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Fresh & amp;amp; Tasty 

BRUNCH & r & & r & Just Like Mumm's & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & O & lt;/span & ur story begins when a wine wholesaler visited Moxie with Jennifer DeSimone of Vino!, and they sampled several sparkling wines with the Moxie staff. "They got inspired by what they were tasting," DeSimone recalls. "The way the flavors presented themselves in the bubbles gave them a good idea of what [foods] would go well with what [wines]."

One thing led to another, and soon Moxie Chef Ian Wingate and his crew had teamed up with DeSimone and John Allen of Vino! to plan a CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH at Moxie.

"It will be a multi-course meal, and Ian always does a fabulous job of presentation," says Allen, who'll talk during the luncheon about how sparkling wine is made.

Many domestic makers of sparkling wines (including Spokane's Mountain Dome) use the technique developed in France -- the Methode Champenoise -- to create their bubblies, but only wines made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France may be called "Champagne." Sunday's event features both Champagnes and California sparkling wines from Mumm's, a famous maker of bubblies.

"Mumm's is a longstanding Champagne house in Champagne, France, and they've also established a sparkling wine facility in the Napa Valley, one of the most prestigious places for sparkling wine in the United States," Allen says. "So we'll be tasting wines from both parts of the globe."

The five-course menu is inspired by classic French flavors: a grilled prawn crepe with sauce fromage is paired with Mumm Blanc de Noir from Napa; micro greens with pancetta, feta, tomato and orange balsamic vinaigrette goes with Mumm Brut Prestige, also of Napa; the French Classic Brut complements a poached egg en croute with lobster medallion and crab-dill hollandaise; a grilled lamb chop with wild mushroom hash and smoked asparagus teams with a new Mumm Rouge -- a red Champagne -- from France; and the Mumm Cuvee from Napa finishes with an almond sponge cake and warm blackberries.

"It will be pretty lavish," says Allen, "so it's definitely a holiday celebration."


"Tiny Bubbles" Champagne Brunch at Moxie, 816 W. Sprague, is Sunday, Nov. 18, at noon. $70 per person all-inclusive; limit 50 people. Call Vino! for reservations, 838-1229.


Sip and Save

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ample wines, talk with winemakers and garner discounts this weekend as the 12 wineries of the Spokane Winery Association hold their HOLIDAY WINE FEST 2007. Several will debut new releases, and most will have munchies and gift items available. Member wineries include: Arbor Crest, Barrister, Caterina, Grande Ronde, Knipprath, Latah Creek, Lone Canary, Mountain Dome, Robert Karl Cellars, Townshend Cellar, Vintage Hill Cellars and newcomer Nodland Cellars (927-7770), which will celebrate its grand opening.


Holiday Wine Fest 2007 runs Friday-Sunday, Nov. 16-18, from 11 am-5 pm. Call 926-0164.


The Wild Side

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & unters: haven't bagged the big one yet? Not to worry. Elk season's open 'til December, and GW HUNTERS is open all year-round.

Talk about a hunter's paradise. A life-sized, concrete elk statue greets you outside. Inside are expertly mounted elk, sheep, bear, raccoon... 72 in all, with more planned, says Dave Swanson, who co-owns the restaurant alongside chef Rex Swank. They're also expanding the patio and want to put in a scrapbook/display for area hunters to share their stories. Swanson greets everyone like family. The place is packed.

That wasn't always the case. Swanson and Swank took over Hunters from the Hayes family, who in 1999 started the restaurant in a challenging Coeur d'Alene location now home to Pho Thanh Vietnamese restaurant. They later renovated a dingy but popular Post Falls diner just off I-90, transforming the space with pine panelling, the aforementioned critter corral and hints of chocolate brown, brick red and, of course, hunter green.

The menu is mostly meat -- and with options like buffalo. Hunters is known for prime rib served after 4 pm: the 9-ounce is $15; the "Diamond Jim Brady" 16-ounce will run you $21. The 8-ounce strip elk loin with port wine mushroom sauce ($20) and the elk sausage with breakfasts (served until 3 pm and rumored to be huge) are also favorites.

Although my protein preference tends toward soy and dairy, I tried the combo plate ($10): almond-breaded duck tenderloin, smoked longhorn ribs and crispy fried alligator. Delish! Other promising prospects included pan-seared sea scallops with smoked salmon sauce ($19), elk lasagne ($14) and chicken Marsala ($16). For dessert, there's cr & egrave;me brulee, cheesecake and the Moose Dropping Mud Pie -- homestyle almond-mocha ice cream in a chocolate crust topped with more chocolate. Chocolate, as you know, is always in season.


GW Hunters, 615 N. Spokane St., Post Falls, Idaho, is open Wed-Sun, 6 am-9 pm. Call (208) 777-9388.

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