Santouka Ramen [Beaches]
in Mitsuwa Market
3760 Centinela Ave.
310-398-2113
Locater

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Koraku Ramen Sherman Oaks–Open
Official Santkouta West LA opening date

Great-Great Aunt Josephine’s Sugar Cookies

Cream of tartar is the secret ingredient in pilotgirl210’s great-great aunt Josphine’s sugar cookies–it gives them a terrific, flaky texture. toodie jane says they’re marvelous: “The texture beats all the other sugar cookies I’ve ever made or eaten. Who knew sugar cookies could be this good.”

The recipe:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Using an electric mixer, blend the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, and butter to a crumbly consistency (it should resemble shortening cut into flour for pie crust). In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla. Add the eggs slowly to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough. Roll out on lightly floured surface, cut out with cookie cutters, and bake at 375F for 10 minutes. When cooled, frost or decorate as desired.

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Toodie Jane: Great-Great-Aunt Josephine’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

A Winner of a Chocolate Cookie

These chocolate crinkle cookies are fabulous, raves AnneInMpls–they taste like gooey, chewy brownies. And though they’ve got lots of sugar and chocolate, no one who tries them would guess that they’re made without butter or egg yolks, and have less than 1/4 cup of oil for a recipe that yields a few dozen.

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A winner of a chocolate cookie

Kettle Potato Chips

There are bunch of new flavored chips from the Kettle folks. The chips are all naturally flavored, with no MSG, sugar, or trans fats, and the flavors are terrific:

Aztec Chocolate has dark Mexican chocolate, spiced with cumin and chile powder.

Royal Indian Curry has the right aroma, but the flavor is like chicken boullion, says Chowsmurph.

Twisted Chile Lime is pretty much like a lot of spicy lime chips out there.

Island Jerk has a great combo of spices, and tastes just like jerk sauce.

Dragon Five Spice is another winner.

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I’m on a mission- Kettle Chips New Flavor Voting- Aztec Chocolate must win

Interesting Info about Lactose and Cheese!

Many hard and aged cheeses are virtually lactose free. That’s because most lactose is trapped in the whey, and that’s precisely what’s removed in cheese-making. Hrhboo says that 98% of the lactose is drained off with the whey. The remaining 2% is consumed during fermentation.

This link has excellent information, and a list of acceptable cheese for the lactose intolerant.

And this link has an even longer list of lactose percentages and more good info.

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Lactose Free Cheeses: Do They Exist?

A Pelagic Crab by Any Other Name …

The moment that most of us saw the Long John Silver’s TV ad for $2.99 “lobster bites,” we knew that something was up.

And, sure enough, the Maine Lobster Promotion Council is steamed about the ads, which tout “real langostino lobster”—a.k.a. “real hermit crab.”

Even Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is getting into the mix:

In a Sept. 25 letter to Andrew von Eschenbach, who was then acting FDA commissioner, Snowe wrote that using the term langostino lobster ‘pollutes consumers’ appetite for real lobster’ and is part of a marketing ‘hoax’ that is hurting her state’s economy.

The best fun fact to be dredged up from this food fight: As recently as 2005, the federal government allowed the term “langostino lobster” to be used interchangeably with “squat lobster.” This, of course, suggests the inevitable musical accompaniment to this particular controversy …

Boys in bikinis

Girls on surfboards

Everybody’s rockin’

Everybody’s fruggin’

Twistin’ round the fire

Havin’ fun

Bakin’ potatoes

Bakin’ in the sun

Squat lobster!

Ramen Nation

In The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten explored subsistence diets, from Gray’s Papaya to the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, finally settling on a meaty-grainy concoction from M.F.K. Fisher’s great tome on subsistence, How to Cook a Wolf. It set him back about $1.60 per day. The Hillbilly Housewife has invented a menu that she claims will feed a family of six for $45 per week.

These guys are eating like kings compared to Evan. A blogger who chooses a different project each month to write on, Evan decided to gain some insight into what it’s like to be poor by spending only $30 for food. For the entire month of November. That’s $1 per day, folks, not even enough to buy a seven-layer burrito at Taco Bell (which is sad, because Evan loves the Bell).

The results of that experiment, documented on Evan’s blog Hungry for a Month, are riveting. Not much of a cook, Evan ended up eating a lot of rice mixed with frozen veggies and mashed potato flakes, as well as that poverty staple, ramen. Like Morgan Spurlock, who was an inspiration, Evan saw his body go through some changes:

It hit me around 12:15pm today. I was on a conference call and my stomach started to hurt. It wasn’t too bad at first, but over the span of about 15 minutes, the pain turned from some dull rumblings to sharp pains. Sharp enough that it was hard to stand up. My arms started to feel heavy. For the first time, I wondered if my dollar-a-day-diet was simply going to give out on me.

In the comments section, people became alarmed at the sheer amount of carbs in Evan’s diet and began to offer plenty of unsolicited advice.

In the end, Evan lost 18 pounds, but gained insights on everything from the nature of comfort food to the hair-raising ease of slipping into anorexia. And what did he do with all the extra dollars he hadn’t spent at Taco Bell? At the end of the month he sent a check for more than $200 to the local food bank.

What’s your food budget? What would you cook if you had only $30 to spend for a month?

Restaurant Tragedy Hits Home

The San Francisco food blogger community has been shaken by news of the hit and run accident that left one restaurant worker dead and two injured during a late-night cab ride home.

Food bloggers Sam of Becks & Posh and Catherine of Food Musings have both written about the accident earlier this month that killed one waitress and left a sous chef and the head chef/co-owner of San Francisco’s Bar Crudo severely injured. The restaurant closed for a week to deal with the devastating losses but has since reopened, hosting a benefit mid-month to raise funds for the medical bills and expenses from the crash.

As Catherine writes:

I want to make a plea to those of you who live in the Bay Area. These guys don’t have any health insurance. The employees who didn’t work during Bar Crudo’s closure did so without pay. This is a small, family-owned business and a week without customers has a huge impact on their ability to pay their bills and keep their staff…. They could all really use our support in the form of our business. In exchange, you will get to eat some of the sweetest lobster in the country and expertly prepared crudo that will tickle your tastebuds.

Shuna, pastry chef and blogger at Eggbeater, is asking some hard questions in her post Is the Public Ready for a Transparent Restaurant Industry? “When I heard about the horrible accident involving 3 of Bar Crudo’s staff and a taxi driver, I was deeply saddened,” Shuna writes. “But I cannot say that my sadness is not also mixed with anger.”

Shuna’s anger has to do with an industry where more concern is put into ingredients than into caring for the people who do the hard work of preparing them for the table.

Do you ask the waiter if the chicken is free-range if you don’t care whether he/she’s making a living wage? Can you say you believe in immigrant’s rights if you eat in a restaurant that hires undocumented workers because they’re cheaper and won’t complain…. How transparent do you want the place you go for a nice warm meal to be?

Another blogger who’s been moved by this tragedy is Joy, at Confessions of a Restaurant Whore. Proving that she is a whore with a heart of gold, Joy and her husband have decided to donate half of his holiday bonus to help defray the expenses associated with this accident. Joy explains the decision on her site:

I am a restaurant whore not only because I love dining at restaurants, but also because I love the people who work in them … I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend that money…. Even if you can’t afford to donate, just go and have a meal there. Show your support in any way you can.

A commenter on Joy’s site reports on the Bar Crudo benefit. “A huge crowd had spilled out onto the sidewalk, and even the bar next door was part of the scene and filled with fund-raising-guests…. As one blogger in the crowd put it, ‘this turnout is so heart-warming. It really says a lot about our foodie community pulling together.’”

Joy seems to speak for many when she writes, “Bar Crudo, we are here for you.”