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

Decadent Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

j2brady shares her simple, but rich and delectable recipe for blueberry cheesecake ice cream:

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups light cream
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
frozen blueberries (amount to your taste)

Blend cream cheese, both creams, and sugar in blender until very smooth. Place blueberries in pot over medium heat and allow them to release their juices and reduce somewhat, then place them in the freezer briefly. If you don’t want pieces of fruit in your finished ice cream, puree the reduced berries or force them through a sieve. Freeze cream cheese mixture in ice cream freezer; during the last few seconds, add the reduced blueberries and allow them to form a swirl before you stop the dasher and scrape the ice cream into a storage container.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream…so gooood!

Versatile Bean Salad Recipe

This quick bean salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs is one of Will Owen’s most successful recipes, and it’s incredibly flexible. Vary the herbs to suit your mood, substitute some nice vinegar for the lemon juice, and with each combo you’ve got a whole different salad.

4 15-oz cans beans (cannelini, navy, pinto, or a mixture)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 minced or pressed clove of garlic
juice of one lemon, or to taste
chopped herbs of your choice
good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain beans; shake in a colander to dry. Add onion, garlic, lemon juice, and chopped herbs. Pour and stir in oil until beans are glistening (but don’t drown them in oil). Adjust lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Keeps well for a few days refrigerated.

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Bean salad

Casual Seafood on the Jersey Shore

The Inlet Cafe in Highlands, which turns 40 this year, has evolved from a tavern plus clam bar into a dependably good casual seafood restaurant. It’s not grubby or inexpensive (most entrees are in the $20s), but it’s still informal enough for dinner after a day at the beach, says jsfein. The menu includes grilled, fried and blackened entrees and seafood pastas, among other things. If the weather’s nice, sit on the deck and look out on the Navesink River and Sandy Hook Bay.

Another longtime Bayshore destination, the Keyport Fishery, was closed by a fire earlier this month, but its owners promise to reopen the 70-year-old carryout joint. “Best fried shrimp and scallops in my book, for over 30 years of my patronage,” says fpatrick, plus excellent house-made tartar sauce.

In Point Pleasant Beach, the Shrimp Box has been drawing crowds for half a century with fresh, moderately priced seafood. Some recent daily specials, priced in the mid- to high teens: crab-stuffed tilapia, lobster ravioli, and Prince Edward Island mussels marinara over linguine. Go for the early “Sunset Dinner”–“sooo much food for $15 or less,” advises Angelina, who’s hooked on their broiled crab-stuffed shrimp.

Down toward Cape May, Fish and Fancy in the Villas is a no-frills place for excellent fried or broiled platters, says Ellen. Order to go or sit at a picnic table on the covered patio. Also on the menu: chowders, salads, fried chicken, and rotating specials like shrimp fra diavolo, grilled tuna with seafood-garlic sauce, and clams with linguine and other seafood pastas.

At Cape May’s Lobster House, a Fisherman’s Wharf tourist magnet, avoid the crowds by bypassing the bustling main restaurant. Instead, advises Sethboy, grab the menus for the takeout counter and the raw bar, find a table on the deck out back, and ponder your order. Start with the raw bar (which serves chowders and salads as well as raw shellfish) then move on to the takeout counter for fried or broiled platters. Ellen suggests going the full takeout route and recommends their fish sandwich, lobster salad or bisque, smoked salmon or bluefish, and Key lime pie. “Get some Jersey tomatoes and corn on your way home,” she adds, “and you’ll have quite a feast.”

For a more downscale bite, go to fisherman’s watering hole Mayer’s for perfectly tender fried or sauteed scallops and a heavy dose of “local color,” suggests CapeMayChowhound.

Inlet Cafe [Monmouth County]
3 Cornwall St., at Shrewsbury Ave., Highlands, NJ

Keyport Fishery [Monmouth County]
150 W. Front St., between Broadway and Beers St., Keyport, NJ

Shrimp Box [Ocean County]
75 Inlet Dr., near Broadway, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

Fish and Fancy Takeout Seafood [Cape May County]
2406 Bayshore Rd., at Texas Ave., Villas, NJ

The Lobster House [Cape May County]
Fisherman’s Wharf, Cape May Harbor, Cape May, NJ

Mayer’s Bar and Restaurant [Cape May County]
894 3rd Ave., near Wilson Dr., Cape May, NJ

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Where to Eat in Monmouth County, NJ
Lavalette and Point Pleasant: First time to Jersey
Cape May “Down N Dirty” recs
Sandy Hook/Highlands sat nite

Subbing In

If you’re serious about finding SoCal’s best meatball sandwich, you’ll head to Lakewood, says Kris P Pata. There, in the quiet bedroom community, you’ll find Foggia Italian Market, run by the Quarto family. Their sandwich features homemade, well-herbed meatballs, well-spiced marinara and fresh, crunchy Italian bread. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The meatball sub at Vinny’s is worth a regular drive from Hollywood, says lil mikey. It has big, tasty meatballs, good sauce and mozzarella, but what puts it over the top is that he pops it into the pizza oven, crisping up the bread and softening the inside.

On Mozzarella Mondays at Jar, they have lovely little meatball subs on a semolina roll. Still, Dommy! prefers Bay Cities–and a lot of hounds think this one’s the best.

On the opposite end of town Eastside Deli makes a mean meatball sub–connoisseurs prefer a combo with Italian sausage, peppers and cheese (the #3).

And for the South Bay, calabasas-trafalgar says: Giuliano’s deli in Torrance. End of story.

Foggia Italian Market & Deli [South Bay]
5522 Del Amo Blvd., Lakewood

Vinny’s Pizza [South LA]
8412 Lincoln Blvd., at Manchester, Los Angeles

Jar Restaurant [Midtown]
8225 Beverly Blvd., at Harper, Los Angeles
Amazon Locater

Bay Cities Italian Deli [Beaches]
1517 Lincoln Blvd., at Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica
Amazon Locater

Eastside Market and Italian Deli [Chinatown]
1013 Alpine St., Los Angeles

Giuliano’s Delicatessen & Bakery [South Bay]
3849 Torrance Blvd., Torrance

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Meatball Subs?

Off with a (Shao) Bing

Start your day the Taiwanese way–with soy milk and fried (unsweetened) crullers. yclops lays out a detailed short list of favorites:

Yi-Mei, a cozy (read: cramped) spot in the Dingho strip mall, is almost always packed, and with good reason. Their shaobing (fried bread), danbing (eggs with crepes) and soy milk (made in-house and available hot or cold, savory or sweet) are excellent. So are the compact, juicy, and hefty buns. Pork and mushroom bun is a great mixture of potent soy sauce, pork, and mushroom flavors. Pork and cabbage is also really good. Preserved snow cabbage and pork bun is terrifically pungent…maybe an acquired taste. Chive turnovers and steam-fried pork buns, though, are disappointing. The Yi-Mei in Rowland Heights has fantastic baozi (steamed buns); the one in the San Gabriel Superstore complex is more spacious, but the food less impressive.

Yung Ho Tou Chiang is a usual suspect for Chinese breakfast–grimy, but quite popular. It’s gone downhill a little, says Porthos, but it’s still very good. Strong points: salty soy milk and shaobing. Danbing leans toward the eggy side, and the buns have gristly meat and not much flavor. On the plus side, their extensive menu has English translations.

Ding Pangzi boasts very good danbing and big, pillowy baozi, but bad shaobing. Mushroom and pork bun and preserved mustard and pork bun are both recommendable, chive turnovers might still be good too. They don’t make their own soy milk, though. The menu is only in Chinese, but there are plenty of bilingual folks around on the weekend, when it’s packed. Note that this is two restaurants side by side; the breakfast part is on the left.

Another hole-in-the-wall, Mei Lin, has a wide variety of baozi that are reliably good if not spectacular. The flavors are a bit more subdued than at some other places, but chive buns and pickled veggie and pork buns are solid. Soy milk is also usually good, and they have a range of jiaozi and zongzi (sort of like Chinese tamales, with sweet or savory fillings) as well.

Yi-Mei Chinese Bakery Shop [San Gabriel Valley]
736 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park

Yi-Mei Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
608 E. Valley Blvd. # G, San Gabriel

Yi Mei Deli [Inland of LA]
18414 Colima Rd., Rowland Heights

Yung Ho Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
533 W. Valley Blvd., at New, San Gabriel

Yung Ho Tou Chiang Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
1045 E. Valley Blvd. # A105, San Gabriel

Ding’s Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
117 N. Lincoln Ave., Monterey Park

Mei Lin Tou Chiang Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
1257 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

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Closest Taiwanse Breakfast to the Westside

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town boasts a remarkable name, bizarre tiki decor, and some delicious chicken, reports David Boyk. You can get your chicken roasted or fried, with or without sauce. They also have fish, but that seems besides the point. Fried chicken with sauce is fantastic. The sauce is a hot red syrup thing, sort of like sriracha, but more warming, sweet and barbecue-y.

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town [Temescal]
Telegraph Ave., between 61st and 62nd Sts., Oakland

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Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town, Berkeley/Oakland

And the Best Sausage Pizza Is…

The best sausage pizza in all of the Bay Area is at Nizza La Bella, reports rworange. The thing to order here is the “For Lombardi” pizza, with fennel sausage and aged mozzerella. They make their own sausage and their own cheese. The sausage embodies every goodness of Italian sausage: a deep fennel flavor, an intense meatiness, all without any greasiness. The cheese is lovely and flavorful, and the little dabs of sauce are nice, too. The crust is appropriately thin, with good crackle. It is a deeply, gruntingly satisfying pizza. It is also a distinctly Italian pizza, so don’t go expecting a classic New York slice. Says twocents, all the pizzas are good, but any with that fennel sausage on it is truly great. Important: to get house-made cheese, you must request it.

Chicken paillard is unexpectedly great, says Morton the Mousse. The breast is perfectly cooked. “Some would send it back as too rare, but those folks don’t know what chicken should taste like,” he says. The chicken is tender, moist, and vastly superior to the majority of boringly grilled chicken breast. It’s served over fries, which makes them limp but wonderfully chickeny.

Also recommended: socca, salade lyonnaise, salade anchoiade, macaroni gratin, onglet steak-frites, skirt steak frites, and bouillabaisse. Their cocktails are uniformly beautiful and uniformly excellent.

The place has gone through some staff changes, and is in the process of expanding and Italianizing their menu. Food quality has increased dramatically. So if you went long ago and were disappointed, give it another shot; many, many chowhounds have begun to fervently recommend the place. anli dares claim that the new incarnation of Nizza La Bella even beats out Pizzaiola.

Nizza La Bella [East Bay]
827 San Pablo Ave., Albany

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Albany–Nizza La Bella – The Bay Area’s best sausage pizza

Tofu Tip

The life of store-bought tofu can be extended for a long time. Just store it in a brine solution of tap water and kosher salt. Do change the water occasionally (i.e., every other day or so).

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Here’s how long beancurd lasts:

Milkshake in a Bottle

Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Fudge Brownie ice cream flavors now come in milkshake form, bottled a la Starbuck’s Frappuccino. Made with shelf-stable milk, they don’t require refrigeration (chill before drinking, though).

Dexters has tried Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey, and likes the latter the best, but calls both “decent.”

Read a review of these new products from the Free Press.

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Has anyone tried the bottled Ben and Jerry’s Milkshakes?

Best References for Fast Meals

Fresh Food Fast,” by Peter Birley: A vegetarian cookbook with plenty of appeal for omnivores, arranged by season–plus menus and shopping lists.

Seriously Simple,” by Diane Rossen Worthington: Quick, easy, and often elegant dishes that aren’t dumbed down for time’s sake…with plenty of simple variations so you won’t get bored.

Fast Food My Way,” by Jacques Pepin: Easy and sensible recipes, perfect for everyday meals.

Twenty-Minute Menus,” by Marian Burros: A no-nonsense, practical approach, emphasizing healthful recipes.

Everyday Food Magazine: tasty, quick recipes using fresh ingredients.

Warning: chowhounds have found that Rachael Ray’s “30-Minute Meals” are simply impossible to produce in 30 minutes…unless you have a prep cook.

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Fast Meals Cookbook