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

Sweet Sashimi

It doesn’t look promising. The place is empty, the selection is limited, and the display cooler is so old that the glass is opaque–but don’t let that scare you off: you can get truly superior fish here. Bleuss mostly sells to restaurants, and selection varies. Stop in early and ask the guy in charge what he just got in. Sashimi-grade fish and organic meat are high quality and cheap, to the tune of $20 for four lobster claws and a pound of sashimi-grade halibut, says evangross. Daniel Duane became believer after being handed an absolutely gorgeous slab of sashimi-grade ahi, cut to order, for $8 a pound. “I’m rooting for this guy,” he says.

Bleuss Meat & Sashimi Market [Mission]
formerly Cicero Meats
235 Cortland Ave., San Francisco
415-647-4471
Locater

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Bleuss Meats update
Bleuss- New Fresh Fish Market in Bernal Heights

Greek Seafood Classics at Bayside’s Pelagos

Pelagos in Bayside shows a deft hand with seafood, which is fresh and simply prepared. “This is a good Greek fish house alternative to Astoria,” says ptkchow, who insists you try whole grilled black sea bass if it’s available; it’s flaky, sweet, and sparely seasoned with olive oil and lemon. Any whole fish is a good bet, but fried appetizers like smelt or light, tender squid are also unusually well made.

Beyond seafood, there’s a short list of meat courses–steak, lamb chops, etc.–and a wonderfully fresh Greek salad (the small one is plenty for two). “The food was amazing, service was warm and friendly,” reports exipny. “Pelagos gave me the feeling of a Greek taverna by the sea. It is a great addition to the Bayside area.”

Pelagos [Bayside]
38-11 Bell Blvd., at 38th Ave., Bayside, Queens
718-717-7202
Map

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Pelagos Seafood in bayside

Florence’s: Flavors of Home, West African Style, in Harlem

Florence’s is a cozy joint that serves spicy, satisfying chow from Ghana and Ivory Coast. An Ivorian braised fish dish, attieke poisson braisse, is a knockout, according to our first report, from Peter Cherches. It’s a whole tilapia topped with onions, tomatoes and peppers, and served with starchy attieke (fermented cassava) and wonderful, incendiary chile sauce.

As with other West African cuisines, expect plenty of soups and stews, and dishes featuring peanut sauces, fermented grains, and fufu (starchy mashes of cassava, plantain, and the like). A thick, long-cooked Ivorian okra stew, gombo, is smoky, slightly spicy, and a tad funky from dried shrimp. Peanut soup with goat can be bland, though the meat is tasty and not at all gamy. Among the appetizers, a Ghanaian street snack called kelewele–cubes of ripe plantain fried with chile, ginger, and other spices–is addictively delicious.

Service is friendly and helpful, and the Ghanaian family that owns the place sets a warm, inviting mood. “It was like being a guest in their home,” Peter marvels. “I want to hang out there again. I want to try everything on the menu. I want to take all my friends.”

Florence’s Restaurant [Harlem]
2099 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between W. 113th and 114th streets), Manhattan
212-531-0387
Map

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Florence’s: Fabulous West African in Harlem

K-Zo Does a Fusion Japanese K-O

Easily confused with the also-new-and-good Sushi, K-Zo actually specializes in, let’s say, sushi japonaise–a kind of Japanese-French fusion. It works, say WBGuy and zivagolee. Small bites are creative, like seared white fish on top of pureed taro, layered with fried gobo; or ankimo mousse on endive leaf; or beet salad with goat cheese. Also impressive: red snapper carpaccio drizzled with yuzu dressing, and grilled sea bass. Sashimi is very, very fresh, although nigiri sushi is good but not mindblowing.

At lunch, it’s possible to do omakase for around $40–ask the chef. Combination lunches are in the $15 range, and small plate appetizers are mostly in the $7-9 range.

D

A Temple of Traditional Sushi

Japanese folks visiting L.A. know to head to Kasen for high-end omakase sushi. It’s very old school–sometimes they try to persuade non-Japanese people to go elsewhere, thinking they want California rolls, teriyaki and the like. Stick with it and profess your love for traditional sushi, and you’ll get excellent, super-fresh sushi; russkar prefers it to Costa Mesa’s well-regarded Shibucho.

Omakase is pricey, but at lunch it’s a reasonable $35-60.

Kasen [South OC]
9039 Garfield Ave., Fountain Valley
714-963-8769
Locater

Sushi Shibucho [South OC]
590 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa
949-642-2677
Locater

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fountain valley sushi hunt question

Italian Tomato Salad

During summer tomato season, simple tomato salads are a staple on the table in many Italian-American homes. They include tomatoes, sliced onions, dried oregano and/or fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and any of the following: green bell pepper, cucumber, sweet or hot banana peppers, red wine vinegar, capers. Be sure to have crusty bread on hand to soak up all the delicious juices!

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Italian tomato salad

“Start with a Pound of Butter”: Real, Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

They just don’t write pound cake recipes like they used to, laments Das Ubergeek. After all, the cake got its name because it took a pound of each ingredient. His recipe stays true to the old ways, and also bakes for two hours! gus tried it out, and says it has a beautiful crust and an incredibly dense and buttery crumb. “It’s a heavy cake, but that didn’t stop anyone from wolfing it down!” he raves.

Real Pound Cake

1 lb. butter, softened
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. eggs (8 large)
1 lb. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the sugar and beat until incorporated.
4. Scrape down the sides again, add the eggs, salt and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; using your mixer’s lowest speed, add the flour a little at a time, and stop as soon as it’s incorporated.
6. Pour into a buttered, floured loaf pan and smooth the top.
7. Bake 2 hours, or until a skewer poked in the center comes out completely dry (the top center will be the last part to bake fully–don’t pull it out early or you’ll have “pudding cake”).
8. Let cool until you can handle the pan, then turn cake out and let cool fully before slicing.

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Uebergeek’s Pound Cake–Thanks!

Squeaky Cheese

Squeaky cheese, a.k.a. cheese curds, are the very fresh curds of cheddar cheese, before they’ve been gathered in a mold and pressed. Squeaky cheese looks sort of like irregular packing peanuts. Fresh ones squeak when you chew them.

They’re used in the popular Quebec dish poutine, which is french fries and cheese curds doused with gravy. Cheese curds are also popular in Wisconsin. You can fry them, like mozarella sticks.

Read about cheese curds.

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Cheese curds?

Stains on Plasticware

Tomato stains on plastic storage containers are really unsightly. To clean the stained ones you have, rworange says that Cascade Plastic Booster can’t be beat; it works every time.

A proactive solution is to buy the new Rubbermaid containers called StainShield. They even resist turmeric stains, says Buckethead. Target sells them.

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How to keep tomato based sauces from staining plastic wear?

Weighty issues

The bloggers at The Food Museum ruffled a few feathers yesterday with a snarky post about obesity rates in the U.S. Citing a new study that shows obesity on the rise in 33 states despite increasing nutrition-education funding, the TFM folks scoff at the idea that government might play a role in preventing the problem. “Frankly, my dears, each and every adult in this country has to wake up and take charge of his/her own health and well-being and that of their kiddies,” they write, after rattling off a litany of ostensibly failsafe weight-loss tips. One commenter lets ‘em have it for painting overweight people as those who “lack will power [SIC], are lazy, immoral, ignorant, inactive and bad parents.”

Only the briefest P.S. at the end of the bloggers’ post concedes that “there is a segment of the U.S. population that is hard-pressed to get access even to a supermarket…for them eating better is exceedingly difficult indeed.” It’s shocking that food-studies people could be so cavalier about the link between income level and food access in this day and age, given the mountains of recent reporting on the issue (never mind that TFM’s stated goals include “[tackling] childhood obesity by giving school children enlightening offbeat experiences that nudge them away from poor food choices and towards healthy eating” and “[delving] deeply into food issues affecting people, places and the planet itself”). What strange folks.

Meanwhile, a study released yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that people routinely underestimate the number of calories in large fast-food meals they’ve just eaten —but are surprisingly accurate in their calorie estimates after polishing off smaller combos. In its discussion of the research, the watchdog Diet Blog suggests that since people of all sizes are so bad at determining how much to eat when faced with a giant pile of food (and since large-scale efforts at teaching proper portion size don’t seem to be working), maybe the restaurants themselves should be responsible for reducing the caloric payloads of their meals.

That’s not a new idea, nor is it super-well-articulated in the DB post, but it’s still satisfying to see the medical evidence stacking up against horribly massive fast-food offerings. In this thread, too, one commenter reacts by busting out the old saw about Personal Responsibility (“If you are fat, you are eating too much! Eat less. What part of that is hard to figure out?”).

Not that personal responsibility is meaningless, but clearly the discourse has to go beyond these angry, simplistic rants. What’s your take on the issue? Found any good discussions in blogland?