Bucking the Trend | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Bucking the Trend

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Do you have any idea how much weight the average American gains between Halloween and the New Year? Neither does Lunch Lady. But she does know that if you're expected (and expecting) to get fat anyway, you might as well live it up in style between now and the time you make your New Year's resolutions. Fine dining, cocktails and decadent sweet treats ought to do the trick—and you've only got four weeks to squeeze it all in. Put on something slinky while it still fits, and let's get started.

Every weekend you don't go to chef James Roaché's restaurant Ro Chez (204 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-503-8244) means another slew of menu options you might not get the chance to try again until 2010. Roaché says he's trying to go a few years before he starts repeating selections, so technically you could go every week for quite some time and always have something new. Roaché is particularly excited that freshwater prawns are back in season, and he was out demonstrating his cooking methods Nov. 17 at the Mississippi Farmers Market to show the crowds how it's done.

With seatings Thursday-Saturday at both 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Ro Chez is an easy way to plan an elegant evening out. The current week's menu is always available at rochezdining.com, where you can also make reservations. The rest of the year is booking up fast, so you better hustle.

If cocktails are more your speed, you need to visit the bar at Pan Asia (862 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland, 601-956-2958) as soon as possible. If Lunch Lady were the type to confess to drinking girly drinks, she would recommend the Flirtini (vodka, pineapple, a splash of champagne and raspberry), the Tsunami (Absolut Mandrin, Malibu Rum, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice) or the classic Lemontini (vodka, fresh lemon juice and a sugar rim). Again, that is if she were the type to confess to drinking such things. Which she decidedly is not.

You should head to Ridgeland with some coworkers for happy hour at Pan Asia on Martini Thursday, when you can experiment with two of these concoctions (or just double up on your favorite) for the price of one. Most of the food at Pan Asia isn't that likely to help fatten you up for the holiday kill, but if perhaps that isn't your goal, Lunch Lady recommends the lettuce wraps (containing chicken, bamboo shoots, green onion and water chestnuts) or the tom kha (spicy coconut milk soup with lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal and vegetables) with chicken.

Of course, during this season, there's no shortage of public events to keep your glasses filled and your belly sated. This Thursday, Dec. 6, is this year's final Fondren ArtMix, where you'll find, among other treats, free wine from the JFP (perhaps poured by yours truly) in Fondren Corner, as well as hot cider, cookies and other snacks from other local businesses. The event runs 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., so stop by and do some drinking, eating and holiday shopping in Fondren.

Mississippi Murder Mystery Dinner Theater is presenting a special holiday show, "The Murder Before Christmas." On Monday, Dec. 10, at Olga's (7679 Old Fannin Road, Flowood, 601-992-1092), you can enjoy this show along with a three-course dinner, all for the bargain price of $36. Call and make reservations today. For other holiday events, check out jfpevents.com.

Now, back to the good stuff, and that means sweet treats—Lunch Lady's Achilles' heel. While you're near County Line Rd. at Pan Asia, you might as well stop at Bop's (1173 E. County Line Road, 601-952-0661) for a concrete of chocolate custard and sweet peanut butter topping. Rookies like Lunch Buddy may want to start out small, perhaps with vanilla custard in a cone. Be careful. This stuff wants to, and will, end up on your shirt before you know what hit you.

Or, you can mix your favorite fruits and toppings in with your flavor of choice at Marble Slab Creamery (1059 E. County Line Rd., 601-899-9060, or 178 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-2772). In case you're interested, Lunch Lady only ever orders sweet cream, usually with Oreos, occasionally with strawberries instead if she's feeling saucy.

But grab-and-go ice cream treats aren't the only way to pork up this holiday season. Put in a little more care and elegance with a big bear brownie at Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633). OK, you busted me: That has ice cream on it, too. But the crème brulée doesn't. So, there. And speaking of brownies, the caramel brownie at Bon Ami (1220 E. Northside Dr., 601-982-0405) has to be tasted to be believed. Guess what? It comes á la mode, too, in coffee flavor. Sorry: Apparently Lunch Lady can't be kept from her ice cream, regardless of the temperature outside.

Everyone's always concerned with losing weight, so this season, buck the trend. Lunch Lady's not talking overindulgence here, but we're all inevitably going to pack on a few pounds before New Year's anyway, so let's embrace it.

Send your favorite fatty indulgences to Lunch Lady at [e-mail missing].

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

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