The CHOW Blog rss

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

The 2010 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Time magazine called the James Beard Foundation awards "the Oscars of the food world," and that's about right: The event is high stakes, star-studded, self-celebratory, and very, very long. The event's gracious (and alarmingly skinny) emcee Alton Brown had a running gag about slogging through the 17-page schedule of events that turned out to be not so much of a running gag as an accurate ongoing update. (Final time of last night's event at New York's Lincoln Center clocked in at around three hours.)

READ MORE

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"They are no longer affiliated with B&R and are now serving McConnells of Santa Barbara ice cream. Run, don't walk, over there and try their Turkish Coffee ice cream." – trojans on the transformation of an old Baskin-Robbins

"It's made with a 4 lb. all-beef chuck patty that's shaped in-house and broiled. It's served on top of a 14" crispy egg bun with half a head of iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato, mayo, dill pickles, and 10 slices of aged cheddar cheese...Surprisingly, it was a really good burger." – attran99, on the OMG Burger at The Catch

"The ONLY place in L.A. for consistently high-quality dates at a good price (that I've found) is Elat Market (Jewish/Iranian) on Pico @ Robertson." – nitsuj

Candelabra Round-Up

I've been on the hunt for a candelabra. It's more dramatic than a pair of individual candle holders, and more elegant than tea lights. Since it's something that very well could stay on your dining room table all the time, it's almost like choosing a piece of sculpture for your house. Here are some of the most appealing ones I've found.

READ MORE

Wine in Mason Jars: A Protest

There are some traditions that have stood the test of time—for good reason. Pasta alla carbonara, for example, should not be made with bacon instead of pancetta. Adding cream to it, a crime in my opinion, turns it into a completely different dish.

Wineglasses are shaped with a stem (to prevent your hands from smudging the glass and from warming the liquid) and a large round bowl (to aerate the wine and help you appreciate the aromas). It doesn’t hurt, either, that they feel sexy in your hands.

READ MORE

June Cleaver Aprons Are Cool Again

Once the massively unhip province of Nick at Nite TV moms like June or Donna, pretty femme aprons are staging something of a return. They have their own blogs, art exhibits, media attention, pages on Facebook.

The ultimate kiss of mod approval: the crafty clothing/housewares chain Anthropologie's line of delicious vintage-look aprons. Every design would inspire one to throw dinner parties for the sole purpose of being seen in these beauties, but the Owl Invasion model has my credit card calling to me.

Owl Invasion Apron
, $38

The Greening of Glendale

Glendale is hungry sizes up his quiet Queens neighborhood as arid turf for Chowhounds, a place fed mostly by franchise grub, mediocre pizza, and dismal Chinese takeout. So Organic Village, a vegetarian raw food specialist, seems to have dropped in from another planet. "Opening this kind of restaurant in a neighborhood like Glendale is downright radical, bordering on the subversive. And I LOVE IT!!!" he says.

Burritos, Thai coconut noodles, hemp sandwiches, and the "Cookies and Cream" smoothie, all cleverly concocted from vegetables, fruits, and seeds, are his early favorites. "The food here is full of intense flavors, vivid contrasts, wonderful textures, and dramatic crunches," Glendale says. "This is great stuff and all new to me, a bacon-lovin' guy who occasionally swings organic. They use high quality ingredients and clearly know what they're doing. Even if you're a carnivore, check this out."

Organic Village [Glendale]
79-15 Cooper Avenue (near 79th Place), Glendale, Queens
718-894-4369

Discuss: Glendale! In. The. RAW!!!

A Serious Coffee Lover’s Haven in Tribeca

Kaffe 1668 is a downtown coffee lover's little secret, Bone Thug n Hominy suggests, a serious-minded café that grinds single-origin beans and brews on state-of-the-art Clover machines. "You rarely see this place on the list of New York's best coffee shops," he says, "but it's the best cup of drip coffee in the city." Prices are steep, he adds, at $3 to $4.50 a cup, but connoisseurs will appreciate the quality and attention to detail. firni likes the hot cocoa, muffins, and especially the coffee ("no cream or sugar is needed, which is a first for me").

Kaffe 1668 [Tribeca]
275 Greenwich Street (between Warren and Murray streets), Manhattan
212-693-3750

Discuss: Kaffe 1668 – Tribeca

Malt Is In

Pichet Ong is making Ovaltine milkshakes at Spot Dessert bar in NYC, there are beets with malt on the menu at Portland, Oregon's Castagna Restaurant, and lots of places, including Fond restaurant in Philadelphia, are serving malted milk ice cream.

What is malt, and is it the same stuff in malted milk balls, you may ask? Why, yes! It's a sweetish syrup or powder made from barley that's been sprouted, then dried. Barley that's gone through that process is known as "malted" barley, and it's used to make beer. So when you're eating something that has malt in it, it's kind of like you're eating beer.

READ MORE

The Drinking Hound’s Guide to Brooklyn

At The Double Windsor in Brooklyn, craft beers dominate the dozen or so taps, the vibe somehow channels both British pub and California bar, and you shouldn't expect to catch the Yankees on the tube.

This Windsor Terrace tavern is the latest subject of a series of well-observed, pint-by-pint dispatches from the watering holes of Brooklyn by Bob Martinez, veteran Chowhound and bar crawler.

He sampled two India pale ales: Racer 5 from Bear Republic in Northern California (described as a floral, aromatic English-style ale, but "it read better than it tasted"), and an organic one from Wolaver’s in Vermont (moderately complex, not overhopped, "pleasant enough"). So he wasn't blown away by either, but with 11 others on tap and several dozen more in bottles, he adds, "I easily could have found more appealing choices if I’d kept at it."

There's food, too. Mike R. recommends grilled cheese or Buffalo chicken sandwiches; EricaJo likes one with pork and chipotle mayo. Bob also spotted a sign advertising house-made beef jerky, ”a reminder that I was in Brooklyn where artisanal charcuterie is the order of the day."

The staff was efficient, the crowd was young and well-behaved, the soundtrack ran to vintage English rock, and the one television was tuned to Turner Classic Movies, Bob reports. "The implied message," he figures, "was 'This Ain’t No Sports Bar.'”

The Double Windsor [Windsor Terrace]
210 Prospect Park West (at 16th Street), Brooklyn
347-725-3479

Discuss: Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 6 – Double Windsor.

Overheard on the New York Boards

"[O]ne of the best sandwiches in NY right now might be the Firehouse Special at Defonte's, thin sliced roast pork, broccoli rabe, fried eggplant cutlet, and provolone—clearly related to a classic Philadelphia sandwich (Tony Luke's) but not trying to be exactly that—on good bread, makes a pretty satisfying lunch." – Pearlie

"After driving all around [Coney Island Avenue], Church Ave., etc., fruitlessly seeking green mango on Saturday, I scored one, along with some nice curry leaves, green mango, Desi Dahi, and some fresh guvar beans from the well-kept supply of Indian vegetables in their refrigerator case. Since it is a small store I will say, tongue in cheek, that it is 'well-curated.'" – jen kalb on Patel Grocery

"A large slab of lamb here, which included the breast and some ribs carved tableside. The lamb seemed to have been slow-braised, then coated with a light batter and topped with tons of toasted cumin, dried chiles, and white and black sesame seeds." – scoopG on the Muslim-style lamb chop at Fu Run