The CHOW Blog rss

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

How to Make Slim Mints

How to Make Slim Mints

The Girl Scouts make them thin; we make them slim, and delicious. READ MORE

How to Make Left-Behinds

How to Make Left-Behinds

You may know them better as Girl Scout Tagalongs. READ MORE

How to Make Fijis

How to Make Fijis

Our take on the caramel-chocolate-coconut Girl Scout Cookies otherwise known as Samoas. READ MORE

Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies

Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies

Our take on your favorites: CHOW's recipes for Fijis, Left-Behinds, and Slim Mints. READ MORE

Pickle Your Cocktails

Pickled things have been going strong on the trend-o-meter for a while, and now they are hitting the bar, going a few steps beyond the dirty martini. Grub Street has been a tireless picklespotter, noting that New York City's The Breslin is serving "off-the-menu pickle backs" (a shot of pickle juice to go with whisky) and Chicago's The Drawing Room is making a Chicago Dog Caipirinha, made with cachaca, sport peppers, and a celery-salt rim (there are no actual hot dogs involved).

Also spotted at 10 Downing Food & Wine in New York City, where a cocktail called the Pickle is made by muddling dill and cucumbers with salt and simple syrup; and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the Black Forest Inn makes a Krautini with sauerkraut juice, Steinhäger (a mild German gin), and a touch of Kümmel, a German caraway seed liqueur. "I've heard more often than not 'I'm surprised how much I like it'," says Erica Christ, the bar manager at the Black Forest Inn. "People who would get a dirty martini really do like that pickley, sour, salty taste...Still we do get about one in five that is like BLECH!"

Make your own pickle-enhanced cocktail using our Martinowitz recipe (pictured).

Image source: Christopher Rochelle, CHOW.com

How to Roast Squash Seeds

Play Video

Don't throw them out. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Chicken and Waffles in the City

Conventional wisdom says you've gotta head across the Bay Bridge to Oakland (to Lois the Pie Queen, for example) for great fried chicken and waffles. But that's not necessarily the case, SF hounds say.

On a good day, the chicken and waffles at Little Skillet "is as good as it gets," says sugartoof. "The waffle is a small, a mini Belgian type—the chicken is free range, and cooked perfectly." But take note—Little Skillet just lost its chef.

alina555 is a fan of Auntie April's Chicken and Waffles, where the neighborhood is kind of rough, but the C&W is cooked to order and delicious.

Farmerbrown's Little Skillet [AT&T Park]
330 Ritch Street, San Francisco
415-777-2777

Auntie April's Chicken 'n' Waffles [Bayview]
4618 Third Street, San Francisco
415-643-4983

Discuss: Chicken & Waffles in SF

The Next St-Germain?

At a recent spirits exhibition, I got a peek at a new French liqueur launching soon in the U.S. called Esprit de June. It is similar to St-Germain's Elderflower liqueur, but instead of being infused with elderflowers, this liqueur is made from grape blossoms. The result is tropical and floral, but not cloying in any way. It will be good in spring and summer cocktails.

Esprit de June, showing up on shelves any day, around $30-40

Fried Puffs of Heaven

Smart Coffee BR, in Richmond, is the best Brazilian snack shop in the Bay Area, says rworange, largely on the strength of its fried-to-order sweet and savory pastries with a range of 24 fillings: "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful."

You can mix and match fillings for these flaky pillows known as pasteles, or go with one of the six specialty versions. Chicken, corn, and catupiry (a mild, creamy Brazilian cheese) make a nice combo. Don't be deceived by the creamy pink sauce—that's the housemade habanero cream sauce, delish but hotter 'n' Hades. Other filling options include shrimp (camarao), beef, olives, ham, and palm; there are also dessert-y pasteles of guava, banana, dulce de leche, or pineapple.

There are other baked goods made in-house, like the moist and flavorful mané pelado, a yucca-coconut cake that's "like one of the best coconut macaroons I've ever had," rworange says. A sonho is a fat doughnut sliced in half and filled with dulce de leche that somehow it manages to avoid being cloyingly sweet.

There's also caldo verde and a rich, intensively flavored chicken soup; sandwiches and salads; and Brazilian shakes.

Smart Coffee BR [East Bay]
4820 Bissell Avenue, Richmond
510-237-1778

Discuss: Richmond: Smart Coffee BR / A Taste of Brazil – Over 30 fabulous pasteles, outstanding soup, sonho (donut), x-tudos and more

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"The fresh corn tamales were wonderful. The masa had much more fresh corn than most examples giving the tamal a soft and light texture that was almost like a sweet corn soufflé." - Melanie Wong on the wares of a wandering tamale lady in the Mid-Peninsula area

"Y'all know what this means? I can roll out of bed late Sunday am, walk a couple blocks (bringing my orange juice etc), and dine on fresh oyster shooters for brunch. (!!!) I love Oakland." - gingersquid, on the news that Hog Island is going to have an oyster bar at the Temescal Sunday farmers' market

"The real star, though, was the hot sauce, which was flat-out amazing, maybe the best I've ever had." - abstractpoet, on Uncle Willie's BBQ