Chow, Baby: Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Il gelato č qui! Dove Salerno’s č?

Chow, Baby had occasion to ask Greg Beam, general manager of Fort Worth’s Central Market, if he’s nervous about the new Market Street in Colleyville, which positions itself as a fusion of Central Market quality and Wal-Mart prices. “Oh, no,” said Greg. “No, that’s a nice store, but we’re not worried.” And yet Central Market just swapped its old TABC license for one that allows them to offer wine and beer tastings (4:30-7pm daily, noonish on weekends and Mondays). Eerie coincidence, or a masterful scheme to draw in the midday-drinking crowd from the Mid-Cities? It worked on Chow, Baby, who spent a couple of hours taste-testing — turns out Chow, Baby actually likes shiraz, and hasn’t just been buying it because it was the flavor of the month (or, as Vogue likes to say, “the new black”) a couple of seasons ago — and then stumbled off to buy things it couldn’t afford (chocolate-covered bing cherries, $6.48/handful).

Wine and chocolate are fine, but Chow, Baby had come to Central Market for the ultimate winter food: Italian gelato. Chow, Baby fell in love with gelato years ago on a trip to Italy, or perhaps it was Little Italy. No matter. Gelato is this mysterious, possibly alien substance that breaks all laws of nature. It’s creamier than ice cream, yet it has no cream. It’s sweet and rich, but is (relatively) low in sugar and fat. The water- and soy-based flavors are just as good as the milk-based. Chow, Baby knows this for a fact, because it taste-tested each of the 32 flavors at Central Market’s Paciugo counter, the first Tarrant location in the Dallas-based company’s gelato chain. Oh, they have your rocky road and chocolate chip, but Chow, Baby prefers the holiday flavors: eggnog, cinnamon, glazed chestnut, and especially pumpkin, which according to Vogue is the newest black.

After all this dessert Chow, Baby was ready for lunch, and headed for the best Thai on the West Side (and it ain’t Big Bowl). But A Little Home, at 6465 Camp Bowie, was dark and empty. Closed, no forwarding address. These disappearing acts are really starting to piss Chow, Baby off. New rule: Chow, Baby’s favorite restaurants must give two weeks’ notice before vanishing. The silver lining, according to an anonymous e-mail, is that the pointy-headed former IHOP of Little Home may well be the new home of Mike Salerno’s. Chow, Baby’s secret source says the gang is hoping for an early December opening. And so is Chow, Baby.

With the gelato and the Mike’s sighting, Chow, Baby has pretty much fulfilled all of its 2003 quests. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well with some reader missions. Chow, Baby’s correspondent Ronny has his own weird idea of a good winter meal: a hearty, hot bowl of chili. Chow, Baby likes, but doesn’t love, 7th Street Café’s rendition; any other recommendations, dear readers? Call to Arlington foodies: Margaret seeks dim sum, preferably with a wider range of offerings than chicken feet and fish balls. And one for the Northeast Tarrant legpeople: Sally is looking for good puffy tacos. Or she was in August; Chow, Baby is afraid to check its e-mail too often, for fear it’ll read about another favorite restaurant closing.

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