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MOST TALKED-ABOUT FISH RESTAURANT IN PARIS Long noted for the excellence of its stylish fish restaurants, Paris has turned its attention from such enduring favorites as Prunier-Traktir, La Marée, Le Duc and Le Bernardin. Most highly touted this year was Le Divellec. In the marine blue and white setting, classic seafood dishes such as soupe de poisson (the fish soup of Provence), and gratin de morue (creamed and baked codfish) are as well turned out as the inventive terrine of foie gras inset with crayfish and the turbot nestled on noodles tinted with squid ink so that they resemble ribbons of truffles. The delectable desserts are the creations of freckle-faced Lydie Bonneau, 20, a master at miniature pastries and preserves.
BRIGHTEST STARS OVER ITALY For the first time in history, the Guide Michelin bestowed a three-star constellation on a restaurant in Italy. Happily star-struck is Gualtiero Marchesi, a Milan temple of nuova cucina dishes. Thoroughly modern, Marchesi favors original sculptures instead of flowers as table centerpieces. Some of the best efforts by Marchesi, 55, the owner-chef, are "open" ravioli--spinach and egg pasta--layered with seafood in a white wine cream sauce, sautéed filets of sole in black truffle sauce, rare roast lamb with rosemary and jewel-like fruit sherbets. The most serious connoisseurs of Italy's new cooking might balk at the Michelin choice, favoring the extraordinary San Domenico restaurant in Imola, near Bologna, but clearly this year belongs to Marchesi.
BEST NEWS FOR WOULD-BE COOKS VCR knobs and dials may soon be sticky with egg and butter thumb-prints, just as pages of cookbooks used to be, as video cooking cassettes gain in popularity. For beginners, try the no-frills, clear and enticing Classic Cooking Made Easy (Barron's). For sophisticates there is Julia Child's The Way to Cook (Knopf) or The Master Cooking Course with Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey (MCA Home Video). For sheer spectacle watch the magical pastamaking episode in A Guide to Italian Cooking with Giuliano Bugialli (Videocraft Classics).
MOST REVOLTING FOOD IDEA In her Good Food Book, Jane Brody explains how she gets a healthful breakfast when traveling without having to order it from room service: "I may even make a doggie bag of an in-flight meal that seemed edible and nutritious but was served at a time I was not ready to eat (the air-sickness bag, believe it or not, is a handy waterproof container)." Believe it or not. --By Mimi Sheraton