The CHOW Blog rss

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

Cooking Channel: Tree Falls in Television Forest

The Cooking Channel has debuted, created by the folks behind the Food Network, and results have been surprisingly quiet. Replacing the Fine Living Network on the cable dial, it's aimed at younger viewers.

The lineup is intriguing at first glance: Chefography does bio-treatments of favorite cooks like Julia Child and Nigella Lawson; Food(ography) is hosted by wry comedian Mo Rocca and delves into the historical and cultural aspects of foodstuffs like noodles and ice cream. Former CHOW staffer Aida Mollenkamp has a new show, in addition to Ask Aida, which has migrated to the network: Called FoodCrafters, it scouts out artisan food producers across the country.

READ MORE

Cozy, Simple, and Fresh: Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day is "a cozy neighborhood spot for delicious, fresh fish, well-prepared; nothing fancy or ostentatious here in the way of presentation, just a generous serving of fish at a fair price," says Joani Macaroni. "For those who love a homey spot with lots of quaint signs and other seaside decor you'll have plenty to browse at."

Macadamia-crusted flounder and macadamia-crusted halibut are both excellent: fresh, generously sized, and cooked to perfection. Service is friendly, and there are bunches of regulars.

Catch of the Day [Orange County - Beaches]
6854 Edinger Avenue, Huntington Beach
714-841-5472

Discuss: Catch of the Day - Huntington Beach

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"Have heard from others that I should go to Madeo, if for no other reason, than to have their pasta Bolognese. It was superb. Best I can remember eating outside of Italy." – maudies5

"The fried de ga, best described as a noodle in the shape of a cube, visually reminiscent of a butter mint, is chewy like cat ears noodles and is very good." – Chandvakl on the brand-new Beijing Restaurant

"It was only after I took the first bite that I realized how much I missed Black Perigord Truffles. There's a beautiful fragrance that's unmistakable, which engages your sense of smell before you even taste. And then the soft, quivering Poached Egg breaks open to bestow this amazing silky, creamy quality to every bite." – exilekiss on RH at the Andaz Hotel

A Grill and Soda Pop Blast From the Past

Slate dug into photo archives to bring its readers a slideshow of some of the most weird, evocative, and nostalgia-inducing shots of backyard grilling through the decades. Worth it alone for the shot of Jayne Mansfield with her husband, Mickey Hargitay, who brings a surreal boxer-shorts-wearing shirtless muscleman look to the backyard. Mansfield's animal-print robe and purse-sized dogs complete the picture.

READ MORE

If You Loved New Coke, You’ll Tolerate New 7UP

Eric Steinman, writing at MSN's Delish, chronicles the upcoming plan to reformulate 7UP. The end goal? The company will be "using 'technology' to give 7UP a 'crisper' lemon and lime taste, and the soft drink will come with new graphics on its packaging, all in an effort to compete with Coke and Pepsi."

READ MORE

6 Best Places to Drink Beer in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is arguably the biggest beer geek haven in America outside, maybe, Portland, Oregon. Belgian beer bars are so common here as to become yawn-worthy, and even blue-collar neighborhood pubs have cask ale. "We’re not a trendsetting city," says Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan; "however, we were on the cutting edge of the beer trend." As Philadelphia stands poised to hurdle into its craft beer week celebration (June 4 through 13) with a mind-blowing number of great events, we took a look at a handful of good places to drink. This is by no means even a fraction of all the best spots: Each neighborhood has a gem or three at which to knock one back. READ MORE

Monumental Mayan

The ambitious new Haltun Mayan Cuisine "offers an array of flavors in the most comprehensive Mayan menu in the neighborhood," says Cynsa, who was among a group of hounds who headed over to check it out.

"I would definitely go back just for the cochinita pibil," says sfbing. "I wish the meat had been a touch more tender, but the sauce was brothy and complex."

But first, check out appetizers like dzoto-bi-chay, a steamed corn dough dumpling stuffed with crushed pumpkin seeds wrapped with chard; or pol-can (fried corn dumpling stuffed with lima beans and crushed pumpkin seeds). And brazo de reina ("queen's arm") is an elaborate variation on the tamal: steamed spinach-corn dough stuffed with hard-boiled egg, crushed pumpkin seed, and tomato with a tomato-onion sauce. "The spinach combined well with the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds," notes Melanie Wong.

The piquant, tangy sopa de lima is also excellent.

Haltun Mayan Cuisine
2948 21st Street, San Francisco
415-643-6411

Discuss: Haltun — traditional Mayan cuisine [SF]

Fresh Chinese Choices in Flushing

The Chairman himself might approve of the "Mao's style" braised pork at Flushing's Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. scoopG describes juicy, well-cooked belly meat in gravy, the best dish of a promising meal that also included flavorful smoked beef in a shower of dried white peppers. Chicken with hot red pepper, chunks of meat on the bone, comes in a mountain of dried chiles with bits of garlic, ginger, and scallion. For a textural change of pace, try pickled cabbage, light and crunchy with a mild kick, or mashed, sesame-scented Hunan eggplant, billed as spicy though it really isn't.

As the restaurant's name might suggest, it's connected with the Manhattan-based Grand Sichuan chain, scoop was told. So he tried the Sichuan classic dan dan noodles, which sadly turned out to be overcooked and short on meat. Still, he'd readily return to this place, the second credible Hunanese option in a neighborhood that already has a huge hound favorite in Hunan House on Northern Boulevard.

Flushing's Chinese banquet is so bounteous these days that Chowhounds also have a second option for Shandong food from the northern coast: Lu Xiang Yuan, not far from Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. Lamb soup is one highlight here, scoop reports, deeply lamb-y with touches of vinegar, scallion, and white pepper. Others include earthy and refreshing Tiger Salad, made with chrysanthemum greens; tasty pan-fried guo tie pork-and-chive dumplings, open at both ends; and eggs scrambled with mild green chiles. And an eye-catching specialty is rose fragrant fish, topped with mayonnaise, crushed peanuts, and a scattering of rose petals. "Probably only a dish to be ordered once," scoop reckons. Over all he finds Lu Xiang Yuan a notch below M&T, the hound-recommended Shandong restaurant on Kissena Boulevard, but still worth checking out.

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan [Flushing]
42-47 Main Street (near Franklin Avenue), Flushing, Queens
718-888-0553

Lu Xiang Yuan [Flushing]
42-87 Main Street (between Blossom and Cherry avenues), Flushing, Queens
718-359-2108

Discuss: Flushing Review: Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Flushing's Fragrant Shandong Garden

A Bright Spot for Uptown Coffee Lovers

Luna Espresso recently replaced a Dunkin' Donuts, instantly improving the Yorkville coffee scene. Uptown java hounds report expertly made lattes, high-end Clover hardware, and the best iced coffee on the Upper East Side. "This is a real plus for the neighborhood!" says Brian W.

Luna Espresso [Upper East Side]
1593 First Avenue (at E. 83rd Street), Manhattan
212-772-8866

Discuss: Luna Espresso - UES
Cold-brewed iced coffee, anywhere between 42nd-100th?

Flavors of Ghana in the Bronx

West Africans like their meat chewy, and fredid is coming around to their way of thinking. At Papaye in the Bronx, the stewed goat that comes with palaver sauce, the Ghanian stew of greens and egusi (ground squash seed), is "gamy and great!" This luncheonette, the older of two Papayes in a small Ghanian enclave, is a friendly joint, but the illustrated menu is short on explanation. fredid suggests that those new to the cuisine might want to read up a bit before dropping by.

Papaye [Bronx]
196 McClellan Street (near Sherman Avenue), Bronx
718-681-3240

Discuss: Delicious Ghanaian food! In the Bronx, easily accessible