Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.
The ultimate sign that pomegranate has reached critical mass: There is now a pomegranate Tootsie Pop. Introduced in 2008, pomegranate is one of a bunch of new flavors launched in recent years: watermelon, blue raspberry (yuck), and banana (double yuck). But the pomegranate flavor is wonderful, reminiscent of classic cherry but more fruity and puckery. It actually tastes like pomegranate, which is more than I can say for the center, which tastes less like chocolate than choco-scented crayon.
Tootsie would love for consumers to weigh in on the new flavors and suggest others. Peppermint, maybe? Oh, and by the way, according to the Tootsie Roll FAQ, the company has received tens of thousands of letters from children claiming to know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Estimates generally run in the 600–800 licks range, but your own personal best “depends on a variety of factors such as the size of your mouth, the amount of saliva, etc.”
Sharp news commentary blog the Awl breaks down Walmart’s $20 Thanksgiving feast, which actually includes a disturbingly long list of edible features for a disturbingly low price. Prices vary a bit from state to state, but in general your Jackson gets you:
• One 12-pound Grade A turkey
• Three 11- to 15.5-ounce cans Green Giant vegetables
• Two 14-ounce cans Ocean Spray cranberry sauce
• Three 6-ounce boxes of Stove Top stuffing
• One 5-pound bag of red potatoes
• One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
• One 22-ounce pumpkin roll cake
This is both inspiring and terrifying.
Just put it on your fries and don't worry about it. READ MORE
Sea urchin comes in a unique and irresistible guise at Marea. It’s laid over toast, draped with a translucent layer of lardo and sprinkled with sea salt. “The fatty pork aftertaste melds perfectly with the oceanic breeze of the urchin,” sighs uni connoisseur guttergourmet.
Talk about a killer dish—this one has guttergourmet pondering the hereafter: “In lieu of a casket, I want to be buried on a six-foot-long piece of toast with a mattress of uni tucked snugly under a salted see-through comforter of lardo.”
Adding turf to surf also pays off in richly flavorful fusilli with wine-braised octopus beefed up by bone marrow, tastyeating says. Other pastas worth trying include garganelli with sausage ragu, veal ravioli with sweetbreads and funghi, and rigatoni with cuttlefish, shrimp, and chickpeas.
For dessert, consider the affogato, a floatlike concoction of zabaglione gelato with espresso and the Italian liqueur amaro that’s “insane,” raves guttergourmet.
Marea [Midtown West]
240 Central Park South (near Broadway), Manhattan
Board Links: Unique Uni Experience at Marea
What to eat at Marea?
Royal Crown Bakery hadn’t made any baked figs for a couple of years, but the much-loved fruits are back for 2009. jen kalb says they’re “stellar,” stuffed with walnut, flavored with orange and a bit of spice, and lightly glazed.
It’s also getting to be the time of year when Royal Crown, a hardy survivor in Italian Bensonhurst, rolls out its terrific chestnut cake. “Can hardly wait,” says Jen.
Royal Crown Bakery [Bensonhurst]
6512 14th Avenue (near 66th Street), Brooklyn
Board Link: Baked Figs - Chestnut Bread
The Atlantic writes about an effort to take back the mai tai, a beverage that must surely rank among the most debased drinks in modern bartending. Typically a syrupy-sweet fruit bomb, it can—and should—have a more mature flavor. Julie Reiner, a New York mixologist, makes a mai tai “with aged rum, fresh lime, and almond syrup, with a little Corduba rum floated on top (so the last few sips aren’t diluted by melted ice).”
Not long ago, I edited a story by Nick Kosevich, a bartender whose attention to detail and interest in reviving now-too-sweet drinks (such as daiquiris) run parallel to Ms. Reiner’s; his meditation on the Old Fashioned ran for a few pages and included the following comparison of old school versus new school:
“Much of the modern-day Old Fashioned-related controversy can be blamed upon Wisconsinites. A Wisconsin Old Fashioned consists of 1 tsp of granulated sugar (usually a little white packet), 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1 1/2 oz of brandy, and a splash of 7Up. The sugar and bitters are added first with a splash of 7Up to dissolve the sugar, then the brandy is added, and topped with ice and 7Up to finish the drink. This version is then garnished with a flag (a bar term for an orange slice wrapped around a cherry) ...
“The classic recipe for the drink is 1 sugar cube, 3 dashes of bitters, and 3 oz of bourbon or rye whiskey, not brandy, served in an old fashioned glass on the rocks with a lemon twist.”
The explosion of boutique liquors and bitters available for sale, and the press received by mixologists, may suggest that Americans are getting more sophisticated about their cocktails. But the menu at any given faux-neighborhood midrange chain restaurant is a good reminder that we still have a long way to go. Once the real mai tai has made it to T.G.I. Friday’s, we might be getting somewhere.
This week's mission: single-origin candy bars. READ MORE