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

Can California Grenache Beat Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

Can California Grenache Beat Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

Randall Grahm thinks so. READ MORE

Taking Bar Food to a New Level

Kitchenette's new venture, Heart, is "more of a wine bar with serious food than a restaurant," says Robert Lauriston, but that's all right. It is, after all, a wine bar. And concoctions like Fibrillation really elevate the bar snack: salty fried Monterey sardines with peanuts, green onions, jalapeños, and lime.

Goat tacos with goat cheese are excellent, says mariacarmen, "succulent, crispy, and not too goaty." Pork belly sliders and Rancho Gordo heirloom stew are also good, and you can't go wrong with charcuterie and farmstead cheeses. As for desserts, the sticky pudding with bourbon sauce and crème fraîche is "a heavenly bite."

"A fun place, and I'm dying to go back and try the rest of the menu," mariacarmen concludes. And what more can a three-month-old restaurant (sorry, wine bar) want?

Heart Wine Bar [Mission]
1270 Valencia Street, San Francisco
415-285-1200

Discuss: Heart — SF Mission — food by Kitchenette

Ramen Spring Specials

"If you like a robust and big style of ramen, Ramen Halu has knocked one out of the park with this special miso ramen," says Melanie Wong. It's available through the end of April.

It's not just miso that gives this soup its flavor. There's some apple mixed in there, lightening the rich, porky broth. But make no mistake, this is still a gut-buster. Cha shu, here made with Kurobuta bacon cut, is fabulous. Marinated in miso, it's roasted and griddled instead of the usual braise, making it nicely browned and extra flavorful. Then there's the nutty roasted garlic oil, adding yet another level of flavor.

And heads up, ramen fans: Halu's special anniversary lobster ramen is returning next month.

Ramen Halu [South Bay]
375 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose
408-246-3933

Discuss: Spring Special Miso Ramen @ Ramen Halu, San Jose

The Top Four Worst Coffeehouse Faux Pas

Etiquette gaffes are worse before caffeine. READ MORE

Kuala Lumpur’s Finest

Langkawi Malaysia doesn't get the attention it deserves on the Chowhound boards, says Thomas Nash. The rojak "brought back memories of an all too brief visit to KL for me." It's refreshing and funky all at once: ice-cold chunks of jicama, mango, pineapple, and cucumber in a sweet soy sauce spiked with shrimp paste and sprinkled with peanuts.

Roti murtabak
with beef is a well-done version of the stuffed pancake, with a curry dip. And the crispy candied squid in a sweet soy sauce is a great appetizer for a group. The rice dish nasi lemak is good too, says Mr_Happy. K K likes the Malaysian iced tea, which is a bit earthier than its Hong Kong counterpart.

Langkawi Malaysia Cuisine [Peninsula]
2946 S. Norfolk Street, San Mateo
650-349-1688

Discuss: Authentic and good Malaysian at Langkawi in San Mateo

Too Fat to Fight

Is eating a few KFC Double Downs a day the modern alternative to fleeing to Canada to escape the draft? The military has come to the really-not-new conclusion that America's children are fat. They're not just a little pudgy but "too fat to fight." Stats say 27 percent of youngsters in the crucial military recruitment age (17 to 24 years old) cannot pass the military weight standards, and obesity is ironically leading to shrinkage of the American armed forces. READ MORE

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"The sturgeon was the star of the meal—firm meat like shark but much more delicate in flavor, and the xao lan curry sauce was like none I have tasted at other Vietnamese restaurants." – recycleit, on Éléve

"The sauceless ricotta pie with anchovies that Robert mentioned is pretty special and rather unusual." – lexdevil, on Lo Coco's

"The al pastor was excellent—little crispy bits and a nice seasoning ... left a little buzz on my lips afterward." – gordon wing, on the tacos at La Luna Market

Hormone-Fed Chickens Make You Impotent; Salt Remains the Demon

Food Network’s Goin' Edgy: More details about the Food Network's new channel, the Cooking Channel, hit this week: a lineup of younger, hipper, more demographically diverse shows. One will feature three Canadian "hoser" guys in plaid jackets, who build taco vending machines. via the New York Times READ MORE

Memoirs of a Troublesome Macaron

When we were planning our Mother's Day recipes here in the test kitchen, we came up with a great assortment of French pastries. The buttery financiers, the crunchy palmiers, the almond-laced croq-télé; it felt like a good list. But one of my favorite memories from France is trying the chocolate macarons at Pierre Hermé's shop on Rue Bonaparte in Paris. They had a crisp outer shell and a chewy, chocolaty ganache center.

READ MORE

Make Your Own Worm Compost

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Reuse your kitchen scraps for good. ... WATCH THE VIDEO