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Restaurant Notes : Real Food Factoids

RESTAURANT NOTEBOOK

January 11, 1987|COLMAN ANDREWS

It's a wild and wacky world we eat in. Consider, for example, these Strange but Extremely True food facts from the year gone by:

--Colorado biophysicist Larry Raymond has announced plans to construct geothermal feed lots for the fattening and purification of oysters, using pollution-free salt water--on the mountain slopes of Colorado! This will, of course, give the term "Rocky Mountain oysters" a whole new meaning.

The Olive Garden restaurant chain (whose nearest outpost is in the Sky Park Office Center in Torrance) unveiled a new low-priced, Italian-style pasta and sandwich menu, which they promised would be served with their own trademarked brand of Italianate warmth--"Hospitaliano." (If we don't eat \o7 too\f7 much, can we maybe get away with just a couple of Aspirinianos?)

The first L.A. edition of the Zagat Restaurant Survey (an experiment in populist criticism in which 1,400 lay diners prove that they can render judgments every bit as prejudiced and illogical as those of any single restaurant reviewer), revealed that a tiny 15-seat Franco-Japanese restaurant called Lyon, on First and Virgil, was the city's third-best French restaurant and had the fifth best food of any eating place in town--but that, at the same time, it was not among L.A.'s 40 most \o7 popular\f7 restaurants (though a dozen other French establishments, most of them obviously inferior by Zagat standards, \o7 were\f7 ).

A survey conducted by the Connecticut-based MRCA Information Services research firm suggests that the children of working mothers actually eat \o7 less\f7 so-called "junk food" than the offspring of full-time homemakers. Among other things, tots with stay-at-home moms consume 11% more pizza and 33% more cookies than their less-supervised counterparts, the study found.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, quintessentially American (and even sometimes \o7 Amurrican\f7 ) outfits if ever there were any, have all announced plans to actively pursue the fast-food ruble--to expand their enterprises, that is, into the Soviet Union. (Workers of the world, line up! You have nothing to gain but our chains!) Pizza Hut, owned by Pepsico (which has long had commercial relations with the Soviets, importing Stolichnaya vodka, among other things), is particularly ambitious, hoping to have at least 100 units open in the U.S.S.R. by 1990. Russian children whose mothers don't work are said to be particularly excited by the prospect.

WHAT'S COOKIN': La Toque, on Sunset, celebrates its occasionally annual Truffle Week tomorrow through the 17th--"occasionally annual," because last year the European truffle supply was too small to allow owner-chef Ken Frank the extravagance. He makes up for it this year with a different six-course menu every night (in addition to the regular offerings) featuring fresh black French truffles in every course--even dessert. The price is $70 per person. . . . An afternoon wine and food tasting, to benefit St. Clare's Family Care Center, will be held next Sunday at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach from 3 to 6. Tickets, sold in advance only, are $45 each. For information, call Lisa at (213) 540-8733 or Michael at (213) 540-1222. Participants will include Chaya Brasserie, Parkway Grill, Orleans, Magdalena's and the Ritz Cafe, plus the Ridge, Niebaum-Coppola, Phelps, Mondavi, Jordan, Chateau St. Jean and Pat Paulsen wineries--among many others. . . . A series of "Evenings with Chefs and Restaurateurs," a UCLA Extension program, begins Jan. 21 in Woodland Hills. Featured speakers will include Hans and Mary Rockenwagner of Rockenwagner in Venice, Patrick Jamon of Les Anges in Santa Monica, Tom Kaplan of Spago (he is general manager), restaurant critic Paul Wallach and others. Call (213) 206-8120 for details. . . . A program including dinner, dancing, and "Venice-style entertainment" (\o7 uh\f7 -oh) will be held Jan. 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Rebecca's and the West Beach Cafe, in Venice itself, to benefit the Venice Action Committee, dedicated to improving the community.

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