FranksWine Celebrates 30 Years

Golden Wine Event

FranksWine, at 1206 N. Union St. in Wilmington, is celebrating 30 years in 2017. And that’s not all. This month, FranksWine is hosting a fundraiser—a pop-up Golden Wine Event on Saturday, Feb. 11.

After a five-year break, the event is back at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom at 2020 Naamans Rd. Twenty vendors will be pouring wine that comes from various regions, and guests are invited to meander from station to station—which include craft beer from four local brewers. Overall, the drink menu comprises 80 wines and 16 craft brew selections.

Tickets are $100, and $25 of each ticket and 100 percent of the proceeds from the FranksWine Big Bottle Silent Auction will be donated to Kids Runway for Research, which raises awareness and support for The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Get tickets at frankswine.com.

 

Sips

Here’s what’s pouring

Golden Wine Event

FranksWine, at 1206 N. Union St. in Wilmington, is celebrating 30 years in 2017. And that’s not all. This month, FranksWine is hosting a fundraiser—a pop-up Golden Wine Event on Saturday, Feb. 11.

After a five-year break, the event is back at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom at 2020 Naamans Rd. Twenty vendors will be pouring wine that comes from various regions, and guests are invited to meander from station to station—which include craft beer from four local brewers. Overall, the drink menu comprises 80 wines and 16 craft brew selections.

Tickets are $100, and $25 of each ticket and 100 percent of the proceeds from the FranksWine Big Bottle Silent Auction will be donated to Kids Runway for Research, which raises awareness and support for The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Get tickets at frankswine.com.

Bob’s 1st Ale is Back

From now through March 30, the South Burlington, Vt. Magic Hat Brewing Company’s Bob’s 1st Ale—the brewery’s inaugural 1994 ale, originally dubbed Magic Hat Ale—is back. Magic Hat has moved away from its seasonal brews, which the ale was originally among, and is introducing the Limited Run series, offering beers from its vault that have been fan and staff favorites over the years. The rotation of the series will have a two-month window for each—totaling five brews for this year. An Irish-style, deep ruby red ale at 4.6 percent ABV, Bob’s 1st is fermented with the brewery’s 150-year-old strain of top-fermenting English yeast. Find the brew at local liquor stores.

dogfish-head-flesh-blood-ipa-canned1Dogfish Head Canned Flesh & Blood IPA

Brewed with a ratio of fruit, freshly-squeezed juice, and Northwest citrusy-hop varieties, Flesh & Blood India Pale Ale—Dogfish Head’s newest year-round brew—is now available at local liquor stores. Clocking in at 7.5 percent ABV and 45 IBUs, and exclusively available in six-pack cans, Flesh & Blood is crafted with orange peel, lemon flesh and an aromatic blood orange juice, resulting in a balanced and zesty ale.

Dogfish remains consistent in its use of all-natural culinary products in which consumers can easily identify the whole ingredient and trust in the freshness of fruits and vegetables, and thoughtfully sourced spices.

“Because we derive flavors and aromas from actual fruits you would recognize at your local farmers market and not jugs or buckets of flavoring created in a laboratory, you will not see statements like ‘brewed with natural flavors’ or ‘natural flavors added’ on our labels,” says Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head founder and CEO.

Flesh & Blood represents more than 21 years of commitment to tweaking and perfecting the fruit IPA style. Dogfish Head is a leading pioneer in this arena; it was the first American brewery to package and ship fruit IPAs nationally.

“We’ve been experimenting with fruit and citrus IPAs since 1996 when we released Aprihop, an IPA brewed with apricots,” Calagione says. “We think the fruit IPA category will surge the fastest in 2017 and we are proud of Dogfish Head’s innovator position in this realm.” To find Flesh & Blood IPA, visit dogfish.com/brewery/fishfinder.

Back by Popular Demand

After a three-year hiatus, Dover brewery Dominion has brought back its Millennium Ale. This Barley Wine Style Ale uses the original recipe first brewed in Ashburn, Va., to commemorate its 1,000th batch of beer.

This full-bodied English/American style barley wine comes in at 10.5 percent ABV. Millennium is brewed with Pale and Crystal Malts, Perle, Hallertau, Mt. Hood and EKG hops, and pure Virginia honey. The limited 100-barrel release is a labor of love that takes 24 hours of non-stop brewing before spending 15 weeks in the fermenter. Dominion Millennium Ale paired with sharp cheeses or a variety of desserts promises to be an ally in the cold winter months.

Says Head Brewer Daniel Louder: “This beer’s complexity, nostalgia and demand makes it something special and a pleasure to brew. Beer drinkers that have had it will be pleased that it’s available again, and ones that haven’t tried it will not be disappointed.”

Dominion Millennium Ale was released last month and is available in six-packs and on draught at local liquor stores.

Fresh Pours

New Belgium Brewing is on a roll. Four new year-round beers are now available from the Fort Collins, Colo., brewery, which is tweaking some other brews, too.

Fresh out of the gate are Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour and Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale. A new line of hoppy beers under the Voodoo Ranger trademark is also being introduced, while Blue Paddle Pilsener paves the way for New Belgium Bohemian Pilsener. To make room for all these new flavors, Snapshot Wheat, Slow Ride Session IPA and Shift Pale Lager will roll off into the sunset (at least for now). In a purely cosmetic tweak, Sunshine Wheat will be newly adorned with a Colorado state flag to signify its roots.

“This is our most ambitious portfolio reimagining since our beginnings,” says New Belgium Brewing spokesperson Bryan Simpson. “We’ve got a lot of excitement, momentum and energy and that makes for a bounty of great beers with interesting twists—2017 is shaping up to be an awesome year for drinking beer.”

Pucker Up

Sour beers are a growing presence on the brewing landscape

Lore has it that thousands of years ago, when humans first discovered that hops, grain and water combined to create beer, all the resulting beverages featured a taste profile that we would describe as sour.

Blame the microorganisms that linger around us—then and now. Bacteria and naturally occurring yeasts were in the air, water and dust, and especially in the open vessels often used to craft the early brews. They settled freely in the wort (the grain and water mixture that forms the beginnings of beer) and thrived.

Once Louis Pasteur demonstrated how to rid food and prep equipment of unwanted microorganisms using his namesake process and simple sterilization, brewers learned the importance of making sure the final product was free of unwanted microbial visitors. Open wooden vessels gave way to closed, easily cleaned copper kettles and eventually, stainless steel vats. Paired with high-temperature cleaning, the simple changes all but eliminated the potential of unwanted critters infesting a batch of beer.

The disappearance of sour beers from the American landscape also had a good bit to do with changes in approaches to food storage, as well as a healthy dose of big-business marketing, says Craig Wensell, CEO and co-owner of Bellefonte Brewing Co. in Wilmington.

“Brewing in America has been in an awakening almost since Prohibition. Everything changed after that period of self-isolation. Sour beers almost immediately made a comeback right after that,” he says. “But along with the whole concept of canned foods and long-term shelf-stable products, there was an attempt to run the old-style beers off. Either that or they just faded away.”

Bellefonte Brewing Co.'s sour Belgian quadruple, Sour Claymonster, fermenting. It’s available at the brewery this month. Photo Anthony Santoro
Bellefonte Brewing Co.’s sour Belgian quadruple, Sour Claymonster, fermenting. It’s available at the brewery this month. Photo Anthony Santoro

Because nothing is as alluring as the forbidden or unattainable, modern brewers began to plumb history for those funky flavors lost through modern cleanliness. However skeevy it might sound, in pursuit of this primordial flavor born from higher acidity, modern beer makers began intentionally infecting their brews with several types of bacteria and wild yeasts, all designed to add a little something to bring about that new/old sour flavor only the wonkiest beer enthusiasts and culinary anthropologist even knew we were missing.

The master brewers of Belgium were the first in recent history to bring these flavors back to commercially produced brews, going back to the old open koelschip—the Germanic name for what Americans refer to as the coolship, or an open vessel used to cool wort. This allowed “wild” yeasts and bacteria to settle into the mix before it moved to the brewing process.

They began offering up their intentionally inoculated and fermented sour ales known as lambics, as well as lambic blends (known as gueuzes) and Flanders ales. Others not of Belgian provenance included Berliner weisse and gose, both from Germany. Goosed with naturally occurring flora in the wort stage, the finished brews were often aged in used wine barrels, where other lingering bacteria and the remnants of each vintage would boost the flavor profile further.

Properly prepared, these beers can range from light and fruity to verging on the complexity of a fine, dry red wine and lend themselves to a variety of food pairings. In fact, Wensell says that among traditional craft brew drinkers who lean toward a hoppy flavor, sours can often fall flat. But with wine drinkers who often claim to not like beer, sours are frequently a hit.

“The mouth feel of the product is going to be the same as wine, so I use that as my reference point for people who say, “I don’t really like beer,’” he says. “Ten to 15 times over the course of every weekend we see the beer person turn up their nose and someone who doesn’t like beer will go to the sours. It can really take people 180 degrees out of where they thought they were.”

Bellefonte Brewing Co.'s Funk n' Pineapple. Photo Anthony Santoro
Bellefonte Brewing Co.’s Funk n’ Pineapple. Photo Anthony Santoro

Done wrong, the taste of a sour beer can skew toward the unpleasantly earthy or even, um … poopy. Because of their brewing process, even when done well, consistency isn’t the hallmark of sour beers. If you find a brand you like and stick with it, you can still expect flavor variations from batch to batch, Wensell says.

“Sours are kind of hit and miss, but they’re becoming more ‘hit.’ In my drinking experience, I’ve been punished by a number of sours,” he notes. “It’s been kind of an adventure in discovery. It doesn’t always go your way, but it’s always entertaining.”

Sours available at Bellefonte this month will be the Sour Claymonster, a sour Belgian quadruple (or “quad” – essentially an extra-strong Trappist-style ale) with flavors of tart cherry and caramel; a mixed fermentation with Brettanomyces bruxellensis (“Brett brux”) and Saccharomyces Trois (“Sacc. Trois”) yeasts that Wensell describes as “a big, bright. pineapple bomb”; Bellefonte’s second batch of Solera #1, a complex sour with a wine-like flavor that, with carbonation, comes off like a prosecco; and a bright and complex full Brett fermentation that features strong flavors of sour peach and mango. Wensell says he also likes to keep at least two sours on tap throughout the year, usually a blueberry and raspberry.

Searching your favorite beer shop for something to take home? Here are a few top-rated bottles to try:

Dogfish Head's SeaQuench Ale. Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale. Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale – The only blend on the list happens to also be one from the locals at Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach. This session hazy golden sour combines three separate brews—a traditional German-style Kolsch wheat beer; a gose with hints of sea salt, coriander and black lime; and a Berliner weisse flavored with lime and lime peel. All three are aged together to produce a thirst-quenching drink that’s tart and citrusy up front with a hint of salt and a malty sweet finish. It pairs well with steamed mussels, grilled chicken and raw oysters for the main dish, or a bit of chevre during your cheese course. As a seasonal release, SeaQuench won’t be back around until the summer.

otravez-bottle-pint2016Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose-Style Ale – Flavored with prickly pear cactus fruit, coriander and grapefruit, this brew from the Chico, Calif.-based brewery offers a tangy bitterness reminiscent of watermelon that goes well with spicy main dishes, goat cheeses and citrusy desserts. Its 4.5 percent ABV makes it a refreshing, smooth-drinking selection.

Russian River Consecration – A dark reddish-brown brew, Consecration gets much of its color from being aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels acquired from wineries local to the Santa Rosa, Calif., brewery, and from being spiked with black currant prior to the four- to eight-month aging process. What emerges is ale with a sour punch. Undertones of the wine remain, complementing top notes of currant, chocolate truffle, tobacco and spice. Its 10 percent ABV is as foreboding as its dark color, so take your time enjoying this one.

Weyerbacher Brewing Tarte Nouveau Session Sour – This light, refreshing and mildly sour offering originally began as an experiment by the Easton, Pa., brewery to see if it was possible to create a sour beer that wouldn’t contaminate the rest of its drafting and packing equipment. What first emerged as their limited-edition Zulu label has now morphed into this tart, pale-yellow ale that offers an easily drinkable 3.9 percent ABV and a dry, smooth finish. The subtle presence of cherries helps this beer pair well with light seafood dishes like ceviche and the earthier tastes of a beet and goat cheese salad. Be patient, though. This sought-after seasonal won’t be back again until spring.

Bites

Tasty things worth knowing

A Winter Harvest

Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, located in Glen Mills, Pa., and at six other sites throughout Pennsylvania, recently released a new winter menu.

The restaurant offers farm-to-table fare featuring organic, local, sustainable and non-GMO ingredients sourced from more than 75 local farms. Freekeh, Caputo Brothers Creamery Cheeses and Baker Street Bread Co.‘s baked goods play a starring role in the new menu.

Restaurateur Dave Magrogan and Executive Chef Josh Short are utilizing Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op’s organic, local and sustainable ingredients to create the restaurant’s new winter menu, which is available at all of the restaurant’s locations.

Among the menu items are street tacos, flatbreads, brick oven pizzas, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, seafood, meat, poultry and vegetarian dishes. The super grain salad, vegetarian poutine, tuna poke, Vietnamese chicken tacos, macadamia nut-crusted halibut, Kennett Square mushroom stroganoff and the vegetable stew are also new additions.

And for dessert? There’s the sugar plum cobbler, upside-down zucchini bread cake and bourbon butter pecan.

Harvest Seasonal Grill is currently pickling vegetables for its charcuterie offering, and is working with local initiatives to forage, source and pickle fruits and vegetables during the cold winter months. The restaurant has also begun working with Baker Street Bread Company to secure fresh bread deliveries daily.

Taking A Bite Out of Hunger

Thanks to a $10,000 donation from Delaware Food Lion locations, kids at Clayton Court Apartments in Wilmington won’t have to worry about being hungry after school. Clayton Court is the newest site to participate in the Food Bank of Delaware’s pilot after-school grab and go meal offering. Meal service began just before the holidays, and it’s already popular with both kids and parents. Kids who live in the complex can stop by the rental office and grab a nutritious meal to take home.

Meanwhile, two ongoing supporters of the Food Bank surprised the staff with significant donations. The TD Charitable Foundation delivered a check for $80,000, and the Norfolk Southern Foundation donated $15,000 for the Backpack Program plus an additional $15,000 for community nutrition programming.

More Food Bank news includes its Culinary School course, which begins Feb. 13. It’s for those interested in a career in the food service industry. The 14-week training class will take place in Newark and Milford.

The program includes 12 weeks of hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling, and life skills. Students also have the opportunity to become ServSafe certified. The 12 weeks of training culminate with a two-week paid internship at a food service company. Upon graduation, the Food Bank of Delaware helps place students in entry-level jobs in the food industry.

Breakfast & Bird Walk

Kick off the Great Backyard Bird Count at Coverdale Farm Preserve with a hot breakfast and a bird walk on Friday, Feb. 17, from 8-11 a.m. (with an extended portion from noon-2 p.m.). The bird data collected will be submitted to this international bird survey, a continent-wide survey in which anyone can participate. It creates a snapshot of birds in mid-winter and provides useful bird trend data.
The fee is $15 for Delaware Nature Society members and $22 for nonmembers. Meet at the preserve at 543 Way Rd., Greenville.

New Peruvian Eats in Middletown

Local Peruvian restaurant chain The Chicken House, with locations in Newark and Wilmington, opened its newest eatery in Middletown last month.

At 422 E. Main St., the space previously occupied by a Vietnamese eatery, The Chicken House is a 100-seat restaurant with a bar, featuring Peruvian beer and more. The menu includes dishes with seafood, pork, beef and, of course, chicken. Featured item “pollo a la brasa” rotisserie chicken is made by marinating fresh chickens with a unique blend of spices and roasting them, which is one of Peru’s most famous dishes. Visit thechickenhouserestaurant.com for more.

Tuned In – Jan. 2017

Not-to-be-missed music news

Firefly: Now A Fan-Curated Music Festival

Firefly Music Festival, the East Coast’s largest music and camping festival, has taken fan engagement and interaction to a new level. Through a variety of consumer-focused initiatives, including fan surveys, votes and contests, Firefly has become the first-ever fan-curated music festival.

Since the festival’s inception in 2012, the organization has embraced fan feedback regarding the acts they would most want to take stage at The Woodlands in Dover. This which has directly impacted the lineup each year. Moving forward, Firefly organizers will be incorporating fan feedback into additional major decisions and changes for the festival. Examples of fan voting options include the lineup, merchandise designs and products, attractions, cocktails and food, camping and festival amenities, and more.

This summer’s Firefly is June 15-18 at The Woodlands. Ticket sales and the lineup will be announced soon. Four-day general admission passes will go on sale at the initial price of $289 and VIP at $699. General tent camping will start at $169.

To create a profile and begin voting on a variety of attractions and topics for Firefly 2017, fans can head to FireflyFestival.com and view the Community Page.

A Neil Young Tribute

On Sunday, Jan. 15, at World Cafe Live at The Queen, tribute band Broken Arrow will play the music of Neil Young—both the electric guitar-driven favorites and the country flavored classics with pedal steel and acoustic guitar. Veteran Philadelphia rockers Joe Mass, Larry Freedman and Danny Gold promise “good old Neil with some improvisational interstellar jamming and a few very cool departures and side trips,” according to their website.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 day of show. Visit worldcafelive.com for more information.

Donny McCaslin Comes to Town

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin and his band—the Donny McCaslin Group—are coming to Arden Gild Hall on Saturday, Jan. 14. The band is featured on the David Bowie album Blackstar, which has garnered significant worldwide acclaim since its release last January. A three-time Grammy nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo, McCaslin was raised in Santa Cruz, Calif. After playing in his father’s band as a teenager, he attended Berklee College of Music and, in his senior year, joined the Gary Burton Quintet. From there he toured with various artists and received dozens of awards while recording 11 CDs.

The Jan. 14 show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for general admission. The concert also features Tim Lefebvre, Mark Guiliana and Jason Lindner.

Pressing Strings at Grain

Pressing Strings, a trio based out of Annapolis, Md., blends American roots, blues, folk, rock and reggae. They’ll be at Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen in Newark on Saturday, Jan. 7. The music stems from lead singer Jordan Sokel’s bluesy and soulful songwriting and is firmly anchored by drummer Brandon Bartlett and bassist Nicholas Welker. The band released two recordings last year, Five from Three (March), a five-track EP done mostly live with minimal overdubbing, and Most Of Us (summer) on which the band teamed up with producer Scott Jacoby (John Legend, Jose James, Vampire Weekend) and engineer/producer Neil Dorfsman (Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan).

For more information, visit pressingstrings.com. The show starts at 9 p.m.

Playing the Ace of Hearts

Local jazz, blues and funk quartet Ace of Hearts is performing Thursday, Jan. 19, at Gallucio’s Restaurant at 1709 Lovering Ave., Wilmington, from 8 to 11 p.m. The group melds guitars with electric bass and drums. Ron Sherr is on guitar and vocals, Dillingham McDaniel plays electric bass, Harry Spencer is saxophonist and Desmond Kahn plays drums. Check the band’s Facebook page—The Ace of Hearts Delaware—for more upcoming appearances.

Sips – Jan. 2017

Here’s what’s pouring

2SP Brewing Releases Third Canned Beer

In December, 2SP Brewing Company released Bellcracker Double IPA in cans. This is the Aston, Pa., brewery’s third canned beer, following the successful Delco Lager and ASAP IPA.

According to director of sales and marketing Mike Contreras, Bellcracker is one of the company’s biggest beers.

“We love it at the brewery, but we have to be careful with it, because, well, it’s dangerously smooth and easy to drink at 8.7 percent,” says Contreras.

The feedback on the beer has been excellent, he says, and retailers—like Branmar Liquors, Kreston and Peco’s— have already put in re-stock orders.

“For those who haven’t tried it, this double IPA has Amarillo hops that give it a big tropical hop flavor. The beer is balanced by a solid malt bill, so it won’t wreck your pallet with hops, and there is no burn from the high alcohol,” says Contreras.

Visit 2spbrewing.com for more.

Delaware Art Museum Happy Hour

On Thursday, Jan. 19, join Delaware Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO Sam Sweet for casual conversation and free drinks in the museum’s on-site Thronson Café.

Sweet, who is new to the Delaware community, will hear guests’ thoughts about the museum while also getting tips on local events, restaurants, and hidden Delaware treasures. Beer, wine and light snacks will be provided. The event is set for 5-7 p.m.

Olde School Barleywine Is Back

This month, Dogfish Head is bringing back one of the brewery’s most requested beers of 2016—the Olde School Barleywine. Currently scoring a 98 percent rating on RateBeer.com and an 88 on Beer Advocate, the brew, fermented with dates and figs, is sweet and fruity. Brewery founder Sam Calagione came up with the beer’s concept in 2002 after discovering an old cellerman’s manual.

At about 15 percent ABV, this beer is a great candidate for aging. Over time, it dries out, the pit fruit flavors come forward and the hops recede. Pairing it with blue cheese and honey is recommended.
For brew availability, check dogfish.com.

Movies On Tap Keeps On Going — and Giving

Since last April, the monthly Movies On Tap series at Penn Cinema, in partnership with Premier Wine & Spirits, has raised $12,720 for local charities, including Food Bank of Delaware, Delaware KIDS Fund, Read Aloud Delaware, Meals on Wheels, Food Bank of Delaware (twice), Preston’s Playground, Good Old Boy Foundation and Delaware Nature Society.

The event is one of the most interactive beer tasting experiences around. Each month, a different local brewery sends its brewers to talk with guests, who sample beers and catch a cult-classic flick on the big screen. Ticket sales go to charities like those mentioned above.

Next up is Bellefonte Brewing Company and The Princess Bride on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The charity of choice is TBA.

A full event schedule will be announced in February.

Says Premier director of marketing Ryan Kennedy: “The best part of this series is that it supports our local community. Bringing beer and movie fans together to support the community we live, work and play in is the main reason we do this, but knowing 99 percent of ticket sales go to a worthy cause is the icing on the cake for us. It’s been a great experience and 2017 is going to be packed with incredible breweries and movies.”

Visit premierwinespirits.com for more information.

Bites – Jan. 2017

Tasty things worth knowing

New Peruvian Eats in Middletown

Local Peruvian restaurant chain The Chicken House, with locations in Newark and Wilmington, opened its newest eatery in Middletown last month.

At 422 E. Main St., the space previously occupied by a Vietnamese eatery, The Chicken House is a 100-seat restaurant with a bar, featuring Peruvian beer and more. The menu includes dishes with seafood, pork, beef and, of course, chicken. Featured item “pollo a la brasa” rotisserie chicken is made by marinating fresh chickens with a unique blend of spices and roasting them, which is one of Peru’s most famous dishes. Visit thechickenhouserestaurant.com for more.

A Second Location for Cajun Kate’s

Last month, Booths Corner Farmers Market creole favorite Cajun Kate’s opened a second location—at 722 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington.

The new eatery serves classic New Orleans-style dishes like po-boys, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and more. Both locations are open only on Fridays and Saturdays.

Owners Don and Kate Applebaum moved from Philadelphia to New Orleans in 1997 and quickly established themselves in two of the premier establishments in the French Quarter—Don at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA Restaurant and Kate at Bayona Restaurant. The couple moved back to this area in 2003 to start a family, and in 2006 Cajun Kate’s also was born. Every item on the menu is made from scratch, including all the “special sauces,” and both locations serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Visit cajunkates.com for hours and more.

Hagley’s Winter Movie Series

Indulge in free popcorn and be a part of a good cause with “Hagley After Hours: A Night at the Movies,” in February and March. The series will include cult classics Mean Girls on Thursday, Feb. 9, The Matrix on Thursday, Feb. 23, and The Breakfast Club on Thursday, March 9.

Hagley Museum is partnering with the Sunday Breakfast Mission for the March 9 showing, and all attendees who bring a nonperishable item for the Sunday Breakfast Mission will receive a free bag of popcorn. Donated items can include canned food, toiletry items (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc.), winter clothes, diapers or formula, and school supplies.

Movie nights will feature themed cocktails and snacks for purchase. Guests are invited to embrace each movie’s theme to receive a free goodie: e.g., wear pink to the Mean Girls showing; wear your favorite sci-fi shirt or accessory to The Matrix; or wear 1980s clothing to The Breakfast Club.

Movies will be shown on the large screen in Hagley’s Soda House auditorium. Prior to each feature film, there will be a short film from Hagley’s collection. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the feature starting at 7 p.m. Admission is just $2 per person.

Events are weather-dependent, so check hagley.org for updates. Because of construction, use Hagley’s Buck Road entrance (298 Buck Rd., Wilmington).

Grain Now Caters

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen in Newark is now offering catering for meetings and special occasions. The food is prepared fresh and designed to serve 10-200 or more.

The catering menu varies, featuring create-your-own yogurt parfaits, street tacos, sandwich stations and more. Orders can be made online at catering.grainonmain.com. Grain’s chef will review the order and confirm prior to starting. Catering is either available for pickup or both delivery and setup for an additional $25 fee. Grain supplies plates, napkins, cutlery, sides, chafing stands, and the Sterno to keep everything warm.

A Taste of Honey

Two new establishments are bringing an Old World beverage—mead—to today’s market

“I rose up in the morning and I felt a dire need
To dream away the dreary day
And drink a cup of mead.
Ignoring the sting of honey bees
I drank and drank some more.
Awoke the very next day and
My [expletive] head was sore.”

— 12th century English drinking song

Yes, they used expletives in the 12th century, and probably a lot of them after a long night drinking mead, the exquisite and potent honey wine that is making a comeback in the 21st century.

Throughout history, people have found a way to turn just about anything into a cocktail, including grain, grape, potato, rice and even something sweet like molasses or honey. And mead, made from honey, is one of the oldest recorded alcoholic beverages, dating back to 7000 BC in Northern China and 2000 BC in Europe.

To most people, the word “mead” conjures images of fur-clad Vikings sitting around a fire while they throw down the sweet drink from cups made of ox horn, or England in the Middle Ages, with bawdy inns and Robin Hood and his merry men draining pewter mugs of the stuff as they sing “I rose up in the morning…” and plotting against the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Like most great discoveries, mead probably was created by accident; some fermenting agent got into some honey, time passed and—voila!—it was cocktail hour. But because honey was hard to acquire (those darn bees), the drink, although still made and enjoyed, was soon passed in popularity by beverages that were made from fruits and grains and other non-stinging sources.

But now, two establishments in Delaware are trying to bring the ancient concoction to modern drinkers.
“It’s one of the oldest and most popular alcoholic beverages on earth, but not many people have ever tried it and a lot of people have never even heard of it. We hope to change that,” says Terri Sorantino, who, along with partner Dr. Jeffrey Cheskin, has opened Liquid Alchemy Beverages on Brookside Avenue in Elsmere.

Sorantino and Cheskin discovered mead by accident. Four years ago, the couple was on vacation in Maine and stopped at a café that served mead, which neither had ever tasted. Intrigued, they sampled some and immediately fell in love with it. And on the long drive back to their home in Old New Castle, they decided to bring mead to Delaware, and maybe make a little money, too. Even though they both have thriving careers—Cheskin is a chiropractor and Sorantino is a nutrition counselor—they wanted to invest in a food or beverage business where they could be creative and be their own bosses, but they knew the craft beer market was flooded. So, their trip to Maine proved to be serendipitous.

Dr. Jeffrey Cheskin and Terri Sorantino of Liquid Alchemy Beverages fell in love with mead the first time they tasted it. (Photo by Jim Coarse)
Dr. Jeffrey Cheskin and Terri Sorantino of Liquid Alchemy Beverages fell in love with mead the first time they tasted it. (Photo by Jim Coarse)

Growing Up with Mead

“You’re always looking for something new and different, something that sets you apart from everybody else,” says Sorantino. “As soon as we tried mead, we knew that we had found what we were looking for.”
Whereas Sorantino and Cheskin were amateurs who stumbled onto mead and its possibilities, Jon Talkington is a brewing professional who grew up with it—even as a kid he used to home-distill mead in his kitchen, as well as beer and wine.

“I’ve been making mead for over 20 years,” Talkington says. “Both of my grandfathers made different kinds of stuff over the years and I just picked up on it. They both lived on farms and made apple jack and cider and brewing has just been a part of my life ever since I can remember.”

That early exposure to the benefits of fermentation led Talkington, a native of Ohio, to become a brewer at Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, the undefeated and undisputed king of local craft breweries.

Talkington has worked at Dogfish Head for the last 12 years and he’s also a professional wine maker, so it was a relatively easy and natural move for him to make mead. And, like Sorantino and Cheskin, he saw that there was a market niche he could fill with the ancient drink.

Talkington has teamed with business partner Robert Walker Jr., who has worked at Dogfish Head for the last six years and currently has the title of Inventory Fulfillment Specialist. In the next month or two they will open Brimming Horn Meadery in Milton, with Talkington as the beverage specialist and Walker as the business specialist.

As the name indicates, they will emphasize mead’s Viking tradition in their marketing and décor at Brimming Horn. That’s why their meads are called things like Freya’s Kiss, Bjornbar and Viking Berry, as well as one with the gotta-try-it name of Goat’s Blood (made from grapes and cherries).

“I first learned about mead like a lot of other people did, from reading history books and mythology,” Talkington says. “Mead is mentioned in Beowulf, so you know it’s been popular for a long time when it becomes part of a mythology like that. And that mythology is a big part of mead’s appeal today. At the same time, we’re not just marketing this as some kind of trip back through history. It’s also like a sweet wine, and there are enough different kinds to appeal to all kinds of tastes.”

Kitchen-Inspired

Sorantino-Cheskin and Talkington-Walker have something in common when it comes to making different kinds of mead —both teams get most of their inspiration not from the brewery, but the kitchen.

“I love to cook and Jeff loves to experiment and that combination is a key,” Sorantino says. “We also get a lot of our inspiration from cooking shows on The Food Network. We’ll see somebody do something with a recipe, with different fruits and spices and flavors—like when we saw someone making a popsicle out of blackberries and lime—and then we’re like, ‘Hmmm…I wonder if that would work with mead.’ And then we’ll experiment and make a small batch. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but some of our best meads have come from that approach.”

Says Talkington: “I’ve always cooked and I’ve always enjoyed trying different recipes and making my own recipes, and that’s a big part of my approach to making mead—don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s one of the real pleasures of doing this, when you can come up with a recipe of your own that really works. It’s a very creative process that just also happens to taste great.”

Variety is a key to making not only good mead, but also marketable mead. Basic mead is made from just fermented honey, but despite what one might think, it’s not thick and syrupy. Regular mead—at Liquid Alchemy Beverages it’s called “Sweet-Nothing” —definitely has sweetness about it, but there’s no mistaking the alcoholic bite. And that’s just one of many varieties available, and most batches of mead are some combination of fruits and spices and grains and, of course, honey.

“It’s like wine,” Cheskin said. “Some people like red and some like white. Some like a dry wine and some like a fruity wine and some like a spicy wine. It’s the same thing with mead. The key is to find out what works and what doesn’t and that’s all part of the process and part of the fun of doing this. It’s a great feeling when you have an idea and it ends up tasting delicious.”

Both Liquid Alchemy and Brimming Horn use local fruits as much as possible, but they also go exotic at times, which is why one of Liquid Alchemy’s meads will contain cinnamon from Sri Lanka and blackberries from Hockessin.

“You want the best of both worlds, so to speak,” Talkington says. “You want the freshness of local produce and you want to support local businesses. That’s very important because we want to be part of the community. But we also want to bring other worlds to Delaware. If you do it right, it makes for a great combination.”

Getting the Word Out

For Sorantino and Cheskin, one of their biggest challenges is to get people to sample their wares at their renovated warehouse. Their meadery is in the middle of a street lined with industrial garages and warehouses, and even though they completely redid their place and it has a warm, cozy feel to it, the location isn’t ideal for starting a new business. To compensate, they’ve gotten involved with local food fairs and festivals and other events where they’ve been able to introduce mead to a different and mostly younger crowd.

“That’s the most important thing of all—getting the word out,” Sorantino says. “Every time we go to some festival or event we get more and more fans of mead. People are intrigued by the idea and they love the taste and they love the idea that it’s different. And then they want to know where they can get it.”

“There’s a reason this drink has been around for centuries,” she adds. “And that, of course, is part of the allure of mead—its history and place in literature, that feeling of connecting with the Old World. What we’ve tried to do is bring the past into the present, and we’re having a lot of fun while doing it.”

For more information, including hours or operation and different varieties of mead, log onto brimminghornmeadery.com and liquidalchemybeverages.com.

Food Trends, 2017

Pokes, boar meat and breakfast all day long: Once again, our fearless prognosticator offers his thoughts on what we’ll be eating in the new year.

Wellness tonics. Purple cauliflower. Coconut chips. Beet noodles.

That’s what you have to look forward to if Whole Foods is right and these are the hottest trends of 2017. And that’s why you need to care about food trends, lest you be caught unawares by a sudden beet noodle in your entrée.

You will find no beet noodles here. This is my third year of making predictions for the future of Delaware food, and one thing I’ve learned—I’m not very good at it. (Check the scorecard below.) While I thought 2016 would find a distillery opening in northern Delaware, I missed the brewery boom that was fermenting all around us. And though I saw sushi cooling off, I didn’t notice Newark becoming a hotbed for truly authentic Chinese cuisine.

But those are the risks foodie prognosticators take. There’s no accounting for taste, and even less accounting for what taste buds will crave from year to year. And so I rounded up a few of my usual suspects, did my research, and herewith offer another few predictions for the new year, in full knowledge that life will likely prove me wrong. Again. Happy dining.

Trend: Restaurants enter the bowl game

There’s a reason bowls are the serving vessel of choice at fast-casual restaurants. They’re quick to assemble, can contain both liquid and solid ingredients, and since they don’t require slabs of bread to hold the good stuff together, they’re easy to make low-carb or gluten-free. But while fast-casual trends often filter down from fine-dining experiences, expect bowls to be one idea that trickles up.

“I think that a growing theme is losing the pretense in a lot of things,” says Chef Robbie Jester from Stone Balloon Ale House. “When you get into tuna tartars and tuna carpaccio, they all sound really fancy. But when you shorten that to a four-letter word, I think that’s approachable.”

That four-letter word? “Poke,” as in Hawaiian for “slice,” and no relation to 2016’s least palatable smartphone trend. Jester serves his ahi tuna and avocado poke in ginger sambal sesame sauce with toasted sesame seeds in a bowl. Since he introduced it, it’s been (in his words) “supremely popular.”
“You can mix it with different ingredients, since it’s a larger cut,” Jester says. “I just think it’s a better preparation, and I enjoy eating it. And I think it’s going to continue to catch on until people beat the shit out of it on the East Coast.”

Prediction #1: Pokes pop up on appetizer lists around the state (gotta eat them all!), and bowls don’t stop there. Watch for authentic Asian flavors in a bowl near you.

Trend: Third-wave coffee washes over Delaware

What, you missed the first two waves? Then you haven’t been staring at the coffee horizon as deeply as the coffee nerds who have transformed caffeine consumption on the West Coast. The waves, loosely defined:
First wave: Insta-cofeee. The best part of waking up.
Second wave: The Starbucksization of America.
Third wave (as popularized by San Fran coffee maven Trish Rothgeb): “[In the third wave,] the coffee will make the moment, not the whipped cream or flavored syrup. These baristi will be able to tell you exactly when their coffee was roasted, how the beans were processed, the idea behind the blend, and offer cupping notes.”

The third wave first started to crash over the First State when Drip Café opened its doors and Brew HaHa! expanded its Trolley Square outpost into a coffee roastery. Both were smashing successes. Expect more to come.

Prediction #2: More quality coffee shops, increasingly local coffee production (perhaps another roastery in town?), and potential invasion by national third-wave riders like Stumptown Coffee.

Trend: Breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch, breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner has been a thing since I was a kid, but you can probably blame McDonalds for proving that people dining out will eat breakfast all day, any day, if given the option. Delaware may not have a strong diner culture, but some restaurants will be quick to fill the gap.

“I don’t think that boom is over yet,” says Karen Stauffer, director of communications for the Delaware Restaurant Association. “I see restaurants, especially in bigger areas, expanding to Saturday brunches, with more breakfast-themed items on menus.”

In Newark, brunch hasn’t just expanded to Saturday. It’s already a seven-days-a-week thing at Home Grown Café, where five brunch items are now available daily from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and the breakfast burrito is one of the top three items at lunch.

“We would get calls daily to ask if we were serving breakfast,” says Sasha Aber, owner at Home Grown. “It’s just nice, comforting food for people to start off the day. And they’re a good price point for people too.”

High-end breakfast food is the main course at Egg Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach and De La Coeur Café et Pâtisserie. Drip Café expanded its restaurant in 2016. Mrs. Snyder’s brought lemon hollandaise to New Castle. Expect all to continue.

Prediction #3: Diners make a comeback. A new one will open, with a commitment to local, freshly sourced ingredients and breakfast all day.

Trend: Fast-fresh-casual takes over the world

Consider this trend a subset of “everything in a bowl,” since that’s where you’ll find most fast-fresh-casual food being served. Also consider it one of the most obvious trends I missed in 2016, with the opening of two Honeygrows (one in North Wilmington, one in Newark), a Zoës Kitchen at the Christiana Fashion Mall, and Roots Natural Kitchen in Newark.

But the fast-fresh-casual trend deserves a category of its own. People certainly want to eat healthy, people increasingly want to eat fresh/local … but people don’t have much time. Those realities used to cancel each other out. Not anymore.

“I think we definitely see more of this coming in 2017, especially in Newark, Wilmington and Dover,” Stauffer said.

Prediction #4: Definitely in Wilmington. If there’s a concept that seems ready-made for Market Street, this is it.

Trend: Wild game gets tamed

Game meats have been popular in Delaware since the first time someone looked at a muskrat and thought, “Hmmm, I could eat that.” But what once was an acquired taste, embraced by a few select spots (like the always-game Stewart’s Brewing Company and the serving-kangaroo-before-its time Matilda’s) is now entering the mainstream. Metro Pub & Grill in Middletown has venison chili and wild boar sloppy joes. Stone Balloon in Newark has a venison Salisbury steak—and expects to add more game to the menu this year. Game meats tend to excite chefs—and they’ll try to excite you.

Prediction #5: It won’t be hard to find wild boar, ostrich and venison on menus in 2017.

Three final trends to watch:
• House-cured meats. (Domaine Hudson has the best charcuterie plate in town; Maiale Deli and Sulumeria continue to impress. Watch for more.)
• Locally produced sour beers.
• Wawa-style touchscreen ordering expanding everywhere.

Last Year’s Predictions Scorecard

1. The End of Tipping: At least one fine dining restaurant in Delaware eliminates tipping in 2016—most likely one at the beach.
Ouch. Not only did the trend to eliminate tipping not come to Delaware, but it seems to have stalled nationally. In fact, the San Francisco restaurant where I first ate under a no-tipping policy brought it back after only five months. If no-tipping is the future, the future is not now.
2. Home Cooking: Increased interest in home cooks entering the sharing economy leads Delaware legislators to loosen cottage food regulations, or they get no pie.
On May 1, 2016, the Division of Public Health published new Cottage Food Regulations that allow for the preparation of a limited type of food products in residential kitchens, pies included. Those regs are now final.
3. Scrapple is the new bacon: The biggest scrapplephobic in your life will venture to try some in 2016.
Only you know what your people think, but Bill Hoffman’s scrapple at The House of William & Merry was a revelation to scrapple-deniers in my life in 2016.
4. More wineries, more breweries … and more distilleries.
One out of three … well, that ain’t good, but at least I have beer to drown my sorrows. Breweries exploded in northern Delaware last year, with the arrival of Dew Point Brewing and Bellefonte Brewing, the re-opening of Twin Lakes, and more. And we got a meadery in Liquid Alchemy. Fenwick Wine Cellars expanded into Salted Vines Vineyard down in Frankford. But still no signs of a distillery up north.
5. Market Street, Dining Destination: Look for a net gain of five places on or near Market Street in 2016.
Let’s see: We added Merchant Bar, Masala Kitchen, Twisted Soul, Starbucks, Market Street Bakery & Cafe and Coffee Mode. Brew HaHa! moved across the street and expanded, but closed the first location, so that’s a net neutral. Still, nailed it!