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

The Basics: How to Make Pumpkin Pie

The Basics: How to Make Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving holiday classic. READ MORE

The Basics: How to Make Mashed Potatoes

The Basics: How to Make Mashed Potatoes

Creamy, buttery, and good with Thanksgiving gravy. READ MORE

The Basics: How to Make Turkey Gravy

The Basics: How to Make Turkey Gravy

Possibly the best part of Thanksgiving. READ MORE

The Basics: How to Make Cranberry Sauce

The Basics: How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Lose the can this Thanksgiving. READ MORE

Thanksgiving for Beginners

Thanksgiving for Beginners

Easy recipes with maximum flavor. READ MORE

Coke’s Threat Expands as the Can Contracts

William Saletan of Slate is entitled to his own opinion, and—in general—he tends to make good points. This week, he may have taken the basic Slate premise (whatever sensible-sounding thing that anyone, anywhere, has said or done is actually—surprise!—wrong) to its logical extreme.

He argues that the new smaller-sized 90-calorie Coca-Cola cans are worse for us health-wise because (and this is serious):

“... if you don’t get enough ‘sparkle’ from the smaller can, no problem. The mini containers ‘will be sold in eight-packs,’ says the company. Just open a second 7.5-ounce can, and you’ll get 20 percent more sparkle than you used to get from a 12-ounce hit. You’ll also get 20 percent more calories.”

In other words, introducing a new, smaller size of Coke is bad because we’re now going to drink two cans and consume even more calories than if we’d just had one regular-sized can.

And if they were 45-calorie cans would we consume five of them? God forbid Coke comes out with a zero-calorie option, because we’d all drink an infinite amount of soda and Coca-Cola would come shooting out of our pores.

Oh, wait—Coke Zero! Oh noooooooo!

Image source: Flickr member geishaboy500 under Creative Commons

Witches’ Fingers and Near-Perfect Cannoli

Romolo’s Ice Cream, Cannoli & Spumoni Factory is going ghoulish for Halloween, with “witches’ fingers” that are actually mildly sweet, almond-flavored cookies with red-dyed almonds as the fingernails.

Still, the main game is the cannoli, filled to order (they can give you a squeeze bag to fill the pastries yourself if you’re on the go). “The pastry part was the best I’ve had so far in this part of the world—fragile crispness, bubbly and well-browned, rich in flavor,” says Melanie Wong. But the creamy richness of the filling wasn’t quite to her taste, which runs more to “the rustic graininess of ricotta.”

ssfire dings Romolo’s cannoli filling for being way too sweet but agrees that “the shell is heavenly; it’s very flavorful, and super light.” In comparison, cannoli at the Prolific Oven have a better filling but not as good a shell; the cannoli at La Biscotteria have a flavorful shell that’s not as light and a heavy, crumbly filling that’s more like ricotta cheesecake. And A Slice of New York for some reason imports cannoli shells from Long Island that are tough. The filling, though, is smooth, creamy, and not too sweet—with a shell from Romolo’s, it would be perfection.

Romolo’s Ice Cream, Cannoli & Spumoni Factory [Peninsula]
81 37th Avenue, San Mateo

The Prolific Oven [East Bay]
43337 Boscell Road, Fremont

La Biscotteria [Peninsula]
2747 El Camino Real, Redwood City

A Slice of New York [South Bay]
3443 Stevens Creek Boulevard, San Jose

Board Link: Ghoulish Halloween Treats from Romolo’s in San Mateo

Burgers, Humble or Fancy

“Has the KK Cafe really never been mentioned here?” asks vulber. The place is incredibly uninviting from the outside, but the owners are superfriendly and the burger, vulber says, is “one of the best burgers I’ve found.” It’s not organic, or ground in-house, but it is certainly delicious, with a touch of what tastes like cumin. Otherwise, it’s pretty traditional. A cheeseburger and fries is $5.95. Also check out the house-made peanut milk, which vulber describes as “definitely a unique experience.” For the meatless, the veggie burger is homemade also and very, very fine.

Foodnut8 had been psyched for the opening of Chef Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar San Francisco after trying the Las Vegas location. It’s a build-your-own burger concept, with primo ingredients: The Prime-quality meat is ground and hand-mixed daily, and you can get Kobe beef, foie gras, and truffle butter.

But on an early visit, it was an alterna-burger that was the winner: the hulking Atlantic salmon sandwich on a ciabatta bun with oyster mushrooms, asparagus, and a side of aioli. “Simple, tender, juicy, healthy and delicious,” Foodnut8 says.

A more traditional Black Angus burger is a huge hunk o’ beef with American cheese, bacon, and a tasty heap of onions and portobello mushrooms. The meat ended up on the well-done side, and thus not very juicy, but it did come on an excellent fresh sesame bun.

Buttermilk zucchini fries are fresh and crisp, while the ice cream shakes are velvety and not too sweet. The intense chocolate one is a must for chocoholics.

KK Cafe [Lower Haight]
252 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

Burger Bar [Union Square]
Inside Macy’s, Sixth Floor
251 Geary Street, San Francisco

Board Links: Has the KK Cafe really never been mentioned here?
Burger Bar San Francisco now open

Chicken-and-Egg Delivery

“Soul Food Farm, which raises the best eggs I’ve found as well as first-rate chicken, just started a CSA,” reports Robert Lauriston. On the menu: whole chickens, eggs by the dozen, giblets, and livers. Pickup locations and more info can be found on the website.

Soul Food Farm [Solano County]
6046 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville

Board Link: Soul Food Farm CSA—eggs & chickens

Candy Corn Riffs for Grannies and Stoners

After you’re done making your homemade fake blood capsules for Halloween, try your hand at homemade candy corn. Thank you, Serious Eats, for figuring out how to produce this wickedly nonartisanal sweet the old-fashioned way. Apparently it’s very time-consuming, involving fondant and so forth. But I bet you’re up for the challenge.

And bless your heart,
Chicago Tribune, for some hot tips on how to use the little buggers. Put them in your sugar bowl if you’re serving coffee at a festive coffee klatsch, because they dissolve in hot liquid! (I just know my granny would appreciate that one.) Or, if you’re really stoned, try slicing up an apple (the Trib says you can substitute a pear—though the paper doesn’t make reference to being stoned …) and baking it in the oven with melted candy corn all over it, which creates a “flavorful sauce.”

But hey, maybe you just want to get drunk and eat massive amounts of the stuff. What does one pair with candy corn booze-wise? Watch this video to find out.

Image source: Flickr member Muffet under Creative Commons