SECOND HELPINGS

On the Waterfront: A recent family trip north to Lake Powell met just about my every prevacation expectation: squabbling kids, expensive lodgings, gorgeous scenery.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the dining room at Wahweap Lodge, the lakefront hotel that was the jumping-off point for our excursions.

As a veteran of overpriced National Park hotel meals from Yosemite to Yellowstone, I don't have high gastronomic hopes for meals offered by Park Service concessionaires at our country's scenic spots.

Of course, it would take the culinary skills of a Vincent Guerithault or a Christopher Gross to keep your eyes completely off the view furnished by the good-looking Rainbow Room, the Wahweap Lodge's dining spot. On the other hand, the fare was surprisingly inventive. Perhaps the hordes of foreigners force the kitchen to keep up the standards. Maybe I was seduced by the setting or the dinnertime truce between the kids.

Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the meal. Entrees include a zippy chicken stuffed with chorizo and jalapeno jack cheese. Our littler carnivore demolished a hefty slab of beef tenderloin, moistened with a thyme-cabernet sauce. ("Why don't you make this at home, Daddy?") The other fledgling gourmet inhaled her prawns and fettuccine, burnished with a smoky marinara sauce. ("Can you make this at home, Dad?") And even my wife was impressed with the pinenut-crusted trout with shiitake mushrooms, drizzled in a champagne sauce. ("Why don't you make this at home, dear?")

Desserts range from a kid-friendly mud pie to a very satisfactory tiramisu. Ah, there's nothing like that tiramisu wilderness experience. And while hardly a bargain, meal prices seem fair. Entrees range from about $13 to $18. The alternatives to the Rainbow Room are not too savory. The town of Page is about a ten-minute drive away and offers every greasy fast-food outlet in the galaxy. Bon appātit!

Kid Stuff: Traveling with the savages, er, children, reinforced my belief that you can't start teaching mealtime etiquette too early. That's why I'm tempted to sign up mine at a couple of Valley classes for kids. On Saturday, June 10, at the Phoenician, Windows on the Green chef Robert McGrath will lead a kids' cooking class, followed by a sampling luncheon where he'll impart tips on manners. The class costs $45 per child, and requires the presence of an adult at $65.

Les Gourmettes Cooking School is also looking to civilize the younger generation. It's offering four-day classes, three hours a day, one for 5- to 8-year-olds, the other for kids 9 to 12. Led by instructors, the children spend the morning cooking, then eat their labors. The school also promises to cover topics like table manners, table settings and nutrition.

Sessions for 5- to 8-year-olds run June 19-22 or July 10-13. The older kids can sign up for either June 26-29 or July 17-20. The four-day workshop costs $125.

For more info, call the Phoenician at 423-2530 and Les Gourmettes at 991-7648.--

 
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