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

Turkish Cookbooks We Like

Turkish Cookbooks We Like

Get familiar with the flavors of Turkey. READ MORE

Basic Turkish Ingredients

Basic Turkish Ingredients

What you should have on hand to cook köfte. READ MORE

Gateway Dishes: Köfte

Gateway Dishes: Köfte

A taste of Turkey. READ MORE

The Gallows Makes a South End Splash

When Sage's departure left a gaping hole in the South End, the Gallows moved in and raised the stakes considerably. Owned by the folks behind Vee Vee and the Biltmore, it's a gastropub with good, precisely measured cocktails, a well-chosen list of beers, and one rotating cask ale selection. But the food blows everything else away.

The most buzzed-about items are the four poutine selections (yes! four poutine selections!). Order the traditional version with house-made curds ("soft and delicious," moans DivGuy), dark chicken gravy ("a rich chicken-based elixir that was like the best of the pan juices thickened just a bit," says yumyum) and crispy fries ("super crispy, light, airy, and stay tasty even after they've cooled down a bit," says Mike5966). There's a vegetarian version with mushroom gravy, a foie version, and the "out of control," a nightly special. On yumyum's visit it boasted "sweetbreads, lardons, English peas, and spring onions in addition to the fries, curds, and gravy."

You can get those same crispy fries on the side of the delightful West Coast–style burger, ground in-house and served on a buttery roll with American cheese, iceberg, house-made pickles, and lightly grilled, crunchy onions. On the side are more of those fabulous fries, accompanied by the house-made ketchup: "There are microscopic bits of fresh tomato in there, too, and if they could just thicken it up a bit, it would be perfect," says Mike. "However, the taste was so good, at the end of the meal I wanted to and did, in fact, sip this ketchup from the little silver cup it came in."

Other good things: duck prosciutto and country ham on the ploughman's platter, the New England cheese list, and the Scotch eggs.

The Gallows [South End]
1395 Washington Street, Boston
617-425-0200

Discuss: I love the Gallows

All About Pounding

What is the point of pounding meat? Mostly, it's tenderizing. "Beating meat quite simply begins the process of digestion," explains FoodFuser. "Muscle fibers are bundles of strongly wrapped cables, a feature that engineers of suspension bridges have long adopted. The more I can break those cables down, the more comfortable my chewing." This is especially helpful with tougher cuts of meat, which are often at once cheaper and more flavorful than more naturally tender cuts. "Just butterflying the chicken breast (or using a scaloppine of veal or pork) will never get you one as tender as one that has been lovingly pounded," says ttoommyy.

"You can actually feel the tenderizing process of the meat as you pound," says jfood. But beware—it's messy! Use plastic wrap, or Alkapal offers this tip: "Pound the meat inside the heavy plastic sleeve left over from a box of breakfast cereal. I save mine for this very purpose."

Discuss: Question About Pounding

Sichuan Gourmet or Garden?

Brookline's Sichuan Gourmet and Sichuan Garden. Both in the same town. Both serving Sichuan. Both beloved. Dear God, which one do you choose? Depends on what you're in the mood to order. Here's what's best at each:

Sichuan Gourmet:
• Dan dan noodles
• Ma pa tofu
• Cold Sichuan noodles with chile-peanut sauce
• Any of the cumin dishes: cumin beef, cumin lamb, etc.

Sichuan Garden:
• Soups, particularly beef soup with noodles
• Rabbit in chile
• Chongqing chicken, dry-fried chicken with chile, found on the specials menu. Avoid the Chengdu chicken on the regular menu.
• Cauldron of spicy fish

And stick to the Sichuan dishes at both places. The Americanized Chinese food is terrible.

Sichuan Garden [South Shore]
295 Washington Street, Brookline
617-734-1870

Sichuan Gourmet [South Shore]
1004 Beacon Street, Brookline
617-277-4226

Discuss: Sichuan in Brookline: Garden or Gourmet?

Real Cajun Boudin Sausage, Fresh from the Source

Cajun boudin is a type of sausage traditionally made from a mixture of pork, rice, and seasonings, and it's "one of my all-time favorite comfort foods," says degustateur. "Cajun boudin is not readily found outside of Louisiana, its home state. Red boudin"—that is, boudin made with fresh pork blood—"is all but nonexistent, save for a very few sources."

That said, degustateur has had great success in getting Cajun boudin shipped fresh from Louisiana. In fact, the UPS store in Fayetteville, Louisiana, "will go to the source(s) and procure your boudin for you," says degustateur. Degustateur's favorite boudin—both red and white varieties—has come from Babineaux’s Slaughter House & Meat Market in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. "Babineaux’s boudin recipe follows age-old traditions and uses the various parts of the hog, including the head (temple, jowl), belly and liver, not just the butt or shoulder as many other current-day makers' recipes do," says degustateur. "This results in a very complex, deep, richly flavored umami unfamiliar to many people. Theirs is real, old-school boudin as it was meant to be."

Discuss: Cajun Boudin—What, Where, How

Tiki Cuisine

In most cuisines, authenticity is a watchword. Are the traditions of the cuisine being observed? However, in "tiki" cuisine, popular in the United States from the 1940s until the 1970s, the authentic was dispensed with in favor of the exotic.

"My experience—it was generally about the drinks," says applehome. The food—pupu platters over Sterno flames, cream-heavy oyster soup, and finger foods like coconut shrimp—was merely an accompaniment to the colorful, fruity cocktails. (See CHOW's recipes for tiki cocktails.) "In tiki restaurants, dinner itself played second fiddle to the drinks and pupu platter," says JK Grence the Cosmic Jester. "In general, food in tiki restaurants was a cross between Cantonese and American dishes. The dishes would be given a different name to make them sound more exotic."

"Bali Hai in San Diego has its Chicken of the Gods, Trader Vic's has Prawns San Francisco, Indonesian Rack of Lamb (which was enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth II at her first American restaurant luncheon in the mid-1980s), and Calcutta Curry ... but really, Vic's is known for mai tais, Don the Beachcomber for zombies, the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale for the Mystery Drink," says JK Grence the Cosmic Jester.

Discuss: In Search of Tiki Dishes

Post-Spill, Nola’s Chefs Take Stock

So, let's hypothetically say that you, a food-loving American, are insufficiently depressed about the massive BP oil spill that's devastating the Gulf of Mexico. Great news for you, then: an exquisitely detailed Times-Picayune story about how chefs in New Orleans are preparing for the possible extinction of their way of life. READ MORE

Overheard on the General Topics Board

"It is mostly made from milk, condensed milk, coconut, nuts, seeds, fruit ... and sugar, sugar, sugar. I don’t think I’ve seen any chocolate candy. Ironically, in this sugar-crazed country hot chocolate is served unsweetened." – rworange, on Guatemalan candy

"I picked up a jar of Larich's Bombili Dry Chilli Fish from Sri Lanka at India Sweets and Spices in Atwater. This stuff smells like feet and tastes absolutely delicious right out of the bottle." – brixton77

"Cook it up like polenta on your stovetop, taking caution to not make it very loose. Then, allow it to cool a bit in your serving bowl, and top it off with evoo, tomato sauce, or grated cheese of your choice. Be liberal with your salt if you can also ... you'll need it." – Cheese Boy, on what to do with fava-garbanzo flour