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King for a Day
Keep this in your cap for Carnival season next year: Randazzo's Bakery won an online king cake poll conducted by e-Logan Internet Marketing, receiving 42 percent of the 350 votes submitted. More specifically, voters favored plain king cakes; cream cheese filling weighed in at second place. In my king cake rounds this year, I found the best one at Wal-Mart (1501 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 366-5585) of all places. The cake was moist, the cream cheese was gooey but not over-powering, and the icing was neither cloying nor that odd, artificial minty flavor.

Solo Flight
Call 885-1831 to reserve a seat for the Single Gourmet dinner at Hyde Park Grille (1525 St. Charles Ave., 586-1525) on Friday, March 15. The $52 price tag includes live entertainment in the piano bar. Members of the local chapter recently voted Le Parvenu (509 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 471-0534) the best overall restaurant for single gourmet-ing in 2001.

The Kitchen Is Open
In the interest of accommodating a loyal clientele, including service industry folks who often have Sundays and Mondays off, Dante's Kitchen (736 Dante St., 861-3121) is now open seven days a week. Dueling sous chefs hired to assist Chef Emmanuel Loubier lighten the load. Joe Sterling joins Dante's team after stints at Commander's Palace, Victor's and Martin Wine Cellar, while Ryan Knight is a Grill Room alum.

Market Watch
If you're not a regular at the Crescent City Farmers Market on Tuesdays, Tommie Maras might change your ways. The wife of Gerard Maras, chef at Gerard's Downtown (500 St. Charles Ave., 592-0200) and Artesia Manor (21516 Hwy. 36, Abita Springs, 985-892-1662), Tommie sells sprouts grown at the Maras Farm in Franklinton. These are not the tired punishments of vegetarian restaurant sandwiches; these are radish, alfalfa, clover, sunflower, mung bean and adzuki bean sprouts, along with pea shoots, that would only be fresher if you grew them at home. She also sells peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds plumped in water overnight so that they double in size and gain the hollow consistency of a macadamia nut (this technique maximizes the nuts' protein -- I'll let her explain). The nuts and sprouts both make fabulous snacks tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and coarse salt. The Tuesday market has moved to the Leake Avenue side of Uptown Square, at 200 Broadway St.; it runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- Roahen

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