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Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.

Vodka Swims with the Salmon

The plucky little Alaskan town of Wasilla has already given us Sarah Palin. So you might say—please, Wasilla. You've contributed the best you have to offer. You've changed the national discourse forever. Take a rest. But no, the town keeps on plucking forward, offering up smoked-salmon-flavored vodka. "Madness" and "drunkenness" were cited as factors in the new vodka's heave-bucket-assisted development process, which seems about right. It took 48 attempts to hit the right notes, a series of efforts that involved a complicated and somewhat revolting process of marrying (real) fish to booze.


Easy-Growing Miniature Butter Lettuce

Granted, this may be an odd time of the year to write about lettuce seeds, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I am so stoked on how well a variety of butterhead lettuce called Tom Thumb is performing in my garden boxes. It produces tiny, fist-sized versions of butter lettuce, and because it's a miniature variety it matures in only about 30 days. The size makes it an ideal container-gardening crop; it really doesn't need a lot of room to grow, and it's just about the ideal portion for a single serving of salad per head.


No Poker Face for Miss Gla’Gla

Ice cream sandwiches are not a uniquely American treat. They’re eaten in various forms in Australia, Scotland, and even Singapore, where the ice cream might be sandwiched between actual slices of bread. (CHOW recently made more traditional ones: the Snickerdoodle and the Double Chocolate Fudgy.)


Smoke Signals

Imparting meat and other foods with a smoked flavor generally requires either a backyard grill (and a backyard to put it in) or some kind of enormous metal object you don't have room to store in your apartment cupboards. READ MORE

Quinine Your (Apéritif) Wine

Ironically, the most interesting thing I tried at the San Francisco Bay Ministry of Rum Festival in Oakland Sunday wasn't rum. Instead, it was two relatively new (to the U.S. at least) apéritif wines from rare-spirit resuscitator/importer Eric Seed's Haus Alpenz company. The first, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, is a style called quinquina. Bonal has been produced in France since 1865, and like vermouth, it's an herb-infused wine, but in this case, it also gets a dose of gentian and cinchona (a.k.a. quinine, the stuff that gives tonic water its bitter flavor), so it tastes a little sweet up front then finishes pleasantly bitter and dry. READ MORE

Sushi-Making Has Never Been So Nerve-Wracking

Pull a card, make the piece of sushi pictured, and serve it oh so carefully onto the table. But if your piece is the one that makes the table pop and send all the sushi flying, you lose! And the other players get to point at you and giggle over your poor sushi-making skills. Perhaps you will have to write them a letter of apology. And then it will be put into your permanent file, and all future employers will see it and assign you the desk closest to the office microwave where everyone makes their popcorn. READ MORE

Colored Cauliflower Is All Over the Place

Purple, orange, and green cauliflower has been around for some time—some of you may remember feeling a flutter of fractal-geek adoration for romanesco broccoli in the '90s—but it's been more of a fancy gourmet-store thing you buy for a dinner party. But now grocery store cauliflower brand Andy Boy has come out with three gorgeous colored cauliflower varieties, available at many grocery store chains for prices hovering around $2 a head.


Recipe Linens Clean Up Again

A post on the Food Section praising an apron printed with cooking reference material (printed upside down, for easy reading!) brought back childhood memories of the tea towels printed with line art and recipes that were popular during the ’70s. Why, a kitchen wasn't a kitchen without a giant wooden fork and spoon hanging over the table and a bunch of recipe tea towels over by the cabinets. Etsy is lousy with vintage ones (search "recipe" and "towel"), but just in case you're hankering for a towel without someone else's coffee stains on it, Australian company MOZI sells groovy new tea towels with recipes on them.

The hot cross buns towel is all sold out, but hey, the fish pie towel is still available!

MOZI recipe tea towels, $20 Australian

6 Fruit Beers That You Can Take Seriously

Fruit beer doesn't get much respect because most of it is awful: sweet, syrupy, artificially flavored, and tasting more like cherry soda than beer. We went digging—scouring BeerAdvocate, asking beer-geek friends and beer-store owners—and then lined up a tasting of the recommended brews. Of them, these are the six that CHOW editors thought were the best summer drinkers, in no real order. Many of them are sour styles, which is good insurance against cloying sugariness—the yeast has already taken care of the sugar. Some of these beers are available at bigger chains like BevMo!; for others, you'll have to go to your local specialty beer store. READ MORE

Honey Still Hot from the Hive

Marshall's Farm, a honey producer just outside of Napa, California, makes my go-to honey, an affordable and smooth one called S.F. Bay Area Beekeeper's Blend. It's not as obtrusive as, say, a tupelo or fireweed honey, it's just a nice medium-spicy but subtle honey that goes well with a variety of foods. But when I was picking up a few jars of the Beekeeper's Blend at the farmers' market the other day, the honey merchant gave me a little spoonful of a new variety: Honey-So-Fresh. It's guaranteed to be no more than a week out of the hive when shipped to you (or presented on a spoon by a cheerful apiarist at a farmers' market). You can taste that freshness, a floral, buzzy, ethereal party on your tongue. And you should.

Honey-So-Fresh, $10