The CHOW Blog rss

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

Shucking Corn

While there’s still good corn to be had this summer, here are some hounds’ methods for getting it shucked cleanly.

JoanN suggests: pull back all the husk and snap off at the base. Rub the ear in a circular motion under cold running water to remove the silk.

SarahEats’s method: after the husk has been removed, use a soft vegetable brush to get rid of the silk.

Candy says: cut the tip of the ear and the bottom off with a sharp knife, before shucking. Remove the husk, and there’ll be very little silk left. A quick brushing will remove the rest.

Lstaff says: rub the cob with a paper towel to remove any leftover silk.

Grilling corn provides its own solution, says CovertOps. Soak the unhusked corn in water. Cook the corn over high heat on a grill. The heat will dry out the silk, which will comes off easily when you peel off the husks.

Board Links
Corn shucking

Bone Marrow Without the Bone

It’s pretty hard to find bone marrow that’s already been removed from the bone, but if you want to poach it, sear it, or use it in a confit, you need to get it on its own.

Luckily, Niman Ranch sells it online. It comes frozen, in 2-lb. bags.

Scroll down to code 95-1 in the Beef Offal section of their product list.

Board Links
Bone Marrow

Atlantic City Means “Coors”

I stayed at an Atlantic City casino, and the experience was pretty repulsive. I’m too traumatized to even rant about it. Just avoid the experience if you can. (One interesting note: I spotted “single-deck blackjack” tables. How on earth do they manage that without being beset by card counters?)

Nice nighttime view from the marina, though:

Aversa’s Italian Bakery (3101 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, New Jersey; 609-264-8880) has real good sticky buns. Thanks to Peter Genovese (of the Newark Star-Ledger) for the tip.

MP3 file Listen to the first podcast.

At Tony’s Baltimore Grill (2800 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, New Jersey; 609-345-5766), the sausage pizza slayed me. Sobs of grateful
appreciation to Peter Genovese for the tip.

I asked the rough-looking, pot-bellied bartender, “Is your sausage pizza as good as I’ve heard?” His reply: “When I took this gig, I weighed 150 pounds!” Another customer piped up and said he’d been coming here for 30 years and it still tastes precisely the same now as it did then. The bartender added, “Yup, that’s because we’re still working off the same hunk of dough …”

The bar has lots of gritty 1950s Atlantic City charm, and the only beer on tap is Coors Light. I was resigned to poor-quality suds but nonetheless asked the bartender what he had in bottles. He told me he had “everything.” I asked if he carried Westmalle Trappist Tripel, and he said, “No, but I do have Hoegaarden.” Touché! He even pronounced it the correct way (“HOO-harten”), which almost nobody this side of Belgium does. This touch (along with the excellent Belgian white beer) was the capper on a lunch of intense, memorable pleasure.

MP3 file Hear podcast 2 (and note that I misspoke: Mack & Manco Pizza is in Ocean City, not Atlantic City).

Then on to Ocean City, New Jersey, a totally pleasant place. It’s as if a genie conjured up the summer of your false nostalgia.

There’s a nice boardwalk, surprisingly well stocked with decent-looking food choices.

Best option on the section of boardwalk I scoped out is Mack & Manco Pizza (758 Boardwalk, Ocean City, New Jersey; 609-399-2783). It’s no artisanal pizza, but the buttery cheese is irresistible, and balances have been beautifully worked out over the decades. Time-machine pizza, indeed.

In the case of Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard (Seventh & Boardwalk, Ocean City, New Jersey; 609-399-6327), the years seem to have brought more corner-cutting than refinement. It’s OK, mindless custard, nothing more. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you …

What makes it weird?

What turns one diner’s stomach may be dinner to another. Chris Cosentino, chef at San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant, food blogger, and enthusiast of all the nasty bits, worries that he might not “have enough offal on the menu.” He solves the problem with a dish of grilled lamb liver, heart, and kidneys, dressed with salsa picante. A photo is posted to his blog, with a warning for viewers not to drool on their keyboard.

Food blogger Mary Ladd recently attended one of Cosentino’s “Whole Beast Dinners” at Incanto, and reported her experience eating an entire pig-pointy ears to curly tail-on SFist. She admits, “some of our pregnant friends cringed and kept their backs turned,” when the pig came out, but says, “the heart was petite, very tender and tasted and felt clean.”

No newcomer to adventurous eating is Eddie Lin, one of the authors of Deep End Dining, a blog devoted to consuming the unusual, odd, and sometimes illegal (a recent “outlaw dinner” featured foods that are banned or forbidden, or will be soon). Though being a devotee of the nasty bits can have its drawbacks. Eddie recently suggested a dinner out to his wife who replied, “Honey, I’m six months pregnant. I really can’t handle eating fetus or baby anything, not even veal. Nothing weird at all. Please tell me we’re going to a normal restaurant.”

Perhaps the larger question is, what really makes food “weird?” In response to her recent Chez Pim post about cooking with horse fat, Pim readily admits, “My weird meter is probably calibrated quite differently from other people’s.” She says that growing up in Thailand exposed her to “all kinds of stuff that people here or in Europe might find weird.”

Numerous and interesting comments on her post continue the conversation. “I’m still amazed at what the average American will/will not eat,” writes reader Linette. “They turn up their noses at things like tripe, calf brains, fish-head curry, and sea-urchin, then they go eat processed, packaged crap from the supermarket. Please! Who’s the crazy one here?”

In the end, is eating molded green jello salad with cubes of canned fruit floating in it any stranger than tripe?


The food bloggers sure have gotten buddy-buddy lately. A bunch of them got together in the Bay Area Sunday to eat a reportedly crazy-delicious meal, and now they can’t stop talking about it. Amy (of Cooking with Amy) not only got to attend that event, but she also hooked up with more food bloggers in Seattle and had some yummy meals there, too.

So maybe I’m a teensy bit jealous that I wasn’t on the guest list for these get-togethers (Okay, of course I’m jealous —so much deliciousness! Warm fuzzies flowing like wine!), but these posts got me thinking about a criticism of the food-writing community that I came across recently. Journalist and former New York Times food columnist Molly O’Neill chides contemporary writers for engaging in food porn, creating “a world that exists almost exclusively in the imagination, the ambitions, and the nostalgic underpinnings of American culture.” She doesn’t let the readers who buy her books off the hook, either: they’re the ones who demand this porn-y writing, and she says it’s up to the journalists not to pander to them and do some real “reportage” instead, a la James Beard or M.F.K. Fisher.

Of course a ton of wonderful blogs dabble (or revel) in food porn, and there are some great sites and meta-sites dedicated entirely to the genre, but this passel of posts about the bloggers’ potluck really seemed to hammer home the point: Food porn at its most stripped-down is really not about learning or doing, it’s about imagining (and of course wanting what the other guy has).

Is that really a problem, though? I generally agree with O’Neill that today’s food writing could use a little “more authority and less autobiography,” but nostalgia and fantasy are such important parts of any culinary experience that it seems odd to criticize their prevalence in gastro-journalism. Then again, maybe food porn only appeals to relatively well-off folks, as O’Neill suggests, and excludes the rest of the population. What’s your take?

Heirloom Holiday

Want to squeeze a nice pair of big, juicy tomatoes? Well, now’s your chance, as the bursting-ripe orbs are starring in last gasp of summer’s sweetness before the squash and apples start muscling in. China Daily is running fabulous red-on-red shots of La Tomatina, the tomato-hurling Spanish festival that left the streets of Buñol awash in human gazpacho on Wednesday.

Rather eat ‘em than wear ‘em? Gothamist and The Food Section get right to the plate, praising the delights of, respectively, the the heirloom-’mater salad at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn and a DIY tumble of tomatoes, watermelon, and feta, inspired by a similar dish on the menu at The Hungry Cat in Los Angeles.

Ready to get a little dirty? Head up to Stone Barns’ upcoming tomato fest in the Hudson Valley, or get on down to Mariquita Farms’ organic tomato u-pick and potluck in sunny Cali. Or just pick up some drippy-fresh mozzarella, a handful of basil, and a heap of local beauties, and have yourself a big ol’ Caprese party in your lap.

Big-Time Barbecue

Big-Time Barbecue

Ray Lampe, a.k.a. Dr. BBQ, offers up doctor's orders for perfect summer grilling. READ MORE

Fresh Anchovies, or Let Them Eat Bait

The San Francisco Fish Company has fresh anchovies lately, reports MuppetGrrl. They’re delicious and only $3.99 a pound. Anchovies are plentiful this year in the waters outside the Gate, says TomG; he recommends them grilled with salt and pepper. Ask any fish supplier. For you more adventuresome souls, just go out there and buy them live from a bait supplier at the Berkeley Pier. Alan408 says they’re fine for human consumption, but might be expensive compared to dead ones. (Tip: don’t eat the ones that are already on somebody’s hook. It’ll be bad for all concerned.)

San Francisco Fish Company [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Bldg. # 31, San Francisco

Berkeley Marina Fishing Pier [East Bay]
160 University Ave., Berkeley

Board Links
Chowcooks: Fresh anchovies at the Ferry Building!

Grits, Crab, and Sweet Corn Porridge

Absonot loves porridge made from grits, crab, and sweet corn at The Front Porch, a brand-new restaurant. It’s an exceptional dish, prepared with habanero and green onion; it manages to be hearty, intriguing, and refreshing all at the same time. potatoe seconds the recommendation for crab porridge: “My toes were tapping.” Hounds also like Front Porch’s moist, buttery yellow cake, with a nicely balanced, sweet chocolate frosting. bernalbump says it’s just like your idealized grandmother’s cake.

The Front Porch [Mission]
65A 29th St., San Francisco

Board Links
The Front Porch Opens —(long)

Italian-Style Sandwiches from Downtown to Uptown

At Piada on the Lower East Side, the namesake specialty is a sandwich from Emilia-Romagna–a toasted flatbread stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables, or sweet stuff like fruit, preserves, or Nutella. “Ingredients are fresh, the sandwiches are delicious, and the owners are Italian guys who are actually always there and make your sandwiches,” reports lia, who’s especially fond of their Amarcord (prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula), and pressed ciabatta with prosciutto or mortadella, fontina, and artichoke. Salads, soup, espresso drinks, and breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, or speck round out the menu.

On the Upper West Side, a sleeper pick for less authentic Italian-style sandwiches is Soup or Sandwich, whose name pretty much sums up its menu. Among the dozen fusioney panini, one tasty un-Italian choice is the Chicken Tijuana: moist grilled chicken with pepper jack, roasted peppers, and spicy mayonnaise. “A really good sandwich–not fake spicy, really spicy,” says Pupster. “Nothing to make a special trip for, but if you are heading into Central Park for a picnic, a convenient place to grab a couple panini.” Other options include a Cubano, tuna melt, churrasco, and even such Italianate varieties as the Tuscan Melt (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, pesto mayonnaise) and San Pietro (prosciutto, fresh mozz, roasted peppers).

Piada [Lower East Side]
3 Clinton St., between Houston and Stanton, Manhattan

Soup or Sandwich [Upper West Side]
265 Columbus Ave., between W. 72nd and 73rd Sts., Manhattan

Board Links
best sandwiches in lower manhattan?