Sips – Nov. 2015

Here’s what’s pouring

Pop-Up Garden

ThinkstockPhotos-464271985Winterthur Gardens will hold a pop-up beer garden on two consecutive Fridays—Nov. 13 and Nov. 20—from 4-9 p.m. on the Visitors Center Patio. The event will feature local craft beers, Pennsylvania German-inspired food and live music in a calming, picturesque atmosphere. Twelve-ounce mugs of beer will be available for $6. Tickets or reservations are not needed. The event is open to all ages, but ID is required to drink.

Run for Fun

Kennett Brewing Company’s inaugural 5K Harvest Run will start at 2 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 14. Run or walk through the Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square, Pa., then enjoy an after party at Kennett Brewing Company’s headquarters, where awards will be presented to the first-place male and female runners. Pre-registration is $25; $30 the day of the event. All pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt and $1 off any food purchase. Those bringing a canned good will receive $1 off a beer purchase.

Giving on Tap

This year, Meals on Wheels Delaware and 2SP Brewing Company are working together for Giving on Tap—a night of fun in the spirit of giving. At the 2SP Brewing Company’s headquarters in Aston, Pa., this event—on Friday, Nov. 13, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.—will feature exclusive hand-crafted brews, an open beer bar and gourmet hors d’oeuvres. General admission is $35. VIP access is $75 and includes a private brewery tour with Head Brewer Bob Barrar along with the opportunity to taste reserve stock beers not available to the public, a 32-ounce growler to take home, reserved seating, food stations and beer pairings. Proceeds from the evening will benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware.

Craft Spirits Tasting

On Friday, Nov. 13, head to Premier Wine & Spirits in Wilmington for a different kind of tasting. From 4-7 p.m., Painted Stave Distilling will be on site, teaching you how to make locally-inspired cocktails.

Barista Pub Night: 3rd Tuesday

On the third Tuesday of every month, coffee and beer lovers can head to the Trolley Taphouse for Barista Pub Night to try free pourover coffee samples provided by Brandywine Coffee Roasters and Brew Ha Ha!. Jupiter Records will spin vinyl records and feature several DJs.

California Dreaming – and Wines for Thanksgiving

A wine expert returns from the West Coast with some recommendations

My two trips to California had special significance this year, since our son, Branch, moved to Santa Rosa, the county seat of Sonoma, last spring. So I got to visit him in his new home, where he’s working in the production side of the wine industry—for the Jackson Family at their Vinwood crush facility. The hours are long and the work is labor intensive, but the benefits are great. He’s enjoying learning the process of creating wines from start to finish.

Then there is my cousin, Walter, who at 102 is the oldest resident of Healdsburg, Calif. I’ve been visiting him since 1978, when he introduced me to the majestic Armstrong Redwoods State National Reserve, a true gem of a park in Northern Sonoma County, and a must-visit destination in the heart of wine country.

In May, I got to attend the first-ever Sonoma County Barrel Auction, and it was a great event. The wine lots were selected by the vintners; some were iconic, some not, but all were one-of-a-kind wines from all appellations in Sonoma County.

Previews of all the lots were offered the day before and the morning of the auction. Quality was absolutely amazing, and I found myself bidding on a few lots, but lost all (oh well). The event generated more than $460,000 from the 71 lots auctioned.

Here are some of highlights of my trips, along with holiday recommendations.

Shafer Vineyards is among the handful of producers I visit every year. I’ve had the honor of knowing John Shafer since the release of his first vintage in 1978. Doug, his son, and I have developed a friendship as well. On this trip, John, still spry at 90, came down the hill to greet us. Amazing wines are crafted here with consistent quality in every vintage.

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah are the varietals used here.

Dashe Cellars, on the Oakland Urban Wine Trail, was founded by Michael and Anne Dashe in 1996. Their wines are always complex yet elegant, and express true varietal character. If your trip West takes you in or out of Oakland, Dashe Cellars is a must stop. Their Les Enfants Terribles series features grapes from specific vineyards. Heart Arrow Ranch Zinfandel from Mendocino County is the 2014 vintage. Brambly spice and berry flavors lead to a rich fruit finish. Their 2014 McFaddin Farm Zinfandel, Mendocino County fruit, has great earthy berry spice flavors, complex and delicate. Both wines are extremely limited and will match your Thanksgiving table red wine needs.

Frog’s Leap, in Napa Valley, is another favorite of mine. John Williams has been a friend since 1984. Organic dry farming is a key to the quality of his fruit, and his integration of grapes, vegetables, plants, bees and wildlife attract subtle nuances to the vineyard. This balance of nature shows brightly in the wines he produces.

His 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a richly textured wine with black currant fruit, resembling the wines made in Napa in the 1970s. Soft, sweet tannins, dusty earth with cocoa and mint, make for a rich, balanced wine. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is a clean and refreshing wine, and bright accents of minimal citrus fruits give a wonderful flavor profile.

Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Merlot are also produced at Frog’s Leap, and are exceptional examples of their distinctive varietal flavors.

Calluna Vineyards, in the Chalk Hill Appellation of Sonoma, is a great example of new world fruit with the flavor profile of old world fruit. David Jeffrey has done an amazing job of growing the five red varietals of Bordeaux and crafting them into great wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot are the grapes used and grown. The winery and the house sit atop a hill overlooking Mount Saint Helena, Geyser Peak, and to the west, the Coastal Range. The Calluna Vineyards Cuvee and Estate use a blend of all five varietals. The 2012 cuvee is loaded with black currants, dusty earth, black cherries with subtle nuances of tobacco, mint, and cocoa. This leads to a mouthful of explosive flavors. Firm tannins and good acidity show the ability to age for some time. The 2011 Estate is a great example of how good the vintage can be, and is another elegant, yet very complex wine. Aged for 21 months in French oak, of which 10 percent is new oak, its flavor profiles include licorice, blackberries, black cherries and other dark fruits.

Holiday Recommendations

Here again are my two cents on what to pour for Thanksgiving. Lots of food and flavors mean a wide variety of tastes. The challenge is to complement all of this.

I always like to begin with bubbles, or sparkling wine. My two suggestions:

• Argyle Brut Rose from Oregon is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Bright salmon color gives way to a delicate, creamy, rich floral flavor.
• Iron Horse Vineyards classic Brut vintage is a clean, delicate, refreshing wine, with lively citrus flavors of lemon and orange zest, lightly toasted, clean and rich.

And here are two whites and two reds to complement your meal:

• Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013 is like a refreshing, rich, fruit tart. Creamy flavors of pears, melons, and nectarines are wonderfully balanced. It is structured, clean and bright.
• Dashe Grenache Blanc 2014 is mineraly, rich and spicy with hints of pear and stone fruits. Rich textures and good acidity round out the flavor profile.
• Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone 2012 is an excellent example of classic earthy black currant fruit with a nice brambly, spicy finish.
• Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2012 is loaded with fruit flavors of raspberries and blueberries. This medium-bodied, earthy wine has scents of nuts and exotic spices. It’s a perfect match for the bird on your Thanksgiving table.

John Murray is co-owner of State Line Liquors.

World Famous Bourbon Gets a Delaware Touch

Owners of The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville, Bethany Blues BBQ help choose new Beam offering

Bourbon season is officially upon us. Snifters by the fire, tulip glasses with a few rocks, and Manhattans all will be filled with the barrel-aged American whiskey.

One particular small batch of the Kentucky spirit will even have Delaware’s fingerprints on it, when Booker’s bourbon, produced by the Jim Beam distillery in the little town of Clermont, is released later this month.

That’s because two local entrepreneurs, spurred by their love of bourbon, plus timing and a little serendipity combined recently to help Fred Noe, great-grandson of Jim Beam, select the next small batch of Booker’s. By most accounts, this is a first for Delaware and its liquor store and restaurant industry.

A Bourbon-Based Friendship

Bill Galbraith, owner of The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville, and Kevin Roberts, owner of Bethany Blues BBQ restaurant in Lewes, first met during a time when most people do a majority of their experimental drinking: in college—in this case, back in the late 1990s. After graduating from the University of Delaware, both Galbraith and Roberts went on to work in the restaurant industry.

For this particular venture, the two bourbon enthusiasts visited the Jim Beam distillery earlier this year, eager to learn more about the process and meet the brains behind the Beam line of bourbons. During their trip to the Bluegrass State, both men asked their Jim Beam sales representative about the possibility of having a hand in selecting a future Beam product.

Bill Galbraith, owner of The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville, at a small batch bourbon roundtable in New York with members of the media. (Photo Caitie McCabe Photography)
Bill Galbraith, owner of The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville, at a small batch bourbon roundtable in New York with
members of the media. (Photo Caitie McCabe Photography)

“On our trip to Kentucky, both Kevin and I expressed a great deal of interest in somehow being a part of the selection process for Booker’s, if at all possible,” says Galbraith, who took over ownership of The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville in June of 2014. “As a thank-you for our business, and through [Delaware Beam Suntory rep] Bob Rindfuss, we were invited to sit in on their selection panel in New York.”

Roberts says Rindfuss really pulled the strings to get him and Galbraith invited to the sampling at Keen’s Steakhouse, which took place during Whiskey Advocate’s 17th annual WhiskyFest in New York City. “Both Bill and I support the brand heavily, and by establishing a unique relationship, this door was opened.”

Roundtable Bourbon Sampling

For the selection process, Fred Noe and several Beam employees set up three samples of small batch bourbon blended from multiple barrels, all in similar quality, age and proof, around 126 or 127. Booker’s, for the unfamiliar, is one of the few bourbons that is always uncut and unfiltered, something bourbon purists seek out, and the samples were labeled A, B and C.

“We all sat around the table, me and Kevin, the great-grandson of Jim Beam, journalists from the Wall Street Journal and Maxim, and other bourbon and whiskey experts,” says Galbraith. “After sampling all three, and adding a little water to each, as is the tradition, we all voted via secret ballot, and C was the unanimous winner.”

Since each release of Booker’s gets its own specific title – the current release is “Center Cut”—Noe announced that this year’s edition would be called “Noe Secret,” an homage to his father, Booker Noe, who always told it like it is (or was), and didn’t care for secrets or gossip.

Galbraith says the panel selected C because of its overall smoothness and ability to hold its bold flavors after adding water. Sample B, according to the group, withered when water was added, while A was just a little too raw and biting.

Roberts notes that Sample C was very appealing, with strong hints of vanilla, pepper, caramel and even cherry. “It was very palatable and I think it will even appeal to novice bourbon drinkers.”

Booker’s Release in Delaware

Now Galbraith and Roberts await the release of this year’s crop of Booker’s, the first 20 cases of which will be delivered to The Wine & Spirit Company of Greenville, and the following 10 cases to Bethany Blues, in November. Both purveyors are ecstatic that they’ll be the first to get their hands on this year’s release.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, to sit at a roundtable next to Fred Noe,” says Roberts. “Getting to sample and discuss the newest batch of Booker’s, a crown jewel in their line of bourbons, was unbelievable. I can’t wait to get the shipment and offer it to everyone at Bethany Blues while I tell them the story.”

Says Rindfuss, “The stars kind of aligned on this one; it took a little bit of good luck, the right timing and right place, and two high-end purveyors with interest in bourbon to pull this off.”

Galbraith says he’ll be selling the bottles of Booker’s for roughly $59.99 each. Roberts, meanwhile, says he plans on selling snifters of the Booker’s for $9 for a 1.25-ounce shot, and $11 for a standard two-ounce cocktail or snifter.

Crafts are King

Wilmington primed for fifth annual celebration

Thirteen of New Castle County’s top craft beer destinations will be tapping the “good stuff” during the fifth annual Wilmington Beer Week, Nov. 7-14.

The weeklong celebration will showcase a WBW-record 61 craft breweries while featuring dinners, tap takeovers, meet the brewers and more. Delaware breweries will be prominent in that lineup, so look for the latest creations from 16 Mile, 2SP, Dogfish Head, Evolution, Fordham, Mispillion, Third Wave and Twin Lakes. Top regional breweries represented include Flying Fish, Heavy Seas, Lancaster, Stoudts, Troegs, Victory and Yards.

Participating venues are BBC Tavern and Grill, Buckley’s Tavern, Chelsea Tavern, Columbus Inn, Dead Presidents Pub, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House, Piccolina Toscana, Pizza By Elizabeths, Trolley Tap House, Two Stones Pub, World Cafe Live at The Queen and Washington Street Ale House.

In addition to featuring events specific to their restaurant, the venues will offer a Beer Week Flight Special, entitling guests to sample three different craft beers for a set price.
Costs are determined by the venue and reservations are required for some special events.

Events run the gamut. Pizza By Elizabeths will host a special WBW Kick-Off Beer Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 5, featuring its own Frozen Toes Brewing as well Fordham-Old Dominion Brewery. Chelsea Tavern is featuring Dogfish Head’s Ancient Beer Series on Nov. 10 with a special book signing by beer historian John Medkeff, Jr. And Iron Hill is spicing things up with a Hops and Hot Wings on Friday, Nov. 13.

“We’re pairing four awesome IPAs from our head brewer Justin Sproul’s favorite breweries and four styles of hot wings from Chef Dave Foster,” says Brian Finn, senior head brewer at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House will be doing a Brooklyn Tap Attack featuring seven of the famous New York brewery’s creations on tap. World Cafe Live is offering flight specials highlighting Raven Brewery’s The Cask, 2SP’s Belgian Amber, Dogfish’s Midas Touch and Mispillion’s Not Today Satin IPA. And look for 2SP brewer Bob Barrar’s award-winning Russian Stout to be featured at Two Stones Pub.

“Unfortunately we can all get caught up in the day-to-day ways of life,” says Dead Presidents’ owner Brian Raughley. “It’s nice to have a week just for trying some rare or new beers you might not have the chance or inclination to otherwise.”

We agree.

For a complete list of brews, special events and more, visit

Beer: A Weapon Against the Cold?

These brews can warm you inside and out as winter descends on us

Brace yourselves, folks: early winter forecasts for the Northeast are not encouraging (depending on your perspective). The vaunted Farmer’s Almanac says it “will be colder and snowier than normal,” while websites like predict a “wintry battle zone.”

The best way to prepare for this battle, as we know from years past, is to stockpile the weapons to fend off Old Man Winter and his arsenal of wind, snow and sub-freezing temperatures.

Certainly shovels, snow blowers, salt, space heaters and generators come to mind. But what about strong ales, bourbon porters, Belgian quads? What about heavily spiced dark beers that warm from the inside out?

Some local breweries are battening down the hatches and raising the AVB on some seriously stout winter beers. Here’s a round-up of these offerings, which are lovely, dark and deep, and will be flowing from taps and bottles in the very near (and cold) future.

Argilla Brewing Company, Newark

The little nano-brewery continues to crank out some big beers, including its “Baron,” an English strong ale, and a forthcoming Belgian quad that weighs in at 10 percent, due in January. Owner/brewer Steve Powell says Argilla brews between four and five times per week, and is working on installing a three-barrel system.

“Getting three barrels in here would double our current brew capacity from 1.5 barrels,” says Powell. “That would allow us to brew a greater amount and keep certain beers on tap longer. Right now we have between five and eight house beers on tap, but they rotate pretty frequently because of our smaller system.”

Powell is currently working on a collaboration beer (all the rage with breweries right now) between Argilla and Mispillion River, in Milford. Called “Old Earth,” this spiced strong ale will include components like ginger, vanilla beans, cinnamon and molasses, and is scheduled to be on tap at the Kirkwood Highway brewpub in December.

Mispillion River Brewing, Milford

The new can artwork for Mispillion River Brewing’s re-release of Black Tie IPA. (Photo courtesy of Misspillion River Brewing)

The downstate brewery, which will celebrate its two-year anniversary on Nov. 15, will once again be releasing its popular “Kringle Beer,” a spiced brown ale, just in time for the holidays. Filled with cinnamon and clover, this 6 percent ABV brew is intended for those who like to drink more than a few per session.

Mispillion will also re-release its “Black Tie Black IPA,” which features lots of roasted coffee and black licorice notes, and is rounded out with El Dorado hops for a finish full of pine notes. Six-pack cans should reach northern Delaware spots like Kreston’s and Premier Wine & Spirits by mid-late November, and will go for between $9.99 and $10.99 per six-pack.

Stewart’s Brewing Company, Bear

Head brewer Ric Hoffman is rather blunt when it comes to popular winter beers: “I’m a traditionalist. I kind of despise the heavily spiced winter beers, and I steer away from putting that god-awful cinnamon and allspice in the brew kettle.”

Well, then … what does Hoffman, a two-decade veteran of brewing and Great American Beer Festival medal-winner, prefer? Simplicity, mostly, in the form of a rye beer, called “Winterfest” that shows off a “nice, medium brown color” at 6 percent ABV.

“We put molasses in the kettle for depth and richness, but I also use the tips of Scottish heather flowers, which bring notes of lavender to the beer,” says Hoffman. “That and hops, of course, along with some vanilla beans; the result is beer’s answer to mulled wine. We’ll have it on tap for the Winter Solstice.”

Hoffman also plans on another showing of Stewart’s “Dark Helmet,” an imperial schwarz bier (strong black lager) by Thanksgiving. The malty flavor but clean finish goes well with big holiday meals, according to Hoffman. He is also planning an imperial stout, called “Destroyer,” which was placed in bourbon barrels last December, and will be aged and ready to go this January, weighing in at 10.5 percent ABV.

Blue Earl Brewing Co., Smyrna

The new kid on the block, Blue Earl opened in May of this year, and is owned and operated by Ron Price, a mechanical engineer by trade and enthusiastic home brewer who first warmed up his kettle in 1992.

Price says that some of his favorite beers to brew are the wintery big boys that carry a high ABV or require oak bourbon barrel aging. Blue Earl currently works off a 15-barrel system and features 12 beers on tap in its tasting room off Rt. 300 in Smyrna.

Blue Earl’s winter lineup will include an American strong ale infused with American bourbon called “Born Under a Bad Sign,” at a whopping 12 percent ABV, along with an imperial porter called “Big Joe,” which is also bourbon barrel aged.

“We also just brewed a Russian imperial stout that will be the darkest and boldest beer we’ve brewed since we opened this past spring,” says Price. “We’ll be distributing that in kegs across Delaware through NKS Distributing in December.”

2SP Brewing Company, Aston, Pa.

2SP Brewing Company’s winter offerings: The Russian, Citrus Rhine’d and Barolo Old Ale. (Photo courtesy of 2SP Brewing Co.)
2SP Brewing Company’s winter offerings: The Russian, Citrus Rhine’d and Barolo Old Ale. (Photo courtesy of 2SP Brewing Co.)

True, 2SP is technically a Pennsylvania brewery, but with such strong roots in Delaware under the Two Stones Pub umbrella, it had to be included in our round-up. Besides, it has got a lot coming down the pike as it continues its late-summer launch of brews, most of which will be on tap at the Newark and North Wilmington restaurants.

Brewer Bob Barrar, formerly of Iron Hill Brewery, is well known for his Russian imperial stout recipe, which just won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for his former employer, Iron Hill (Lancaster store).

Now he brings his talents to 2SP, where he plans to release his “Russian” on Mischief Night (Oct. 30). Following this winter season, 2SP will release its “triple threat” to limited accounts in Delaware.

Those three beers include a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout, a bourbon barrel aged Belgian tripel, and a bourbon barrel aged S.I.P. (or Stigz’s imperial porter, named for founder and president Mike Stiglitz).

In the coming months, 2SP also will be releasing what it calls the “Citrus Rhine’d,” a collaboration between its brewers and Jeff O’Neil, originator of the highly popular “Flower Power,” from Ithaca Beer Co. This imperial pale ale, at 7.5 percent, will feature 88 pounds of Mandarina Bavaria hops, giving it a distinct tangerine and citrus aftertaste.

Iron Hill Brewery, Newark and Wilmington

Beginning in early December, both Iron Hill locations will feature the brewery’s award-winning Russian imperial stout and the “Winter Warmer,” an English brown ale infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and served in a sugar-and-cinnamon-rimmed glass.

But big beer lovers should mark their calendars for Dec. 19, when Iron Hill Wilmington will host its eighth annual Dark Side Party, starting at noon. Iron Hill’s “Dark Side” black lager, at 9 percent ABV, is the star of the show, and pays homage to brewer Brian Finn’s love of Pink Floyd and Star Wars.

“Last year we had Darth Vader and Princes Leia walking around during the event,” says Finn. “It’s a really fun event that’s become more popular each year. At first, we thought it might scare people off, because all we have on tap are black beers. But as people have come around to darker beers, it’s become big.”

The Dark Side Party also falls on the same weekend that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in theaters. Finn says that they will be raffling off tickets to see the film at Penn Cinema on the Riverfront, all while pouring big, black beers like 2SP’s Russian imperial stout, Firestone Walker’s “Wookie Jack,” and Iron Hill’s new black IPA called “Galaxy Far, Far Away IPA,” which features galaxy hops. The popular dual-purpose hop (for aroma and flavor) has increased in popularity recently, and offers notes of citrus and even passion fruit.

Stone Balloon Chef ‘Rides the Bus to Flavortown’

Robbie Jester can only reveal that he did really well on Guy’s Grocery Games, which airs on Food Network Nov. 15

Robbie Jester has been steadfastly keeping a secret since last February. To find out what it is, tune in to the Food Network show Guy’s Grocery Games at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Jester, executive chef at Stone Balloon Ale House, was one of four contestants on the show that was filmed nine months ago in Santa Rosa, Calif., in a 24,000-square-foot warehouse that serves as the show’s “supermarket.”

On each episode, host chef/restaurateur Guy Fieri—who calls the show Triple G—sends the four contestants running through the aisles of the market to find items to cook dishes. Known for such catch phrases as “I’m driving the bus to Flavortown,” Fieri challenges them with such tasks as finding substitutions for “out-of-stock” ingredients, cooking with five items or fewer, or making a dish on a $10 budget. A panel of three judges evaluates the competitors’ dishes.

Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, Season 6.
Chef Robbie Jester, as seen on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Season 6.

Jester, 30, can only say that he “did really well” on the show and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He adds that filming the episode was emotional because he spoke about his dad, Bob, who has stage four lung cancer and is in hospice care.
Jester grew up in a restaurant family, and his personal history as much as his cooking ability helped land him on the show. His father was in the first graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Robbie began working with his father at age 12 and graduated from the CIA in 2006.

Bob Jester once owned the Kitty Knight House in Georgetown, Md., a sports bar in Newark and the Harbor House Restaurant in Chestertown, Md.

Robbie left Piccolina Toscana in 2013 to become general manager of the former 16 Mile Taphouse on Main Street, which became the Stone Balloon Ale House last year. Jester says it’s been a great experience working with new owners and general manager Philip DiFebo.

The Stone Balloon will host a dinner on the Thursday after the Guy’s Grocery Games episode airs—Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $55 per person (gratuity not included) and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 266-8111. Beers from Oskar Blues Brewery will be paired with each course.

Jester says the theme of the dinner will be “things to be thankful for” and will include some dishes from the show plus several of his family’s dishes, including his grandmother’s German chocolate cake, his father’s crab imperial, and the sweet and sour meatballs he and his aunt made when he was a youngster. “It’s a fun menu that’s dear to my heart,” he says.

In the meantime, Jester says, two more TV projects have been offered to him. Again, he must remain tight-lipped, but he can reveal that they are “food-related.”

O&A has a pair of tickets to give to a reader for that Nov. 19 dinner. Feeling lucky? Go to to put your name in for the random drawing.

Partying for a Cause

Inaugural Meals on Wheels event set for Oct. 22

Fall is finally here, and with it, of course, weekends filled with football games. And in the parking lots at Delaware Stadium before a Saturday afternoon Blue Hens game, or at Lincoln Financial Field before an Eagles game, RVs and hatchbacks will be laden with a smorgasbord of smoked goodies, chips and dips, and seasonal brews.

But even veteran tailgaters’ spreads will pale in comparison to the Meals on Wheels Ultimate Tailgate, set for the Wilmington Sheraton South in New Castle, on Thursday, Oct. 22, beginning at 6 p.m. This inaugural event will feature local restaurants and chefs offering their unique spin on classic tailgate dishes.

“The Ultimate Tailgate will continue the legacy of offering guests an opportunity to indulge in a unique culinary excellence, while raising money in support of Delaware’s homebound seniors,” says Regina Dodds, director of Events for Meals on Wheels Delaware. “We are incredibly grateful for the community’s outstanding contributions, and are excited to kick off our new fundraiser in the fall of 2015.”

Some of the local restaurants scheduled to be on hand for the Ultimate Tailgate include 8th & Union Kitchen, Caffé Gelato, Fins Ale House & Raw Bar, Soffritto Italian Grill, Columbus Inn, Pizza by Elizabeths, Buckley’s Tavern, and Chesapeake Inn & Marina.

Executive Chef Tom Hannum, of Buckley’s Tavern in Centreville, also serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Meals on Wheels Delaware. He says the Ultimate Tailgate will give Meals on Wheels a chance to extend its fundraising efforts into the fall, much like the Wine Auction and Celebrity Chef Brunch do in the spring.

“All the events we did used to be on the same weekend, and it was sometimes hard for people to attend each one,” says Hannum. “By spreading the events out, we’ll be able to attract more customers and guests.”

Gianmarco Martuscelli, owner of the Chesapeake Inn & Marina, says he and Chef Christian Lackford are planning Thai chicken mini-tacos and mini-crab cake sliders with a citrus-horseradish aioli and tomato jam.

Martuscelli takes great pride in being involved with Meals on Wheels. “Throughout the year, we get invited to a lot of events or are offered the chance to work with a lot of charities, and when it comes down to it, we can only do so many,” says Martuscelli. “But I feel like Meals on Wheels does the most for the community, and is a top three charity in mind, so we’re proud to be a part of it.”

On the beverage side of the event—because what’s a good tailgate without a proper beer or cocktail?—Two Stones Pub and its newly opened 2SP Brewing, located in Ardmore, Pa., will handle the beer garden at the Ultimate Tailgate.

Ben “Gumbo” Muse, of 2SP, says the event will feature more than 30 craft beers on tap at the beer garden. Of those, six will come from the 2SP lineup, including the Delco, a workhorse lager perfect for tailgating, the Weiss Wit, with subtle notes of coriander and orange peel, the Baby Bob, a roasty stout, and the Bellcracker, a double IPA.

In addition to all the creative fare and craft beer, Painted Stave Distilling, from Smyrna, as well as Philadelphia Distilling will be on hand to offer samples of their vodkas and gins.
Live entertainment will include a DJ spinning tunes, courtesy of Spin Jocs Entertainment, and cover band FreeLance playing classic rock. Guitarist Bruce Anthony also will be on hand, playing a mix of traditional jazz standards and contemporary blues and rock.

While the Meals on Wheels mission is to raise funds in support of nearly 4,000 homebound seniors statewide, Erica Porter Brown, project manager with City Fare Meals on Wheels Delaware, hopes the event will encourage those attending to consider becoming volunteers.

“Our biggest challenge continues to be our desperate need for new volunteers, especially as the number of people we serve increases,” says Brown. “We have not been able to add delivery drivers with some of the expanded routes we are now serving, so this fall, we will be undertaking a major volunteer recruitment campaign.”

Katy Ford, a 64-year-old Delaware native, has been delivering Meals on Wheels for just over a decade, after she was first approached about volunteering while working at Wilmington Trust. It started as a once-a-month activity for Ford, and is now something she enjoys doing several times a week.

“I wanted to do something meaningful in my retirement, and it’s turned into something that’s just as much for me as it is for the people I serve,” says Ford. “I thank them when I drop the meals off, because it really is fulfilling. It only takes between 30 and 90 minutes out of my day, and I’m happy to do it. I’ve made friends over the years and gotten a lot of good advice from those I’ve served.”

Ford picks up the hot lunchtime meals on Silverside Road and follows a mapped-out route that takes her to a minimum of six houses and a maximum of 18.

Anyone interested in volunteering should check out the volunteer portal at the Meals on Wheels website.

For more information on the Ultimate Tailgate, or to purchase tickets to the event at $55 per person, go to, or call 656-6451.

Fundraisers Full of Fun

Help others—and have a great time doing so

Whether you like dancing, attending an elegant gala, sampling delicious food and drink or a simple stroll with your pet, you can have the perfect day or evening out while also contributing to local cultural, philanthropic and art-focused nonprofits. Here are a few upcoming fundraisers to get started:

DHATails Around the Tower

Sunday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Rockford Park, Wilmington

This is Delaware Humane Association’s 25th Annual Walk for the Animals, which is a one-mile walk around the park for dogs and their owners. A fun atmosphere, dressed-up dogs, music, refreshments, pet-oriented vendors, pet contests, and more make this a great outing for the entire family while raising funds for homeless animals waiting for their forever home.

For more information, visit

A Night in Cuba: A Celebration of a New Era

Saturday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Doubletree Hotel, Wilmington

The Latin American Community Center’s 46th Annual Grand Ball, A Night in Cuba: A Celebration of a New Era includes a cocktail hour, dinner and lots of dancing.
Call Sindy Rodriguez, 655-7338, ext. 7701, for information about individual tickets, a table for 10 and sponsorship opportunities.

For additional information, visit

vendemia_daVinciVendemmia da Vinci

Sunday, Oct. 11, 2-6 p.m.
Bellevue State Park, Wilmington

The 12th annual Vendemmia da Vinci is a fundraiser for the da Vinci Society of Delaware, which promotes the cultural heritage of Italian people through education, service, charity and community events. The gala includes samples of Italian wine, Italian food, an Italian Beer Garden, live entertainment, and a Vendemmia 2015 commemorative wine glass. Also featured are a handcrafted wine and homemade gravy contest, silent auction and Italian vendor displays.

For more information, visit; tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the gate.


Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Wilmington Country Club, Wilmington

The Ministry of Caring, a nonprofit serving the underprivileged, is hosting its 27th annual event, a luncheon and fashion show featuring styles of Lafayette 148 New York from designer Neiman Marcus. The fundraiser includes a live auction and prize drawings (win a two-year lease of a 2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan). Admission is $100 per person, which includes the lunch. Money raised by this event supports the Ministry of Caring’s four emergency homeless shelters for men, women and children, along with the Ministry’s Job Placement Center.

For tickets, call 428-3702.

The Ultimate Tailgate

Thursday, Oct. 22, 6-9 p.m.
Sheraton Wilmington South, New Castle

Enjoy local restaurants serving their unique interpretation of tailgate food. This sophisticated yet casual event will feature wine and spirits, live entertainment, and a beer garden. (For full description, see page 39).

For additional information, visit

Christi Awards

Friday, Oct. 23, 5:30 p.m.
Christina Cultural Arts Center Inc., Wilmington

Launched in 1991, the Christi Awards are Christina Cultural Arts Center Inc.’s signature event. The awards ceremony honors unsung individuals and organizations making significant contributions to promoting the arts in Wilmington. The awards ceremony also raises public awareness of the organization’s mission, program impacts and financial support needs.

This year’s theme is “Arts for Our City’s Sake,” celebrating the impact of the arts on the quality of life in Wilmington. Three honorees have been chosen this year: Kenneth C. Brown, for Achievement by an Arts Educator; Juhi Jagiasi for Volunteerism; and Darrell Andrews, Jr., for Achievement in the Arts by a Youth.

General tickets are $75 each and are available at

all-hallows-eve-ballAll Hallows’ Eve Costume Ball

Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Brandywine River Museum of Art Courtyard, Chadds Ford, Pa.

Calling all witches, ghosts and ghouls—will your costume be the winner? The event is the Young Friends’ annual fundraiser, and all proceeds will support programs of the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Enjoy cocktails, light refreshments, music and more.

Prizes go to people in the most creative costumes, and to those not in costume, beware: You will suffer an unspeakable fate, according to the website.

Tickets start at $85. Guests must be 21 or older to attend. For more information, visit

Blue Jean Ball

Saturday, Oct. 24, 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Food Bank of Delaware, Newark

Help combat hunger in the First State at the Food Bank of Delaware’s 10th annual Blue Jean Ball with a spooky new twist—a Halloween theme.

Come dressed in a costume—there will be a contest—or casual blue jeans.

The event will feature a fall harvest small plate menu prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School with guidance from presenting sponsor Iron Hill Brewery’s team of chefs. Food will have a distinct autumnal theme and each item will be carefully paired with a seasonal brew from Iron Hill.

In addition to fine food, beers and wine, the evening will feature entertainment and dancing with Mike Hines and the Look.

Tickets are $75 a person, which covers unlimited beer, wine, food and a commemorative beer mug. For more information, visit

wine_women_shoesWine, Women & Shoes

Friday, Nov. 6, 6-10 p.m.
Hercules Plaza, Wilmington

This event benefits Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children. It includes a wine tasting, a fashion show, a silent auction, food, shopping, complimentary valet parking, and more. Tickets start at $100.

For more information, visit or call 302-651-4383.

Delaware Antiques Show

Nov. 6-8, times vary
Chase Center on the Riverfront, Wilmington

Sixty of the country’s most distinguished dealers present the finest offerings of American antiques and decorative arts, including furniture, paintings, rugs, ceramics, silver, jewelry, and more at this 52nd annual event. The show benefits educational programming at Winterthur.

For more information, visit

Contemporary Gala

Saturday, Nov. 14, 7-10pm
DCCA, Wilmington

Join supporters of the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts for this elegant evening of food, dancing, auctions, and unconventional entertainment. Proceeds raised from the event will help with DCCA exhibitions and educational programs.

The Patron Pre-Party from 6-7 p.m. includes specialty appetizers, VIP wine tastings presented by Frank’s Wine, early bidding on auction items, and a curatorial tour with honorary chairs, Gov. and First Lady Jack and Carla Markell. Tickets are $250. General admission for the Contemporary Gala from 7-10 p.m. is $75 for members and $85 for non-members. Tickets cover a silent art auction, silent luxury auction, open bar, dancing, music, and more.

For more information, visit

the_GrandThe Grand Gala

Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 p.m.
The Grand Opera House, Wilmington

At the 39th annual Grand Gala, all proceeds benefit Arts Education at The Grand Opera House. This year’s event features internationally-renowned music ensemble Celtic Woman, accompanied by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Ellen and Michael Kullman are this year’s distinguished honorees for their commitment and service to Delaware. As usual, the Ultimate After Party will take place following the Gala at the Hotel du Pont. It will feature live music, dancing, an open bar and gourmet fare in six rooms.

For more information, visit