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FOOD STUFF

Serving Pastrami and Smoke to a Rye-Proud Town

By FLORENCE FABRICANT

Published: April 6, 2005

Paul Kirk, a barbecue expert, teacher and author from Kansas City, Mo., has chosen New York as the site of his first barbecue restaurant. Called R.U.B. (for Righteous Urban Barbecue), it is at 208 West 23rd Street; (212) 524-4300. Mr. Kirk, right, was persuaded to come here by an ex-student, Andrew Fischel, who wanted to open a restaurant and is now his partner.

R.U.B. takes on a distinctly New York flavor with its succulent pepper-cured smoked pastrami, infused with hickory in the big red smoker it shares with St. Louis ribs, baby backs, whole briskets, pork shoulders, chickens and Sichuan-style ducks. Prices range from $9.75 to $25.

Midtown Pacifier: Tea and Scones

Sheltered from the bustle of Midtown on the mezzanine of the City Club Hotel, 55 West 44th Street, is a quiet escape: a complete tea service. Tracy Stern, who runs what she calls Salon Tea as a concession, offers six themed tea blends. Among them, the Artist is a Ceylon tea, and the Society Hostess is a decaffeinated vanilla-scented China black. The Romantic, a green tea with jasmine, suited me fine. Ms. Stern serves them with a copious assortment of scones, tea sandwiches and pastries prepared by Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne in the hotel. Tea is offered from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The price is $32, and the serving can be shared; an extra pot of tea is $8. Reservations: (212) 398-1323. Ms. Stern's teas are also sold at the hotel and at www.salonteas.com.

An International Incident: American Brie Wins

A California triple-crème pasteurized Brie-style cheese that breaks many rules of the best French Bries won the top cheese award last month at the International Food and Drink Exhibition, a trade show in London. The winner, Rouge et Noir Brie from Marin French Cheese in Petaluma, beat out the French cheeses even though it is very small - a mere eight ounces - compared with classic wheels of Brie, which are a foot across and weigh about five pounds. Rouge et Noir also has more butterfat than the French cheese. But its mushroomy aroma is on the money, and when ripe, the cheese is nicely satiny and nutty tasting. It can be ordered from www.marinfrenchcheese.com at $37 for three wheels, including shipping. And for serving, this clever beechwood cheese board will gladly show off whatever cheese you have, though it begs for Emmenthal. It is $45 at the MoMA Design Store, www.momastore.com or (800) 447-6662.

Two Accents, Speaking In Unison

It was inevitable: olive oil seasoned with wasabi, crossing the Mediterranean with Japan. Tokyo Kaneku, a Japanese company that has grown and processed wasabi for 100 years, has introduced a Spanish extra virgin olive oil with a gentle kick from wasabi leaves.

The wasabi and the oil are in fine harmony; you taste both after spooning the herb-flecked drops on grilled fish or dressing a seafood salad or even a seafood risotto with it. A bottle of about 10 ounces is $15, and about 3 ounces is $10 (both plus shipping), from (908) 351-1433.

A more intense wasabi flavor swaggers from Boyajian's wasabi oil, using a base of neutral canola oil. It's better as a cooking ingredient - to season a marinade, a sauce or a stir-fry - than as a finishing oil. Whole Foods, Citarella, Agata & Valentina and Gourmet Garage sell it for about $5 for 8 ounces. From www.boyajianinc.com it is $4.85 plus shipping.

Off the Menu

Mauro Mafrici, who went from chef's jobs at Felidia and I Trulli to open Lo Scalco in TriBeCa, now also has a role at Savore, 200 Spring Street (Sullivan Street). Boutique del Vino, a wine bar and cafe, will open in its back room on Friday with lots of quartinos, or eight-ounce carafes. There is light food, often with three preparations of one ingredient, like tuna, on the plate; (212) 431-1212.

When Winzlet and Donna Clayton took over Wimps, a bakery at 29 West 125th Street owned by Mr. Clayton's mother, they kept the Southern goodies and whipped cream cakes downstairs but added Wimps Sky Cafe and Martini Bar on the balcony. It features favorites like crab cakes and rack of lamb, with Caribbean and Southern garnishes prepared by Stephanie Blades. The Key lime martini is dessert in a glass; (212) 410-2296.

The refurbished Leaping Frog Café in the Central Park Zoo has opened with a menu with zero-trans-fat fries and many organic foods. Danny Meyer's Shake Shack in Madison Square Park has reopened, and next month Tom Colicchio's 'Wichcraft sandwich chain will open in the four food kiosks in Bryant Park.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company