The CHOW Blog rss

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

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"Daikokuya has been going downhill for the last 5 years. You should REALLY go to Santouka if you claim to love ramen." - ronnie_gaucho

"The chicken empanada was the best I've ever had. Moist and flavorful inside, with plenty of filling consisting of chicken, onion, potato, and even hard boiled egg." - lil mikey on Rincon Chileno

"This guy makes the only duck confit that I can say in all honesty is better than mine." - Will Owen on L'O Charcuterie

Anatomy of a Fast-Food PR Feast

Bruce Watson, writing for AOL's DailyFinance, serves up a highly entertaining, vaguely gonzo trip into the underbelly of fast-food PR. He spins a first-person tale of passing the velvet rope at a Burger King all decked out for the media elite:

"I've never seen a Burger King with a doorman, but the restaurant near New York's Penn Station sported a formidable guard at the entrance and an honest-to-goodness velvet rope. Check-in was packed with cheerful publicists clad in slick suits and little black dresses, their intense friendliness slightly disconcerting. These were PR sharpshooters, the best hired guns that the King could afford, and I was in their world. To put the natives at ease, I tentatively tried out a smile: I was in New York, after all, where showing your teeth is a sign of weakness."

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Sharpie and Styrofoam Coffee Cup Art

The idea of spending $270 for two disposable coffee cups is hard to accept, yet there is something about Cheeming Boey's Sharpie-pen-on-Styrofoam-cup art that's hard to stop staring at. Maybe it's the precision of the dots and lines, or the scary knowledge that you could crush your art cup in one hand? Either way, I hope that Boey considers a foray into ceramic cups soon.

Via foodiggity

The Top 10 Worst-for-You Starbucks Drinks

I knew eggnog lattes weren't helping my waistline, but this list of the top 10 most caloric Starbucks specialty drinks on CallMeThirsty.com nearly gave me a coronary! At the top, clocking in at 730 calories, is the Peppermint White Hot Chocolate. The Eggnog Latte is 630. (Numbers represent the venti size, made using whole milk and with whipped cream options.) Compare these to the number of calories in a Big Mac: 540.

Image source: Flickr member yajico under Creative Commons

Nigella Lawson Inspired Tim Burton’s White Queen

Tim Burton tells the Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex that the White Queen in his Alice in Wonderland film was based on Nigella Lawson:

"'There's this very beautiful cooking show host in England named Nigella Lawson and I quietly had her as my image for this character,' Burton said, referring to the comely author and television personality sometimes referred to as the 'queen of food porn.'

"Burton, who previously said that the Red Queen has a bit of Leona Helmsley in her, said Lawson's domestic goddess routine has an eerie edge to it at times. 'She's really beautiful and she does all this cooking, but then there's this glint in her eye and when you see it you go, "Oh, whoa, she's like really ... nuts." I mean in a good way. Well, maybe. I don't know.'"

At one point in the movie, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) makes a magic potion with worm fat, urine, and a dab of spit in it. Burton says that was meant to be a clue as to Nigella's influence. Knowing that, doesn't it give you a thrill when Hathaway says, Nigella-like, "That should do it!"

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Goat Hunting in Flushing

The quest for Korean stewed goat, an intermittent Chowhound obsession, has led to Bangane in Flushing. coasts says it comes two ways here: cooked in the kitchen then shredded and served with scallion, or cooked at the table in broth (he prefers the latter).

Bangane's dak kalbi (spicy chicken), samgyetang (ginseng- and garlic-stuffed chicken in soup), and barbecued beef kalbi (short rib), cut "L.A. style" in thin slices across the bones, are some of the best in town, coasts adds, and its kimchee is even better than Gah Mee Ok's, which many consider New York's reigning champion.

Bangane, in the heart of Korean Flushing, has largely managed to stay off the mainstream radar, but it's no secret to Koreans; "best to go in winter," coasts advises, "as summer gets crazy with long waits."

Bangane [Flushing]
165-19 Northern Boulevard (near 165th Street), Flushing, Queens
718-762-2799

Discuss: Bangane on Northern and 165th

Are Dry-Farmed Wines Better?

Are Dry-Farmed Wines Better?

Those roots are reaching for water, nutrients, and terroir. READ MORE

Pass on the Pizza, Go for the Soul

2 Bros. Pizza Plus on Sixth Avenue sure isn't about the pizza, Jim Leff says, but that "Plus" comes as a deeply soulful surprise. This "dismal pizza mill," as he describes it, has brought in a talented, caring cook who makes wonderful homey chicken (baked or fried), yams, garlicky broccoli or string beans, and more.

"There's minimal service and ambiance," he says, "but the prideful cooking makes up for it with food that's much, much better than it needs to be." (No hound reports yet on the jerk chicken.) Prices are "insanely low," Jim reports; "it's hard to spend more than $5." The non-pizza fare is served till around 7, but the main action is at lunch, so go early.

2 Bros. Pizza Plus [Chelsea]
601 Sixth Avenue (between W. 17th and 18th streets), Manhattan
212-206-8656

Discuss: 2 Bros Pizza Plus: Best Manhattan $4 Lunch in Decades

Anella Changes Course

Anella in Greenpoint just went uptown, hiring a chef with a pedigree (Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe). Hounds are noticing.

This neighborhood spot, open less than a year, has shifted from straight Italian to a broader menu, still grounded in the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on seasonal flavors. sweetpickles recounts a dinner highlighted by beautifully tender, almost creamy beef short rib. It came in a couple of forms: chopped up in ravioli with scallions and lightly crisped hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, or in a big hunk with braised red cabbage, orange, and potatoes. Mussels were briny and delicious, steamed in white wine and butter and brought out in a Dutch oven. A starter of roasted carrots also hit the mark, sweet and tender and served with house-made ricotta that approached the lightness of crème fraîche.

Dessert was a near-miss: slightly spongy chocolate bread pudding, though the buttermilk ice cream that came with it was nicely semi-sweet. Still, sweetpickles is sold: "I hope more food-minded folk check it out. It would be a shame to see such noble efforts go to waste."

Anella [Greenpoint]
222 Franklin Street (between Green and Huron streets), Brooklyn
718-389-8100

Discuss: Anella in Greenpoint

Overheard on the New York Boards

"Recette in the old Jarnac space is treating razor clams like clam bellies — breading and deep frying. Nice finger food." - Wilfrid

"I've had it at 2 places, both very good. 1st at the rear of Shangri-la on 37th Rd. They scoop the noodles fresh into the wok in front of you. Also, yesterday I had it at the rear of Merit Farms. The broth was equally opaque, with lots of flavor, nice thick noodles, pieces of beef, I think brisket." - Jeffsayyes on thentuk, a Tibetan noodle soup

"The Côte de Boeuf was absolutely fantastic. I come from a long line of Luger's regulars, account #140. And this is a formidable opponent. I have never had a steak with such a complete and perfect char. Really perfect, on all sides. ... It's charred at 1900 degrees, no grill marks. A pure black crust all around." - 2slices on Minetta Tavern