Articles rss

Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

In the Beginning, There Was Water

The first thing human beings ingested? Water and ice. The latest? Deep-fried Coca-Cola. The Food Timeline was created by New Jersey reference librarian Lynne Olver to aid students intent on researching food history, and it’s a neat tool even for looky-loos. How else would we know that humans started eating apples sometime in 8000 BCE, but didn’t figure out how to make kimchi until the seventh century? Or that sushi arrived on our plates about 700 years before we filled our cups with coffee? Or that the prototypes for hot dogs came along about 100 years before the Aztecs invented salsa?

Me, I’m just excited that Space Food Sticks made the Food Timeline cut.

From “Top Chef” Hopeful to Wine-Store Mogul?

Twentysomething sommelier and one-time Top Chef villain Stephen Asprinio is nearing completion on two ambitious ventures, Slashfood reports. He’s launching the first, a “concept wine boutique” called Tastevin, in L.A. this spring; his goal with the shop is to create an unstuffy place for folks his age to discover good but affordable wine. As Slashfood explains,

The shop will be 1,000-square feet and will offer 40-50 boutique wines, none of which will be over $25 per bottle, on a rotating basis. The major selling point is that every wine they offer will be ‘on tap,’ thanks to a cutting-edge computerized wine tasting system that allows every buyer to taste up to three different wines before they buy them, ensuring that they get one they like every time. Not only will they be able to taste the wines, but brief, current descriptions of all the wines will be offered via audio wands. The wands will be similar to the audio tours offered in museums, but will be equipped with short descriptions of the wines and their history. This eliminates the need to clutter the space with all kinds of signs … many buyers in the target demographic can feel intimidated by the prospect of dealing with a wine expert or someone who will try to upsell them into an expensive bottle they’re not interested in.

Sounds pretty great. Though of course I wish it didn’t: If you watched season one, you may remember the perpetually designer-suited Stephen as the pretentious git who once declared that he’s in the top three percentile of everything he does. A talented chef, by all accounts, but one whose (deliberately?) arrogant persona made him the object of many viewers’ ire.

What about that second project? It’s another idea aimed at a younger crowd, and this one I’m not so sure about: a contemporary Tuscan restaurant called Forté d’Asprinio, scheduled to open this summer in Palm Beach. It’s supposed to appeal to “adventurous palates,” but as Slashfood explains, the real distinguishing feature is the fact that “not one member of management or the kitchen staff, including his executive chef, will be over the age of 30.” Eh? Apparently Stephen is willing to face the inevitable age-discrimination charges so that he can, as Slashfood puts it, “give other up and coming culinary stars a chance to showcase their talents, while at other restaurants they might be held back simply based on the seniority of older chefs.”

What do you think—do young chefs need this kind of leg up these days?

The Expanding World of Pinot Noir

The Expanding World of Pinot Noir

New Zealand gets in on the Pinot action. READ MORE

Dating a Restricted Diet

He’s a vegan; she’s a steak and potatoes kind of girl who dislikes anything leafy or green. Is there any hope for this relationship?

A recent Slashfood post about dating with dietary restrictions inspired a slew of interesting comments—from those with restrictions and those who would, or would not, date them. Here are some of the highlights:

I started dating someone who cannot have milk products about two and a half years ago. At first it was hard to adjust … but it … has actually made me a better thinker in the kitchen—I have to be much more experimental and it has turned out to be great. So I guess it is sort of what you make of it—It would be hard for me to decide that Humboldt Fog is more important than human interaction.

I’m the one with the restrictive diet. I have a horrendous stomach. Luckily my boyfriend has been really great about asking me what he should and shouldn’t put into our dinners. When we eat out, he always looks at the menu for things that I can’t have just to be sure that I don’t order them by mistake. So sweet.

I dated a guy once who pretty much only ate chicken nuggets, steak, fries and vegetables. No bread at all. I couldn’t stand it. It put a real damper on our relationship.

Medically restrictive I can deal with—I can cook around diabetes and GI problems. Learning up-front that he was a vegan/vegetarian? Absolutely a deal-breaker—I’m a deep-south steak & potatoes kind of girl.

I also have a restrictive diet. I am allergic to vegetables and bread. I eat meat. That limits some of the places and it has cost me dates. One guy told me it was not “worth his time” to wrangle around my dietary needs, another just walked away from the table.

I don’t even like to dine with people who cannot enjoy a full range of foods. I guess ordering out in a restaurant is okay, eat what you want, but for a partner, or cooking for other people in your home, very annoying.

Even though I’m now in a serious relationship I cannot nor will I date a vegetarian or a vegan. If you are a picky eater, that is remarkably unsexy and you are gone too. As far as lactose or gluten intolerance, those are things I can work with, but veggies are out of the picture the moment I know they are vegetarian.

When I started dating my current boyfriend, we were both veg. I’ve come back to the dark side with a vengeance and will eat burgers and pork products like no one’s business. He’s not offended by my omnivorousness, and I’m not put out by his not wanting to eat meat. What someone eats or not eats shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

I once dated a man who disliked all vegetables besides potatoes. I dealt with it at the time—but in hindsight I realize it never would have worked. Medical or ethical food decisions I can respect, but it’s no fun to cook for a picky eater.

What do you think? Ever been driven crazy by the dietary restrictions/preferences of a partner—or been the restricted partner yourself?

Stocking the Minimalist Kitchen

Stocking the Minimalist Kitchen

Ban clutter: All you need are these 10 basic tools. READ MORE

Paletas to Stimulate Your Palate

Mexican ice creams don’t just soothe your tongue with bland creaminess, they wake it up with flavors like spicy mango, chamoy (kind of an apricot-chili taste) or jackfruit.

On the Eastside, La Mich has an amazing range of flavors, including vanilla raisin, butter strawberry, and the spicier options above. They also serve Mexican coffee and hot chocolate.

Mateo’s may not have as much variety, but it’s staked out some turf on the Westside, scooping up leche quemada (burnt milk), guava, and chocolate.

La Mich Paleteria [Inland of LA]
1026 Huntington Drive, Duarte

Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars [Culver City-ish]
4929 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City

Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars [Midtown]
4222 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

Board Links: Wicked cool ice cream flavors

A Sort-Of Spinoff of Sushi Gen

There’s a new sushi bar in Little Tokyo, Takumi, with an old hand behind the counter: Hiro, who worked for eight years at the crushingly popular Sushi Gen down the street.

Takumi’s fish is super fresh, tender, and moist, says chowmominLA. They have honjake salmon, higher quality than the regular kind–nicely marbled and not too fatty. Albacore is tender and moist, and yellowtail flavorful. Toro comes two ways in one order: the first piece plain and simple, the second seared in a way that transforms the fattiness without sacrificing the flavor, and sluiced with a citrusy, sweet-soyish kind of sauce.

Sushi averages $4.50 per two-piece order, with honjake salmon at $5.50 and toro at $10. There are also affordable lunch specials and bentos–sushi moriawase lunch includes eight pieces of assorted nigiri and six small pieces of tuna roll for $12.50.

The dinner menu has a lot more cooked items than at lunch. There’s an omakase option for $80 that includes sushi, sashimi and cooked dishes–according to the customer’s taste.

Decor is very light, new, and modern.

A sushi place is only as good as its chefs. Kawasaki-san, formerly of Sushi Go 55, is reportedly at Azabu in Whittier–for the time being. Meanwhile, at Go 55, the new chef is good, says Jerome. Sashimi pieces and portions are smaller than at Sushi Gen, but it’s quite fresh. While there, be sure to check out the fried oysters, which HPLsauce thinks are the best in the city, so far.

Takumi [Little Tokyo]
333 E. 2nd Street (SW entrance of Little Tokyo Village), Los Angeles

Sushi Gen [Little Tokyo]
422 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles

Sushi Go 55. [Little Tokyo]
333 S. Alameda St. Ste. 317, Los Angeles

Azabu [East LA-ish]
13119 Philadelphia St., Whittier

Board Links

Watch out, Sushi Gen
Going to Sushi Go

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Doña Tomas

Doña Tomas is still making excellent food, says deelish–especially the terrific huitlacoche (corn smut fungus) quesadilla that one could eat at every meal, every day. Chiles rellenos are also excellent, not breaded or deep fried, just stuffed with smooth, meltingly yummy goat cheese and roasted. The masa is fresh and tastes of sweet corn. Earl Grey feels the service is sloppy, and the food is only very good, not great. And Mari likes the juicy, crispy carnitas, despite the fact that they are rubbed with Mexican oregano.

For dessert, try ice cream served with baked apples, raisins, and pecans, sprinkled with cajeta.

Restaurante Dona Tomas [Temescal]
5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Board Links

Doña Tomas–Recent Reviews?

Truffles and Coffee

5-Star Truffles and Coffee is a charming, unassuming place, offering excellent house-made truffles, along with espresso drinks and other beverages. The owner makes the chocolates from Cacao Barry chocolate, says larochelle a box of 20 truffles runs $7.99. Also, you get one truffle free when you purchase a beverage. Flavors include hazelnut, espresso, Earl Grey, and wine. Many flavors are quite subtle, but the caramel is unctuous and buttery. Definitely worth a visit, says Absonot.

5-Star Truffles and Coffee [Western Addition]
411 Divisadero St., San Francisco

Board Links

5-star truffles and coffee on divisadero

Pizza Outside the Box at Layla Jones

The pizza at Layla Jones defies easy categorization, but hounds aren’t letting that keep them from enjoying it. “Not what I consider your typical New York pizza,” says Nehna, who describes a pie that’s square like a Sicilian, yet also thin and crispy in an un-Sicilian way. Whatever. The crust is tasty, the sauce thick and delicious, the toppings fresh and well balanced (winning combos include sweet sausage-caramelized onion, meatball-roasted pepper, and artichoke-roasted tomato). The result, concludes BGRose, is “a definite step up from your typical neighborhood pizza joint.”

Takeout and delivery orders don’t fare well, possibly because of the thinness of the crust. BGRose brought a pie home, a trip of just a few minutes, “and even though I saw it come fresh from the oven, the whole thing was a soggy mess.”

Besides full-size pies from the oven (dubbed “Brooklyn Classic”), they make personal pizzas on a charcoal grill (no reports yet on these). And beyond pizza, look for decent pressed sandwiches–grilled chicken, goat cheese, arugula and tomato is a standout–and better-than-average pastas such as pappardelle with spicy shrimp, feta and spinach.

Layla Jones [Cobble Hill]
formerly Campobello
214 Court St., between Warren and Baltic, Brooklyn

Board Links

New pizza place on Court St–Layla Jones