EVERY couple of years, we join a dozen or so other enthusiastic foodie-cyclists to pedal (and eat) our way across a section of Europe. So far we've cycled from Venice to Verona (past the Palladians), from Lyon to Dijon (past the fabled mustard shop), and throughout the Loire Valley (past the chateaux). If we were still in our teens, we'd strap on a backpack (or in this case, a bike-pack) and make our own way. These days we do it (in the style to which we have become accustomed) with a touring company that provides us with 21-speed bicycles, supplies allthe trappings, hands out daily route maps, books five-star hotels (villas, chateaux or palazzos) and carries our luggage from place to place. It also makes sure we'll be dining nightly in the finest restaurants in the region. It's a great way to appreciate the countryside, sample the best of the local cuisine and exercise it off the next day. (This is a truly guilt-free experience.) If it sounds like your kind of holiday, I recommend Travent. Fax (802) 244-6126 for a brochure. WHEN I was growing up in New York, Campbell's soup was on everyone's lips and so was its catchy jingle. The advertising may have gone through some changes over the years but the soup is just as delicious. Now it has been specially fresh-frozen for Oliver's, so it's well worth a try next time you feel like having a mug of nice, steaming hot tomato, chicken, mushroom or vegetable (there are seven varieties altogether). I MUST confess I am not a baker. All that nerve-racking precision measuring and split-second timing drives me crazy. On the other hand, many find the process immensely therapeutic and fling themselves into the dough-making ritual with abandon. For these avid kneaders, rollers and icers, The Confectioner in Kimberley Road, Kowloon, is a dream come true. It is the only one of its kind in the territory and is crammed with cake and chocolate moulds, baking pans, cookie cutters, all the trimmings required for decorating wedding, birthday and christening cakes, a wide range of square and round cake boards in gold or silver, a rainbow of icing colours and plenty more. And if you'd like to learn the highly-respected Wilton way of piping, marzipanning and painting on sugar or discover how to turn gumpaste into roses like a true professional, you can sign up for one of their classes. They're beginning just about now, so act fast as they tend to fill up quicker than you can say blancmange. Call 730-9306 or fax 730-8419 for details. HOW I developed into the innovative cook that I am, I just don't know. I certainly was not inspired by my mother's inventiveness - her spice cabinet ran the gamut from salt to pepper. I must have developed my more exotic tastes when I began traipsing round the world at 18. I was delighted by the new smells, flavours and concoctions I sampled along the way and couldn't wait to get home and whip up my own versions of moussaka, paella and pasta with pesto sauce. Here in Asia, the world is your spice market, full of such wonderful things as coconut milk, lemon grass, fresh ginger and aniseed. The best places to stock up on spices are the various little shops near street and indoor markets in North Point, Causeway Bay and Sai Kung. I frequent two in Wan Chai Road (numbers 1 and 37, just down the street from the wet market) and another in Peel Street, off Wellington Street, in Central. You can't miss them - the heady aroma pulls you in.