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On the last Tuesday of the month, the Memphis Botanic Garden hosts "Tuesdays on the Terrace at Fratelli's in the Garden," which they bill as "wine tastings with a botanical twist." This Tuesday, July 26th, that twist comes with a splash of gin for the Shake-N-Stir Martini Party.

According to Fratelli's owner, Sabine Baltz, the martini party will feature hors d'oeuvres centered around olives, such as sun-dried tomatoes and tapenades. "We will also have some champagnes and white wines for those who prefer it," she says. Memphis jazz singer Reni Simon will perform.

On August 30th, the series will take on a Spanish flavor with Salsa Night, and a dance instructor from Fred Astaire Dance Studio will offer salsa lessons.

The wine tastings are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20 for garden members and $30 for nonmembers.

In other Fratelli's news, Baltz has recently added to the menu more salads and panini sandwiches as well as some new desserts and appetizers. The pork tenderloin salad with spinach, bell peppers, oranges, and avocado is just one example of the expanded offerings. Fratelli's is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fratelli's, Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road (685-1566, ext. 118)

Bari is expanding. Owners Jason and Rebecca Severs plan to double the size of the 1,200-square-foot restaurant by September 1st. The additional space will offer room for a waiting area and a second dining area as well as a bar. "We plan to create an enotec, which in Italian means a wine library or wine bar," says Jason. "The bars in Italy are mostly wine bars. Enotecs are everywhere in Italy, but in the U.S. you mainly find them in larger cities." To accompany the wine bar, Jason says they plan to expand the antipasti menu to feature about 25 Italian cheeses and 10 cured Italian meats.

Bari, 22 S. Cooper (722-2244)

July is National Ice Cream Month. Did you know that the biggest ice-cream sundae in history was made in Edmonton, Canada, in 1988 and weighed more than 24 tons? Or that the U.S. enjoys an average of 48 pints of ice cream per person, per year, more than any other country? What's more, the ice-cream cone's invention is linked to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. An ice-cream vendor reportedly didn't have enough dishes to keep up with the demand, so he teamed up with a waffle vendor who rolled his waffles into cones.

Learn more fun facts about ice cream July 30th at the 11th Annual Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival at the Agricenter International at Shelby Farms. The event, which is held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will benefit Ronald McDonald House and will feature plenty of ice-cream vendors, ice-cream eating contests, and a celebrity sundae-making contest.

In addition to ice cream and more ice cream, kids and adults alike can enjoy performances on the Hilton Hotels Entertainment Stage, including a show from Ronald McDonald at 11:30 a.m. The Memphis Zoo will bring Wildlife on Wheels, and kids can get their faces painted and their picture taken with Rocky the Redbird.

Admission is $7; children ages 3 and under are admitted free. Advance tickets can be purchased for $5 at local Schnucks stores and the Ronald McDonald House. For more information, call 529-4055.

Jimmy Ishii, owner of Sekisui restaurants, held a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to celebrate the grand opening of his 18th restaurant, which is in Vestavia Hills, an upscale enclave of Birmingham, Alabama.

Continuing Ishii's desire to support people taking steps along the same path he took when he first opened Sekisui in Memphis 15 years ago, he partnered with a former employee to open the new restaurant.

Owner/chef Matsui "Yasu" Yasuteru met Ishii while attending college in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Yasuteru would drive to Memphis to dine at Sekisui in the early 1990s. After graduating, he came to work for Ishii in 1992. The two worked together to choose a location for the new restaurant.

The Sekisui Group is also consulting on Zanzibar on South Main. Zanzibar owner Kysha Benjamin hopes to re-open in early August with an updated decor and menu. n

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