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Fresh and Tasty 

by Susan Hamilton and Ann Colford & r & Coffee Culture COFFEE SHOPS

There's always talk in Spokane about how to keep the younger generation from migrating to the bright lights of Portland and Seattle. Now a younger-generation Spokane couple is offering some culture to keep twentysomethings right here in River City. When Malai Conti and her husband, Anthony, took over the downtown coffee shop, Wake Up, they gave it a new name -- CONTI'S -- as well as a new menu and a makeover.

"My husband and I wanted to do things for the younger generation in Spokane," Conti says. "We can do that through Conti's."

There are posters for a variety of music groups and political causes on the walls of Conti's entry. But inside the coffee shop, the feel is rich and traditional.

"We wanted to reflect the historic building we're in," she explains.

An original brick wall, terra cotta tile floor and fireplace with an oversized mantle add to the ambience of this shop in the American Legion Building. Large street-side windows, gold textured walls, big comfy couches, dark-wooded tables and chairs create a warm, home-away-from-home atmosphere.

"I know Rachael Dolezal, who teaches art at Spokane Art School and North Idaho College, and asked her if we could put up some of her artwork on our walls," Conti says. "It adds to the interior flavor."

Speaking of flavors, Conti's serves Doma coffee as well as exotic and loose-leaf teas. Americanos, Italian sodas, chai tea and yerba matte are offered in French and tea presses. Baked goods include fresh cinnamon rolls, brownies and scones.

In keeping with Conti's bistro feel, the menu features what Conti calls "warm, gooey sandwiches" made with dense panini bread and spread with cream cheese, which Conti says makes the sandwiches more decadent. Colorful, flavorful paninis (from $4 for a half to $7 for a whole) include pesto chicken (with basil pesto, tomato, Mozzarella and red onion) and grilled meatball sandwich (with Marinara sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses). A black bean salad ($2.50) and loaded baked potato ($3) are also offered.

"We really focus on customer service," Conti says. "We have a very friendly staff, offer seated massage on Wednesdays and $1 coffee that people at Park Towers like."


Conti's, a Caf & eacute; and Tea House, 108 N. Washington St., Suite 105, is open Mon-Fri 7 am-6 pm, Sat 9 am-2 pm. Call 747-6540.

Farm Fresh Fall SHOPPING

Last Saturday was the final market day of the season for the Spokane Farmers Market on Second Avenue, and most other area outdoor markets also have folded up their tents and gone back to the farm for the winter. For market regulars like me, that means a long winter of perusing the produce aisles of my neighborhood supermarket, searching for local organic products. Even when I find the local stuff -- a job made easier by the new stickers at Huckleberry's, by the way -- I miss the personal exchanges with the market vendors. It's back to classic American anonymous shopping.

But wait -- don't hang up that string bag just yet. Several local vendors will gather for a series of FRIDAY FALL MARKETS in November at the Community Building. Even though the frost is definitely on the pumpkin, that just makes the fall root vegetables all the sweeter. The fine folks from Tolstoy Farms will be there this Friday (Nov. 3) at least, with potatoes and a full range of winter squashes. Rocky Ridge Ranch will have eggs and free-range chickens for sale; and the Fussy Hen (no, she's not a free-range chicken) will be on hand with lavender and sachets to keep the house smelling springtime fresh all winter long.

Dena Carr from Bouzies Bakery has been a fixture at the Spokane Farmers Market all summer, and now she'll be offering Bouzies' pastries and breads at the Friday Markets. "We're going to introduce a limited line of holiday breads," she says, "so this is a good way to roll them out before Thanksgiving."

Stephanie and Davide Trezzi from the Barn at Trezzi Farm in Green Bluff will be on hand with their selection of frozen, ready-to-bake meals in the northern Italian tradition, all made with fresh organic vegetables and herbs, and no preservatives. "My husband is from Milan, and he makes homemade country Italian foods," says Stephanie. "We'll have lasagna, polenta marinara, three different pasta sauces -- including Dave's pesto -- and a northern Italian minestrone."

The market will run for the first three Fridays in November -- then they'll gauge the response and decide what happens next. Even though it's cold, you can get coffee and listen to some live music -- indoors -- while continuing the camaraderie of the farmers market.


Friday Fall Markets will be held Nov. 3, 10 and 17, from 11 am-2 pm, at the Community Building, 35 W. Main St. Call 325-2665.

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