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Published: Sunday, 5/1/2011

MORSELS

Popular ice cream parlor opens today

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

Now that spring is finally here, more or less, it's time to start thinking about summer. And summer means ice cream.

Down in Utica, Ohio, Velvet Ice Cream's Ye Olde Mill Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor draws an astonishing 150,000 visitors during its six-month season, despite the "Ye Olde" in the name. This year's season opens today, which means free children's-size ice cream cones for kids 10 and younger throughout the day.

From today through the end of October, you can watch from a viewing gallery what they call their Certified Ice Creamologists make ice cream. You can also stroll around the 20-acre grounds, examine the 1817 grist mill and water wheel, tour Ohio's only Ice Cream Museum, and of course shop for ice cream-related goodies at the gift shop. Weekend activities include barbershop quartets, magic shows, singers, and a dog show.

Admission, tours, and parking are free. Ye Olde Mill is one mile south of Utica on State Rt. 13.

For more information, call 740-892-3921 or 800-589.5000.

Wine tours

You can keep your pretentious French vineyards and your cookie-cutter Napa Valley wineries. True Buckeyes know that the very finest wines come from Ohio.

OK, maybe not the finest. But they're the closest, except for some in Michigan.

And now, lovers of Ohio wine and the curious alike can learn more about all 80 Ohio wineries in the new edition of Ohio Wine Country Excursions by Patricia Latimer. Published by the University of Akron Press, the book describes a bit of the history of each vineyard and its various specialties. It even describes the type of soil at each, and how long they age their varieties in what kind of casks.

Best of all, the book maps out trips to take through the seven primary wine-growing regions in the state, so you can make it to nearly all of the wineries. The fun lies in comparing and contrasting each vineyard's product. The other part of the fun is just drinking all that wine. For research purposes, of course.

The paperback book is $24.95 at some major bookstores and through the University of Akron Press, and is also available at the usual online book purveyors.

Allez cuisine!

If you've ever watched Iron Chef, you know the routine. Chefs compete against each other to determine whose cuisine reigns supreme by taking just one hour to make several dishes involving a single secret ingredient.

It's great fun to watch, but it must be absolutely nerve-racking to do it -- you have to combine speed with enforced creativity and top-flight execution. And it's all in the service of some sort of fake glory.

Thirteen teams of Michigan chefs just found out how hard it all could be at the Chef's Challenge in Boyne Falls, Mich. Using Michigan-grown produce, the chefs faced off last night in a culinary competition that also raised funds for Challenge Mountain, a charity that provides outdoor recreational activities for people with physical disabilities or mental challenges.

Competitors came from all over the state. Scheduled to be there from southeast Michigan were Steve Simpson of the Art Institute of Michigan in Novi, Mich., and Rob Sierotta and Andy Lehamm of Sweet and Savory Catering in Livonia, Mich.

Fiesta time

On May 5, 1862, a poorly equipped Mexican force of 4,000 soldiers defeated 8,000 well-trained French troops at the Battle of Puebla, about 100 miles east of Mexico City. The decisive victory provided the Mexican people with a huge morale boost if not an actual victory in the war, which the French won about a year later.

Still, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the battle and is a source of Mexican pride. The holiday itself is celebrated with somewhat more fervor in the United States than in Mexico, and why not? It is a day to honor the people and contributions of our neighbor to the south. And it is a day to drink margaritas and Mexican beer, and to eat Mexican food.

Much of what Americans think of as Mexican food is actually Tex-Mex, available only along the border. But one food that is a staple throughout the country is the tortilla, which are eaten every day.

As is nearly always the case, homemade tortillas taste better than anything you can get commercially made. And they happen to be easy to make, if you don't have to grind the corn yourself.

This recipe is for flour tortillas, which are more popular in the northern part of the country. It comes from Taste of Home magazine.

TORTILLAS

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Divide dough into eight portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-inch circle.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm.

Yield: 8 tortillas

Source: Taste of Home, June/July 2010

Nutrition for 1 tortilla: 159 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 148 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks in advance of an event to food@theblade.com.



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