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EspaNOLA
Over the summer, the Texas-based Omni Hotels company sent 50 of its chefs to Spain to study the cuisine and wines of the Castilla y Leon region in conjunction with the Spanish Trade Commission. The fruit of that program is on display for a limited time locally at the Rib Room in the Omni Royal Orleans (621 St. Louis St., 529-7045; www.omnihotels.com). From now through the end of January, Rib Room chef Anthony Spizale is serving special Spanish menus in addition to the restaurantÕs traditional offerings. The menus offer breakfast items like tortilla Espanola, a variety of tapas and Spanish cheeses and entrees including roasted duck with figs in syrup and sesame seeds or pan-seared cod with roasted vegetables and Iberico pine nut vinaigrette. The restaurant is also serving a variety of Spanish wines. For those who really want to make a day of it, the Omni is promoting a ÒFestive Flavors of SpainÓ package that includes Spanish cooking lessons in the restaurantÕs kitchen along with breakfast, lunch, dinner and a room for the night. In addition, the hotel is working with the nonprofit hospitality training program at CafŽ Reconcile (1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 568-1157; www.cafereconcile.com) to introduce those students to Spanish foods and techniques.

Char-broiling by the Riverside
DragoÕs Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (3232 N. Arnoult St., Metairie, 888-9524; www.dragosrestaurant.com) announced plans to open a second restaurant on the ground floor of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside (2 Poydras St., 561-0500; www.hilton.com) early in 2007. The plans call for a very large restaurant with 382 seats that features the same menu of charbroiled oysters, lobster and other seafood dishes as the original in Fat City. DragoÕs owner Tommy Cvitanovich, whose parents Drago and Klara formed the restaurant in 1970, recently won the 2006 Restaurant Neighbor Award from the National Restaurant Association for his service to the community after Hurricane Katrina.

Down the Hatch Ê
The third Thursday of November each year marks the official release of FranceÕs Beaujolais Nouveau, the red wine famous for its short shelf life and fruity flavor. The local chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (www.faccla.com) continues a tradition of celebrating the wine with its 10th annual Beaujolais Nouveau Festival to be held Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel (300 Bourbon St., 586-0300; www.sonesta.com) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The party will feature Beaujolais Nouveau, of course, along with other wines and food from many of the areaÕs French bistros and other restaurants. The band VaVaVoom will perform and there will be auctions throughout the night. Tickets are $75 and are available through the French chamber. Call 561-0070 or e-mail info@faccla.com

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