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

Early Report on The Gander, a Kick-Back Follow-Up to Recette

Having made his name with elegant, seasonal small plates at Recette, Chef Jesse Schenker was ready to kick back a bit. The Gander, his two-week-old follow-up, is bigger, cheaper, and more casual, a place to "put the pretension aside, cook for a bigger audience, and just make really good food," as he told Fork in the Road. READ MORE

Diane Tran’s Pho Banh Mi Is Amazing

Muffins Muffins is a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop down the street from the CHOW offices in San Francisco. It has taken care of me many times, filling the hole when desperate; a splash of color in a sea of suits and sunglasses. There are ex-CHOW staffers who still travel out of their way to get to Muffins Muffins for pork or tofu banh mi. The other day I noticed a sign taped to the window: PHO SANDWICH. Owner Diane Tran explained that she'd wanted to start offering pho, Vietnamese soup, but the kitchen in her tiny shop is too small to handle the huge stockpots she'd need. Instead, Tran combined pho ingredients in a sandwich. READ MORE

Seeking the Soul of American Food at Pebble Beach Food & Wine

This guy in a suit is leaning up against the wall and he’s absolutely hammered—like, reeling drunk—and he’s got his nose in a glass of Pinot (or something) and he’s trying to swirl it, only he’s too gone so he’s just jerking his glass. He’s going to end up staining that suit jacket, but he doesn’t look like the kind of guy who has only one decent suit. I’m figuring he won’t care. It’s the opening night reception at Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2014, and this is the inner sanctum: the wine room. READ MORE

In the East Village, Middle Eastern Like Mama Used to Make

Mom's in the kitchen at Au Za'atar, and owner Tarik Fallous couldn't be happier. Fallous's mother is cooking the Lebanese food he grew up with, as well as a pan-regional menu of dishes from around the Middle East and North Africa. Grilled baby lamb chops seasoned with za'atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend that gives the month-old restaurant its name, are a highlight, Pookipichu writes on Chowhound, as is Tunisian-style Couscous Royal with lamb, chicken, and well-seasoned, nicely charred house-made merguez. (One misfire, she reports, is unbalanced, "relentlessly smoky" baba ghanoush.) READ MORE

Is It OK to Store Bread in the Fridge?

It happens all the time: You buy a loaf of sliced bread, set it on your counter or in the cupboard, and after a several days it’s stale and starting to mold. It’s a problem older than the commercial bread-slicing machine itself, whose inventor in 1928, Otto Rohwedder, used hat pins to keep the slices pushed together so they’d stay fresh longer, but probably required a lot of Band-Aids. READ MORE

Telepan Local: Keeping It Casual in Tribeca

Eight years after taking his market-centered cooking to the Upper West Side, Chef Bill Telepan has introduced a less dressy version downtown at three-month-old Telepan Local. In contrast with the Michelin-starred Telepan uptown, his new place offers simpler, smaller dishes—American tapas, he calls them. READ MORE

7 Sweet Ideas for Passover Desserts

The annual confluence of spring and Passover is pretty sweet—you want to celebrate with desserts to mark the occasion. These delicious ideas from the Chowhound Home Cooking board will have you and your Seder guests saying happy Pesach. READ MORE

What Kind of Food Has Meaning?

My grandma was a really terrible cook, but she could bake. She made angel food cake with chocolate glaze that tasted the way playground bark smells, only sweet. And she made lemon cookies that were tangy and had white icing that dripped a little off the edges and while it was thick it also looked gauzy. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote it out for me on the white pad she kept near the phone. READ MORE

How to Make Hefty Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Why would someone do this to lasagna, giving it the pigs-in-a-blanket treatment? Are individual rolled lasagnas better than the normal noodle stack you bake in a dish? These are questions I asked myself as I saw lasagna roll-up recipe after lasagna roll-up recipe on various food blogs. Were they a gimmick? I decided to find out. READ MORE

7 Quietly Awesome Ways to Use Cream Cheese

For most of us, cream cheese means bagels or cheesecake, but the dedicated and resourceful community on the Chowhound Home Cooking board sees far beyond schmears. Check out these seven recipes ideas that regard cream cheese as an essential ingredient for more cooking creativity. READ MORE