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Mountain View cooks come out of their kitchens for A la Carte & Art festival

By Christina Waters

MOUNTAIN VIEW'S A La Carte & Art is one of those hands-on outdoor food fests that lets you get up close and personal with renowned Bay Area cuisinartists. You need to be there. And "there" is Castro Street between Church and Evelyn in downtown Mountain View on May 20-21, from 10am to 6pm. Cooking demos start at noon each day, but there's lots of other fun stuff provided by a host of food purveyors, artists, wineries, musicians and the obligatory kids' fun zone. Chefwise, here's what's cooking. Andrew Trice III and Steven Long of the hot new Vivaca Grill will be there cooking up something glorious. Chez TJ chef Kirk Bruderer will reveal the secrets of the popular restaurant's linguine with shrimp, peas and tomatoes, plus a risotto with mussels, sugar peas and red peppers.

Watch Alexandro Garcia of Fiesta del Mar whip up camarones con salsa Alex. And absolutely do not miss the chance to hang out with chef Melin Demirci of Ristorante Vaso Azzurro--one of our new favorite Mediterranean dining rooms--who will concoct a salmon Wellington with hollandaise sauce right on the spot. Dan Valdez, executive chef at Global Village Café; Jeff McKee of the Limelight; and Erich Barnachea, at the helm of the newly opened Hilton Garden Inn, will also join the action along with Bay Area cooking czarina Judith Ets-Hoken, founder of the fab HomeChef Cooking Schools. Ets-Hoken will demonstrate the fine points of fresh peach and berry crisp. Yum.

The A La Carte & Art weekend in Mountain View offers free admission and parking. Call 650.964.3395 or log on at www.miramarevents.com.

Spreadable Edibles

Billed as "spreadable fruit," Sorrell Ridge natural preserves contain no added sugar, just 100 percent fruit. In addition to fresh, tart flavor, these preserves are low cal: 36 calories per tablespoon, compared with the usual 60 calories in most jams. We love the peach version, filled with highly spreadable peaches, white grape juice and pear concentrate. The plum version is even smoother and thicker, also thickened and sweetened naturally, with grape juices and pear concentrate.

What's my point? For about $2.50 you've got heaven on a bagel. Commercial jams, even the imported ones, taste too sweet now. Icky. Cloying. Sorrell Ridge stuff is what's happening. We also love the tall, slender jars--distinctive and easy to wrap around and grip with confidence.

Another great product that fills our refrigerator shelves these days is St. Pauli Girl N.A. It's surprisingly rich and has almost no alcohol, so you can have a tall cold one with your lunchtime sandwiches and still go out and wrestle with that IPO. Rich, deep-golden and filled with a pungently bitter, hops-intensive flavor, this crisp brew contains only barley, malt, hops, yeast and water. At only 96 calories per bottle, it carries a good 50 fewer calories than your basic 12-ounce lager. Brewed according to the German purity law of 1516 (these people are serious about beer making), St. Pauli N.A. runs under $6 a six-pack. See www.stpauligirl.com for more.

Spring Solis

Head down lovely Hecker Pass Highway to the Solis Winery in Gilroy this weekend for the 10th annual Wine & Pasta Open House. Running 11am-5pm May 6 and 7, the event offers an afternoon of tasting for the purchase of an $8 wine glass. DiDominico Pasta Co. of Morgan Hill will tempt guests with pasta for purchase. Phone 888.411.6457 or check out www.soliswinery.com. There's nobody left on the planet who doesn't have a website!

This Sunday (May 7) also brings a chance to taste wines from many, many local wineries at the annual Wine With Heart Tasting and Auction, held for the first time at the Hayes Mansion. Tickets cost $45, which is not bad considering you can taste the wares of 42 wineries and 20 restaurants, plus get a crack at the rare wines, getaways and dinners that will be on the auction block. For reservations, call 831.479.9463.

Email me! Readers, restaurateurs, chefs: Please send any news items, tips, menu changes, openings, special events and juicy gossip to [email protected]

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From the May 4-10, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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