Quaff to the races
The 2008 Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle held its second annual Beer and Wine competition over the weekend of July 26. Entrants from all over Aroostook County entered their handcrafted wines and homemade brews, with first-place awards for wines going to Mitchell Winery, in the commercial wine category, for its hard apple cider the Leaches, in the kit wine category, for a 2008 Pinot Chardonnay Donald Holmes, in the vegetable wine category, for his Red Detroit Beet Wine and Voisine’ s 2008 Strawberry and Rhubarb wine, in the fruit wine category. For beer brewers, first place in both the American ale and the specialty categories went to Bill Arrington, for his American pale and Belgian dubbel, respectively. For more information on the competition, and on event organizer Mike Mitchell’ s winemaking company, Mitchell Winery, visit www.mitchellwinery.com.

Winning ‘ chimi’
Last weekend’ s Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland held its annual Maine seafood cooking contest. The winner this year was Jan Campbell of Hope, with her Maine shrimp chimichanga. Campbell said she came up with the recipe in order to make something for her daughter, who has a food allergy preventing her from eating foods containing preservatives. Her recipe uses only fresh, local ingredients — and even though tiny wild Maine shrimp are perfect for the meal, Campbell said you can use lobster, crab or scallops instead of the shrimp.

To make, saute or boil one pound of Maine shrimp. Add to the shrimp ? cup each of green onions, fresh cilantro, fresh tomatoes, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and shredded cheddar cheese, as well as 2 cups baby spinach. Add salt, pepper and red pepper to taste. Combine that mixture with 8 ounces of sour cream, and then wrap a ?-cup of the mixture up into a flour or corn tortilla, making sure the sides are sealed in. Fry the wrapped-up tortilla in a ?-inch of canola oil in a skillet until golden brown on each side. Makes 6-8 servings.

A sad note for foodies in Penobscot County  – Melissa Ettinger, head chef at the fabulous culinary haven known as Valerie Jean’ s, located in Milo, is leaving the restaurant for her old position at Clay Hill Farm in Ogunquit. Ettinger brought American-style bistro food to northern Penobscot County, specializing in gourmet burgers, fresh-baked breads and a Sunday night Italian special for just $9.95. Ettinger’ s departure doesn’ t mean the end of Valerie Jean’ s, however: the original Valerie Jean, Ettinger’ s mother Valerie Robertson, will continue operating the restaurant. She intends to transition to a more pub food-oriented menu, though some of the recipes will remain the same, such as the lobster bisque and house salad. The new Valerie Jean’ s will reopen Labor Day weekend call 943-7470.