The CHOW Blog rss

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

Nick Shipp Sighted in Santa Monica

Nick Shipp used to work under Wolfgang Puck; he also used to be head chef at downtown's Pete's Cafe and Bar, once beloved of many a local Chowhound. But now he's in charge of his own kitchen, at the brand new Upper West.

havepixel loves the place, and will be back often. On a first visit, there were many wonders to be had. Appetizers include seared beef carpaccio: basil balsamic and horseradish aioli, with paper-thin slices of high-quality beef layered with sheets of Parmesan for an excellent complexity of flavor and texture.

Braised lamb crêpes is another treat, with very tender lamb and salty lavender demi-glace. It's heavily and deeply flavored; havepixel's only complaint was that the intensity of the lamb masked the taste of the crêpe.

The BLT is spectacular: plenty of thick-cut bacon spiced like pastrami, with green tomato, butter lettuce, and corn and sun-dried tomato aioli. The bacon is spectacular, and the BLT comes with plenty of it.

It's all a resounding success, says havepixel; the only worry is that the place won't do well because of its slightly odd location.

Upper West [Westside - Beaches]
3321 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-586-1111

Discuss: Review of Upper West in Santa Monica

“Fun Flavors” or The Dark Future of Cheese?

Right in the middle of an otherwise civilized interview with Wisconsin master cheesemaker Roger Krohn, the Green Bay Press Gazette breaks some rather disturbing news. Krohn says that the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin, "has actually developed 'Fun Flavors' of string cheese, which should appeal to kids. They have come up with flavors such as bubble gum, sour apple, and raspberry. I have had the opportunity to sample this flavored string cheese, and it is quite good. It combines 'sweet and salty' which is a very popular combination in snack foods right now."

READ MORE

Beijing Cumin Like a Welcome Face Punch

Taste of Beijing is in Rowland Heights' Diamond Plaza food court. You can't miss it, with the faux temple archway and the servers in Chinese costumes. Don't let the excess chinoiserie throw you—this place is 100 percent legit.

Mr Taster found truly great cumin lamb skewers, at the bargain-basement price of $1 a skewer. "The seasoning was very nice.... a great spicy kick with a punch of cumin, well-balanced, and the texture was right." The biggest winner: the chicken wing skewer. "Do yourself a favor and go there now and order the wings," orders Mr Taster.

There is also a really good rendition of jia jiang mian, wheat noodles in a Bolognese-like sauce, with clearly handmade, excellently rough noodles with a decent chew.

Taste of Beijing in Diamond Plaza [San Gabriel Valley]
1380 Fullerton Road, Rowland Heights
626-810-4488

Discuss: NOODLE EXPRESS 101 new menu items... Props to Chandavkl for finding "TASTE OF BEIJING" in Rowland heights... OR, Beijing Mustard Cabbage..... jie mo dui... FINALLY!! (But... NO!)

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"They also had these weird 'lasagna cupcakes' with things like wild boar or venison." - bsquared2 on the newly opened microroaster/coffee shop Coffee Commissary

"But my favorite of all is at Brent's Deli in Northridge." - wienermobile on the best chopped liver in town

"Korean rice cylinders, maple smoked bacon, jalapeño ponzu." - havepixel, at the limited-time-only preview of Debbie Lee's SeoulTown Tapas food at BreadBar

Fat Is the Food Junkie’s Track Marks

In a bit of news sure to elicit a resounding "Yep!" from junk-food addicts everywhere, a just-released study suggests that fatty, sugary foods affect the brain in ways much like heroin and cocaine.

The study, soon to be published in the journal Nature Neuroscience (and thus not online), followed three groups of rats for 40 days. The first was fed regular food. The second was fed unhealthy foods like bacon and frosting, but only for an hour per day. The final group was fed the unhealthy foods unrestrictedly, up to 23 hours a day. READ MORE

Cook to Impress

Cook to Impress

With some help from the Masters, take control of your kitchen. READ MORE

Stellar Sandwiches with a Pedigree

Hounds have been happily noshing their way through the sandwich lineup at Torrisi Italian Specialties. The roast turkey is wonderful, says chompchomp: rich, moist meat with spicy mayonnaise, red onion, tomato, and lettuce. The roast pork (with broccoli rabe, roasted red pepper, and melted provolone) is "the greasiest, slipperiest mash-up ... Outrageously rich and delicious."

The chicken parmigiana sandwich features organic meat, house-made mozzarella, and a sauce with perfect tang, on bread from nearby Parisi Bakery; it's "beautiful, just beautiful," sighs CPalms. (stuartlafonda, who prefers his cheese browned and his bread toasted, finds it just fine but not great.) The Italian cold cut hero, CPalms adds, belongs in the conversation with Defonte's and Faicco's Pork Store. Beyond sandwiches, check out the prepared foods for carryout, which include terrific eggplant caponata, potato-pepperoni salad, and lasagna ("light as a feather," says Hondo3777).

The menu sounds like what you might find at countless other Italian-American delis. The difference at Torrisi is that the chef-owners trained in top Manhattan kitchens (Café Boulud, Del Posto, A Voce) and the ingredients—cheeses, produce, oils, cured meats, etc.—are all from American producers. "Classically trained chefs making Italian American specialties using only domestically sourced ingredients—Love the idea!" CPalms says.

Torrisi Italian Specialties [Nolita]
250 Mulberry Street (near Prince Street), Manhattan
212-965-0955

Discuss: Torrisi Italian Specialties

You Have Slaughtered All the Buffalo. You Will Now Starve.

Anyone who went to elementary school during a certain period of the late ‘80s or early ‘90s and who laughs when you say "You have died of dysentery" should get a giggle out of this one.

They always ran out of food so fast on the Oregon Trail! What, no Clif Bars?

A Welcome Greek Newcomer in Riverdale

Greek Express arrived not long ago in the Bronx, and it's about time, says gremlin608. She loves its moussaka, gyro, beet salad, and spreads (garlic-potato, fish roe, chickpea, etc.). BronxBree digs the falafel; moist, well-seasoned chicken souvlaki; and avgolemono soup, which boasts lemony broth full of chicken and dill. "A huge welcome to the culinary wasteland known as Riverdale!" gremlin declares.

Greek Express [Bronx}
3733 Riverdale Avenue (near W. 238th Street), Bronx
718-601-4976

Discuss: Riverdale Restaurants

How to Eat an Artichoke

How to Eat an Artichoke

It's worth the work. READ MORE