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

Own a Chevy, Get Free Pizza

The Associated Press reports that pizza chain Papa John’s is giving away free pizzas to all Camaro owners today. What’s the occasion? It’s to celebrate Papa John’s founder John Schnatter locating the sweet gold-and-black ’71 Z28 that he sold in 1983 to finance the pizza chain and help save his dad’s tavern.

Schnatter had been searching for the car for years, and even created a website about it called Papa John’s Road Trip. He eventually offered a $250,000 reward, which is now in the hands of a guy in Flatwoods, Kentucky who bought it a few years back for $4,000.

A commenter on Left Lane News points out that Papa John’s should think about combining the offer with Supercuts because “most Camaro owners I see have mullets.” Schnatter however, does not have a mullet.

Pick Your Own Apples (and Eat a Doughnut)

makonna reports that Honey Pot Hill Orchards’ first pick-your-own apple day of the season was a success. “We picked Sansas (my favorite eating apple) and Gravensteins (my favorite baking apple) ... The people are friendly. The fruits are always tasty.”

Honey Pot Hill also offers pick-your-own blueberries, which makonna says are still available and wonderful, and pears starting in September. It sells other produce including raspberries, peaches (currently on special), and cherry tomatoes, and even makes apple cider doughnuts, which Stellar D says are “wooooo. Like being a kid again.”

Honey Pot Hill Orchards [Stow]
144 Sudbury Road, Stow
978-562-5666

Board Link: Apple Picking @ HoneyPot Hill

Are There Any Hot Wieners in Boston?

rpglancy is looking for hot wieners in Boston. “I grew up in Southeastern Mass and now live in Boston. A common item at diners/burger joints were New York System–style hot wieners: small griddle-cooked hot dogs, on a steamed bun ‘all-the-way’ with yellow mustard, beanless chili sauce, minced onion, and celery salt. They sold for about a buck and 3–6 made a fantastic lunch.”

So far no one has answered the call, but rpglancy says that some of the best can be found in Seekonk at “Eats Restaurant, if you’re willing to take the hour drive south” from Boston.

“I haven’t seen them any farther north than Pawtucket,” says okra, but reminds us not to forget Wein-O-Rama, the “classic” in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Looks like there’s room for an entrepreneurial wiener venture in Boston.

NY System Restaurant [Rhode Island]
20 Plainfield Street, Providence
401-621-9500

Eats Restaurant [Seekonk]
1395 Fall River Avenue, Seekonk
508-336-4384

Wein-O-Rama [Rhode Island]
1009 Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston
401-943-4990

Board Link: RI / Southeastern Mass “Hot Wieners” (no… they’re not X rated…)

Trend-O-Meter Says: Homemade Soda Is In (8/26/09)

Ever wonder why most soda is obnoxiously sweet when it could just taste like fruit with carbonation? Thanks to the food blog Becks & Posh, we found out about an actually delicious naturally-fermented soda being sold at San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It’s called Drinkwell, and is made with seasonal fruits, sugar, and whey (yes, the stuff from milk.) It’s pumped from 5-gallon kegs into reusable metal canteens. To get its bubbles, it’s exposed to the air, where naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria ferment the beverage. The day I visited, lemon verbena, cucumber mint, and strawberry flavors were on offer. Lorraine Ottens, the sodamaker, says a sweet potato flavor is in the works for fall.

There are restaurants making seasonal, natural sodas too: Hotlips Pizza, in Portland, OR does blackberry soda on tap, which has real pulp in it; you can also buy it in bottles. Tilth restaurant in Seattle does cranberry mint soda, among others, and Duckfat, in Portland, ME is famous for its sodas, such as strawberry and hyssop.

You can also make your own: CHOW’s rootbeer recipe uses yeast, and our ginger beer recipe relies on yeasts and bacteria in the air.

Or, if you are in the Los Angeles area, stop by this guy’s soda shop to pick up all sorts of small-batch sodas (including bottles of the aforementioned blackberry from Hotlips Pizza):

Photo by Sam Breach, of Becks & Posh.

Compton Taco Fusion

There’s some serious Compton taco fusion going on at Loreto’s Fried Turkey. It’s kind of a dump on the outside, but it’s totally cozy inside, and the food’s good. “If you have to ask what to order at Loreto’s Fried Turkey, you probably should not be leaving your house without adult supervision,” says Dybno.

Most of the menu involves fried turkey. Dybno is sort of a taco purist but was still won over by Loreto’s berserk fusion: turkey tacos. In this place, turkey tacos with soul. “Adding ‘soul’ apparently means filled with gravy,” says Dybno. “Utterly legit. The taco was $1.50 or $1.00 without ‘soul’.”

The fried turkey sub is also good, with moist, flavorful meat and plenty of mayo.

The place is run by the owner, his mom, and his dad. They also do whole fried turkeys to order, with a day or so of notice.

Loreto’s Fried Turkey [South LA]
938 W. Compton Boulevard, Compton
310-537-7612

Board Link: Loreto’s Fried Turkey–Cheap, Friendly, and Tasty Mom and Pop

The Joys of the Cafeteria

The joys of Lemonade are the joys of the cafeteria. “From the pristine open food hall look, to the welcoming staff eager to sample you on everything from turkey pot roast with dried cranberries to watermelon rosemary lemonade this is one of the happiest happening dining experiences in recent memory,” says cvc. You put together your meal from pieces: Salads are about $4, chunks of buttermilk fried chicken or ahi are $5, etc. It’s a great bargain for a nice small meal, says Dommy, though if you go nuts and keep adding a scoop of this and a scoop of that, it can add up.

There’s excellent traditional pot roast, says cvc, as well as roasted Brussels sprouts, a favorite, says schrutefarms. wienermobile totally digs the red-miso short rib sandwich and the $1 red velvet cupcake.

The mac ’n’ cheese is excellent and über-creamy, says Dommy; the flavors of the cheese really come through. But the biggest reason to go to Lemonade, according to Dommy, is the stews. So few places around here serve good, original stews. Beef stroganoff, with a unique tomato base, is well-cooked, flavorful, and velvety, says Dommy.

Lemonade [Westside–Beaches]
1661 Abbot Kinney, Venice
310-452-6200

Board Link: Lemonade and then some

The Glories of Feijoada

Feijoada is the national stew of Brazil, an intense concoction of black beans and many different bits of beef and pork. It ends up like a hunk of blackness: black beans and meats slow-cooked in dark liquid. It looks, say streetgourmetla and exilekiss, a little ominous and underwhelming to some. But at its best, feijoada is incredible: “a beautiful, hearty stew of slow-cooked goodness,” say the two, with everything from sun-dried beef to pork ribs to pig’s feet to linguiça.

streetgourmetla and exilekiss went on a grand multimonth feijoada tour of Los Angeles. They found three winners.

Some of the best feijoada in town is at Zabumba, a nightclub. The new chef is from Bahia. The feijoada is outstanding: distinctive, rustic, with a “velvety, lightly viscous mouthfeel, with the beans and the stew really capturing the beautiful flavors of all the different cuts. It’s so rich, deep and earthy,” say the two. Call ahead to confirm that it isn’t sold out.

The second-best feijoada in town is at Rio Brasil Café. It’s made with four cuts of meat, resulting in a thick, rich, utterly savory stew. The pork ribs are mouth-wateringly succulent—so tender and fresh, say streetgourmetla and exilekiss. The feijoada is only served on Fridays and Saturdays, and you may want to call ahead here also to confirm that it isn’t sold out—which happens often.

The very best feijoada was homemade for them by a friend, so you can’t have any. Content yourself with second and third place.

Zabumba [Westside–Inland]
10717 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles
310-841-6525

Rio Brasil Café [Westside–Inland]
3300 Overland Avenue, Suite 103, Los Angeles
310-558-3338

Board Link: In Search Of The King of Brazil’s National Dish – Delicious Meat and Black Bean Stew (or, The Feijoada Throwdown!)

Novo Portuguese Deliciousness at Aldea

The Portuguese-and-beyond cooking at Aldea—sophisticated, seasonal, now and then surprising—is winning near-unanimous cheers from Chowhounds. One sensational hit, says RGR, is arroz de pato, a paellalike dish with perfectly cooked duck confit and cracklings, chorizo, and olive. Others love shrimp Alhinho (with garlic, cilantro, pimenton, and shrimp reduction) and roasted baby goat (with chanterelles, toasted buckwheat, and pickled cherries).

The chef, George Mendes, is well versed in 21st-century technique, which is on full display in the open kitchen. taboo, who caught the dinner show, reports seamless kitchen teamwork and standout starters with up-to-date flourishes: chilled littleneck clams (with natural jus, ginger, bay leaf) and sea urchin on toast (with cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, lime): “Both were so tasty with herbs and splashes of foam and zests.” Flavors range well beyond the Mediterranean, as in an Asian-accented cuttlefish appetizer with coconut curry (since replaced on the menu by a preparation with caramelized lychee and Japanese mentaiko, or pollock roe).

Prices are gentler than one would’ve expected a couple of years ago for food at this level—something hounds are seeing all over town nowadays. Entrées top out in the mid-$20s. “Exceptionally good,” writes Wilfrid, “not least the prices.”

Aldea [Flatiron]
31 W. 17th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan
212-675-7223

Board Links: Aldea
Your Ideal meal at Scarpetta?
Weekend Trip Report—Keste/Jean-Georges/Aldea/Alta
Aldea–AMAZING!

On the F Line, a Bagel-Tamale Connection

New York’s latest stealth tamales have surfaced at F Line Bagels, a little-mentioned deli at the less fashionable end of Smith Street in Brooklyn. Off the menu and announced only on a handwritten sign, they’re fat, moist, and delicious, fmogul reports. The ones with cheese and jalapeño are “improbably excellent,” he adds.

The bagels are also quite good, the best in Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill, says suefrombrooklyn. She goes for the Middle Eastern–style special with hard-boiled egg, olive oil, and za’atar.

F Line Bagels [Carroll Gardens]
476 Smith Street (at W. Ninth Street), Brooklyn
718-422-0001

Board Link: Outrageously tasty and cheap tamale in out-of-the-way place

Greek Dumplings, Light as Air

cimui has been pondering the sheep’s-milk dumplings at Kefi. Served with tomato, pine nuts, and spicy lamb sausage, they’re “pillowy soft and oh-so-luscious,” she says. “I really want to know their secret. Do you think they inject the dumplings with air?” Also worth a try, cimui adds, is Kefi’s salad of grilled octopus and beans.

Kefi [Upper West Side]
505 Columbus Avenue (between W. 84th and 85th streets), Manhattan
212-873-0200

Board Link: Best thing you ate this week?