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

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
408-263-9455
Locater

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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
203-366-7496
Locater

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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
530-796-4111
Map

Full Belly [Yolo County]
Road 43, Guinda
800-791-2110
Map

Eatwell Farm [Yolo County]
2657 Portage Bay East #3, Davis
800-648-9894
Locater

Two Small Farms [Santa Cruz Couny]
831-786-0625

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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
212-243-4020
Locater

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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
323-604-0200
Map

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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
323-464-8260
Map

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Tango’s Hollywood

Miso Dressings

Dressings flavored with miso are great on everything from green salads to grilled veggies. All the favorites are incredibly easy to prepare–just whisk everything together thoroughly. Here are some of ‘hounds’ favorite recipes. Besides the miso part, they’re all over the flavor map:

From PamelaD:

1 Tbsp. white miso
1 Tbsp. sake
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce

From JJC:

2 Tbsp. miso
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. water

Substitute peanut butter for the mayonnaise to make a peanut-miso dressing.

From rdnnyc:

2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. brown rice miso
1 Tbsp. dried dill weed
1 Tbsp. tahini

Thin it out with a little water if you like.

From GretchenS:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. white miso
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced onion, scallion, or chive

val recommends this miso vinaigrette, but says she increases the ginger.

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Miso dressing? [split from General Topics]

Sweetened Chestnut Puree

Sweetened chestnut puree, sold in tins and jars and usually imported from France, is a luscious ingredient. Here are some great uses for the stuff:

Spread it on bread or toast, use it as a pancake topping, or add a few tablespoons to the wet ingredients of your favorite pancake or waffle recipe. Serve it over vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate sauce. Add some to the custard mixture when making a chocolate bread pudding.

Sweetened chestnut puree is also a traditional and delicious filling for crepes.

In ace’s family, the birthday cake of choice was a jelly roll-style sponge cake filled with swetened chestnut puree folded into whipped cream, the top sprinkled with powdered sugar.

buttertart loves this chestnut bundt cake:

Beat together:
300g/10.5 oz. confectioner’s sugar
400g/14 oz. sweetened chestnut puree
200g/7 oz. butter
7 egg yolks

Add:
300g/ 10.5oz ground almonds
1 good pinch baking powder

Add carefully without overbeating:
7 stiffly beaten egg whites.

Pour into a greased and floured baking bundt pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes at 350F. Gently sift over some confectioner’s sugar just before serving.

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Chestnut Puree–Ideas?

Daring to Durian

Durian fruit is part of the Advanced Chowhound Curriculum. Many people know of it only as “that weird smell when you walk into an Asian grocery store.” Some find it sweet, musky, grassy, oniony, and overwhelming. It’s like “some freaky-deaky intimate experience that I can’t get out of my head,” says raj1. It looks like a giant predator fruit from the planet Zorkon. “It’s like eating your favorite ice cream on the toilet,” says s0memale.

To introduce yourself to the funky savor that is durian, Pei advises you to first try it frozen, and then, if you can handle it, in a shake. Only then should you eat it fresh.

Just don’t combine it with beer or anything that will make you burp. Hounds have theorized that this is so nauseating, it might be the only food combination that’s actually deadly.

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Toxic Food Combinations [moved from General Topics board]
durian fruit

Best Potato Chips Anywhere

Some potato chips you can get everywhere, but the chips made with attention and care tend to be only locally or regionally available. frenetica fondly remembers Brannigan’s Roast Beef & Mustard chips and Walker’s Lamb & Mint “Posh Chips” from her time in the UK–but they’re sadly unavailable in the states. Maybe some of these chowhound-recommended chips are available where you are:

Zapp’s Cajun Crawtaters
Grandma Shearer’s Kettle-Cooked Chips
Humpty Dumpty Barbecue
Miss Vickie’s Lime & Black Pepper
Jays Kettle Cooked
Tim’s Original and Wasabi Chips
Blair’s Death Rain Chips (in flavors such as Cracked Crab)
Downey’s Chips
Grandma Utz’s (handcooked in lard)
Made Rite Potato Chips
“Kitch’n Cook’d” Maui Potato Chips

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favorite potato chips