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

Harshly, I Parley for Parsley. Parse Me.

Why, oh why, is parsley so neglected in our modern world? Its delicate fragrance, its green zippiness, its fresh splendor–we must celebrate parsley more. We declare this The Half-Week of Parsley.

To celebrate Parsley Half-Week, sample the following preparations:

Sea Salt makes grilled sardines with a parsley-intensive salsa verde. It’s excellent; parsley pairs particularly well with oily fish like sardines or mackerel.

Parsley lovers will be pleased by anything with salsa verde at Oliveto and Incanto, reports Robert Lauriston. Try anything with salsa verde on beef.

Look for gremolata, usually made with parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. This sauce also pairs well with beef. Eccolo serves it on their bollito sandwich.

Gilman Grill’s potatoes have parsley, but sydthekid boldly orders them with EXTRA parsley.

Chez Panisse Cafe sometimes makes pizza topped with Italian parsley salad.

Zuzu’s boquerones tapa comes on top of a parsley salad of whole leaves tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette.

Some parting words of parsley wisdom from frontzNskrontz : “I eat the stems! And raw celery! I am very regular!”

Sea Salt Restaurant [East Bay]
2512 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley

Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant [Rockridge]
5655 College Ave., Oakland

Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar [Noe Valley]
1550 Church St., San Francisco

Eccolo Restaurant and Bar [East Bay]
1820 Fourth St., Berkeley

Gilman Grill [East Bay]
1300 4th St., Berkeley

Chez Panisse [East Bay]
1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

Zuzu [Napa County]
829 Main St., Napa

Soft Shell Crabs, Fried Every Which Way

Upmarket fishmonger Wild Edibles knows what to do with soft shell crabs when they’re in season, which is now. For $14, they fry up two good-sized specimens and tuck them into a po’ boy roll with tartar sauce. Fries are part of the deal.

Phenomenally delicious, raves jon.

Hounds also love their soft shell crabs flash fried at Sushi Yasuda, salt and pepper fried at Nha Trang, or deep fried at Mermaid Inn and Johnny’s Famous Reef on City Island.

Wild Edibles [Murray Hill]
535 3rd Ave., between 35th and 36th Sts, Manhattan


Wild Edibles [Grand Central Terminal]
89 E. 42nd St., in Grand Central Market, Manhattan


Sushi Yasuda [Midtown East]
204 E. 43rd St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves, Manhattan


Nha Trang Restaurant [Chinatown]
87 Baxter St., between Walker and White, Manhattan

Nha Trang Restaurant [Chinatown]
148 Centre St., between Walker and White, Manhattan

Mermaid Inn [East Village]
96 2nd Ave., between E. 5th and 6th Sts, Manhattan


Johnny’s Famous Reef Restaurant [Bronx]
2 City Island Ave., near Belden St., City Island, Bronx

Board Links
Soft shell crabs at Johnny’s in City Island
soft shell crabs–where to go

Hamburger Tips From Morris Park to Great Kills

Coals in Morris Park, which turns out hound-endorsed pizzas from the grill, also makes compelling hamburgers.

They’re done au poivre with toasted goat cheese on a focaccia roll, and they’re served only at night. “I am very picky about my burgers, and the burger at Coals blew me away,” declares femmefantastique. “My mouth waters and my heart races just thinking about it.”

On Staten Island, Duffy’s scores with a half-pounder on a toasted English muffin, reports Tony Z, who advises getting it with cheddar cheese. On the side, seasoned criss-cut or sweet potato fries are a good choice.

We also hear encouraging reports about the burger at Andrew’s Diner in the island’s Great Kills neighborhood. Fresh, delicious food, generous portions, and solid service, says Tay.

Coals [Bronx]
1888 Eastchester Rd., at Morris Park Ave., Bronx

Duffy’s [Staten Island]
650 Forest Ave., betw. Bement and Oakland Aves, Staten Island

Andrew’s Diner [Staten Island]
4160 Hylan Blvd., between Heinz and Walnut Aves, Staten Island

Board Links
Phenomenal burger at Coals in the Bronx
Best Burgers in Staten island and Bronx

Going on a Carnitas Crawl

Craving carnitas, Robert Lu set out on a quest. Here are the notes from his top picks:

La Blanquita: Terrific carnitas taco, chunky instead of stringy, crispy outside, melt-in-your-mouth inside. Kind of a dive, but lots of aguas frescas and alambre too for those who miss Las Ruinas. Restaurant is separate from market/tortilleria.

La Pradera: Crispy and smoky, yet still moist. Solid. It’s a market only, so carnitas are sold to go.

El Gallito: Similar carnitas to La Pradera, maybe less smoky. Interior of this market (which holds a sizable restaurant) is more pleasant than most.

Pastor’s Meat: Haven’t tried yet, but friend swears they are the best carniceria around. [Adds Neta: you have to try the chicharron!]

Cinco Puntos is another great spot for carnitas, says K*, with great handmade tortillas, too.

condiment* prefers the great Antojitos Denise’s on Olympic, where they sell carnitas by the pound. It’s about as good as it gets–a party in a tray.

At La Azteca, carnitas + still-warm fresh tortillas = taco bliss, says Macdonald.

And of course, there’s always Carnitas Michoacan.

La Blanquita Tortilleria [East LA-ish]
11859 Valley Blvd., Garvey El Monte

La Pradera Market [East LA-ish]
3218 Santa Anita Ave., El Monte

La Pradera Market [South OC]
2801 S Bristol St., Santa Ana

La Pradera Carniceria [Inland of LA]
651 E. Arrow Hwy., Azusa

El Gallito Meat Market [East LA-ish]
12242 Valley Blvd., Durfee, El Monte

Pastor’s Meat [East LA-ish]
8922 Beverly Blvd., Rosemead, Pico Rivera

Los Cinco Puntos [East LA-ish]
3300 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

Antojitos Denises [Thai Town]
4930 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

Antojitos Denises [East LA-ish]
4060 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

La Azteca Tortilleria [East LA-ish]
4538 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
12911 Victory Blvd., Coldwater Canyon, North Hollywood

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
7206 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood

Carnitas Michoacan [East LA-ish]
741 S. Soto St., Los Angeles

Carnitas Michoacan [Koreatown]
1605 S. Hoover St. #105, Los Angeles

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
8729 Sunland Blvd., Sun Valley

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
15039 Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
14534 Brand Blvd., San Fernando

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
13189 Gladstone Ave., Sylmar

Carnitas Michoacans [West San Fernando Valley]
6764 Tampa Ave., Reseda

Carnitas Michoacan [East San Fernando Valley]
13947 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar

Carnitas Michoacan [West San Fernando Valley]
8556 Reseda Blvd., Northridge

Carnitas Michoacan [West San Fernando Valley]
9101 De Soto Ave., Chatsworth

Carnitas Michoacan [West San Fernando Valley]
9849 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Chatsworth

Carnitas Michoacan [West San Fernando Valley]
492 E. High St., Moorpark

Board Links
Carnitas y Carnicerias

Horn of Africa Meets the Heart of O.C.

A mountain of outrageously tasty food awaits at Merhaba, an Eritrean restaurant nearly hidden in a dingy Orange County minimall, says Das Ubergeek. It’s the kind of place where non-East African customers may draw stares.

The menu lists the usual Ethiopian dishes, but in Tigrinya rather than Amharic. The traditional combo is billed as being for two people, but it would actually serve four. You get more than a cup each of doro wat (spicy chicken stew), yebeg alicha (mild lamb stew), a fiery Eritrean take on yebegsiga wat (spicy beef stew), and yellow lentils, collard greens and an orange paste that tastes of spicy carrots, all poured onto an injera-lined tray. The injera (a pancake-like bread) is properly sour here.

Unlike many other Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants, the meats shine here, although the vegetables are also good. Doro wat can be dry, but emily, a fan of the restaurant, says despite some off days, it’s usually delicious.

Traditional combo, $20. Canned soda and bottled water are $1. Lunch and dinner prices are the same.

Merhaba Restaurant [South OC]
2801 W. Ball Rd. #5, Anaheim


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Fried Chicken Salad?!?!

Bakesale Betty is justly renowned for fried chicken and coleslaw sandwiches. But they also make delicious fried chicken salad, says Morton the Mousse. Fulton chicken breast is butterflied and fried with a crispy batter, and served over house-made coleslaw. It’s a refreshing alternative to their sandwich.

Hot tip: you can always order it, even it it’s not on the menu.

Another tip: right now, they’re serving braised short rib sandwiches instead of their usual braised brisket sandwiches. These short ribs are seasonal, so get ‘em while they’re on. Also: don’t miss Betty’s lamingtons and lemon bars.

Townhouse Bar and Grill sometimes has spicy fried buffalo chicken salad, and it’s pretty good. It’s not on the current menu, but it’ll likely rotate back in soon.

Bakesale Betty [Temescal]

5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Townhouse Bar & Grill [East Bay]

5862 Doyle St., Emeryville

Fried Chicken Salad anyone?
Fried Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwiches in Oakland

Rhubarb Facts and Trivia

Rhubarb is a stalk of many colors, ranging from dark red to pink to bright green. Red rhubarb is most common, but you’ll also see green rhubarb (don’t suspect it’s unripe).

Here’s an interesting bit of rhubarb trivia, courtesy of Karl S: strawberry rhubarb pie wasn’t originally a combination of rhubarb and berries. Rather, it referred to strawberry rhubarb, a bright red variety! Other worthy pie pairings are rhubarb-apple and rhubarb-blackberry-apple.

See information on rhubarb varieties at:

Even more esoteric trivia: actors, to generate crowd noise backstage, murmur the word “rhubarb” over and over. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard…

Board Links
rhubarb questions

Summer – and Blueberries – Arrive in New Jersey

Blueberries have arrived in New Jersey, and Ellen pronounces the first pick outstanding. Val Ann C, who scored some nice ones at the Sunday farmers’ market in Red Bank, agrees. The growers expect last year’s very good crop to be followed by an even better one, maybe the best in years, Ellen reports.

Around Hammonton in Atlantic County, count on Glossy Fruit Farms for berries and the Red Barn for super fruit pies. In midstate, Emery’s grows organic blueberries and offers a pick-your-own option–but this season’s berries haven’t come around yet. Neither have those at nearby De Wolf Farm, but all in good time.

Red Bank Farmers’ Market [Monmouth County, NJ]
W. Front St. and Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank

Glossy Fruit Farms [Atlantic County, NJ]
66 S Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton

Red Barn Farm Market [Atlantic County, NJ]
51 S. Myrtle St., between Rte 206 and Middle Rd., Hammonton


Emery’s Berry Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
346 Long Swamp Rd., near Pinehurst Rd. (Rte 539), New Egypt


De Wolf Farm [Ocean County, NJ]
10 W. Colliers Mill Rd., near Archertown Rd., New Egypt

Board Links
First Blueberries of the Season are Here

Pies-N-Thighs: Southern Chow in a Williamsburg Bar

Crispy fried catfish, pulled pork with Carolina-style vinegar bite, and macaroni and cheese with a gentle chile kick are early hound favorites at month-old Pies-n-Thighs, which dishes up Southern-accented chow from a makeshift kitchen at the back of Williamsburg’s Rock Star Bar.

Other winners: tangy lemonade, Brunswick stew, sausage and gravy, apple or Key lime pies, and apple-rhubarb cobbler that w/l says rivals good homemade versions. “Lots of fun–would certainly go back,” writes shrimpbird.

Dissenters fault fried chicken (crisp but bland, says brooklynsabra), dried-out barbecued pork, and hit-or-miss sides (good black-eyed peas, weak collard greens, overly vinegary cole slaw).

Pies-N-Thighs [Williamsburg]
351 Kent Ave., entrance on S. 5th St., Brooklyn


Board Links
Pies n Thighs
Pies n Thighs again
Pie’s n’ thighs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Pepper Vinegar

Pepper vinegar is a snappy condiment for barbecue and barbecue-related foods. What couldn’t you dress up with a bottle of vinegar flavored with hot chiles?

It’s easy to make your own. Use a sterilized narrow-necked bottle; fill with any combination of small chiles (birds eye, tabasco, and cayenne are common). Heat white or cider vinegar and pour over the peppers. Close tightly and let sit in a cool place for a couple of weeks before using. Just replenish the vinegar in the bottle as you use it up. If you want to increase the heat, make slits in the chiles before you put them in the bottle, or follow Hungry Celeste“s recipe, and puree 2 T kosher salt and a small handful of chiles, and put the puree in the bottle with the whole peppers and vinegar.

Vinegar is a preservative, so you needn’t worry about the peppers going bad.

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Pepper vinegar?