Dish and friend walked into Carta at high noon a few Wednesdays ago and found the place virtually empty. Upside: It was easy to get a table. Downside: Empty restaurants can't stay open forever, and Carta isn't just any restaurant. It's a terrific place that every month offers a new menu from a different region of the world; the food is beautifully cooked and served for a very reasonable price. (The June menu features the cuisine of Burgundy, and the three-course lunch special is just $11.95, with no extra charge for sunshine and lively street traffic).
Where is everybody? Zuni? Carta's a better deal, and maybe just plain better.
Salt, suspected of contributing to hypertension, appears to be coming off the endangered-ingredients list. "Recent studies indicate that salt is not the villain it was once said to be," Suzanne Hamlin wrote in the New York Times on June 5.
More interesting is that per capita sodium consumption has remained constant in this decade -- about two teaspoons a day. This despite the proliferation of processed and fast foods. The body knows what it needs, and it needs a certain amount of salt, in whatever form. Diet fascists, take note.
Fighting for Oil?
The first shot has been fired in a legal battle over the labeling of boutique cooking oils. A few weeks ago, Napa Valley Kitchens, sellers of Consorzio oils, filed a trademark infringement claim against Cuisine Perel, a small San Rafael company that sells a similar product.
The issue isn't the similarity of the oils but of the labeling on the bottles. Both labels have a hand-lettered, Mediterranean look.
Still, says co-owner Leonardo Perel, "the use of a whimsical, handwritten label has been a trend for several years, as can be seen on many products in the marketplace."
He points out that the labels on Calphalon's line of cooking oils, as well as those on Coca-Cola's Fruitopia line of fruit drinks, resemble his own -- and Consorzio's.
"This whole thing is absurd," he says. "I am very surprised that a company would try to claim ownership of this large genre of style."
A Little Big Easy
If schlepping to New Orleans for Mardi Gras is too much, try schlepping to the Shoreline Amphitheater in Redwood City this weekend, where Bill Graham Presents is staging "New Orleans by the Bay." A big part of the festival is the food of the Big Easy, including such items as the crawfish taco and beignets with cafe au lait. Tickets are $12, available through BASS.
By Paul Reidinger
"A Little Big Easy" (Dish, June 19) should have indentified the Shoreline Amphitheater as being located in Mountain View.