Hop It

Hops add flavor to beer, and also help clarify and preserve it. So how do you suppose beer makers measure the amount of hops in a beer? In International Bitterness Units, of course. Most American beers are hopped at 11 to 14 IBUs, 11 being considered the smallest detectable amount, but English ales are often around 25 and Czech Pilsners up to 35.

Eating Real High on the Food Chain

Don't let anybody tell you lion meat isn't tasty. Gourmets say lion steaks are good (don't stew the meat, though; it will be tender but insipid) and lion makes great jerky, of a delicately pinkish hue.

Bag Those Tomatoes

If you have a late-season glut of tomatoes, University of California Extension reminds you that you can always freeze them. Wash and dry tomatoes thoroughly, put them on a plate or baking sheet and freeze whole, then store in a freezer bag with all possible air removed; they suggest sucking air out with a straw until the bag adheres to the tomatoes, then removing the straw and sealing. Use within a couple of months because they can develop a freezer taste. Defrosted tomatoes will be good for cooking, but not for salad--the skin cracks during freezing, for one thing (this makes them easy to peel, though).

A Hearth Full of Loafbook

"Foodbill," an authorized parody of Playbill, is the official autographed cookbook of the company of "Les Miserables." Recipes contributed by the cast are written to various tunes in the show--"A Heart Full of Love," for instance, becomes "A Hearth Full of Loaf"; "Soliloquy" becomes both "Solilo-Quiche" and "Solilo-Kiev," and the "Finale" is braised fennel and endive, or "Fennel-ee." (Yes, they're also broken down into usual recipe format, with measurements.) Proceeds from the 56-page book benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. To order, make a check for $15 to "Les Miserables"--BC/EFA and send to "Les Miserables," 1650 Broadway, Suite 501, New York, N.Y. 10019.

Caesar Lives

Strange to think, 10 years ago the Caesar salad was in eclipse. Not only is it possibly the most popular salad in restaurants these days, other foods are aggressively Caesarizing themselves. Note Clamato's Bloody Caesar Cocktail Mix and Jack in the Box's Chicken Caesar Sandwich, more or less a chicken pita sandwich (plus mozzarella and provolone) crowned with a Caesar.

Ho-Ho-Ho, Ho-Ho-Ho, Ho-Ho-Ho

For the fourth year, the Napa Valley Wine Train, which hauls refurbished 1915 Pullman cars past some of the most famous wineries in California, is offering special trips aimed at a mostly non-wine-drinking group: children. The Santa Express, an abbreviated run to Yountville and back, features the Rotund One and some of his helper elves. Last year, the Santa Express sold out rapidly; this year, reservations are not available after mid-October. Trips will be Dec. 10, Dec. 17 and daily Dec. 19-24. For reservations ($12 for adults; under 12 free), call (800) 427-4124.

Introducing: The Iced Tea Ceremony

Coca-Cola and Nestle are ending a joint venture to bottle iced tea which hasn't kept up with competitors like Pepsi's bottling of Lipton. Their new agreement provides for some future cooperation, and gives Coke a 100-year license to use the Nestea trademark . . . everywhere except Japan.

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