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Festival celebrates delicacies that are Uniquely West Virginia

April 21, 2007|By DON AINES

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Hundreds of visitors passed through the Old Factory Antique Mall on Saturday, sampling hot sauces, wines, pepperoni rolls, ramp and potato soup, and other delicacies that are Uniquely West Virginia.

"We were at the spa and we came here because we heard there was wine," Jeni Steigleman of Gardners, Pa., said as she munched on a pepperoni roll made by Tari's, a Berkeley Springs caf.

The rolls were created by coal miners' wives, a way of baking something their husbands could slip into a pocket and take into the mines, said Amy McBee, owner of Tari's.

"It's yummy ... Try it with the hot sauce," friend Tiffany Hockley said of the trout cake sandwiches, also prepared by Tari's.

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The five wineries that set up shop for the 14th annual Uniquely West Virginia Wine & Food Festival did a brisk business both with wine sampling and sales.

John and Barbara Kennen of Kenco Farms in Sutton, W.Va., brought a variety of their fruit and honey wines.

"You get a lot more for your labor turning the fruit and honey into wine," Kennen said. The couple produces about 6,000 bottles a year of wines made from blueberries, apples, raspberries and blackberries, along with mead, a wine made from fermented honey, he said.

Charles Whitehill of West-Whitehill Winery in Moorefield, W.Va., said his winery produces about 10,000 bottles a year, including three whites, a blush, four reds and a spice wine.

"We started planting grapes in '79 and opened the winery in '92," Whitehill said. The spice wine contains cinnamon, cloves and orange, and often is served warm "like a mull wine," he said.

Between sips, visitors stopped at Uncle Bunks Condiments with a Kick, sampling his award-winning mustard relish and rustic pepper sauce, both winners of Fiery Food Challenge Awards in 2006. Larry Young, aka Uncle Bunk, and his wife, Rose, of Sistersville, W.Va., have been making condiments since 2003.

"These are his mother's and grandmother's old Appalachian recipes," Rose Young said.

Ramp and potato soup, made with wild onions, was sold by Betsy Heath of Lot 12 Public House, another local restaurant. Her husband, Damian, is the chef, and the menu changes with each season, using local seasonal ingredients, she said.

The air of the old factory also was filled with the scents of Carol Randell's soaps, lotions and bath salts, with names such as Almost Heaven, Earth Mother and Mountain Man, made in town with natural ingredients.

Down the street at the Ice House, the Delectable Mountains Quilters Guild hosted a show of its members' works. The approximately 80 works on display were not your great-grandmother's quilts.

"They're doing some very cutting-edge design work," said Jeanne Mozier, vice president of Travel Berkeley Springs.

Past President Rika Bennett said the guild has about 75 members and celebrated its 25th year in 2006. For some of them, quilting is a business, "but most of us just have a passion," she said.

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