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Loving Low Carb
If I were on a low-carb diet (a wild hypothetical), I would prostrate myself at the hoof of RioMar's Serrano ham as often as possible. The restaurant's (800 S. Peters St., 525-3474) new lunch tapas menu is a sushi-style checklist that you mark with a pencil. Two tapas make a comfortable lunch for one person; three is comfortably too much. The dark claret-colored, dry ham tastes rangy and wild, and its salt scathes the tongue, producing a sudden affection for Estrella Galicia lager. I can also recommend the chorizo from Catalan -- tangy, shot through with black peppercorn and chewy as if fighting back; and a lovely salad of mixed greens, cold-smoked, rare tuna and olives.

A New Low
Speaking of, but not necessarily advocating, the low-carb trend, The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (921 Canal St., 524-1331) is offering a Low Carb High Tea from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Lobby Lounge. The protein-rich menu includes mushrooms filled with fennel slaw, marinated fruits with cream, and peanut butter cookies. Call for reservations.

Egged On
Writers for whom eggplant is an eternal or occasional muse have until this Thursday to submit a piece for the Crescent City Farmers Market's first 'Aubergine Monologues.' Submissions should be 500 to 1,000 words, and selected works will be performed at the Thursday market (3700 Orleans Ave.) beginning at 5 p.m. on July 8. Email your eggplant ruminations to ecoinst@loyno.com. Call 861-5898 for more information.

Through the Grapevine
Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021) resumes its summer wine pairing dinners on Tuesday evening with five courses and wines from Cuvaison, a Napa Valley winery. The cost is $85. The next dinner, to take place on Tuesday, July 20, will feature wines from Swanson Vineyards. Reservations required.

Dad's Day
La Riviera (4506 Shores Drive, Metairie, 888-6238) will open this Sunday, Father's Day, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering three courses for $35. Diners may choose from a variety of appetizers, including crabmeat ravioli, turtle soup and crawfish spaghettini, and then move on to main courses such as osso buco, stuffed eggplant and softshell crab. A children's menu is available for $16.

Now Open
After teasing us with construction, signs and numerous opening dates, the fourth and slickest Pho Tau Bay is open at 216 N. Carrollton Ave. (485-7687) -- conveniently beside Angelo Brocato. I can say from experience that the banh mi thit nuong, a char-grilled pork, raw vegetable and housemade mayonnaise sandwich on French bread, is already up to speed.

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