Question: Each winter when we are in Sarasota, Fla., we enjoy eating at the Surfrider Restaurant. I always have the Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette House Dressing. It has a very refreshing flavor, and I'd so like to have it to enjoy in Minnesota.

- Gloria Klosner, Oakdale, Minn.

Answer: An outstanding downtown cultural district, sugar-white beaches, an overload of sunshine and the enticing waters of the Gulf of Mexico combine to make Sarasota a vacation paradise.

In the 1920s the Sarasota area was the winter headquarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Today the Ringling Museum of Art is a major attraction. Circus magnate John Ringling traveled the world in search of unique circus acts, collecting contemporary art and old masterpieces along the way.

As a legacy, he established the John and Mabel Ringling Museum Complex. The Circus Galleries contain "big top" memorabilia; the Museum of Art contains one of the largest baroque art collections in the world; and Ca'd'Zan (Italian dialect for "House of John"), which was Ringling's Venetian mansion on Sarasota Bay, is modeled after the Doge's Palace in Venice and reflects Ringling's fascination with Italian art and architecture. An event to attend is the International Circus Parade Dec. 27-31.

The Surfrider Restaurant was originally a 1920s beach house that was part of a private residence fronting on Crescent Beach and the Gulf of Mexico. Bette Davis once rented the home as a vacation hideaway. Cypress walls and a huge stone fireplace remain as focal points of the main dining room, where diners nibble Surfrider House Salads topped with a zesty Lemon and Parmesan Vinaigrette.




2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 cup vinegar

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/3 cup Reggiano Parmesan cheese

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tablespoon dried tarragon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in blender. Process until well blended. Makes 11/2 cups.