The CHOW Blog rss

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

CFS Near LAX

A new soul food joint has popped up near LAX. Chicken fried steak lovers, take note: The CFS here is supposed to be delicious, says BobMack, even if you have to take it down the street to the park to eat it. OK, there are a couple of tables, but it’s not really an eat-in kind of joint.

Fried catfish tastes much like it does in Mississippi, and collard greens are solid. Short ribs seem to be popular, because they’re often sold out. Fried chicken looks good, and there’s grilled chicken for the health-conscious. No word on the namesake flamin’ fish and shrimp, though.

Portions are hefty–entrees come with two side dishes. With a drink, at lunch, that’ll run you about $8.

Locke’s Flamin Fish & Shrimp [Beaches]
100 W. Imperial Ave., El Segundo
310-606-9266
Locater

Board Links
Locke’s Flamin Fish & Shrimp- El Segundo

Eye-Popping, Brain-Freezing Ice Creams

You won’t find spicy mango, tamarind, or spicy watermelon popsicles in your average whitebread supermarket ice-cream aisle. But they’re at La Mich, a homey little Mexican ice-cream spot that opened two months ago, made fresh on the premises, says dette. There are also watermelon, strawberry, and mango–so full of fruit chunks, it’s like eating a frozen mango. You can get these babies plain, or dipped in chocolate with other toppings. Try caramel dipped in chocolate–mmmm. Fresh ice cream, too.

La Mich Paleteria [Inland of LA]
1026 Huntington Drive, Duarte
626-359-6333
Map

Board Links
La Mich Mexican Ice Creamery

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque is a sit-down Mexican restaurant offering both taqueria fare and platillos. Their carnitas are glorious, says Alice Patis–little shreds of very juicy meat, a bit of fat, and quite a few dark brown crunchy bits. Order a carnitas burrito and you’ll get a piping hot, steamed tortilla encasing tender whole pinto beans, those beautiful carnitas, and pico de gallo. The ratios of meat and bean are spot-on; it is a perfect burrito.

Carne asada is flame-grilled on the spot. The beef is well flavored, but gristle-free–so it might be dry for some tastes. Mel’s favorite is their chicken tostada. Salsa is great, too–spicy, with a hit of cilantro bouquet. Ask for extra fresh chunky salsa with your chips.

Tlaquepaque #1 is excellent, and always packed. But you can skip the crowds by heading over to the equally excellent Tlaquepaque #3.

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 1 [South Bay]
2222 Lincoln Ave., near Curtner, San Jose
408-978-3665
Locater

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 2 [South Bay]
721 Willow St., San Jose
408-287-9777
Locater

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 3 [South Bay]
699 Curtner Ave., San Jose
408-448-1230
Locater

Board Links
Tlaquepaque packs a mean burrito in Willow Glen (San Jose)

Reaching for a Higher Level of Pork

Pizzaiolo has upped the pork ante. About a month ago, they started buying whole pigs from the Heritage Foundation. Since then, pork has taken over, becoming the highlight of every meal, says Morton the Mousse. For example: a Berkshire pork chop with ratatouille and fried polenta. The pork is perfect–so tender, so juicy, and so gorgeously piggy. Morton’s opinion is seconded by Hungry Hippo, whose braised pork shoulder was, “no hyperbole, the single best pork dish I’ve ever eaten.” Especially good was the tasty fat marbling.

Chef Charlie will use Heritage breeds in all of his pork dishes, which means his meatballs are going to get even better. He’s planning to add lardo and other Italian charcuterie to the menu soon.

The best ham that Morton the Mousse has had in these parts is the house-cured ham at Cafe Rouge. It’s stuffed with garlic and aromatics, and finished on the rotisserie. Cafe Rouge has a variety of house-made deli meats, including corned beef and pastrami. They may be the best option in the area for cold cuts. The catch is: they carry only one meat at a time. Unless they’ve run out, in which case they carry none.

And a bonus ham: Gregoire occasionally offers baked ham and cheese croissants on their lunch menu. It’s just the sort of French comfort food that Gregoire excels at. The croissant is flaky and buttery, the bechamel creamy and satisfying, the ham thinly sliced and lightly salted, and the whole thing comes together perfectly.

Jeff highly, highly recommends pork chops at Bacar–they’re mesquite-grilled smoked kurobuto chops, and smoking gives them a great bacon-like taste.

Pizzaiolo [Temescal]
5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
510-652-4888
Map

Cafe Rouge Meat Market [East Bay]
1782 4th St., at Hearst, Berkeley
510-525-1440
Locater
Amazon Locater

Gregoire [East Bay]
2109 Cedar St., Berkeley
510-883-1893
Locater
Amazon Locater

Bacar Restaurant & Wine Salon [SOMA]
448 Brannan St., San Francisco
415-904-4100
Locater
Amazon Locater

Board Links
Mighty Fine Pork: Pizzaiolo, Fatted Calf, Cafe Rouge, Gregoire

Masters of the Bean

Masters of the Bean

Today’s coffee connoisseurs want to be on a first-name basis with their roaster. They want to know not only which country the beans came from but which region, or even which “estate.” They obsess over freshness and brew time and water temperature. READ MORE

Super-Peanutty Peanut Butter Cookies

These flourless peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, inspired by San Francisco chocolatier Michael Rechiutti, are for real peanut butter lovers, says free sample addict aka Tracy L. They’re dense, not chewy or crisp like traditional peanut butter cookies, and a sprinkle of crunchy fleur de sel on top makes a nice contrast with the sweet chocolate.

8 oz natural unsalted peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
6 oz chocolate chunks
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix peanut butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, and salt thoroughly, then stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for around 12 minutes, until golden and puffy. When they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with a bit of fleur de sel and let them set up for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheets.

Board Links
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Success

Wine Saver; it’s a Gas!

Fortified wines, such as ports and sherries, suffer less after being opened than unfortified wines. They’ll keep a week or so in the fridge, but will slowly lose potency, says carswell.

A gizmo like Private Preserve extends the life of open wines. Each time you open the bottle, just inject it with “gas,” and reclose. It also works, they say, with spirits and even fine oil and vinegar.

Board Links
Storing Sherry

Stovetop Popcorn

It’s pretty easy to make popcorn the old-time way–in a covered pot on the stove. Here’s how: heat oil in your pot over high heat, then add 3 kernels popcorn and cover. When the kernels pop, reduce heat to medium, add popcorn, and cover again, leaving the lid just slightly ajar so steam can vent. Shake the pot until the popping stops. Voila–popcorn!

Many chowhounds eyeball the proportion of oil to corn,

La Cabana Rodriguez: Fried Chicken, Dominican Style, in Flatbush

Among the cheap, satisfying Dominican dishes at La Cabana Rodriguez in Flatbush is expertly fried chicken, says bigmackdaddy. “It’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It has a nice spicy flavor and amazingly enough is not greasy at all.” Great fried pork skin, too.

La Cabana Rodriguez [Flatbush]
1062 Flatbush Ave., between Beverley and Cortelyou Rds., Brooklyn
718-287-0248
Locater

Board Links
Best fried chicken in NYC?

Torres’s Chocolate Factory Retools for Ice Cream

Chocolate maker Jacques Torres has branched out into ice cream. It’s great stuff, says wurstle, who sampled chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two house-baked chocolate chip cookies. The ice cream is light in texture, and the chocolate flavor is reminiscent of Torres’s popular hot chocolate. The cookies are first rate, filled with big chunks, not tiny chips, of Jacques Torres chocolate. “Quite good on a hot day,” concludes wurstle, “all in all miles above a Chipwich.”

The rotating ice cream flavors also include vanilla and hazelnut. It’s available at both Torres stores, in the West Village and DUMBO.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven [West Village]
350 Hudson St., at King, Manhattan
212-414-2462
Locater

Jacques Torres [DUMBO]
66 Water St., near Dock, Brooklyn
718-875-9772
Locater

Board Links
Ice Cream at Jacques Torres & DUMBO as an ice cream destination