The CHOW Blog rss

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

Guy Fieri Wins Peabody

The spiky-haired Food Network star Guy Fieri joined the ranks of some of television's most legendary contributors last Wednesday by receiving a Peabody Award for his show Guy Off the Hook. The chef, who rose to national prominence after winning as a contestant on The Next Food Network Star, has garnered critical acclaim for his three other Food Network shows: Guy's Big Bite, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. But it was this latest work, taped in front of a live studio audience, that finally earned him the official recognition many feel is long overdue. He joins the ranks of 60 Minutes, CNN's coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, and a PBS documentary about deaf prisoners who form a reggae band, among other winners.

"Guy clearly digs hangin' with the regular folks, who are livin' life 'on point,' and 'off the hook,'" said the director of the Peabody Awards program. "Our deliberations seek excellence on its own terms, and Guy clearly has achieved that."

Image source: Flickr member Greencolander under Creative Commons

Community Slaughterhouse and Wi-Fi Café in Williamsburg an Instant Game-Changer

About the only thing that hasn't been tweeted, blogged, Facebooked, or written about the Jungle, the über-hip slaughterhouse-cum–espresso bar in Williamsburg, is a guess at who will be the first to imitate it. And more to the point, will they succeed? Since opening last fall, the bloody, offal-strewn warehouse, where you can kill your own animals in between sips of Stumptown coffee, has become the new town square for the bohemian epicenter of New York.

Shy Curtain and Moss Fenugreek, the impresarios behind the Jungle, have been coy about their plans for the future. A report in Grub Street surfaced in February that the pair were in talks with the Olive Garden for a spin-off, to be located in the Fisherman's Wharf district of San Francisco. "They would solely be the breadstick supplier," Fenugreek was quoted as saying. "It's something we're considering."

The Surprise of Cultured Cottage Cheese

Nancy's cottage cheese doesn't taste like other cottage cheese, says cookie monster—it has a tart flavor, similar to sour cream. "Not like sour milk, but like someone had mixed some sour cream into it," explains cookie monster.

The unusual flavor is because it's a cultured dairy product, like yogurt. "That's the reason I love it—I find most other cottage cheese to be quite 'bleh' now," says nofunlatte. "FWIW, Nancy's non-organic cottage cheese is also cultured and it has that same tangy quality. It has nothing to do with the 'organicness' and everything to do with the 'culturedness.'" At $4 a tub, it's a bit of a splurge. But "I don't even eat the other stuff anymore, it's so bland," says nofunlatte.

Discuss: organic cottage cheese

Grape Cane Smuggling Comes Out of the Suitcase

Agricultural officials in Napa, California, are turning a critical eye towards the region's "winked-at" act of sneaking in grape cuttings, reports Tracie Cone in the Associated Press, due to the detection of a pest called the European grapevine moth which damages grapes in its larval form. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has imposed a quarantine on parts of Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties to try and control the spread of the moth. But it's odd that it's taken this long to call out smuggling vine cuttings as risky in an area where "an acre of fruit can sell for $15,000 and more." READ MORE

Oatmeal, Um, Cheese?

We Can't Say It's Cheese is a line of nondairy imitation cheese spread made from oatmeal. There are three flavors: basic cheddar, smoky cheddar, and Mexi-cheddar, says antennastoheaven.

What's it like? "It's tasty and cheese-like, but just to be clear, no one is going to mistake it for real cheese," says antennastoheaven. "It is creamy and works very nicely on sandwiches or crackers. I have seen reports from others online that it is nice heated up but I have not yet tried it that way." antennastoheaven has had all three flavors, and prefers the smoky cheddar variety.

Discuss: Has anyone tried the new oatmeal "cheese" spread?

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"Here, there was a court case not long ago that hinged on whether or not a wrap is a sandwich." - greygarious

"Lots of threads discuss which 'x' is the most authentic and decry how a cuisine gets dumbed down to suit the tastes of the locals who clearly can't appreciate the 'real deal.' I have to wonder how long a business serving the 'real deal' would last if the locals didn't want to eat it? Case in point: Japanese curry. I like it and I also like Indian currys, but they're totally different flavor profiles suited to their particular customers. Do Indians in Japan think Japanese curry is 'dumbed down' to suit the locals?" - monkeyrotica

"[W]hen it comes to things like baguettes or any sandwich made in a long thin shaped loaf—I think Americans would refer to them as 'subs'—I know it looks sophisticated or whatever, but when you order one at a shop, the 'dramatic diagonal slice in half' just. doesn't. work. I had a girl do it with a proud flourish the other day and I had to chuckle as I walked away, because she'd done the diagonal cut just so darn dramatically that half the filling had fallen out, and for several bites all I was eating was very pointy bread." - raisingirl

Hot and Steamy Crawfish Boils

It's tough to get a real Cajun-style crawfish boil in the Boston area, but Nolapants has found a humdinger: "I've spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and the boiled crawfish at Brother's Crawfish were some of the best I've had outside of Louisiana, and easily the best I've had in Boston (although I realize that might not be saying much)."

The owner gets daily deliveries of live crawfish from Louisiana; Nolapants says they have "relatively soft shells and tasty tail meat." They come with three different sauces: Asian Fusion (the hottest variety), Cajun Calm (typical Cajun spices), and the Oriental Express (garlic, onion, butter, and scallions).

"The boil had a lot of flavor and good spice with a subtle—and somewhat unexpected—sweetness. The heat was definitely there, but not overwhelming. The owner told us that if they weren't hot enough he'd be happy to add some more heat the next time we're there."

The crawfish are $10 a pound, and the boil includes corn, andouille, and red potatoes. The place seats about 20, and it's clean but rather plain. That doesn't seem to bother the crowds already filling the seats, though.

Brother's Crawfish [Dorchester]
272 Adams Street, Dorchester
617-265-1100

Discuss: Anyone know of any local restaurants doing crawfish boils?

A Sip of Belgium

Longing for a little taste of what he experienced on a trip to Belgium, wizardofnod asked where to find the best beers on tap. And the hounds answered:

"In Brookline, Publick House is a mecca for Belgian beer," says Mr Bigglesworth. "Up the road, their [sister] restaurant American Craft is a better choice, with an extensive draft list. Ask for the GM Chris—he'll absolutely steer you in the direction of great beer. Even better, save your receipt and go next door for 10 percent off at Provisions, their beer store."

trufflehound favors the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, which "has a large selection of Belgian beers on tap and in bottle. Great, locally sourced food too."

Publick House [South Shore]
1648 Beacon Street, Brookline
617-277-2880

American Craft [South Shore]
1700 Beacon Street, Brookline
617-487-4290

Publick House Provisions [South Shore]
1706 Beacon Street, Brookline
617-487-4322

Armsby Abbey [MetroWest]
144 Main Street, Worcester
508-795-1012

Discuss: Just Back From Belgium

Diary of a New Food Truck Owner: Part One

Diary of a New Food Truck Owner is an ongoing series where we talk with Meg Hilgartner and Siri Skelton, owners of a fledgling San Francisco mobile soft-serve ice cream business called Twirl and Dip. In this first entry, Meg describes wrangling a 500-pound industrial soft-serve machine, and having to throw away the results of most of their recipe-testing sessions. READ MORE

Whatever Tops Your Waffle

The waffle is incredibly versatile, a very "forgiving food," says moh, that goes with "whatever you feel like eating that day." Some of the best waffle toppings are the most traditional. TheSwedishFish prefers "thin, crispy waffles with heaps of maple syrup, or strawberries and whipped cream," and ipsedixit likes waffles topped with a poached egg and some bacon. kermit gets a little more daring with "thinned out nutella, banana slices and toasted walnuts or pecans," or lingonberry jam with whipped cream.

Emme really gilds the lily. She makes maple taffy, cuts it into little pieces, and stirs it into waffle batter. "My ex loved a ricotta and sometimes blue cheese waffle with a caramelized fig topping," she says. moh loved waffles smeared with passion fruit butter in Hawaii; or try chestnut purée, raspberries preserved in brandy, or caramelized apples in rum butter. And dijon offers a family favorite: "Try sprinkling cheddar cheese on top of the waffle before closing the top iron. Crispy brown cheese, fine with real maple syrup."

Discuss: Waffle day—what's your favourite waffle topping?