May 22 • 07:04 PM

A taste of Imlay City

Merchants share recipe secrets during 3rd annual Recipe Walk in downtown Imlay City this Saturday

February 06, 2008

Emeril may not have a restaurant in Imlay City, but there are plenty of chefs that are eager to share their culinary secrets in this year's Imlay City Recipe Walk sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority.

On Saturday, local merchants and businesses will give Martha Stewart a run for her money during the third annual event, which runs from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Participants dug through their recipe boxes and put together enough recipes to compile a 35-40 page cookbook that offers a taste of the cuisine favored by locals.

In its third year, the Imlay City Recipe Walk has grown in popularity, and offers residents from across the area a chance to check out downtown businesses, sample some tasty recipes and end up with a cookbook that's got a pricetag that can't be beat.

Kitty Schuster of Kitty’s Place Resale Shop will have samples of her no-bean chili party dip at the shop on Saturday. Schuster looks forward to the event, for which she contributed the recipe. photo by Catherine Minolli.

It works like this: 'Recipe Walk' signs will be displayed in the windows of participating merchants and businesses. Visitors are welcome to stop in and sample the fare—where available—and pick up a Recipe Walk coupon. Collected coupons are redeemable at a central location, which will be determined by Saturday, and turned in for a cookbook. The more coupons gathered, the lower the price of the cookbook, which has a price range from $2-$5—depending on the number of coupons presented.

"We really encourage people to participate and visit the merchants who have offered a recipe for the event," DDA Director Brad Barrett says. "It's in their best interest anyway, because those who do will get a cookbook full of recipes for $2 and you can beat that."

Those who wish to purchase the cookbook outright may do so for $5.

Last year's event drew between 150-200 visitors, who walked away with books that featured 70 recipes.

"The book will be even bigger this year," Barrett says.

As in the past, recipes submitted by those who make up the heart of Imlay City are unique and surprising and cover a wide range of culinary delights. While the Midwest generally takes a bad rap for being the meat and potatoes, burger and fries capitol of the rust belt, these local chefs took a scouring pad to that reputation by submitting creative delicacies like 'Chocolate Cherry Chunk Scones,' 'Maple Coffee,' 'White Chili' and 'Quick as a Blink Lemon cookies.'

At the same time, hearty comfort food often associated with rural lifestyles isn't ignored. The collection includes family favorites like 'Creamy Macaroni and Cheese,' 'Pineapple Upside Down Cake,' and creamy 'Buffalo Wing Dip.'

For the more adventuresome, there's 'Cowboy Caviar,' and 'No-Chili Party Dip.'

If you're looking for something to serve for dessert, why not try 'Banana Dessert' or 'Maple Banana Bread.' Or some of those delicious, bakery-style 'Chocolate Cherry Chunk Scones' mentioned above, which will be available for sampling at The Daily Grind on Almont Ave.

Submitted by owner Wendi Blatt, the scones are a newly featured item at the café, and she believes those who try them will find the English delicacy hard to resist.

"We'd like to share those with people," Blatt says. "They're really delicious."

Blatt's 'Cowboy Caviar' recipe, submitted by Pro-Tanning down the street, is also a sure hit.

Served with tortilla chips, Blatt says the dip has a Mexican flair that's part of Imlay City's local culture.

Wendi Blatt, owner of The Daily Grind Café, with chocolate cherry chunk scones that will be offered for sampling during Imlay’s Recipe Walk. photo by Catherine Minolli.
"We thought it would be a nice item to present to people and it's so good that we're convinced everyone's going to love it," she says.

Blatt, who has participated in the recipe walk for the past three years, says she looks forward to it every time.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to bring people into the downtown area and get people in the doors," she says. "In the past, we've had people come in who didn't even know we were here. We're very pleased with it."

Blatt credits Barrett with hatching the idea, which has consistently accomplished its goal of increasing interest in downtown Imlay City.

"Brad's done an amazing job bringing things to our community to bring in traffic off of M-53 into downtown," she says.

Kitty Schuster, longtime owner of Kitty's Place Resale Shop, agrees. Also a three year participant in the Recipe Walk, Schuster's contribution this year—the 'No-Bean Chili Party Dip' recipe—is a crowd pleaser.

"It's super-easy and super-tasty," she says.

Schuster will have samples available on Saturday, and says she looks forward to this year's event.

"It's an absolutely enjoyable way to spend a day out in the dull month of February to meet your neighbors and friends," she says. "It's a nice hometown thing to do."

Schuster's neighbors at Chick's Barber Shop down the street are also looking forward to greeting visitors with some tasty treats.

Business owner Ed Chick says his wife Jeanette is the master of the kitchen in their household, and she's always coming up with a delicious recipe that's sure to please.

"She's made an excellent fresh salsa, but I'm not sure what we'll have—she always surprises me," Chick says.

He, too, is looking forward to Saturday's recipe walk, which he says has been "great" in past years.

"It brings a lot of people up town and it's good to see everyone enjoying themselves and trying out the munchies," he says. "It's a very positive thing."

Along with the Recipe Walk, visitors can take in the street art display—shamrocks decorated by local businesses and merchants. Horse and carriage rides will also be available throughout the day for a donation of $1 per person.

Barrett encourages people from around the area to check out the DDA sponsored event, which has proven very successful in the past.

"People enjoy it very much," he says. "It's great to see moms and daughters out together, families come downtown and visit merchants and have a good time," he says. "It's a very family friendly way to see what's happening and to highlight downtown Imlay City during the winter months."

For more information on this and other Imlay City DDA events visit the Web site or call Barrett at 810-724-2135.

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