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

Grass-Fed Beef Sliders Truck

A big winner from the new gourmet truck scene: the Patty Wagon, which serves up grass-fed beef sliders. They're quite wonderful, says farmertomato. The beef was "recognizably superior, and the buns were not the crumbly disasters served at Counter."

Topping options include "spectacular" caramelized onions, says farmertomato, and a special of peppers and Guinness cheese made farmertomato very happy.

The Patty Wagon
No formal address; for location info, see its Twitter feed

Discuss: Patty Wagon—YES

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"The charcuterie was excellent: duck prosciutto (fatty and flavorful), Tuscan salami, and a blue cheese, a cheddar, and a hard goat cheese." - NAspy on the newly opened gastropub Sublime Food Lounge

"Among the best burgers to be found anywhere and the Belgian fries really kick." - degustateur on Claremont's The Back Abbey

"Hayat's by far is the best I've ever had. Perfectly sized and cooked." - mrshankly on the best falafel in town

How to Make James Beard Furious

Cookbook author Barbara Kafka unspools some tasty anecdotes in an interview with the Hungry Beast, including the story of how she launched a venerable working relationship with James Beard:

"Burt Wolf took me down to 12th Street to meet Mr. Beard. I came in, I sat down. He was huge! He made Julia look like a pygmy! Not really, but they got along well because they were both oversized people. He was oversized in that his feet were tugboats, his hands were huge. We were getting along swimmingly. He said, 'What did you cook last night?' and I said I’d made a pâté. And he said, 'How did you line the pan?' and I said I’d lined it with kidney fat. And he said, 'You can’t line the pan with kidney fat!' And I said, 'Mr. Beard, I cut it very thin, I put it between layers of waxed paper, I roll it out very thin, and then I lined the pan with it.' He stormed to his feet in a very loud voice and looked at Burt and said, 'I can’t work with this woman, she’s impossible! I can’t work with her!' And he pounds out of the hall, halfway up the steps. I’m trembling, frightened to death, putting on my coat. Then the footsteps stop and he comes down the stairs and he says, 'You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been in a foul mood all day.' It was the only time I ever heard Jim apologize to anybody."

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James Beard Award Nominees Announced

Today the James Beard Foundation sent out the full list of nominees for its 2010 awards, including books, journalism, broadcast media, restaurants and chefs, and more. We were thrilled to see CHOW.com nominated along with Epicurious.com and Saveur.com for the "Website Focusing on Food, Beverage, Restaurants, or Nutrition" category. Here is a rundown of the other food journalism nominees. To check out the full eleven-page list of all the categories, you can download this .pdf file. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Reviews

Jonathan Gold
LA Weekly
“Sauced,” “Hot Birria, Cold Cerveza,” “Hare Today”

Patric Kuh
Los Angeles
“Border Crossing,” “Peru Calling,” “The Classic”

Jason Sheehan
Westword
“White on White,” “Wonderland,” “Mourning”

Food Blog

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Your Fantasy Baker Job Is Waiting

Fantasize about quitting your job and starting a little bakery in your neighborhood? That’s exactly what the professional program at the San Francisco Baking Institute will train you to do. Little known outside the restaurant world (its president and founder Michel Suas hates marketing), the SFBI offers one of the most prestigious baking programs in the country. Students enrolled in its professional program will spend 17 weeks, full-time, learning every aspect of baking, from breads (sourdoughs included), to pastry (wedding cakes, elaborately plated desserts, etc), to viennoiserie (sweet yeasted stuff like breakfast pastries). After graduation, top students have the opportunity to intern at the school’s working bakery in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, Thorough Bread. If any graduate decides to start his or her own bakery, Suas provides free consulting on everything from building a business plan to sourcing equipment.

I saw the talents of SFBI students first hand at both the SF Food Wars Yeast Affliction bread competition, where they swept the top prizes, and last Friday's professional program graduation. Below is a slide show taken at the graduation. The students spent an entire week baking for the celebration: tables were laden with a staggering number and range of breads, pastries, confections, and even pizza.

Images by Eric Slatkin of CHOW.com.

Turn Juice Into Booze!

Federweisser is a sparkling alcoholic drink most common in Germany and Eastern Europe. It tastes like slightly loopy lemonade and is usually made from freshly pressed grape juice and served by the tall, cool, refreshing glass. But good luck ordering it away from the Rhineland: though it's easy enough to make, it hasn't caught on in America. Yet.

Spike Your Juice is a DIY federweisser kit that turns a bottle of juice into a fizzy alcoholic drink. For $10, you get six packets of Spike Your Juice's proprietary yeast blend, enough to make six 64-ounce bottles, plus a bottle stopper and an airlock gadget to keep your homemade glug free of any contaminants while it's fermenting. Mix in the yeast packet, stop up the bottle, stick your juice in the fridge, and two days later you have booze! You can drink it then or keep letting it ferment; the alcohol content goes up to 14 percent with time.

You can use just about any juice with Spike Your Juice, but apparently the product's group of European founders are currently hot to trot on Ocean Spray's White Cranberry & Peach.

Spike Your Juice, $10

The Importance of a Clean Beer Glass

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Off flavors in beer can come from dirty pints. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

How to Pair Beer with Food

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Beer's not just good with nachos. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

At Paulie Gee’s, a Pizza Lover Goes Pro

For Paul Giannone, this pizza thing has gotten out of hand. A pizza lover turned pizza blog regular turned amateur pizzaiolo and backyard pizza oven builder, he went pro this month, opening Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Smart move, says dhs, who describes a Neapolitan-style crust with good flavor, a pleasing chew, and a pronounced char. ("If you don't like char on your pizza, this probably won't be your place," he cautions.) One standout topping is the Parma d'Or: prosciutto, arugula, fior di latte mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano with an unusual and welcome lift from lemon juice. Other toppings on the opening menu include the Regina (fior di latte, Italian tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, basil), the Delboy (soppressata picante, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fior di latte, Italian tomatoes), and the Mootz (chopped garlic, Pecorino Romano, fior di latte, sea salt).

quentin thinks the dough badly needs salt. didactic katydid sees his point but notes that a salty topping—for example, sausage with mozzarella, marinara, and onion in one occasional special, the "Cuban"—can counter blandness in the crust. Overall, though, there's plenty of potential here, and obviously no shortage of passion in the proprietor. "I have the same feeling I had when I first tried Motorino when it opened," dhs says. "A definite must try for the pizza obsessed."

Paulie Gee's [Greenpoint]
60 Greenpoint Avenue (between Franklin and West streets), Brooklyn
347-987-3747

Discuss: Paulie Gee's—New pizza in Greenpoint

How to Identify Off Flavors in Beer

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Know when a beer is bad. ... WATCH THE VIDEO