The 411

Yes, that was us (the New Times group) crashing the 944 party last week at Christopher's Fermier and Brasserie. 944 is a new magazine that, as far as I can figure, celebrates breast implants. It's a glossy four-color thing plush with photos of drunken women hanging out (literally) in the Valley's trendy nightclubs. There's an article or two in there as well, but who's got time to read when there are so many happening hot spots to visit -- and plastic surgery appointments to keep?

But we snagged our 944 wristband just the same -- it entitled us to free alcohol -- and mingled with young, fresh, cheerful drunks. The party was just more proof that chef Christopher Gross, while entirely serious with his French cuisine, thoroughly supports his silly side (he and partner Paola Gross contribute to the magazine).

C'est la Vincent's: Vincent Guerithault has converted the front dining room of his Vincent's on Camelback into a lounge, complete with cushy sofas, and from now on, this will be one of my top picks for relaxing with a glass of Pinot Grigio, "Maso Canali," Ecco Domani, Trentino, Italy '00. I always love Vincent's food but sometimes just want a snack -- now it's easy to stop in for just a nibble.

And what a nibble. There's a new menu to go along with the new look (lots of stone walls), with both a classic offering of signature dishes and a nouveau menu featuring changing creations. Perfect for lounge noshing are dishes like tartlets of asparagus and wild mushrooms with sage, sautéed duck foie gras on an "apple tatin," stuffed cabbage with duck and green peppercorns, and potato waffle with smoked salmon and cream of chives à la Daniel (named for Vincent's son, who inspired the dish).

Fair Fare: What possessed me to think that eating the food at the state fair was a good idea, I don't know. But I did it. So much stuff on a stick, and now I'm sick: egg rolls, calamari, chocolate-dipped bananas and cheesecake, chipotle shrimp, chicken, hot dogs, Cajun corn dogs, honey-rum 151 tempura shrimp, deep-fried Twinkies, and deep-fried candy bars (Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers and Mars). Not to mention that one-and-a-half-pound pound turkey leg.

If this sounds good, the fair runs until October 27. Just bring lots of money -- parking is $10, admission is $8.50 and snacks run $3 to $7 (stomach pumping is extra).


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