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Out to eat / Great dishes, drinks and people

A mighty big Reuben

When John Latella wanted to add a big grilled Reuben sandwich to the menu at his Fireside Inn (205 Central Ave., Lancaster, 683-0462), he had one problem: No bread he could get measured up to his vision. "It was pretty tough to get a loaf of rye bread that would accommodate what I perceived the sandwich to be," Latella said.

So Latella turned to a Depew bakery to fashion a custom 3-pound loaf of rye. He cuts the loaf in half, then slices it lengthwise to make "a heck of a big sandwich," he said. Latella believes in jumbo offerings, with the Fireside Inn menu sporting both 3/4 -pound meatballs and pound-and-a-half cheeseburgers.

To make the Reuben, buttered bread slices are toasted on the flat-top grill, joined by almost a pound of corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Flipped a couple of times until it's crusty and melty inside, "Shelly's Reuben" is chopped into three hunks and served with chips and a pickle for $10.99.

The sandwich was named after Shelly, who sold him clothes at the New York Store on Central Avenue in Lancaster, Latella said. There's regular-sized versions for sale, too, and a turkey Reuben that can be made with coleslaw.

The finished sandwich is about 11 inches long, and serves one big eater or two regular appetites. Latella once had a customer come in and eat two by himself, but that's never happened again, he said. More often, "People take some home."

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A taste of Niagara wines

The Niagara Wine Trail invites wine lovers to get out of the house in January and visit Niagara County wineries for a warm-up drink.

On Jan. 22 and 23, visitors can stop in at 14 or more Niagara County establishments for a wine tasting. Many of the places are open for previews on Jan. 21. Participants get a commemorative glass and a chance at a basket of wine, with one bottle from each venue.

Tickets are $20 advance or $25 at the door. To get tickets or information, visit www.niagarawinetrail.org.

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau

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