Keeping Your Cool

First, fill dessert bowls with crushed ice. Place a Bindi's Limone Ripieno--luscious lemon sorbet nestled in a lemon shell--in the center. Grab some mint out of the garden and garnish with a sprig. It's the perfect thing for a smart dinner party. There are other flavor possibilities--pineapple, peach, coconut and tangerine--each in its own natural fruit shell. We loved them all. But skip the orange, the flavor reminded us of children's aspirin.

Bindi's Frutti Ripieni sorbet-filled fruits ($3.25 to $4.50 each) are available at Papa Petrone's, 6222 Rolling Rd., Springfield (call 703-866-4343); Jacques Pastries, 2905 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (call 703-526-0007); Tres Joli Bakery & Cafe, 2952A Chain Bridge Rd., Oakton (call 703-242-8752); Farm Store, 6483 Main St., The Plains (call 540-253-5456) and Vignola Pasta Gourmet & Cafe, 113A N. Washington St., Rockville (call 301-340-2350).

The heat is on in the ice cream aisle. Dozens of new flavors are competing for attention. Not to mention the gelato vs. frozen yogurt vs. ice cream vs. sorbet vs. frozen smoothie war. We've tried them all. Here are some new ones we liked.

From Ben & Jerry's: A small scoop of Triple Caramel Chunk ice cream goes a long way; and a frozen smoothie flavor, Chai Tea Latte, is a sweet tea and milk ice that's a refreshing break from coffee. Also try their latest ice cream bar: S-Mores. They are a frozen variation on your favorite Scout treat: graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate ice cream in a hefty 4-ounce bar. Available at most supermarkets.

From Howler: Organic Vanilla Bean Gelato, a rich and creamy Italian-style ice cream with deep vanilla flavor; Organic Mayan Blackberry Gelato, an Italian-style ice cream with a wonderful berry taste; and Tropical Tangerine Rainforest Sorbet, nice and light with unusual clear citrus overtones. Available at Dean & DeLuca, 3276 M St. NW (call 202-342-2500); Everlasting Life Co-op, 2928 Georgia Ave. NW (call 202-232-1700); Yes Natural Gourmet, 3425 Connecticut Ave. NW (call 202-363-8544) and Fresh Fields stores in Georgetown and Tenleytown.

From Sharon's Sorbet: Passion Fruit, a perfect balance of tropical--tart and sweet; and Mixed Berry, a creamy sorbet with intense berry flavors. Available at Fresh Fields stores.

The best the French have to offer . . .

What is French Ambassador Francois Bujon de l'Estang's response to the frequently asked question "Where is the best French food in Washington?" It's always the same: "The French ambassador's residence."

Francis Layrle, head chef at the residence for the past 26 years, has long been hailed as one of D.C.'s top French chefs by those in diplomatic circles. Now Layrle's culinary prowess has merited the Ordre National du Merite, a prestigious French medal honoring exemplary contribution to the country. The award was established by former French president Charles de Gaulle in 1963.

As chef to the ambassador, Layrle finds his days and nights punctuated with black-tie dinners for 50 and elegant receptions for 200. Although the responsibility for every detail lies with Layrle--the menu conception, locating and importing rare ingredients, the final presentation--he regularly takes time to train others. And despite a lifetime of moments fraught with tension, it is rumored that he has never raised his voice in the kitchen, an admirable feat for any chef.

DINNER TONIGHT

Black and White Salmon Teriyaki

(4 servings)

Years ago, when singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan began her grueling tour schedule--on the road for months at a time--she soon grew weary of dining on "dull, greasy food." Passionate about food, McLachlan was sorely aware of the debilitating effect of such culinary misadventures on her morale. So she enticed chef Jaime Laurita to join the tour. McLachlan and her entourage were so enamored of his talent that she compiled a collection of favorite recipes, "Plenty" (Madrigal Press, 1999).

Laurita suggests servings this entree with stir-fried bok choy and sticky rice sprinkled with sesame seeds.

1/3 cup sake

1/2 cup mirin*

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

Four 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets

Nonstick cooking spray

Mix together the sake, mirin, soy sauce, honey and ginger. Add the salmon and marinate for at least an hour, turning once.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper third of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Transfer the salmon to the baking sheet, skin-side down; reserve the marinade for basting. Turn the preheated oven to broil. Broil the salmon, basting once or twice, for about 10 minutes. Baste the salmon again, cover it with foil and turn the oven back to 475 degrees. Roast until cooked through, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

* Note: Mirin is a sweet rice wine available in Asian markets and the Asian section of some large supermarkets.

Per serving: 313 calories, 35 gm protein, 14 gm carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 94 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 690 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

To Do

TODAY: Bastille Day celebration including waiters race, barbecue and entertainment. Free admission. Noon-5 p.m.; race begins at 2 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue between 12th and 13th streets. Call 202-296-7200.

THURSDAY: Book signing with Patricia Wells, author of "The Food Lover's Guide to Paris" at Politics and Prose. Free. 7 p.m. 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-1919.

THURSDAY: Book signing and reading with Phyllis Richman, author of "Murder on the Gravy Train" and The Washington Post restaurant reviewer, at Borders Books & Music. Includes cookies by pastry chef Ann Amernick. Free. 12:30 p.m. 18th and L streets NW. Call 202-466-4999.

FRIDAY: A Tribute to Julia Child--Latin American theme dinner sponsored by the American Institute of Wine & Food. Guest chef: Miami's Allen Susser. $99 for nonmembers includes tax, tip and parking. 7:30 p.m. Belvedere Hotel, 1 E. Chase St., Baltimore. Call 410-244-0044.

SATURDAY: Wine dinner at Breaux Vineyards. $65 includes tax and tip. 6-9 p.m. 13860 Harpers Ferry Rd., Hillsboro, Va. Call 540-668-6299 or www.breaux vineyards.com.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Reggae festival featuring wine tastings and Caribbean food at Berrywine Plantation. Noon-6 p.m. $6 for adults; under 21 free. 13601 Glissans Mill Rd., Mount Airy, Md. Call 301-831-5889.

TUESDAY: Discussion and book signing with Sid Goldstein, author of "The Wine Lover's Cookbook", at Barnes & Noble. Free. 7:30 p.m. Montrose Crossing Shopping Center, Rockville Pike and Randolph Road, Rockville. Call 301-881-0237.

RESERVE NOW:

JULY 21: 1996 Bordeaux first growths tasting sponsored by the Wine Tasting Association. Guest lecturer: Washington Post wine columnist Ben Giliberti. $145 for nonmembers. 7 p.m. Key Bridge Marriott, 1401 Lee Hwy., Arlington. Call 703-765-8229 or www.winetasting.org.

JULY 28: Gallo wine dinner at Indigo at Great Falls Restaurant. $70 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 774 Walker Rd., Great Falls. Call 703-759-4650.