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Consuming Tennessee
In honor of the playwright's devotion to Southern food and drink, this week's Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is marked by several degustory events. Area restaurants, for example, are "Dining Out with Tennessee," offering special menus, cocktails and restaurant-based literary happenings. At Restaurant August (299-9777), John Besh is reenacting the salmon loaf mentioned in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with a smoked salmon and crab salad served with gazpacho. Diners may request one of three private Cheater's Booths named "Stella!", "Blanche" and "Stanley" after A Streetcar Named Desire at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel's Victor's (524-1331). Along with Williams-inspired menus offered throughout the week, Marisol (943-1912) is hosting an evening of readings from the author's works on Monday, March 25. A free buffet will augment the cash bar. Dave Favret, owner of Quarter Scene Restaurant (522-6533), artist John Lawson and curator David Rubin of the Contemporary Arts Center have organized the first annual Tennessee Williams Visual Arts Exhibition. Original works will be on view at Quarter Scene, one of Williams' former haunts, March 20-April 20. Additional restaurants serving menus honoring the playwright include Arnaud's (523-5433), The Bistro at Maison de Ville (528-9206), Brennan's (525-9711), Chateau Sonesta Hotel's Clock Bar (586-0800), Cobalt (565-5595), Crescent City Brewhouse (522-0571), Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (522-2467), Dominique's (522-8800), The Ritz-Carlton Hotel's French Quarter Bar (524-1331), Grill Room (522-1992), Gumbo Shop (525-1486), Herbsaint (524-4114), Maison Bleu (571-7500), Muriel's Jackson Square (568-1885), Palace Cafe (523-1661), Peristyle (593-9535), Red Fish Grill (598-1200), Stella! (587-0091) and Upperline (891-9822).

On Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel (621 St. Louis St.), a cocktail-oriented panel discussion called "I'll Drink to That!" will precede the festival's annual New Orleans Cooks & Books book signing and tasting. William Grimes of The New York Times, Michael Green of Gourmet magazine, Kerri McCaffety, author of The Obituary Cocktail, and local oenophile Dorian Bennett compose the panel's star-studded team. The $25 admission fee gets you into both the discussion and the book signing/tasting, which features literary and edible wares from many area chefs and food-related organizations.

And if those happenings only whet your appetite, think about signing up for McCaffety's $20 tour of French Quarter bars (offered at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday) or Green's wine tasting, "Tennessee Sips: A Wine & Word Pairing." The $25 tasting is slated for 5 p.m. Saturday at Brennan's Restaurant.

Be sure to plan ahead for all of the festival's culinary events. Call individual restaurants for reservations; to purchase tickets, go to www.tennesseewilliams.net or call TicketWeb at (800) 965-4827 or 299-TWEB. -- Roahen

Got a tip for Food News? A question? A complaint? E-mail me at sara_roahen@yahoo.com.

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