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


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.


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.