This year's Fire and Ice Festival will feature a macaroni and cheese competition

CANANDAIGUA — Several of the restaurant owners who participated in previous Fire and Ice Festival chili competitions often would make the rivalry among eateries a spicy affair — and a tasty one for festival visitors.

As part of this year’s festival planned for Saturday, Feb. 16, in downtown Canandaigua, festival goers will see if they feel the same way about their macaroni-and-cheese dishes.

Invites have gone out and as many as 12 restaurants could be competing in what’s billed as the Downtown Mac Down. As part of the Fire and Ice event, a Finger Lakes brewery competition also will be part of the mix.

The Downtown Business Improvement District, which puts on the Fire and Ice Festival every year, and restaurants agreed to mix things up a bit this year, said Barbie Kuehne, who is assistant events and marketing coordinator for the BID.

“We definitely wanted comfort food,” Kuehne said. “What’s the best comfort food? Macaroni and cheese.”

As with the chili, restaurants will be vying in several categories, including Top Mac and Cheese, Best Presentation, Most Unique and the People’s Choice.

“I’m really excited about it,” Kuehne said. “There’s so much that can be done. I want to see the creativity come out.”

Wine Walks

Speaking of changes, the Wine Walks sponsored by the Canandaigua Downtown Merchants Association this year will be held the first Saturday of every other month instead of monthly.

The first walk under the new schedule will be Feb. 2, and it will have a Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day theme, said Kuehne, who also is Wine Walk coordinator.

The remainder of the popular events will be held in April, June, August, October, and December.

In addition to themed walks, the plan is to bring in wineries new to the walk as well as invite back wineries that had participated in past events.

The cost to participate is $10, and wine walkers can pick up glasses at Unique Toy Shoppe. All sorts of food and wine stops are planned.

“We’re definitely excited to take it to the next level,” Kuehne said.

Another Other Half release

A large crowd queued up on a frigid Friday for an Other Half Brewing can release at its site on Routes 5 and 20 in East Bloomfield.

And that’s just the cars entering the former Nedloh Brewing Company site.

Those lucky enough to get a parking space bundled up and braved the winter cold and wind chill while waiting in line to purchase several varieties of the Brooklyn-based brewery’s offerings.

The only downer? The craft brewery owners had hoped to be open here by Feb. 1.

“Looking like March 1, hopefully,” emailed one of the partners, Matt Monahan.

Coffee and more

The Canandaigua City Planning Commission on Tuesday gave the OK for a special-use permit allowing The Dalai Java to add beer, wine and hard cider to its coffee menu.

No word on exactly when this will happen, as the South Main Street coffeehouse folks now have to obtain a liquor license. But they hope to have it in place by summertime.

The coffeehouse on South Main Street would then be open until 10 p.m. every night but Sundays.

Oops

Didn’t mean to make Jack Northrup work anymore than he has to, which is a lot, as many restaurant owners can attest.

Northrup owns the new Jack’s Kitchen on Main Street in the village of Rushville, which opened officially Jan. 2 but is not open Mondays.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.