The CHOW Blog rss

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

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"The broth is marvelous. It's a really refreshing yet rich beef broth, very reminiscent of the Chinese beef noodles (niu rou mian) ubiquitously found in the SGV." – J.L. on Chabuya's new beef ramen

"I love these croissants! No nuts or anything else. Just some apples and a hint of cinnamon between light flaky pastry. I could eat them every day but the only problem is that they only have them on certain days and no one at Nicole's is ever sure of what days." – trolley on Nicole's in South Pasadena

"Billy's is my favorite deli in LA. If you head in to eat there try to be seated at a table with the thin, short, older Italian waitress with the NYC accent." – tornadoliese, on Billy's Delicatessen

Alterna-grains from Small Farms

We recently received a lovely sample of nutty, chewy heirloom wheat from a family farm in Washington called Bluebird Grain Farms. It was emmer (a.k.a. farro, if it’s grown in Italy), an ancient variety that used to be grown before hybrid varieties of durum cornered the market due to their higher yields. Emmer is making a comeback, along with alterna-grains like amaranth, teff, spelt, and rye: Why, just the other day, I saw "rye emulsion" while perusing the menu of Vidalia in Washington, D.C.

The idea of small American farmers growing these grains that were popular back in the time of the pharaohs intrigued me, so I looked into who else was doing it. I found...

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Grüner Veltliner’s a Good Mouthful

Grüner Veltliner’s a Good Mouthful

The perfect spring wine. READ MORE

Getting Gold at the Beer Olympics

On Saturday the Brewers Association held the eighth-annual World Beer Cup, which broke the record for the biggest commercial brewing competition ever. 3,330 beers, produced by 642 breweries from 44 countries competed in 90 categories. READ MORE

Liberty of London’s Gorgeous, Cheap, Dunclare Dinner Plates

I wasn't the only design whore who had March 14 circled on her calendar for months: on that date, items from the collaboration between Target and British design powerhouse Liberty of London became available in stores. Liberty of London is best known for its brilliantly colored floral patterns, which it imprints on housewares, clothing, and high-quality fabric. It's also known for its major prices. It would be very hard to justify a $100 teapot or a $176-per-plate dinnerware on a writer/editor's salary.

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Smoked Meat and Asian Heat at Fatty ‘Cue

Smoky, slow-cooked meat meets Southeast Asian heat at Fatty 'Cue, opened last month by the crew behind Fatty Crab. It's a marriage made in hog heaven, says CalJack, who loves the Sunday pig dinner. He describes wondrously crisp and juicy pork shoulder, served with wheat buns and sharp pineapple curry sauce. "The whole meal felt like a bold, brave new flavor frontier," he marvels.

Silverjay's sold on the American Wagyu brisket. "Great home-smoked flavor, plenty of the wonderful connective tissue fattiness of brisket, and a hearty thickly cut portion to enjoy," he reports. "This is, perhaps, the pinnacle of what one can achieve out of brisket." He's less taken with what he calls the "choose your own adventure" serving style, where diners assemble their own little sliders in fluffy buns, seasoned to taste with onion, cilantro, "chili jam," and other condiments. No matter, he adds, since the meat itself is amazingly good. Silverjay also fell for 'Cue coriander bacon: delicious thick-cut squares of house-cured pork served with yellow curry custard, a delicate, aromatic complement to the rich meat.

Check out barbecue-friendly cocktails like the 'Cue—rum, smoked pineapple, Pernod, and Tabasco—"each sip of which packaged distinct sweet, sour, smoky, and spicy notes," says CalJack. "I usually scoff at fancy mixed drinks, but this was as memorable as anything I've ever tried. I might as well book my ticket for fat camp right now."

Fatty 'Cue [Williamsburg]
91 S. Sixth Street (at Kent Street), Brooklyn
718-389-8881

Discuss: Fatty 'Cue – anyone been?

Singular Sandwiches at No. 7 Sub Shop

When you think submarine sandwiches, you probably don't think ceviche. No. 7 Sub Shop invites you to think again. Its ceviche sub is unique and quite good, ChiefHDB reports: lemony marinated fish, cucumber, avocado, red onion, and microgreens, with crunchy, corn-y counterpoint from fried hominy. Besides the inviting play of flavors and textures, the Chief loves the crusty house-baked bread that holds it all together.

noob singles out a sub with very good roast beef, smoked Gouda, and almost winelike pickled blueberries. In this sandwich, too, the submarine crew (from Brooklyn's No. 7) is thinking globally; there's a touch of doenjang, the Korean bean paste commonly used in K-town a couple blocks to the north. Other choices include a broccoli sandwich with fresh mozzarella, Thai basil pesto, and fried lemon; braised lamb sandwich with peanut butter, mint jelly, and pappadam; and "General Tso's Tofu," with broccoli mayo, carrot, and roasted onion.

Some find these sandwiches skimpy for the $9 price, but noob thinks the high-quality ingredients and inventive combinations are worth the bucks. "They're small, definitely not a bargain, but they're not outrageous," he says. "They're about the size of sandwiches from 'Wichcraft or Lamazou, which are similarly priced."

No. 7 Sub Shop [Midtown]
In the Ace Hotel, 1188 Broadway (at W. 29th Street), Manhattan
212-532-1680

Discuss: No. 7 Sub Shop

Scalini Fedeli Revisited

There's been little recent word on Scalini Fedeli, the old-school Italian house in Tribeca, so Dan Boston's recent update counts as news. "It was fantastic," he declares.

Sautéed ricotta gnocchi, in arugula and sun-dried tomato sauce finished with grated goat cheese, was heavenly: slightly firm on the outside, soft, creamy, and luscious on the inside. The sauce, Dan adds, had rich tomato flavor and velvety texture. Duck two ways (leg confit and breast), served over truffle corn risotto, was a satisfying, well-executed daily special. The confit had nice crisp skin, Dan reports, and the meat was delicate, succulent, and flavorful; the breast was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. Red snapper with a Sicilian-style olive-tomato jus was superb: moist, perfectly cooked fish, topped with a seasoned crust that lent flavor and a pleasing crunch. It came with a fantastic caponata of tender eggplant with a rich tomato base and welcome sweetness from currant. Others recommend spicy, peppery short ribs and raviolo with egg and truffle.

"I’ve been to Babbo a few times," Dan writes, "and while Babbo is a more modern restaurant the food at Scalini Fedeli was every bit as good."

Scalini Fedeli [Tribeca]
165 Duane Street (near Hudson Street), Manhattan
212-528-0400

Discuss: Very impressed with Scalini Fedeli
Scalini Fedeli – Best Dishes

Download CHOW Wallpaper: Fiji Cookies

This week's wallpaper is the Fiji Cookie (a.k.a. Girl Scout Samoas), taken from our Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies feature. Of all three of our Girl-Scout cookie tributes (which also include Left Behinds and Slim Mints), the Fijis were the most intricate to make as both the chocolate and caramel must be at just the right temperatures when dipping. READ MORE

Overheard on the New York Boards

"[T]he meat itself is moist and flavorful; I found it surprisingly tender, and the slice itself was hearty. I agree that the sauce (slathered on beneath a layer of mayo) was a tad sweet, probably because the homemade white bread it comes on already sports a subtly sweet backbone of its own. I balanced it out with a few dabs of their hot sauce (essentially Frank's Redhot) and could not have been fatter, nor happier." – CalJack on barbecued brisket at Pies 'n' Thighs

"Absurd kitsch, half-mute, brutish waiters in sailor uniforms right out of Jean Genet's Querelle, the Baltika flows freely, etc. Order the red caviar and blini." – guanubian on Gambrinus

"Anytime (or every time!) I buy something from them I am taken aback at the price a bit, I get home, make what I've bought and think it was worth the price—I also then make sure to use EVERY bit of what I've bought, making stock, rendering lard, etc." – quentinC on the Meat Hook