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[whitespace] Photograph by David Heller

Funny Bunny: Megan Mackenzie spies one of the Easter creations at Mackenzie's Kandy Kitchen.

Sunday Sweets

Chocolate goodies from Mackenzie's and Marini's sweeten Easter season

By Janet Blaser

SOMETHING ABOUT CHOCOLATE BUNNIES evokes a sentimental longing for mornings full of candy before breakfast, ritual-filled church services and stiff new pastel-colored clothes. I was raised in a neighborhood of Italian Catholics, and Easter meant all that--and egg salad for lunch the next day. At least two local candy shops, Mackenzie's Kandy Kitchen and Marini's, continue to fulfill those childhood dreams whenever the holiday rolls around.

At Mackenzie's, located at the corner of Soquel Avenue and Frederick Street on the east side of Santa Cruz, you'll find chocolate bunnies in every imaginable size, activity and stance. Bunnies riding bicycles and mopeds. Bunnies driving sports cars and tractors. Bunnies pushing wheelbarrows full of jelly-bean eggs. Now, if chocolate rabbits aren't your thing, the wildlife also includes lambs, chicks, ducks and frogs (?), all available in three "shades" of chocolate: white, milk or dark. Eggs, too, of all sizes and styles--filled, hollow, marshmallow, caramel, coconut, butter cream, etc. Some look too pretty to eat, but that's probably because I'm over 10.

If your sweet tooth runs more to candy than chocolate, Marini's has your number dialed. Since 1915, the Marini family has provided treats for the community, starting with saltwater taffy, caramel corn and candy apples. Since then, that line has expanded to include just about every imaginable kind of candy. Right now, the store is an Easter wonderland. Pastel-colored jelly beans, hummingbird eggs, "Easter" corn and malted milk "eggs" abound, sold by the pound or gathered in baskets and gift packs. Foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies, eggs and lambs are everywhere, as well as more adult-oriented rabbit-shaped truffles from world-renowned Joseph Schmidt Chocolates in San Francisco.

My favorite are the panoramic eggs, spun-sugar confections into which you can peek. If candy isn't your thing, Marini's also has a wonderful selection of stuffed animals and Easter toys. A word to the wise: Go early to get your Easter candy. Don't wait or you'll be sorry. And store those chocolates in a cool place--not necessarily the refrigerator, though. That whitish "bloom" you sometimes see on chocolate is caused by a radical change of temperature from cold to warm or vice versa; room temperature is just fine. Marini's has two locations: 1308 Pacific Ave. downtown and out on the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Other Easter Hoppinings

If you want to play Easter Bunny, Kelly's Bakery (downtown and Aptos) offers the most adorable chocolate-cake eggs, decorated with sugar pansies, for $4.95. ...Gayle's Bakery in Capitola has an unbelievable array of decorated Easter cakes and pastries, too. ... Bittersweet Bistro's Easter brunch or dinner buffets are multi-course extravaganzas with menus featuring some of chef Thomas Vinolus' legendary dishes. Brunch is from 10am to 2:30pm; dinner is from 3 to 7pm. The cost for either is $35.95 for adults, $15.95 for kids 15 and under. Both meals include a selection of Bittersweet's famous desserts, too. Call 662.9799 for reservations. ... Please, dear readers, make your reservations now for anywhere you want to eat on Easter Sunday or the night before. And if you have a change of plans, do inform the restaurant where you made reservations that you won't be coming. That way, everybody will be happy. This advice applies to bakery orders, too. A little preparation can be a wonderful thing.

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From the April 19-26, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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