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

Pie Share: The New CSA

Are you one of those people who complain about not being able to finish all the vegetables you get in your CSA box? Well, maybe you should consider moving to the Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina and trading in your CSA for a CSP. That is, a Community Supported Pie. Phoebe Lawless, formerly of the famous Magnolia Grill, is now selling pies at her local farmers' markets under the name Scratch Seasonal Artisan Bakery. She's also letting people prepay for a month of weekly surprise pies, a.k.a. buy into the CSP.

I haven't tried the pies, but Michelle Polzine, the James Beard–nominated pastry chef from Range restaurant in San Francisco, was raving about Lawless's desserts. And the idea certainly sounds like a winner: For $60 a month, you get one large or three small pies each week for four weeks, sweet and savory. Past flavors have included Mexican chocolate chess, garlicky collard and apple-smoked bacon, farmhouse white bean and sage, and brown butter sugar pie. On Lawless's Twitter feed, she says she's making honeyed green garlic, strawberry rhubarb, and asparagus and local bacon. Sign me up!

Photo courtesy of Scratch Seasonal Artisan Bakery

How to Line Your Cake Pan with Parchment Paper

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The Basics: How to Make Skillet Cornbread

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The Best Rice Noodle Soup

Hengyang Chilli King is no more. In its place, there's Gui Lin Cuisine. It's exceptional, reports RedKris. "My wife is from Xuchang, Henan, not Guilin, but when we lived together in Henan and then Shanghai, rice noodle soups were always our favorite. Every time we traveled we always looked for little shops serving rice noodles—all over Henan, the greater Shanghai area, Guangzhou, Yunnan."

Upon ordering a bowl of suan ma la da chang me fen (a.k.a. special hot soup with pig intestines subbed for beef), "my wife announced it was the best rice noodle soup she had ever had. And I have to agree," says RedKris. They've been back six times in three weeks, and never been disappointed. Also excellent: shui zhu niu rou (water-cooked beef).

"All in all, the corner of Garvey and Garfield is now our favorite spot in California," says RedKris.

Gui Lin Cuisine (a.k.a. Qixing Guilen Mifen) [San Gabriel Valley]
138 E. Garvey Avenue, #C, Monterey Park
626-280-9818

Discuss: Hengyang Chilli King Is Gone; Gui Lin Cuisine Opens In Its Place

The Koreatown Beer Garden

"I love Korean food, and I love beer, and the two did not meet in the past," says keepon. That is, until Biergarten.

The food is Korean fusion, and good, says keepon. The Kogi-esque Korean taco is as one might hope: intensely seasoned beef, with just the right amount of spiciness and garnish. Their beer chicken has crispy skin and flavorful breast meat.

The highlight: the beer selection. You'll find the usual suspects, like Racer 5 IPO and Tripel Karmeliet, as well as three or four rotating taps, like a seasonal Gouden Carolus from Belgian Brewery Het Anker.

"Overall, the food is good—not earth-shattering good, but if you are looking for a place with good food and beer—or just a great beer—this is the place for you," says keepon.

Biergarten [Koreatown]
206 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles
323-466-4860

Discuss: Good food & Great Beer at K-town: Biergarten

This Just In: Sweet Rose Creamery

Sweet Rose Creamery is the newest creation of Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, the minds behind Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry. It opens Wednesday, May 12, but some Chowhounds wandered by while free samples were being handed out. "If the people-watching and the caramel ice cream with sea salt, chocolate fudge, and fresh whipped cream are any indication, that line isn't going away anytime soon," says cvc.

Sweet Rose Creamery [Westside - Beaches]
225 26th Street, Suite 51, Santa Monica
310-260-2663

Discuss: Sweet Rose Creamery – a mother's delight

The Much-Needed Bittman App

When a new home cook asks more experienced friends what's the one true cookbook to have within arm's reach, the answer is generally Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (that is, if it's not Cook's Illustrated's Best Recipe). But at 1,000-plus pages, that thing's a monster; a pain to lug around or to drag on and off the shelf. The new How to Cook Everything app is more like it. There are sensible browsing categories (most popular, quick dinners), and a simple search interface to help you paw through its 2,000 recipes. One neat feature: When you start on a recipe you can click to start a timer, great for absentminded and/or drunk cooks.

All the information for the app is stored on your phone. You needn't have a connection to access any of the information, a plus for those watching minutes.

How to Cook Everything, $4.99

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"I recently took a pickling class from the Chicks with Knives and I thought it was great." – mollyomormon

"I urge you to seek out bakeries around the Pedro area. The European immigrant communities still hold on to their cultures there." – bulavinaka

"I have to say that the story of Sergio's departure ... was a sickening blow to me. However, I have visited Chente twice subsequently and have found no decline in quality at all." – Ciao Bob, on Mariscos Chente Centinela

How to Build a Pancake Crane

Remember when you were little, and you'd ask your parents to make Mickey Mouse pancakes? Well, one little girl has a supercool dad who makes her pancake necklaces and pancake turtles, and even a pancake crane. Jimspancakes.com chronicles cool dad Jim and his pancake civil engineering feats. Watch him make a 3-D Golden Gate Bridge out of pancake! A giraffe! Follow his latest creations on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Jimspancakes.com

Touring Sunset Park by Wok and Steamer

There's a wok master in residence at Zheng Yuan Bao Gourmet. Jim Leff describes beautifully stir-fried chow rice noodles, balanced and deeply satisfying, from this tiny Fujianese-run spot in Sunset Park's Chinatown. Another knockout dish pairs perfectly cooked squid with slightly charred "Chinese New Year" rice cakes.

It's possible the master is not always in. hoi lai's rice cakes weren't at all charred, and much of his squid was rubbery. He did, however, enjoy the delicious clear broth that came free on the side. That may point to yet-unrevealed deliciousness in the menu's deep lineup of soups, which seem to be popular orders. For now, though, Jim strongly recommends anything out of the wok. "Even if you only hit the right guy at the right time one time out of three," he promises, "it's worth it."

Your odds of hitting the right guy are way better at a nearby street cart that peddles steamed-to-order cheung fun, the Cantonese-style rolled rice noodles. This one-man mobile kitchen ladles loose, watery batter into a shallow tray, sprinkles on your filling of choice (options include beef, pork, barbecued pork, dried shrimp, and egg), then slides it into the steamer box. It cooks for only a minute or two, setting just enough that the cook can nudge it into a rough roll with a plastic scraper, then cut it up and flip it into a takeout box. So it comes out warm and meltingly tender, the farthest thing from the thickish, gluey cheung fun that circle many dim sum dining halls in carts. Here it's finished with squirts of sweet soy and, if you like, peanut or hot sauce. Get all three, Jim urges: "Just keep nodding 'yes.'"

He also voices a resounding "yes" for the marvelous pork bao and vegetable bao at Happy House a few blocks north. hoi lai is sold on the pork version, a steamed bun enclosing flavorful meat in flavorful sauce.

And if you're still hungry, Amy Mintzer would like to put in a word for Family Dumpling on Seventh Avenue, whose dumplings are not universally beloved around here. But its scallion pancake is stellar, she swears: tender, light, crisp yet chewy. "Takes this simple snack to a new level," Amy declares.

Zheng Yuan Bao Gourmet [Sunset Park]
805 57th Street (near Eighth Avenue), Brooklyn
718-686-1663

Street vendor [Sunset Park]
Eighth Avenue and 61st Street, Brooklyn
No phone available

Happy House [Sunset Park]
5016 Eighth Avenue (between 50th and 51st streets), Brooklyn
718-871-8893

Family Dumpling [Sunset Park]
5602 Seventh Avenue (at 56th Street), Brooklyn
718-492-0686

Discuss: Zheng Yuan Bao Gournmet (sic) in Sunset Park Chinatown
Sunset Park Chinatown: "Rice Noodle" Dim Sum From Scratch