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

New Finds: Meat-Loving T-Shirts

If Italian cured meats make your heart beat faster (assuming that isn't a cardiac incident), perhaps you can get into Wooster Street Meats' line of lovely meat-centric shirts. The names of various meat products (prosciutto, brasciole, mortadella) are emblazoned across the chest, with simple line drawings to accompany them. What better way to proclaim your love of soppressata?

Wooster Street Meats T-Shirts, $19 to $35

Mixing It Up MexiRican Style

Coqui Mexicano is part Mexican, part Puerto Rican, and all Latin soul, says mayasuess. She loves the tacos (with great, lively salsas), squid salad, and guacamole "so fresh that it's still on the avocado pit." Desserts are a specialty; the flan boasts perfect sweetness and texture, maya says. narcisa singles out the guava cheesecake and piña colada pie.

Open since last year, Coqui Mexicano is a mom-and-pop shop (she's Puerto Rican, he's Mexican) with a small grocery section in addition to a café and lunch counter. Cubanos are served alongside tortas. A chayote salad can be ordered "MexiRican" style, as a quesadilla. Other quesadilla fillings include Puerto Rican–style pernil, or slow-cooked pork.

The vibe is warm and neighborly, and the owners are looking to create a cultural center of sorts for this corner of the South Bronx, with art, music, and a free book exchange. "It has a homey feel to it," narcisa observes, "like the roadside places in Puerto Rico."

Coqui Mexicano [Bronx]
871 Brook Avenue (at Third Avenue), Bronx
718-450-3477

Discuss: Amazing home cooked goodness, and a neighborhood vibe
south bronx eats?
What about the Bronx?

Forget the Knish, Remember the Bagel

Chowhounds have been lamenting the decline of Yonah Schimmel's Knishes for years, though the Lower East Side landmark still has its defenders. Jetneo has two words for the critics: "Knish...shmish."

Try the cheese bagels instead, she urges; they're more like pretzels than bagels in shape, with blintz cheese squeezed into a thin layer of dough. "They keep, they freeze, they thaw, they re-bake, they do everything," says Jetneo, who schleps a fresh supply back to California every time she's in town. "I buy nothing else and I've been going there for 50 years."

Yonah Schimmel's Knishes [Lower East Side]
137 E. Houston Street (between Forsyth and Eldridge streets), Manhattan
212-477-2858

Discuss: Yonah Schimmel is a disgrace

Y2K, Dot-com Party Sushi, and Vodka Luges

When the ball dropped on January 1, we entered a new decade. Isn't it funny to think that just 10 years ago we were eating sushi all the time, working at dot-coms, and wearing high-tech-looking shoes with wavy Space Age soles? Imagine if somebody had told us that beards, pickles, and backyard chickens would be cutting-edge, 2010 fashion. CHOW.com busted out the time capsule to investigate more of what we were eating and drinking in 1999, and how it's changed. Take a look...

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The Wisdom (or Lack Thereof) of Crowds

DailyFinance is skeptical about the value of "crowdsourcing" (letting the public make decisions on business matters), and the website is proud to let its readers know it in a post about the Australian winemaker Yellow Tail. The vintner is letting the public name its new Chardonnay. DailyFinance uses a recent Vegemite branding fiasco as its case in point:

"Vegemite maker Kraft Foods's (KF) Australian division invited consumers to name a new variation that swirled cream cheese within Australia's beloved black yeast paste. After Kraft picked 'iSnack 2.0' out of 48,000 entries, the normally easy going Aussie population responded with near universal condemnation."

iSnack 2.0 is, indeed, a terrible name, but that actually says more about the bad taste of Kraft executives than the practice of crowdsourcing per se. A better example cited is that of General Motors and the Chevy Tahoe. Many crowdsourced commercials mocked the vehicle's lousy gas mileage, and the contest turned into a PR black eye. And if you think that's funny, you'll definitely love this:

Sweet Stuff Around Brooklyn

"Trust me," MacGuffin promises, "you haven't had cannoli until you've tried Mondial's." Into a nice crisp shell, this Bensonhurst bakery pipes "just the most perfect, barely sweet filling you've ever tasted with a few chocolate chips and pistachios." And it does so only to order, something too many places no longer do. "I take the D train from Manhattan for their pastry," MacGuffin says. "I don't think anything in the city comes close."

For another essential Italian sweet, the rainbow cookie, Farfalle's go-to spot is Palermo Pastry Shop in Flatlands. He grew up with these cookies, still samples them a couple of times a year, and swears they're as good as ever: "they are incredibly moist, made on the premises and have all the right flavors." Like Mondial's cannoli, he says, Palermo's rainbow cookies blow away the competition in Manhattan and are well worth a crosstown trek. Its pignoli and almond-paste cookies are also terrific, erica adds.

In Park Slope, Trois Pommes Patisserie makes a marvelous chocolate coconut custard pie. Barry Strugatz tried a slice ("amazing") and wound up getting a whole pie.

Mondial [Bensonhurst]
7802 20th Avenue (at 78th Street), Brooklyn
718-331-0033

Palermo Pastry Shop [Flatlands]
5517 Avenue N (at E. 55th Street), Brooklyn
718-968-1672

Trois Pommes Patisserie [Park Slope]
260 Fifth Avenue (between Carroll Street and Garfield Place), Brooklyn
718-230-3119

Discuss: Great bakeries/patisseries in Brooklyn
best italian rainbow cookies?
Royal Crown Bakery—baguette
Chocolate Coconut Custard Pie

Overheard on the New York Boards

"The cumin lamb is consistently a mind-blowing punch of delicious." - pitu

"The Brooklyn couple showed up with aprons, assuming that it was a cooking class, and the three Manhattan couples spent the evening taking calls on their Blackberries and discussing television the entire time. At one point, a guy actually raised his voice over Chef Ramirez's dish description to finish his point about some TV show." - EJC

"[A]round 9 or 10 pm they started playing Christmas songs very loudly, and not just any Christmas songs.... They were Christmas songs sung by dying/sick animals, complete with lots of sad barking and meowing. The worst part is the staff seemed to derive pleasure from watching customers' faces turn to horror." - Jess321

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Thanks, Vegetarian Times magazine (print edition), for an interesting article on chia seeds. Yes, these are the seeds that sprout to make a Chia Pet. But they're also a superfood, used by the ancient Aztecs back in the day, with lots of Omega-3 fats and the ability to help digestion.

Mix them whole into yogurt, quick bread batters, muffins, or pancakes, says Vegetarian Times. Unlike flax, they don't  have to be ground up for your body to access the nutrients, and they have less of a pronounced flavor. And here's something trippy: After you eat them, they form a gel in your stomach, which makes you feel satiated. Just in time to try to ward off holiday gorging.

Image source: Flickr member srqpix under Creative Commons

How to Prepare a Winter Squash

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So that it's easy to peel, easy to cut. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

How to Transfer a Tart to a Plate

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Put it on a makeshift pedestal. ... WATCH THE VIDEO