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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

Beer Movies! (And Some Wine.)

We've seen a handful of interesting wine and beer documentaries popping up recently. First, there is Blood Into Wine, a film about the winemaking endeavor in Arizona of Maynard James Keenan (frontman of Tool, A Perfect Circle) premiering February 19 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Check out the website for info on screenings in other cities.) Keenan is infamously reclusive, and just the fact that he was open to having a documentary made about him is pretty interesting. He's apparently trying to bring recognition to Arizona's wine industry, and from the trailer, the movie looks pretty humorous.

Last week, a somewhat mysterious trailer for what looks to be a documentary on the late, great beer writer Michael Jackson, put together by the Wine Travelers, was posted on YouTube. There isn't much info on the film, other than a 2010 release date.

And finally, the folks at Stone Brewing have been releasing a series of videos about their travels in Europe and collaborations with Nøgne Ø in Norway and BrewDog in Scotland. So far the clips have been really fun to watch, with surprisingly high production values. There are four parts; here is number one. Check the Stone Brewing website for the other clips as they release them (part two is also out).

Thai Temple’s Bounteous Offerings

The food court at the San Bruno Thai Temple (officially known as Wat Buddhapradeep) has grown quite a bit in recent years, and there are plenty of delectable new options, observe hounds who checked it out recently.

Stewed pork leg is delicious, especially with the hoof, as recommended by the cook, susancinsf discovered. Gelatin and fatty skin really puts it over the top. Stir-fried radish cake with bean sprouts, soy dipping sauce, and chile sauce is also good; it's kind of bland without the sauce, but it grows on you.

Also new are steamed seafood in whole coconut shells, "boat noodle" soup served out of a real wooden boat, and curries: fish curry, pork and pig blood curry, and chicken and bamboo curry. The old standards of double-fried chicken (served with sticky rice and chile sauce), larb, green papaya salad pounded to order, and kanom krok (coconut pancakes) are great as always, says felice.

That kanom krok, a sort of sweet mini-taco, is made the proper way with two kinds of batter, notes Melanie Wong. And pork larb is transformed by slices of moist, perfectly cooked liver and "chitlins of the Lord."

Wat Buddhapradeep [Peninsula]
310 Poplar Avenue, San Bruno

Discuss: San Bruno Thai Temple - better than ever

How Do Lefties Peel Vegetables?

How Do Lefties Peel Vegetables?

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Easygoing Barbecue on Gator’s Back Porch

Gator's Back Porch BBQ rights the wrongs of the chef's other restaurant, Dollie Marie's, says lifelong Southerner and recent Bay Area transplant mikeh. Whereas Dollie Marie's is middle-of-the-road Southern food fancified with a nice atmosphere for a high price point, Back Porch offers "high-quality, from-scratch casual Southern barbecue and sides," at good prices.

The "back porch" is actually a tented area at the back of Dollie Marie's where the meats are smoked. These include chicken, honey-glazed brisket, leg of lamb, ribs, and hot links. That brisket is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the honey glaze is excellent, but it also reveals the kitchen's bias toward sweetness over smoke, mikeh says. Sides include red beans and rice, collard greens, mac ’n' cheese, pineapple coleslaw, and red potato salad. The collards are wonderfully silky, but the mac ’n' cheese is kinda flat.

Still, the brisket and collards are winners. Who knows, the Back Porch may eventually take over the whole restaurant. All meals come with cornbread: one meat for $10, two meats for $12, and three meats for $14.

Gator's Back Porch BBQ at Dollie Marie's [Peninsula]
1602 South El Camino Real, San Mateo

Discuss: Gator's Back Porch BBQ, San Mateo, CA - quite good for southern BBQ and sides in the Bay Area

Korean Fried Chicken, Crispy Hot or Cold

Crisp, juicy Korean fried chicken with a variety of sauces is the specialty at Coco Chicken, a new place in Fremont. It's very good stuff, says adrienne156.

Dine in and an order of chicken gets you an all-you-can-eat pass to the salad bar, a simple selection of iceberg lettuce and red cabbage, shredded carrots with raisins, canned corn, and crudites, plus a few Korean vegetable side dishes. Kimchee is available on request.

The chicken is impressively cooked, says adrienne, and its thin, crisp coating gets better as it cools slightly. It's undersalted, perhaps because it's typically served with your choice of five sauces, including a Korean red-pepper sauce with lots of honey, soy-garlic sauce, and honey mustard. The red-pepper and soy-garlic options are good, but the honey mustard lacks zing.

Chicken comes in small, medium, large or jumbo sizes; a large consists of eight drumsticks and four wings for $14.95. There's also bulgogi (beef, chicken, or pork) and kalbi (ribs), and sides of rice and French fries, and soda, beer, and soju to drink.

Coco Chicken [East Bay]
5010 Mowry Avenue, Fremont

Discuss: Coco Chicken (Korean Fried Chicken), Fremont

Chicken Chow Mein in the Raw

At Dragon River, the old-school "raw" chicken chow mein, fresh from the ferocious heat of the wok, is a delicious blast from the past, says yimster, making "the rest of meal pale in the glow of the chicken chow mein."

No, the chicken isn't actually raw. The name sang gai see chow mein in Cantonese just means that, before the chicken is added to the wok, it's raw instead of par-cooked.

Dragon River [Richmond District]
5045 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco


Discuss: Old school Raw Chicken Chow Mein

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"The last two courses (beef filet with truffles and mushrom tart, chocolate sponge cake with dark chocolate sphere, orange granita, candied orange, and chocolate chip ice cream) were the best, especially the beef." - dump123456789 on Baumé, a new molecular gastronomy restaurant in Palo Alto

"Sprinkled with sesame seeds and made with some whole wheat flour, the hot bread had a wonderful yeasty aroma mingled with a toasted nutty flavor and satisfying chewiness." - Melanie Wong on sangak, the Persian flatbread that is the specialty of the new Yeganeh Bakery

"I like their pizza better than Pizzaiolo's, I think their pan-regional style gives the kitchen more room to shine than Corso's Tuscan focus gives its cooks, and, while further research may be required to determine whether the cooking really has superseded Oliveto's, Dopo is indubitably more affordable." - Robert Lauriston on why Dopo is now his favorite Italian place in the East Bay

Pistachios Are Everywhere!

Pistachios have been showing up in desserts, encrusting fish, paired with meats, on top of salads, and even in cocktails at restaurants around the country. They make any dish taste meatier, they are pretty and green, and they are packed with vitamins.

Spotted at: Farm 255 restaurant in Athens, Georgia, in a pistachio Manhattan made with Dumante Verdenoce pistachio liqueur; in a pistachio frangipane (a pastry filling typically flavored with almonds) fig tart at New York City's Nougatine restaurant; in pistachio-crusted cod with cauliflower risotto and curry oil at Atlanta, Georgia's Canoe restaurant; and served with pork shoulder with chard, roses, and figs at Boulder, Colorado's Black Cat restaurant.

"The fig-rose combination is straight out of Persian cuisine, however it is a nontraditional use, as it is normally a dessert," says Eric Skokan, the chef at Black Cat. He makes what's known in Middle Eastern cuisine as a tarator sauce out of the pistachios to serve alongside the fruit-laced meat. It's a creamy dippin' sauce, normally made with tahini (not to be confused with tartar sauce).

Try one of's pistachio recipes.

Image source: Flickr member theogeo under Creative Commons

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