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

From Cheesy TV to Plain Old Cheese

If you're not familiar with Coronation Street, you're probably not British. An epic prime-time soap opera that is the king of the genre in the UK, the show got its start in 1960, making it the world's longest-running scripted television program.

This long windup is all meant to contextualize the following bit of news that just drifted onto the Internet:

"Actor Sean Wilson, who played Martin Platt, swapped Coronation Street for the kitchen as he started a new life as an award-winning Lancashire cheese maker."

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Summer Bites and Miniature Golf, Too

The Mets are winning again, the Botanical Garden is opening its farmers' market, and the piranhas are biting at the Hall of Science (did you know you could play miniature golf there, too?). In short, it's shaping up as a full, fun summer around Flushing Meadows Corona Park. And as janie reminds us, no one has to go hungry there.

Just a block from the park, Empanadas Café (formerly Empanadas del Parque) is in top form. On a recent visit janie and two helpers put away a spread of fantastic empanadas with great, fresh fillings: plantain and cheese, spinach and ricotta, sausage and potato, shredded chicken, pesto mozzarella; "we kept eating and eating—love the hot sauce, too."

Next was dessert at Timmy O's, the hound-endorsed frozen custard shop a few blocks away. Vanilla frozen custard (with rainbow sprinkles) and a vanilla shake were pretty much perfect. "This place is just a gem," janie declares—and, owing to its out-of-the-way location, unjustly underpatronized. "I'm worried about their survival there," she adds. "Please go if you haven't been."

Finally, she stuck her head in at Tortilleria Nixtamal, a hound hangout for tamales and other masa treats, and spotted some additions to the menu, including a vegetable taco.

"All of these places are destination spots, not just neighborhood places," janie says. "If you're coming to Flushing Meadow park, or the science museum, or a Mets game, check these places out if you have never been, or return to them if you've neglected them. They are all just great."

Empanadas Café [Corona]
56-27 Van Doren Street (at 108th Street), Corona, Queens
718-592-7288

Timmy O's [Corona]
49-07 104th Street (at 49th Avenue), Corona, Queens
516-242-1843

Tortilleria Nixtamal [Corona]
104-05 47th Avenue (at 104th Street), Corona, Queens
718-699-2434

Discuss: Perfect day in Corona, Queens...

Pork Blood and Brain Crema Wins at Cochon 555

Signs you've attended Cochon 555:

  • You discover a large blob of pork blood mousse dried to your bag.
  • You find a miniature plastic pig lodged in your iPod case.
  • You sleep poorly due to "meat sweats," and come to work with a pork hangover the next day.
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    Indian from High End to Low

    Hounds who've tried the new Tamarind in Tribeca can't stop talking about the moist, delicious meats from the tandoor. Lamb chops (seasoned with cardamom, cumin, and nutmeg) and venison chops (with pickling spices) are both excellent, slicknik reports.

    It's not all about red meat here. foodwhisperer singles out lobster masala with mustard, tamarind, and coconut milk, served in a coconut shell. And gnocchicroissant reports a beautiful vegetarian thali, a parade of small plates that might include dal, palak paneer (spinach with Indian cheese), vegetable curry and biryani, and poori, the puffed tandoor bread.

    The space, carved out of a former diner by the owner of the popular Tamarind up in the Flatiron, is a gorgeous two-level palace with a special booth for the tandoor chefs. "If you can get past the idea of paying double the price of E. 6th St. Indian restaurants or Curry in a Hurry, you will enjoy the creativity, the ambiance and the quality of really good Indian food," foodwhisperer promises.

    The newly arrived Famous Dal Cart is gorgeous in its own way, a brightly festooned kitchen on wheels that dishes up delicious, dirt-cheap Indian chow to East Village night owls. Black and yellow lentils on rice is $3. For a splurge, try chicken tikka masala with dal, garlic pickle, and rice for $5. Quality can be uneven, but portions are generous and you can't beat the price. "I highly recommend it and hope that this lovely privately owned business does well!" declares hungrycomposer.

    Tamarind [Tribeca]
    99 Hudson Street (near Leonard Street), Manhattan
    212-775-9000

    Famous Dal Cart [East Village]
    Second Avenue at E. 10th Street, Manhattan
    No phone available

    Discuss: Tamarind
    Tamarind Tribeca reviews?
    The Famous Dal Cart - 2nd Ave and 10 St.

    Taco Tuesdays at a Brooklyn Watering Hole

    Out behind the Gibson, a laid-back watering hole that opened last year in Williamsburg, there's a guy who grills tilapia over hickory wood every Tuesday. He tucks it into corn tortillas with cilantro, shredded cabbage, and "deeelicious" spicy white sauce, Phunwithphood says. "A cheap great find, and I recommend it to fish taco lovers out there!" There's also pulled pork on Fridays; no hound reports yet.

    The Gibson [Williamsburg]
    108 Bedford Avenue (at N. 11th Street), Brooklyn
    718-387-6296

    Discuss: FISH TACOS! Hidden find in Williamsburg

    Overheard on the New York Boards

    "Two new additions to the menu: pasta is now orecchiette with crawfish, asparagus, chicken sausage, garbanzo beans, and crumbled ricotta. Sauce was a tomato-based broth with chili paste. The sorbet has changed too; it's now an apricot sorbet with crumbled pie shell and molasses. I liked both new dishes very much." – ellenost on Momofuku Ko

    "I'm by no means a vegetarian but this dish is large and comes with an amazing carrot tahini sauce. It's essentially a platter filled with fluffy brown rice, steamed veggies (bonus points for no bell peppers floating around in there!), and black beans." – Jess321 on the Vegetarian Special at Dojo

    "Go for a putz. Any putz will do. There are four putz on the menu. Two have been translated into English - putz shredded beef and putz bitter melon - and for some reason these two have not: fish steamed in broth and putz, and putz chicken. Putz is Corda dichotoma or ... the rag tree found in Taiwan, Tibet and India. I jumped right in with putz bitter melon. Although the chef said they were fresh putz and I am sure they were pickled. No worries." – scoopG on Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet

    Great Food, Lingering Bitterness

    At Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen, takeout is served with a side of irony: The art project–cum-restaurant–cum political message serves food only from countries that the U.S. is battling.

    Conflict's first iteration, which opened Saturday, is the Kubideh Kitchen. It serves kubideh, Iranian ground grilled meat, on flatbread with slices of onion, plus mint and basil leaves, for $5. Sammich looks delicious, as do the gorgeous wrappers that feature commentary on such subjects as bread, tea, and the green movement in Iran from Iranian people living in Pittsburgh and Iran. The menu served by the restaurant will change every four months.

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    Journey to the Center of the Mango

    If you've ever wondered about the gastronomic heights that can be attained by mangoes, this video by Ribbon Made Productions posted on the Daily Beast is worth viewing. Starting in Berkeley, moving to Mumbai, and then traveling into India's mango-growing heartland, the video's makers explore the story of the Alphonso mango, the "king of mangoes," and why this fantastic fruit is subjected to radiation before it hits the U.S. market.

    Session Beers Mean Easy Drinkin’

    Session Beers Mean Easy Drinkin’

    You can probably polish off a few while reading this column and not feel any worse for wear. READ MORE

    The Insiders’ Guide to Making Money from Food

    It's really too bad money doesn't grow on trees. But you know what does? Fruit. Fruit grows on trees. How can I take things like fruit, which, remember, grows on trees, and use it to get money, which doesn't? eHow member Knowball has some ideas, which he lists in the instant classic How to Make Money with Food. The way Knowball sees it, all you have to do is decide what you like doing with food. READ MORE