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Tastemakers:Boyne City National Morel Festival /Cupcake Vodka

Rick Coates - May 9th, 2011
Boyne City National Morel Festival
Despite recent unseasonably cold temperatures the often elusive morels are popping up all over Northern Michigan. That is good new for the 51st Annual National Morel Festival in Boyne City. The four-day festival begins this Thursday May 12 and continues through Sunday May 15 and is loaded with several events.
Here are a few highlights for the weekend. On Friday May 13 the MorelFest “Wine & Dine” will take place at the Beach House Restaurant at Boyne Mountain from 5 - 7 pm.  Tickets are limited and can be purchased at the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce for $40 per person.  Ticket holders will enjoy assorted gourmet hors d’ oeuvres paired with assorted wines. Here is a sampling of what is being offered: Morel, Grilled Ramp and Gruyere Quiches, Marinated Morels served in Belgian Endive Cups with a Port Wine Vinaigrette and topped with Toasted Pine Nut and Morel Meatloaf Sliders.
There are also guided hunts on both private property and state land. On Friday at 4:30 pm a guided morel hunt will start at Veterans Park in Boyne City. “Hunters” will be taken to a nearby forest to look for the morels and other edibles. Transportation is provided and space is limited with the cost being $12 per person. Register in advance online at  www.morelfest.com $12.00 registration fee. (Will hunt for 1 hour and return by 6:30 p.m.).
The premiere event of the National Morel Festival is The Taste of Morels on Saturday from Noon to 3 pm. More than a dozen restaurants from the region will offer unique morel samples. So if you are looking for different ways to prepare the morels you find, this is your event. Each year the Morel Festival invites a guest chef to give a cooking demonstration during this event and this year yours truly will have that honor.
For more information on the Boyne City Morel Mushroom Festival, please visit www.morelfest.com/ or call them at 231-582-6222. -- Rick Coates

Cupcake Vodka
Okay, so one of the hot culinary trends for 2011 is cupcakes; they are everywhere from dessert menus to new specialty shops opening up (there is a new cupcake store in TC), and now there is even cupcake vodka. Make that four cupcake vodkas. A few weeks back, California-based Cupcake Vineyards released a line of cupcake vodkas, Original, Frosting, Devil’s Food and Chiffon.
The team at Cupcake Vineyards felt that making a “dessert” vodka will appeal to the millennial (under 35) cocktail drinkers. Cupcake Vodka uses only natural ingredients including the best American grains. The vodka is distilled six times and is finished off  using charcoal filtration. Each of the vodkas is made with distilled water from the Sierra Nevada mountains and they never add artificial flavors or sweeteners. 
“We went to great lengths to make each vodka as authentic in flavor and aroma as possible without adding any artificial flavors,” said master distiller Doug Frost. “For example with our Devil’s Food with the chocolate flavor; we didn’t mess around with milk chocolate, instead we went with all natural  dark, rich, bittersweet chocolate to create a natural Devil’s Food taste.”
Cupcake Vodka on the surface seems to be a novelty blending two current trends, hi-end micro-distilled vodka and this years top sweet treat cupcakes. But reviews so far have been positive from the beverage critics. All four vodkas are available throughout the United States. Each Cupcake Vodka flavor makes great martinis or store the bottle in the freeze and enjoy as an after dinner sipper. What to pair with? Cupcakes of course. So what is next? Meatloaf Vodka? Don’t laugh, meat-flavored vodkas are on their way! --Rick Coates
 
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