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[whitespace] Tiny Bubbles

Of love and alchemy

By Christina Waters

SOFIA--the new bubbly from Francis Coppola--is clearly a spritzy love letter to the director's daughter, also named Sofia. Wrapped up in a froth of transparent pink cellophane, the bottle of 1999 Blanc de Blanc comes without a metal cork wrapper, for ease of access. What we found as we sampled the new sparkling wine was easy-sipping party fare, loaded with cream and citrus. Neither a Veuve Cliquot nor an Asti Spumante, Sofia has too much fruit to partner oysters or scallops or foie gras. But it's fun to sip, even if those undersized bubbles tend to break down rather quickly. More novelty than serious elixir, Sofia definitely looks pretty in pink and would make a charming Valentine's Day statement.

Doon But Not Out

My vieux ami winemaker Randall Grahm emailed to ramble a bit about upcoming plans for his infamous Bonny Doon Vineyard. The Rhône Ranger says plans call for moving the tasting room--a big tourist destination in the Santa Cruz Mountains--up the hill to the former winery digs. The master plan also involves reawakening the slumbering distilling operation chez Doon, where Grahm's alchemists are reviving their interest in a range of esoterica. "We will begin releasing an expanded range of fruit liqueurs and digestivi 'ere long," Grahm promised. "Port is also in the works, but that will be a few years down the line." The winery proper, or improper, as Grahm would quip, is flourishing in its expanded Ingalls Street headquarters closer to downtown Santa Cruz, where the loquacious vintner would love to have a restaurant someday. A mere $2 million, he insists, stands between him and an eponymous bistro. Meanwhile, Grahm confesses that he's rather keen on the vintage of 2000, especially the red wines currently awaiting incarnation in the bottle. The maestro of Bonny Doon Vineyard is en route to Europe as we speak, where he's tinkering with some experimental vineyards, the harvest of which will soon be unleashed upon American soil. Keep those goblets poised!

Chocolate Decadence

Valentine's addicts could do worse than hit Fleur de Cocoa, Los Gatos' full service patisserie that specializes in old world, elegant handmade chocolates. Chocolatier Pascal Janvier and his wife, Nicola, will be happy to tempt you with dreamy confections based on techniques Janvier learned as a top candy man in France. Named one of the 10 best pastry chefs in America by Chocolatier/Pastry Art & Design Magazine in both 1998 and 1999, Janvier knows his way around dacquoise, mousse and ganache. I highly recommend that you take a nonchocoholic friend to help you exert some moderation. The shop is loaded with temptation that would have toppled St. Anthony. Cakes, puff pastry creations, boxed chocolates--hot stuff for V-Day--and tarts, like the amazing tarte au citron I sampled last week, in a tender, crumbly pastry shell filled with tangy lemon curd. Oh God. Beautifully made pastries and chocolates--the sort of thing people oogle in Paris and Brussels--really have to be seen in the flesh, so to speak. Rush over to 39 N. Santa Cruz Ave. (408.354.3574) Tues-Sat 7am-6:30pm; Sun. 8am-4pm, for pastries, coffee and your Valentine's gifts. ... While you're in Los Gatos, check out the crowd-pleasing breakfasts served up seven days at Southern Kitchen, 27 E. Main Street (408.354.7515). Folks line up outside and don't mind waiting for mighty egg creations, killer specialty pancakes and French toast, as well as something amazing called Breakfast of Champions. Named for Olympic gold medalist Claudia Losch, this $7.45 extravaganza consists of two pancakes, three strips of bacon, three sausages, three eggs and hashbrown potatoes. Enough calories for your basic marathon. I'd give a gold medal to anyone who could actually finish a breakfast like that.

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From the February 8-14, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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