The Hot Sheet

What's in, what's fresh, what's cooking.

On the plate Brasa—A risotto laced with fresh baby peas and their vines in celebration of the season ($17); oven-roasted sweetbreads with leeks and pappardelle ($22) or braised venison with polenta ($23) if you pay more mind to the weather than the calendar. And sake wing piccata with arugula and pommes frites ($18) is suitable to any time of year. (728-4220) Szmania's—Chef Ludger Szmania is busy supervising construction of his new restaurant in downtown Kirkland, Szmania's Lake Street (due to open in mid-May), but that hasn't stopped him freshening up the menu at the Magnolia Bluff fixture that bears his name. Lobster chowder ($8) or grilled duck sausage ($9) make hearty intros to a light crab cake "souffl颠on baby greens ($18), or, for ampler appetites, Szmania's signature "hunter's schnitzel" ($19): breaded pork cutlet with mushroom sauce, red cabbage, and spaetzle. (284-7305) Lush Life—Just a simple roast half-chicken, you say? But rubbed with garlic, sage, rosemary, and lemon, with a side of polenta and charred chard, to die for ($15.95). Also new for spring: the penne tossed with asparagus, wild mushrooms, and prosciutto di Parma ($13.95, half-order $8.95). Dessert? Can you resist the house tiramis ($6)? (441-9842) In the glass Quilceda Creek Vintners—A favorite of wine guru Robert Parker, the cabernet sauvignon blend produced by the Golitzin family is always one of the most eagerly awaited of Washington reds. Parker awarded the '98 Quilceda vintage, due in stores May 1, a sizzling 95-97 points. The 2,500 cases of the current vintage are sure to sell out promptly, so if your purse can tolerate the expected $65-a-bottle tab, you might want to sign up with your wine merchant now. (You lucky folk on the Quilceda mailing list can also order the '98 merlot now, $56 per bottle, six bottle minimum.) Coming up 4/21—As prologue to Sunday's mega-event Taste Washington!, Esquin Wine merchants are hosting a tasting of premium Washington wines by top makers; present to talk about their products will be noted independent Mike Januik, the legendary Doug McRae, Brian Carter of Washington Hills, and others. Tasting 1 to 4 p.m.; call 682-7374. 4/24—From noon to 2, meet travel-cookbook author Susan Hermann Loomis and sample a buffet luncheon inspired by dishes from her memoir of a stay in France, including the signature dessert memorialized in the title of her latest book, On rue Tatin. Setting: the desperately French bistro Le Pichet (1933 First). The price: $50, which includes a signed copy of On rue Tatin, a $24 value. Information and reservations: 443-4703. 5/1—Ken Sharp of El Gaucho crafts a three-station buffet to set off the noble quaffs of top California winery Beringer. Among the foods to be sampled, "wicked shrimp" and tuna tartare complement the Napa Valley chardonnay and the Knights Valley blend called Alluvium; a north coast pinot noir and the Knights Valley cabernet/El Gaucho are served with roast beef, house p⴩, and other dainties. With dessert, sample Beringer's famous "cabernet port." Event hours 5:30-7:30, price $35. Call 728-1337.

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