The CHOW Blog rss

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

Fork on the Left, Knife on the Floor

Fork on the Left, Knife on the Floor

Designers reinvent the table setting. READ MORE

I’ll Have What He’s Having

Blogger and mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a man on a mission. His goal: to help spread the news of Repeal Day, the only holiday devoted solely and entirely to drinking.

Celebrated on December 5, Repeal Day marks the anniversary of the day the 18th Amendment (that would be Prohibition to you and me) was repealed, thereby allowing all God-fearing Americans of a certain age to drink legally again.

Morgenthaler points out that, although there may be other holidays that incorporate alcohol, all are sullied by the distracting influence of competing aspects to the day (St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc.). Repeal Day can focus exclusively on the booze. Morgenthaler has a list of compelling reasons why the day should be celebrated far and wide. Among others:

We have the Constitutional right to do so. How many forms of pleasure are guaranteed by the Constitution? None, unless you’re one of those who get an inflated sense of ego from holding a firearm or speaking in public. Me, I’m going to stick with alcohol.

It’s easy! There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green. Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink. Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work. Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can.

Morgenthaler’s campaign is gaining momentum, with a number of drink-oriented blogs rallying to the cause. Drink This Blog, The Art of Drink, and Days That End in Y are all on board with Repeal Day, as is The Museum of the American Cocktail. While Modern Drunkard Magazine is promising an article on the holiday, and DC Drinks is planning a Repeal Day celebration at Billy Martin’s Tavern in Washington, DC, a drinking establishment that opened for business on the first Repeal Day, December 5, 1933. There is even some classic newsreel footage announcing the repeal of Prohibition that can be viewed on Morgenthaler’s site.

Time to get your drinking plans in place—Repeal Day is coming. And if you need any further convincing, consider the words of a commenter on Morgenthaler’s blog: “This is so f*ing brilliant. Plus, Canadians would be sooooo jealous.”

Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that Canada wasn’t dumb enough to ban drinking for 13 long years, but whatever. It’s almost Repeal Day—cheers!

How do you plan to celebrate Repeal Day?

10 Holiday Confections

10 Holiday Confections

Cookies, candies, and cakey things to give or be given. READ MORE

Looks Count

Looks Count

CHOW's dos and don'ts of plating. READ MORE

Stack Your Salad (And Other Plating Tips)

Stack Your Salad (And Other Plating Tips)

An interview with chef Christopher Styler, author of "Working the Plate." READ MORE

The Pizza L.A. Has Been Waiting For

Raves have been pouring in for Mozza, Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s new pizzeria. This, it seems, is the pizza Los Angeles has been waiting for, with thin, crisp crust that’s char-blistered almost to a fault (they clip off the excess blistering) and toppings like oregano salami; mushroom, fontina, taleggio and thyme; and salami piccante, mozzarella and hot chilies.

Says Foodie McFood of the fennel sausage pie: “I won’t go into too much detail as to raise your expectations any higher, but I will say that my friends and I were splitting tiny pieces of sausage just to make sure we could all have a last bite.” For hrhboo, the lardo pizza was the winner. (Hint for dealing with those friends who might get squeamish about “cured pork fat”: Call it “white prosciutto.”) “The crust was liberally brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary, then baked. Once out of the oven it was topped with cold lardo, which soon began to melt into the hot crust. Absolutely divine.”

The only quibble that comes up is the topping-to-crust ratio–as Ciao Bob says, “With each slice you get one bite of topping WITH crust followed by three to four bites of lonely crust WITHOUT topping/sauce. It is just too bready, IMHO: kind of like basketball arena seating (puny floor with deep swath of surrounding seats) and I want a baseball park (similar seating but larger playing field).”

Pizzas are personal size, so there’s room for other stuff. The cured meats are excellent and the Tuesday special, crisp duck legs with lentils and saba, has been officially designated awesome. Ricotta-stuffed fried squash blossoms and arancini (fried risotto balls filled with meat and cheese in a bright tasting bolognese sauce) are both perfectly fried and tasty.

The caponata, says Fidelixi, “was utterly amazing to this eggplant afficianado and lover. Tender, not too oily or salty, balanced with acid and currants and pine nuts. Great. I want a bowl right now. I want a bowl every day.”

Desserts are mostly simple, espresso-and-cookie based things (although they’ll be phased out later in favor of an all-gelato menu), but the butterscotch pudding is divine, ending with the taste of burnt sugar on the top layer.

Wines are priced $25-50 a bottle–Adsvino recommends the rosato from co-owner Joe Bastianich, the Ceresuolo, the Alianico, and the sparkling Cortese. You can get a quartino, a carafe that serves one.

Oh, and although the restaurant was booked solid for dinner its first week and a crowd was waiting outside for it to open for lunch (hours are noon to midnight), hounds noted a lull between about 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Pizzeria Mozza [Hollywood]
641 North Highland Ave., Los Angeles
323-297-0101
Locater

Board Links
just ate at mozza
Yet another Mozza review…
mozza: the wednesday edition
Shirking responsibilities for Mozza
Mozza again
Mozza’s
So, who couldn’t wait and went to Pizzeria Mozza for lunch today?

How Ya Doin’, Pumpkin?

“The pumpkin pie at Urth Caffe makes me weak in the knees,” says amandine. “Consistency–perfect. Creamy, lump free, not too heavy. Holds up to a fork but isn’t jello-hard. Flavor–great balance between pumpkin and spice. Not too subtle, not overwhelming. Crust–heavenly. Thick, crumbly crumb crust with a nice rich molasses-y flavor.” It’s served by the slice with fresh whipped cream, and they’re taking orders for whole pies.

The Filling Station is a longtime hound favorite for pumpkin pies, and you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll get a slice–they’re huge. Drawback: Orange is way out of the way for metro Los Angeles dwellers.

Josie restaurant has excellent pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake, says David Kahn. The pie isn’t as large as the Filling Station’s (few are), and it’s more expensive (being from Josie).

Union Bakery has a great pumpkin pie, says Maria C.

L’Artiste Patisserie makes pumpkin pie and a chocolate pumpkin tart that’s quite tasty, says chocolatelover. They’re also got eggnog cake with cream cheese frosting for the holidays.

For something a bit more upscale than the average pumpkin pie, try Susina’s pumpkin mousse tart, says Food Good.

Europane has pumpkin squares that are incredibly light, custardy, and delicious. They are taking orders for holiday pies.

Put On Your Crabby Pants

It’s local crab season, and Woodhouse Fish Company serves feisty, incredibly fresh dungeness crab, says SteveG. And check out the amazing fries. They change their frying oil so often that all their fried stuff always tastes super fresh.

Duarte’s Tavern is another great choice for crab, in the form of the succulent crab melt. “It is a thing of beauty,” says Melanie Wong. And after, try their ollalieberry pie, recommends Cynsa.

Ferry Plaza Seafood in the Ferry Building is serving a half crab in the shell for $15, and it rocks, says sgwood415. The sweet, juicy meat renders the butter and cocktail sauce totally superfluous.

Woodhouse Fish Company [Castro]
2073 Market St., San Francisco
415-437-2722
Locater

Duarte’s Tavern [Peninsula]
202 Stage Rd., Pescadero
650-879-0464
Locater

Ferry Plaza Seafood [Embarcadero]
One Ferry Building, #18, San Francisco
415-274-2561
Locater

Board Links
An ideal crabby lunch-Woodhouse
Crabs Half Moon Bay
Crab at the Ferry Building

Baked BBQ Pork Buns

Excellent pork buns of the baked variety are to be had at Golden Gate Bakery. They’re rworange’s favorite, with the perfect ratio of pork to bun. The bun has a touch of sweetness, and the saucy pork filling has a bit of an edge, as if there were a touch of alcohol in the sauce.

You’s is favored by CYL and roster. Yimster likes Red House Bakery for its generously filled buns–however, other hounds are concerned that the filling level is inconsistent. However, definitely check out their “old wife cake,” says Melanie Wong, with flaky pastry that tastes of lard and a tasty, complex filling of nuts and coconut.

Cafe Bakery makes a great baked barbecue pork bun, favored by many hounds. But go early–they’re usually sold out by early afternoon.

Golden Gate Bakery [Chinatown]
1029 Grant Ave., San Francisco
415-781-2627
Locater

You’s Dim Sum [Chinatown]
675 Broadway, San Francisco
415-788-7028
Locater

Red House Bakery [Bay Shore]
2818 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco, CA
415-656-0128
Locater

Cafe Bakery & Restaurant [Sunset]
1365 Noriega St., San Francisco
415-661-6116
Locater

Board Links
Baked BBQ Pork Buns in SF Chinatown?
Red House Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco for Baked BBQ Pork Buns

The Smoke Joint: Promising Barbecue in Brooklyn

The Smoke Joint is passing the taste test–and the smell test–among New York’s notoriously picky barbecue hounds. Fort Greene’s new ‘cue house has a smoker built in the South and is turning out worthy brisket, baby back ribs, and hacked chicken and pork. The owners–who have cooked at such higher-end places as Picholine, La Grenouille, and City Hall–bill their food as “real New York barbecue”–meaning they’re not going for a single regional style but instead draw on various traditions, like Texas for the brisket and Memphis for the baby backs.

“It’s damn good barbecue,” says Happygirl, “and the prices are sweeeeet!”–$7 for sandwiches or a half chicken, $9 or $10 for a half rack of ribs, $10 to $12 for brisket, hot links, or hacked beef or pork. “Smokin’ success!” declares Mike R., who endorses the brisket tips and baked beans. Among the sides, greens, macaroni and cheese, and fries (spiked with the spice mix used on some of the meats) win praise. The beer selection is small, well priced, and intriguing, including Dale’s Pale Ale from Colorado and Porkslap Farmhouse Ale from Butternuts brewery near Cooperstown (“How could you not order this at a BBQ place?” wonders gingercakes).

Some missteps: gamy spare ribs, a few dried-out meat plates, and overdressed salads. “We were less impressed,” says bobjbkln. “I don’t think R.U.B. or Dinosaur need to worry–at least not yet!”

The Smoke Joint [Fort Greene]
formerly Cambodian Cuisine
87 S. Elliott Pl., near Fulton St., Brooklyn
718-797-1011
Locater

Board Links
Opening Night at the Smoke Joint
Smoke Joint—Ofiicially Open Yet?
Fort Greene grub