For Tampa Bay residents, Orlando's Magical Dining Month in September is a boon: an opportunity to try 55 of the area's top restaurants (Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton, above, Seasons 52, Morton's the Steakhouse, Ravenous Pig, Luma on Park Avenue and K Restaurant & Wine Bar and more) with a three-course prix-fixe menu for $20 at lunch and $30 at dinner. Visit www.orlandoinfo.com/magicaldining for a list of participating restaurants.
Ladies chalk talk
Shula's Steak House at the Intercontinental Tampa invites women to huddle up for an evening of food, drinks and some "Football 101" fun from 6 to 8 p.m. today. Shelton Quarles, former linebacker and current scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Ian Beckles, former Buccaneer and current host of the Ron & Ian show on WDAE-AM 620 "the Sports Animal," will spend the evening coaching guests through the ins and outs of the game over dinner and cocktails. The event is $50 at the door, 4860 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa; (813) 286-4366.
Billy Moore at Billy's Stone Crab is keeping a tradition alive. Back when it was legal to net fish for mullet, every late summer the yellow roe was sold for top dollar to the Japanese, who prize the stuff. Which left folks around here with a lot of mullet fillets. So for the past 37 years, Billy's has run a 99-cent mullet dinner special with coleslaw and mashed potatoes or French fries. Folks on the beach have looked forward to this deal every year, so Billy won't disappoint. Starting this weekend and running through Halloween, the restaurant is offering a 99-cent fish fry with all the fixings between noon and 6:30 p.m. daily with the purchase of a tea, soda or other drink. This time, though, Billy is using pollock. Nothing endures but change. 1 Collany Road, Tierra Verde; (727) 866-2115.
Books for cooks
• After five years as restaurant critic for the New York Times, Frank Bruni is stepping down to promote his new memoir, Born Round. Tonight on ABC's Nightline, John Berman sits down with Bruni to discuss his relationship with food and his experiences in the coveted New York Times critic job. The interview will air at 11:30 p.m., and a portion of the story will also air on Good Morning America on Thursday.
• Published nearly 50 years ago, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has risen again. The book that launched Julia Child's career (and revolutionized the way Americans cook) hit No. 1 at both Amazon and B&N.com due to the success of the movie Julie & Julia.
Although never out of print, the cookbook sold a mere 25,000 copies last year, compared with more than 225,000 already this year.
"It's heartening to see a new generation of cooks coming to this seminal book," says Judith Jones, a senior editor at Knopf. Jones, Child's longtime editor, discovered the manuscript for Mastering the Art of French Cooking and marshaled the book through production.
Laura Reiley, Times food critic