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

The Flavor of Apricot Pits

The typical dried apricot, as greygarious understands it, is halved and has its pit removed before drying. Slip-pit apricots are dried with their pits in; then the pits are removed. But once in a while, a lucky and resourceful Chowhound can find dried apricots that still have their pits in them. greygarious had some of those recently; "I found that the pit-ins were spectacular, imbued with a stronger oaky, amaretto flavor than the slip-pits," says greygarious.

Vetter also loves the flavor of apricot pits. "I still have a whole bag of apricot pits in my freezer from last summer—I was going to make ice cream with them," says Vetter. "I better get on that!"

Note: Apricot pits do contain some cyanide; eat at your own risk.

Discuss: Speakeasy apricots

My Experiment Throwing a Potluck for Total Strangers

By Iso Rabins

Iso Rabins of forageSF is guest blogging for us every once in a while. Read his last post on foraging for mussels. Follow him on Twitter @forageSF. Read his blog at at

A few weeks ago I decided to throw a potluck because I wanted to meet the people on my 11,000-person email list. I talk a lot about building community through food and figured a potluck is the perfect way to bring people together. READ MORE

A Skilletful of Fried Apples

Chowhounds from outside the American South are surprised and intrigued by the dish of fried apples. vafarmwife likes to fry them and serve them on biscuits. "I usually use the early harvest apples and fry them in my cast iron skillet with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Good eatin'," she says. LauraGrace likes them over grits with a little cream. It's "dessert you can justifiably eat for breakfast," she says. "To me 'fried apples' is a side dish I could find at Cracker Barrel or a barbecue joint," says bluemoon4515. "Although I've never been served them as part of a home-cooked meal here, I can't remember even seeing them on a menu anywhere else."

ChrisOC even found some canned fried apples at an outlet store. But the first ingredient was high-fructose corn syrup, unfortunately. All the more reason to fry your own!

Discuss: Fried apples?

10 Summer Grilling Gadgets

10 Summer Grilling Gadgets

New toys to help you play with fire. READ MORE

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"Back in Norway, it would be pickled herring for breakfast, open-face shrimp sandwiches (rekker smorbrod) for lunch, and either pan-fried cod tongues and cheeks, baked salmon stuffed with chanterelles, or a reindeer roast for supper." – Passadumkeg, on a hypothetical day of regional eating

"After I slice up a rare London broil, I put it on a new plate, then I make sure no one is looking, and drink up all the blood directly from the other plate." – michele cindy, on secret food behavior

"I'm with you and Chowser—there's nothing I like more than a nice big fat cherry or 200, raw, so as to take advantage of the seasonal wonderfulness. My favorite cocktail is a glass of tequila with a bunch of pitted ripe cherries thrown in, warmed a little in the microwave to convince the cherries to give up some color and juice." – EWSflash

Toscanini’s Flavor Party

As the weather heats up, the discussion of ice cream on the boards also undergoes a warming trend. This week a discussion of the best flavors at out-of-this-world ice cream shop Toscanini's produced some drool-worthy candidates:

• B3, brown sugar, brownies, and brown sugar: "What an amazing collection of flavors and textures in Toscanini's perfectly creamy base!" says calisson, who went ahead and gilded that lily by pouring a wee bit of fleur de sel on the cream. "Heaven improved," she notes.
• Butter chip; simple, but with wonderful flavor, notes voodoocheese.
• Saffron: "I have been dreaming about it ever since," says idealist.
• Butter pistachio, "like butter pecan except with pistachios. Divine," says heypielady.

Toscanini's [Cambridge]
899 Main Street, Cambridge

Discuss: Toscanini's B3 ice cream

Your New Falafel Fix

The Lebanese stylings of Garlic 'n Lemons, a new (as of April) place in Allston, are fine enough to have Allstonian declare, "This place is a gem." And how does Allstonian love Garlic n' Lemons? Let us count the ways.

Roll-up chicken shawarma, upgraded to better bread for a buck, was the best Allstonian's companion had ever eaten. Jallab, a drink made with a syrup of dates, grape molasses, and rosewater, was "very tasty," and baklava was "fresh and buttery and blessedly NOT tooth-achingly sweet." lmuller adds that the rice and lentils and tabouleh "tasted just like gramma's!"

Garlic 'n Lemons [Allston]
133 Harvard Avenue, Boston

Discuss: Garlic n' Lemons

Numb with Pleasure

The former Chef Chang's in Brookline is now the third link in the Sichuan Gourmet chain, joining locations in Billerica and Framingham. Early reports say that many of the same dishes that are good in the older locations are good in Brookline.

Reliable orders:

• Double-bacon, soft, not crisp, fatty pork belly.
• Dried chicken with chiles, "small crispy fried bits, like popcorn chicken," says nightsky.
• Old Sichuan chicken, which is much like the dried chicken, but with more chicken.
• Cumin lamb or beef, which is spicy but not hot, for the chile-impaired.
• Shredded pork with fresh bamboo shoots.
• Chicken, fish, or beef with napa cabbage.
• Hot and sour wonton soup, "NOT the normal hot and sour," advises hargau.

And at all costs avoid the Americanized Chinese side of the menu and order only Sichuan dishes.

Sichuan Gourmet [South Shore]
1004 Beacon Street, Brookline

Discuss: Sichuan Gourmet: Lucky Brookline

Magic Herbal Healing Beers

Go to a liquor store with a good craft beer selection, and you’ll see ingredients like chamomile, lemongrass, honey, black pepper, and even bananas challenging the standard formula of barley, hops, and yeast. But today’s creative brewers are hardly breaking new ground. Many of them were inspired by a book not well known outside the beer geek world: Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner. Published in 1998, it details beer’s 30,000-year history as an amazingly flexible and experimental beverage used in both ritual and recreation. We caught up with Buhner on the phone from his home in rural southern New Mexico, to find out how he thinks the craft beer industry has evolved—or not—since his seminal book was published.


Overheard on the Boston Boards

"Their dough is made from rice flour and tapioca starch, for crispiness, and it really is crispy; you wouldn't guess." - galleygirl, on gluten-free pizza at Stone Hearth

"I was at Gargoyles asking for anything in a cocktail glass that a pregnant lady could drink so as to feel included and the waiter was like 'Oh, you mean a preggertini.' I hope it comes into wider parlance and I'll do my best over the next 6 mos." - Parsnipity

"The migas are so delicious! All their breakfast sandwiches are so good. That place is a real gem and I love supporting them b/c they're also really nice people." - lypp on migas at Mike and Patty's