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If you go...To Pawpaw country

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The southern third of Ohio has 10 percent of the state's population, and this area in the foothills of the Appalachians is beautiful. If you find yourself in pawpaw country, here are our recommendations:

The Cabin at Chimney Lake B&B, outside Athens, Ohio, owned by Matt Rapposelli and his wife, Robin Dewey, can't be beat for solitude and a fantastic breakfast at their Big Chimney Baking Company, a short stroll away.

This is how a log cabin should be -- the rustic log structure you fantasize about but with all the comforts of home. The rooms are large and beautifully furnished with a tasteful combination of antiques and IKEA.

Breakfast was at the couple's fabulous bakery, which features brioche, giant cinnamon rolls with hazelnuts and mouth-watering croissants from this master baker. (There are tarts and scones for the road, too.) Call 1-740-592-4147 or e-mail bigchimney@sprynet.com. Robin's mother has a pottery studio between the cabin and bakery that features the friendly felines that grace the cabin's fireplace mantel.

A note at the B&B advises showing up before 9 a.m., when people start arriving from near and far for the delicious artisan breads and pastries. Such an off-the-beaten-track getaway isn't for everybody, however. One night a couple had disappeared by the time breakfast was delivered. Matt, a former forest ranger, later discovered that the city folks had been scared off by a screech owl. The couple returned to pay their bill and never let on.

For a dinner at the nearby college town of Athens, home of Ohio University, try a delightful fresh Mex meal at Casa Nueva, since 1985 a worker-owned cantina and restaurant. The delicious food is made from scratch, and the service was as special as being waited on by the owner could be.

Emphasis is on fresh food well prepared. We wished we lived nearby and could have carried a doggie bag home. The portions are that generous, and we confirmed rumors of a seasonal Pawpaw Margarita and Pawpaw Lassi. Call 1-740-592-2016.

-- Suzanne Martinson

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