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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Zinnia’s Bakehouse makes items such as king cakes and beignets for Fat Tuesday.

  • Vega 

  • Ryan DuVall | The Journal Gazette Caliente will soon be serving po’ boys, including a shrimp version.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:02 pm

Getting fat: Menus add Mardi Gras items

Kimberly Dupps Truesdell | For The Journal Gazette

The start of the year is typically a time when people are making resolutions and swearing off the delectable treats Krystal Vega makes for Zinnia’s Bakehouse.

But the owner of the bakery with two locations – 1320 E. State Blvd. and downtown in The City Exchange, 127 W. Wayne St. – recalls that one of her first orders after Jan. 1 was not for a vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free substitute for her cupcakes.

Nope. Instead, it was an order for the goodies that come only once a year – Carnival season or, as we know it, Fat Tuesday.

The Mardi Gras holiday (if you can call it that) will be Feb. 28 this year, and Vega and other bakers are preparing the traditional treats. From New Orleans specialties such as king cakes and beignets to the Polish tradition of paczki, it’s time to order and get your fill before swearing off sweets for 40 days. If you do that kind of thing, that is.

At Zinnia’s, Vega will make king cakes, begniets and paczki. The king cake, which is more of a cinnamon roll than a cake, is decorated with gold, green and purple sugar. And, yes, there is a baby inside.

Vega says she places the food-grade baby at different places in the dough as she rolls the log so that even she doesn’t know where the sign of good luck will be. Available in three flavors – cream cheese, cinnamon sugar and strawberry-filled – the cake costs $19 and feeds 12 to 16.

Another New Orleans favorite is the beignet, which is on the Saturday menu at Zinnia’s. For Fat Tuesday, the fried pillowy pieces of dough, which are best enjoyed with a cafe au lait, are $4 for four pieces.

Paczkis, which could be called a Polish-filled beignet, are $1.50 and come in four flavors – housemade Bavarian cream, strawberry, raspberry and plain.

At Waynedale Bakery, 2610 Lower Huntington Road, Chris Miller has been making paczkis for years.

Miller is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has a large Polish population and is of Polish heritage herself, and she grew up eating them.

Last year, she made more than 70 dozen paczkis and will probably make more this year. She does get help from the crew at Tom’s Donuts at Georgetown with the paczkis, and the 6328 E. State Blvd. store will have the pastries available as well.

Their paczkis are available in lemon, apple, raspberry, blueberry and Bavarian cream. They are $1.25 each or $15 a dozen at Waynedale Bakery. Typically, they are coated with powdered sugar but some of the raspberry might have white icing and the Bavarian have chocolate icing.

Waynedale Bakery’s king cakes are brushed with cinnamon sugar and are not filled. They cost $4.15 and feed 12 to 16.

While not a sweet treat, the Cuban restaurant Caliente is adding some New Orleans flavor to its menu. The owners of the shop at 1123 E. State Blvd. recently visited the Louisiana city and fell in love with the po’ boy sandwich.

There will be three varieties. The classic shrimp will have crispy fried shrimp that has been marinated then breaded before being fried. It will be served on specially made individual rolls (not the standard long Cuban loaves that are sliced down into sandwich sections) and dressed with Cajun sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, horseradish mustard and a little mayo. A beef version will feature slow-cooked roast that is seasoned with Worcestershire and a variety of Cajun seasonings. If you can’t decide, the surf and turf combines the beef and shrimp.

The new menu item will be unveiled Feb. 28 to coincide with Caliente’s eight-year anniversary.

Milktooth brunch

Celebrated in their own right, chefs Aaron Butts and Sean Richardson will be letting the culinary mind of the acclaimed Milktooth take over their kitchen at The Golden.

The special brunch, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, will feature dishes made by Jonathan Brooks, who was given Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef Award in 2015.

Indianapolis-based Brooks is known for using fresh, local ingredients and "to connect childhood food memories with unconventionally creative morning fare."

The Golden is also collaborating with Dan Oskey, the owner of Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, to bring new cocktails to the breakfast table. Nitro cold-brew coffee from Utopia and doughnuts from Hetty Arts Pastry will be available as well.

Reservations are not required for this event.

Casa features

Executive chef Al Tholen and Casa Restaurants have unveiled the features for February and March.

The menu includes a twist on the wedge salad, topping a wedge of iceberg lettuce with creamy gorgonzola cheese dressing, bacon, pulled rotisserie chicken, fried garbanzo beans, smoked gouda cheese blend and marinated tomatoes.

When it comes to entrées, there’s several choices including Polenta di Bistecca with polenta topped with small filet mignon medallions in a Chianti wine gravy topped with a poached egg.

The Rigatoni Gamberi has blackened Cajun shrimp tossed in a spicy cream sauce with andouille sausage and rigatoni pasta.

For dessert, it’s Valentine’s Day every day with a raspberry chocolate cheesecake.

Around town

• The IPFW student-run restaurant will begin service this week. The Stag will be open for lunch every Thursday through April 28. The Stag, which was created and will be operated by 10 hospitality and tourism management students, will showcase British comfort food that has been described as "a British pub meets Downton Abbey," according to the students who have created this restaurant concept. The Stag is at the Holiday Inn Fort Wayne-IPFW and Coliseum, 4111 Paul Shaffer Drive.

• The Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice menu just debuted at IHOP. It features a Sticky Bun Waffle (two Belgian waffle triangles drizzled with maple glaze and topped with honey glazed pecans); Red Velvet French Toast (one slice of chocolaty, cake-like French Toast topped with cream cheese icing); and Cinnamon Roll French Toast (a cinnamon roll dipped in batter and grilled before being topped with cinnamon roll filling and drizzled with cream cheese icing). It will be available through April 10.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email or call 461-8304.