The CHOW Blog rss

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

What’s the Difference Between Parchment Paper and Waxed Paper?

What’s the Difference Between Parchment Paper and Waxed Paper?

One is made to beat the heat. READ MORE

Zingerman’s Bread

chocolate thinks the best mail-order bread around is from Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The breads are amazing, says chocolate, who ordered several loaves as (very successful) gifts for Christmas. "One neighbor just told me that she called the place to have a catalog mailed so she could order more," says chocolate. "Said the breads were so fresh and perfect when they arrived and couldn't get over the packaging." If you do place an order, make sure to get the pecan-raisin bread, says chocolate. "It's delicious. I can eat a whole loaf myself. It's that good!"

Discuss: Best Mail-Order Bread?

Pickled Pink

Cucumbers pickled with dill are not the only pickle, says Paulustrious. Julienned carrots and radishes are particularly good pickled in a vinegar solution with some sugar, herbs, and "a few dollops of some fish sauce," says Paulustrious.

corneygirl likes to pickle hot peppers in cider vinegar and brine, and adds that green beans are great pickled with dried red pepper, garlic, and fresh dill. LNG212 makes pickled grape tomatoes in white wine vinegar with garlic and rosemary.

Paulustrious also pickles certain vegetables by fermenting: "Put them in a brine solution and leave them to ferment and acidify. Cabbage would be the prime ingredient. Carrots and daikon another."

Check out CHOW's Make Your Own Preserves story for more pickling ideas and tips.

Discuss: Home made pickles

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"I like the Pepperidge Farm soft oatmeal bread ... it's excellent for toast, and has a little more texture than regular white bread so it doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth." - bluemoon4515

"Why not cook dandelion greens or arugula? I adore arugula pesto. Just blitz the arugula with the oil of your choice and some hazelnuts and hard cheese of your choice. YUM. Dump on hot pasta." - Vetter

"Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori combines the qualities of unfiltered (nigori) with a Yamagata provenance. All sake from Yamagata-ken is special, due to the very prejudicial provincialism of the kura in Yamagata-ken, who insist on using their own local rice and their own water from the springs of Sanzan (the three mountains that give Yamagata its name) and their own methods for making the sake." - Politeness, on great unfiltered sake

Even the Breadsticks Are Awesome

Fiorella's is a dependable red-sauce hound favorite that's been getting some love on the boards. How do they love Fiorella's? Let us count the ways: The breadsticks that come out before the meal are hot, fresh, dusted with oregano and parmesan and served with a nice marinara. Italian classics like eggplant Parmigiana and gnocchi are always good, and the thin-crust wood-oven pizzas are fantastic: "Not quite as thin as many, but lovely," says MC Slim JB. "The pizza is well-made, the crust has some integrity and the toppings are high quality," says bear.

The Armenian-American owners also have a more casual place, Cafe Fiorella, in Belmont. Prices at both locations are happily reasonable: pastas are $13 to $15; mains $14 to $24 at Fiorella's. BlueTrain84 had dinner for two there for a mere $45.

Fiorella's [MetroWest]
187 North Street, Newtonville
617-969-9990

Discuss: Another Delicious Meal at Fiorella's

Phillip Tang Strikes Again

East by Northeast's pedigree has had hounds salivating for months: the chef is Phillip Tang, late of T.W. Food and Hungry Mother. There have also been intriguing bits of information dangled in local publications (Tang gets whole pigs from Vermont!) that amped up the anticipation.

Well, now it's open. Was it worth the advance buzz? Yeah, says DoubleMan, an early adopter: "Given the quality of the food and the lack of hiccups in service during the first week, this place definitely has the potential to be something really special. I can't wait to go back."

The focus is on small plates, with a small but carefully considered list of cocktails and beer to accompany them. Prices are quite low ($4 to $10 per plate), but portions are correspondingly tiny, expect to order several dishes per person. The regular menu is short, but there are normally at least three specials on offer as well.

Recommended items include:

• Housemade dumplings, particularly the shrimp.
• Smoked pork meatball noodle soup, with a savory/smoky broth and "toothsome" noodles, according to DoubleMan
• Crispy Maine shrimp: "actually crispy," reports barleywino
• Pickled daikon, beets, and rutabaga
Man tou bread with pork belly: "It compared well to the exemplary version of the dish at Shangri-La in Belmont, but had a deeper pork flavor with a great crispness on the edges," says DoubleMan

East by Northeast [Cambridge]
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
617-876-0286

Discuss: East by Northeast - Open

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"I do know they make all their own bread and one has to think that if a sub shop cares enough to make their own bread daily, the pizza can't be half bad." - cannedmilkandfruitypebbles on Spencer Pizza House

"To my suprise, the sushi was really fresh! ... The best part is the price! At half off, 20 pieces a la carte is only 20 bucks." - Iron Chow on Zen 320

"In addition to the coucous, there were nicely stewed root vegetables (carrot, orange squash, yam) and cold olives, eggplant purée, fattoush salad and potatoes that together with the nicely spiced lamb, made for a lots of nice flavors." - gourmaniac on Crispy Crepes Cafe

Big Shout Out to Kolbeh of Kabob

"I noticed that no one's really giving much love to Kolbeh on these boards. I just wanted to give a shout out and say that their food is awesome," says caserole. Pick of the litter is the rice, which is "like a dream" according to caserole: "I didn't even know rice could be that enjoyable before eating theirs. Each little grain is cooked to perfection." The grilled meats and bread are good, and the falafel is also above par, "crispy outside with a really fresh-tasting inside."

caserole thinks the atmosphere still reeks of the sub shops that used to fill the space, and that the pricing is a bit off: "Basically, it's a little too expensive to just be the go-to 'I don't want to cook tonight' place. But it isn't fancy enough to make the cut for a special occasion place." However, it doesn't seem to bother the crowds of Middle Eastern families who go there.

Kolbeh of Kabob [Cambridge]
1500 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
617-876-9400

Discuss: Kolbeh of Kabob - Persian food

Deleted Dollar Signs Spell Bigger Profit

This just in from the terrifying world of neurobiological marketing: The human brain can be fooled into spending more money if you just omit any reference to dollars on your menu. Neuromarketing, a blog "Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet," reports on a Cornell study that looked at three restaurant price display techniques:

• Numerical with Dollar Sign: $12.00
• Numerical without Dollar Sign or Decimals: 12
• Written: twelve dollars

The researchers expected that the written/scripted prices would perform best, but they found that "the guests with the simple numeral prices spent significantly more than the other two groups."

Therefore the trick to selling stuff is get people to forget they're spending money.

Image source: Flickr member cuttlefish under Creative Commons

Old-School Seafood Charms

Seafare Inn has had the "same location, family ownership and, largely, clientele for nearly 50 years," says degustateur. They serve really fine seafood and some rare jewels of the sea, like fresh John Dory, shark, abalone, whole-body Ipswich clams, sand dabs, and homemade pickled herring. Delicious, plump, fresh oysters are a mere $13 a dozen, and the crab sandwiches are made with pure crab, no filler. In addition, the fried, battered shrimp are "second to none," says degustateur. There are daily specials. There are great chowders. There is excellent, mayo-less pickled coleslaw.

The Seafare Inn is a glorious old throwback to an earlier era—those hankering for a Midwestern sort of vibe might be deeply happy here. degustateur has been going here for 25 years without a single disappointment. And, says degustateur, the best day to go is Tuesday.

Seafare Inn [San Gabriel Valley]
16363 Whittier Boulevard, Whittier
562-947-6645

Discuss: MINI-REVIEW: Seafare Inn—Whittier's Heirloom of the Sea Seafare Inn