Or, you can get an Izzy pop, an Izzy dipped in hard chocolate, speared on a stick. Izzy pops ($1.27 for one, or a platter of 25 for $25,) are perfect: Hammel and Sommers skipped the standard tasteless chocolate-dip stuff in favor of developing their own enrobing chocolate. They were helped along by much-adored local chocolatier B.T. McElrath, and these little ice-cream bonbons on sticks are, well, frankly, you know, they're bonbons. Roughly translated, they're a double-good. They're good-goods. As far as I know, a year ago there were no locally made ice-cream bonbons in town, and now there are.

What did I tell you? Life is sweet and, apparently, getting sweeter. Meet you on the porch?

TABLEHOPPING:

Tony Nelson

MARSEILLES BOUILLABAISSE: My prize for the most incompetently hacked-up dish in recent memory goes to bouillabaisse. I have had frankly frightening versions over the past few months at La Fougasse, Red Fish Blue, and Zinc. I must admit it crossed my mind a few times in my travails that there is one authentically Marseillaise chef in town who might be pressured into making this authentically Marseillaise seafood stew, namely the Loring Cafe's Patrick Atanalian. Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought so. "Oh, I have a friend who always bugs me," Atanalian confessed in a recent phone interview, sounding harried indeed. "I always say I won't do it. I say no, no, no! Finally, I give up. I say fine."

And so, starting the second week of June, real bouillabaisse can finally be yours. "It is the real thing," says Atanalian, "The recipe has been in my family for a long, long time, and you know I already had a hard time getting them to give it to me. My great, great, great-grandmother gave the recipe to my dad, but my dad wouldn't give it to me. I had to ask my mom. I think I better do it right, or else I get 86ed from the family."

The reason you can't have the bouillabaisse until the second week in June is that Atanalian will be home in Marseilles for an early summer vacation and serious cook-off. "We have a challenge in the house every four years when we get together, me and my dad, a cooking challenge, it is going to be interesting!" At that Atanalian breaks into the kind of manic laughter that makes me think this cooking challenge may well be a cooking challenge to the death. But I hope not. Because I'd like to get one decent bouillabaisse in this town. Atanalian's bouillabaisse must be ordered 48 hours in advance and costs $70 for two people, including salads and desserts. Loring Cafe, 1624 Harmon Pl., Minneapolis; (612) 332-1617.

DISCUSSION TOPIC: THE 1950s So, why are the Fifties the one decade that gets official restaurant theming rights? There are a couple of them in town, including downtown St. Paul's Heartbreaker and Midway's Andy's Grill. But a recent visit to the 50's Grill in Brooklyn Center really brought the question to the fore for me. I mean, the place is staffed by teenagers in poodle skirts. What could poodle skirts and saddle shoes possibly mean to people born in 1985? And why do the 1950s get imbued with some mystical air of innocent purity? When I look around the walls of the 50's Grill, plastered with big black-and-white posters of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and James Dean, all I think of is misery, drug abuse, and intentional or accidental suicide. Logically, I know that all these places are basically holdovers from a late 1970s wave of nostalgia for the 1950s--think the movie Grease and the sitcom Happy Days. But it's now. Why are they still here? Is it just stubborn, stubborn boomer nostalgia? If you know, please write in and tell me.

And here's an even more frightening thought: If boomers are nostalgic for the 1950s because it was the magical period of their preadolescence, does that mean that echo boomers will be nostalgic for the 1990s, and we're all doomed to a coming wave of restaurants where servers with enormous pants strapped around their thighs serve chicken fingers under full-color blow-ups of the Spice Girls? Break into groups and discuss.

Or go to the 50's Grill for more concrete evidence. When I was there, I had some really marvelous homemade pie, a good old-fashioned phosphate (that's a soda, kids), a caesar salad that was as goopy and flavorless as any I've ever had, and the worst, driest pot roast in memory. 50's Grill: 5524 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Center; (763) 560-4947.

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