A Cup of Christmas 

Has being swept up in the holiday frenzy left you no time for your afternoon cup of coffee? The aroma alone of Café Francisco's Holiday Blend will make you find the time.

"Our Holiday Blend tastes like most kitchens smell during the holidays," says Julie Ray, Café Francisco's owner.

Think spice cake, pecan-cinnamon rum cake, gingerbread, and chocolate cookies all in a bean. After the beans are roasted, they are tossed in flavored oils that give them their unique aroma. Most of Café Francisco's flavored blends are coated with a tiny amount of powdered sugar to give them just a hint of sweetness. Some of the more popular flavors are chocolate macadamia nut, hazelnut, and chocolate mint.

Flavored coffees and the Holiday Blend range from $15.99 to $16.99 per pound. The café's regular roasts and blends (Memphis Blend, Columbian Supremo, and Brasil Bourbon are just a few) range from $12.99 to $14.99 per pound, and when available, Ray uses organic and/or fair-trade beans for her coffee. Ray typically roasts coffee once a week, and she'll even fill special flavor requests if you can't find the one you want on the menu.

Café Francisco, 400 N. Main(578-8002)

The Cheesecake Corner has recently expanded its menu and now also offers 14 varieties of quiches. Kevin Matthews, the store's owner and baker, says it was only natural to add a savory option for guests who want to enjoy a glass of wine in the store's bistro area.

Quiches include creamy chicken, spinach artichoke, turkey dressing, crab, salmon, and cheeseburger and cost between $8 and $13 a slice and between $50 and $90 for a nine-inch round.

Cheesecake Corner, 113 G.E. Patterson (525-2253)

Memphis has a new sandwich shop that's really hot.

Firehouse Subs is Robin and Chris Sorensen's family affair. The brothers are natives of Jacksonville, Florida, where their parents owned a retail television business that taught the boys the ins and outs of customer service. It was a long way from televisions to sandwiches, however. Robin and Chris tried their luck at several ventures until finally deciding to open a sub shop in 1994. Their quest was to be unique and to serve bigger and tastier subs than the competition. They wanted to serve subs that were piled high with premium meats and cheeses.

For more than two years, almost every Sorensen family gathering turned into a taste test, until the brothers finally found what they were looking for: hot subs with moist and tender meat and flavorful cheese. Their solution: toasting the bread but steaming the meat and cheese.

Finding a unique concept for their sub restaurant wasn't too hard. Robin and Chris come from a family that has more than 200 years of public service as firefighters. When the brothers opened their first Firehouse Subs in Jacksonville 12 years ago (financing most of the costs by charging them to Robin's mother-in-law's credit card), few people imagined that it would become an empire with more than 200 stores in the Southeast.

On the menu at Firehouse are hot specialty subs (NY Steamer with corned beef brisket and pastrami or the Engine Company with smoked turkey breast and premium roast beef), cold subs (white chicken salad and tuna salad), and subs from the steamer, which includes a vegetarian sub with sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, Italian dressing, and three cheeses.

Firehouse Subs, 7505 Highway 64, Bartlett (373-9200);7685 Farmington Blvd., Germantown (755-8633)

siba@gmx.com

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