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

Gilt-Free Cooking

Gilt-Free Cooking

CHOW interviews bad-boy chef Paul Liebrandt, recently let go from NYC's Gilt restaurant, now striking out on his own. READ MORE

Fried Chicken, Frozen Custard, and Barbecue

Eastern-ish North Carolina

As discussed in the podcast I recorded en route (MP3 file), I had lunch at the Farmer’s Market Restaurant (Raleigh Farmer’s Market, 1240 Farmer’s Market Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina; 919-833-7973), a very well-known spot that had piqued my interest since I read about it in the book Southern Belly. I’ll let the photos do the talking:

The South is a place where a grown-up can order chocolate milk without compunction.

Experience the thrill of arriving dishes via PlateCam (be sure you’re seated; the profusion of amazing-looking dishes could make strong men dizzy!): Movie file

Main conclusion … MAN that fried chicken’s great. I don’t need to describe it to you because it tastes exactly like it looks (click the photos for the full-sized food-porn view).

The Raleigh Farmer’s Market itself is very laid-back, and quality is high.

Cornhounds vie for position to spy the best ears.

The ice cream tastes as simple, homespun, and irresistible as the sign.

Could you imagine a more transportive array? I hope Atkinson’s stays in business another 250 years.

Blenheim, a super-potent ginger ale.

The cute blonde woman who sat next to me at the counter of the Farmer’s Market Restaurant urged me to try Goodberry’s Frozen Custard (1146 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, North Carolina; 919-467-2386). I checked it out, and it was honest-to-goodness real frozen custard, not just glorified soft-serve. Wow!

Experience the extruding suspense of CustardCam: Movie file

Hear the exultant slurping in Podcast 2: MP3 file

The great New Jersey frozen custard mentioned in the podcast is at CustardThing (100 North Washington Avenue, Bergenfield, New Jersey; 201-439-1818).

Wilber’s (4172 U.S. 70, East Goldsboro, North Carolina; 919-778-5218) makes great barbecue. It has vastly more depth of flavor and complexity than what I’d previously derided as “sloppy Joe” barbecue, in which the pork is mushy and one-dimensional. The meat seems hand-sliced but isn’t quite the textural marvel of Allen & Son’s. It’s also not as moist as Allen & Son’s —though it’s by no means dry. Saucing is very light.

BBQ chicken is moist and richly flavorful but tastes of no smoke at all. The rich yellow sauce is redolent of chicken fat and manages to taste sharp without any chili pepper.

Nice surprise —the cherry pie was made with sour cherries. Unfortunately, they microwaved it. Why does everyone down here nuke pie? And, for that matter, does anyone in the South still make real mashed potatoes?

Moktoberfest!

Moktoberfest!

CHOW throws our version of Oktoberfest: Moktoberfest! All the great beers, but better food. READ MORE

Garbage Disposal Claims Pristine Image Sullied by Bloody Scene

Sort of sounds like a headline from The Onion, doesn’t it? But it’s not a joke. Emerson, the maker of the In-Sink-Erator garbage disposal, is trying to block NBC from re-airing a certain bloodtastic scene in the premiere episode of their most awesome new show, Heroes.

Heroes deals with everyday individuals who are coming to realize that they actually aren’t everyday individuals. They are superheroes endowed with such gifts as flight, split personalities (I know, it doesn’t sound like a super power, but it totally is), painting future apocalyptic events, and tissue regeneration. In the first episode, one of the characters tries repeatedly to hurt herself, only to find that she heals faster than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sticking her hand down a running disposal and watching her hand repair itself is one of those events.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The filing comes complete with color printouts that show a re-creation of a woman putting her hand in the disposal and pulling it out mangled and bloody. The suit says the scene suggests that the Emerson In-Sink-Erator ‘will cause debilitating and severe injuries, including the loss of fingers, in the event consumers were to accidentally insert their hand into one.’

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it true that a garbage disposal will in fact “cause debilitating and severe injuries” if you had the occasion to stick your hand down one? However, a spokesman for Emerson says that “it’s a trademark thing” and added that “the issue is not the damage that a disposal might do.” So, I guess they’re basically more annoyed that they didn’t get money for the product placement than anything else.

Food Magazines: Out with the Old?

Over at Chowhound a lively discussion is simmering over the possibility that Food & Wine and Gourmet may no longer be the alpha and omega of food magazines.

The central charge: Both publications have forgone their original focus on edibles and potables, and become over-commercialized vehicles dedicated to the lifestyle excesses of loathesome celubutards.

Oakjoan’s original post also makes a telling point about the tried, true, and ever-so-frequent “kitchen makeover” feature:

They’re all the same—hugely expensive giant kitchens with professional ranges and walk-in fridges (kidding) and slate floors and granite counters, and blah blah blah. There’s no imagination in any of them … never a feature showing somebody’s regular kitchen make-over or examples of folks with tiny kitchens and how they’ve made them work.


The venom flows with particular pungency when the old-school (1950s and ‘60s-era) Gourmet is used as a point of comparison by eimac:

I especially loved the essays—memoirs of food writers from all over the world. M.F.K. Fisher, one of the great American essayists, was a regular contributor. The covers were amazing and the food pictures were works of art. What do I get now? Hack travel writers who only want to impress you with esoteric dishes, artsy food shots which do little to tempt you to cook and recipes that include too much time and too many “look at me” ingredients.


Scrapironchef makes what might be the best one-line comment of the whole thread:

The ability to go online and get recipes makes these mags less and less useful.


Zing!

Viva Sous-Vide!

Viva Sous-Vide!

The controversial French practice of cooking vacuum-sealed food at low temperatures yields stellar results. READ MORE

Apple Fritters with Cointreau Chestnut Milkshake

Bistro 1689 is a nice, French-Californian place that serves things like yummy lamb chops and roast duck breast with roasted figs and spinach, says susancinsf. Entrees are in the $20 range. But the stand-out dish is one of the desserts–perfectly fried, hot fritters that taste deeply of apple, served with a “milkshake” in a bowl for dipping. It’s crunchy, sweet, creamy, and delicious. The restaurant is easy to get into, empty and quiet on a weekday, and just the apple fritters make it worth a visit.

Bistro 1689 [Noe Valley]
1689 Church St., San Francisco
415-550-8298
Locater

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Bistro 1689 Report

In Park Slope, a Chicken Shwarma Sandwich Deconstructed

Miriam, the self-styled “modern Israeli” place in Park Slope, does something different with chicken shwarma. Grilled chicken strips are arrayed over a toasted pita and served with sauteed spinach, tahini, and amba (Iraqi mango chutney). “Quite an inventive way to serve a dish that’s become a standard at hole-in-the-wall places all over,” observes funkymonkey. “It’s definitely a knife-and-fork deal–you can’t pick it up and eat it–and it has a little bit of spice. It’s far better than the sum of its parts.”

Miriam [Park Slope]
79 5th Ave., at Prospect Pl., Brooklyn
718-622-2250
Locater

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Any recent experiences at Miriam (Park Slope)?

Si-gol-jip Korean B. B. Q. Restaurant

Si-gol-jip is an unassuming, no-name place with a stellar kitchen, says Melanie Wong. Porthos agrees: the food is excellent, the best on El Camino. Stand outside and give it a sniff–the aromas are very inviting, always a good sign. Gool Jun (oyster with fried green onion in batter) is $12.95, and you get about a dozen small, very fresh oysters dipped in green onion-egg batter and fried until just barely done, still creamy and soft in the middle with a sweet and mild flavor. They’re terrific with a splash of the garlicky vinegar dipping sauce. It’s a large portion of high-quality oysters for the price.

Nine panchan are served with dinner, along with a light vegetable broth with cubes of tender daikon and firm tofu. Braised mixed vegetables steeped in a briny, spicy marinade are especially interesting. The spicy heat cuts like a laser across the palate and persists for a long time. The seaweed panchan is also great–the shreds of fresh, almost crunchy kelp and leeks are served barely warm and lightly seasoned so their natural flavor blossoms.

Kal bi naeng myun (Korean barbecued short ribs with chilled buckwheat noodles) comes with a large portion of well-marbled, tender-chewy, deeply beefy short ribs. The marinade is a bit sweet, but the quality of the beef is excellent. Keok yum so bok kum (black goat and vegetables in hot sauce) features boneless braised goat meat in a delicious sauce, served with curlicued pieces of jelly-soft rind. An appetizer and two massive dishes run $57, but it’s way too much food for two–there was “nearly a quart of the goat leftover to take home,” says Melanie Wong.

Si-gol-jip Korean B. B. Q. Restaurant [Santa Clara County]
2358 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
408-244-8531
Map

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Si-gol-jip (Korean BBQ Restaurant) in Santa Clara

Katsu-Hama Revisited: The Art of Fried Pork Cutlets

Katsu-Hama is serious about its katsu. The only restaurant in town to specialize in Japanese-style fried pork cutlets, they offer only a short menu dominated by katsu. They tout their high-quality meat, organic eggs, carefully selected frying oils, even breadcrumbs made from fresh house-baked bread. “The result was indeed a cut above any other katsu I’ve had in New York,” says Peter Cherches, who describes a delicious pork cutlet lunch ($10 with rice, pickles, shredded cabbage with sprightly carrot-sesame dressing, and a daily-changing miso soup).

For neophytes, Peter describes the katsu ritual: you are brought a bowl of toasted sesame seeds and a pestle. Grind the seeds and add tonkatsu sauce (made daily from onion, tomato, apples, and spices) to taste. Dip the pork into the sauce, and enjoy.

Also on the menu: katsudon (katsu over rice), katsu with curry sauce, tori kara nanban (fried chicken with soy vinaigrette), and kushi-age (fried skewers) of shrimp, smelt, tuna, Berkshire pork, scallop, salmon, chicken, shiitake, and more.

Not everyone is won over. “There is way better katsu out there. Just not in New York, I guess,” shrugs Peter Cuce.

Katsu-Hama [Rockefeller Center]
11 E. 47th St., between 5th and Madison Aves., Manhattan
212-758-5909
Locater

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Katsu-Hama