The CHOW Blog rss

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

Processed-Cheese Craving Killer

Processed-Cheese Craving Killer

This week's mission: two Ritz crackers with goo in between. READ MORE

The Snack Bar as Bantamweight

The Snack Bar as Bantamweight

This week's mission: a 100-calorie snack that packs a fruit punch. READ MORE

A Killer Patty Melt at a Diner with a Difference

There's an outstanding patty melt at Peter's on the Upper East Side, carcrash reports. Billed as a "2 in 1," it's a hamburger patty with grilled onion and tomato, tucked inside a grilled cheese sandwich made with challah. "Peter's does a bunch of traditional diner stuff unusually well," carcrash says, "but this was the best I've had so far."

In a town full of diners, hounds rank this place a cut above. Brian W says Peter's knows how to cook eggs (he's partial to over easy), pours good coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice, and makes delicious home fries—"not those over-boiled and fried grotesque things you get in virtually all the other Greek diners."

Peter's [Upper East Side]
1606 First Avenue (between E. 83rd and 84th streets), Manhattan

Discuss: Peter's (1st and 83rd)—Great Patty Melt

Where The Cheese Nerds Play

The opening advice at the fourth annual California Artisan Cheese Festival last Saturday was “Pace yourself.” I knew it to be true when I sat down to my first seminar at 10:30 in the morning and was faced with three wines and six cheeses, all for me. The festival, held at the Petaluma Sheraton about 45 minutes north of San Francisco, draws cheese fans and artisanal cheese makers for tastings, talks, and cheese, cheese, and more cheese. Here’s what I picked up at seminars like the one led by Kate Arding, one of Culture's cofounders, pictured here.

* At cheese tastings, there will always be one person who eats all their samples right away, rather than waiting until the person leading the tasting has gotten to each respective cheese. I guess some people just have no self control in the face of great cheese.


The Madeira Thrill Ride

The Madeira Thrill Ride

The most exciting wine in the world. READ MORE

Overheard on the New York Boards

"I find myself making excuses to drive there. We were there last week and tried the palmier. It was buttery, crispy and just the right amount of sugar. The almond croissant was freakin' out of this world. ... Maybe next year I'll give it up for Lent." - Da Vid on Cannelle Patisserie

"The broth is deeply flavorful, with a hell of a spicy kick—the kind that clears your sinuses and, quite honestly, verges on the painful and unpleasant. ... This is also a one-pot meal that's good for the soul. Everything that's good about life is in that bowl: crab, huge chunks of both bone-on and boneless chicken, collagen, beef, and a huge, light green pepper right in the middle. ... This soup is not for the dainty. It's more like a messy Viking meal—you'll be grabbing paper napkins off the other tables." - Polecat on Liberian-style pepper soup at Maima's

"Some key soccer boulevards would be Court Street and 18th Avenue (Italy) in Brooklyn, 37th Avenue / Roosevelt Avenue—Jackson Heights (Latin American, Uruguay, Argentina, etc.), Ferry Street in Newark (Portugal & Brazil), and the list goes on and on. How about West 32nd Street for Korea? Lots of spots for Mexico. Upper East Siders might be pulling for England or USA or Germany—and I don't have to tell you how many viewing choices you'll have. Don't just freeload and watch, order food and some signature homeland drinks!" - Mike R. on where to watch World Cup soccer

An Unreasonable Attack on the Naked Chef

With the debut of his new program Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the British chef has dramatically raised his profile stateside. And if you're one of the millions who believes that Oliver is on a noble crusade to save the world's schoolchildren from fattening, poorly made, industrialized school lunch, you might want to pop over to that libertarian bastion, Reason, for a look at the other side of the argument. READ MORE

The Non-Anonymous Mob

Alex Salkever, writing on DailyFinance, proposes a novel solution to the Yelp blackmail fuss that's swirling around the courts and the Web: take away the anonymity of Yelp users.

Commenters would have to register with a system like Facebook Connect or Google Friend Connect: "Doing so would ensure, to a great degree, that commenters use their real identities and could be held accountable for their comments."


A New Chef’s Flair at Mr. Pollo

The Mission dive Mr. Pollo has long been a standby for great Venezuelan arepas, but now a real chef, Manny Torres Giminez, is running the place. Giminez has cooked at top restaurants around San Francisco and around the country, and now he's doing prix-fixe dinners of the food he cares about most—doing all the prep, serving, and even dishwashing himself.

For starters, you might get a trio of arepas. The first, of course, is Venezuelan: a silver-dollar-sized disk of white cornmeal, split and sandwiched with a slice of kiwi. "The crisp browned crust on the outside of the arepa and the creamy interior were a surprisingly delicious contrast with the cool, sweet-tangy kiwi," says Ruth Lafler. The Colombian version is bigger, more deeply browned and oozing with cheese, caramelized by a touch of sugarcane on the outside that also brings out the corn flavor. Venezuelan chachapas round out the selection—pancakes of fresh corn purée, not masa, folded around melting cheese.

The chicken and potato-filled Colombian empanada that comes next was too bland for Ruth Lafler, but it was LikeFrogButOOOH's favorite of the night. The aji dipping sauce with scallions and cilantro adds a kind of Chinese flavor.

The main dish is a duo of tender, deliciously simple braised lamb on achiote rice, based on a recipe by the chef's grandmother, and a grilled baby Australian goat rib, cooked perfectly medium rare. The sauce on top is insanely complex, Ruth says, with jasmine, lavender, and other herbs.

Although the menu states that the tasting menu is $15, hounds found the actual price to be $20. This didn't leave a good impression with kare_raisu, who also found the food lacking in soul and artfulness, and says, "I only appreciated really his ability to finesse the cornmeal into different guises." There's no doubt, though, about the chef's passion for the foods of his homeland.

Mr. Pollo [Mission]
2823 Mission Street, San Francisco

Discuss: Chef's tasting menu at Mr. Pollo

Tweet! I’m Inspired!

I was --I'll admit it --rather offended to receive a Tweet today from one of my favorite local brew pubs, 21st Amendment, advertising a beer they'd made called Spring Tweet. "Our 'Twitter inspired' seasonal Spring ale beer brewed for friends and neighbors at," it said. OK, they are down the street from Twitter's offices, but still. Beer can be inspired by a lot of things: the smell of Spring perhaps, or even Hunter S. Thompson. But Twitter? READ MORE