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

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A Mighty Mouse Is a Healthier Mouse

According to The New York Times (requires registration), Disney characters will no longer be shilling for Pop-Tarts and Happy Meals, at least after current licensing agreements run out over the next couple of years. Reports the business section:

The food items that would be barred from Disney licensing deals are those in which total fat exceeds 30 percent of calories for main and side dishes and 35 percent for snacks, saturated fat exceeds 10 percent of calories for main dishes and snacks, and added sugar exceeds 10 percent of calories for main dishes and 25 percent for snacks.

Trans fats will also be no-nos in the theme parks’ restaurants by next year.

In addition to the licensing restrictions, Disney said its own theme park restaurants would change the default options for side orders from French fries to a more healthy choice, like carrots or applesauce.

Baby carrots aside, however, the company’s kiddie programming won’t be cutting back on the sugar-frosted advertising anytime soon. Ronald McDonald and the Keebler elves will keep their profitably high-calorie slots on its TV programs, as the Times article points out:

Still, the omission of any guidelines that address the advertising of junk food products on the company’s television networks— including ABC and Toon Disney—is an indication that a ban on the marketing of unhealthy food on Disney channels is not in the works.

Fresh Solutions for Nonexistent Tableware Problems

Gourmet’s Good Living section features “Fork Art,” a profile of an innovative new cutlery set by Ferran Adrià of El Bulli.

If the spork is a tacky but arguably more useful version of our old familiar tableware, this collection runs headlong in the opposite direction. It finds innovative and elegant new ways to flush function down the toilet in the name of form. Here’s a brief recap of four of the wackiest utensils:

1. A spoon with a clip on it for “holding fresh herbs.”

2. A knife that looks vaguely like a Maori war club.

3. A spoon that is full of holes so as to prevent its users from accidentally ingesting liquid. (Perfect application: You’re starving to death in a North Korean prison. You’re served a bowl of deadly liquid cyanide bobbing with life-sustaining and strangely nonabsorbent kobe beef chunks. Using your El Bulli Holey Spoon, you scoop out the beef, leaving the cyanide behind. ¡Bravo, Ferran! Note: This example assumes that North Korean prisons are stocked with El Bulli–inspired tableware.)

4. A fork with—wait for it—two tines.

Those in love with the “so crazy it might just work” school of cookery will likely regard these new utensils with respect and affection. They look great, and all you have to do is sacrifice utility on the altar of trendy good looks. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to plod onward with our trusty old pals: the knife, the fork, and the nonpermeable spoon.

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You May Now Eat the Bride

In Four Weddings and a Funeral, Andie MacDowell’s main worry was looking like a meringue in her wedding dress, but this bride actually allowed herself to be turned into a walking croque em bouche.

Shuna over at food blog Eggbeater tipped me off that Ukrainian chef Valentyn Shtefano buttered up his blushing bride and baked her into a 20-pound pastry dress for their recent wedding. Composed of 1,500 cream puffs, the edible couture took Shtefano two months to stick together. Not content to simply dress Viktoriya in pastries, Shtefano completed her bridal look with a crown, necklace, and bouquet of caramelized sugar.

Looking at the photo, it does seem to be holding up better than Austin Scarlett’s wilted cornhusk offering on Project Runway’s first season, but I think Shtefano’s wedding night is going to make 9 1/2 Weeks look like Lady and the Tramp.

The Yucatecan Tamal Variations

Day of the Dead is coming up, and La Flor de Yucatan is taking special orders on mucbil pollos, the traditional food of the Mayan Day of the Dead, says Dommy. These are big, flat tamal cakes filled which chicken and pork and baked pibil-style. It’s a fabulous way to have a tamal!

Flor makes the most authentic Yucatecan tamales around, including an amazing banana leaf tamal and the tamal colado, made with strained masa–it’s sort of like a cross between corn dough and jello. It’s made with a slice of tomato and a chaya leaf on top, so it has an herby, tomatoey flavor similar to brazo de reina, a Yucatecan specialty.

Chichen Itza is the only place in town that has brazo de reina (arm of the queen) on its regular menu. What is this? It’s an extra-long tamal that has chopped chaya leaf in its dough, and is stuffed with hard-boiled egg and toasted calabaza seeds.

Unfortunately, says Dommy, it’s not the greatest version–it tastes mostly of masa rather than the chaya or calabaza seeds. And Chichen’s tomato sauce, which should cover the tamal, tends to be pretty weak. Still, it’s a pretty good representation of this regional specialty.

La Flor De Yucatan Bakery [Downtown]
1800 S. Hoover St., Washington, Los Angeles
213-748-6090
Locater

Chichen Itza [South LA]
in Mercado La Paloma
3655 S. Grand Ave. # C6, Los Angeles
213-741-1075
Locater

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For kare_raisu: Yucatan Tamale Variations

Brunch Watch: Choice Eye-Openers from Prune and Marseille

Prune, which first seduced downtown brunchers by eschewing the same old midday grub, continues to surprise and please–and draw crowds that only early birds or very late risers can avoid. Recent reports praise eggy, peppery spaghetti carbonara, Malpeque oysters with grilled house-made lamb sausage, and a spectacular Monte Cristo sandwich, a triple-decker stuffed with ham, turkey and Swiss, battered, fried, and served with fried eggs and currant jelly.

The cake-like Dutch-style pancake, baked with seasonal fruit and paired with Canadian bacon, is another crowd-pleaser, as is just about any egg dish. Eggs Benedict and coddled egg with chicken are delicious and cooked to stopwatch precision, but why order anything so ordinary here, wonders kathryn. From the bar, best bets include killer bloody Marys and the pricey but refreshing Prune Juice, an alluring blend of fresh-squeezed lime, orange, grapefruit, and Meyer lemon juices (no actual prunes are harmed in the making of this beverage).

A few miles uptown, Marseille comes through with a more conventional but richly satisfying brunch. kimie reports best-of-type eggs Benedict with smoked salmon–faultlessly cooked eggs, spot-on hollandaise, delicious fish–served with mesclun in lemon vinaigrette and pan-fried potatoes tossed in basil oil. Also noteworthy: near-perfect steak frites, a flaky-buttery croissant with Nutella, and a memorable dessert: caramel apple ravioli with almond frozen custard. Two winners from the bar: Le Pamplemousse (a well-crafted grapefruit martini) and the Ruby Red Sunrise (grapefruit vodka, orange and grapefruit juices), each a bracing way to start the day–or finish it off early.

Prune [East Village]
54 E. 1st St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., Manhattan
212-677-6221
Locater

Marseille Restaurant and Bar [Clinton]
630 9th Ave., at 44th St., Manhattan
212-333-3410
Locater

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Prune’s Brunch
Brunch at Marseille—great rec!

Portuguese Doughnuts at Kilohana Grill

Malasadas, sometimes called Portuguese doughnuts, are fried to order every morning until 10:30 at Kilohana Grill. They resemble light, thick, fluffy pancakes, rolled in sugar, slightly crispy around the edges. rworange likes them more than any other malasada in the area; they remind her of Polish punski. Three of them are $2.50.

The (newly opened) restaurant is promising, too–they source their sausage and beer from Hawaii, and they offer exciting daily specials like Spam Katsu and Hawaiian-Style Chili.

Kilohana Grill [East Bay]
4115 San Pablo Avenue, Emeryville
510-654-1144
Locater

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Emeryville & San Ramon–Kilohana Grill – “Onolicious” fried-to-order MALSADAS … beer & linguisa from Hawaii

Tidings of Great Joy Regarding Cheese Scones

The scone situation in the United States is pretty sorry, says Havalinah. When they exist, they’re huge, hard monstrosities that would be better for recreating certain large, stone Druid landmarks than for eating. At its best, a cheese scone should be a delicate, round, light little thing, a delicious treat, especially warmed (preferably toasted) and spread with whatever unnecessary fat you please.

The tidings of great joy mentioned in the heading are simply that the cheese scones at Destination Baking are actually inspired. The gruyere and spring onion scones are made fresh every day, and they’re excellent. “To taste one warmed and suitably greased up is to know heaven on earth,” says Havalinah.

Destination Baking Co [Glen Park]
598 Chenery St., at Castro, San Francisco
415-469-0730
Locater

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the urgent matter of cheese scones (florid)

Noo Na: Relief for Korean-Challenged Prospect Heights

Month-old Noo Na isn’t the most authentic Korean restaurant in town, but Prospect Heights hounds are mostly happy to have it given the long-standing scarcity of kimchi in Brooklyn. Seasoning is muted and panchan servings are sparse, but flavors are bright and clean.

“It’s pretty good–and a GREAT addition to the neighborhood,” writes pitu, who recommends haemul soondubu jigae (soft tofu-seafood stew), slightly short on seafood but delicious, and respectable haemul pajun (seafood pancake) and bibim bap, available with spicy squid or beef. Barbecue is done not at tableside but in the kitchen; scratch reports tasty, fresh bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), served with a fistful of nicely sauteed onion and mushroom. jason carey likes dumpling soup in mild, tasty broth but finds a pork-kimchi-tofu saute lacking in meat and chile kick. “Americanized despicified Korean food,” he concludes, “but clean- and healthy-tasting, and a good neighborhood alternative.”

Critics are holding out for something better. “I wanted to like Noo Na, I really did,” swears giveitsomeseoul, a long-deprived Korean food lover who went with high hopes but left disappointed. She complains of sweetish bulgogi, cold rice and mandu (dumplings), and clueless service.

Noo Na [Prospect Heights]
formerly Nalani’s
565 Vanderbilt Ave., at Pacific St., Brooklyn
718-398-6662
Map

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Noo Na?
Noo Na report.. Vanderbuilt Korean.. prospect hts.