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

Favorite Foods by Mail

Shopping online is fast and convenient, and a great way to get something special or products you can’t find locally. Here are links for some favorite online purveyors.

Bazzini Nuts in New York is a wonderful source for mixed nuts. You can get them packed in a great-looking tin with a picture of an elephant holding a peanut in its trunk; it would make a nice gift. Five pounds of mixed nuts (without peanuts) is about $30, reports Niki Rothman.

Here you can buy cashews spiced with piri piri.

Lobel’s butcher shop in New York City has beautiful and expensive meat.

Zingermans Deli is great for everything, says Tripper. Olive oil, vinegar, cheese, are all top quality. They also make great gift baskets.

pickawicca highly recommends lobster pot pies from Hancock Lobster. They’re expensive, but packed with chunks of lobster. A great special-occasion entree.

Wolferman’s has super-thick English muffins in amazing flavors. They taste a bit cakey, like soda bread. The fruit spreads are great too, saysIvecch

For fresh wild mushrooms, go to Aux Delices.

And for game, try D’artagnan.

Get your spices from Penzey’s. Or try the Spice House in Chicago. Not everything is listed on their site; just tell them what you’re looking for. They’re nice folks, too, says Bananna A.

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favourite mail-order food

What to Do with Plain Yogurt

What to Do with Plain Yogurt

Drink it, make cheese with it, cook with it instead of sour cream or buttermilk. READ MORE

Sweet, Sour, Salty, What?

Sweet, Sour, Salty, What?

Americans have historically hated bitter tastes, while other cultures loved them. Until now. Chefs are playing with bitter in new ways, and U.S. diners are finally appreciating it. READ MORE

Jimbo’s Bar: Greek Bites for Astoria Nighthawks

Neighborhood bar, live Greek music, broiled octopus with lemon and oregano. What’s not to like about Jimbo’s? OK, maybe the boring white bread–though it’s slightly improved by a run under the broiler. The short menu ranges from nibbles like feta with olive oil to more substantial Greek standards like lamb chops and that broiled octopus. “It may not cut the mustard as fine dining,” allows fotaq, “but as bar food it may be the best I’ve ever had. And it was 2 a.m. On a weeknight. I’ll be back.”

Jimbo’s Bar [Astoria]
30-05 Astoria Blvd., between 29th and 31st Sts., Astoria, Queens
718-204-2087
Locater

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late night octopus bar food in Astoria

Inwood Update: Fresh, Cheap, Hearty Dominican

Inwood’s International Food House lays out an unusually fresh buffet of hearty Dominican chow, reports JackS. Highlights include roast pork with crispy, sticky skin and decent rotisserie chicken, good but perhaps a step below other neighborhood favorites like Malecon. Staples–soupy beans and fluffy yellow rice–are reassuringly solid. The ever-changing spread might also feature stews, fish and shrimp dishes, fried plantains, and mofongo. (International Food House is connected with Albert’s Mofongo House, around the corner on Broadway.)

susiec80 recommends roast chicken at La Galeria, which also rolls out a cheap steam table spread of stews, roasts, steaks, seafood, asopao (rice soups), and more. Budget-priced family combos (e.g., four pork chops, rice, beans, salad, two-liter soft drink) are $11 to $20.

International Food House Restaurant and Buffet [Inwood]
217 Dyckman St., just east of Broadway, Manhattan
212-942-5656
Map

Albert’s Mofongo House [Inwood]
4762 Broadway, at Dyckman St., Manhattan
212-567-3052
Map

La Galeria Restaurant [Inwood]
575 W. 207th St., at Vermilyea Ave., Manhattan
212-304-8844
Map

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Decent Dominican buffet in Inwood

Fried Pies

The deep-fried peach pies at Memphis Minnie’s are a flaky package of hot, peachy heaven, says mercuryflyin. The crust is light, crisp, and not too greasy, and the peaches inside are tender and delicately sweet. It’s a lovely indulgence if you haven’t obscenely stuffed yourself with barbecue.

Fried pie has also been noticed on the menu at Looney’s, says chocolatetartguy.

Memphis Minnie’s BBQ [Haight]
576 Haight St., San Francisco
415-864-7675
Locater

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Fried pies?

Sausage Gravies of Our Lives

and one order is enough for two people.

Finally, if you’re near Alameda on a weekend with a sausage gravy craving, go to Jim’s Coffee Shop, says rtmonty. Country Benedict is served on Saturdays and Sundays only. Two big, fluffy biscuits, two big sausage patties, and two poached eggs are slathered with a wonderful sausage cream gravy. This dish is a great choice for the folks for whom English muffins with eggs, spinach, and a pint of hollandaise is “rabbit food.”

Sunny Side Cafe [East Bay]
1499 Solano Ave., Albany
510-527-5383
Locater

Garden Court Cafe [Sonoma County]
13647 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen
707-935-1565
Locater

Jim’s Coffee Shop [East Bay]
2333 Lincoln Ave., Alameda
510-523-5368
Locater

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sausage gravy

“The Right to Be Stupid”

As the debate continues over New York City’s proposal to ban trans fats, one restaurateur gets downright patriotic in expressing his outrage.

Over the weekend, the New York Times op-ed pages were filled with opinions on the proposed ban: John Tierney (TimesSelect registration required) critiqued the prohibition as an overreaction and a case of hubris on the part of the city’s health commissioner; public health expert and author Marion Nestle argued that the focus on trans fats is a “calorie distraction”; and Dining section writer Kim Severson provided some useful context for how the food industry came to adopt trans fats so readily.

But whether you are for or against the proposal, you have to appreciate the sheer eloquence of Kenny Shopsin, proprietor of the famously quirky Shopsin’s, who expresses his opposition to the ban on grounds that are almost constitutional: “They’re taking away our right to be stupid, which is our primary American right.”

Pizza from Silver Lake to Echo Park

Masa makes a great Chicago style pizza, says dgonzale80. For something lighter, Pizza Buona is a respectable NY-style slice spot.

For her NY-style fix, Suebee leaves the nabe and heads for Village Pizza, owned by a Brooklyn transplant who knows how to make some seriously good pies, she raves, possibly the best pizza in town.

Nicky D’s is a cozy spot that bakes delicious wood-fired pies, and there’s a nice patio outside too. Delicious red sauce clam pie, says dgonzale80.

Michelangelo’s excellent crust is appropriately thin and crispy. Their pies come both in personal and larger family-sized portions.

Louisa’s is a good delivery option, even for a chain, Silverlaker remarks; check out their veggie pizza.

Masa-Echo Park Bakery & Cafe [Echo Park]
1800 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
213-989-1558
Locater

Pizza Buona [Echo Park]
2100 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
213-413-0800
Locater

Village Pizzeria [Larchmont Village]
131 N Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles
323-465-5566
Locater

Nicky D’s Wood-Fired Pizza [Silver Lake]
2764 Rowena Ave., Los Angeles
323-664-3333
Locater

Michelangelo Pizzeria [Silverlake]
1637 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
323-660-4843
Locater

Louise’s Trattoria [Los Feliz]
4500 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles
323-667-0777
Locater

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Echo Park/Silver Lake pizza spots

Life is Sweet in Laguna Niguel

Dolce Vita is a multiple threat, with good-quality gelato, cupcakes and cookies, plus Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Their gelato has a sensationally smooth texture and comes in a variety of flavors