Dear Foodies,

I already have my two front teeth ... but, I wouldn't mind having a . . .

• Special dinner prepared by Executive Sous Chef Juan "Danny" Ordaz Jr. from the Cimarron Country Club. He took second place at the RGV Iron Chef 2011 cook-off, but he's No. 1 in my book (we worked together at the Tower Club 12 years ago). The Iron Chef is a lot more spontaneous than other types of cooking contests because no one will know what the secret ingredients are until minutes before the event begins. This two-day contest began with local chefs such as Chef Larry Delgado, House.Wine; Chef Antonio Matarazzo, Capellini Ristorante; and Chef Adam Cavazos, Sahadi‘s (stiff competition). I was extremely thrilled when I found out the "King of Salsa's" (Danny) had been selected for the grand finale - he took control and was on a mission to WIN! All in all, judges were impressed by Chef Danny's originality, creativity (sauces), taste and overall presentation. I watched him (Cimarron V.I.P. kitchen showdown) cook under extreme pressure - tick, tock, tick tock - dishes looked amazing. To make a long story short, Chef Alex Martinez from the Heritage Village won first prize in this friendly competition and Chef Danny Ordaz lived happily ever after. Cimarron County Club, 1200 S. Shary Road, Mission. 956-581-7404.

• Private Karaoke Party (latest technology- close to 3,000 songs) at KOHNAMI Restaurant. Excellent Japanese and Korean Cuisine. 2005 W. Nolana Ave., McAllen. 956-581-7404.

• Plate of Chicken Envueltos, King Ranch casserole and a big slice of Earthquake Cake from Friends Café (Bean Cuisine). Homemade goodness and small town service is what you'll get at this cozy eatery. Their famous Tex-Mex Envueltos (tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, white sauce, shredded chicken, tender tortillas) lunch special comes with a side of Mexican rice and your choice of salad, soup or pasta ($7.99). The "Earthquake Cake" takes its name from the fault lines that appear across its top during baking. Decadent German chocolate cake (whole - $17.95) with cream cheese, coconut and pecans could cause a minor tremor. 5500 N. McColl Road, McAllen. 956-664-2326.

• Shrimp and cheese empanadas prepared by Frida's Grill & Cantina. I ate these amazing pillows of goodness at a McAllen Chamber Mixer. Great "Happy Hour" Mexican appetizers (catered events). 209 S. 17th Street, McAllen. 956-631-7313 or 956-971-8600.

• Breadsmith's "Dark Chocolate Dreams" (peanut butter blended with rich dark chocolate) and Spicy Peanut Butter perfect for my Asian noodle salad. Peanut Butter & Company (shop in N.Y. City) offers all natural products with no trans fats or cholesterol. Foodies who read this column know I always support Mom and Pop venues (not franchises), but when it comes to Whataburger and Breadsmith I give in. I appreciate the fact that they're selling dainty butter cookies made from scratch by the Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns (means of supporting our cloistered community) from Alamo. Breadsmith is also selling the book "Second Chance" written by Giancarlo Bernini, a talented young man with a heart of gold ($18.00). The majority of the profits earned from selling this book will be donated to the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic (visit www.secondchance2life.com for more information). Heavenly gifts ... for that person who has everything. 4105 N. 10th Street, McAllen. 956-994-1294.

• Coast Asian Bistro's Wonton soup ($5.95) - amazing for depth flavor, nourishment, comfort and just plain satisfaction. This soup is the edible equivalent of a hug and it's enough to feed four people. It's rich in pork-stuffed wontons made with the thinnest of pasta wrappers, mushrooms, fresh spinach, water chestnuts, chicken and seaweed scallion. Foodies, this is comfort food with a heart of protein. For dessert you must order mochi - this is sweet Japanese rice cake made with glutinous rice filled with nuggets of ice cream (strawberry, green tea, coffee, chocolate, etc.) - soooo good. 7100 N. 10th Street, McAllen. 956-630-9599.

Santa Baby ... I'm not really asking for too much, so ... can you please make one last stop at Olivier's French Bakery?! As soon as you step inside the boulangerie, the movie unfolds. Yes, the aroma of fresh, golden loaves, bring you into another world. Olivier Nicole wants his bakery visible to the public and to pipe the smells out to the street. Ask about which type of bread goes with a camembert, saumon fume (smoked salmon) or pate de foie gras. This country-style (traditional French breads and pastries) boulangerie is located at 1126 Pecan Blvd., McAllen. 956-562-4075. * Bonne Noel!

Little things... mean a lot,

Madame Gourmande

odettemac@gmail.com