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[whitespace] Brunch Bunny Hop

Easter Sunday offers the perfect excuse for a lavish midday repast

By Christina Waters

BEFORE THERE WAS MARTHA STEWART, there was Easter--the season that gave us pastel colors, white shoes and bingeing on cream-filled chocolates. Spring is in full bloom, bunnies lurk under every freeway overpass--why not think about taking everybody out for Easter brunch? While you're thinking about it, you need to know that the San Jose Radisson (1471 N. Fourth St.) plans on serving a mega Easter Brunch Buffet this Sunday, April 23, from 11am to 3pm. Wildly popular with local food lovers, brunch addicts and Easter-philiacs, the buffet will take over the attractive hotel lobby. Choices include custom omelets, Belgian waffles, carved Virginia ham and rounds of beef, as well as less predictable food experiences like a peel 'n' eat shrimp station (talk about "something for everyone"). I'm intrigued by the idea of chorizo-stuffed pork loin rubbed with jalapeño jelly and Jamaican chutney.

Naturally, there will be a landscape of cheeses, fresh fruits and your basic over-the-top dessert station, and it all comes with unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tea or juice--plus complimentary champagne. If you can't make brunch, stop by the hotel's Galle Restaurant for an Easter buffet spotlighting Virginia baked ham, beef, pork loin and homemade pumpkin seed rolls, plus umpteen salads and desserts. Make buffet reservations ($12.95 general, $10.95 for seniors and $8.95 for kids) by calling 408.452.0200, x62.

East Coast Field Notes

A few weeks ago we cut a swath through the Northeastern seaboard and enjoyed some memorable meals along the way. The handiwork of CIA graduate Chris Scarduzio, chef at Philadelphia's glamorous Brasserie Perrier (1619 Walnut St.), knocked us out. Our foursome worked through a few choice dishes (the cheapest entree was $30). A signature entree of crispy black sea bass ($35) amounted to a spiritual experience, gorgeously vertical and sauced with ginger and Vouvray. My sweetie swooned over a dish of Moroccan spiced tuna ($34) that reinvented the cliché of seared ahi. Squares of sashimi-grade tuna, encrusted with coriander and pepper, sat on a pillow of baby fava beans in a spicy basil jus. A flash-fried banana "ribbon" complemented the spices. But I was there for wild striped bass ($30), which rarely appears in California restaurants. This succulent and delicious fish came sauced with a rich veal reduction on a pool of puréed potatoes. Festooned with various wild mushrooms, it answered every inch of my anticipations. Pricey food, to be sure. And worth it ... While in Philly, at a restaurant with the unlikely name of "Sonoma," we found and enjoyed a luscious cabernet from our very own San Jose winery, J. Lohr.

Salad Alert!

Our roving foodies are hopelessly dialed in to the sumptuous spinach salad at La Pastaia. This flavor-intensive experience is filled with basil and fresh spinach, accented by goat cheese, prosciutto and tiny mandarin oranges. Along with house-made bread sticks, it's one-plate stopping--i.e., an entire lunch--for $12. Executive chef Forrest Gingold told me he creates goodies like the insalata spinacci on a seasonal basis--we'll keep you posted on the upcoming summer menu at La Pastaia. When you're headed for a date at the Arena, don't forget you can easily walk there from La Pastaia, at 233 W. Santa Clara St. (408.286.8686).

Educated Palate

If you love wine, especially fine pinot noirs, but know that you really don't know enough about it, salvation is at hand. The Wines of Burgundy is a painless four-week course on what many connoisseurs consider the greatest elixirs on the planet. Taught by wine expert Joseph Miller (who is also the director of Lick Observatory), the class is taught on four Thursday evenings starting May 18 at UC-Santa Cruz's Cowell College Conference Room. (UC Extension class number 818, Viticulture and Enology). Participants will learn about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, explore the range of styles, and learn to understand the influence of soil, climate and economics on wine quality and price. Limited enrollment costs $149; call 800.660.8639.

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From the April 20-26, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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