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

Only Tools Don’t Tip on Takeout, and Other Rules of Gratuity You Should Know

Who knew there was a 300-plus-page book on the subject of tipping? Steve Dublanica (pictured), the guy behind Waiter Rant, has a new book, Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity, that shows the historical underpinnings of the practice, as well as how tipping plays out in milieus from restaurants to strip clubs. Dublanica took the time to answer some commonly asked questions about tipping for CHOW.com.

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How to Cut Cookies Without a Cookie Cutter

How to Cut Cookies Without a Cookie Cutter CHOW Senior Food Editor Jill Santopietro shows you how to avoid buying special equipment for cookie cutting. READ MORE

A MacGyver Thanksgiving

When confronted with an ill-equipped kitchen, a foreign country, or a desolate campground, it helps to channel MacGyver, that paragon of resourcefulness. READ MORE

From the Creators of Kogi: The Ultimate in Bar Food

Some people disparage A-Frame for just giving you some demented combination of bar foods. Other people love it because, well, it gives you some demented combination of bar food. "If you want incredibly sophisticated food, don't go to A-Frame. If you want incredibly tasty food in a fun environment, I suggest you check it out," says terwilliger.

Want kettle corn with nori? It's absurdly good, says terwilliger. Mixed nuts with beef jerky is "by far the best beef jerky I've ever had, period," says yogachik. Vegetable tempura and beer-can chicken get good marks. Chicken salad over cornbread is profound, says yogachik: It has sausage ragout and pickled onions and green salsa, and it grows on you with every bite. And they probably have the best lamb chops in town, says yogachik.

A-Frame is the latest restaurant from Roy Choi, the dude behind the Kogi truck phenomenon. terwilliger doesn't much like Kogi, but loves A-Frame. And "I don't know if it was because everyone was excited to be at this brand-new spot, but the communal tables worked better here than at most other restaurants. We actually met the people sitting around us and shared food with them," says terwilliger.

A-Frame [Westside - Inland]
12565 Washington Boulevard, Culver City
310-398-7700

Discuss: A-Frame

A Durian-Cream Bread Bowl

When searching for challenging dishes in Los Angeles, intrepid explorer ipsedixit discovered a particularly stinky pot at the end of the rainbow. In this case, the end of the rainbow is Irvine, and the pot is a bread bowl full of durian fruit.

"One of the more inventive durian creations [at 85°C Bakery Cafe] was the Durian Bread Bowl (a la Taiwanese brick toast)," says ipsedixit. "It was a croissant type bread bowl, filled with a durian, cream cheese, sour cream, taro and some heavy cream or creme fraiche. Sweet, salty and tangy and just perfectly malodorous for non-believers."

85°C Bakery Cafe [Orange County]
2700 Alton Parkway, Irvine
949-553-8585

Discuss: 10 Most Challenging Dishes - so where's L.A.'s best duck tongues, chitterling, intestine, natto dish, durian item, etc.

A Xian Bing Specialist

Canton Gourmet and Bakery specializes in xian bing, "which are basically Chinese meat pies. A round empanada, if you will, or perhaps a quesadilla," explains ipsedixit. They're about the size of a hamburger patty, wrapped in unrisen dough, then pan-fried and steamed. "The optimal result should be a crunchy, yet subtly chewy skin. There should be a nice crust, but the middle of the wrapper should still be a tad white (or al dente, if you will)," explains ipsedixit. "Oh, and for those XLB devotees, there's soup inside these things!"

Canton Gourmet has xian bing of every sort: beef, pork, lamb, and lots of mixed flavors. There are 12 in all. And they're excellent, with a rich dough that stops just short of greasy.

Canton Gourmet and Bakery [San Gabriel Valley]
846 E. Garvey Avenue,
 Monterey Park
626-288-3818

Discuss: Canton Gourmet and Bakery ... serving, of all things, Northern Chinese specialties, incl. Xian Bing (餡餅)

Overheard on the Los Angeles Board

"Do not make the mistake that I almost did by garnishing the burger with the lettuce, tomatoes, etc. that accompany the plate—consider them decoration. And, again, do not partake of the 'frings' as they will only get in the way of your full enjoyment of the burger. Trust me, your stomach is only so big." - ipsedixit on the burger at Wolfgang's Steakhouse

"But today was the real stunner—genuine giant Fujian fish balls. Don't know if this is a one day item, an experiment, or something that's going to be regular, but these were the real deal." - Chandavkl on West LA's Union Buffet

"The Shrimp Po' Boy was a thing of beauty. Spiced shrimp cooked perfectly, pesto, fresh lettuce and tomato, a great aioli ... and potato chip crumbles! The extra crunch gave the sandwich extra texture that I really enjoyed." - attran99 on Sweetsalt Food Shop

Paula Deen’s (Not So Real) Homage to Butter

So, it wasn't true. The Paula Deen butter quote that's been richocheting around the Internet in "words beside portrait" form goes like this: "Y'all critics always sayin', 'Oh that Paula uses too much butter. It's bad for your body.' Well honey, I say that if something is making you say 'yum' and it makes your tummy happy, then it ain't bad for you. Butter is just a little stick of smiles and happiness." READ MORE

You Don’t Really Need a Meat Mallet

You Don't Really Need a Meat Mallet CHOW Senior Food Editor Jill Santopietro smartly advises people not to buy equipment they won't use regularly. READ MORE

Easy Homemade Amaretto

How to Make Amaretto

Amaretto always makes me think of my failed teenage attempts to raid my parents' liquor cabinet. Invariably, all I'd find was an ancient bottle of almond liqueur with its cap sealed shut by sugar. And prying it open would only get me a sugar high, not a buzz. READ MORE