CHANGE was in the air. So was the noose of spiralling rents. Those make every independent restaurateur shudder, including Supatra. Rather than uproot her Lan Kwai Fong location, the feisty Thai restaurateur closed for six weeks and ploughed $1.5 million into renovation. The result was an expanded bar on the ground level with a new menu of Thai tapas, available anytime. ''I've always done well on the food side of business, so I decided to combine the bar with light food and snacks,'' she explained. Now patrons can swill Singha and nibble salads, satay, fried squid, dips and sticky rice treats. The more serious appetitescan go upstairs and be seated in what she describes as a classy Thai house with carvings, artefacts, and a balcony with plants and flowers. To enhance the bar area, she's added a recent purchase: a genuine long tail boat from Phuket. Installing the eight-metre vessel was a test of patience and friendship. It had to be cut in half then brought to the site when the move wouldn't obstruct traffic. ''It took eight of us. What an ordeal.'' Supatra's, 50 D'Aguilar Street. Tel: 522-5073. CONFUSED about Italian wines? Let the light shine in with a handy Guide to the DOC & DOCG Wines of Italy. The 31-page booklet, available free from the Italian Wine Association, even explains those acronyms. DOC means controlled denomination of origin; and the latter refers to a group of elite wines whose quality is guaranteed by the Italian government. The guide profiles the regions, offers maps, describes the characteristics of the wines and includes a glossary. For a copy, contact Ms Wendy Tam, c/o Italian Trade Commission. Tel, 846-6500; fax, 868-4779. NEED a hit of sassy seafood gumbo, dirty rice or chicken creole? Skip over to Causeway Bay. Just in time for Mardi Gras is the opening of Lori Granito's Cajun cooking school. The New Orleans-born caterer-turned-teacher offers classes and tasting dinners in her new space in Tang Fai Mansion, one block from Times Square. Scheduled for this evening is a four-course New Orleans dinner tasting for $275. Slated for next Tuesday is a demonstration class in Cajun classics such as shrimp remoulade, seafood bisque, jambalaya and creole pecan pralines. Course fee, including seasonings and recipes, is $300. Reservations are a must. For information contact Bayou Catering. Tel: 574-5046; fax, 574-5344. AND speaking of Mardi Gras, the Bostonian in the Hong Kong Renaissance Hotel is pulling out all the stops for their annual New Orleans Festival. The week-long fiesta begins February 21 and features specialities from famous New Orleans restaurants. Anyone for alligator fritters (the Cajun Cafe), seafood boil (Charley Jaegers Seafood House), and beignets (Cafe Du Monde)? The carnival peaks on February 25-26 with a costume party. For more information, contact The Bostonian at 375-1133, ext 2070. THE Hilton has a thing for dashing Frenchmen in toques and aprons. On the heels of last year's successful French master chefs promotion comes an encore. Chef Roland Mazere kicks off this year's series by strutting the cuisine of his native Perigord. If truffles and foie gras is your idea of heaven, grab your bib. Cooking got in the way of this aspiring rugby player. After he learned the basics from his mother who ran the family restaurant, Le Centenaire, he travelled around the country and apprenticed with such giants as Alain Sanderens, Bernard Doiseau and Joel Robuchon. Characteristics of the Mazere style - some call it a modernised ''Cuisine de la Grandmere'' - is the innovative use of regional treasures, truffles and foie gras. Trademark dishes include carpaccio of stag with spinach and minced truffles, roasted duck breast and goose liver in a pancake with cherry sauce, and black pudding of hare with pumpkin, foie gras and walnut oil. A set menu with five courses and four winesis available for $695. So is a la carte. The promotion runs until February 26 at the Hilton Grill. MORE is better, right? In the case of Hong Kong diners and the subject of brunch, you bet. In response to the ever-popular Sunday brunch, the Conrad hotel mixes the best of French cuisine from the Brasserie with Northern Italian from Nicholini's and offers Saturday brunch. The repast, including a glass of wine, is yours for $238 plus 10 per cent. THE Charterhouse doesn't claim to be a five-star hotel with a trendy location. But Stephane Masse and Uwe Lasczyk have dreamed up a reason for lovers of bistro-style French fare to make a detour to Wan Chai. The food and beverage manager and chef created ''Les Jeudis du Chef'', an ever-changing Thursday evening menu that roams the regional delights of France. For their kick-off menu recently the German-born Lasczyk created beef steak tartare, a creamy rich Normandy pea soup with a dash of cream, squab and lobster tail with fresh vegetables and vanilla iced souffle edged with chocolate shavings. Coffee or tea and petits fours are included. The set four-course dinner, which includes a complimentary glass of ''Lillet'', a popular French aperitif, costs $250. For more information and reservations, phone the Gazebo restaurant on 833-5566.