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

Virgin Drink Reminder

Virgin Drink Reminder

Party beverage advice for the holidays, or anytime. READ MORE

How to Wash Chile Off Your Hands

When you’ve been chopping raw hot chile peppers, hand soap alone is not going to make it safe for you to stick your fingers in your eyes (or nose, for that matter). To remove the malevolent remains of capsaicin from your skin, you want a more powerful degreasing agent, says Paulustrious. Dish soap works well, but for heavy-duty chile oil problems, you might want the special soap mechanics use for washing engine oil off of their hands.

Alcohol also works to neutralize the capsaicin, says brianl999. “Whenever I’m handling peppers, I fill a small ramekin with rubbing alcohol and soak my fingers in it when I’m done,” says brianl999. “Soap and water doesn’t cut it; it really gets in around your nails and such.”

“Citric acid works well, in my experience,” says BigE. “Whenever I make guacamole, I always reserve half a lime to squeeze over my hands to neutralize the capsaicin from the peppers.” And “immersing your hands in yoghurt or milk should stop the burning,” says luckyfatima.

Board Link: how to get pepper oil off my face and hands

Seeking Delicious Fake Blood

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This week's mission: blood capsules from Target and Living Nightmare, plus a homemade alternative. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Pumpkins Making Whoopie

While you’re at Russo’s picking up pound after pound of cranberries, don’t forget to save room for a delicious bakery treat: pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling. “I often think Russo’s baked goods and pastries are fine, but not particularly special or anything,” says Spenbald. But the whoopie pies are different: “Good LORD these were tasty!” They’re “huge and delicious,” sighs rlh. Cheap, too: $3.29 for two, each of which can easily feed two people.

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown

Board Link: While you’re at Russo’s: Pumpkin Whoopie Pie!

Steak Done the Way You Want It

rworange shares a hilarious suggestion for how to get your steak or burger done exactly right: Carry a picture in your wallet—laminated for frequent use, perhaps—so you can show the server exactly the degree of red, pink, or sear that you prefer. You can then ask what they call that degree of doneness at that establishment. It’s like getting a haircut: Pointing to a picture is going to be a whole lot more effective than trying to describe the hairstyle you’re after.

“Even better,” says rworange, “you could load the photo onto your phone.”

Board Link: A brilliant idea for always getting restaurants to cook steaks and burgers perfectly

Living La Vida Local

thunderbug84 wants to eat more local food, and is on the hunt for some fresh local cranberries. They’re tough to find at farmstands and the like because of the complications of harvest: Most cranberry crops are harvested by flooding the fields so that the berries float and can be skimmed off. “It takes a fair amount of land and the ability to flood the fields for harvesting,” says BobB.

Nonetheless, cranberries-by-the-pound have been spotted at Verrill Farm and Russo’s, and they can be ordered online from Cranberry Hill Farm in Plymouth.

Meanwhile, cassoulady is looking for some locally made candy to hand out on Halloween. Tootsie Roll Industries acquired local confectionery company Cambridge Brands years ago, but Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddy, Charms, and Tootsie Pops are still made in Cambridge, and Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie still makes Black Jacks molasses sticks in Salem.

Verrill Farm [MetroWest]
11 Wheeler Road, Concord

Russo’s [MetroWest]
560 Pleasant Street, Watertown

Cranberry Hill Farm [South Shore]
103 Haskell Road, Plymouth

Cambridge Brands [Cambridge]
810 Main Street, Cambridge

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie [North Shore]
122 Derby Street, Salem

Board Links: Local fresh cranberries?
Local Candy

New Finds: Parker’s Guide to Cheap Wine

Yet another sign of the times. Hot on the heels of Michelin FINALLY reviewing moderately priced food in New York, along comes Parker’s Wine Bargains, a book from wine expert Robert Parker that covers the best wines costing less than $25. The book is organized by country and has tasting notes for more than 3,000 wines.

Parker’s Wine Bargains, $12.14

Red Lentil’s Mighty Meatless Menu

Fancy vegetarian options are rare in the Boston area, so the no-meat-please crowd is super excited about the opening of Red Lentil in Watertown. Despite an interior Taralli calls “high-gloss, deep, screaming lime green,” the food is interestingly spicy and imaginative.

What you should order:

• Sesame-encrusted seitan strips, which Science Chick says are “AMAZING.” They have caramelized, crispy edges, and come served with a wasabi-mustard dipping sauce.
• Pistachio- and herb-encrusted tofu with corn cakes, which are “nicely spicy” according to Science Chick. They’re served with a jalapeño relish ringing the plate and sautéed spinach on top. The corn cakes were “bursting with fresh sweet corn and made with sweet peppers that balanced out the spiciness nicely.”
• Butternut polenta triangles with asparagus, cilantro-walnut pesto, and a tomato salsa.
• Seitan with teff crêpe, which Pia says tastes like a “nutty dosa,” and comes with a variety of sauces, including a black bean/pineapple salsa; all the flavors “work together surprisingly well.”
• Gobi Manchurian, with chickpea-battered, deep-fried cauliflower, bell peppers, tomato sauce, onions, and cilantro.

Red Lentil [MetroWest]
600 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown

Board Links: Red Lentil Vegetarian - A pleasant surprise!
The Red Lentil
Red Lentil Vegan and Vegetarian open in Watertown

Business Cards You Can Eat

You want a new business card, but you’re just not sure your design is memorable enough. So, instead of ordering yet another humdrum average card, why not try Meat Cards on for size?

Meat Cards are made using real beef jerky, with the information burned on to the meat with a 150-watt carbon dioxide laser.

Bordeaux’s Annus Mirabilis

“Perfect weather” means that 2009 is likely to be a great vintage for the wines of Bordeaux. The Telegraph reports:

“‘Nature has been extremely generous, it is sumptuous,’ said Denis Dubourdieu, director of the Bordeaux Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences and a renowned winemaker. ‘It’s difficult to find comparisons, you have to go back to the climatology of the [19]40s to find, perhaps, comparable conditions,’ he added.”

A mix of fine days and cool, dry nights in the final days before grape picking began last month has topped off a season marred only by violent hailstorms in May that wiped out about 15 percent of the year’s crop.

Image source: Flickr member tobiastoft under Creative Commons