Sizzling hot: Bay Area chefs and diners rediscover the irresistible appeal of fried chicken by Amanda Byrne: "The weird thing about chicken at Town Hall is that I couldn't sell it before," says chef-partner Mitchell Rosenthal. "Then I put this fried chicken on the menu, and now I sell upwards of 35 orders a night." Really thorough article that manages to also be mouth-watering—I'm having fried chicken for lunch today as a result! There are great tips at the end on frying chicken plus four recipes, in case you'd like to make your own, and also a selected listing of SF Bay Area restaurants that serve fried chicken.

Other highlights:

Marlene Sorosky Gray, on how real maple syrup isn't just for pancakes: "May Lawrence, chef-owner of Lure in San Mateo, grew up in Canada, where 80 percent of the world's maple syrup is produced. "Maple syrup is underused in this country," she says. "When I think about my childhood, we used to pour it over ice and eat it like snow cones." She cooks with maple syrup because, she says, it has a distinct, powerful flavor without being too heavy, as in a sauce for sweet potato gnocchi. She makes the sauce by slowly reducing maple syrup with milk for at least an hour until it becomes rich and thick, then seasons it with garlic and marjoram, pours it over the gnocchi and tops it with shavings of aged manchego cheese." People, please stop using the high-fructose corn syrup abomination that is "pancake syrup" and start using maple syrup, it tastes so much better and it doesn't cost that much more. Trader Joe's Organic is a good one to start with.

Tara Duggan goes mushroom hunting: "During porcini season, Bay Area chefs such as Todd Humphries of Martini House in St. Helena might drive several hours up the coast to collect mushrooms with him. In 2004, Hunter estimates that his land yielded 200-300 pounds of porcini. During a good season, he says, "On the walk between my house and my car, I can pick enough mushrooms to put them in a special at the restaurant."

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