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[whitespace] The Dough Also Rises

Of pastries, pumpkins and creeping plumpness

By Christina Waters

FOR 20 YEARS Gilbert Mercier's La Baguette has been powering the pastry needs of weary consumers at Stanford Shopping Center. And now, La Baguette bakery--home of exquisite Euro-style delicacies--has been sold to the Brunello family, a family of true flour power who also bring you the tasteful Le Boulanger chain. For now, all you need to know is that Roger Brunello promises that under new ownership, the pastry shop will "continue the fine tradition of La Baguette ... the look and feel will remain the same." Good news for those addicted to La Baguette's creamy slices of Princess Cake. Stay tuned for high-calorie details.

Pumpkin Pie

This weekend--Oct. 14-15--a quarter-million squash addicts will descend on the pumpkin patches of Half Moon Bay to check out the homegrown Art & Pumpkin Fest action. Each October, Half Moon Bay styles itself the Pumpkin Capital of the World, and there will be plenty of harvest-inspired silliness, entertainment, Halloween costume contests, pumpkin carving and pie-eating contests, and yes, Virginia, the amazing giant weigh-off champion-pumpkin viewing. Point your car toward the coast--bring a sweater. And for more details, call 650.726.9652. ... On Sunday, Oct. 15, from 1 to 4, the Los Gatos Opera House will host a food and wine-tasting benefit, A Taste of the Greenbelt, to benefit Greenbelt Alliance. The $45 ticket price includes a membership in the open space activist organization, plus tasting of food, wines and microbrews from top Bay Area producers. For more info call toll-free, 800.543.GREEN; www.greenbelt.org.

Fat and Fatter

Last week, those party-poopers of the American Heart Association came out with updated diet guidelines for Americans, and they contain nothing we don't already know. The AHA recommends that we stress fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, fish, legumes, with some poultry and lean meats. Think olive oil, not butter. Lay off the soft drinks and candy. Forget about fatty meats and whole milk. Lighten up on salt.

We're eating too much and exercising too little.

This is one of those areas where we can all do the math.

If you don't exercise enough to burn up the calories you consume, you'll put on weight. Duh. On the other hand--this is the important part--if you eat less, and exercise more, you'll stop putting on weight. Even lose it.

Don't eat fast food--I'm begging you. I know how good salt and fat taste, believe me. In my fantasy world, there would be no calories or cholesterol in Danish pastries, ripe Camembert cheese or fresh-baked breads. Butter would ooze from every baked potato and pasta would be liberally topped with sautéed mushrooms, roast pork and more than a splash of cream.

But reality is a whole other story. If you eat like there was no tomorrow, you won't have a tomorrow. You will also resemble a big tub of lard. Bet on it.

It would be civilized if restaurant managers and chefs took some responsibility for America's fat profile. Why not rachet down those gigantic servings to something resembling reasonable? A beautiful but modest appetizer can be followed by a delicious, not enormous entree. That way, your customer has room for dessert once in a while.

And when you, the consumer, go out to eat, remember: you can split an entree, or enjoy an appetizer and salad. You don't have to order tons of food. And no matter what your mother told you, you don't have to clean your plate. Whatever feels like too much to eat at one seating, have it wrapped to go home for another meal.

Do I have to tell you everything?

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 October 12-18, 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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