Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.
Beijing-style shredded potato salad is shredded potatoes, quickly par-fried in a hot wok until they're half-cooked, then tossed with many other ingredients, always including sesame oil, rice wine, vinegar, dried red chile, and horseradish powder. And, of course, some red carrot matchsticks for color, explains ipsedixit. It tastes sort of like soggy salt and vinegar potato chips, but better than what you're imagining.
After a survey of many such Beijing potato salads in town, ipsedixit crowns Canton Gourmet and Bakery for truly doing the dish justice. The potato comes out crunchy, still al dente, and tossed with a deft hand. "Best in show and class," says ipsedixit.
Canton Gourmet and Bakery [San Gabriel Valley]
846 E. Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park
Discuss: Esoteric topic of the day: Roundup of SGV places for "Beijing Style Shredded Potato Salad"
There is some debate over whether sufganiyot are exactly the same as American jelly doughnuts, or a significantly distinct Israeli variation.
"Growing up I think I looked forward to them even more than Chanukah presents," says earthbuilder. "No ordinary Jelly Doughnut can touch a Sufganiya. Sufganiyot are delightfully bready while still being fluffy and airy ... It is as if a challah or brioche was crossed with a doughnut and then filled with delicious jelly (or ideally preserves)."
Others think that sufganiyot are just jelly doughnuts. The difference, thinks Arthur, is that most examples of sufganiyot we have out here come from Israeli bakeries, not specialty doughnut shops, and tend toward the cakier side of things. "Sufganiyot are just jelly donuts, nothing more. If you don't believe this, try to find strongly conflicting recipes," says Arthur.
earthbuilder's personal favorite in the valley is at Sarah J Pastries and Cakes, with a fantastic seedy jam.
Sarah J Pastries and Cakes [Valley - West]
7307 Canoga Avenue, Canoga Park
Discuss: Sufganiyot (Israeli Jelly Donuts for Chanukah)
This week's mission: a variety of nogs, in shake, latte, and straight-up form. ... WATCH THE VIDEO
Shopping for holiday gifts would be a lot less of a drag if, say, you could drink a beer, eat a tamale, browse products from nearly 40 local businesses, and benefit a great cause in one stop. If you are in San Francisco this Friday, make it happen at La Cocina's annual gift fair. The nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income and immigrant food entrepreneurs launch their own businesses has rounded up a bunch of vendors that will be selling everything from fancy chocolate truffles to Mexican kitchen items and cookware.
There will also be a gift-wrapping station and a bar selling beers from Magnolia and Trumer along with wine, both of which will benefit La Cocina, plus a raffle you can enter even if you don't have time to attend the fair.
Bonus: If you buy two or more items from the CHOW-sponsored Home Cook gift pack, you'll get a free, blazin'-red CHOW.com T-shirt with badass kitchen knife motif!
2010 La Cocina Gift Fair
Friday, December 10, 4 to 9 p.m.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission Street, San Francisco, California
An epic coal-fired cranberry sauce duked it out with a caramel-apple cornucopia and a bunch of other creative ideas in the CHOW/Instructables Thanksgiving Recipe Contest. The votes have been tallied; here are the winners! READ MORE
The big wood-fired hearth at Ciano isn't just a comforting prop. It also turns out amazing bread, says owlwoman, "and you could make a whole meal out of it, especially with the ricotta spread that accompanies it." But don't do that. You'd miss out on excellent, rustic Italian cooking by Chef Shea Gallante, on the rebound from Cru (now the high-end Thai restaurant Lotus of Siam).
In a strong lineup of starters, roasted veal meatballs over polenta are a standout: "Rich, unctuous, perfect comfort food," comiendosiempre writes. Warm calamari salad (with shaved fennel, olives, and tomato-herb vinaigrette) is marvelously light and tasty, he adds. Among the entrées, the Lobster Pot (with corona beans, fingerlings, and porcini mushrooms) is a delicious highlight. And tender, perfectly cooked lemon-rosemary roasted chicken (with a ragu of chanterelles and farro) gets a thumbs-up from owlwoman; "I would go back just to have that, and I rarely order chicken out," she says.
Service is friendly and professional, even after just a few weeks in business, and prices are moderate; owlwoman's group of five spent $300 for dinner and found it well worth it. The setting is warm and welcoming, especially with the fireplace ablaze. With temperatures dipping below freezing, that sounds like a good place to be.
45 E. 22nd Street (between Park Avenue South and Broadway), Manhattan
Discuss: Ciano - Excellent meal
The following items are not recommended for spreading holiday joy this season:
1. Fetus-shaped cookie cutter, $10. Some things just shouldn't be reproduced in buttery sugar cookie form. READ MORE
Help a Lothario out? Chowhound bklneater seeks a pretheater option—a prematinee option, natch—for a "sexy" lunch or brunch. With his desire to find a place that’s "all that" featuring an "intimate atmosphere," so far he’s been stumping most fellow hounds. He also requires a banquette upon which he can sit next to his date. These things are tough to find in the west 40s.
Apparently the Upper West Side is an option, and since there is “no upper limit on the budget,” one reader smartly suggested the window seats at Per Se. As for us, Bar Boulud came to mind—but we’d almost hate to spring brunchtime canoodling on unsuspecting fellow diners! Perhaps there’s a dimly lit lunch place that hasn’t occurred to anyone, where everyone else has love on the brain ... before noon? Do weigh in.
Per Se [Midtown West]
10 Columbus Circle, Manhattan
Bar Boulud [Upper West Side]
1900 Broadway, Manhattan
Discuss: Mission impossible--a fantastic, sexy, intimate, hot, foodie pre theatre lunch or brunch?