TASTE OF THE TOWN, a chance to sample food from about 100 Washington area restaurants, takes place Friday (3-8 p.m.), Saturday (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) at the Washington Convention Center. Entrance to the event, benefiting Children's Hospital, is $12 (tokens for individual tastings average about $1.50). For information, call 983-4111.

THE VACE ITALIAN DELI on Connecticut Avenue for years had a slightly dusty, unkempt look, but regulars knew that the store produced some of the best pasta in town. Longtime fans of the tiny deli may miss the old atmosphere, but since Vace moved across the street this spring to 3315 Connecticut Ave. NW, the new store's spruced-up look has begun attracting a new generation of customers.

The new store is neat and sunny, and much more spacious (although the decor is still somewhat eclectic, with bags of dried porcini mushrooms, rolls of salami and a soccer ball all dangling from the ceiling).

As in the old store and the Bethesda branch, which is still open, the new Vace sells boxes and bags of Italian foodstuffs: polenta, risotto and orzo, cans of artichoke hearts and bottles of olive oil. The tall refrigerator cases hold bottles of Italian mineral water, cheeses and wonderful freshly made pastas: tortellini, lasagna, manicotti, gnocchi and agnolotti stuffed with pumpkin. Olives, different kinds of sausage and tortellini salad also are ready to go.

In addition to great, crispy, thin-crust slices of pizza, customers who want something hot can now carry out an herbed "white" focaccia, and focaccia stuffed with chopped spinach -- both very good.

The only complaint regulars might have is that the parking situation (street parking only) isn't any better than before. "Well, maybe it is," disagreed Blanca Calcagno, who owns the store with her Genoa-born husband, Val.

Calcagno explained that a Metrobus stop was in front of the old store and customers in a hurry to pick up a pizza or their dinner would often park illegally in the bus stop. The new District parking fines being what they are, "the customers are saving money," said Calcagno. "Now a pizza won't cost $50." FINAL NOTICE! Fall cooking classes will be listed Aug. 29 in the Food section, and all information must be received by Monday for inclusion in the annual list. Submit only by mail (Cooking Classes, Food Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Specify in 100 words or less the nature of courses offered (French or Indian, participation or demonstration etc.), total years of operation, costs, location, starting dates and times. Include an address and telephone number for inquiries. DINNER TONIGHT


This preparation, which originated in Grenoble, elevates pan-fried trout to the level of art.

4 12-ounce trout, cleaned

4 strips bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slivers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Approximately 1 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons oil

4 tablespoons capers, drained

4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges for garnish

Rinse the trout thoroughly in cold water and blot dry.

Brown the bacon in a nonstick frying pan large enough to hold all 4 trout. Transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Pour off the fat.

Season the trout with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the butter and oil in the skillet over high heat. Add the trout and thoroughly brown on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place the frying pan in a preheated 400-degree oven and bake the trout for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked. Transfer the trout to plates or a platter.

Add the capers, bacon, parsley and lemon juice to the pan. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute and spoon this mixture over the fish. Garnish the fish with lemon wedges and serve at once. Per serving: 447 calories, 48 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 23 gm fat, 7 gm saturated fat, 145 mg cholesterol, 221 mg sodium.

-- Steven Raichlen

BEACH-BOUND FIBER FREAKS should check out the bran muffins at The Cosmic Bakers, a small bakery in Rehoboth Beach. Chock full of currants, walnuts, golden and regular raisins, they have plenty of bran taste and texture without being heavy and are sweet enough not to taste too virtuous.

The Cosmics make wonderful strawberry muffins, too, filled with fresh-fruit flavor, as well as a seven-grain bread, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, Danish, brownies and an assortment of cakes and pies.

David and Diane Dean and their daughter April Abel, former Fairfax residents who moved to the beach about 12 years ago, own and manage the place. David Dean, who used to work for the Air Force, is now the head baker, working the graveyard shift from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. to turn out the next day's muffins, breakfast rolls and breads.

The bakery is located at 415 Rehoboth Ave. and is open every day except Tuesdays from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. THE "LITE" IS ON but they don't seem to be home. Many people miss the point when it comes to a healthful diet, according to Robyn Flipse, speaking for the American Dietetic Association. Flipse has found that many of her clients won't improve their diets with fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, but they will eat a sandwich made with lite bread, lite baloney, lite cheese and lite mayonnaise.