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Mouthing Off

Rhodes falls within these guidelines because she donates all the proceeds from her baking to her church (that makes it a "Special Food Service Event"), which she can document, and her cooking sessions average fewer than 52 times a year. "I don't bake every week," she says. "Sometimes I go for quite a while without getting a call, and then I'll get a bunch of calls, so I'll bake them all on the same day, sometimes from 3 a.m. until it's dark out."

This is the same health-department provision that makes it okay for churches and schools to have bake sales. Granted, that's not quite what Rhodes does--she even sells to restaurants--but the health department says she's within the law. "This woman is definitely close to the edge, but she's not going to get any trouble from us," says a Tri-County spokeswoman, who adds that she hopes Rhodes "maintains a clean kitchen so that no one gets sick."

Since I've seen Rhodes's kitchen and I've worked in quite a few restaurants--and have gotten food poisoning from review meals at least twelve times since I was hired as Westword's restaurant critic four years ago--I can say that I'd rather eat what comes out of her kitchen than out of anyone else's, including my own. And if you're wondering whether I still advocate buying cinnamon rolls from her, you bet your sweet buns I do.

Some of my correspondents are more succinct than Reder or his boss and less curious than Baldassanno. One recent e-mail, for example, tagged simply "You stink" and addressed to me via Westword, consisted of these five words: "Who would read this stuff?"

Well, apparently one Virginia Nichols, who used the Internet to greater advantage when she commented on last week's burger review, "Born to Bun."

"I enjoy reading your restaurant reviews," Nichols writes. "What I particularly enjoyed about your review of My Brother's Bar, however, was Q. Crutchfield's photo. I've lived here for nineteen years and have always heard about MBB's great burgers and classical music. As a mostly-vegetarian-some-fish-person, however, I never thought there was anything on the menu for me. Crutchfield's photo pictured Jim Karagas with the board menu, and my close inspection deciphered a very respectable selection for vegies! My burger-loving husband and I headed over for lunch the next day. We've now found another restaurant in which we can blissfully enjoy our favorite foods together. I took your suggestion and downed a few microbrews with my Ragin' Cajun grilled tuna sandwich and had a most relaxed afternoon.

"Again, thanks. If you ever want some feedback from mixed families (carnivores/carni-omnivores/omnivores), write to me. We love to eat out and do so several times a week."

Hey, I can use all the feedback I can get. Especially when it comes from someone like Nichols, who added this insightful P.S.: "I was dismayed by the negative responses received following your Barry Fey article ["Prime and Punishment," the Brook's Steak House review in the September 5 issue]. I was not at all offended by it, but then, I think the old F-word has a valid role to play in the English expression of language. I enjoyed your retort."

And I enjoy helping any readers bridge that vegie-carnivore gap in order to hold their marriages together. Although the vegie part rules out the foie gras at Tante Louise (see review, previous page), there are other options out there.

Including, for example, the non-meat dishes at the cozy Saucy Noodle restaurant, 727 South University Boulevard. Friends stopped in there last week for some cold-weather carbo-loading and found themselves making a surprise salute to comedian Morey Amsterdam, better known as gag-writer Buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Amsterstam died last week, but his memory lives on at the Saucy Noodle, in the form of a menu item called "Morey Amsterdam's fried ravioli." A $5.95 order of the appetizer--which has been on the menu almost as long as the three decades the eatery's been open--brought four of the big, cheese-stuffed pillows with a side of superb marinara sauce (red clam sauce is another option) that was just the thing for smothering the pasta...as well as drowning sorrows over losing a longtime TV icon.

Who's your Buddy?

--Kyle Wagner

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