Warning: Wet Work!

For most of us, last week's rain was just a downer; for Madison Park restaurant Sostanza, it was a catastrophe: Both floors of the back half of the building were flooded and require major reconstruction. The management is hoping to have the popular eatery back in commission by mid-September. We'll keep you posted. Loose lips sink drips Want a news outlet with an unusual take on this week's Republican National Convention? Forget CNN, Salon.com, and The New York Times: Look instead to Jim Romenesko's "Starbucks Gossip" blog, located at http://starbucksgossip.typepad.com, where a recent subject du jour was the possibility of an anarchist attack on Starbucks stores during the GOP convention. Since early August, Romenesko, who also manages a Web-based media watchdog called Poynter Online (www.poynter.org), has been filing daily reports on the world's most successful coffee retailer, which he cheekily dubs "America's favorite drug dealer." Romenesko frequently tackles the legal issues surrounding the company, including its unfriendly view of unionizing, its tendency to stamp out similarly named "competitors" through aggressive litigation (so long, Starbock beer!), and its slow but steady invasion of bookstores and airlines. After a few visits, you're hooked: "Starbucks Gossip" is almost as addictive as caffeine. You've been warned. Cheap is good Everybody in the wine world likes to complain about Wine Spectator, Marvin Shanken's glossy, big-format magazine that dominates mass-market wine judging. But nobody complains when the Spectator says something nice about them, and Washington winemakers have nothing to complain about in the current issue (dated Sept. 15). The magazine's tasters have selected 200 wines from round the world to nominate as "best values": 75 whites and 75 reds at $15 and under, plus 50 California reds under $20 (and just why does California get a price break? And why in their own little protected section? But there we go complaining again: back to the point). Thirteen Washington red wines made the cut, including Columbia Crest's '01 Two Vines syrah, which took top spot of all with 90 of 100 possible points. Not only that; 12 Washington whites also made the cut, for a total of one-sixth of the entire roster. Micro-managing As if you didn't have enough to worry about: Microwaving food is very energy-efficient-about five times more so than an ordinary oven-but if you use store-bought microwavable products, you may be taking unnecessary risks. Most any plastic container, and plastic film in particular, can leach poisonous dioxins when heated. Re-pot your frosty entrée into Pyrex or ceramic containers, no matter how mooshed up it makes the food look: Your body will thank you. (With a tip of the hat to the Sustainable Living column in the Fall 2004 issue of Yes!, Bainbridge Island's invaluable "journal of positive futures." Check out www.yesmagazine.org) Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

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