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

Some Like it Very, Very, Very Hot

Jalapeno curry from India Sweets & Spices, in this case, the SF Valley branch, may be one of the hottest dishes in the city, says yclops. It’s very, very manly–this stuff’ll put as much hair on your chest as Chewbacca.

It’s a beautiful dark orange-yellow stew, loaded with long-cooked jalapenos. At first you might not think it’s so hot. You might think, hey, this curry has a nice tang. And then…”After a few minutes I felt like I was going to have a baby. The raita cooled my mouth somewhat, but didn’t do much for the fire down below. Still, I finished every last bit, and smiled at the counterman to let him know that I’d won.” The burn continued all afternoon. “I’ll skip the rest of the details, but suffice it to say that it burned going in, it burned coming out and burned all the while in between; it had some serious staying power. Either that was one spicy dish, or I’m not 21 anymore.” Still, it’s very tasty, and if you want a good long burn, it’s highly recommended.

India Sweets & Spices [West San Fernando Valley]
22009 Sherman Way # 11, at Topanga Canyon, Canoga Park
818-887-1417
Locater

India Sweets & Spices [Los Feliz]
3126 Los Feliz Blvd., at Edenhurst, Los Angeles
323-345-0360
Locater

India Sweets & Spices [Culver City-ish]
9409 Venice Blvd., Culver City
310-837-5286
Locater

Board Links
Jalapeno curry at India’s Sweet & Spice

You Got Some BBQ Handy?

Lured by the siren scent of smoke, bodie ventured into Handi Market in search of ‘cue. The tri-tip is tender, flavorful, and just salty enough, leaving a smoky aftertaste. It’s kind of in the Santa Maria model of BBQ, if not the best-quality example of it.

Turkey leg is also tender and tasty, and chicken just falls off the bone.

Chicken, turkey, and pork run about $3/pound, and tri-tip is about $7/pound.

Handi Market [East San Fernando Valley]
2514 W. Magnolia Blvd., at Buena Vista, Burbank
818-848-2500
Locater

Board Links
Handy Market BBQ

Sayonara, Taku; and Other New York Region News

Taku, a bright spot of ramen joy on Smith Street, has closed. The place will reportedly reopen later this month, under the same ownership, as an Italian restaurant–“like we need more Italian in the neighborhood,” grumbles Pupster. Meanwhile, the owners are said to be preparing to open Taku, or something like it, in Manhattan. Be prepared for excellent ramen, grilled items, and other Japanese fare.

In Carroll Gardens, the homey Moroccan spot Marrackech has cashed it in after less than a year. Its tiny space will become the new home of Petite Crevette, a well-regarded casual seafood joint that lost its lease in Brooklyn Heights last year. A sister restaurant, Bouillabaisse 126, is just around the corner. “Great news for the neighborhood,” says Larry Brooks.

In Queens, Mexican favorite El Jarro in Sunnyside has been rechristened De Mole after a change of ownership. Menu and kitchen crew appear unchanged–a relief to fans of its ceviche, tamales, roasted-tomato salsa, tinga de Puebla (brisket stew), and irresistible tres leches cake.

In Long Island City, Film Chefs, a lunchtime gem for tasty sandwiches and Southern chow, has shut down its cafe and returned to its roots as a catering outfit.

And up in Middletown, CT, a fire has destroyed O’Rourke Diner, a 60-year-old landmark beloved for soulful soups, sandwiches, and famous steamed cheeseburgers, among other things. The place wasn’t insured, and the owner isn’t sure what he’ll do. Look for updates at the new fan website.

Taku [Cobble Hill]
116 Smith St., between Pacific and Dean, Brooklyn
718-488-6269
Locater

Petite Crevette [Carroll Gardens]
formerly Marrackech
to open at… 144 Hicks St., between Union and President, Brooklyn
Map

Bouillabaisse 126 [Carroll Gardens]
126 Union St., near Columbia, Brooklyn
718-855-4405
Locater

De Mole [Sunnyside]
formerly El Jarro
45-02 48th Ave., at 45th St., Sunnyside, Queens
718-392-2161
Locater

Film Chefs [Long Island City]
718-956-0725

O’Rourke Diner [Middlesex County]
728 Main St., near Kings Ave., Middletown, CT
860-346-6101
Locater

Board Links
RIP O’Rourke’s
El Jarro in Sunnyside
OMG!! Taku closed for good
7 train
El Jarro (De Mole) Is Great —Really?
Taku on Smith St closes
el jarro’s new name:
Breakfast Lover in Queens
New Petite Crevette
Best Mexican in Queens?

Deutschestuff: Bay Area German Stores

The Junket in El Cerrito has an excellent selection of German food, including cheese, meets, dry goods, desserts, beer, and wine. Their meat offerings include sausage made by Saag and by Schaller & Weber.

Dittmer’s in Mountain View has a real German butcher and a wide selection of authentically German meat, including smoked pork chops (Kassler Ripchen), Nuremburger Bratwurst, Teawurst, and Jagdwurst. It’s all made there and the place just smells like Germany, says Curmudgeon. They also have lots of German imports.

Other alternatives include Gourmet Haus Staudt, a German superstore with a small caf

Instant Gratification: Greek Coffee Frappes in New York

Anyone who has returned from Greece craving the country’s ubiquitous frothy instant-coffee frappes can score a delicious, cooling version at Cafe Brama, a sweet little hangout in the East Village, says cloudy.

Many Greek tavernas or cafes around Manhattan should be able to whip one up, suggests Gastronomos (who sniffs, “Order just the frappe, skip the food”).

A better bet might be Astoria, where Omonia and other cafes can scratch the itch. Many serve a frappe just as they do in Athens, says quentinC: your choice of water or milk, and be sure to tell them how sweet you want it.

Cafe Brama [East Village]
157 2nd Ave., between E. 9th and 10th Sts., Manhattan
212-358-7140
Map

Omonia [Astoria]
32-20 Broadway, between 32nd and 33rd Sts., Astoria, Queens
718-274-6650
Locater

Board Links
Greek Nescafe Frappe

Farmers’ Markets: Just Go

The Saturday Berkeley Farmers’ Market is in the middle of an end-of-summer vegetable orgy. Anabelle from Bolinas has the best produce of the market, including tiny basil, zucchini blossoms, yellow haricots verts, and wild arugula. Watch for her heirloom squash.

Sunday at the Marin Farmers’ Market, do not miss the melons from the Peach Farm. At 3 for $5, rworange pronounces them the sweetest, juiciest melons on the planet. You can practically shake them and feel juice sloshing around inside. Ogen melons are particularly stunning; a knife cuts the flesh like butter, and the scent infuses your whole kitchen. Granny Smith tomatoes are also recommended.

Berkeley Farmers’ Market [East Bay]
Center St. and Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley
510-548-3333
Map

Marin Farmers’ Market [Marin County]
Civic Center parking lot
3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael
800-897-FARM
Map

Board Links
The most fragrant, sweetest, juiciest melons on the planet at amazing prices–3 for $5–The Peach Farm
Berkeley Farmer’s Market—Just Go

Dressing Up Haricots Verts

Here are some great ways to finish steamed haricots verts or other slender green beans.

First idea: saute them in butter, then add toasted sliced almonds. You can amp the flavor even more by using brown butter, or even bacon fat.

Next: haricots verts with shallots. Slice and brown a couple handfuls of shallots in butter, then add some white wine or sake and the haricots verts.

Or, try this nifty variant: roast plum or cherry tomatoes with olive oil and ancho chili powder, then toss those babies in with the haricots verts.

Or just toss the warm haricots verts with some form of dressing. Suggested dressings: chopped toasted walnuts and a drizzle of walnut oil; a little butter and a little soy sauce; olive oil, lemon zest, and pecorino; or the very traditional Georgian combination of minced garlic, chopped cilantro, olive oil, and toasted walnuts.

Board Links
simple, easy way to spruce up haricots verts?

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is probably the simplest homemade mac and cheese recipe out there. It’s more like a cheese strata–with macaroni standing in for the bread. A bonus: while aged cheese dooesn’t melt smoothly in other mac and cheese recipes, in this recipe aged cheese works great. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Deena:

3 cups macaroni
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
3 cups milk
3 whole eggs
1 1/4 t salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. In a 9×13” casserole, make three layers each of pasta and cheese, beginning with pasta and ending with cheese. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups milk and season with salt, cayenne, and pepper. Pour over casserole. If egg and milk mixture does not reach the top of the pasta, add extra 1/2 cup milk. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes or until the eggs are almost set. Remove from oven, uncover, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and return to oven until cheese is nicely browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Board Links
‘Easy’ mac and cheese recipe?

Decaf Tea

Decaffeinted tea tends to be fairly mediocre. PaulV says the best he’s found in the grocery store is the Typhoo brand. Also, Republic of Tea makes a pretty good decaf Earl Grey.

Upton Tea has a nice piece on caffeinated tea, and at the end are instructions for decaffeinating your favorite tea in your very own home. Their process gets rid of only 80% of the caffeine, but retains more of the flavor.

Board Links
Best decaf tea, either online or in a store?

Riedel Stemware at Target

For fairly priced Riedel stemware, try Target. Michele4466 bought a 4-pack of the pinot noir glasses to test them out, and plans to complete the set.

Kate.S bought the decanter and loves it. She has other Riedel pieces and the quality of Target’s Riedel doesn’t seem to be lesser than what she owns.

Have a look.

Board Links
Riedel at Target