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July 21 2004

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POLYNESIA ON LAKEHARBOR

Since opening last year, Montego Bay has given its State Street location a serious facelift, transforming one of Boise's best-kept secrets on the water into a tropical getaway. New docks stretch out on the lake for afternoon sun and late night sippin', tanks with baby sharks whir in the background and nary a trace of a predecessor turns up in any nook or cranny.

But what's a Hawaiian haven without a list of frozen concoctions to help you hang on? Just another bar, we say. But Montego Bay has your Margaritaville in a bottle and plenty of versions to choose from. A snazzy new drink menu with four!! pages of fruited, umbrella-ed, blended libations with rhyming and alliterated names has just made its debut.

Imbibe a frat party-esque Jungle Juice or an island necessity like a Bahama Mama or Mai Tai. Order the flaming group cocktail the Volcano or take your chances with the Hannibal, a blend of mystery ingredients served in a skull. From Crazy Monkeys to Pina Coladas and Smooth Sailors to Banana Daiquiris, it's a bartender's nightmare but a summer sipper's dream come true.

And since this is a food news column, how could we forget the vittles? The beach doesn't stop at the sound of the your straw sucking at the bottom of your empty glass. Plenty of ocean food is available for the dipping and consuming, Island Shrimp Skewers, Cancun Calamari, Cabo Crab Cakes, the Seafood Steamer Bucket, Lobster and Artichoke Dip, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp ... and for the hopelessly landlocked, they have wings on the menu.

Montego Bay, 3000 N. Lake Harbor Lane, 853-5070. M-Sa: 3 p.m.-close, Su: noon-close.

BREWHOUSE TO THE BURBS

The Boise River Ram Restaurant and Brewery, known best around Boise for its beer and big screens, will open a second location in suburbia sans brewery.

The Ram Corporation, which owns both Murphy's Seafood Bar and Grill and the Boise River Ram in Boise, recently purchased a plot of land at Pine and Eagle roads in Meridian. Though the outer-Boise addition to the Ram family will be missing the Boise Ram's two best features--its riverside patio and its brewery--the taps will be pouring the homemade brew from Blonde to Buttface and everything in between. For those of you who love the daily specials at the riverside location you'll love them just as much at the new location.

Expect to see the Ram Restaurant and Brewhouse in Meridian December 2004, call 888-0314 for more info.

Beyond boise: SVCA wine auction

For the past 22 years the Sun Valley Center for the Arts has held its weekend-long wine auction to raise money for educational arts programs for the center. Wine Spectator Magazine ranked the auction as one of the top 10 charity wine auctions in the United States in its March 31, 2004 issue.

The weekend's festivities begin Thursday, July 22 with auction registration and public viewing of rare etched bottles and old vintages. A private champagne reception kicks off the evening as patrons head to local homes for intimate vintners' dinners hosted by local oenophiles. Friday, July 23 is auction day with champagne, hors d'oeuvres and music at 5:30 p.m. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. with the auction held during dinner. Up for bidding are a collection of 122 rare Bordeaux, a European trip from Butterfield & Robinson, a Napa Valley Reserve Lifetime Membership, and a package to Milan's Fashion Week with front row seats at Versace, Armani, Blumarine, Ralph Lauren and Robert Cavalli. For those wanting to bid but cannot attend, arrangements for proxy bidding can be made through the center. The two largest events of the weekend happen Saturday, July 24 with the wine tasting and gala picnic. At 12:30 p.m. anyone with a valid ID to prove they're over 21 and $25 in hand can participate in the wine tasting under the big tent featuring wines from more than 120 vineyards. At 6 p.m. the Wine Auction Picnic with music from Brenn Hill happens at the Bigwood Golf Course with food from Bigwood Bread and Mountain Pride.

Tickets are still available for the wine tasting on Saturday, July 24 from 12:30-3 p.m. For information or to purchase tickets, contact the Sun Valley Center for the Arts at (208) 726-9491.

HEADS UP: INAUGURAL WINE FESTIVAL

All 21 Idaho wineries are expected to participate in the inaugural Idaho Wine Festival competition to take place August 28. Hosted by the Treasure Valley Wine Society, the competition will be judged in a blind tasting by wine professionals from beyond the gem state's borders.

Representatives from all participating wineries will pour for the public once the experts have done their work. Live music and food will be provided by The Winery at Eagle Knoll. Tickets are available for $20 per person in advance or $25 the day of the event. You can purchase tickets by sending a check to the Treasure Valley Wine Society, PO Box 7643, Boise, ID 38707, or visit www.ictickets.com or www.idahowinefestival.org.

August 28, 6 p.m., The Winery at Eagle Knoll, 3705 N. Highway 16. :

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