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

I’ll Have the Duck and Desperate Housewives

We haven’t yet reached the end of society as we know it—but you can see it from here! At least according to fellow Grinder James Norton, whose commentary in today’s Christian Science Monitor is a masterpiece of skirt-gathering.

Built around the truly horrifying piece of information that a large percentage of diners would “like to see table-top TVs installed at their favorite eating joint,” Norton’s article defends the idea that eating together is an age-old communal experience, one that might be threatened by having a TV blaring 12 inches away from your plate.

But he also sees other “in-your-face” signs of the Apocalypse:

Exhibit No. 1: Hardee’s 1,420-calorie Monster Thickburger. Exhibit No. 2: the new, horrifying line of appetizers at TGI Friday’s—a group of items that includes Fried Mac and Cheese, and the new Sizzling Triple Meat Fundido, which is essentially a molten, crustless pizza eaten with breadsticks. Exhibit No. 3: Coca-Cola Blak, the blasphemous coffee/cola combination that gives battery acid a run for its money in terms of flavor and subtlety.

If the Rapture comes, somebody grab my cherry pie, ‘kay?

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Tricks for Treats

Living in a Washington condo complex populated with “career-minded, child-free” types, Amy Monroe at metro blog DCist laments that after three years in the city,

this DCist has yet to drop a single Tootsie Pop into the plastic pumpkin of a 5-year-old pirate. So, this Halloween, we’re likely to be doing the same thing we do every Tuesday night—watching Gilmore Girls. But this Tuesday night, we’ll be watching it in front of a pile of undistributed mini-Twix.

Although Monroe never addresses the obvious question of why she continues to hit the candy aisle when supply so clearly outstrips demand, she does come up with a snappy morning-after way to unload those extra candy bars: Serve ‘em with liquor!

Butterfingers, it turns out, go quite swimmingly with a viscous Australian “sticky” like Chambers Rutherglen Muscat, which smells and tastes just like toffee. Got a fifty-buck bottle of Taylor Fladgate 20-year-old tawny port lying around? Unwrap the Snickers, since “tawnies have a silky, rich texture that stands up to the thick caramel/nougat/chocolate combo.”

On Chowhound, slightly more kid-friendly uses of leftover sweets ranged from “reuse them next year” and “save for gingerbread houses” to “make a candy train” and “break up a bar in your oatmeal.”

But if you didn’t get scared enough last night, try this recipe, billed as “a sneaky way to get the kids to eat some fruit.” Eeeeeek!

Birria and House-made Tortillas

Baja Cactus serves great birria, a goat stew in a rich red chile sauce, says sricha. Try it with its preferred condiments–a squeeze of lime, diced onions, and cilantro. Mop it up with some of their thick, moist, perfect house-emade corn tortillas. And then walk around feeling full, sleepy, and happy for the rest of the day.

They also serve good chicken mole and machaca.

Baja Cactus Mexican Restaurant [South Bay]
338 South Main St., at Serra Way, Milpitas

Board Links
Baja Cactus – Mexican Mole on Main St. in Milpitas

Timothy’s: Ice Cream Made by Hand in Bridgeport, CT

The old-fashioned ice cream at Timothy’s is one of Fairfield County’s best-kept secrets, says slowcali. It’s cranked out by hand from sweet cream and other fresh ingredients, including strawberries, French vanilla, and Dutch chocolate. Shakes, as you’d expect, also rock.

Timothy’s Ice Cream [Fairfield County]
2974 Fairfield Ave., between Bennett and Fox Sts., Bridgeport, CT

Board Links
Chocolate Shake in Connecticut

CSAs for Small Households

A CSA can be a great deal for people who are pro-local business, pro-sustainable farming, and pro-yummy. It’s short for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s kind of like having season tickets to a farm–you buy your subscription, and every week the farm drops off a box of fresh goodies for you to enjoy. For a single person, a couple, or a small household, however, that can be a lot of food. How about a CSA that will give you a box of sunshine every two weeks?

Capay Organic will do it, says Pei, who raves about their produce, the carrots in particular. Full Belly Farms is another option.

Eatwell Farms offers lots of flexibility, says China–you can even pause your subscription if you’re out of town. And hounds like the convenient pick-up locations available for Two Small Farms. joe can bike notes that Two Small Farms is an alter ego of Mariquita Farm, which supplies many restaurants.

Capay Organic [Yolo County]
23804 State Highway 16, Capay

Full Belly [Yolo County]
Road 43, Guinda

Eatwell Farm [Yolo County]
2657 Portage Bay East #3, Davis

Two Small Farms [Santa Cruz Couny]

Board Links
anyone know of a biweekly csa?

Shepherd’s Pie Meets Lobster

On Mondays, Union Square Cafe offers an upmarket take on shepherd’s pie: chunks of lobster, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and rich lobster sauce under a blanket of mashed potatoes. Unbeatable, says dkstar1.

Union Square Cafe [Union Square]
21 E. 16th St., between 5th Ave. and Union Square W., Manhattan

Board Links
interesting lobster dish?

Hot Dogs of the East

There’s a new hot dog place in East L.A., and it’s got good stuff, says nrique. Dogs are juicy, with a nice snap, and chili is meaty and gooey, hot enough to melt the shredded cheddar on top of it. You can get it on a French-style roll or a regular bun, but be warned that the chili is a bit too much for the bun to handle.

The dogs are the same kind used these days at Tommy’s and the Stand, and are also sold at Trader Joe’s–made by Papa Cantella’s in Vernon. It’s not really clear whether they’ve got natural casing as PC’s website claims…monku looked really hard and couldn’t see any hint of casing at all. Still, there was definitely snap.

Prices are high for that neighborhood, with a plain dog at $3.30 and a chili cheese dog for $3.60. A combo of chili cheese dog, fries, and a 16-oz refillable soda is $5.50.

There is tough parking due to road work. Try the strip mall at Arizona and 3rd.

Between the Bun [East LA-ish]
4701 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles

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The East sides new HOT DOG spot !

Tango Takes Another Turn

In its previous lives, Tango’s has been Santino’s Tapas and Patagonia Grill. Its latest incarnation has kept its Spanish/Argentinean flavor, turning out good steaks without any hype.

Empanadas, croquetas, and the omelette-like Spanish tortillas are still standards, and the menu offers grilled items, pastas and other dishes.

A skirt steak lunch special includes very good mashed potatoes topped with a few freshly made potato chips. The steak is tender, with a nice charred crust. The mortal death blow of goodness is the chimichurri sauce, a tangy concoction of olive oil, parsley, garlic and vinegar; it’s great on bread and meat.

Skirt steak lunch special (also includes soup) is $10.

Tango’s [Hollywood]
Formerly Santino’s/Patagonia Grill
1253 N. Vine, Fountain, Los Angeles

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Tango’s Hollywood