The CHOW Blog rss

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

Better Than a Supermarket Bird

Oh man! Is it almost Thanksgiving already? FinnFPM is new in town and looking for a source for organic/local turkey. Here are the hound-approved purveyors of such turkeys, as well as heritage breeds:

• Stillman’s is top of the list for its superior birds. The farm still has some turkeys left; you can get them in small (10 to 15 pounds, $65), medium (16 to 20 pounds, $80), and large (21 to 25 pounds, $100). The heritage turkeys are sold out for 2009; on the website Stillman’s offers to put customers on a mailing list for 2010. Kind of cold comfort.

• Owens Poultry Farm has birds that have “fantastic flavor” but are “rather expensive” at $8.50 a pound, according to Luther.

• Misty Knoll Farms, best known for its delightful chickens, also sells turkeys that are almost local (is Vermont local?). If you order one of Misty Knoll’s turkeys through Brown Boar Farm, Brown Boar will drop it off at Holly Hill Farm on November 21.

• Several hounds have had good luck ordering from Russo’s. The store sources from a farm in Vermont, says Spenbald, and at $2.98 a pound, the turkeys are quite a bargain. They’re all-natural, though “not quite as pampered and responsible as some other choices in the area.”

Stillman’s Farm [MetroWest]
1205 Barre Road, New Braintree

Owens Poultry Farm [MetroWest]
585 Central Avenue, Needham

Misty Knoll Turkey Pickup at Holly Hill Farm [South Shore]
236 Jerusalem Road, Cohasset

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown

Board Link: Where’s everyone buying their Thanksgiving turkey?

A Reason to Pay $30 a Pound for Scallops

Hovering around $30 a pound, Nantucket bay scallops are a rarefied treat that just roared into season. They’re tiny (about the size of a dime) and usually served raw, as in a ceviche, or just barely cooked. Seems a little wacky to pay that price when sea scallops can be had for $8 to $20 a pound, but hounds swear by the Nantuckets: “Nantucket bay scallops are a unique enjoyment—sweet, tender, super small, and perfect raw. While perhaps unsuitable as an everyday-replacement to your usual scallops, Nantucket’s are a wonderful treat,” says rlove.

If you’re a DIY cook, the Nantucket scallops are available at Mercato del Mare and James Hook. The scallops are also starting to show up on local menus as specials. They’ve been spotted at Neptune and Garden at the Cellar.

Mercato del Mare [North End]
99 Salem Street, Boston

James Hook & Co. [The Waterfront]
15 Northern Avenue, Boston

Neptune Oyster [North End]
63 Salem Street, Suite 1, Boston

Garden at the Cellar [Cambridge]
991 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

Board Link: First Nantucket Bay Scallops of the Season

Hyderabadi Joy

“Other Indian restaurants in Boston pale by comparison,” says StriperGuy of Kabab & Tandoor. He breaks it down for us: “excellent” chapati, “superb” dal, “mindblowingly good” apricot custard dessert. The meats are good, especially goat and chicken, and the haleem, a sort of meat pudding with crispy onions atop, is choice.

Trumpetguy has a thing for the curried whole eggplants in peanut/sesame sauce and the potatoes cooked with chiles, garlic, and tomato. The place doesn’t get the crowds it deserves, so make with the group dinners and lunches.

Kabab & Tandoor [North of Boston]
699 Main Street, Waltham

Board Link: Kebab and Tandoor Waltham, Best Indian Inside 128

Overheard on the Boston Boards

“Oh the joy of sticking my face over that pizza and having all those aromas wafting up! I was practically delirious while eating it.”

“What is with the bread sticks?? They bring them on a nice plate and dump them onto the table. This is new. Very weird.”

“How many fast food counters can say they give an amuse-bouche?”
-Parsnipity and the Vegetarian Culture War

An almost completely innocuous Los Angeles Times article on raising vegetarian kids touched off rapidly updated and at times hilarious/offensive /interesting debate on dietary choices over at

An amuse-bouche of the back-and-forth:

“Vegetarians are the worst. Can’t we round them, teetotallers, religious people and rap-metal fans up and ship them off to Iran?”

“Why do vegetarians always look so unhealthy?”

“You’re an idiot.
Ever heard of Bill Pearl?
Four time Mr. Universe?
Used to rip license plates in half to demonstrate his strength?
He was a vegetarian -- lacto-ovo, but still a vegetarian.
Your theory -- he just kicked sand in its face.”

“My ancestors didn’t work their way up the food chain for me to become a vegetarian.”

“meat carnivores are militant and defensive about eating meat. I mean, I’d agree that vegetarians are annoying, but this thread is more self-righteous and annoying than any vegetarian that I’ve ever met.”

And, of course, you can’t do this argument without quoting Jim Gaffigan:

Guilty-Pleasure Protein Drink

Guilty-Pleasure Protein Drink

This week's mission: creamy, not chalky, meal-replacement beverages. READ MORE

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

“It has been way too long since the Beijing Olympics, which was the last time I had me some really, really great Shanxi-style hand cut noodles. These rocked it for sure.”
-Ciao Bob

“I always loved eating kimbap at Korean friends’ houses growing up. I once asked why I never saw it in restaurants or stores, and was told with a laugh ‘that would be like selling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches’.”

“[A-1’s] burgers blow Fatburger in the weeds.”

Jamaican Patties Just Out of the Oven

The jerk chicken is merely good at beloved Jamaican joint Natraliart, but not as “crazy good” as the beef patty, says Senor Popusa.

“The patty was awesome—hot straight out of the oven,” says Senor Popusa. “The filling had some spice to it and was looser than most places. The crust was crispy but not dry. All around delicious.” He liked it so much he got some to go for the next day.

Natraliart is connected to a Jamaican market. It’s a separate room; there’s (casual) table service, and the folks are quite friendly.

Natraliart Food Market [Mid-Wilshire]
3426 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles

Board Link: Natraliart Jamaican Restaurant—excellent patties

Russian Comfort Pizza

Khachapouri is pure Russian comfort food, says ipsedixit. It’s something like a split-open calzone, topped with feta, mozzarella, butter, your choice of extra toppings, and then two eggs, sunny side up. Zaatar Factory makes great ones. “These things are damn delicious,” says cdub. They have nice house-made sausage, too.

Another local source for khachapouri is historical Chowhound favorite Big Mama’s and Papa’s. ipsedixit liked the bacon and ham khachapouri. “Sounds gross, I know, but it was really good. Sort of reminded me of the egg and guanciale pizza at Mozza.” Silver Lake Guy suggests ham and mushroom, or bacon and onions as toppings. “The SO thinks I’m nuts but double yum,” says Silver Lake Guy. “And it travels well.”

Zaatar Factory [San Fernando Valley–East]
2909 N. Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank

Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria [Downtown]
657 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles

Board Link: Big Mama’s and Papa’s (Khachapouri)

New Specials at Ramen California

Beloved nuevo-molecular gastronomy joint Ramen California has added a few new specials to the menu, as well as a different broth: half chicken, half fish.

Among the new items is a take on perennial ramen favorite char siu, centered around lush slices of pork belly. “We watched the chef pull out a nice big piece of pork and pull out his special knives and slice the pork very thin,” says BeachGrub. There is “a really nice smoky smell that seemed to be from the pork and was infused in the noodles.”

Try adding hard-boiled eggs to the char siu ramen: the still-custardy yolk melds with the broth pleasantly.

Ramen California [South Bay]
24231 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance

Board Link: Chashu Ramen special at Ramen California