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

Enrico’s and Conti’s: Old-School Italian Sweets in the Bronx

Enrico’s is the go-to spot in Morris Park for Italian pastries. Best sfogliatelle in the area and nice Italian ices, reports gardener. To kenito799, it’s the equal of Veniero’s, the popular East Village bakery, at a fraction of the price.

Conti’s, a few blocks west in the Van Nest neighborhood, is a local favorite for cannoli, pignoli cookies, Boston cream pie, and other sweets.

Enrico’s Pastry Shop [Bronx]
1057 Morris Park Ave., between Hone and Lurting Aves., Bronx

Veniero’s Pastry Shop [East Village]
342 E. 11th St., near 1st Ave., Manhattan

Conti’s Pastry Shoppe [Bronx]
786 Morris Park Ave., between Barnes and Wallace Aves., Bronx

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10462 Bronx sugestions

Top Dog Toppings

Is your favorite hot dog topping no longer cutting the mustard? We have searched the world for new zesty and exciting hot dog topping concepts.

In Sweden, crispy fried onions with an optional shrimp salad sauce is the topping of choice. In France, fries aren’t just a side order–they’re a topping too.

Sonoran hotdogs are decadently wrapped in bacon before grilling. Once the dog done, it’s topped with pinto beans, onions (both grilled and raw), chopped tomatoes, jalapeno sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise, and served in a more substantially-sized roll, JK Grence the Cosmic Jester recalls.

Icelandic dogs are topped with remuladi, a sauce made from mayonnaise, eggs, vinegar, dill pickles, and spices, as well as possibly a hint of curry, says thorhallur.

Brazilian dogs are often topped with fried potato snack sticks.

A late night cart on the lower east side of New York City offers kimchee with little dried fish on its dogs. In L.A., Pink’s serves dogs topped with pastrami. Also in L.A., Oki’s dogs are topped with chili and shredded pork. And what hot dog wouldn’t be made better with a slice of fried bologna on the bun, Hue wonders.

Melted cheese is also great: you might try Gruyere for a French flair, says OCElizabeth.

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Unusual Hot Dog toppings–crispy onions

Trolling for Fish Sauce

There are hordes of fish sauces on Asian on market shelves with poor English labeling. Here’s how to find the best.

Cheaper fish sauces often are laden with sugar or added MSG to compensate for the fact that they’re made from the fifth or sixth pressing of fish, and devoid of natural flavor, warns Das Ubergeek. Look for sauces labeled “first pressing.” Seek out naturally fermented fish sauces. Check the labels for red flags: additives like hydrolyzed wheat protein and fructose, both of which are nasty shortcuts through the fermentation process.

Hounds have been happy with both Golden Boy and Tiparos brands (recommended by many cooking professionals) from Thailand. Squid brand fish sauce is great for enriching pasta, pan gravy, even salad dressings if there’s going to be a sweetener in it, says Das Ubergeek.

To keep the smell of fish sauce from permeating your fridge, use some foil to cap off the top; the plastic tops of fish sauce bottles are often shoddily made and won’t keep the its strong odor contained.

Here is a review of many brands of fish sauce.

This piece helps decode labels of Vietnamese brands of fish sauce, and describes the differences between Vietnamese, Thai, and Phillipine styles.

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Need Recs for Fish Sauce

Smoked Salmon Dip

For smoked salmon dip, Sarah goes the minimilist route: just chopped smoked salmon mixed into a tub of soft or whipped cream cheese, with a dash of lemon juice.

pizzapazza goes a different route, starting with a mix of mayo, yogurt, and sour cream (in any combination you’ve got on hand) and smoked salmon, whizzed together in the food processor with scallions, a dash of mustard, fresh dill, lemon juice, perhaps a dash of Tabasco, and horseradish. The horseradish is the key ingredient for his approach.

Rubee loves this Barefoot Contessa recipe, but cautions that it’s best to salt after assembly; some smoked salmon is so salty that you don’t need to add any more.

farmersdaughter recommends the combo of smoked salmon and salmon roe in this recipe.

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Smoked Salmon Dip Recipe?

Enchiladas: Getting the Tortillas Right

There are a few tricks to making enchiladas with nicely rolled tortillas that neither turn goopy nor crack and fall apart once baked. First, always use corn tortillas, the fresher the better. Flour tortillas become a gluey mess, and taste wrong. To make them easy to roll, the classic tequenique is to lightly fry them in hot oil, then dip in sauce. Fry them until they’re starting to crisp around the edges but are still pliable enough to drape over a fork, says Dommy, then give them a quick dunk in sauce, roll them around your filling, and place in a pan with more sauce and cheese; then heat the pan. As an alternative to frying, farmersdaughter brushes a hot griddle with oil, heats the tortillas on it until they’re warm and soft, dips in sauce, fills, and rolls.

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Enchiladas–does it matter what kind of tortilla you use?

Super Carne Asada, Please

Elsewhere on CHOW, Alan Richman bemoans the fact that short articles that have become the hallmark of current food journalism. But the newish food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle would like to differ. He has turned in a 4,700-word state-of-the-city address on the topic of burritos. Visiting 85 taquerias in 10 weeks is a heroic undertaking in sat. fat intake alone, even if the outcome ends up being a bit on the simplistic side for true burrito scholars. In an area where websites and blogs, not to mention the many discussion boards, solely devoted to burritos and tacos proliferate, there is bound to be some dissent for the new guy’s picks. Is your favorite joint on the list? Let the flame wars begin!

Passing Pecorino but Failing Feta

It’s here at last—a school that any dairy-obsessed geek will be lining up to enroll in. The brand-spanking-new Cheese School of San Francisco is now open and accepting applications for the fall term, says essential Bay Area foodie newsletter Tablehopper.

From the website: “The curriculum is designed to satisfy food lovers of all types, from the merely curious, to the serious cheese enthusiast, to the food service professional. Individuals and groups come to the Cheese School to learn how to select, how to taste, how to serve, how to care for, and how to talk about cheese.”

Are you tempted yet? Dreaming of newly sharpened pencils, fresh notebooks, and a lovely wheel of Brie de Meaux?

Classes begin with the Basic Cheese Primer (first in the Cheese 101 series), an introduction to the fundamentals of cheese making, classifications, and regions. This is followed by Cheese Selection, Service and Storage; and the Art of the Cheese Tray. There are classes that focus on regional cheeses (France and Italy), Holiday Cheeses, Farmstead Cheesemaking, and American Artisan Cheeses. There’s even the Cheese for Kids class, for mini-cheeseheads.

Each class promises samplings of 8–10 cheeses, wine or other drink pairings, and various accompaniments. The Cheese School is an offshoot of the popular Russian Hill shop Cheese Plus, located across the street from the new school. Each class lasts two hours, and most cost $60; a less formal drop-in night is $25.

Don’t bother bringing an apple for the teacher here; a piece of raw-milk Epoisses, however, should get you some extra credit points at least.

Flesh for Fantasy

New York magazine’s lush, gorgeous photo feature “What the Butcher Knows” depicts meatscapes so scenic that they can proudly stand up to National Geographic and say, “Ha! Check me out!”

What the butcher knows, apparently, is how to create visually stunning cuts of meat that dazzle the eyes as much as they (presumably) please the palate. The feature moves from the fine marbling of Wagyu beef to the carnal horror of slaughtered baby lambs, each shot capturing a distinct aspect of red meat. Photographer Hans Gissinger changes up his approach—the lighting, the framing, the depth (or lack) of color—for every shot, which gives the slide show a stirring feeling of forward motion.

Taking vivid photos of food requires a knack for both restraint and luscious indulgence. Gissinger exhibits both, in spades.

Big Bucks, Bad Bucks

It’s been a bad week for Starbucks. The litigious monster of java, which has jumped into lawsuits against everyone from indie coffee roasters to snarky cartoonists in order to protect its market share and its cozy-hip image, is now getting a double shot of its own medicine.

On Friday, Starbucks was hit with a $114 million lawsuit over a free-drink coupon that the company distributed over the Internet and then refused to honor.

Then, the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed what every ‘Bucks fan who can’t button her Seven jeans knows: If it looks like a milkshake and tastes like a milkshake, it IS a milkshake. Quoting from the watchdog group’s latest newsletter, Marion Burros reveals in The New York Times (requires registration) the oh-mi-gawd news that yes, at 650 calories and 25 grams of fat, a 20-ounce Java Chip Frappuccino will chub you up. Those jumbo ventis aren’t much better: The CSPI notes that guzzling a 490-calorie venti mocha is like sipping a Quarter Pounder through a straw.

Of course, drastic numbers make better news. The real culprit, on top of the supersizing, is the chocolatey goodness in both these drinks. A regular coffee Frap, even supersized, has 350 calories and 4.5 grams of fat—not exactly healthy, but not quite a heart attack in a cup, either.

Corn Dogs of the Gods

Chowhounds like hand-dipped corn dogs. Every Chowhound. Even a vegan hound, upon hearing about made-to-order, freshly fried corn dogs, will begin to hope in their inner hearts that tofu pups are available. Uncle Bill’s Gourmet Corn Dogs fries your choice of a Foster Farms chicken frank or a Farmlands hot link, dipped in thick corn batter, until golden brown and crunchy–and they’ll even fry to your specification, light or dark. Melanie Wong likes the Cajun corn dog–a dipped hot link–especially with a little mustard. It’s fantastic how the hot, red grease from the sausage soaks into the corn crust.

The line is long but it’s completely worth it.

Uncle Bill’s sells at the Windsor farmers’ market, Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. and the Sonoma farmers’ market, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. till dusk.

Uncle Bill’s Gourmet Corn Dogs [Sonoma County]
P.O. Box 3, El Verano

Windsor Farmers’ Market [Sonoma County]
Windsor Town Green
Bell Rd. and Old Redwood Hwy., Windsor

Sonoma Farmers’ Market [Sonoma County]
Sonoma Plaza
W.Napa St. and Broadway, Sonoma

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Uncle Bill’s Gourmet Corn Dogs