If you find yourself dining out in Louisiana on New Year's Eve 2006, you could be in for a smoky, smoky evening as smokers enjoy their final, law-abiding restaurant cigarettes. That's because the following day, Jan. 1, 2007, a new state law will ban smoking in most work places, including restaurants. The measure was approved by state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Blanco in June. It applies to the bar areas of restaurants as well as dining rooms, though it exempts casinos and bars that are not classified as restaurants. The Louisiana Restaurant Association lobbied against the bill as it made its way through the Legislature, arguing that the restrictions on how restaurateurs operate their businesses would hurt restaurant development and also impact people who consider cigar or cigarette smoking a part of the dining experience. Individuals and employers caught violating the law would be subject to fines starting at $25 and climbing to $500 for subsequent violations.

A second serving of the wine shop Sip Wine (3143 Ponce de Leon St., 304-0635; is open along Esplanade Avenue, taking over the former Mid-City location of La Boulangerie bakery, which did not reopen after the storm. The first Sip Wine (3119 Magazine St., 894-7071; opened late in 2005, and this newest shop has the same format though a different owner, Beth Ribblett. Most of the selections are priced under $15 and are arranged by flavor profiles, so instead of browsing by growing region, shoppers find categories such as spicy, fruity, earthy or herbal. The store hosts free wine tastings every Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Tuesdays, beginning at 6:30 p.m., it hosts a $10 ÒSip and SpinÓ tasting event featuring six wines and music.

The Encyclopedic Folse
Louisiana food entrepreneur and chef John Folse ( is working with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to create 26 new episodes of the A Taste of Louisiana television series. The new program, titled Louisiana's Food Heritage: The Encyclopedia Series, is the companion to Folse's most recent cookbook, The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine. Episodes will be dedicated to each of the seven nations and cultures that most influenced Louisiana's cuisine, and other episodes will focus on Cajun and Creole cultures. Folse visits historic sites in the episodes, interviews Louisiana personalities and introduces recipes. The programs began taping in June and will be broadcast as a nationally syndicated PBS series beginning in the fall.

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