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

A World of Flavor in a Tiny Jellybean

"Sifting through the detritus of Easter, I recently stumbled upon an almost empty box of gourmet Jelly Belly jellybeans," says guttergourmet. "Like Horton discovering Whoville, I found a world of flavor in a single tiny ignored jellybean—the chili mango."

Chili Mango Jelly Belly jellybeans are made with mango juice, cayenne pepper, and paprika; "the tiny pale orange orb is laced with barely visible red threads of pepper," says guttergourmet. "A single bean takes you on a veritable LSD trip as you place it on your tongue. Indian, Thai, and Latin-American flavors swirl in your head as the sweet juice battles the peppery heat while your brain attempts to make sense out of it all. Whew. I can hardly wait to receive my 1-pound mail order from Jelly Belly."

Discuss: Chili Mango Jelly Belly Jelly Beans

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"I think it's a fluke—a chile-lime almond that doesn't taste like paint thinner and hate? I grabbed a bag and did not heed the suggested serving size." – Boccone Dolce, on Planters Flavor Grove Chili Lime Almonds

"Does anyone make a better bacon-flavored chip than Old Dutch? Nay!" – mcglutton

"Nuts Online has two varieties of Turkish pistachios: Antep and Siirt. I have tried both and prefer the Antep. Anteps are the Kumamoto of the pistachio family—super concentrated pistachio goodness in a tiny package." – CDouglas

Mastering the Art of Simpsons Cooking

Squid Ink, the food-and-drink blog from alternative newspaper LA Weekly, has a funny little post, "Top 10 Simpsons Food References," that may bring some misty water-colored memories to mind. Who could ever forget the all-syrup Squishee incident that caused Milhouse and Bart to go crazy, Broadway style?

But LA Weekly forgot a couple of the most memorable moments, such as the Treehouse of Horror, where the cash-strapped elementary school turned to cannibalism:

I like my burgers made out of circus animals, with a little filler.

To Cheat an Immigrant

Anyone who dines out knows on some level that his or her meal was most likely prepared in part or in whole by recent immigrants. Tom Colicchio, while accepting his Beard award last week, thanked the immigrants who work in America's kitchens. He noted that without them, "we wouldn't have a [food] industry." Anthony Bourdain has explored the topic on a number of occasions, perhaps never more skillfully than in his No Reservations episode focused on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On that front, a terrific essay from Minnesota-based chef Marianne Miller tells a small story with a big point. In it, she recounts confronting a restaurant owner about systematically cheating an employee out of wages by doctoring timecards and an employee who was fired after he complained about the situation.


Overheard on the Boston Boards

"Tavern at the End of the World's fish and chips are very good. Also really good curry sauce." – phatchris

"My current favorite for shrimp scampi pizza is Artu in the North End. Crust is perfectly thin, scampi has plenty of garlic with just the right amount of cheese, and the shrimp is never overcooked." – Pegmeister

"The veggie burger at the Druid in Inman Square (Cambridge) is good enough that I often order it instead of their beef burger, which I think is the best hamburger in the city." – hckybg

Finger-Lickin’ Eggs

Open since April, Russell House Tavern is from the same minds that brought you Grafton Street, Redline, and Temple Bar, and it's offering even tastier upscale new American goodness. Brunch is particularly choice.

"Gastropubby food, very good, and good prices," says MC Slim JB. "It's big and busy and loud, with a lot of TV screens all over (odd), and I'm not sure it's ever much fun to be in the company of big parties of drunken B-school students, but I think it's very promising."

Orders that might make you agree:

• The EBLT—egg, bacon, cheese, and lettuce: "The egg was perfectly cooked and still runny, which combined with the juices of the tomato and the mayo for a perfect sauce for the bacon, lettuce, and melted cheddar," says PatsMoose. "I will dream about this sandwich every morning."

• The crab cake sandwich, served on soft ciabatta, with spicy aioli. Make sure to sub in hash browns for the forgettable fries; they're shredded and well-seasoned.

• Crispy poached egg with house pancetta, toasted brioche, and pecorino aioli, "fantastic to the point that we were rubbing fingers on the plate for one last taste," says Gabatta.

• Dirty Caesar with anchovy croutons and parsley

• Pork trio of loin, belly, and shoulder with tasty grits and vinegar sauce

Drinks are good, too, with Chowhound-recommended house cocktails including the Harvard Yard, the Scottish Play, and the Battle of Trafalgar. There's also house-made spiced rum and cask-conditioned ales.

Russell House Tavern [Cambridge]
14 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge

Discuss: Unbelieveable Brunch at Russell House Tavern

Toast Your Vegan Friends in Style

Pulse Cafe, a vegan spot in Davis Square with a healthy selection of gluten-free menu items, hasn't been getting unqualified raves on the boards. Service can be a bit chaotic and slow, the kitchen repeatedly runs out of favorite dishes, and some diners complain that the soup isn't up to snuff. But there's wonderful stuff here, for omnivores and the meatless alike.

Start with the mushroom calamari: "delicious, crispy, flavorful, just the right texture," says Christie. "Eat it while it's hot, though; it gets less tasty as it cools down!" Salads are "huge, fresh, and delicious," says Bob Dobalina.

After that, move on to the maple-glazed tempeh Reuben, recommended by multiple hounds: "The bread had great rye flavor, and I found that it was hearty enough (and it tastes just as good for lunch today)," says Christie. The jerk chicken tempeh (in fact, any of the tempeh dishes) and the vegetarian lasagna are other fine orders.

For dessert, the chocolate truffles were "rather amazing," says yarm, and Pulse runs out of its apple crumb cake every night, it's so good.

Pulse Cafe [North of Boston]
195 Elm Street, Somerville

Discuss: New vegan rest. Davis Sq opens 2/2

Where to Buy Your Burger Meat

Though there are threads and discussions galore on best burgers, typhoonfish is in search of something different: raw meat to be cooked at home.

Hound favorites include:

• Sulmona Meat Market, which "cuts off a piece of chuck" and grinds it to order, "unless you ask them to grind something else," says 9lives.

• Roche Bros' 85 percent lean ground chuck: "It's magical. I don't know why it's so good or so much better than 85 percent ground chuck anywhere else, but it is," says Eatin in Woostah. It's on sale for $1.99 a pound each Friday.

• Tony's Market in Roslindale Square: "The texture is wonderful, the flavor amazing, and even if you cook it to a full medium/medium-well (not even a blush of pink in the center, which I consider a fine medium), it still retains its juiciness," says devilham.

Sulmona Meat Market [North End]
32 Parmenter Street, Boston

Roche Bros Supermarket [North of Boston]
34 Cambridge Street, Burlington

Tony's Market [Roslindale]
4253 Washington Street, Boston

Discuss: Another Burger Thread...Best of the Retail?

Deal-Breaker Foods

I once had a friend who swore that if he was dating a woman and saw the soundtrack to The Big Chill in her record collection, he would break up with her. Music snobs can be cruel. But what about food snobs? Are there certain food habits or dining experiences that would be romantic deal-breakers for those among us who have strong opinions about local/seasonal/sustainable/artisanal?


Backyard Chickens Are a Money Suck

If you're thinking of putting some chickens in your backyard, don't count on breaking even on them unless you can come up with half their food for free. Writing for the new website Good Eater Collaborative, Joshua Levin does a hard-core cost analysis (with graphs!) of his two-bird flock. READ MORE