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Midnight Express
(1212 Royal St., 587-7975) has been dark since part-owner Ruveyda Aydin shut it down a few weeks ago. She's hopeful that the Turkish restaurant will open elsewhere in the future, but for now her mother and sister, who formed the backbone of the family business, have returned to Turkey. "My mother has a husband back there, you know," Aydin says with a laugh. All is not lost for the quiet French Quarter space, as the owners of Bennachin (133 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-1313) are moving in soon. Even Aydin, who also runs Mona Lisa Restaurant next door with her brother, is looking forward to some West African food in the neighborhood. When I first called about Midnight Express as a disappointed customer, the man who answered the phone recommended a new Turkish restaurant in the French Quarter, Portofino (1140 Decatur St., 522-0406), opened by restaurateur Kursat Saatci, who used to own Mystic Cafe (3244 Magazine St., 895-7272).


Bearded Ones

They can't get enough of New Orleans chefs at the James Beard House in New York City. Last week, I reported on Victor's (Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, 921 Canal St, 524-1331) Chef Frank Brunacci's successful meal there in August; this week I learned about Rene Bajeaux's invitation to cook at the house on Wednesday, Sept. 18. Bajeaux, of Rene Bistrot (817 Common St., 412-2580), is stepping out of his traditional French mode to prepare dishes like alligator brochette sauce piquante and house-smoked bourbon-cured salmon with Louisiana crabmeat salad. James Beard, who died in 1985, is recognized as the father of American gastronomy.

Season's Greetings
It's A Season of Good Tastes again, which means that WYES-TV/Channel 12 has scheduled several wine dinners to be held between now and Dec. 11. Participating restaurants include Alex Patout's, The City Club, Chateaubriand, Belle Forche, Lafitte's Landing at Bittersweet Plantation, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Louis XVI Restaurant Francais, Rene Bistrot, Cafe Giovanni, Galatoire's, Indigo, Bourbon House and The Bistro at Maison de Ville. For reservations or information call 587-9427 or log on at www.wyes.org.


Market Watch
Chef Hosie Bourgeois of The French Table (3216 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 833-8108) will conduct a cooking demonstration at 11 a.m. at Tuesday's Crescent City Farmers Market; look for Kurtis Jantz of Chateau Sonesta (800 Iberville St., 586-0800) at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Tuesday market is at 200 Broadway St. and runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Saturday market is at 700 Magazine St. and runs from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 861-5898 or visit www.loyola.edu/ccfm.

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