by Susan Hamilton and Christina Kelly & r & Oodles of Noodles RESTAURANTS & r & You can't go wrong with noodles. They're a popular food item in many countries of the world, and a recently opened restaurant in the Valley, Wild Noodles, celebrates pasta's international flair.

"Our customers like having the ability to choose among Asian, American and Italian noodle dishes," says Wild Noodles' general manager, Kelly Mollet. "We prepare everything fresh daily. It's high-end food at a reasonable price."

Arizona chef Eddie Matney, a culinary innovator known for adding bold and savory twists to classic dishes, created Wild Noodles' menu. Asian noodle dishes include Mongolian noodles and Bangkok rice noodles with peanut sauce. Customers can add chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu to their vegetable and noodle combinations. The teriyaki stir-fry with shrimp that I tasted blends udon noodles, crunchy veggies, tasty shrimp and a very flavorful teriyaki sauce.

Italian noodle dishes include chicken marsala, lasagna with sausage, and shrimp scampi - all done with a variety of pasta and sauces. On the American side, offerings feature beef stroganoff and macaroni and cheese, as well as two Southwestern dishes. Rice bowls (like orange chicken with sweet-sour sauce), salads (the spicy Thai peanut with hand-battered chicken is popular), soup and appetizers round out Wild Noodles' menu. Beer and wine are also available. Wonton s'mores star for dessert. The crispy wontons are covered with marshmallow and chocolate sauce.

"Wild Noodles feels more like a full-service restaurant than fast casual," Mollet says. "We use real plates and silverware, and our wait staff provides table service."

It's true. Although Wild Noodles is in a newer strip mall, it has the feel of a bistro, with an open kitchen and contemporary d & eacute;cor done in earth tones. -- Susan Hamilton

Wild Noodles, 328 N. Sullivan Rd., Suite 5, is open daily 11 am-9 pm. Call 893-8900.

Wine in a 'Kan? WINE TASTING & r & Spokane's wine temperature is getting hot.

In recent weeks, Spokane wineries have been featured in Seattle Magazine and the Seattle Times, along with national publications such as Wine and Spirits Magazine.

If you want to check out what the buzz is all about, the Spokane Winery Association is sponsoring the Holiday Wine Fest this weekend, Friday through Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm.

"This really is a great opportunity to taste and discover what the wine industry is talking about," said David Westfall, winemaker and owner of Grande Ronde Cellars.

At Arbor Crest, the Cliff House will be open and decorated in holiday fashion. Visitors can taste an array of red and white wines, along with appetizers. Barrister Winery will offer two barrel tastes of Merlot - the same grape, the same winemakers and the same vineyard, but with two different yeasts - so participants can taste the difference. The winery will also release its first-ever Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grande Ronde Cellars will release its most recent Chardonnay and Cellar Red, a blend of red wines. Be sure and try the Grande Ronde Cabernet Sauvignon - one of the best regional Cabs, exceptionally rich and intense, with aromas of black cherry and blackberry.

Mountain Dome offers what many wine critics believe is the best sparkling wine in Washington state -- and also presents such wines as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Other wineries such as Latah Creek, Lone Canary, Townshend Cellars, Caterina and Knipprath will offer both wine and food. Latah Creek has extensive wine-related gifts for the holiday season.

Robert Karl Cellars, tapped as one of the top 100 wineries in North America this year by Wine and Spirits Magazine, will feature their wines along with Moroccan stew and artisan breads. Beaded jewelry will be displayed for holiday gifts.

As the Spokane wine industry garners more and more accolades, many of the smaller boutique wineries will sell out of their products more quickly. With the Holiday Wine Fest, participants have the chance to get a first crack at some of the new releases and snatch up the remainder of the harder-to-get wines - before all that holiday traffic. -- Christina Kelly

Savor vintages during the Holiday Wine Fest on Friday-Sunday, Nov. 18-20, from 11 am-5 pm. Visit or call 363-1353.

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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