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Hot Time, Summer in the City

By Christina Waters

TWO OF MY FAVORITE CUISINES--Italian and French--are teaming up this weekend, Sunday, Aug. 20, from noon to 6pm, for an "Along the Riviera Wine & Art Show." A visual and gastronomic feast cooked up by the Italian American Heritage Foundation and the Alliance Française, this tasty afternoon offers tons of original artwork by top Santa Clara Valley artists, wine tasting galore, highlighted by mini-lectures on French and Italian wines at 2:15 and 3:25pm. You'll be able to enjoy strolling musicians, sing-alongs, the vocals of Gina Spataro Miller, along with a lovely menu of linguine with clams, French pissaladiere pizza, Ligurian-style salads, French fruit tarts, espressos--and there are also picnic facilities so that you can bring your own and pick up some language tips with Nicole Amon of the Alliance Française at 3pm. The entire afternoon provides a vibrantly sensuous argument for the linguistic, gastronomic and artistic links between these European neighbors. Dust off your high school French, or brush up on your Italian skills. Entrance is free and it's happening at the IAHF Cultural Center at 425 N. Fourth St., San Jose. For details call Ken Borelli or Sal Scrivano at the IAHF office: 408.293.7122.

Finally, tomato season is here! That means a huge August array of heirloom and specialty pomodori--from the tiny Sugar Babies and Yellow Pears to the rare and beautiful Green Zebra, Black Prince, Mahogany, Pruden's Purple, and lots of other amazing varieties. Bring samples of your favorites, and your taste buds, to a gala tomato block party thrown by Common Ground Organic Garden Supply. It's their third annual Tomato Tasting, Sat, Aug. 26, from 2 to 4pm. Be amazed. Be very amazed. It's free and it happens at 2225 El Camino Real, in Palo Alto. Need more details? 650.328.6752.

Close Encounter: A Metro publisher recently had one of those memorable restaurant experiences that make lifelong fans out of anyone. After a concert at Villa Montalvo last week, the exec and date went looking for a late dinner in Los Gatos. They loved the atmosphere at Steamer's but arrived at 10:40pm, after the kitchen had closed. The on-duty manager that evening, a heads-up guy named Gregg (who had no idea who these late-comers were), listened to their pleas for just an appetizer or two and, sure enough, Steamer's produced some gorgeous food, on the spot, to help stave off the calorie-deprivation emergency. A memorable evening was the delicious result. That's classy treatment of the customer--kudos to Steamer's for being way more than just a pretty face!

Chef Kyle Wiens of Valley Fair's glam California Cafe just never sleeps. He emails to tempt me with the Cafe's new midsummer "La Dolce Vita menu." I love the sound of an arugula salad with apricots, Roquefort and toasted walnuts. ... Entrees continue the summertime decadence with items like soft-shell crabs with whole grain mustard sauce and portobello potato pancakes. Flank steak grilled with soy, Guinness and thyme, served with chile Parmesan corn, is about as multicultural as a dish can get. For dessert, doesn't frozen cherry soufflé sound incredible? Or perhaps peach tiramisu soaked with plum wine and peach brandy, and served with an orange crème a l'anglaise? Kyle, you just sent me into a gastro-fantasy overload. That's Valley Fair, where once you shop, you can drop into California Cafe for some of the above fresh temptation. ... And while we're on the subject of summer menus, over at the San Jose Radisson, at 1471 N. Fourth St., new Exec. Chef Anthony Radford, fresh from the SF Fisherman's Wharf Marriott, is running a "Summer Down Under" menu packed with Australian comfort foods like lamb tenderloin salad, New Zealand Green Lipp Mussels and Bananas Foster for dessert. Make plans: 408.452.0200.

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From the August 17-23, 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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