BENEFIT Pink Tears & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & F & lt;/span & or the third year in the row, GREAT HARVEST BAKERY is producing hundreds of pink-frosted cookies and cupcakes and selling them to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation during the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But this year, the flashy pink treats hold special poignancy, following the death last week of Audrey Hansen, the shop's long-time baker.

Hansen, a Massachusetts native who was 51, had worked for Great Harvest for about 15 years, says shop owner Jacque Sanchez. She managed the downtown store until it closed and later began baking at the South Hill location. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2006 and was in full chemotherapy treatment that October when the bakery first partnered with Komen for the pink cookie benefit. By October 2007, Hansen was back in good health, and she led the charge to bake up the dozens of pink-frosted treats that were sold throughout the month.

But in May of this year, her cancer returned. The shop raised money all summer to send Hansen and her life partner, store manager Marsha Loiacono, on a dream trip in August to visit the Alaskan glaciers, Sanchez says. Hansen died on Sept. 30, as the rising sun tinged the sky pink.

"She died early in the morning just as the sun was coming in the window," says Sanchez. "And that's fitting, since she was always the first woman here, early in the morning."

The cookies are basic sugar cookies topped with flamingo-pink frosting that contains just a hint of cherry, and they come in two sizes: small ($0.85) and large (1.60). Or you can get a big chocolate cupcake frosted in the same jaunty pink ($2).

Sanchez hopes that the benefit will raise awareness and perhaps lead women to seek out prevention and treatment for breast disease. "You never think it will happen to you or someone close to you," she says. "I hope a lot of people get on the bandwagon."


Great Harvest Bread Co., 2530 E. 29th Ave., is open Mon-Fri 6:30 am-6 pm; Sat 6:30 am-5 pm; and Sun 6:30 am-3 pm. Call 535-1146.

DINING Saucy Love

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & aving waited tables in an Italian restaurant, I haven't wanted to even smell minestrone in about 25 years. But everything at FERRARO'S HOMEMADE ITALIAN is, well, "homemade" Italian, featuring some of "mama's" favorite recipes, so what're ya gonna do? Pat Ferraro, who owns the business with his son Jason, hails originally from Casole Bruzio, Italy, and he does the cooking.

Pasquale's Favorite Dinner Entr & eacute;es come with green salad or minestrone soup, breadsticks, plus spumoni for dessert. In the Chicken al Diavolo ($13), bite-sized pieces of chicken are saut & eacute;ed with onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil then mixed with carrots, olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, peppers and celery, and simmered into a deliciously thick and hearty sauce that's served over spaghetti and topped with grated parmigiana. Red pepper flakes give it a low, slow burn and its name -- "Chicken of the Devil" -- though the spiciness is more akin to a medium salsa, or two stars on a one-to-five rating system.

The salad is iceberg lettuce with shredded red cabbage and carrot, mild red onion, sliced black olives, zesty pepperoncini, and chunks of fresh tomato, all tossed in seasoned oil and vinegar.

I decided to try the minestrone ($3.50/cup) and was amazed at how scrumptious this bowl of mildly spicy broth filled with peas, celery, tomato, green beans, kidney beans and tiny pasta was. It went perfectly with the warm, soft and chewy bread.

The soup has proven popular: "It's getting colder and people are wanting more soup," Ferraro says, hurrying back to his kitchen.

Chianti would be the authentic Italian beverage here, as would the other wines ($5.50/glass), but being all-American, I had a Pepsi ($1.75/glass with free refills).

Ferraro says the restaurant is not open for lunch. "I don't have time," he says. "I make the sauces myself all day."

That's what "homemade" is all about.

-- M.C. PAUL

Ferraro's Homemade Italian, 11204 E. Sprague, is open Mon-Thu 4-9:30 pm, Fri-Sat 4-10 pm, Sun 2-8 pm. Call 928-2303.

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