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OUT TO EAT / Great dishes, drinks and people

A lobster roll for American tastes

In most of the northeastern United States, "lobster roll" tends to evoke lobster salad on a hot dog bun. But to fans of Wasabi (100 Plaza Drive, Williamsville, 689-5888, and locations in Buffalo and Blasdell), it means sushi.

Specifically, one of the American-style house special sushi rolls, eight pieces that are typically shared as an appetizer or part of a sushi roll array. "It's ordered by every two or three tables," said Wasabi's Melissa Sze. "It's our most popular roll."

The $11.95 dish starts with a sheet of edible yellow paper, made of soybeans. Then it's topped with rice and lobster salad, pieces of crustacean moistened with mayonnaise and mirin, then sweetened with honey.

A pinch of wasabi adds bite, but it's not spicy. Richness comes from slices of avocado, and slices of ripe mango add color and another layer of flavor. Tobiko, or flying fish roe, and shreds of tempura add more crunch.

The entire package is something you wouldn't see in Japan, Sze said. "In traditional Japanese culture, the rolls are really simple, either tuna or salmon," she said. "The texture and the sauce is for American tastes."

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Savor the icewine harvest

The 16th edition of Ontario's Niagara Icewine Festival starts tonight with the Icewine Red Hot and Ice Gala in the Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ont. There'll be more than 100 icewines and table wines to sample, and the casino's chefs have planned five culinary stations to nourish attendees, along with a selection of artisanal cheeses. Tickets are $175 per person.

If that's a bit steep, the event spans three weekends in the Niagara Region, with Jordan Village hosting the Twenty Valley Winter Winefest from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. And St. Catharines presents "Winterfest in the Square" in its Market Square from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Niagara-on-the-Lake will offer icewine culinary events, tasting seminars and an icewine cocktail competition, with an Icewine Village on Jan. 22-23.

For the complete events schedule, see www.icewinefestival.com or call (905) 688-0212.

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau (e-mail your restaurant or food event news to agalarneau@buffnews.com)

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