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

You Can Get a Bad Meal in Rome

You Can Get a Bad Meal in Rome

Here's what we're looking for: charm, authenticity, local ingredients, moderate prices. And while most Roman restaurants look perfect from the outside, watch out for these telltale signs. READ MORE

Ribera’s the New Red

Ribera’s the New Red

While Rioja still commands respect among the retired, and Priorat makes wines that only rock stars can afford, Ribera del Duero is fast becoming the new darling of Spain’s red wine world. READ MORE

How to Judge Ice Cream

How to Judge Ice Cream

Jon Snyder, founder of New York's acclaimed Il Laboratorio del Gelato (and creator of the original Ciao Bella gelato), explains how he eats a pint of ice cream. READ MORE

How to Fry Latkes Without Smelling Up the Kitchen

The problem? The smell of frying oil clings to your kitchen the way Grandma clings to her gefilte fish. The solution: Cook your latkes outside on the gas grill. READ MORE

When It Rots, Eat It

Psychiatrist Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille cracks the code of our "reptilian" brain to create products that appeal to various cultures. READ MORE

Wok on the Wild Side

Wok on the Wild Side

What makes food great is the same thing that makes relationships great: heat. Like bonfires, fireworks, and women spraying their hair while smoking, wokkery is a spectator sport. READ MORE

Stop the presses!

As one of America’s leading popular food magazines, Bon Appétit has a responsibility to keep its readers abreast of the latest trends and breakthroughs in cookery. In its Sept. 2006 issue, it seems to do exactly that, clueing its readers in on an exciting new “Vocabulary” item:

Sous-Vide (soo-VEED),” it reads, “Literally ‘under vacuum’ in French, it’s the fancy boil-in-a-bag technique that’s sweeping the nation’s high-end restaurants…”

But “sweeping” is an unusual verb choice for this item. It implies… well, newness, bursting through barriers into a bold new frontier of culinary discovery, etc. etc.

Developed in France in the mid-1970s, sous-vide has been stateside for quite some time. Anyone who has lived and eaten in New York City—or, say, read the New York Times food section—is probably already familiar it, as it touched off a culinary flare-up of super-sized proportions early this year over questions about the practice’s safety.

Bon Appétit’s brief item manages to name-check two fancy restaurants that take advantage of sous-vide cooking, but fails to let its readers know about the technique’s controversial recent history or old-school origins.

And for the sake of reference, they could have at least mentioned Trish Hall’s New York Times piece on the technique, headlined “Pouches Offer Fresher Foods, But F.D.A. Warns of Risk.”

The date on this earlier expose?

March 23, 1988.

Coconut Water a.k.a. Buko Juice

Coconut water (buko juice, in the Philippines) is the liquid inside young coconuts. It’s watery and only subtly coconut flavored–sort of sweet and grassy, notes StriperGuy–and nothing like the sweet, oily water found in mature coconuts.

Young coconut juice can be used as a sport drink or a simple beverage. It’s high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. And you can find it in Asian or Latin markets, in bottles or cans.

You can order a good brand at Amazon.

Board Links: Buko juice

Le Creuset August Sale!

For the month of August, Le Creuset outlet stores are discounting three colors of their cookware, Blue, Soleil Yellow, and Indigo Blue. Six pieces are 25% off, and lids count as one piece! The more pieces you buy, the better the discount, up to 35%. Discounts can be applied to “seconds” too, for even more savings.

Board Links: Le Creuset Sale —Limited Colors, but Very Good Discount

Quick Ways With Sichuan Peppercorns

Here are a few simple, fast dishes making use of the tingly goodness of Sichuan peppercorns.

BJK prepares a salad of stir-fried chicken over spinach with a warm Sichuan peppercorn vinaigrette: Deglaze the pan you used for stir-frying with rice vinegar, soy and hoisin sauces, scallions, ginger, canola oil, and Sichuan peppercorns, and pour pan sauce over the salad.

alyssay shares her Sichuanese roommate’s family recipe for ma po tofu; Pan fry a bit of ground pork with 4-5 Sichuan peppercorns and set aside. Steam or boil soft or medium tofu; cut into cubes. Heat some oil in a pan, add a few Sichuan peppercorns and some chilis (if you like it extra spicy) and a few spoonfuls of Sichuan chili-bean paste (or substitute a combo of Chinese chili paste and miso) and fry for a couple minutes. Add tofu and then meat, mix. Serve topped with crushed Sichuan peppercorns and chopped green onions.

Grind Sichuan peppercorns and combine with salt, sugar, and garlic, then rub on meats for grilling or broiling (Claudette).

Crush Sichuan peppercorns and sprinkle on soups or use in salad dressings to bring an oomph that black pepper doesn’t deliver.

Board Links: Any recommendations for a quick, weeknight use of sichuan peppercorns?