When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

20 August 2005

The greatness of ChowNews

Regular enrevanche readers know that I am a devotee of the website Chowhound.com. I've used it for years, and it has helped me eat well all over the country, but especially in my adopted hometown of New York City. (I post there sometimes as--no great shock here--"enrevanche.")

Since enrevanche's readership skews urban and American, as a public service I want to alert those of you who live in the metro New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco areas to the existence of the weekly ChowNews newsletter. (Sample issues: NYC, LA, SF.)

ChowNews boils down the cream of the crop of the hundreds (if not thousands) of postings on the message boards for each metro area, each week, and distills them into a quick-reading plain-text newsletter that will hip you to the latest finds and happenings in your town. Non-regional content, from the General Topics message board, is selected for inclusion as well.

The sensibility of the ChowNews editors is quirky, informed, and very reliable. They don't strive for completeness of coverage (which would be impossible anyway), just a grab bag of great picks and insider tips every week.

Here's a great pick from this week's issue of the New York Tristate ChowNews, just to give you a taste:

Hip Hop Chow [East Village]
129 2nd Ave, between 7th St and St. Marks Pl
Manhattan, NY 10003
[Link to Citysearch entry]

Month-old Hip Hop Chow dishes up soul food from the American South alongside Cantonese food from China's south. This will strike some as a parody of high-concept fusion, but early reports say the chow is surprisingly delicious. "It's not 'fusion' food," explains *Hiro*, "they simply pair mains and sides across these cuisines, typically not on the same plate. This is a multicultural asset on a block that includes B&H Dairy, Belgian fries, and Toy Tokyo."

Chef Eric Kwan finds the two disparate cuisines' common ground in comfort food: country fried steak, slow-cooked Chinese cabbage, pork belly with grits, ribs with hoisin glaze. The Southern fare passes muster with native Southerner *NYgal*, who reports top-notch cornbread ("and I know from cornbread," she assures us) and crisp, tender smothered pork chops that you might as well just pick up and gnaw on. "The food is creative and really excellent," she adds. "I would venture to call it chowish."

At $15 for six months, ChowNews will more than pay for itself with the first great meal you find. Historically, I have found at least two good tips that I could use immediately in every single issue, and in terms of price/performance the bang for the buck is even better than my subscription to the Wall Street Journal's fantastic web site, my previous benchmark for value on the Web.

To subscribe to ChowNews, click here.

(Full disclosure: until fairly recently, when my life got a lot more busy and complicated, I provided some editorial support for the publication of the NYC edition of ChowNews. I no longer do that, but I am still a happy--and paid-up--subscriber.)

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