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Morecello: A taste of Italy made in Meredith


MEREDITH — The conventional end to an Italian meal, the digestivo, or after-dinner drink, traces its origins to the popes and princes of the Renaissance and beyond, but recently struck root in the Lakes Region, where Frank Marino, a patent agent, has turned a family tradition into a fledgling enterprise.

Marino has begun producing Morecello, an infused liqueur akin to the commercially more ubiquitous "limoncello," made from the blackberry, or, in Italian, "mora." He said that for generations his family made the drink at home, and brought it to America in 1917 when his grandfather arrived from Sicily, which along with Calabria, Sardinia and the Amalfi Coast is known for liqueurs made from fresh fruit.

"I've been making it for Christmas gifts for a long time," Marino said, "and people have been urging me to bottle it." Last week, he delivered his first order of 50 cases, each with a dozen bottles, to the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

Sometimes called "amazzacaffe," or "coffee killer," digestivos, collectively known as "amari," are relished for their medicinal properties believed to ease digestion and generally include a proprietary mix of herbs, spices, roots and flowers steeped in grain alcohol and blended with sweet syrup. Although more than 300 digestivos are marketed, many believe that the best, like Marino's Morecello, follow home recipes. Marino was circumspect, saying only that "hundreds of bushels of blackberries," organically grown by "a little Italian in Washington state," are steeped in grain alcohol "for a secret amount of time" and mixed with sugar, spring water and other undisclosed ingredients. "It's all organic," he stressed, "and 50 proof."

Marino explained that Morecello should be frozen then partially thawed during the course of the meal and finally "shaken vigorously and served slushy" in small drafts of two or three ounces. "It's not meant to be guzzled," he said. Traditionally a digestive, Marino said that Morecello can also serve as an ingredient to cocktails and, above all, said it is absolutely delicious mixed with milk.

Originally, Marino intended to produce Morecello from his home, but was informed that federal law and state regulation require him to operate in a secure facility. He purchased the building next door to the Annalee Dolls Gift Shop on US Route 3, which last served a temporary home to Rite-Aid Pharmacy. He said that the cement block building on a half-acre lot, which has no windows and as a pharmacy is fitted with a security alarm, meets all the requirements while providing 2,000 square feet of space.

Marino said that he spent more than a year dealing with the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax Bureau to obtain the federal permits to produce, bottle and sell distilled spirits, "but it was real easy with the state." He recalled driving to Concord and filling a meter to park for two hours then registering his business, securing his trademark, opening an account with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission and finding 15 minutes remaining on his parking meter.

New Hampshire, Marino said, is one of the very best states in the country for a small entrepreneur to produce and sell alcoholic beverages.

"The state does not tax your product," he explained, "but makes its money by marking up its price. They have a vested interest in your success because the state benefits from your sales."

He said the New Hampshire Liquor Commission will put Morecello on the shelves of its stores in the Lakes Region — in Meredith, Center Harbor, New Hampton and Gilford — and hopes it will also soon appear at the the stores on either side of I-93 in Hooksett. Morecello will be among the products featured at Lakes Region Uncorked, an exposition of locally made wine, mead, cider, beer, spirits and foods to benefit Lakes Region Community Services at Church Landing at Mill Falls on Nov. 3, beginning at 5 p.m.

Marino said he has invested in materials sufficient to produce 5,000 bottles, or more than 400 cases, of Morecello, which he hopes will be exhausted in six to eight months. Still a practicing patent agent, he said that he anticipates spending the equivalent of a day a week on his new enterprise, but would clearly like for the business to claim more of his time.

"I also make a very good limoncello," he said, smiling.

10-11 Frank Marino Morecello

Frank Marino of Black Cove Beverages in Meredith cradles a bottle of Morecello, an after-dinner drink fashioned from blackberries inspired by a recipe that originated generations ago with his ancestors in Sicily and soon to be on the shelves of liquor stores in the Lakes Region. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Generations Therapy and Care Provider Services focuses on veterans

TILTON — Generations Therapy and Care Provider Services, a veteran owned company, is having a grand opening celebration this Thursday, Oct. 13, from 1 to 6 p.m. at its new location at Riverfront Place, 322 West Main St., Suite 151, in Tilton.

Dwayne Oothoudt, a disabled veteran and a registered occupational therapist said, "Answering the call to assist our veterans has been the foundation of our clinic. Giving back to those who have given so much is what motivates us. The option of a local, veteran owned and operated clinic, builds the bonds necessary for quality therapy and emphasizes the strength of community. Consistency in care and in your care providers is a quality we are very proud of. With the increased need for veteran's services, Generations is answering the call to provide quality therapy and home care services throughout our Lakes Region communities."

Generations Therapy and Care Provider Services provide outpatient therapy services and non-medical care provider services to the members of our community, including local veterans who seek to utilize their Veterans Choice (VCP) benefits.

The scope of services includes occupational and physical therapy, community therapy, home care and Alzheimer's/dementia training. All services used evidenced-based approaches for optimal recovery and independence of our patients.

The open house is an opportunity to meet the team and learn firsthand how choosing the right therapy team can make the difference in recovery. Those at the open house will have the opportunity to learn how occupational therapists assist in bathing/dressing, self-feeding, community mobility and engaging in leisure activities.

Generations' physical therapists are experts on post-surgical recovery, neurological disorders, pain management, and concussion recovery.

Refreshments will be provided as well as many hands on opportunities to test out a variety of equipment.

For more information about Generations Therapy and Care Provider Services call 603-729-0056 or online at http://generations-therapy.org/.


10 06 Generations Therapy 

On hand for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting of Generations Therapy and Care Provider Services in Tilton are, from left, Vinny Benincasa, volunteer with the NH Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Dave Quinn, state chair for NHESGR; Lauren O'Reilly, Dwayne Oothoudt, co-owner/administrator of Generations Therapy, Lori Oothoudt-co-owner/office manager; Connor Brough, Harry Accornero and Bruce Thompson, Region 4 chair for NHESGR. (Courtesy photo) 

Council to consider selling old Lakeport Fire Station


LACONIA — After receiving an offer from Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates Lakeport Landing Marina, to purchase the former Lakeport Fire Station, the City Council will hold a public hearing to determine whether to declare the property surplus and available for sale when it meets on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

The station has not operated since the early 1981, but has served as a dormitory for student firefighters and housed fire vehicles from time to time until relatively recently. The building currently serves as a garage for vehicles of the Community Emergency Response Team. Deputy Fire Chief Kirk Beattie said that the expansion and renovation of Central Fire Station was designed to render the Lakeport Fire Station redundant.

Blizzard has offered $127,700 for three lots, which together amount to less than an acre. The lot housing the Lakeport Fire Station is 0.32 acres and the lot abutting it to the rear of the building is 0.195 acres. The two lots include some 132 feet of municipal right-of-way — Railroad Avenue. Blizzard's offer includes granting an easement to the city confirming its right to Railroad Avenue and, to the extent possible, an undertaking to make parking spaces on the north side of the street available to the general public for parking.

The third lot, a 0.81 acre strip between Union Avenue and the railroad is what remains of a larger parcel the city leased to Lakeport Landing for 30 years until the lease expired and ownership reverted to the city last November.

Blizzard, in her offer to the City Council said that the company would like to preserve the fire station, but indicated that it would not be feasible to convert it to commercial uses. Instead, she proposed to demolish the fire station and construct a 10,000-square-foot building on the cleared lot.

Although Blizzard offered to purchase the property her firm had leased, the City Council decided it was required to accept competitive bids. Irwin Marine, which operates on the abutting lot, submitted the highest offer, which the city accepted. Blizzard brought suit against the city in Belknap County Superior Court, claiming that City Manager Scott Myers exceeded his authority by offering the property to competitive bidders. The court granted Irwin Marine's petition to intervene in the litigation then ordered all three parties to to seek a settlement of the dispute through mediation. Last month, the mediator informed the court that a "tentative settlement" had been reached and the city asked the court to stay the trial scheduled for December.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed and City Manager Scott Myers has declined to comment about them. However, attorney Laura Spector-Morgan, representing the city, informed the court that the settlement would require review by "the City Council, city boards and state agencies," which could take "many months, if not a year," which suggests that the opportunity to acquire the fire station is an element of the settlement.

Meanwhile, City Manager Scott Myers said Friday that in addition to Blizzard's formal offer for the property, he has been contacted by two parties who inquired about the property and the process for offering it for sale, indicating that if the city decides to sell it they would interested. He added that he has indirectly learned of a third party who has also expressed interest.

Myers declined to comment on the litigation, but said that whatever the relationship between Blizzard and the city, should the property be offered for sale there is nothing to preclude other parties from expressing interest or submitting offers. At the same time, he explained that upon receipt of a written offer to purchase property, which the city owns or has acquired other than by tax deed and the City Council has declared "surplus," the council may choose either to negotiate the sale of the property itself or authorize the city manager to negotiate the sale, which must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the six councilors.

The Lakeport Association has long resisted the demolition of the fire station. Blizzard agreed that if the fire station were demolished, the company would place a permanent memorial, displaying a photograph of the building with an explanation of its significance to the city, at an appropriate location on the site.

Lakeport Fire Station