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

Chilling with Noodles at a Ramen Shop

Terakawa surfaced on the CHOW radar last year for its rich tonkotsu ramen. Now overheated hounds have discovered its hiyashi chuka, a lighter noodle dish served cold with chicken and vegetable toppings and a choice of seasonings: mustard (with a saltier broth) or wasabi with yuzu kosho, the citrus-and-pepper condiment. Both are terrific, reports bigjeff: agreeably chewy noodles in a generous serving. He forecasts return visits over the long hot summer.

Terakawa Ramen [Gramercy]
18 Lexington Avenue (between E. 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan
212-777-2939

Discuss: Terakawa Ramen

Two Takeout Finds in Brooklyn

"Better than mom's." That’s how good the chicken salad is at Brancaccio's in Windsor Terrace, declares noob, whose mom had better not be reading this. noob, who's been perennially disappointed by the local chicken salad choices, says this one, made with apples and raisins, is "as close to my platonic ideal as it gets—tangy, with just the right balance of salt, sweet and crunch."

But there’s much more than chicken salad at Brancaccio's, an Italian-leaning takeout shop whose chef-owner once cooked for the uptown gourmet grocery Agata & Valentina. Other good bets from the daily-changing menu include rotisserie chicken; glazed pork chops; orecchiette in tomato sauce; hanger steak in red wine-rosemary sauce; macaroni and cheese with bacon or truffles; and vegetable sides like broccoli rabe and Brussels sprouts. This isn't bargain dining, noob notes, but it's also "no more expensive than ordering an app and entrée from one of our few, mediocre delivery options, and infinitely better."

Greenpointers also have a fine takeout option in the "hot bar" recently added at Brooklyn Standard. Around 10 vegetable and meat dishes, emphasizing local ingredients, are sold by the pound from 5 to 11 p.m. "Everything I've gotten has been terrific -- glazed carrots, roasted mushrooms, grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes and stuffed peppers," chompchomp reports. "Such a nice, new option for quick, healthy meals on the go."

Brancaccio's Food Shop [Windsor Terrace]
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway (between E. Second and Third streets), Brooklyn
718-435-1997

Brooklyn Standard Deli [Greenpoint]
188 Nassau Avenue (at Humboldt Street), Brooklyn
718-472-2150

Discuss: Brancaccio's Food Shop (Windsor Terrace / Kensington)
Brooklyn Standard on Nassau Ave in Greenpoint

Overheard on the New York Boards

"Definitely great value for $25! I had the squid salad that was very tender and flavorful (delicate rings of squid accompanied by fish sauce, cilantro, scallions and pearl onions). I also had the steak frites (4 thick slices of very beefy-flavored medium rare steak and rice fries—delicious!). Dessert was a 'taste' of cereal milk panna cotta and crack pie. I also had the pork spring roll that was very light (not fried); there were good sized chunks of very tender pork." – ellenost on the prix fixe lunch at Má Pêche

"Best bolognese and homemade pasta (orecchiette) I've had since I was in Italy. And their salad with fresh berries, tomatoes, walnuts and honey vinaigrette was heavenly. All in all fresh, creative and authentic Italian." – Meg on Il Punto

"We visited the original incarnation a couple of years ago, and liked it but didn't find it revolutionary. Went again a month ago ... and it blew. Our. Minds. ... While the lamb dishes had formerly been excellent, now the same level of detail seems to have been paid to everything on the menu, from the hummus to the kibbeh to the arabic salad to the knafeh. Dear lord, try the knafeh." – cjd260 on Tanoreen

"One of their roast pork buns and a cup of java (with cream) was a passport to paradise. And the hugest coffee urns and convivial atmosphere with so many local residents enjoying a coffee break. ... What a price we pay for 'development.'" – iraperelson on Chatham Restaurant, closed this month

N’Awlins Chef Sues BP for Losses

Susan Spicer, executive chef of Bayona, one of New Orleans's most acclaimed restaurants, filed a class-action lawsuit last week against BP on behalf of Bayona Corp. and other businesses similarly affected by the oil spill.

A key excerpt from the suit:

Much of Plaintiff’s business is based on the unique quality of Louisiana seafood, as well as the chain of delivery of that resource from the initial harvester (be it fisherman, oyster grower, or shrimper) either directly to Plaintiff or through processors with whom Plaintiff has long-standing relationships. In order to maintain the level of seafood quality required and expected by Plaintiff and its patrons, this chain of delivery is essential. Because this chain of delivery can not be maintained, Plaintiff’s business has been, and continues to be, materially damaged.

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Taking Over That Vacant Lot

It is so annoying walking past vacant plots in your neighborhood day after day. That weed-choked chunk of greenage could be a groovy garden, planted with food for the community, or flowers and plants for people to look at. But seed bombing aside, you can't just move in and claim the land as garden space without doing some groundwork (sorry). Writer Stephanie Paige Ogburn has advice for ambitious urban horticulturalists on the city blog Oakland Local.

Ogburn's advice is aimed at Oakland, California, residents, but most of the advice is just as good for residents of other cities. Basically it's a matter of finding out who owns the land and leaning on the right people to get permission to garden there. Vacant lot owners may be worried about liability issues with a bunch of folks tromping around on their property, so a certain amount of finesse (and plenty of urban gardening know-how) will come in handy.

[Via SFGate]

Image source: Flickr member sflovestory under Creative Commons

The Propaganda of Food

They don't make ’em like they used to. A slideshow of vintage World War II–era Ministry of Food posters from London's Imperial War Museum is a model for graphic designers from any era. Propaganda in the best possible sense, these posters are bright, clear, concise, and memorable.
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Unicorn Meat Ad Brings Down Big Pork’s Wrath

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After running a farcical April Fools' ad for canned unicorn meat, web store ThinkGeek received a 12-page cease-and-desist screed from the National Pork Board, demanding that ThinkGeek stop using the phrase "the new white meat," thinking it too similar to its slogan "The Other White Meat."

"We certainly understand that unicorns don't exist," Ceci Snyder, vice president of marketing for the National Pork Board, told the Associated Press, which snickered over the fracas. "Yes, it's funny. But if you don't respond, you are opening your trademark up to challenges."

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The Exoticism of Marshmallow Fluff

YouTube user and professional trend forecaster Simone Haruko Smith did some ethnic anthropology of the first order (wherein first means most entertaining) while traveling through a gourmet grocery store in Berlin's Alexanderplatz. She discovered (and video documented) the "American" ethnic food section. So if you've ever wandered through the Asian or undifferentiated "Latin" section of a grocery store and wondered what it would feel like to have the shoe on the other foot, here's your chance. [via The Daily What] READ MORE

A Chef Breaks Out of His Market Stall

Mateo Granados's farmers' market stall may be familiar to hounds who frequently visit wine country, but that experience only hints at what he can do as a chef. Recently, he's been doing a pop-up restaurant, Tendejon de la Calle, at various locations.

"I’ve had breakfast many times at Chef Mateo’s farmers market stand, but even with that familiarity, I was dazzled by his performance at dinner," says Melanie Wong after a dinner with Chowhounds. The intricately constructed flavors are on a par with the French Laundry's, she says.

"Evolucion de un taco," a meltingly tender concoction of goat-head cheese fried in duck fat with fava bean purée, guajillo sauce, greens, and a tangy raw-rhubarb salpicon, was wearybashful's favorite of the antojitos. Cynsa loved the cured Bolinas halibut and the green corn atole with duck egg, roasted asparagus, and preserved Meyer lemon.

Days after the chowdown, snarkygirl says, "We haven't stopped talking about the duck enchilada. Heaven." It was swathed in a house-made mole sauce that had cooked for three days for a rich, unforgettable flavor. Rabbit also gets the slow treatment, braised gently with what seems like the contents of a kitchen garden. "In spite of the exotic meat and elegant presentation, I was reminded of my grandmother's cooking somehow," wearybashful says. "It was the long slow braising of the meat that created that grandmother's kitchen flavor."

Mateo Granados [Sonoma County]
541 Fitch Street, Healdsburg
707-433-2338

Discuss: Yucatán Chowdown Report: 12-Course Tendejon de la Calle Dinner by Mateo Granados

Super Duper Burgers

Super Duper Burgers is fast food with a pedigree—the burgers feature Niman Ranch beef—but without any gourmet pretensions. A no-frills burger starts at $3.75. balabanian raves about the cheeseburger—“perfectly cooked, juicy, great proportion of meat to bun to dressings"—and the thin, crispy fries.

Absonot really likes the chicken burger, especially with the chipotle sauce. There's Racer 5 beer on tap, and a nicer selection of desserts than at, say, In-N-Out. Strawberry shakes are made with fresh strawberries, and you can get Strauss Creamery soft-serve ice cream in a chocolate-dipped cone. A little more unusual is the sundae with chocolate chip cookies and bacon.

Super Duper Burgers [Castro]
2304 Market Street, San Francisco
415-558-8123

Discuss: Report: Super Duper Burgers (Market & Castro in SF)