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

Fresh Anchovies, or Let Them Eat Bait

The San Francisco Fish Company has fresh anchovies lately, reports MuppetGrrl. They’re delicious and only $3.99 a pound. Anchovies are plentiful this year in the waters outside the Gate, says TomG; he recommends them grilled with salt and pepper. Ask any fish supplier. For you more adventuresome souls, just go out there and buy them live from a bait supplier at the Berkeley Pier. Alan408 says they’re fine for human consumption, but might be expensive compared to dead ones. (Tip: don’t eat the ones that are already on somebody’s hook. It’ll be bad for all concerned.)

San Francisco Fish Company [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Bldg. # 31, San Francisco

Berkeley Marina Fishing Pier [East Bay]
160 University Ave., Berkeley

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Chowcooks: Fresh anchovies at the Ferry Building!

Grits, Crab, and Sweet Corn Porridge

Absonot loves porridge made from grits, crab, and sweet corn at The Front Porch, a brand-new restaurant. It’s an exceptional dish, prepared with habanero and green onion; it manages to be hearty, intriguing, and refreshing all at the same time. potatoe seconds the recommendation for crab porridge: “My toes were tapping.” Hounds also like Front Porch’s moist, buttery yellow cake, with a nicely balanced, sweet chocolate frosting. bernalbump says it’s just like your idealized grandmother’s cake.

The Front Porch [Mission]
65A 29th St., San Francisco

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The Front Porch Opens —(long)

Italian-Style Sandwiches from Downtown to Uptown

At Piada on the Lower East Side, the namesake specialty is a sandwich from Emilia-Romagna–a toasted flatbread stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables, or sweet stuff like fruit, preserves, or Nutella. “Ingredients are fresh, the sandwiches are delicious, and the owners are Italian guys who are actually always there and make your sandwiches,” reports lia, who’s especially fond of their Amarcord (prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula), and pressed ciabatta with prosciutto or mortadella, fontina, and artichoke. Salads, soup, espresso drinks, and breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, or speck round out the menu.

On the Upper West Side, a sleeper pick for less authentic Italian-style sandwiches is Soup or Sandwich, whose name pretty much sums up its menu. Among the dozen fusioney panini, one tasty un-Italian choice is the Chicken Tijuana: moist grilled chicken with pepper jack, roasted peppers, and spicy mayonnaise. “A really good sandwich–not fake spicy, really spicy,” says Pupster. “Nothing to make a special trip for, but if you are heading into Central Park for a picnic, a convenient place to grab a couple panini.” Other options include a Cubano, tuna melt, churrasco, and even such Italianate varieties as the Tuscan Melt (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, pesto mayonnaise) and San Pietro (prosciutto, fresh mozz, roasted peppers).

Piada [Lower East Side]
3 Clinton St., between Houston and Stanton, Manhattan

Soup or Sandwich [Upper West Side]
265 Columbus Ave., between W. 72nd and 73rd Sts., Manhattan

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best sandwiches in lower manhattan?

Rinconcito Mexicano II: Killer Quesadillas in the South Bronx

If you think you know quesadillas, try the one at Rinconcito Mexicano II in the South Bronx. “Quesadillas will never be the same again,” promises PAL, who declares this “one of the greatest little Mexican restaurants in all of New York City.” A thick tortilla of fresh-made masa encloses fresh, possibly house-made white cheese and comes with deep, spicy, garlicky red salsa. Order it with carnitas: you’ll get rich, flavorful roast pork, nicely crisped in places, reports Spoony Bard. Tacos are also good, he adds, including one with deliciously goaty barbacoa.

Rinconcito is a charming, narrow storefront joint, one of many Mexican establishments in the surrounding Mott Haven neighborhood–and apparently unconnected with a restaurant of the same name on 39th Street in Manhattan.

Rinconcito Mexicano II [Bronx]
381 E. 138th St., between Willis and Alexander Aves., Bronx

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Chow-worthy Bruckner Blvd. and South Bronx?

Golden Deli’s Secret Sibling

Pho lovers, beware: Because of a fire in the strip mall, Golden Deli is currently out of commission. The good news is, a previously unknown sister restaurant has come to light: Saigon Flavor (no relation to the one in Torrance).

It’s almost like being at good old Golden Deli: same menus, same numbers. The cha gio (spring roll) is just as savory as ever, says copacetic. Yet there are differences. The house special pho (#1) actually has better broth! And there’s a ton of parking in back! And the room is much nicer!

Although it was pretty uncrowded on one hound’s visit, another witnessed a crowd waiting to get in a few days ago. So maybe the word is out.

Vietnam House, across the street from Golden Deli and under the same ownership, also has basically the same food as Golden Deli, plus beer, parking, and they take credit cards.

Saigon’s Flavor San Gabriel Valley]
208 E. Valley Blvd., at Del Mar, San Gabriel

Golden Deli [San Gabriel Valley]
815 W. Las Tunas Dr., at Main, San Gabriel

Vietnam House [San Gabriel Valley]
710 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel

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Golden Deli Fire? Sister Restaurant Saigon Flavor

Giving Edamame a Kick

Boiled, salted edamame are a terrific snack. But chowhounds have a few tricks to make them truly irresistible:

Grind lapsang souchong tea leaves with a little salt, and sprinkle the mixture over the edamame for a nice smoky snack. Smoked salt achieves a similar effect. Curry-infused oil and citrus zest is an inspired combination for edamame. Also try grinding chili peppers, star anise, and garlic together for the topping.

In a different vein, Old Bay seasoning is great on edamame, says ClaireLiz.

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edamame tip

Homemade Gummy Bears

Who knew? A lot of gelatin, a little water, and you can make homemade gummy bears! Or gummy anythings, really–for their shapes are limited only by your imagination. And by the molds you can create. As for flavor, that depends on what you find in gelatin mixes; S_K recommends looking in Asian groceries, where she finds flavors like passion fruit and blackcurrant. This recipe calls for a sugar-free gelatin mix, but any kind will work fine, S_K notes.

For the simplest of shapes, pour the mix in a thin layer onto the bottom of mini muffin tins. You’ll get little gummy coins. Or, use regular muffin tins for fatter, sassier gummy medals. You can also use any ice cube trays–the trays with decorative shapes work particularly great. The above recipe also provides instructions for making gummi worms.

For more ambitious projects, with fancy shapes, check out these sources for candy molds:

Sugarcraft has kits especially for making gummy candies in fun shapes like feet and bugs.

Candyland Crafts has candy molds in any and every shape you could imagine.

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Homemade Gummy Bears?

Heinz Organic Ketchup

Fans of Heinz ketchup have discovered their organic tomato ketchup. The flavor’s still recognizable as Heinz, but it’s way better than the original. rworange calls it a miracle–the only sequel that’s better than the original. And it’s all organic: organic tomatoes, organic vinegar, organic sugar, right down to the organic onion powder.

In some markets, it’s shelved right next to the regular Heinz ketchups; in others it’s in the organic section.

Heinz Organic Ketchup

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Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup–better than the original

Dealing with a Whole Fish

Being served a whole fish can be daunting if you don’t know how to deal with it. This is how mnosyne suggests you proceed: first, make a vertical cut through the flesh behind the head, down to the backbone. Make a similar cut just above the tail. Then gently lift the meat off the bone, and onto your plate.

The backbone is now exposed, and can be lifted out by the tail end, making the flesh underneath available. The backbone usually comes out in one handy piece. Be sure to use this method when you’re served whole fish in a Chinese restaurant, where turning the fish over is considered bad luck. Remove any smaller bones, and enjoy your fish!

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Eating a whole fish

New Jersey Shows Its Cards

The motto at Chef Charles is “Gotta Put LOVE In Your Cookin’!” (It’s at 6774 Washington Avenue, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey; 609-641-7338. Ignore the address given on his own website.) I thought his barbecue was just dandy—authentic and very, very good (perhaps not the very peak of deliciousness). The ribs were slightly tough, but I attribute that to my early arrival on a Sunday, shortly after opening. Chef Charles’s soul food is also quite good (especially his slamming candy sweet potatoes and excellent cornbread). For dessert, he had no sweet potato pie, alas. But the lemon pound cake slayed me. It’s unrepentantly greasy, a dessert that says, “Hey, you’ve just been scarfing all those ribs: Drop all pretensions of being fat averse.”

MP3 file Listen to the first podcast.

Kelsey & Kim’s Soul Food (52 North Main Street, Pleasantville, New Jersey; 609-484-8448) is a nice place run by a sincere chef. It’s not set up to do ambitious Southern pit barbecue à la Chef Charles, but it’s one of those places that make up in deliciousness what they lack in authenticity and ambition. The ribs reminded me of Chinese restaurant ribs, because the meat has a penetrating sweetness that’s more addictive than annoying. Great tender texture. Their chicken wings are expertly fried; I’d order anything fried here (I bet the catfish is great).

The Clam Bar (910 Bay Avenue, Somers Point, New Jersey; 609-927-8783) is a lovely rustic seaside haunt. It’s spotlessly clean and run with friendly, expert efficiency. Nice place. Too bad I was too full to really try it.

Crabby Jack’s (on the dock behind the restaurant the Crab Trap, 2 Broadway, Somers Point, New Jersey; 609-927-7377) is a totally fun dockside summertime bar.

While sucking down drinks at Crabby Jack’s, the Newark Star-Ledger’s Peter Genovese and I recorded a manic double interview. (Note: The audio was not speeded up; we really talk like that. Bear in mind I was sucking down sugary rum drinks at a dizzying rate.) We covered the origins of Chowhound, the mission of Munchmobile, the pitfalls of restaurant reviewing, the appallingness of Jet Skis, and my big new discovery (suggested by the dude at a neighboring bar stool): Power Straws.

MP3 file Part One
MP3 file Part Two