Tasty restaurant gossip

Like many before him, Jordan Silbert had a great business idea while drinking in his backyard. But what sets Silbert apart from his fellow dreamers is that he actually followed through with it.

Since developing Q Tonic Water back in 2002 in his Fort Greene yard, Silbert has come a long way. He moved to Prospect Heights, and now his tonic — made with organic agave, Peruvian quinine, lemon juice and triple-purified water, and distributed out of a loft in DUMBO — is up for the “Best New Product” prize at this week’s “Tales of the Cocktail” festival in New Orleans.

“We’re up against products from Absolut,” said Silbert, whose water is carried at Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg and Dean & Deluca in Manhattan. “We’ve got a shot — you never want to count yourself out. We want to do one thing, and we want to do it better than anyone else on the planet.”

The water, which is being packaged in 750-milliliter champagne bottles, retails for $6.99.

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It’s not too late in the season to start taking advantage of the vegetables at the Greenmarket, or those growing in your very own garden.

On Sunday, July 26, from 11 am to 1 pm, Crown Heights resident A.J. Bull, the chef de cuisine at Brasserie 8 1/2 in Manhattan, will host a class called “Cooking with Mushrooms,” where cooks of any skill level can learn how to make fantastic fungi dishes.

“Everything we do reflects the menu and the style of the restaurant,” said Bull, who counts Franny’s in Prospect Heights and the Mexican food in Sunset Park as some of his favorite Brooklyn eats. “We’ll do a goat cheese tart with roasted mushrooms.” The class will also learn to make apple-braised pork belly.

At a restaurant where just ordering one entree can run $40, learning to make two fine dining dishes for $75 seems like a steal.

For information and registration, call (212) 829-0812 or visit www.rapatina.com/cookingclasses.

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Greenpoint hot spot Brooklyn Label is reinventing itself, with a new chef, a dinner menu and a liquor license within the month. Executive chef Victor Malaric, formerly of Zoe Restaurant in SoHo, took the reins two months ago and has since updated all the recipes, added new lunch dishes and introduced a revamped dinner menu on July 15.

The menu features entrees inspired by Malaric’s Floridian roots, such as a fried snapper with a pounded rice crust as well as vegetarian and vegan options, including a tofu dish with coconut curry broth and pad-Thai noodles.

For lunch, Malaric’s most popular additions are a tuna melt sandwich with zahtar-spiced pita, cheddar and tomatoes and a spinach salad, with onions, spiced pecans, sherry vinaigrette and goat cheese “chopsticks” — goat cheese wrapped in spring roll wrappers then fried.

Although Malaric still wants locals to come for the “laid-back” atmosphere, “the food now is becoming the focal point,” he said. “If you love the food, the food loves you back.”

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There’s nothing like gorging on 200 pounds of roasted pork to get you up and dancing.

That’s why Williamsburg’s 3rd Ward is hosting “Pig Out,” its first annual “pig roast and dance party” in the courtyard of its space on Morgan Avenue on Sunday, July 20 from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Marlow & Sons butcher Tom Mylan will be roasting the pig on a homemade grill built by 3rd Ward’s own shop manager, and serving it up in the more inviting form of pork tacos. Coleslaw, potato salad and beer will round out the feast.

Admission is free, and plates will cost $6.

Mylan is also hosting a pig carving class at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Kitchen on Tuesday, July 22. See Editors’ Picks on page 8 for more info.

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Want to eat a lot of ice cream for a good cause?

Bensonhurst “Ice Cream Girl” Maria Campanella is organizing her ice cream-eating contest on July 25 to raise money for a young leukemia patient who lives on her ice cream truck’s route. According to Campanella, the $20 entrance fee — for contestants and spectators alike — will defray the hospital expenses of 19-year-old Ciro Patalano.

State Sen. Marty Golden, who helped out with Campanella’s first contest, will be cheering on competitors, each of whom will aspire to break the 2006 champion’s record of eating almost seven pints of vanilla ice cream in under 15 minutes.

The carb-loading contest will be part of a “beach day” party, from 1 pm to 5 pm, on the beach at Kingsborough Community College, and will feature music by Staten Island DJ F2K and Italian ices from Marino’s.

There will be two rounds of ice cream eating, with a requirement of finishing three pints of Ben & Jerry’s in the first 15 minutes, so that only “the bruisers” go on to the second round.

“It’s going to be much stricter,” Campanella warned. “No one’s gonna be allowed to throw up and get back in the contest. Last time people were throwing up all over the place.”

If that sounds like fun to you, Campanella is still accepting contestants. Call (917) 578-6374 to register.

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