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

Wild Blueberry Cream Pie

If you’re able to get your hands on some fresh or frozen wild blueberries from the Northeast, this recipe (courtesy of Candy) is the perfect way to showcase both their intense flavor and deep color. Chock-full of tiny wild berries, when you cut into the pie, “it almost looks like caviar.” (Note: this recipe doesn’t work well with the usual big, cultivated blueberries.)

1 unbaked 9” piecrust
4 cups wild blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
4 T flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place blueberries in crust in pie plate. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over berries. Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool before slicing.

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Wild Blueberries

Holsten’s: Good Old-Fashioned Ice Cream in Bloomfield, NJ

What keeps people coming back to the venerable Holsten’s, established 1939, is ice cream of superior flavor and creamy texture. Vanilla fudge, nutty coconut, and cookies-n-cream are big favorites. Also, anything “chip”–coffee chip, mint chip, or chocolate chip, advises Felixnot: “It’s been our favorite for years, and we are fortunate that we can take a long walk to it on a summer evening.” Holsten’s wins bonus points for atmosphere. “I love the old-fashioned ice cream parlor. It reminds me of the good old days!” rhapsodizes nizza.

Other New Jersey ice cream lovers swear by Thomas Sweet in Princeton and New Brunswick (go for chocolate with a raspberry blend-in, urges fpatrick) or Applegate Farm, a mini-chain with eight stores in Bergen, Essex, Union, Morris, Monmouth, and Passaic counties.

Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery [Essex County]
1063 Broad St., between Watchung and Johnson Aves., Bloomfield, NJ 07003

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate [Mercer County]
179 Nassau St., between Vandeventer Ave. and Moore St., Princeton, NJ

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate [Middlesex County]
55 Easton Ave., between Condict and Somerset Sts., New Brunswick, NJ

Applegate Farm Homemade Ice Cream [Jersey-wide]
multiple locations

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The best homemade ice cream

Cubanos from Manhattanville to Long Island City

Flor de Broadway, a bare-bones corner shop in Manhattanville, does little more than Cuban sandwiches, and they kill, says Alan Henderson.

Downtown, the Sophie’s mini-chain continues to turn out decent cheap Cubanos.

In Queens, djalexis recommends Las Vegas Restaurant, whose Cubano boasts first-rate roast pork with crispy cracklings, along with deli ham and strong Swiss cheese. But its garlic sauce is subpar, adds dj: “I love garlic, but this spread is cheap.”

La Flor de Broadway [Harlem]
3401 Broadway, at W. 138th St., Manhattan

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Financial District]
73 New St., between Beaver St. and Exchange Pl., Manhattan

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Civic Center]
96 Chambers St., between Church St. and Broadway, Manhattan

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Murray Hill]
179 Madison Ave., between 33rd and 34th Sts., Manhattan

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine [Midtown East]
369 Lexington Ave., between 41st and 40th Sts., Manhattan

Las Vegas Restaurant [Long Island City]
44-62 21st St., between 44th Dr. and 45th Ave., Long Island City, Queens

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Chow in Hamilton Heights
best sandwiches in lower manhattan?
Riverdale Restaurants
Best Cuban Sandwich in NYC —What makes it authentic?

Gelato from the Old Country’s Old School

If you like real gelato, run, don’t walk to Bulgarini, hidden away in the courtyard of the Pacific Asia Museum, says revets2. Recently raved about in LA Weekly, these guys studied with some of the best gelato makers (I’m sure there’s a particular Italian word for such people) and churn it up in the old style.

Hazelnut gelato is made with Oregon nuts, and the complexity and texture are just unreal.

Pistachio uses northern Italian nuts, ground to a paste; it’s incredibly intense and not too sweet.

Mango is pure fresh fruitiness. Might bring you to tears.

Limited availability, though: Open Friday-Sunday only, 11 a.m.-6 p.m..

Bulgarini Gelato [Pasadena-ish]
in Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

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Bulgarini Gelato–The Best

Filipino Finds

The super-friendly, family-owned Filipino restaurant Alejandro’s has a great crew in the kitchen, says grc, including chefs from the well-regarded, now defunct Barrio Fiesta. Alejandro’s, which has been open about six months, is a good place to get a range of Filipino specialties.

A West Valley secret, says Veggietales, is Nipa Hut, a fast-food joint with amazing garlic fried chicken. Give your craving a day of rest, though–they’re closed on Sundays.

At Davao Tuna Grill, you can get healthy Filipino food without all the typical grease, says Silent Android. Who knew it was possible?

Salo Salo Grill may have the most consensus as a good all-around Filipino restaurant right now. Of course, their specialty is grilled dishes, but you’ll do well with their other dishes. Veggietales warns, though, that the pancit is disappointing.

Some are happy with Max’s of Manila, for the famed fried chicken–crispy yet juicy, says Danimal n Hustler–and crispy pata. But Silent Android insists, “If you’re Filipino, you will hate Max’s in Glendale with a passion.”

Many reasons are given, but to read them all you’ll have to…

Alejandro’s [Eagle Rock]
4126 Verdugo Rd., at York, Los Angeles

Nipa Hut [West San Fernando Valley]
22122 Sherman Way, at Topanga, Canoga Park

Davao Tuna Grill [East San Fernando Valley]
730 S. Central Ave, Glendale

Salo-Salo Grill [East San Fernando Valley]
130 North Maryland Ave, Glendale

Salo Salo [Artesia-ish]
18300 Gridley Rd. # A, Artesia

Salo Salo Grill [Inland of LA]
2530 E Amar Rd., West Covina

Salo-Salo Grill [Inland of LA]
12625 Frederick St. Suite K6, Moreno Valley

Max’s Of Manila [East San Fernando Valley]
313 W. Broadway, Glendale

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Max’s Philipino Resturaunt in Glendale

New Salvadoran

Platano is a brand new Salvadoran place. The space is partially unfinished, but their kitchen is already up and running and producing excellent food, reports maus1.

Yucca cocido is great, with a good portion of wonderfully crispy pork, and a nice side of cabbage. An order of tamales de sal consists of two wonderful masa tamales steamed in a banana leaf. Albondigas–meatball soup–tastes excellent, with a home-style light tomato sauce. The minty meatballs are a little dry, though. Carne guisada is very soft, with string beans, potato, and carrots–just the sort of thing a Salvadoran grandmother would cook if she really loved you.

Cafe Platano [East Bay]
Formerly Thai Garlic
2042 University Ave., Berkeley

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New! Platano Salvadorean in Berkeley

Fishy Eggs

Ikura is salmon roe, those glistening orange globes you see on “gunkan,” the seaweed wrapped cylinders of rice topped with roe. If you’re buy salmon roe, look for sugiko, where the eggs are enclosed in the egg sac. They’ve been salted and/or brined in soy sauce. Applehome finds that the flavor is superior when the roe is purchased this way.

Other roe products that are worth investigating are Kazunoko (herring roe) and all forms of cod/pollock roe.

Uni is the roe of sea urchins. Some are put off by the texture of the tiny egg sacs; it’s soft and melts on the tongue. The best, and some say the only, way to experience uni is fresh from the spiny shell of the urchin. An experienced server will neatly open the shell to expose the roe. Try it on a slice of French bread.

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Uni is the nectar of the gods. (Ikura on the other hand…)


If you’ve ever tasted a mangosteen, the memory of this sweet/tart fruit with plump juicy segments, will haunt you. Yes, it’s that good and, until recently, not available on the mainland of the U.S.

They’re grown widely in the tropics of Asia, and now they’ve been successfully cultivated in Puerto Rico. By next summer, they should be more widely available here. For now, they’ve been sighted in Manhattan and Los Angeles.

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Mangosteen coming soon… from Puerto Rico (NYT article)
Fresh mangosteens available on Canal Street and Mulberry [moved from What’s my Craving board]

Meals That Freeze Well

If you’re looking to make meals to freeze for later reheating, chowhounds have plenty of tips and how-to’s.

What freezes best:

- Hearty soups and stews (e.g., beef and barley, lentil, bean)

- Long-cooked braised dishes and stews (beef short ribs, osso buco, beef stew, chili, curries)

- Casseroles and baked pastas (e.g., sausage and peppers, enchiladas, mac and cheese, lasagne)

- Juicy meats cooked in (or to be served with) sauces

Strategies for freezing:

Divide recipes into whatever portion sizes work for your needs before freezing. If you have space, make multiple batches at once, then divide.

Be sure to label each package with contents, preparation date, and reheating instructions.

Funwithfood lines small gratin dishes with non-stick foil, fills, and freezes. Once the food’s frozen, she peels the foil off and pops the frozen “bricks” of food into freezer bags, which stack neatly. When it’s time to reheat, the packets fit right back into the gratin dishes for serving.

Another handy solution: small foil takeout containers and lids from a restaurant supply house. These are the right size for single servings of entrees or doubles of soup and they’re easy to freeze, stack, and reheat. Sixteen-ounce hot/cold cups (sold at Costco) are also good for freezing and reheating soups.

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Your favorite freezeable meals

Pesto Ideas

Here are some ideas, beyond pasta and panini, for using basil pesto to its most delicious advantage.

Pesto roasted chicken: coat the bird (and smear a little under the skin), then roast as usual (Hungry Celeste).

Brush pesto on pork chops, then grill; it helps form a nice crust, and gives a great rustic flavor (HeelsSoxHound).

Pesto adds depth to omelettes, and perks up scrambled eggs.

Drizzle pesto over fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.

Mix with a little lemon juice and use as a salad dressing.

Stuff mushroom caps with pesto and bake…or brush on grilled sliced portobellos and melt fresh mozzarella on top.

Avocado pesto salad: big chunks of avocado, red onion, peeled cucumber, and ripe tomato tossed with pesto (GG Mora).

Use it to baste grilled veggies or meats, or toss with spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons.

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Pesto ideas —non-pasta/low carb