Son of a gun, we'll have some fun on the bayou

NEW Orleans brings out the worst in weak-willed gourmands. A food-lover's paradise, every stroll around the block is another reason to grab a bite.

The Creole and Cajun specialities from some of New Orleans' most famous temples will be easy to get this weekend. The Bostonian Restaurant in the Ramada Renaissance is celebrating Mardi Gras by pooling the best dishes from several Louisiana kitchens.

Try blackened prawns from Court of the Two Sisters, sausage and chicken jambalaya from Olde N'Awlins Cookery and seafood boil (crab, shrimps, crayfish, clams and mussels) from Charley Jaeger's Seafood House.

Top it off with pecan pie and cinnamon-flavoured coffee, spiked with brandy and curacao, known as cafe brulot around Brennan's. The beignets (feather-light square doughnuts) from the 80-year-old Cafe du Monde will also be there.

What will be missing is the mad dash to the airport in New Orleans where tradition dictates that warm beignets get stuffed in your face in the backseat of a taxi. The moustache of powdered sugar is a dead giveaway of good times of weekend debauchery.

The Mardi Gras menu is available on Friday and Saturday night. Set dinner costs $350. For reservations, call 375-1133. RAMADAN, the period of fasting for the Muslim world, is under way. And hundreds of religious are rejoicing around sunset at the Kowloon Mosque, Nathan Road. A dinner of congee curry and samosas, dates and fresh fruit is being served. Sunset determines the hour, usually 6.30pm (see Information).

CARDIOLOGISTS may shudder, but not dessert-lovers. What the French consider an ultimate temptation in desserts, creme brulee, is having its own promotion.

This sinfully rich predecessor of pot de creme reigns with its own menu at the Lobster Bar of the Island Shangri-La.

The baked custard that defies simplicity tests the skill of a pastry chef. Caramelising and glazing creme to the thinness of tissue-paper and the sheen of satin while achieving a look of barely burnt cream requires patience, not to mention baby-sitting.

Of the five flavours (ginger, orange, pear, mocha, the classic vanilla) created by chef Alain Guillet, the favourite in a recent tasting was the 20-year-old grande dame herself. At $45, she's still a wicked tart.

THE best part of being a cooking student at Portico Restaurant is finishing the homework. The chef Franz Kranzfelder offers hands-on cooking experience to small groups.

Menus are never repeated. Tomorrow it's seared ahi tuna, fresh buffalo mozzarella pizza, sorbets and lobster picatta milanese. The menu for March 5 revolves around smoked salmon, cajun fettuccine and grilled beef with porchini mushroom pesto.

Classes run from 3pm-6.30pm and end with dinner at 7pm. Space is limited. Cost per session is $500. Tel: 523-8893. Watch for several new restaurants opening in Lan Kwai Fong over the next few months.

Blowing in from the United States via Singapore is Tony Roma's, an American rib-house that equates chewy and juicy and life-giving portions with pleasure. Those who think Denmark is merely flaky pastry, herring and handsome hunks, will get a surprise or two from the Great Dane.

The delights of Lebanon _ puckery citrus flavours, fresh parsley, tonnes of garlic and lamb _ will perfume D'Aigular Street when Beirut arrives. Three chefs from Lebanon ensure it will be authentic. Still hungry? Sip and nibble from a continental menu atCafe Flip. MARK your calendar: the annual Hongkong Food Festival is March 12 to 28. The annual Wines of the Pacific Rim Fair with master classes will be at the Hotel Conrad, Saturday April 3.