Fresh & amp;amp; Tasty

by Susan Hamilton & r & & r & Prepping and Partying CLUB & r & Supper clubs have become a popular way to get together with friends and meet new people. They also offer an opportunity to sample different foods, wine and recipes. Members meet to create a menu, plan and cook a meal. Then they enjoy their culinary creations at a dinner party at one of the member's homes. It's the new way to socialize.

"Supper clubs are huge in places like Los Angeles and Boston," says Tami Badinger, owner of Cena, a meal preparation store on Spokane's north side. "We're all so busy, it's nice to set aside time each month to get together and share a meal with friends."

Since Cena is already set up for meal preparation, says Badinger, it's a natural progression to offer a supper club. So how does that work? Club members (at least six people) meet on a designated day and time each month (or two) at Cena. They each make six entrees from the current Cena menu to take home, freeze and eat later. A rotating member of the supper club makes three to four of the same entr & eacute;e at Cena to share with the group when they have a party at home.

"Guest chefs and wine sommeliers occasionally give presentations to Cena Supper Club members before the meal preparation," Badinger adds. "Members will learn things like how to stuff a flank steak with fresh spinach, roasted red peppers and smoked Gouda and how to infuse turkey breast with teriyaki and orange juice. We also serve complimentary wine and appetizers during 'club time.'"

Cena uses high-quality food products -- hormone-free chicken, certified Angus beef, fresh produce and sauces made from scratch. Chef Bruce Badinger, reputedly a master with herbs, created Cena's recipes. Members choose from entrees like Jamaica chicken with fresh green peppers and onions in a mango-cilantro sauce, Northwest lasagna with Italian sausage and cheeses layered with Marinara sauce, bacon-wrapped scallops bathed in herbed teriyaki sauce, and stir-fried pork with peppers and carrots, topped with sweet-and-sour sauce.

"If you like to eat, cook and socialize, you'll enjoy the 'club scene' at Cena," Badinger says.

Cena, 12501 N. Hwy. 395 (near Wandermere), is open Mon, Tues and Fri 9 am-3 pm, Wed-Thurs 9 am-9 pm, and Sat 9 am-2 pm. Call 328-3709.

More Than Mexican DINING & r & "We don't serve refried beans or dishes with ground beef," proclaims Tecate Grill's general manager, Cruz Morales. What?! A Mexican restaurant without refried beans or ground beef? Then again, the recently opened Tecate Grill is not your average Mexican restaurant.

"You can get a great variety of food here -- seafood, steak, Italian, American and, of course, Mexican," Morales adds. "We have something for everyone, from adventurous eaters to those who aren't so adventurous."

It's true. The eatery boasts an extensive menu. Some of the more popular dishes include adovo chicken pasta (grilled chicken, vegetables and penne pasta tossed with a spicy, rich red-pepper cream sauce) and tumbleweed chicken-fried steak hand-battered, browned and topped with homemade jalapeno cream gravy. Two other popular items are pecan-crusted crab cakes, featuring fresh Dungeness crab blended with roasted corn and Poblano peppers, a crisp pecan crust and chipotle remoulade, and Santa Fe chicken stuffed with goat cheese, roasted pepper cream sauce and pint-nut cilantro pesto. Then there are canyon shrimp fajitas and the Botanero sampler platter appetizer.

If Tecate Grill looks familiar, that's because the d & eacute;cor hasn't changed much since Tecate took over the former Jose Arriba's in the Shadle Center.

"We stayed with the colors of Jose Arriba's," Morales explains. "But we painted over the murals and put Southwest art on the walls. Now there's a bar and the kitchen is closed in rather than open."

Tecate's owner and staff may also be familiar to diners: Many who work at Tecate Grill hail from the Azteca restaurants in Spokane, its corporate sibling. But Tecate has its own personality.

"Tecate Grill is different. It changes personalities from lunch to dinner," Morales says. "It's open and light at lunch, plus there's outdoor seating, and at dinner, there's a darker, more intimate feel to the place."

But the real question is, will diners miss those refried beans? Not a chance. They'll be too busy trying to choose from Tecate's myriad dishes.

Tecate Grill, 2503 W. Wellesley Ave. #C, is open Sun-Thurs 11 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Call 327-7817.

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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