Paint Pink, Eat Blue

•Blue Door's looking pretty golden: The Delano hotel restaurant will soon be debuting a little sister in New York at the Royalton, where Blue Door will replace the current 44. Indeed 44 is already serving the Baby Blue prix-fixe menu, so change is not only imminent, it's immediate, and The New York Times is taking note, featuring Baby Blue's crêpe passion in a dessert story this week. Meanwhile the South Beach staple has been growing hotter -- and colder. A brand-new, multistation, indoor-outdoor brunch offers items ranging from Blue Sea's innovative sushi products to lobster beignets to carved roasts. It's a grand amount of chow for $42 per head, but there is a champagne pain: The bubbles, which sell for $15 per pop -- and we do mean pop! (as in your budget) -- ain't included.

•Don't shed a tear for Michael McDonald, former top toque at erstwhile Sirena. The resourceful guy has landed himself in wine country, lucky dog, as the executive chef at the Sonoma Mission Inn, where his mission will be simple: Avoid AA.

Mary Brickell Village, how do we love thee? About as much as we love CocoWalk. The creators of the latter are in cahoots to build the former, which will be, according to press releases, "the next generation urban leisure and lifestyle center" complete with three restaurant tenants. Translation: chain stores, megastores, and interactive eateries. And that's if we're lucky.

•Take a gawk at this: Tantra has received a 2002 Wine Spectator award for its extensive wine program. It joins perennial winners like Smith & Wollensky and the Forge (which, by the way, is rumored to soon be undergoing a "modernization"). The restaurant will be listed in the August 2002 issue of the Spectator. And here we thought Tantra was only good for the palate-provoking rinse of Red Bull.

•So what exactly do pink flamingos and petit verdot have in common? Laura DePasquale. The sommelier-cum-artist teamed up with Christie Wolfe of Wolfe's Wine Shoppe to create "Crush," a seven-foot-tall, thirty-pound piece of potential poultry that puts Big Bird to shame. Crush, who is standing in a vat of grapes and painted with viniculturally correct vegetation, is part of an art project called "Flamingos in the Gables." Similar to the exhibit that brought cows to Chicago, Flamingos will be on view throughout Coral Gables from now till October. Then the birds'll be sold off to benefit Charlee Homes for Children, a nonprofit org for abused and abandoned kids. Just don't sidle too close to Crush lest his name prove to be something of an omen.

Kvetch: Speaking of birds, it's about time I flipped one. On my way to sample the new Mediterranean eatery Zba in Coral Gables (great paella, incidentally), I had the misfortune to drive by the Houston's on the corner of Ponce and Miracle Mile. I was promptly cut off by an inconsiderate valet who, once he realized he had trapped me in the right-hand lane with his borrowed vehicle, decided to stay half in and half out of the parking spot he was leaving and smirk at me. Once I had managed to change lanes, he pulled out completely just to taunt me. Not a good idea, buddy. Only moments later, as I was crossing the street on my green light, another Houston's valet blew the red light and almost ran me over. I'm not sure how the residents of the Gables feel about the congestion over at the ever-popular Houston's, but I'll tell you how I'm handling it: Next time I see a Houston's valet wheeling around town without thought or care for citizens and clients' cars, I go for my cell phone. And it won't be to call my mechanic.


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