The CHOW Blog rss

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

Fish Taco Bliss

degustateur has recently gone on a marlin taco binge. His very favorite marlin taco joint: Mariscos El Rey, followed closely by the marlin tacos at Mariscos Chente.

Mariscos El Rey serves wonderful marlin tacos, simply made, with superb rice and beans, says degustateur. These are for the purist, because this stuff tastes like real marlin: stronger, oilier, more pungent.

Just blissful, says Dommy. Dommy gives a slight edge to Mariscos Chente's version, but loves them both. She loves El Rey's intense marlin flavor, but the texture of Chente's taco pushes it into the lead. "I think both versions of the tacos (and that bontana plate, OMG!) are worth a taste for all hounds," says Dommy.

Mariscos El Rey also has worthy botanas (appetizers), says degustateur, as well as tostaditos, little warm bites on tortilla chips.

Mariscos El Rey [South L.A.]
3100 East Imperial Highway, 

Mariscos Chente [Westside - Beaches]
4532 South Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles

Discuss: Marlin (Taco) Madness at Maricos Chente!!!!!

Lazy Man’s Whole Grains

I know, I know, making quinoa is about the easiest thing in the world. It's done in about 15 minutes. But what if you come home late and all you want to do is start stuffing your face? A new product from rice importer Village Harvest makes it almost shamefully easy to do.

Village Harvest's line of pre-cooked, cryogenically frozen whole grains are ready to eat instantly. Simply shake out the amount you want (no measuring), and warm it up in the microwave or on the stove. The amount of time it takes for the grains to defrost is the time it will take for them to get in your mouth. They're not mushy, but rather perfectly firm. I like to keep a bag at work in the freezer, and add them to salads, soups, or anything that needs a little more bulk. They come in brown rice, rice pilaf, wild rice, quinoa, and a few other varieties and are available at Whole Foods and other grocery stores.

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."


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 nominated along with and 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
“White on White,” “Wonderland,” “Mourning”

Food Blog


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

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

Play Video

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

How to Pair Beer with Food

Play Video

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