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EATS: in and around the Valley | TIDBITS

Toutes Sweets

Tarzana bakery specializes in all the best French pastries.


Is it too soon to think of forbidden sweets, as the big holidays of December fade into memory--along with their big meals and, of course, all those extra pounds?

In fact, January is a perfect time for sweets. After all, December comes and goes every year, right? So do the extra pounds that one puts on in December, easy as, er, pie.

So here's something to tempt you: Julio's Patisserie in Tarzana, where you get pastries like they make in Paris.

San Fernando Valley resident Julia Chang knows good from bad when it comes to French pastries, and she vouches for the goodies at Julio's Patisserie.

"They are the closest thing you can get to what they make in Paris--very beautiful Parisian-style pastries that look like jewels," Chang says.

"I love good-quality food, and we often go to Paris, where we like to try out the one-, two- and three-star restaurants. The pastries at Julio's are as good as those we find in Paris."

Christine and Julio Hojas run the place, Christine out front with the customers and Julio in the kitchen.

"I make him stay where he can do some good, and I work the front," Christine Hojas says with a laugh.

"Julio is Spanish, from Burgos, and he worked in Paris, learning to make French pastries. He also worked for nine years in San Francisco with a very good French pastry chef, Jean Ives Dupperet, at La Nouvelle Patisserie on Union Street, in the Marina."

Hojas ran his own pastry shop in Antioch, in Contra Costa County just east of San Francisco Bay, for nearly a decade, and then headed south.

They opened their shop in Tarzana about a year and a half ago, making such delights as cheesecake, fruit tarts, cookies, eclairs, napoleons, petits fours, croissants, muffins, scones, danishes and a long list of elaborate cakes, some decorated with sugar sculptures and all rich with chocolates, mochas, custards, fruits and you name it.

Individual slices of the cakes and tarts go for $2.25 tops, whole cakes for $22.95, as a rule. Hojas bakes for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations, of course. The shop also serves coffee and Italian sodas, and a handful of sandwiches made with croissants.

* Julio's Patisserie, 19003 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. (818) 345-5478.


Joe Tremonti and his partners, Joseph Vogel and Lynne Love, got their new Northridge Country Club Brewery and Restaurant open late last month, and as the name implies, the place draws beer lovers.

On tap are no fewer than a dozen brews, including six brewed on premises--a good dark stout, a wheat beer, an amber ale, a pale ale, a specialty ale brewed with apricots and a specialty porter brewed with pumpkins.

"How long will we have the apricot and pumpkin brews? Till people drink them up," Tremonti says. "Sometimes we'll sell out a beer in a weekend--230 gallons. But I'd say we'll probably change the two specialty beers every two to three weeks."

Next up, once the apricot and pumpkin brews sell out: a brown ale and a wheat beer brewed with peaches.

The restaurant also offers a number of familiar beers on tap, including Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada pale ale, Heineken, Bass ale, and--for those whose taste buds need, shall we say, educating--Bud and Miller Genuine Draft.

And it goes for a family crowd, with a menu offering a variety of burgers, pizzas, pastas, chops, ribs and chicken dishes, all at moderate prices.

* Northridge Country Club Brewery and Restaurant, 19530 Nordhoff St., Northridge; serves lunch and dinner daily. (818) 773-4677.


Want to be a television restaurant critic?

TV Food Network, which produces the cable show "Dining Around," plans to do a live broadcast from Cha Cha Cha Caribbean Restaurant in Encino on Saturday night, highlighting the action in the kitchen and dining room.

The show portrays unique restaurants around the country, and Abbas "Cal" Calbassi, general manager of Cha Cha Cha, says the producers of the show want to interview diners as part of the broadcast.

The broadcast starts at 6 p.m., so it means an early dinner, and reservations are a must.

* Cha Cha Cha Caribbean Restaurant, 17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 789-3600.

Juan Hovey writes about the restaurant scene in the San Fernando Valley and outlying points. He may be reached at (805) 492-7909 or fax (805) 492-5139 or via e-mail at

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