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TASTY THAI: So you want to learn to cook Thai food? Get started with a cooking kit from Thai Kitchen, an Oakland-based company that imports Thai cooking products to help take the mystery out of the cuisine. It contains the Thai Kitchen Cookbook, filled with 128 recipes (many appear quick and easy) and a 26-page glossary of Thai ingredients. Also included in the kit is an assortment of eight of the company's products, among them Pad Thai Noodles, Stir-Fry Rice Noodles, Jasmine Rice, Red Chili Dipping Sauce, Fish Sauce, Roasted Red Chili Paste, Green Curry Paste and Peanut Satay Sauce.

Advance preparation is the key to effortless Thai cooking, notes the book. Have vegetables and meats chopped and spices and sauces lined up in advance of cooking.

The kit is $34.94 (which includes UPS shipping charges and handling) and can be ordered by calling (800) 967-8424 or on the company's Web site

- Natalie Haughton

IT'S NEW: Joining the diet drink craze is Diet V8 Splash juice beverage, a line extension of the V8 Splash brand. The products are carrot and fruit-based - and give consumers fruity taste, low calories (they are sweetened with sucralose) and nutrition. Available in three flavors - Tropical Blend, Strawberry-Kiwi and Berry Blend - the juices are packaged in 16-ounce glass and 32-ounce plastic containers at suggested retail prices of 99 cents and $1.79 respectively. Each 8-ounce serving is 10 calories and provides 100 percent of RDA for vitamins A and C. For maximum flavor, serve chilled. You'll never know this is a diet drink. Tasters gave these drinks - with a good consistency - a thumbs up. (P.S. You don't taste the carrots.)

- Natalie Haughton

COCKTAILS, ANYONE?: We sure like the looks of this retro bar set. The 20-ounce shaker has recipes printed on it for eight classic cocktails, from the veteran Sidecar to the relative newcomer the Cosmopolitan. The cap that covers the built-in strainer doubles as a 3-ounce shot glass. Six rock glasses are ready for action in the stainless-steel carrier. The set costs $60 at Pottery Barn stores.

- Chicago Tribune

WINE OF THE WEEK: --1999 Trefethen Vineyards Napa Valley Dry Riesling; about $15. The riesling grape is making a comeback. Where has it been? Obscured by the flood of chardonnay that has flowed over the United States in recent years, that's where. Now, slowly, riesling once again is being accorded respect and being poured as an aperitif and an accompaniment to Asian and fusion fare and desserts.

How can one wine be so versatile? Riesling can be vinified in two distinct styles. Often you won't be sure whether the wine is dry or sweet until you taste it. But this wine, produced by Trefethen Vineyards in the Napa Valley, doesn't make you guess. The words ``dry riesling'' are printed on the label. In fact, this fresh-tasting, mildly spicy, green-gold tinted wine has the flavor of sweet ripe apples, just a ``kiss'' of sweetness, the producer says. Have a glass before a meal, then continue drinking it with mildly seasoned chicken or shellfish.

- William Rice

Chicago Tribune

FREEBIE: You won't believe the hundreds of ingenious household uses for vinegar in the Vinegar Book, published by Tightwad Living. You'll learn you can use vinegar as a stain remover, weed killer, dandruff shampoo, fabric softener, scouring powder and laundry softener. For a free copy of the booklet, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Vinegar Book, Box 629, Burgin, KY 40310.

- Wire Services

TRENDS: Heat and eat, shake and bake, a quick bite - that's what it's all about for more and more of us these days when it comes to home cooking. Forty-four percent of weekday meals are prepared in 40 minutes or less, according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. households reported in American Demographics magazine. And cleaning up and putting away the leftovers have moved into the fast lane, too. According to the NPD Group's Kitchen Audit, 85 percent of homes are stocked with paper plates, 95 percent have aluminum foil, and 89 percent have plastic sandwich bags.

- Wire Services

DINING OUT: The Napa Valley Grille's first Los Angeles-area restaurant has opened in Westwood Village.

This, the seventh Grille of a small, nationwide chain owned by Constellation Concepts, which also operates Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey, is located at the base of the renovated Westwood Center Building at 1100 Glendon Ave. This is the same building that formerly housed Monty's Steakhouse on its top floor.

With some 350 wines, all Californian and most from Napa Valley, and a menu of what it terms ``wine country cuisine,'' the new Grille promises dinner starters and salads priced from $5 to $16, pastas and entrees from $14 to $27 and a novel ``food and wine tasting'' prix-fixe arrangement of little plates combined with complementing wine options. There are six little plates listed, each proffered with a glass of a specific California wine. Diners may pick three of them with the wines for $20, three without the wines for $14, all six with the wines for $37, or all six without the wines for $25.

The restaurant also is serving lunch. The chef is Frank Fronda, brought in from the chain's Paramus, N.J., Grille location where he was executive chef for four years. Information and reservations: (310) 824-3322.

- Larry Lipson


3 photos

Photo: (1) no caption (THAI KITCHEN cooking kit)

(2) no caption (Diet V8 Splash)

(3) no caption (Retro bar set from Pottery Barn)
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 10, 2001
Previous Article:YOU DON'T NEED TO DIET.

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