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

Mind-Blowing Chinese Buns in Arcadia

Dim sum at Full House: "I was not only very happy with the exceptionally high quality of their food, their buns are just ... mindblowing," says buttermarblepopcorn. The chef seems to specialize in Chinese baked goods, because there are tons of variations of those sweet buns floating around on trays. "The steamed sweet bun dough was just so yeasty and smooth and fine and silky, and the baked bun dough was yeasty and chewy and fine, but lightly crispy on the outside," says buttermarblepopcorn.

Their lemony buns are particularly tasty, says mc michael. But be warned: They often run out of the best versions at inconvenient times.

Full House [San Gabriel Valley]
1220 S. Golden West Avenue, Arcadia
626-446-8222

Discuss: Full House in Arcadia's buns

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"A rockin' Spanish tapas bar/restaurant in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana's Artist's District (right behind Memphis). The "Siesta Hour," M-F 3-6:30, features $3 drinks and a slew of reasonably priced ($5) tapas and specials. The blue cheese stuffed dates, duck fries, chorizo flat bread and lobster tacos are among the must haves." - degustateur on Lola Gaspar's awesome happy hour

"The SALTEÑAS ARE AMAZING. They are like empanadas, but very juicy on the inside. They have the south american style egg and raisins in there with the beef." - emba on Beba's

"I don't know, but after telling everyone for the last couple of years that The Redwood's F&C was of the breaded rather than the battered variety, last night they fed me some of the nicest BATTERED cod I've ever had, and no I don't mean it was beaten to death." - Will Owen

Spice Is the Spice of Life

Bravo to Salon and writer Francis Lam for tackling a question that should bug the hell out of any even half-serious home cook: How often do I need to be renewing my herbs and spices? The story is well worth reading for its meditation on volatile oils, the grind-it-yourself ethic, and the idea of having a catch-all jar of rub that becomes your dumping place for all home-ground spices not quickly used for a particular recipe. But here's the heart of it, if you must know:

"If you buy spices from a place with high turnover so their stock is fresh, and store them cool, dark, and dry, they will keep much longer than six months."

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Bone Marrow Pizza Is In

I guess it was inevitable: After lardo pizza became ubiquitous, thanks to its inclusion on almost every Mario Batali menu, bone marrow pizza would follow. So far, bone marrow (extracted from the bones, duh) has been spotted as a pizza topping at Boston's Coppa Enoteca and San Francisco's Flour + Water. Both are paired with freshly grated horseradish. So what does it taste like? I've tried the Flour + Water one, and it was tasty, although truth be told, you can't tell you're eating bone marrow per se, because it melts down into a pool of really rich grease that mixes with the cheese.

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Bean Pie, For That Nation of Islam Flavor

Unless you live in a community with a Muslim bakery, you may never have heard of this aluminum pie plate of goodness, which pairs cooked navy or red beans with a milky custard in a flaky crust. This five-minute documentary plumbs the origin of the delicacy, and will make you want to eat one.

via MetaFilter

Pac-Man, the Favorite Game of Women Who Eat

Wired's Game Life interview with Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani about the 30th anniversary of the game uncovered some interesting details. Namely, that the game was given an eating theme to get the chicks going.

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Sundays at Home, Indonesian Style

For lovers of Indonesian food, the red-letter days on this summer's calendar are the food bazaars at the Masjid Al-Hikmah mosque in Astoria, Queens. They'll take place on Sunday afternoons every month or so, and Chowhounds consider them don't-miss opportunities to experience Indonesian cuisine and hospitality.

Expect home cooking, the kind rarely found in New York's Indonesian restaurants. "I felt like I was at an Asian rural market and went crazy," says astoriafoodie, who checked out this month's event and took home a feast of vegetable fritters, fried chicken, beef satay with peanut sauce, anchovy-tempeh salad, noodle soup with meatballs, and banana and sesame sweets, among other things—all delicious. For Polecat, the standouts were shrimp curry with rice and sweet, cold, bright green es cendol, "like something you'd see being consumed on the original 'Star Trek.'" DaveCook shares an amazingly tempting slideshow at his invaluable blog.

The mood is mellow and the folks friendly and welcoming. "Good food, good vibe, beautiful day," as Polecat sums it up.

Masjid Al-Hikmah [Astoria]
48-01 31st Avenue (at 48th Street), Astoria, Queens
718-721-8881

Discuss: Indonesian Food Bazaar

An Ethiopian Surprise at Awash

Something may be up at Awash, reports a pleasantly surprised mary shaposhnik. Having had unremarkable Ethiopian meals at both locations over the years, she recently found Awash's uptown kitchen in top form. Doro wat (berbere-seasoned chicken stew), misir wat (red lentils done in similar fashion), and vegetables were all spot-on; "the spices were layered and balanced, the injera was just the right texture and sourness, everything just really sang out. Don't know if you'll replicate the results, but they were worth reporting."

Awash [Upper West Side]
947 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 106th and 107th streets), Manhattan
212-961-1416

Discuss: Awash (uptown branch) was completely on

Safran Foer Wins “Most Annoying”

After reading novelist Jonathan Safran Foer's nonfiction anti-meat crusading book, Eating Animals, and writing about it on this blog, I was amused to see a little story in today's New York Times noting that Foer has won a Moby Award for most annoying performance in a book trailer.

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A Spring Awakening, with Wine, in Ditmas Park

Ditmas Parkers have been enjoying something of a food renaissance in recent years, and one conspicuous contributor has been Mimi's Hummus. This hound-endorsed Middle Eastern spot branched out in February with the gourmet grocery Market next door, and a few weeks later one of Mimi's owners opened the Castello Plan, a wine bar two doors away.

The newest addition to the block is shaping up as a cozy hangout for drinks and small plates that lean Mediterranean with hints of Eastern Europe. Westminstress recommends stewed mushrooms (with sour cream and dill), a beet salad with pickles and farmer's cheese, potato salad with sunflower oil, and rabbit and duck bruschette. gnosh recounts a lovely brunch highlighted by an apricot mimosa and scallion grilled cheese with butter-poached egg. The wine list is idiosyncratic and well chosen, hounds say, featuring small producers from Morocco, Uruguay, and Croatia, among other places.

Some hounds find the portions skimpy, though Westminstress thinks they've grown a bit since the place opened. "Worth trying, for sure," says chorosch, "but if you go hungry you will most likely spend more than you were planning."

About that name: Ditmas Park's growing restaurant row is centered on Cortelyou Road, named after the Dutch surveyor Jacques Cortelyou, creator of a 17th-century map of lower Manhattan known as—you got it—the Castello Plan.

The Castello Plan [Ditmas Park]
1213 Cortelyou Road (at Argyle Road), Brooklyn
718-856-8888

Discuss: The Castello Plan: anyone been?