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Local Flavor: In N.Y., Packing The Produce Into Pleasing Paninis

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This summer, we're trying to tour the country bite by bite looking for local flavor. Today we go to Sulfur Springs in upstate New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We just stopped here for lunch - down here at the bottom of Dahlia road.

CHRISTINE MILLER: My name is Christine. We're here at Dahlia's Delights, and we're making one of our favorites. Going to start with black olives, green olives, parsley fresh from our garden today, a little bit of oregano, olive oil and some lemon juice. So we put all of that in our food processor.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOD PROCESSOR)

SIMON: So what's the delight everyone lines up for?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'll have the Mediterranean Panini.

SIMON: Christine Miller, who doesn't sound like she's from New York - or the Mediterranean, for that matter - serves up a lot of paninis at Dahlia's Delights. She says her menu has everything from muffulettas to the classic New York Reuben.

MILLER: Being English, we do a lot of sandwiches over there. And we try to pack a meal into a sandwich, so that was my basis for the paninis. I try to use the freshest ingredients available. We have a small vegetable garden that's grown naturally in the back. And we try to pick our fresh produce when it's in season, which we use in our paninis.

SIMON: How did you wind up there doing this?

MILLER: My husband and I planned this many years ago, I suppose, and we started building it. But unfortunately, my husband passed away before it was finished. So I ended up opening two months after he'd gone with the help of a few friends. I've been in the food business over the years, until I met my husband, who was a tree surgeon, and I worked with him. And we had a very good business here. But it wasn't a business that I could carry on myself. So I was lucky - fortunate enough - to have this in the process of being built.

SIMON: It's a lot of work to have your own restaurant isn't it? I mean, it's opening in the morning, it's locking up at night, it's...

MILLER: It is. And I actually owned a restaurant years ago. And with this business, I didn't really want to have an actual restaurant per se because it is so much work. But I wanted to keep it simple but still have really good food. We have a lot of contractors up here, so it's nice that they can just pop in.

SIMON: And a lot of this coming from the garden you have in back of Dahlia's Delights?

MILLER: Yes. My passion, being English, also is gardening.

SIMON: Oh, of course.

MILLER: So I've always had a garden. And when my husband passed away, I wasn't going to do it, but a friend of mine suggested that I keep doing it because it's one thing that I love to do. But after I grew all these vegetables, I thought, now what? (Laughter) So I said well, we can always use them at Dahlia's Delights. They'll just make the sandwiches even tastier than they already are.

SIMON: Christine Miller of Dahlia's Delights in Sullivan County, White Sulfur Springs, N.Y. Thanks for being with us.

MILLER: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.