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

Soulful Salt Cod at Kurio

When salt cod turns up as a special at Kurio, it’s worth a try. A recent dinner of Portuguese-style bacalhau was superb, reports Dave Feldman: funky, flavorful cod with huge hunks of sweet potato and just enough tomato to cut the sweetness and richness.

For the uninitiated, this low-key neighborhood gem is not a Portuguese restaurant, but serves an eclectic, often-changing menu with flavors from all over the map–the Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America. “Kurio is one of my favorite places to eat or drink on the East Side,” Dave writes, “not the least because of the quiet, relaxed vibe, the interesting folks in the neighborhood, the excellent drinks, and the wonderful family that runs it.”

Kurio [Upper East Side]
338 E. 92nd St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.
Manhattan, NY
212-828-1267
Locater

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Bacalau at Kurio on 92nd St. on Between 1/2nd Ave.

Best Pumpkin Bread

rworange’s favorite pumpkin bread in the area is at Semifreddi’s Bakery, moist with lots of raisins. Bakesale Betty makes a great version, too, without raisins. It’s moist with a nice ginger flavor.

Sophia C. likes the moist, raisinless pumpkin bread at Virginia Bakery.

The versions at Fat Apples and House of Bread are dry and lacking in pumpkin flavor, says rworange, although the white bread is excellent at both establishments.

Semifreddi’s Bakery [East Bay]
372 Colusa Ave., Kensington
510-596-9935
Locater

Bakesale Betty [Temescal]
5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
510-289-550
Locater

Virginia Bakery [East Bay]
1690 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
510-848-6711
Locater

Fatapple’s Restaurant [East Bay]
1346 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley
510-526-2260
Locater

Fatapple’s Restaurant [East Bay]
7525 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito
510-528-3433
Locater

House of Bread [East Bay]
841 San Pablo Avenue, Albany
510-524-5126
Map

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Best pumpkin bread?

Turkey to Go

If you don’t feel like preparing a turkey this year, you can get one from Mollie Stone’s, all prepared and ready to pop in the oven for about an hour before serving. A turkey weighing 12-14 pounds will run you about $50, says OnceUponABite. Sebby likes their prepared turkey–it’s not dry at all. You can also buy stuffing and gravy to go with it.

Or you could go to Chinatown, where the barbecue stands usually roast a couple of turkeys along with all the ducks and chickens. Reserve one ahead of time to be sure they don’t sell out. Melanie Wong has seen them sell quarter and half turkeys, too.

Mollie Stone’s [Areawide]

Chinatown Barbecue Stands [Chinatown]

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Prepared Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Ceviche With a Splash of Lima

Of the Peruvian restaurants around town, Los Balcones del Peru still seems to be the front-runner. Go for anything with seafood, especially the sparkling fresh ceviche (the house blend of calamari–both fried and raw–fish, and shrimp is outstanding). They also do pretty tasty anticuchos (Peruvian kebabs).

Saltados (stir-fries made with French fries) aren’t Balcones’ strong suit, though–you’ll find better stuff at Mario’s or El Rocoto, where modernist loves the seafood rice and other fish dishes. Hounds report mixed experiences, though.

The venerable Don Felix is known among Peruvian expats as the place to go for Peruvian breakfast before church. Warning: it ends early.

Chubbypanda’s default stop for Peruvian eats is Peruvian Kitchen, where they do a fine aguadito de pollo–a long-simmered chicken soup that’s green with parsley.

El Pollo Inka in Lawndale, the superior branch in this local chain, also has delicious aguadita de pollo, says elmomonster.

Los Balcones Del Peru [Hollywood]
formerly Toi on Vine
1360 Vine St., Los Angeles
323-871-9600
Locater

Mario’s Peruvian [Hollywood]
5786 Melrose Ave., Vine, Los Angeles
323-466-4181
Locater

El Rocoto Restaurant [Artesia-ish]
11433 South St., Cerritos
562-924-1919
Locater

El Rocoto [South Bay]
1356 W. Artesia Blvd., Gardena
310-768-8768
Locater

Don Felix Restaurant [East Hollywood]
4435 Fountain Ave., Virgil, Los Angeles
323-669-7575
Locater

Don Felix Restaurant [East Hollywood]
305 N. Virgil Ave., Beverly, Los Angeles
323-663-1088
Locater

Peruvian Kitchen [South OC]
8610 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley
714-847-7555
Locater

El Pollo Inka [South Bay]
15400 Hawthorne Blvd., Lawndale
310-676-6665
Locater

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Los Balcones del Peru–PK’s Review w/pics
Peruvian soup

For the Filipina Soul, it’s Mami

Mami is a fusion dish from a nation that’s full of them. And for a Chinese-Filipino invention, it’s basically chicken noodle soup.

The mami at Asian Noodles meets the Filipina mom test, says pleasurepalate, with flavorful broth perked up by a few scallions, noodles cooked just right and tender meat (you can get chicken and/or pork). It’s pretty mild stuff, but classic comfort food. Note that you can get mami with wontons, too–they’re tasty, but weirdly hard, like compressed Spam.

Siopao (bao, or steamed bun) is mami’s traditional partner–try bola bola siopao, filled with chicken, pork, sausage, and salted egg. The salted egg cuts the sweetness of the other ingredients.

The Glendale location of Asian Noodles is significantly grimier (C rated) and smaller than the downtown location.

Asian Noodles [Chinatown]
643 N. Spring St., Los Angeles
213-617-1083
Locater

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Caramelized Baked Chicken Thighs

Marsha says people fight over the “yummies” created by the caramelizing juices in her simple baked chicken recipe, which become crisp and very dark as the chicken cooks:

Line a sheet pan with foil and spray it with nonstick spray. Place skinless chicken thighs on it, sprinkle lavishly with garlic salt and grind some pepper over them. Flip each piece, and season the other side. Put about 2-3 tsp. brown sugar on each piece, using your fingers to mound it a little so it doesn’t fall off and patting it out to cover the meat. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or more, depending on the size of the thighs.

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chicken thighs–quick recipe?

Who Put Squash in My Oatmeal?

Pei makes a serendipitously delicious marriage of two cool-weather staples; she purees a thick wedge of roasted winter squash and adds it to her pot of oatmeal toward the end of cooking. A sprinkle of cinnamon, and she has a nice, warming breakfast. This stuff doesn’t need any extra sugar–the squash itself sweet enough. debbiel got great results doing the same thing with cornmeal mush. Any kind of winter squash would work here, or even roasted sweet potato. It’s a great way to use up leftovers.

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Kabocha Oatmeal

Eating the Low-Carb Way

A low-carb regimen can get monotonous. Creative hounds have some tips that will make it less boring and more delicious.

Nuts are nutritious and a great snack or topping. Blanched almonds, deep fried, are heavenly, says Candy. Watch them closely, and remove from the oil as soon as they begin to color. Any kind of nut can be blanched and fried or toasted. Toss them with spices or herbs, for a very satisfying treat. And try substituting sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for croutons to give your salad a nice crunch.

Tofu can be used in many preparations, from a main dish stir-fry to slicing firm tofu for little finger sandwiches.

Spaghetti squash, and zucchini sliced into long, thin ribbons both make a nice pasta substitute.Dreamfields makes a low carb pasta (5 grams of carbohydrategrams vs. 35 in regular pasta, says isabellaflynn).

Pureed cauliflower really tastes like mashed potatoes, says Petitpois.

You can indulge yourself with thick Greek full fat yogurt. It has fewer carbs than low fat.

And, try making a few things. Make flourless crepes with egg batter, and use them like wonton wrappers to enclose finely chopped raw or sauteed vegetables. Or, make yourself some parmesan crisps; they’re a delicate cracker-like snack, and very easy to make. Grate some parmesan; grease a cookie sheet, and spread a couple of tablespoons of the cheese into a thin circle for each crisp. Broil until golden and bubbly. Let cool.

Dark chocolate, with a high percentage of cacao, is lower in carbs than regular chocolate. Lindt dark chocolate bars are good ones to check out, and available in many grocery stores.

This recipe for doughnut holes uses Splenda and protein powder. Really good, says Cinnamon:

Here’s a good website, with recipes, an active message board, and lots of related links.

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Eating Low Carb

Liberte Goat Milk Yogurt

Liberte yogurt has a new goat milk yogurt flavor, called Honey. It’s very good, and feels great in your mouth; it does have a slightly goaty aftertaste. Atahualpa mixes it with honey mustard and a little chile, and says it makes a delicious sauce for chicken.

Liberte is a Canadian company, but their products are available in the States. JenBoes found it at Hannaford’s supermarket.

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Goat Yogurt

Loveless Indeed

Florence, Alabama, to Nashville, Tennessee, to Bardstown, Kentucky

This was a big traveling day. In God-knows-where Alabama, I passed and fell in love with this place:

As with most of my trip, I was (obviously) taking a minor road. I discovered to my delight that you can go 60 miles per hour on lots of secondary and even tertiary roads down here. There’s just no reason to take freeways. Well, that’s not true. I walked around Florence for a day and a half before realizing my watch was an hour ahead, because they don’t announce the time zone switch on the smaller roads!

Finally I got on the Natchez Trace Parkway, a hip, lesser known scenic southern highway (compared with the more famous—yet strangely deserted—Blue Ridge Parkway).

The Natchez Trace connects Alabama and Mississippi with Nashville, and the cool thing is that while many highways were built on trails blazed by Native Americans or pioneers, this one was established by migrating animals. Tens of thousands of years ago, it seems, buffalo plied this route. Back then, presumably, the food at Loveless Cafe (8400 Highway 100, Nashville, Tennessee; 615-646-9700) had some life to it.

Not anymore. Positioned at the northern terminus of the parkway, choked with tourists, and metastasized into a spate of grotesque spin-off businesses, the Loveless Cafe is just grinding out plate after spiritually inert plate.

Ought not a dish called “home fry casserole” be innately delicious, simply on principle? Alas, it was just a mute cheesy lump.

The food looked more or less right, but there’s just no “there” there. You can tell that, 17 chefs and 400 corner cuttings ago, this was a worthy joint. But now the only remaining deliciousness is in the simplest of simplicities: The biscuits may not be very good anymore, but dip them in sorghum molasses (which comes with), and possibilities start to arise.

+ + +

At long last, Bardstown: ground zero for the bourbon industry, and site of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. This little-reported event has occupied my imagination for years. My friends and I have fantasized about attending en masse to pay our respect to the friendliest drink ever. Finally, I’ve made it! And my lazy-ass friends couldn’t get it together to join in … except my longtime bourbon-drinking buddy J.B., who’s taking the red-eye tomorrow (you’ll meet him at breakfast).

I got into Bardstown late and rushed to the very first event of the festival: a “balloon glow” at the Bluegrass Motor Speedway. What, you ask, is a balloon glow? Well, you’ve just got to see it to believe it. I can only pray that I’ve done justice to this exciting spectacle in the following video: Movie file