Just Tasting

Janine Stein

The latest seduction AN orgy of ice-cream, sorbet, fresh fruit, cakes and pastries, the sexiest dessert in town at the moment doesn't even have a name. Regulars at La Bodega, which serves the sweet, just call it 'The Platter'.

Tailored according to the number of people at the table and their tastes, the platter may include any or all of four sorbets (including one made with cava, the Spanish sparkling wine), white chocolate flourless cake, dark chocolate and hazelnut flourless cake, strawberries, grapes, and a nut pie that Jack Nicholson would die for. Orange passion fruit heads the ice-cream list, which also features pistachio, catalan (figs, dates, raisins, mixed nuts) and espresso.

Topping the confectionary delight are long, thin Spanish churros with a touch of orange zest and nutmeg, and shards of chocolate.

All Thai-ed up THERE'S only one place (apart from the highly innovative Wyndham Street Thai) for really upmarket Thai food - the Mandarin Oriental's annual Thai Festival. Four chefs from The Oriental hotel in Bangkok will be serving up the spread at this year's special, which runs at the Clipper Lounge and the Coffee Shop from June 26 to July 8. The Clipper Lounge buffet, available from noon to 2.30pm daily (except Sunday), costs $328.In for a dry spell CALIFORNIAN wine prices are set to soar. Although harvests in 1993 and 1994 dropped up to 10 per cent, demand has continued to rise - pushing up the price of grapes from the better vineyards by 20 per cent.

According to the latest issue of Gourmet magazine, the hottest tipple is Merlot, whose price has almost doubled.

But Hong Kong drinkers don't have to start saving their pennies just yet. According to Remy Fine Wines, 1993 was not a particularly good year quality-wise, and demand is not expected to be high.

Fans of Californian wine are advised to stick to the better labels from 1991, the most in demand being the Chardonnays and the Cabernet Sauvignons.

Sound bites DANCE with Dorothy over the rainbow, sing in the rain with Gene Kelly . . . enter another theme restaurant chain, the Dream Factory, that makes culinary use of moviedom. The first $5-million, 500-seat outlet - a venture of media mogul Ted Turner - will be launched in London's West End next year. Expansion plans are already afoot, although there is no indication yet of when the classic movie concept is to join Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Cafe in Hong Kong.

The London restaurant will be divided into sections resembling sound stages from some of Hollywood's greatest movies ever, including gems from Turner's 4,000-title library such as Casablanca, Singing in the Rain, Jailhouse Rock, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz.

Menus will reflect the theme of each stage, from the grandeur of Tara to munchkins fun food in Emerald City.Tang's for memory RESTAURANT heavyweight Sherman Tang is rolling into Graffiti. Tang, who just opened hotspot Sherman's Bar & Grill a few doors down, has bought a share in Graffiti and will play a major role in its revamp at the end of summer. Changes are happening already, the first being the search for a new general manager to replace Andie Miller-Chan, who had steered the Lan Kwai Fong veteran for about two years.