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

Cafe Artemis

Judith loves the warm, casual feel and great food at Cafe Artemis, located in the Pruneyard. Everything is of high quality, from the house bread, served with a smokey, peppery spread, to the mussels in red sauce, to the lamb kofte. For dessert, try the chocolate ouzo cake, which turns out to be a dark, molten chocolate cake, served with a scoop of very good vanilla gelato.

taco belle is also a Cafe Artemis fan. “It pains me when I walk by and see it empty, knowing that Buca, Rock Bottom and Outback are probably packed,” she says.

Cafe Artemis
1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell

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Cafe Artemis, Pruneyard, Campbell, it’s a must

Pier 15 Restaurant & Bar

Pier 15 looks like a nondescript bar in a rundown industrial neighborhood. However, it was recently bought by one of the owners of Mama’s, and many of the excellent breakfast dishes served at Mama’s are now served at Pier 15. Offerings include prosciutto Benedict, adored by rworange for the delicious prosciutto and rich, golden, house-made Hollandaise. House fries are nicely browned and flavored with herbs, and the coffee is good, as are the spicy bloody Marys.

Mama’s makes French toast out of delectable brioche, and that same bread is in evidence at Pier 15. French toast dishes include Swedish cinnamon, cranberry orange brioche, and apple dore, featuring gala apples in lemon butter. Breakfast is served daily until 5 p.m.

Mama’s On Washington Square [Washington Square]
1701 Stockton St., San Francisco

Pier 15 Restaurant & Bar [Marin County]
formerly Frank’s Pier 15
15 Harbor St., San Rafael

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San Rafael–Pier 15 Restaurant & Bar–Mama’s SF breakfast in Marin & Orsi’s house-made prosciutto

Amazing Deep-Fried Macaroni at Brooklyn’s Chip Shops

Deep-fried macaroni…well, why not? For Brooklyn’s Chip Shops, which toss chocolate bars and cherry pies into the Frymaster, it’s no stretch to do the same to a battered ball of cooked pasta, held together with cheesy, mayonnaisey sauce. “First I doubted. Now I’m a believer,” testifies frenetica. “It’s so delicious. And if you smother it in ketchup it becomes kind of an interesting parody of Italian food!”

Also recommended: Scotch eggs. For the uninitiated, they’re hard-boiled eggs covered in sausage meat, breaded and–naturally–deep-fried.

Atlantic Chip Shop [Cobble Hill]
129 Atlantic Ave., between Henry and Clinton Sts., Brooklyn

Park Slope Chip Shop [Park Slope]
383 5th Ave., at 6th St., Brooklyn

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Atlantic Chip Shop–fried macaroni!!

Martine’s: Choice Chocolates on the Upper East Side

Hang around Martine’s at the right time of day and you can watch fancy European-style sweets made by hand from Belgian Callebaut chocolate, French butter, fresh cream, and other top-quality ingredients.

“Absolutely amazing!” swoons comida, who’s fallen hard for the cherry cordial with brandy. Among the other choices: cappuccino hearts, hazelnut-praline butterflies, chocolate cellos, pianos, and palettes, and truffles with caramel, raspberry, cognac, champagne, or Grand Marnier. They’re $2 and up per piece and well worth it, comida swears.

Martine’s Chocolates [Upper East Side]
1000 3rd Ave., near E. 60th St., in Bloomingdale’s, 6th floor, Manhattan

Martine’s Chocolates Too [Upper East Side]
400 E. 82nd St., near 1st Ave., Manhattan

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Anyone try Martine’s chocolates?

Polpette alla Napoletana

“I was about 8 years old when my mother first said to me, ‘Go wash your hands, we’re going to make meatballs,’” recalls Regina Cowles, and she’s been making them the same way ever since:

1/2 cup milk
2 cups dried bread, crust removed and cubed
1 lb. 85% lean ground beef

2/3 lb. ground pork
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tsp. crushed red chile peppers, or more to taste
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Pour the milk over the cubed bread while you gather the remaining ingredients. Pulverize the bread mixture with your hands; drain any remaining milk and discard it. Place the bread and the remainder of ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until they are extremely well blended. Form into meatballs approximately 2 inches in diameter. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan, leaving enough room to turn each one without breaking them apart. Cook slowly on medium low heat, carefully turning each meatball, until well browned outside but still slightly rare inside. Remove the cooked meatballs to a covered bowl, keeping them warm while making your favorite tomato sauce to serve them with.

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Do you remember the first dish you ever cooked?

Free Crab Deal

Visit Top Island, a new Chinese restaurant in Alhambra, for dinner and get a free crab. The deal is one free crab for groups of five or fewer, two crabs for six or more.

Dim sum is run-of-the-mill but not bad; there’s an 88-cents-per-person charge for tea/setting, and all dishes are $1.88 each on weekdays, $2.08 on weekends. Lunch specials are $4.75.

Top Island Seafood [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Sea Star buffet
740 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

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Taking note of Top Island
Another new dim sum joint

Where to Chow and Fly

Once in a while, all Angelenos confront the question: Where can I eat near LAX?

There are a couple of great Pakistani restaurants practically a stone’s throw away: Al Watan (excellent tandoori) and Bilal.

The Googie-esque diner Pann’s is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dinah’s, another old-fashioned coffee shop, is best for breakfast: go for the legendary apple pancakes (more like apple fritters, with a crust of sugar and caramelized apples) or Dutch baby pancakes.

The Thai restaurant Ayara has become a favorite of some hounds, who head there even when they’re not heading out of the city.

Downtown El Segundo is a little neighborhood gem adjacent to LAX, notes cvc, who always recommends Chef Hannes.

Pann’s booster Will Owen puts in a vote for Second City Bistro as well, for good food, good service, good prices, and pleasant atmosphere.

Al Watan [South LA]
13619 Inglewood Ave., Hawthorne

Bilal [South LA]
1117 W. Manchester Blvd. # G, at Aviation, Inglewood

Pann’s Restaurant [South LA]
6710 La Tijera Blvd., at La Cienega, Los Angeles

Dinah’s Family Restaurant [South LA]
6521 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles

Ayara Thai Cuisine [South LA]
6245 W. 87th St., at La Tijera, Los Angeles

Chef Hannes [Beaches]
411 1/2 Main St., El Segundo

Second City Bistro [Beaches]
223 Richmond St., El Segundo

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LAX eats

Dive Into Great Mexican in Orange

One of the best Mexican/Oaxacan places in OC is El Montezuma, a hole-in-the-wall in Orange, says robgue, who’s something of a Mexican food snob.

One favorite: pambaso. This sandwich is stuffed with potato, chorizo, and cream, and smothered in chorizo drippings. Mole plate is excellent, and so are enchiladas suizas. Quesadillas (get tinga or rajas) spill over with lettuce, queso fresco, and cream.

They have other Oaxacan specialties, like tlayudas and chapulines (crickets–off the menu). Aguas are all made from scratch.

The joint is pretty plain, but comfortable, not run down. Note that while the name is El Montezuma, the sign out front says La Calle in a holdover from a previous incarnation.

El Montezuma (sign says La Calle) [Inland of OC]
1740 W. Chapman Ave., Orange

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Super-delicioso Mexican

Cooking with Pumpkin Seeds

Add pumpkin seeds to chocolate chip cookies, grind them and mix into yogurt, toast and use to garnish pumpkin soup, use them to coat soft cheeses for a new wave cheeseball.

Pan roast pumpkin seeds in a hot cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil, then spread them on a plate and sprinkle with soy sauce and cumin powder; curry powder; or chipotle powder (and a bit of brown sugar if you like), and let cool. Add to salads and sandwiches, or eat out of hand.

wasabi roasts them with cubed bacon, pancetta, or guanciale and whole sage leaves and uses the mix to top pumpkin risotto; or follow wasabi’s friends’ lead and eat it by the handful–they call it “savory trail mix”!

basicfoodgroupie takes a peanut brittle recipe and substitutes pumpkin seeds for the peanuts, and sprinkles a little French sea salt on top while it’s still warm.

ballulah makes pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto using one bunch of cilantro (stems included), lots of garlic, a couple handfuls of pumpkin seeds, and a fresh chile pepper pulsed in a food processor. She uses it on pasta, sandwiches, and as a rub for chicken breasts.

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Your favorite way to use pumpkin seeds?

Spicy Oils

It’s easy to add spicy heat to your cooking with oils infused with various chilis. The infused oils from Boyajian are made with olive oil. The chilis are roasted and the flavor and heat are said not to dissipate with cooking. They make a spicy sesame oil too. See their web site.

A variety of chili-infused oils can be found in Asian markets, as well.

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Habanero Oil?