Either way, you'll experience a restaurant intimately connected with a city and a community, and indifferent to the vagaries and vanities of buckwheat soba and truffle oil. Loretta's, perhaps more than any other restaurant in town, preserves an innocence about and comfort with food--it's a warp in the fabric of time, an oasis in time, with pie.


MARTINI: The sun sets somewhere over the Dakotas, the computers slowly boot down, and a young businessperson's thoughts turn to love and liquor. So they head to the upstairs bar at Linguini & Bob's (corner of First Avenue and 6th Street) where the Martini Hour has just debuted. For $7.50 you can get a sampler of three different martinis; or, if you don't want to mix, try one of their specialty martinis--like the Scotland Yard, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Glenlivet scotch, and lemon--for $2 off. Interesting, but how about a Martini-fest, in the tradition of those rib-fests that take over downtown every summer? Men in tuxedos, big plywood booths, sawdust on the ground, and finally the definitive answer as to whether Table of Contents, the Lounge, or Campiello (or now even Linguini & Bob's) makes the best.

FERIA DE ABRIL: In Seville, they think they have winter. To reward themselves for having survived it, those delusional Spaniards throw a giant party every April with parades, circuses, bullfights, flamenco bands, wine, sangria, and lots of outdoor paella cooking, in which the big, thick paella pans sizzle with saffron and garlic, and brim over with fresh seafood and vegetables. We actually have winter, and how do we celebrate? We get to park on both sides of residential streets. Celebrate cosmic injustice with a winter-friendly paella from Bon AppÈtit, May 1992:

Vegetable Paella

* 1/2 cup water

* 1/4 tsp. saffron threads

* 2 TB. olive oil

* 1 red bell pepper, diced

* 1 medium onion, diced

* 1/2 9-ounce package frozen
baby artichokes, thawed, quartered

* 2 large garlic cloves, minced

* 1 1/2 cups paella rice, Arborio rice,
or medium-grain white rice

* 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

* 2 cups chopped escarole or chard

* 1 cup drained canned ready-cut tomatoes

* 3/4 tsp. paprika

* 1/2 tsp. salt

* 1 15-ounce can cannellini
(white kidney beans), rinsed, drained

* 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen peas

Boil water, add saffron, let stand 10 minutes. Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion and sauté until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add artichokes and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Add chicken stock, escarole and tomatoes and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Add saffron water, paprika and salt.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Mix beans and peas into rice, cover and continue cooking mixture until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Per serving: calories, 320.49; fat, 6.29 g; sodium, 378 mg; cholesterol, 0 mg.

THE WRAP IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: High school kids in New York express their approval now by calling something wonderful "frapp," derived from Starbucks' Frappuccinos. So now you know the whole coffee thing's over. But the wrap thing's just begun. The concept is to take your general California Kitchen/Green Mill menu, serve it in a tortilla-derived substance, and voila, it's the sandwich you've been pining for. You say you can't wait? Mighty Wrapps is opening in Calhoun Square, and it's your source for foods from "one of the newest growth segments of the fast food industry!"--according to their press release. Look for the "Grilled Portobello Wrapp--featuring portobello mushrooms, leeks, carrots, garlic white bean puree, basmati rice, and fresh herb oil," or "Balsamic Roast Pork Wrapp--fusing roast pork, pinto beans, roasted sweet potato relish, and balsamic glaze." Roast pork fusion in Calhoun Square. That's just so frapp.

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