The CHOW Blog rss

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

Hot Tips on Tri-Tip

The top two tri-tip sandwiches in SoCal are, according to RSMBob: Buckboard BBQ, whose owner is something of a tri-tip evangelist, and Santa Maria gets an honorable mention.

Most days, the wood-fired grill is smoking away in front of Green Acres Market, where they make a mean tri-tip sandwich on garlic bread, says davinagr. Salads are outstanding, too–try the garlic and cheese pasta salad.

Most hounds are clued in to the great tri-tip grilled up at certain Hows Markets, usually on a rotating basis. As of this summer, though, the weekly barbecue is a feature every weekend at all locations, according to the web site.

Boneyard Bistro serves a delicious, and enormous, tri-tip sandwich, says Boy Lorin– good-quality meat, good-quality bread. It’s $14.

We’re not sure about the other Phillips locations, but the manager of #2, a member of the Phillips family (that’s BBQ royalty), says his sliced beef is tri-tip. Of course, you can get it in a sandwich.

And Wood Ranch, at the Grove, gets knocked regularly as a chain, but they do what they do very well, says RSMBob–including a somewhat nontraditional, but very tasty, tri-tip. Available as a sandwich or as a combo entree item.

Buckboard Catering Co [Inland of LA]
1386 E. Foothill Blvd. # M, Upland
909-608-7393
Locater

Santa Maria Barbecue Co [Culver City-ish]
9739 Culver Blvd., at Duquesne, Culver City
310-842-8169
Locater

Lou’s Red Oak BBQ [OC Beaches]
20501 Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach
714-965-5200
Map

Lou’s Red Oak BBQ [South Bay]
4218 Woodruff Avenue, Lakewood
562-627-5687
Locater

Green Acres Farm Market & Catering [West San Fernando Valley]
2918 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
818-340-1844
Locater

Hows Market [Pasadena-ish]
3035 Huntington Dr., Pasadena
626-535-9091
Locater

Hows Market [South Bay]
4848 W. 190th St., Torrance
310-793-9114
Locater

Hows Market [West San Fernando Valley]
11900 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills
818-366-4838
Locater

Hows Market [North Beaches]
30745 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
310-457-0305
Locater

Boneyard Bistro [East San Fernando Valley]
13539 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
818-906-RIBS (7427)
Locater

Phillips Barbecue II [South LA]
1517 Centinela Ave., Inglewood
310-412-7135
Locater

Phillips Barbecue [South LA]
4307 Leimert Blvd. # 3, Los Angeles
323-292-7613
Locater

Phillips Barbeque [Crenshaw]
2619 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles
323-731-4772
Locater

Wood Ranch Bbq & Grill [Fairfax Village]
189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles
323-937-6800
Locater

Board Links
Best Tri Tip Sandwich?

Baking Books to Grow On

Here are some Chowhound-endorsed baking cookbooks that cover the gamut from yeast breads through pastry and cakes that are suitable for hounds just getting in the baking groove. They’ve got clear explanations of technique but are approachable, not intimidating in tone, and have enough recipes to keep you interested once you’ve got the basics down.

Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook is comprehensive, with lots of photos, good explanations of equipment, and recipes from simple to moderately complex, so you’ll be using it long after you’re no longer a beginner. Even chowhounds who say they have no use for Martha highly recommend this one.

Nick Malgieri’s How to Bake is wide ranging and thorough, with an unfussy tone, says Hungry Celeste, and his recipes always work, according to Kelli2006.

The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion has many fans, who say the recipes are fantastic. Velda Mae warns, however, that she’s found some editing errors that can cause confusion.

Baking Illustrated is a compilation of articles and recipes from Cook’s Illustrated, and fans of that magazine’s exhaustive approach to researching the hows and whys of their recipes find it a great primer for learning baking technique as well as a source of good recipes.

Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America “guides you through with a knowledgeable hand,” says NYchowcook.

Fearless Baking, by Eleanor Klivans, doesn’t include yeast breads, but does include sweet and savory pastries and cakes, and gives very clear instructions, building from simpler to more complex techniques.

Board Links
Baking cookbooks

The Slippery Truth About Homemade Mayonnaise

When you make your own mayonnaise, the kind of oil you use makes all the difference in the outcome. It’s important to use a neutral oil; since oil makes up the main body of the mayonnaise, any oil with pronounced flavors can produce a harsh-tasting mayo, or simply overpower it. Preferred oils include grapeseed, safflower, soybean, and canola. Some like to finish with a bit olive oil for its flavor, but Pincho warns that extra-virgin olive oil can turn bitter when subjected to a blade, such as in a blender, so he uses pure olive oil.

Board Links
homemade MAYONAISE–how to make it taste better?

Leaving the Butter Out

It’s perfectly safe to leave salted and unsalted butter out on the counter, if the kitchen is cool. Past 68F, butter will soften, and the texture will suffer.

Adds Robert Lauriston, “Spoilage shouldn’t be an issue if you eat it regularly and leave only a quarter pound at a time at room temperature.”

Allstonian uses a Butter Bell in warmish weather to keep the butter fresh longer. The container keeps the butter over a well of cold water, which keeps the butter cool but still spreadable.

See a selction of these butter keepers at Amazon.

Board Links
salted butter better to leave out

Fantastic Smoked Turkey by Mail

Greenberg’s, in Tyler, Texas, has been in the business of selling smoked turkeys for 65 years. Their turkeys arrive ready to eat; you can reheat, or just slice ‘em and eat ‘em. Fleur describes the meat as fresh, moist, and succulent, and excellent either as a main course or for sandwiches. Leftovers can be frozen.

They get really busy during the upcoming holiday season, so order soon to get the size you want. A turkey from Greenberg’s would make a very special present.

Board Links
GREENBERG’S SMOKED TURKEY: The absolute best?

Experiments in Eating

The New York Times features a fascinating profile of Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, whose work suggests that environmental cues play a big role in how much we eat.

Wansink’s work (the subject of his new book Mindless Eating) suggests that certain cues, such as the size of the container in which food is served or the way it is packaged, can play a critical role in shaping eating habits and affecting weight gain.

Among his many intriguing experiments, which include testing how much soup people will eat out of “bottomless” soup bowls and seeing whether schoolchildren can be duped into eating peas (when they’re called “power peas”), is this one involving movie popcorn:

An appalling example of our mindless approach to eating involved an experiment with tubs of five-day-old popcorn. Moviegoers in a Chicago suburb were given free stale popcorn, some in medium-size buckets, some in large buckets. What was left in the buckets was weighed at the end of the movie. The people with larger buckets ate 53 percent more than people with smaller buckets. And people didn’t eat the popcorn because they liked it, he said. They were driven by hidden persuaders: the distraction of the movie, the sound of other people eating popcorn and the Pavlovian popcorn trigger that is activated when we step into a movie theater.

Finally, an explanation for why I found myself nearly cracking my teeth on unpopped kernels while watching The Illusionist last week: blame it on Jessica Biel. Damn distraction.

Pepper Is the New Salt

Pepper Is the New Salt

Eight best bets for sneezing and seasoning. READ MORE

Why Does Pepper Make You Sneeze?

Why Does Pepper Make You Sneeze?

It irritates the mucous membranes. READ MORE

Beyond Pablum

The San Jose Mercury News (registration required) devotes this week’s food section to the increasingly gourmet world of baby food. Light years away from your average jar of Gerber, these new brands of grub for little chubs use organic produce and mild herbs to make baby food that parents hope will influence their infants toward an intense appreciation of farmer’s markets and away from a life of Kraft mac and cheese.

‘You shape your preferences based on what you’re exposed to,’ said Dr. Elizabeth Shepard, a pediatrician and nutrition specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. ‘Sensory preferences basically start at birth. Everything, every flavor, a child is exposed to puts some kind of impression into their brain.’

Some of these new foods come flash-frozen for brighter colors and fresher flavors; others are delivered to you. Both options are two to three times as expensive as national brands.

Are they worth it? If you love upscale packaged food (and the popularity of stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods points to the fact that many of us do), you’ll want to share your passion with Junior. Or you can go the do-it-yourself route. The Mercury has some tips (registration required) on that, too.

The Llong Goodbye

The October Saveur contains a compelling short essay titled “Truculent but Tender.” It’s about eating a llama.

The premise is simple. Once upon a time, there was a one-year-old llama owned by the mother of one of the writer’s friends. Although he was fuzzy and cute like other llamas, he was also no doubt a total bastard who regularly tipped 8 percent and never refilled the Brita pitcher. The owner therefore took him behind the barn … and made him into delicious llama steaks, llama-stuffed cabbage, and llama lomo saltado! Everybody’s a winner–except, of course, the llama.

At the end of the piece, writer Paul Adams finds himself newly “attuned to the unsuspected culinary potential of novel animals.” This begs the question: What’s next for Adams? Gibbons? Elephants? Seeing-eye dogs?

Stay tuned for a future spine-tingling edition of Saveur wherein Adams’s “friend’s mother” takes care of a handyman and sends Adams back to Brooklyn with a Samsonite wheelie full of man meat.