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MOUTHING OFF

Sometimes you feel like a Nut: The product Wheat Nuts ("the crunchy-good, nutty-tasting snack") crossed my desk last week, and, as always, I shared a jar with hungry co-workers. The response was unanimous: They taste like dry dog food. Further confirmation of this came from one five-and-a-half-year-old whose mother, a Westword colleague, took the Wheat Nuts home as a possible punishment measure (you know, an Oreo if they're good, Wheat Nuts if they're not). Without saying anything about the product one way or another, Mom asked the discerning youngster if he'd like to try a few. After chewing and swallowing, he looked up and said, "Ugh--this tastes like dog food."

Adding insult to injury, the strangely shaped snack items sport a fat content of 19 grams per serving, which comes out to about a third of a cup (somewhat surprising for a snack that's touted as a "wholesome" choice). Too bad another co-worker didn't realize this; although he didn't particularly like the Wheat Nuts, he finished most of one jar because he hadn't had any lunch.

A good product I tried recently was SchWings, a buffalo-style hot-wings sauce made in Colorado. If you don't feel like making your own, this is a good substitute--it's not too spicy, and it has a good garlic flavor to it. The label gives directions for both deep-frying and baking, but I've always had great success doing both together; deep-fry for seven minutes and then bake for fifteen. The skin gets a wonderful, crispy texture. Another already-prepared sauce that works well and packs quite a punch is the mixture of chiles pureed with garlic available under various brand names at most Asian markets.

Ch-ch-changes: Bourbon Street Original Pizza Bar has extended its menu, adding a slew of appetizers such as hot artichoke dip and a vegetarian pate of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and Greek olives. Given the adept combining of ingredients that owners Laura and Michael Brody have served up in the past in their delicious pizzas, I have high hopes for the new items...Peter Wolfgang Schlicht and Ernesto Spinelli are removing themselves from partnership with Larry Ciancia at Baci, in Genesee Park. Schlicht and chef Spinelli plan to open a Mediterranean-style Italian restaurant once they find the right location. No word yet on the new Baci chef...Cliff Young's has implemented its fall menu--most of the entrees cost more than $20, but there are three dishes at around $15. The one offering that really caught my eye, though, was the seared venison tenderloin with poblano chile and pumpkin for $21...Rick's Blue Water Grill, at 80 South Madison Street, will revamp its menu sometime in November. Look for a greater number of fresh seafood items, as well as lower prices, especially at lunch.

Wine news: You would think Tante Louise had Eric Clapton on the menu, their wine dinners sell out so fast. There are still a few seats left for the December 13 holiday bash with Bollinger. I went to a similar dinner at the restaurant last year and had a merry old time. The price is $100 per person for six wines and five courses. Call 355-4488.

 
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