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

Mediocre Cookies Evoke Camping Adventure

Mediocre Cookies Evoke Camping Adventure

This week's mission: three s'mores-themed goldfish cookies, one bag. READ MORE

Marmalade: The Good Stuff

Is it possible to find good marmalade in the United States? As far as orange marmalade is concerned, says Karl S, make sure your marmalade is made from sour (Seville) oranges, not regular sweet oranges: "a lot of American marmalade is of the sweet type, which is not the gold standard, as it were," he says. Imports are often a better bet. plum likes Wilkinson's Tiptree Tawny thick-cut marmalade, with its "dark, almost caramelised flavour and thick pieces of orange rind." It can be found in some large supermarkets or British import stores, says plum. And along the lines of dark, caramelized marmalade, cheesemaestro recommends Busha Browne's "Burned Orange Marmalade," made in Jamaica. "Availability in the US is spotty, but Gourmet Library in N.J. has it now," he says.

As for non-orange marmalades, Linda Whit thinks the tangerine marmalade from Aloha from Oregon is fantastic. cavandre likes Stonewall Kitchen Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, which isn't as sweet as most others. And smtucker loves all the Trappist Monk marmalades, but especially the lemon. KristieB agrees: "I would love to find another jar of that lemon marmalade. It was fabulous! I also like Rose's Key Lime marmalade on English muffins."

Discuss: what's the best brand of marmelade (orange or other)?

Pickles as Hot and Sour as Love Itself

Oh, Moon Brine pickles were so wonderful! Crispy, flavorful, perfect ... too bad you can't get ’em anymore, because the guy who made them is moving to Oregon. A worthy substitute is Grillo's. "The guy who makes them was on hand at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods and he said he's following his grandfather's recipe, and making them in Newmarket Square. I'm not a dill pickle lover, but I thought they were the best dills I've ever tasted," says katzzz. Grillo's runs a stand outside of the T station if you want a taste; two spears for a buck.

In other pickle news, BostonZest responded to a request for Amish-style hot pickles with this scintillating news: "I was out at Wilson Farms in Lexington today and saw lots of pickled items. There were hot bread and butter pickles, Okra, beans, etc."

Grillo's Pickles Stand [Downtown]
Park & Tremont streets, Boston
No phone available

Wilson Farms [North of Boston]
10 Pleasant Street, Lexington
781-862-3900

Discuss: Moon Brine pickle dude is moving to Oregon
Amish-style hot pickles

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"Every so often I'll overlook a container of mini mozzarella balls from TJ's in the fridge, and when I taste test them WAY past their sell by date they're usually just a little bitter tasting, but what's interesting is that they seem almost carbonated." - EWSflash

"It reminds me of those push-up pops, always felt like I was eating ice cream out of a toilet paper roll." - Boccone Dolce, on pop-up sushi in a plastic tube

"How can I not resist paying $1.29 with my club card of some warm French Loaf bread love? They could mark it up a thousand percent and they would still kill it. I just want to thank the Grocery stores on the marketing concept. It really is brilliant." - Beach Chick, on warm loaves of French bread at the grocery store checkout line

An Irish Breakfast to Cure What Ails You

When last night's indulgences are making this morning a headache, giant Irish breakfasts are a good way to come back to life. Rashers of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, black and white pudding—these are stick-to-your-ribs foods to settle you on a Sunday morning.

Hounds recommend the fry-up at Sonny's Adams Village: "it's tremendously popular with the Irish folks in the neighborhood. The ones who are actually from Ireland and want a taste of home," says C. Hamster. "Plus the Village is the most Irish neighborhood around."

The other board favorite is the Druid in Inman Square, where Small Plates says there's an "[e]xcellent Irish breakfast that rivals any I've had in each of the 26 counties." It is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes traditional Irish Galtee sausage links, with "lovely crispy fried spuds and really wonderful crispy sunny side up eggs and baked beans," says mick_t.

Sonny's Adams Village Restaurant & Lounge [Dorchester]
750 Adams Street, Boston
617-436-9432

Druid [Cambridge]
1357 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
617-497-0965

Discuss: What's the best Irish Breakfast around?

Welcome to Wisconsin, Bar Capital of the Universe

The geography blog Floatingsheep has done a magnificent job of dramatically illustrating something that I learned first-hand while growing up in south-central Wisconsin--the Badger State is the epicenter of drinking in the country, if not this branch of the spiral galaxy known as the Milky Way.

Casual drinking, professional drinking, irresponsible drinking, jolly drinking, stopping by the gas station to buy some beers for later before going to the bar drinking--it's all part of the state's folkways. A Floatingsheep map depicts red dots featuring places where bars outnumber grocery stores and Wisconsin cleans up. (No disrespect is intended toward northern Illinois and northern Iowa, nor parts of Minnesota and the other plains states, since they do OK.) It's gotta be some sort of perfect storm of Germanic heritage and six-month-long winters.

An Oshkosh resident chimes in on the comments section to add a bit of cultural clarity:

"It is someplace warm to go hang out and relax with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers and it has always been that way. I guess other places have coffee shops?"

A Taste of Puerto Rico

Mofongo is a classic Dominican/Puerto Rican dish that elbev reverently calls "king of them all." It's not mangu, a gooey mash of boiled green plantains, and it's not a canoa, a plantain split down the middle, filled with spiced beef and cheese, and then fried. Instead, mofongo starts with deep-fried plantains, which are then mashed with garlic, broth, olive oil, and, when the lily is being gilded, pork cracklings. Then, "if someone is being extra fancy," says StriperGuy, they can make canoas de mofongo, patting the mofongo into a canoe shape, deep-frying it again, and filling it with meat or seafood. Yow!

Where can you get this paragon of fried meat and starch? Hounds suggest the mofongo offerings of Izzy's, Cafe Latino, and Rincon Macorisano.

Izzy's Restaurant & Sub Shop [Cambridge]
169 Harvard Street, Cambridge
617-661-3910

Cafe Latino [Downtown]
2 Center Plaza, Boston
617-227-6800

Rincon Macorisano [North Shore]
350 Washington Street, Lynn
781-592-5823

Discuss: Puerto Rican? Mofongo?

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"Unbelievable. One of the best calzones I've ever had. Not only were all of the flavors bright and rich, but keeping the (fresh) tomato sauce on the side prevents the calzone from getting soggy." - TroyOLeary on the calzones at Picco

"Hands down the best barbecue I have ever had is at Formaggio in Cambridge. On Saturdays in the summer they have a barbecue on the sidewalk outside the store and it is fantastic." - Dan Boston

"Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville offers a side of frosting for $1." - maillard on where to find a "frosting shot"

Deep-Fried Tofu Candy

"If every tofu tasted like that from Siam Taste of Asia, we'd see an immediate surge in soy bean futures," says elmomonster about the deep-fried tofu candy, "tricked out with a coating of a sticky, spicy, sugary-sweet glaze that might as well be, as I mentioned, a Willy Wonka confection."

Trust the server, heed her warning. Leave these alone for a minute when they come out. Because they will burn you. "I say this because even after thumb-twiddling a few beats, and blowing it like it was on fire, a friend bit into one and out sloshed a scalding torrent of soy-curd napalm. Ouch!" says elmomonster.

"The custardy, milky lava hides beneath the craggly surface of its crust—a crunchy shell with the same DNA as a tater tot—which is solid enough to make a hollow sound when you rap on it with a spoon," says elmomonster.

Besides the tofu, there's lots of other great stuff: spinach with golden shards of garlic; great pad see ew with meticulously thin-sliced Chinese broccoli. Tom kha gai soup "has a surplus of flavor and elegance," says elmomonster.

Siam Taste of Asia [Little Saigon]
3520 West First Street, Santa Ana
714-418-9678

Discuss: Siam Taste of Asia – Santa Ana – Review With Photos

Want a Food Career?

In an unscientific survey that never really happened, we found that about 85 percent of the people reading this website have fantasized about quitting a job and making pickles, going to work as a line chef in a restaurant, or opening a neighborhood specialty food store. The forthcoming book Culinary Careers (available May 4) is for those who want to take the leap, or at least become familiar with how quixotic it is. About two-thirds of the book is a voyeuristic peek into a broad variety of jobs in the food industry (88 profiles in all, including a few famous people like Thomas Keller). The rest is dedicated to surveys and info about getting into the professional food world. We spoke to author Rick Smilow, president of the Institute of Culinary Education, about what it takes to start a food career, how low the pay really is, and why business skills are probably more important than culinary skills. READ MORE