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When Czech Goes South Dakotan, It’s Chislic

Chislic is a South Dakota thing, says pollymerase, "as I had never heard of it before I got there, and I have never heard or thought about it since I left (until now!)"

"Chislic is Czech—as are many good people from South Dakota," says kaleokahu. "My wife is Czech and grew up in SD (yeah, take that, San Diego), so I've had the simple pleasure of this simplest aspect of Czech cuisine—other than cold pivo." [Editor's note: Pivo is beer.] Chislic is skewered, fried chunks of meat—whatever is freshly killed, be it "goat, lamb, beef, pork, fowl, game, whatever. My favorites are venison, pheasant, or duck by virtue of taking a quick, deep sear, and remaining bloody-juicy within," says kaleokahu.

"I had a roommate who was from central SD and she would make it sometimes at our apartment," says pollymerase. "She would marinate beef (don't recall exactly what was in the marinade aside from garlic) and then simply drop it into a counter-top fryer. She always seasoned it with Lawry's after she pulled it out. I don't remember much about the actual taste of chislic, I mainly remember the apartment smelling like grease for days after."

"Sounds like what you are all describing is Shashlik, which is basically skewered and grilled anything (not really fried). It is Turkish-Middle Eastern and it is a staple food in the Middle East," says Uncle Yabai. Indeed, "Shashlik = chislic = shish kebab," says Will Owen. "Amazing how these things get around!"

Discuss: Chislic?

Wasabi Oil Is Hot Stuff

"A friend turned me on to this a few years ago, and I find I really like it on a lot of things—grilled meat, salads, even pasta," says kaleokahu. The stuff kaleokahu gets is Japanese, "comes in a small (like 2-oz.) bottle, and the oil itself is almost colorless. I found it in an Asian specialty grocery store."

CCSPRINGS agrees: "I love it. I use it on sautéed veggies over rice. It is HOT. I found it in a Korean market."

Discuss: Anyone Tried Wasabi Oil?

Pollo or Gallina?

To many 21st-century English-speaking Americans, chicken is just chicken. We're not used to talking about the difference between hens and roosters, or age in reference to birds we might eat. It's just—chicken. Not so in Central and South American cuisine, in which chicken is not just chicken, but may be "pollo," "gallina," or even something else. What's a pollo and what's a gallina?

In some Latin American countries the difference between pollo and gallina meat is marked, says mirilara, "as is the case in Peru with aji de gallina and pollo chifa. Pollo meaning a younger, whiter meat, and gallina a yellower, fattier, and older meat."

A "gallina vieja" is an old hen, says inwooddan. "This is the chicken that is used in the Caribbean for homey soup stock, though not gelatinous stock. The older the bird, the darker the dark meat, and the harder the bones, hence the stock not being thick. The only way to break down this bird without violence is to cook it in a pressure cooker—for 45 minutes after you turn down the heat."

"While doing in a chicken and a gallina for Christmas tamales, I found out the difference," says rworange. "It didn't have to do with age. They were both about the same age. In Guatemala, it seems it is a special breed of chicken which has a bald spot on its neck."

"An interesting side," adds rworange, "I read in El Salvador that the dish 'gallo in chicha' ... rooster in fermented pineapple juice ... is a dish traditionally served on Mondays. The losers of the weekend cock fights are lunch the next day."

"In 'Mexican,'" says Eat_Nopal, the different words for chicken mostly refer to the age of the bird. A pollito is a fryer, a pollo a roaster, a gallina is a soup hen, and a gallo is "rarely good eats."

Discuss: Pollo & gallina?

Overheard on the General Topics Board

"The durian will tell you when it is ready to be eaten. When the durian fruit is ripe the husk begins to crack open on its own. This means it is ready to be split open (either with a cleaver or by hands of steel) and consumed. Some people let it ripen beyond that until the flesh is creamy, slightly alcoholic, and strongly aromatic. Yes, even more 'aromatic' than normal, ripe durian." – ipsedixit

"The Best Pie? My paternal grandmother's wild blueberry pie. Blueberries from her Up-North Minnesota homestead, the home-rendered lard from the farm for the crust, the perfect fruit-to-crust ratio (not too much fruit, no high-hat pie, this), her own pattern of cutting the vent holes (sort of an abstraction of the stitching on a baseball), and tendency to unevenly sprinkle the top with sugar, leaving us all with favorite slices (relative sugar coverage) and strategies to obtain them." – cayjohan

"One of my new favorites ... is Sultane. It's an unflavored black tea, but WOW, is it awesome! There is just something really special about it, and it is simple divine black tea (yes, w/milk and sugar!) perfection. I don't see it listed on the Market Hall website, which is unfortunate...Also, I found a wonderful blend called 'Fall in Love' tea, which is very aptly named. Love it. It's black tea with delicious caramel and vanilla notes, but less like ice cream and more like a whiff of excellent cigar tobacco. Yum." – french roast on Mariage Frères tea

Tasting Tico

Chef Michael Schlow, of Via Matta, Radius, and Alta Strada, now has a fourth prong to his, um, fork: Tico, which bills itself as Nuevo Latino small plates. Spike calls it a mix between Mexican and Spanish, and "Schlow's take on Toro."

Kitamonster gave the tasting menu a try on the restaurant's second night of business, and "everything was excellent." Plate after plate came out: a dreamy fried Manchego cheese with pomegranate-honey dipping sauce, scallop ceviche, pork belly with onion ("so good I had to post to Facebook about it"), tender sirloin with a warm side of beans, kale, and bacon.

Dessert brought a cheese plate (four local varieties), peanut butter mousse, and rich chocolate cake with splashes of butterscotch sauce and something spicy: "I would drink this butterscotch straight if they'd let me."

Right out of the gate the place is packed; Kitamonster says service is on the slow side. The noise level was too much for some folks, but southie went by for a meal on Sunday and found it just fine, and the food well worth a try.

Tico [Back Bay]
222 Berkeley Street, Boston
617-351-0400

Discuss: Tico - did tasting menu with friends last night
Tico = Schlow's take on Toro

Southie Coming on Strong

Sharp-eyed hounds have noticed a bit of a revival in South Boston of late, although, as mtm7654 puts it, "Not sure 'revival' is the appropriate term since that implies there was something there to revive!"

Chief amongst the neighborhood improvements is the opening of American Provisions, a gourmet shop with high aims and prices to match: "They carry an impressive selection of cheeses, many local, but also from all over the world, tons of fresh bread, meats, charcuterie, pastas and gourmet sauces, jams, dressings, etc.," says cbw_chowfan. "They also sell Kickass Cupcakes (from the Somerville bakery) and a variety of other chocolates and treats."

Cafe Mamtaz is another new addition, "really delicious Indian take-out/delivery," says cbw. Also, "I'm pretty excited about the potential selection of beers on tap going in at the Local 149, if the owner's other restaurant, The Biltmore in Newton, is any indication of things to come."

American Provisions [South Boston/Southie]
613 E. Broadway, Boston
617-269-6100

Cafe Mamtaz [South Boston/Southie]
87 L Street, Boston
617-464-4800

Discuss: South Boston revival?

Very French Service at AKA Bistro

tatsu is impressed with the food and the attentive, European-correct service at AKA Bistro. "It's worth mentioning, all the executives, Chris, Christian, David, and the talented young pastry chef, have been working every single time I've visited," notes tatsu. "They are 100% dedicated, and I think it makes a difference, which is why I'm willing to pay repeat visits. Also, the service is spot-on, I'm not really accustomed to fine European dining as much as Japanese, but I always feel they have the right balance of attention, attentiveness, cues, timing, and information."

So what will these paragons of waitronly and culinary virtue be serving you? tatsu highly recommends the beet salad, the rainbow trout, and the chocolate mousse. His lunch companion had a chocolate hazelnut raspberry mille-feuille that was a "work of art."

Three courses for $22. What a steal.

AKA Bistro [North of Boston]
145 Lincoln Road, Lincoln
781-259-9920

Discuss: AKA Bistro – Lunch with Pics

Overheard on the Boston Board

"A ton of the supermarkets sell Dover Sole from California for $6.99 a lb and it's garbage. Mistral uses true Dover Sole from the North Sea either from France or Holland (it's all the same fish, just where it's landed). Huge difference in price wholesale: Dover Sole (CA) $2/lb, Dover Sole (Holland) $16/lb." – typhoonfish

"Cafe Fleuri does a mammoth chocolate buffet. I haven't personally been (not much of a chocolate girl), but I hear it's pretty dope." – invinotheresverde on the chocolate bar at Café Fleuri that runs Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through June

"I have never had the banh mi in Dot but I have to say the ones from the 163 Sandwich Place on Harrison Ave in Chinatown are the absolute best in the neighborhood. I have yet to have anything from this small establishment that wasn't delicious. They also do the best frozen drinks and have the best jasmine tea." – MeffaBabe

Coke, KFC, and Other So-Called Secret Recipes

Did the popular radio show This American Life blow the lid off of Coca-Cola's secret formula? Well, kind of—the show has published a February 28, 1979, article from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper that purports to have the right stuff, as well as a recipe published in the 1992 history For God, Country & Coca-Cola.

READ MORE

CHOW Tour Austin: Food Trailers Are King

Food trailers are everywhere in Austin, cooking and serving everything from doughnuts covered in Canadian bacon, hot pepper jelly, and cream cheese to vegan Frito pies. We visited two trailers that we heard were serving really excellent food: La Boîte, a retrofitted shipping container turned coffee shop, and Odd Duck, where Chef Bryce Gilmore serves food like quail, venison, and duck eggs—things that don't sound like you'd buy them out of an old orange trailer. WATCH THE VIDEO