EVENT Sample Sandpoint & r & & r & In the past year, we've told you about all the cool dining spots in Sandpoint, from newcomers like Oishii and Three Glasses to standbys like Sand Creek Grill, and tonight you can sample their wares at the 2008 TASTE OF SANDPOINT. As part of the weekend-long Sandpoint Winter Carnival, about 20 Sandpoint food and drink purveyors -- including Laughing Dog Brewing, Ivano's, MamaSan's, Craggy Range, the Beach House and Pend d'Oreille Winery -- line up at the Cedar Street Bridge for two hours of sampling and socializing.

Here's how it works: First, step up and buy a bunch of food tickets at $1 each. Then, go to the booth of your choice, where food items will be exchanged for tickets -- anywhere from one to five tickets per item. That means nothing costs more than $5 to sample, and a lot of things cost less, so it's a great way to try a little of this and a little of that from all those Sandpoint restaurants that you've been itching to check out.

Our Sandpoint informant says the ticket system is a great way to cut down on lines and to allow for smaller samples and lower costs, and she'd love to see Spokane's Pig Out adopt this kind of pricing structure.

Even if you miss the Taste, there's plenty going on in Sandpoint this weekend -- see page 28 for more details on Winter Carnival events.


2008 Taste of Sandpoint is Thursday, Jan. 17, from 5-7 pm at the Cedar Street Bridge in Sandpoint, Idaho. Admission is free. Food tickets cost $1 each. Call (800) 800-2106.

CASUAL The Wild Side

So you've heard Cabela's has an aquarium stocked with three trout species, a (life-size) suspended plane, shooting arcade games for "kids," the taxidermy mountain populated by porcupine, bear, musk oxen, et al. You know it's 125,000 square feet of hunting, archery, sport shooting, fishing, camping, boating, home d & eacute;cor and more. But did you know CABELA'S serves food? This destination-unto-itself and self-proclaimed World's Foremost Outfitters has a cafeteria-style restaurant in its recently opened Post Falls, Idaho, store.

As expected, meat is major: turkey, roast beef, beef (including Philly steak and prime rib sandwiches, burgers). Then there's the unexpected: elk, wild boar, bison and ostrich on your deli sandwich (samples are readily available and encouraged); venison and bison bratwurst ($5) or buffalo burgers ($7). Also unexpected: The food was good!

The ostrich on my deli sandwich had a peppery flavor, like pastrami but leaner, and was piled nearly an inch thick on hearty whole-grain bread, with fresh red onion, tomato and lettuce. A side of onion rings and a steaming cup of Tazo tea made more than a meal ($9). Cabela's also serves kids meals (PB & amp;J, hot dogs and pizza), as well as salads ($5-$6), soup and chili ($3-$4).

For dessert, there's ice cream, cake ($3-$4) -- or venture out of the restaurant and past the camo aisles to scope out the General Store. Reminiscent of Silverwood Theme Park, this department sells jams, jerky, jars of pickled veggies and fudge, 32 flavors all made on-site. Buy one pound for $10, get a half-pound free. Besides conventional fudge flavors, there's the unusual, like jalapeno (yikes!), Apple Pie and Moose Tracks, which is chocolate over Reese's peanut butter cups with marshmallows and walnuts drizzled in caramel. How about Power Bait (orange, green and red fruit flavors with gummy worms)? Many flavors are available sucrose-free.

No, food prices at Cabela's aren't cheap -- except when compared to the $599 nightvision riflescope or $229 spinning combo rod you've been wanting -- but it's good, hearty food. Besides, with three hours being the average time shoppers spend at Cabela's (according to employees), you'll definitely need to keep up your strength.


Cabela's Restaurant and Deli (inside Cabela's), 101 North Cabela Way, Post Falls, Idaho, is open Mon-Sat, 8 am-9 pm, Sun 10 am-8 pm. Visit www.cabelas.com or call (208) 777-6300.

The Bridal Festival @ Spokane Convention Center

Sun., Jan. 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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