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Redefining tapasIn Spain, tapas might be olives...


Redefining tapas

In Spain, tapas might be olives or cocktail sandwiches. In Baltimore, any appetizer portion of food served at a bar can be -- and increasingly is -- labeled tapas, from potato skins at Louie's Bookstore Cafe to a crab cake at Weber's on Boston. (You can also find traditional tapas at Spanish restaurants like La Cantina downtown.)

Don't be too fussy about definitions. Just enjoy the chance to try a little bit of this and a little bit of that with a glass of wine or a beer. As one customer said who had ordered several dishes from Weber's new tapas menu, "It's so cute! it looks like doll food!"

Catering connection

Linwood Dame, owner of Linwood's and Due, and Linda Brown, local caterer and dessert specialist, have made it official. Their new venture is Linwood's/Due Catering. Besides off-premises parties, they cater private lunches and Sunday brunches in Due's dining room, which is open for dinner only.

Hot, hot, hot

Fire eaters will appreciate the new guidebook to America's hottest restaurants, "Trail of Flame" (Ten Speed Press, $11.95). (By "hottest," of course, we mean spicy, not necessarily trendy.)

Author Jennifer Trainer Thompson's choices from Maryland -- limited to the Cultured Pearl, Sisson's and the Cottonwood in Bethesda -- will make you wonder just how complete a guide "Trail of Flame" really is. But it is a good read and will, at least, serve as a starting point for those who like their food hot, hot, hot.

Branching out

Tree's, a pretty Charles Village restaurant open for lunch only, is now available for private parties on evenings and weekends. Call (410) 727-2121 and ask about the six-course holiday dinner for $35 a person.

Bigger, wider, whiter

Does your favorite eating place serve its pastas in large white "entree" bowls? Then you know it's au courant. The nation's restaurants are infatuated with white tableware, according to Restaurants USA; and both larger plates and wider rims are on the increase. (Chefs have more space to work with, while customers feel they're getting more for their money.)

Why the continued love affair with white? It's versatile, goes with every decor and every arrangement of food and is often the least expensive choice. Just around the corner, though, is a more creative look -- decorated china, often in custom designs.

"Restaurants are getting away from the utilitarian and choosing the unique," says David Dowding, vice president of marketing for Sterling China Company.

Table Talk welcomes interesting tidbits of restaurant news. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, Table Talk, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.


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