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by Susan Hamilton and Ann M. Colford & r & & r & Carving a Niche DINING & r & "We're trying to be a neighborhood bistro that fits in Browne's Addition," says Shilo Pierce. As executive chef and manager of both Luna and Caf & eacute; Marron, Pierce is working hard to keep the two restaurants distinct. "We're not trying to be Luna," he says of his new caf & eacute; on Cannon Street.


After being open for five months, Caf & eacute; Marron now has a new chef and a new menu that reflects its neighborhood. Ernesto Villagrana, formerly of Twigs Bistro on Spokane's north side and the renowned Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, is now at the helm of Caf & eacute; Marron's kitchen. He brings his style of world cuisine to the eatery.


"For Browne's, it needed to be more upbeat and a bit retro," Villagrana explains. "I've given the menu a Mediterranean twist and brought in more seafood."


The artichoke frittata with garlic-saffron aioli appetizer is a "hugely popular" new item, Villagrana says. So are the seared scallops drizzled with pesto. A new Mediterranean salad features fried capers, cucumbers, pear tomato, shaved fennel, flatbread crisps and balsamic vinaigrette.


Villagrana weaves Mediterranean influences into many new dinner items, like braised beef short ribs served with parmesan polenta and braised shallot. Shrimp a la diabla also showcases Villagrana's talents: Saut & eacute;ed shrimp is prepared with lots of garlic and paprika, and served with grilled zucchini and saffron rice. His chicken penne features garlic, onion, tomato and spinach saut & eacute;ed with the chicken breast and finished with a white wine-butter-basil-parmesan sauce.


The lunch menu has a new twist as well. The trio olive martini appetizer's olives are marinated in olive oil, lemons, rosemary, thyme, sage and spices. If you're feeling more traditional, there's the Marron Reuben, with its thinly sliced beef brisket, sauerkraut, fontino cheese and artichoke aioli on rye. Or maybe the gorgonzola burger is more your style, with its garlic, bacon and chives with roasted garlic-chili aioli.


"I love working here," Villagrana says. "I'll have more menu changes in spring. Look out for my ceviche martini." -- Susan Hamilton





Caf & eacute; Marron, 144 S. Cannon St., is open Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am-10 pm. Call 456-8660.





Knead Help? COOKING & r & Bread is one of the earliest prepared foods noted in the historical record; archaeologists have uncovered loaves baked 5,000 years ago, buried in Egyptian tombs. Combining and kneading a few simple ingredients -- flour, water, yeast, salt, a pinch of sugar --will produce something that goes beyond sustenance. In many spiritual traditions, bread is a metaphor for life.


Jan and Rick Thornton love good bread, so just shy of two years ago they opened Wishful Kneads, a shop filled with small appliances by Bosch and all kinds of kitchen gadgets. Now, they're offering cooking classes, many focused on baking bread. This Saturday, the class covers European and Old World breads and is aimed at duplicating the kinds of artisan breads found at your favorite bakery or restaurants.


"It's a lot of fun," Jan Thornton says. "We will teach them how to make their own French bread and show them how to get different kinds of crusts. We will be using whole grains, different grains. We always make the bread in machines that save us time -- we say it's old-fashioned goodness to meet modern needs."


Of course, the classes introduce participants to the store's products -- including grain grinders, bread machines and mixers from Bosch, and whole grains from Wheat Montana, sold by bulk -- and they're doing a good job of drawing people in. Thornton says classes average between 25 and 30 participants. With that many people, not everyone gets to go hands-on with the dough, but generally that's OK.


"I always invite people to come up and feel the dough," says Thornton. "Last week we did a class on pita bread and I had 10 people up there making it. Some people just come to watch; others like to get their hands into it. But they always go home with recipes, and they get to eat whatever we make."


With more emphasis now on eating whole grains, many people are trying to incorporate different grains and beans into a healthy diet. The classes at Wishful Kneads can get you started. -- Ann M. Colford





The class is Saturday, Feb. 18, at noon at Wishful Kneads, 296 W. Sunset Ave., Coeur d'Alene. (From Spokane, take I-90 east to Highway 95 north; the shop is in the Sunset Mall, across from Fred Meyer.) Cost: $5. Visit www.wishfulkneads.com or call (208) 676-1500.

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