by Susan Hamilton

One taste is all it takes. Chocolate reawakens our sensuality, bringing us pleasure and enjoyment. Newly opened PAULA'S EUROPEAN PASTRIES features quality chocolate confections and pastries that melt on your tongue like butter with a rich cocoa flavor. The chocolate, butter crusts and other ingredients Paula Richards uses in her pastries and confections are imported from France and other European countries.

"I don't skimp on anything," declares the owner and pastry chef. "I use the best products available."

The Northside shop has been open since the beginning of March and is already becoming popular. On the afternoon I stopped by, Richards had three new desserts. One of the newcomers, a raspberry chocolate mousse tart, is beyond heavenly. The tartness of the raspberry jam perfectly complements the deep richness of the chocolate mousse and had me longing for more. Paula's also features huckleberry, pineapple and blackberry mousse tarts.

Another new creation I sampled was the huckleberry cream cake. A double-layered affair topped with a perky violet chapeau of huckleberry cream and shaved chocolate, this one is for sharing. The light cake and flavorful huckleberry cream make for one mouthwatering indulgence.

Also new is a banana caramel cream log -- a satisfying balance of bananas, caramel and cream, rolled up in a petite cake. Don't miss Richards' signature chocolate turtle cake filled with pecans or hazelnuts and topped with a small chocolate turtle of her own making. And the lemon hearts with lemon curd atop imported French crust and drizzled with chocolate are satisfyingly rich and not too tart.

Paula's Pastries also offers chocolate mousse teacups, petit fours, truffles, croissants, Danish, muffins and myriad flavors of cakes. Enjoy your sweets with tea or Craven's Coffee as you watch the world go by from a wicker chair in the brightly lit shop. Located at 2303 N. Ash, Suite 3, Paula's Pastries is open Tuesday-Friday from 7 am-2 pm and Saturdays from 8:30 am-1:30 pm. Call 466-7171.

It's a resurrection of sorts. The former Chapter 11 restaurant, which occupied the gray building at the corner of Mission and Ruby for 30 years, has been transformed into, simply, THE CHAPTER. Deanna Morgan, who has been in the restaurant business in Spokane for 17 years, recently bought the restaurant and lounge.

"I was originally going to manage this place but decided to buy it myself instead," Morgan reveals. "It's a great location."

The dark wood and Tiffany-style lamp d & eacute;cor hasn't changed, but Morgan has upgraded the menu and is offering certified Angus beef -- aged, tender, juicy and flavorful. The prime rib is the most popular menu item, followed by the sirloin and filet mignon. Seafood, chicken and pasta round out the dinner menu. On Sundays, all-you-can-eat ribs with honey barbecue sauce are offered.

Lunches feature sandwiches -- from the Chapter burger with pepperjack cheese and bacon to a fresh salmon sandwich on foccacia bread. Various soups and salads are menu items as well.

The casual bar has been "crazy busy," Morgan says. The wine list is extensive, and the Chapter also has draft and bottled beer (including microbrews). Morgan's past experience as a bar manager shows in the specialty drinks. Her "famous kamikazes" include Stoli lime, raspberry, orange, cranberry and lemon drop.

The Chapter is open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday from 11 am-11 pm and Sunday from 11 am-9 pm. Call 326-0466.

Celebrate spring with a five-course WINE DINNER AT MIZUNA this Sunday evening, featuring the best of spring produce and seafood coupled with wines from California and Spain.

"Our goal was to select wines we felt would best complement each food course," says co-owner and chef Sylvia Wilson. "In the past, we've focused on local Washington wineries. This time we're branching out."

A peek at the menu reveals a cilantro scallion crab cake appetizer paired with a 2000 Bonny Doon "Pacific Rim" dry California Riesling. Green is one of spring's primary colors, and how better to say it than with a minted pea soup with creme fraiche served with a 1999 Napa Valley Signorello "Seta White"?

A salad of watercress and port-roasted figs with goat cheese partnered with a 2000 Spanish Antano will prepare the palate for the entr & eacute;e. An oven-roasted escolar infused with herbs is surrounded by baby carrots, spring leeks, fiddleheads, morels and saffron gnocchi and drizzled with a red-wine morel sauce and shallot-mustard seed vinaigrette. A 1999 California Chalone pinot noir is the perfect match for this refreshing entr & eacute;e.

Dessert is a blood orange mascarpone tart with balsamic strawberries paired with a 2000 Napa Valley moscato bianca. John Allen, wine guru from Vino!, will give commentary on each wine.

The Mizuna Spring Wine Dinner on Sunday, April 28, at 6 pm costs $55 per person. Call 747-2004.

Some of the Mexican restaurants around town have been changing locations like, well, jumping beans. FIESTA EN JALISCO is a newcomer downtown. Located at the former Rancho Chico space, it's recently gone through a redecoration. The menu features traditional Mexican fare, such as chile verde and carne asada, with many beef and seafood selections. The restaurant, at 128 W. Third Ave., is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 am-9 pm and Friday-Saturday from 11 am-10 pm. Call 456-7797.

RANCHO CHICO relocated from downtown to the former El Rio spot at 2023 Northwest Blvd. Remodeling has taken place as well as adding table space. The menu offers the same Mexican fare and combinations as the Rancho Chico restaurant on North Division. It's open daily from 11 am-10 pm. Call 327-2723.

LA LUNA took over the former Tortilleria Lourdes at 923 E. Hoffman. Here you'll find authentic carne asada tacos and tortas as well as chimichangas. It's open Monday-Saturday from 11 am-9 pm. Call 489-2023.

Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show @ Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center

Through Sept. 30
  • or