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Spring springs

SIGNS OF SPRING : the sun shining in a deep blue sky, birds singing in the trees, markets bursting with asparagus and artichokes, and readers emerging from a long winter hibernation to pelt me with e-mail.

The news from Carta is that founding chef Rob Zaborny is leaving at the end of May. His last two months in the kitchen will be a kind of greatest-hits procession (you can vote for your favorite dishes online at www.cartasf.com), with the added attraction, in April, of a rollback in prices to their 1995 levels. That was the year Carta opened, in an old catering-kitchen space (much expanded in 1998), and began serving its interpretations, rotated monthly, of the world's great regional cuisines. For owner Michael Harrity, his seven-year-old restaurant "is like 70 in dog years," but the Carta idea seems as fresh as it did in those halcyon days before restaurant Web sites. Meantime, the restaurant is looking for a chef to replace Zaborny, who – surprise! – plans to travel for the rest of the year.

On the pizza front, Dan Rubinstein writes to let it be known that after 14 years of running pizza and pizza-ish joints in the city (Ruby's, Nightshade, Big Tomato), he's decided to pursue master impresario Wolfgang Puck through the area's freezer cases. You can get Rubinstein's frozen pizzas at the snazzier markets – Andronico's, Whole Foods, Rainbow, Tower, Draeger's – and most likely you will be pleased to be spending your dough (if I may be permitted a lame pun) on what is still more or less a local product. Puck, by contrast, sold his frozen-pizza business to Conagra (a huge food conglomerate) in January.

Books: Berkeley's Ten Speed Press has been nominated for five James Beard Awards, and of course this news will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the independent publisher's list. Ten Speed is well on its way to establishing itself as the country's authoritative publisher of cookbooks worth having, as even New York media mavenry seems to have grasped.

Wine: Yours truly was raked over the coals a bit for some recent snotty comments about California whites. Several readers directed me to Navarro, in particular that winery's dry muscat and Riesling. I have put these suggestions on my to-do – or to-drink – list. Meanwhile, I should say in the interest of fairness that there are a few sublime California whites: Trefethen's dry Riesling, for one, and Beringer's delicately ambrosial Alluvium Blanc, along with the Beckmen sauvignon blanc I noted a few weeks ago. Naturally I wish there were more, but better a few than none.

Paul Reidinger paulr@sfbg.com