The winning combination

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 1995, 12:00am

GETTING a bottle of wine for $125 and a bite to eat for $30 in Central is like coming upon an oasis in a desert. Especially when it's in a high-maintenance wine bar that would look at home in any of the chic capitals of the world.

Finally open after lengthy construction works, La Bodega's new downstairs wine bar has one of the least expensive - and still credible - wine lists in the territory. A bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc, for instance, is $125, while a Spanish Rioja costs no more than $165. At least half the extensive list is available by the glass, including Dom Perignon which sells for $259 a glass.

The wine bar has its own tapas menu - each tiny dish is $30, and totally delicious. Full marks to the marinated feta cheese with herbs, the marinated artichoke hearts with extra virgin olive oil and herbs, and the olives. And while not everyone loves the spicy meatballs with smoked tomato sauce, they have their fans.

Taste of the future TECHNO-COOKS are the next big thing in kitchens. As how-to CDs nibble away at the cookery book market, computers are slowly taking their place among the chef's utensils.

While some of the programs available are still clumsy collections, one of the more popular cookery CDs includes 4 Paws of Crab, an interactive Thai cookbook on CD-ROM, which takes users through markets, recipes and history of Thailand. Another is Mangia, The Cook's Best Friend, which makes recipes 'intelligent'.

In addition to hundreds of recipes, the program will make shopping lists, adjust amounts and instructions for the number of guests, and print out keepsake menus. There are 20 different ways to search for dishes to cook, including by nationality and by the time they take to prepare. The best place to look for computer cookware is Windsor House in Causeway Bay.

When in Roma TONY Roma's is adding another rib to the Hong Kong food scene. The American franchise opens its second branch in the territory in the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay towards the end of this year. The new restaurant, which seats about 220 people, will be twice as big as its sister in Central.

This expansion is part of a broader Asian plan which will see the Tony Roma's name in lights on 17 venues in eight countries from China and Taiwan to Thailand and the Philippines. Shanghai is the latest city to sink its teeth into Tony's baby back ribs: a branch opened there last month. Next on the schedule are restaurants in Beijing, Guangzhou and Manila.

Getting a bad wrap BEWARE the crisp packet and the chocolate wrapper. Food authorities in England and the United States have warned that these may be partly responsible for the low sperm count in an increasing number of men. According to a report by the British Medical Council's Institute for Environment and Health, certain compounds called phthalates can leach from plastic wrappings and into foods such as cheese, meats, cakes, sandwiches and confectionery. Phthalates have been linked to low sperm counts and testicular cancer.