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

Cherry Juice with the Balance of a Ruby Port

R.W. Knudsen Just Tart Cherry Juice is THE juice, says antithesisofpop. It's somewhat hard to find and it's $6 for a 32-ounce bottle. So why is it worth seeking out?

"The flavor of this stuff is great on its own, but it is also incredibly versatile," says antithesisofpop. "It has this great balance of sweet, tart, and bitter that is almost reminiscent of a ruby port or a fruity-sweet balsamic vinegar." And when was the last time you bought nice port or balsamic vinegar for $6? "I'm telling you, this stuff is rich, and if you're creative, you can find ways to use this stuff to elevate your cooking to a new level," says antithesisofpop.

Discuss:: R.W. Knudsen Family Organic "Just Tart Cherry Juice"

Britain Seizes the Stupid Beer Prize

When will the idiocy end? The Telegraph reports that Pitstop Brewery of Britain has created "The Hop," a beer that registered 323 International Bittering Units (IBUs), "beating the previous record of 200 held by American beer Devil Dance Triple IPA." The essentially undrinkable beer (even the creator says he can only drink it in limited amounts) is notable for its sheer hoppiness and nothing else. Its creator is quoted as saying: ''It is always nice to beat the Americans and put a British flag on the bitterest pint."

But why? What's nice about this? Is it nice to create a cupcake with the tallest frosting? A wine with the most grapes smashed per bottle? A sandwich with the most layers of ham on it? Like the equally stupid contest for who can make the world's most alcoholic beer, this particular pissing match teaches us nothing about flavor, balance, or history—it is, instead, a tribute to The Dumb Stuff That People Do for Media Attention.

And, yes, obviously it worked. Touché.

What’s Special About Shad Roe?

Shad roe, available fresh in the spring, is different from other roe. "It's not discrete balls like caviar—it's more like a mass in a sack," says Claudette. "I've had it in a French restaurant lightly sautéed in butter with a little lemon. At home, I just steam it Chinese-style with a little peanut oil, ginger, and soy sauce to finish. I've found shad roe to be very mild-flavored compared to other fresh roe." Pata_Negra simply fries it in butter and serves it on rye bread or over warm boiled potatoes.

And if you ever get the chance to have smoked shad roe, do it, says mrbigshotno.1. "Sautéed with bacon and shallots and hit with a little sherry. Delicious!!!"

Discuss: Shad Roe What makes this a Big Deal?

Colombian Peaberries, Like Sweet Coffee Beans

HLing roasts green coffee beans to make coffee, and recently discovered Colombian peaberries. "They roasted in my skillet, and ground in my stone grinder like a dream!" says HLing. "I didn't wait the usual 4, 5 days after roasting. I ground it the next day, and waited a half hour before making it with my AeroPress. It tasted like sweet nectar. Very round, smooth, and really, strangely, sweet. "

Discuss: Columbian Peaberries – sweet!

Bake Sale Blues

Bake Sale Blues

How healthy and homemade should you be? READ MORE

How Do You Eat Nettles Without Getting Stung?

How Do You Eat Nettles Without Getting Stung?

Raw foodists beware. READ MORE

Why Review Fancy Restaurants?

San Francisco Chronicle's restaurant critic, Michael Bauer, defended himself yesterday on his blog with regards to reviewing restaurants too expensive for most readers. A reader had written in criticizing his recent reviews of Meadowood and French Laundry, and Bauer responded that he focuses such attention on these temples of fine dining because chefs at fancier restaurants tend to be "more creative." Like haute couture influencing Forever 21, Bauer writes, their creations will will later be mimicked by more casual joints. Snob! cried the commenters. READ MORE

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"Cool-A-Coos were awesome, much better than the San Francisco version which is still available, the IT'S-IT. Coos were bigger and tastier and more pristine." - rizzo0904, on the sadly defunct ice cream novelty Cool-A-Coos

"Many people live in areas with no farmers' market and in fact, no supermarket—just bodegas and quickie marts. Fresh food (meat, not just produce) has a short shelf life and is difficult to stock if a store doesn't have a lot of turnover in those items. Some people also have no cooking facilities or equipment. And some people just plain don't know what to do with ingredients rather than ready-to-eat or grab-and-go foods. And the unfortunate truth is that, because of the food politics in this country, a pound of carrots is more expensive than a two-liter bottle of soda." - Ericka L

"Think about this one fruit that you can get three different flavor and texture stages from, and all its various cooking possibilities; combined with the plantain's general availability and low price. It's like a fruit miracle." - bushwickgirl, on plantains

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"The owner claims to be a sausage maker. He said he will make anything you ask him to." - Guinness02122 on the Butcher Shop

"They have another version which they call panini which are much better. There's a bit of a pre-ferment and some semolina on the bottom crust. Their real killer is what they call the French baguette (not the regular one). I think it's a great sub/hoagie roll, nice and crusty." - deglazer on the rolls at Quinzani's Bakery

"I called White's and ordered a strawberry whipped cream cake, with one layer of gold and one layer of chocolate cake. It was excellent quality. The cake was fresh, the cream was light, and the fresh strawberries were just that." - TrishUntrapped on White's Cafe & Pastry Shop

Coffeehouses for Coffee Geeks

Coffee-lover rlh bemoans a serious gap in the Boston coffee scene: The best local roaster, generally agreed to be Barismo, doesn't really run a coffee shop where one can relax and enjoy a cup. And the places where you can relax serve a second-best cup. "What are your coffee destination favorites where you can get a great fresh cup, relax and enjoy it, AND then buy a wide range of freshly-roasted beans (Central American, African, AND South Pacific as well as thoughtful blends) to take home?" asks rlh.

And the hounds answered! Their picks:

• Cafe Fixe in Brookline: "probably the closest to the trendy new ultra-refined coffee bar type thing that i've found in boston," says autopi.

• Simon's, "a relaxing place to have a fresh cup that also stocks a good range of Barismo beans," says greenzebra.

• Bloc 11, which dazzled rlh on the first hound-recommended visit: "I tried Bloc 11 today—a single brewed cup from the Chemex with Burundi beans—amazing cup of coffee—so much so that I got back in line and bought some of those beans to bring home."

Cafe Fixe [South Shore]
1642 Beacon Street, Brookline
617-879-2500

Simon's Coffee House [Cambridge]
1736 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
617-497-7766

Bloc 11 Cafe [North of Boston]
11 Bow Street, Somerville
617-623-0000

Discuss: Artisanal Coffee in Boston