The CHOW Blog rss

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

Fight the Powerade

Cheerios in the car seat, GoGurts at recess, SunChips after soccer: Is kiddie life just one long graze-a-thon? Tough-talking thriller writer Harlan Coben rallies the ‘rents from the bully pulpit of the Times’ op-ed page, pledging to fight American Snack Tyranny, surburban-sports division.

Coben points out, rightly, that the little darlings on the soccer team are supposed to be expending energy, not fueling up on “yet another bag of Doritos and a juice box with enough sugar to coat a Honda Odyssey” the minute the running stops. In other words, whatever happened to good old water?

And don’t think you can get away with dumping a platter of “softball-sized cupcakes” off at school when it’s little Tyler or Emma’s birthday, either.

Have you ever seen the leftovers brought into the school’s main office? By two in the afternoon, the place looks like the San Gennaro festival.

The verdict on the Letters page? Unsnackers, unite (requires registration)! After all, it’s never too early for calorie restriction.

100 Pounds of Leftovers

100 Pounds of Leftovers

A meat-and-potatoes guy tries to save money by buying an entire side of beef. READ MORE

Flying Feasts for the Elite

So, if the astronauts get Alain Ducasse and Emeril Lagasse, what do we pathetic earthlings get?

Well, if you’re lucky enough to fly BusinessElite on Delta, you get to sup on meals created by celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. Delta and Bernstein offer such tempting treats as pomegranate-glazed lamb with pilaf, and grilled fish with sweet corn succotash and ancho lime butter.

Delta tells us:

[i]n addition to a refurbished personal dining menu, Delta’s enhanced BusinessElite experience will include: comfortable all-leather sleeper seats with 60” of legroom; a digital, on-demand entertainment system with an extensive movie selection, the ability to build a personal music playlist, a suite of video games, and in-seat laptop power outlets; and a cleaner, brighter cabin.


Don’t mind us plebes back in normal-people class—we’ll just starve in our cramped, boring, and apparently dark and dirty cabins. Or we’ll bring on some food from SkyMeals. This month, Health Magazine announces that you can order meals, such as shrimp and asparagas farfalle fra diavolo, or snacks, like chilled stuffed artichoke with prosciutto, from SkyMeals and have them delivered curbside in an insulated tote.

While the food can run you anywhere from $7.25 for vegetarian sushi to $29.95 for a European Brunch, it certainly seems cheaper than bumping yourself up to business class. However, in order to get these rather pricey meals, you have to be flying out of the L.A. area.

Other carriers are getting in on the “special food for especially rich fliers” plan. Lufthansa will be offering two—smoked marlin with beet gelée and air-dried beef from Leon from Juan Amador, holder of two Michelin stars. Singapore Airlines has snagged the profane Gordon Ramsay, and Air France trumps Lufthansa by offering meals created by Guy Martin, who has three Michelin stars.

I think I’ll just keep brown-bagging it. At least until I win the lottery.

Going Global, Eating Local

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the high jinks going on at the recent Slow Food Terra Madre conference in Turin. OK, maybe the high jinks were few, but there’s no doubt that California’s sustainability stars—like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Berkeley prof Michael Pollan—were hotshots among the Slow Fooders munching lardo and discussing the superiority of prosciutto made from acorn-fed pigs. (And take a look at the CHOW digest, with food editor Aida Mollenkamp reporting from Turin.)

The conference’s own blog, featuring postings in French, Spanish, English, and Italian, offers a small window onto the diversity of cultural traditions and innovations celebrated at the conference, a five-day gathering of over 5,000 farmers, food artisans, chefs, and activists dedicated to sustainable, small-scale agricultural production.

Despite the surrounding Piedmont region’s reputation for culinary excellence (requires registration), though, some Californians were a little surprised at what they couldn’t get for dinner. Chronicle writer Carol Ness quotes Blong Lee, a representative of the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission, on his Central Valley group’s quest for Italian food:

‘We went to a fancy restaurant last night,’ said Lee. ‘We tried to order pizza with pepperoni and they didn’t have it, and lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs, but they didn’t have it. It’s not the type of Italian food we expected.’

If You Can’t Beat Them …

You can’t open the newspaper these days without reading some alarming new tidbit about the wages of fatness or childhood obesity.

Happily, tomorrow is Halloween, and we get to lay all that aside for one night and indulge in a bacchanalia of candy consumption only dreamed about on the other 364 days of the year.

Some people, of course, have a harder time laying aside their concerns about fat, calories, and tooth decay: nutritionists, dentists, spokespersons for nutritionally correct organizations. The L. A. Times has corralled a group of these professional healthy eaters to ask what they plan to pass out to the little witches, ghosts, and goblins who ring their doorbells.

The overwhelming favorite? Candy! Oh yes, they may offer toothbrushes or toys alongside the Snickers, but even the director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public interest is planning to go with the Halloween flow and pass out the sweet stuff. And while my personal hero Marion Nestle isn’t planning on passing out anything (she says no kids come to her Manhattan apartment), she does admit to an occasional candy apple jones:

“Especially ones with the worst red, hard candy on them.”

Items You Will Never Need

Items You Will Never Need

If only there were a battery-powered column reader to do this for you. READ MORE

Crushed Out

Crushed Out

CHOW visits Napa winery Clos Du Val and learns how wine is made. READ MORE

Discoveries in a Chow-Free Zone: Burbank

Das Ubergeek has finally found something worth eating in southeast Burbank–and it’s in a liquor store.

Inside this liquor store is a counter, and behind the counter is a man named Olvis, who’s long worked at Fish King, the excellent fish market in Glendale (where, incidentally, they also make fish and chips).

Six big fingers of cod and a double handful of steak fries come out, all cooked perfectly to order–fish nice and flaky, fries with that crunchy-chewy bite that only steak fries have. It all comes with half a lemon and a tub each of ketchup and tartar sauce.

All this costs $6.99 plus tax; a Diet Coke is $1.50.

Apparently the workers of Burbank are already in on the secret of this place, because even at 2:05 on one afternoon there were 15 people–guys in work boots with paint on their faces, Armenians in velour track suits, and one pale stockbroker type in an expensive suit–getting everything from fish and chips to pastrami sandwiches on rye to oven-roasted turkey on French rolls.

Just down the street is the home of a weirdly good BBQ sandwich, Pecos Bill’s, says ozzygee. Instead of being slathered in BBQ sauce, the meat comes au jus.

Clare K’s favorite place in Burbank is Granville, with lots of good options along the lines of sandwiches (with sweet potato or regular fries or house-made chips) and salad. Roasted turkey sandwich with avocado and caprese sandwich with prosciutto are good stuff, and the fries perfectly crispy. Check out the Uptown mac and cheese, which gets its name from a mix of Petit Basque, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses, grilled asparagus, sweet peas, and grilled chicken.

Willie’s Fish and Chips [East San Fernando Valley]
inside the Alameda Market
321 W. Alameda Ave., at Victory, Burbank
Locater

Pecos Bill’s BarBQ [East San Fernando Valley]
1551 Victory Blvd., Glendale
818-241-2750
Locater

Granville [East San Fernando Valley]
121 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank
818-848-4726
Map

Board Links
Another good lunch at Granville in Burbank
FINALLY, something worth eating in SE Burbank

Pho Hanoi

ahong likes Pho Hanoi for its mild but delicious pho. Their pho is different from most restaurant pho in the area; the flavors of clove and anise are much less intense, and the broth has the rich mildness of boiled bones. The place is little-known outside San Jose Vietnamese circles, but it’s a real find. If you feel you can appreciate gentle pho, give it a try. Pho with rare tripe and meatballs is particularly recommended.

Pho Hanoi [South Bay]
1759 E. Capitol Expy., San Jose
408-239-0888
Map

Board Links
Pho Hanoi, San Jose

Continental Breakfast in Sonoma

For coffee and pastries in Sonoma, check out Artisan Bakers, the most chowish of the Sonoma bakeries, says Sam B. You’ll find real fruit in the Danish, good quality chocolate in the pain au chocolat, and strong, good coffee. The only place in town to order an espresso drink is Barking Dog Coffee–they roast their own, and it’s pretty good.

Across the street is Fiorini, which features some good Italian specialties, like torta di riso and torta della nonna. The regular pastries and the coffee are weak. Homegrown Bagels serves great, totally respectable bagels and coffee flavored with cinnamon, which is kind of a local acquired taste. Basque Boulangerie has the widest selection of lame pastry, featuring canned filling. They also serve miserable coffee.

Artisan Bakers [Sonoma County]
750 W. Napa St., Sonoma
707-939-1765
Locater

Barking Dog Roasters [Sonoma County]
18133 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma
707-939-1905
Locater

Fiorini Cakes & Cookies [Sonoma County]
248 W. Napa St., Sonoma
707-996-6119
Locater

Homegrown Bagels [Sonoma County]
201 W. Napa St., Sonoma
707-996-0166
Locater

Basque Boulangerie Cafe [Sonoma County]
460 1st St., Santa Rosa
707-935-7687
Locater

Board Links