Olive Oil: The New Wine?

Find out about EVOO, give a tasting party. Learn to love this liquid gold.

I know someone whose first sip of wine was a 45-year-old Port. My inaugural taste could boast no such vintage; it was from my aunt’s bottle of Manischewitz, which was first cracked open three Thanksgivings prior. For years, my wine consumption was limited to gifted bottles or summer sangria made with cheap wine. Eventually, business interests took me to wine dinners, where the origins of a Syrah and a Shiraz, a Grenache and a Garnacha, became important to me. Once I could carve out a budget for great wine, bottles from five continents began rotating through my once-dusty wine rack. Although I’m not yet an oenophile, I cannot imagine going back to “factory wine.”

Similar to my wine choices, what occupied my cabinet for years was store-brand olive oil, the quality of which reflected the budget I’d devoted to it. Once again, professional interests led me to a palate-awakening, and for me there is no turning back to generic olive oil.

If you can tell a Merlot from a Cabernet, or even if you can’t, olive oil may be the next horizon for broadening your palate. From tasting parties to sommelier certifications to health magazines, there are many routes to learning why olive oil is worthy of the same enthusiasm as wine. With U.S. consumption increasing by 250 percent in the last quarter century (compared to worldwide growth of 73 percent), there’s a good chance this “liquid gold” has seeped or will be seeping into your kitchen soon.

Things to Know

Some things to know when shopping for “good” olive oil: extra virgin is the best; it can cost a dollar or more per ounce; reading the fine print is important, and it should impart an unmistakable flavor. That $6 store-brand olive oil probably tastes like any other oil in your cabinet…nothing distinctive, even if it does say “Imported.”

Process and timing is everything. For superior quality oil, olives are gently picked (often by hand), taken to press hours after picking, mashed into a paste, and “cold” pressed until “extra virgin olive oil,” with an acid level no higher than .08 percent, pours out. “Virgin” olive oil is limited to two percent acidity—same process, riper olives. Refining with heat or chemicals can turn imperfect, bruised or old olives into edible oil, albeit devoid of flavor and aroma. “Pure” and “light” oils are all or part refined oil.

Where its olives are grown is part of an oil’s pedigree. Your olive oil is most likely imported from the Mediterranean, where archaeologists have found evidence of olive oil production going back at least 6,000 years. By some estimates, America imports 97 percent of its consumption.

This is not to say there is anything innately inferior about American olives. They grow in California, Texas and the “Olive Belt,” stretching from South Carolina to Mississippi. However, it is a relatively new industry in the U.S. The self-proclaimed “oldest” American olive oil producer is only 80 years old. The largest domestic producer of olive oil has grown its market share somewhat quickly thanks to mechanized harvesters, a newer technology not yet widely used overseas.

Every nation thinks its olive oil is the best, and marketers capitalize on the reputation of a country to sell oil to American consumers. In other words, the phrase “Made in Italy” is on a lot of oil, but you need to know more to determine quality.

Indicators of Quality

Italian olive oils, for example, may have origin labels that are a reasonable indicator of quality. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO/DOP) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI/IGP) labels are guarantees of authenticity, regulated by the European Union. A PDO oil has an attribute that is unique to its geography (in wine lingo, terroir), whereas PGI indicates region alone. The E.U. applies such labels to wine and other agricultural products, like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and champagne and cognac.

Olive oil lovers like to talk about traceability and authenticity. One in 20 people I meet at tastings asks me, “Did you see that 60 Minutes episode…?” about how the Italian Mafia counterfeits extra virgin olive oil. The product is adulterated with inferior oils, possibly oils from outside of Italy, colorants and deodorizer… if there is even any extra virgin content at all. This is a national crisis to Italians, who use 10 times as much olive oil per person as Americans. For them, olive oil authenticity is a matter of national pride, and it has a direct impact on the economy.

I am fortunate in that I can respond confidently when asked about the source of the oil I sell. For the past four years, I have worked for a Wilmington company that is the exclusive American importer of a single-source oil from a family-owned Italian farm and frantoio (olive mill). Olevano Olive Oil is pressed from hand-picked olives grown in Wilmington’s sister city, Olevano sul Tusciano, in Salerno. When I mention the surnames of the Wilmington owners, Delle Donne (Tom) and Fierro (Al), to locals, and describe how it’s their cousins in Italy who pick the olives, Delawareans often recognize some connection to the family, and thoughts of fictional Corleones hijacking our oil supply are quickly forgotten.

Marketing and regulation aside, country and region can be a reflection of your flavor preferences. Oil from northern Italy—Tuscany, for example—can seem lighter in mouthfeel than other oils, but no less flavorful. Further south toward Umbria, peppery olive oils dominate. Southern Italian olives, such as those from Campania and Puglia, produce full-flavored, fruity oil.

Planning a Tasting Party

Armed with what you now know about process and origin, you may be ready to dive into the world of what Rachael Ray calls “EVOO” (extra virgin olive oil). Tasting parties are a trendy way to experience good EVOO, and sites like Williams-Sonoma.com offer party planning tips.

Buy several bottles, or have each guest—ideal party size is three to eight people—bring a bottle, aiming for a variety of origins or attributes (filtered or unfiltered, buttery or peppery, grassy or fruity, consecutive harvests, distinct varietals). Serve room temperature, in order from mild to strong flavor, and observe the swirl and the nose, before loudly slurping (yes, really) and swishing the oil in your mouth, just like wine. Skip the official cobalt glass in favor of wine glasses, which tasters can hold in their palms to temper the oil, or you can opt for single-use plastic tasting cups for beginners.

Search “what wine pairs with olive oil” for beverage ideas. Don’t forget the “spit cup” and palate-cleansing bread or tart apples, and give guests pen and paper to write notes. After the tasting, try your favorite oils on bruschetta, buffalo mozzarella and even vanilla ice cream.

Visit Fusion Taster’s Choice in Wilmington, the Olive Orchard in Rehoboth Beach or visit a vendor (like me) at an arts and crafts festival, for low-key tasting opportunities. No time to taste? Buy your oil where the foodies shop, like Capers and Lemons or Janssen’s Market.

When it’s time to cook, remember “smoke point.” Exceeding any oil’s smoke point creates bitterness and devalues EVOO’s health benefits (in fighting diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis), but is not hard to avoid. At its lowest reported temperature, EVOO’s smoke point is close to that of butter. If you wouldn’t fry a cutlet in butter, don’t fry it in good EVOO. Low acid makes EVOO more versatile than some would have you believe, but pros still suggest saving the expensive stuff for dishes where its subtle flavors will shine: salad dressings, drizzles, dipping, quick sautés or braises.

As a gastronaut, you may even set your sights on becoming an “olive oil sommelier.” OliveOilTimes.com offers a course through the International Culinary Center in New York City. The first of three courses costs $1,200; you’ll taste 100 oils from 25 countries over a three-day weekend, learn the history and process of making EVOO, how to judge the quality and attributes of an oil, and more. Sommelier candidates complete two additional levels of coursework. Alternatively, for $350 plus airfare, you can get a “Master of Olive Oil” certification in Los Angeles (nasommelier.com).

Whatever level of expertise you aspire to, tasting olive oil is perfectly positioned to be a palate-pleasing pastime for trend seekers.

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!

All Things Worth Trying

Welcome to our seventh annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!

MISCELLANEOUS PICKS

Annual Book Sale
Fellow bibliophiles, rejoice. Each year, the dead-of-winter dullness—at least for my admittedly-nerdy self—is brightened in anticipation of this event. Friends of the Hockessin Library hosts a sale at Hockessin Memorial Fire Hall, from which funds go to the upkeep of the Hockessin Public Library. Heaps of books of all genres fill a massive room outlined in rows on tables, in piles stacked on the floor—everywhere, books! Here’s the rule: you purchase a large paper bag (or two, or three) for $7 or $8 and fill it to the brim. Veterans know to bring a sturdier burlap satchel for added support, of course, and a few hours later, you exit with ample texts to last through the coming year. This year’s sale is Jan. 26-29.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

meals_on_wheelsDelivering Meals and More
Studies have shown that people who volunteer their time live longer. So live a longer, richer life: volunteer to be a Meals on Wheels driver. These hot, nutritious noontime meals are much more than sustenance. Often, the volunteer driver is the only person the shut-in senior will interact with during the entire day. This nonprofit is in desperate need of drivers. It takes only about two hours of your time, and you can volunteer for as few as two deliveries a month. Call the Meals on Wheels center nearest you: City Fare/St. Anthony Center, Wilmington, 421-3731, or Newark Senior Center, 737-2336.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

penn-cinemaPenn Cinema
For years, many pleaded for a Wilmington movie complex – former Mayor James Baker being one of the most vociferous. Today we have a state-of-the-art one on the Riverfront and though it’s been around since 2012, there are still plenty who haven’t paid a visit. You owe it to yourself. Penn Cinema has 14 screens plus IMAX, comfortable leather seats, ample leg room and now serves beer and wine. And it’s within walking distance of a half-dozen restaurants for a meal before or after the show.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

reply_all“Reply All”
I subscribe to a couple of dozen podcasts, but there’s only one I follow with a first-season-of-“Serial” intensity, and that’s “Reply All.” Every weekish, hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman unearth stories that could only exist in our digital age, stories that are at turns riveting (I swear you will care about the story of Wayne, the guy in the episode “Boy in Photo”), heartbreaking (a game designer works through his son’s struggle with cancer in “The Cathedral”), and mind bending (I truly believe it’s at least plausible that Pizza Rat is part of an armada of highly-trained rats unleashed on New York City to create viral content and modern myths, as investigated in “Zardulu”). Technology changes how we relate to one another in the world. “Reply All” gets right to the heart of it.

— Matt Sullivan, Contributing Writer

Be a Good Human
I know. Who am I to tell you what to do? Consider this just a gentle nudge…a friendly reminder to do something small today to support the notion that there are still good humans living among us. Hold a door. High-five a stranger. Pick up litter and toss it in a trashcan. Say hello to your neighbors. Easy things to overlook, but even easier to accomplish.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

vinyl_districtThe Vinyl District Record Store Locator App
So, let’s pretend you’ve been plopped down in Poughkeepsie and you’re wondering if there’s a record shop where you can buy Herbie Mann’s “Push Push” on vinyl. Never fear, that is if you have The Vinyl District Record Store Locator App on your phone. It’s absolutely free for iPhone and Android users, and lists some 3,200 independent record stores in 40 countries, some of them imaginary! If there’s an independent record store in Pyongyang, North Korea, the app’s GPS-based locator will tell you exactly where it is. And the app also displays a vast list of record fairs around the globe by date and location. Finally, it includes a TVD Record Store Club feature that will tip you off to new releases, as well as a host of giveaways, contests, and more. Go to thevinyldistrict.com and download the app today!

— Mike Little, Contributing Writer

westworld-posterWestworld on HBO
Two decades before Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park ran wild on the silver screen, he wrote and directed Westworld, a 1973 sci-fi film about another kind of over-the-top tourist attraction going off the rails. Instead of genetically resurrected dinosaurs running amok, Crichton first imagined malfunctioning androids gunning down thrill-seekers in a Wild West-themed vacation spot. Same game, different park. While the DNA (or binary code) of Crichton’s original Westworld repeats itself in the overall structure of this recently adapted HBO series, the show-runners have cleverly tinkered with the original formula. In this iteration, the robots are drawn as the more sympathetic characters while humans are cold and heartless. The show trudges somewhat aimlessly through its middle episodes, but the finale delivers plenty of twists and tense action. That said, Westworld ultimately is compelling because of the questions it asks along the way about identity, memory and what exactly constitutes consciousness.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

seinfeldiaA Book about a Show About Nothing
If you’re in the search of some “serenity now,” get your “man hands” on Seinfeldia, a compendium of stories about how one of the greatest sitcoms became a cultural phenomenon. There’s plenty of “yada, yada, yada” about the cast, characters and storylines that produced one of the most influential television shows of all-time.

Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

Train Your Brain
Forget all those invites you keep receiving to play mindless smartphone games like “Farmville” and “Candy Crush,” and instead download “Peak.” This mental gymnastics app will keep your brain jumping through all sorts of hoops, helping you focus and sharpen your memory. In no time, your mind will be as sharp as a tack, and you’ll forget about all those other mindless games.

— Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

chef_lhulierChef Lhulier Dinner Party
This year, my wife and I hosted two dinner parties at the home of Chef Robert Lhulier. We invited three other couples, carefully selecting a motley crew who didn’t know each other well but would enjoy each other’s company. Chef Robert prepared four courses of food (for $60 a head) and everyone BYO’d the wine and bubbles and brandy. The results: Fantastic, relaxed, delicious evenings filled with great tunes, loud conversation that probably would have gotten us kicked out of most restaurants, and personalized attention from one of the best chefs in Delaware. Chef Lhulier will come to your house too – but he sets a fine table (that you don’t have to clean) at his, while you Uber home. Check out how it works at lhulier.com.

— Matt Sullivan, Contributing Writer

mozart-in-the-jungleMozart in the Jungle
If you think a TV show about a symphony is stuffy, then think again. Amazon Prime’s original series Mozart in the Jungle, whose third season debuted in December, is devastatingly clever. The witty script boasts such well-drawn characters as the eccentric Maestro Rodrigo, played by Emmy winner Gael Garcia Bernal. Bernadette Peters and Malcolm McDowell are also at their hilarious best. The appearance of real life classical heavyweights, including Yo-Yo Ma, add fun and flair. Catch up on Prime.

— Pam George, Contributing Writer

bringing_nature_homeBringing Nature Home
I bought a new (old) home this past spring, and although the lot isn’t very large, it was very overgrown. We ripped everything out and planned to start fresh. While researching ideas, I came across Bringing Nature Home, by University of Delaware professor Douglas W. Tallamy. He makes the case for biodiversity in city and suburban home gardens. He explains how over-development has threatened our ecosystem, why alien plants are problematic (bugs and animals can’t eat them), and provides practical suggestions for how home gardeners can use native plants to make a serious impact. The book made me reconsider my whole landscaping plan, and has me really looking forward to spring.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

lafate_galleryLaFate Gallery
Jamaican-born self-taught artist Eugene LaFate has a cozy, colorful gallery that houses her vibrant work in the LOMA district of downtown Wilmington. With a personality as warm and charming as her artwork, LaFate has established herself as one of Wilmington’s artist advocates. The gallery sells her originals, prints and postcards; she also offers a variety of workshops and classes. At 227 N. Market St. lafategallery.com. 656-6786.

— Mark Fields, Film Reviewer

rei-_optoutside_anthem_film_15REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
During an REI kayak-camping trip I took this summer in Wyoming’s Teton National Park, I got a firsthand look at how this company operates in a friendly, fun and professional manner. The co-op offers discounts and annual rebates to its members. In addition, it treats employees with tremendous respect: all REI locations are closed for Black Friday, a traditionally huge shopping day during which staffers are encouraged to get out of the store and enjoy outdoor time with their family and friends instead.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Lewinsky’s on Clinton
The name of this Delaware City pub has created quick a few chuckles, but this cozy tavern is a great destination for a beer and a sandwich—perhaps after a stroll along the Castle Trail or a visit to Fort Delaware. The food is tasty, the craft beer selection is solid, and the joint is jumping on weekends with performances by local bands and acoustic acts.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

stuff_you_should_knowStuff You Should Know Podcast
How does a fireplace work? What’s the chemical make-up of Play-Doh? Stuff You Should Know is a podcast that answers these random questions, plus so much more. Pop it on while you’re working or doing chores around the house. Knowledge is power!

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

PACE Network
Have you ever thought about getting involved in the betterment of Wilmington’s public education system? The PACE (Parent Advocacy Council for Education) Network, an initiative of Christina Cultural Arts Center, allows parents and community members to do just that; it joins adults, youth, and educators to imagine, create, and advocate for equity, access and more effective learning in schools and community places. To learn more or get involved, email ccac.pace@gmail.com.

— Sarah Green, Special Projects

dirkgentlyDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – BBC America (On Demand)
Years after the death of author Douglas Adams, his character Dirk Gently—who solves crimes by surfing along with the interconnectedness of all things—finally made it to TV this fall. The result is a great short-run series that combines the sci-fi, comedy and over-the-top weirdness Adams fans came to love in his Dirk Gently novels—with excellent modern updates. Now that the entire series is available On Demand, let the binge watching commence!

— Scott Pruden, Contributing Writer

avoid_the_kioskAvoiding the Kiosk
There is a Panera next to my daughter’s preschool, and we find ourselves there more than I care to admit. They have “Fast Lane” kiosks there—touchscreen computers that allow customers to order for themselves. We walked in the other day and there was no line, but there were three people using the kiosks. My son asked if we could use one too and I said no. Why? Because if everyone uses the kiosks, jobs currently reserved for humans will be replaced by computers. Same goes for the grocery store self-checkout. If the place is packed, I get it. But otherwise, why not contribute to keeping someone employed?

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

PICKS OF THE FOOD VARIETY

traderjoes-this-cranberry-walks-into-a-barTrader Joe’s “This Cranberry Walks Into a Bar…” Cereal Bars
I’ve gotten so many “winning” grocery items from TJ’s, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But this seasonal-only (they usually disappear after January) oat & fruit cereal bar is one of my go-tos—tart, chewy, the perfect-sized mid-day bite. I persistently badger the staff to carry them all year long…so far, no luck.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

tbaar_incTbaar Inc.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious bubble tea, a healthy wheatgrass smoothie, or a sweet or savory crepe, Tbaar at 108 East Main St. in Newark is the place to go. Tbaar may be a chain, but you wouldn’t know it by the scrumptious handmade crepes. I’m the savory type, and I always order the “Yo! Check It Out,” a Chinese style crepe that comes with ham and tofu plus several pungent sauces that make each bite a glorious adventure for your taste buds. And it’s spicy! Order it with the Honey Jasmine Tea, or the Bubble Milk Black Tea, and I guarantee you an experience equal to anything Anthony Bourdain may be eating this week. And you don’t have to go to China to find your bliss.

— Mike Little, Contributing Writer

grub_burger-barGrub Burger Bar – Concord Mall
I didn’t want to like Grub. I don’t like chains, don’t go to malls and thought it was a terrible name for somewhere you plan to eat. There are enough places to get a decent burger, but Grub has become my go-to spot. Turns out it’s a very small (under 20 locations) chain, its burgers are creative and delicious, and though I still don’t like the name I do like the logo. It also turns out I really like milkshakes with alcohol; a bourbon & caramel milkshake takes the edge off being at the mall. And the Scorpion burger with Trinidad Moruga scorpion sauce is intense. Decent food, great concept and surprisingly fast service is a welcome change.

— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

Cooking with Anchovy Paste
It’s a secret ingredient that will have your tongue saying, “Ooh mommy, umami!” Just don’t tell your uncle about it. He hates trying new things.

— David Hallberg, Special Projects

thug_kitchenThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
This vegan cookbook was probably the best thing my wife and I bought as newlyweds. As we approach our 30s, we realized that we often made the same meals, week after week, since both of us are not very advanced in the kitchen. We’re not vegans but we were looking for a way to expand our culinary horizon, as well as trying to eat a bit healthier and eat less meat. I came across the blog for this book, and was impressed by how easy it was to follow recipes. It explained a few uncommon ingredients and cooking techniques in a straightforward way. I should also mention that the tagline for the cookbook is “Eat Like You Give A F**k” and it uses lots of expletives, so I would not recommend it for children. But for us, it always makes us laugh when we’re reading a recipe out loud, and it made cooking a much more enjoyable activity.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

MKTSTLOGOfinalBLACKMarket Street Bread and Bagel
This small tidy shop has endured some start-up issues in its first year (It opened January, 2016), but it has settled into a welcome addition to Market Street. I won’t evaluate the coffee since I don’t drink the stuff, but I can heartily attest to the quality of the breakfast and lunch offerings. I especially like the sticky buns with their nice blend of stickiness and flakiness. For lunch, I always struggle to choose between the curried chicken salad and ham and brie, all offered on bread baked on the premises. The menu is compact, but what’s there is dee-lish. At 832 N. Market St. 482-2553.

— Mark Fields, Film Reviewer

J’s Café
Located inside Janssen’s Market in Greenville, this cafe was always a great place for breakfast or lunch, but now you can indulge in a mimosa with your breakfast or a beer with your sandwich, and, of course, pick up a few grocery items before you leave. J’s specializes in wood-fired pizza and a wide range of sandwiches and entrees. My favorite is the Janssen’s turkey, arugula, havarti cheese & sun-dried tomatoes panini paired with an interesting craft beer.

— Julie Miro Wenger, Event Allies

angelos_luncheonetteAngelo’s Luncheonette
It’s small (five tables, 12 counter stools) and the food isn’t fancy, but this old-time diner (1722 N. Scott St.) has been feeding happy Forty Acres people for almost 50 years. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch and the menu is pretty standard, but the quality of the food, the reasonable prices and the friendly staff make this place special. Try one of the house specialties, a Provoroni Dog—a hot dog with pepperoni and melted provolone cheese.

— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

ghirardelli_hot_cocoaGhirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Looking through the aisles at the grocery store, it can seem impossible to find something chocolate that doesn’t contain dairy. After reading the ingredients on almost every brand of hot chocolate, I finally found Ghiradelli Double Chocolate, which had the lone ingredient list that did not include milk. So, for any lactose intolerant friends or vegans, this is for you.

— Deanna Daly, Local Artist & Educator

la_madera_bistroLa Madera Bistro
This cozy, rustic BYOB eatery in historic Kennett Square, Pa., offers an eclectic mix of entrees, gleaning inspiration from Mediterranean and Latin American styles, to name a couple. Most sandwiches are served with some variation of fresh, roasted vegetables, and the very-necessary side of roasted potatoes are sublimely balanced between crisp and smooth.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Fried Pickles
These deep-fried delights offer a delicious detour from standard appetizer fare like wings, nachos and hummus. Equal parts salty and bitter, they also offer a satisfying crunch and are clean and easy to eat, unlike many other starters. Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington was one of the first in the area to feature fried pickles on its menu. More recently, Newark’s Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brought its version to the table, which comes with a zesty cilantro-lime dipping sauce.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

PICKS OF THE DRINK VARIETY

paradocx_vineyardParadocx Vineyard
Visiting the Landenberg, Pa., winery and vineyard each autumn and winter has become a non-official tradition for me and some friends. The family-run estate features a handful of wines grown on the surrounding 100 acres of land. Guests are welcome at the informal tasting room to sample full glasses or flights and to hang out indefinitely in the warmth, taking in the bucolic winter landscape outside.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

delaware_growerThe Delaware Growler
If you’re a craft beer fan in the area and haven’t checked this place out, I suggest you go, now! Located right across from Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Newark, it has roughly 50 beers on tap at any given time for growler fills, plus much more in bottles and cans. I have found myself checking the website weekly to see what’s on the tap list because there’s usually a beer I’ve been trying to find. Bring your own growler or choose one of theirs, which come in a variety of sizes.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

cascade_brewingCascade Brewing
The resident beer expert at Trolley Tap House, Greg Safian, recently introduced my husband and me to Cascade Brewing. Cascade is a Portland, Ore., based brewery that focuses on fruit-forward, barrel-aged sour beers, and they just recently arrived in Delaware. I’ve tried the Kriek and the Apricot Ale—an American Wild Ale—and really enjoyed both. If you like sours, keep Cascade on your radar.

— Marie Graham Poot, Director of Digital Media & Distribution

Liquid Alchemy Beverages
I recommend that you get your mead from this new spot in South Wilmington. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, we have not gone back in time. This cozy little tasting room off Maryland Avenue holds regular weekend hours and special events. The most recent limited release, Black-302, became available on Jan. 1.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

1984 and Oddity Bar
If ever two Wilmington bars were destined to be neighbors, it was these two. As with many memorable duos—Simon & Garfunkel, Starsky & Hutch, R2-D2 & C-3P0—the two bars build upon their similarities and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. With the variety of bands they book, both venues attract similar crowds: people looking for something other than Top 40 cover bands. While both offer the finest craft beers in the area, Oddity also pours cleverly concocted mixed drinks while 1984 offers an assortment of vintage video games and other arcade favorites. But most important, inside each bar you feel like you are very much in a unique place. Which, in another way, makes them quite the pair.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

PICKS OF THE MUSIC VARIETY

The Nomad Bar
I love The Nomad Bar. For anyone who, like me, works late or goes to evening meetings more often than I get out to the many, many shows and performances I wish I had time to see, The Nomad is a perfect go-to spot when you finally find yourself free. It’s a ready-made scene and completely welcoming place to enjoy local artists playing live jazz and other genres that get your blood pumping (and skilled bartenders help that along). I always run into great people there—coworkers, neighbors, community leaders—and you don’t need to worry about who’s playing. Just show up, it will be great music and a great vibe. I’m not a regular at The Nomad, but whenever I’m there, I feel like one. 905 N. Orange St., Wilmington.

— Elizabeth Lockman, Director of the Parent Advocacy Council for Education (PACE) at the Christina Cultural Arts Center

Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn
In 22 nights at Hammersmith, London, in late summer 2014, 75,000 lucky people saw the first live headline concerts by Kate Bush in more than 36 years. In those years, she went from cult heroine to self-produced radio smash to seemingly retired earth mother in the British countryside—until her latest concept LPs. Before The Dawn, an extravagant Broadway-caliber stage production, was assembled over 18 months before this mixture of live concert and dramatic rock theater had its one-month run. We now have a complete live recording on three CDs or four LPs or by download. Experiencing “The Ninth Wave” side 2 of Hounds of Love (1985), performed by Kate, actors and dancers and her live band remains one of my most emotional concert experiences. Experience it!

Ron Ozer, Producer at Arden Concert Gild

Eyebawl
My current favorite local music project is Erin Silva’s (of Tracy Chapstick) solo project “Eyebawl.” Her quiet-rocking confessionals will hit you right in the feels. Catch her at a local venue or hit up her Bandcamp page.

— Miranda Brewer, Owner of Rainbow Records

The Local Music Scene
I can understand if folks feel this is a cop-out. It’s like saying oxygen is worth trying. But hear me out… I’ve been at Out & About for more than two decades. In that time, I have played in bands, booked clubs, managed bands, promoted shows, and helped produce local concerts. And as you can imagine, I’ve also heard and seen a lot of bands play live. A lot. But never have I been more hopeful for the local music scene than I am right now. More clubs are booking live music than they have in years, and thankfully there are a variety of interesting acts to fill them. It feels like an awakening, and whether you are a musician, club owner, or avid fan, I encourage you to take part in it. It’s an exciting time for local music.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Rusty Blue
If you miss ‘90s rock, check out Rusty Blue. I saw them during Musikarmageddon this past summer, and couldn’t believe that sound was coming from teenagers!

— Sana Bell, Community Events Manager at The Grand

PICKS OF THE PLAY VARIETY

Russell Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge
Did you know that Wilmington has a 212-acre wildlife refuge right in our backyard? Located at the end of the beautiful Christina Riverwalk, this urban oasis is a great destination for a peaceful walk, a glimpse of a bald eagle, or a drop-in program for kids to see what critters they can find in the pond. Whether you’re just interested in strolling through the marsh on the boardwalk loop or coming out for one of Delaware Nature Society’s many programs, this spot is well worth a visit any time of the year.

— Sarah Green, Special Projects

The Woodlands at Phillips
Looking for a way to boost your immune system? Then head to this delightful little mushroom museum and retail store in Kennett Square, Pa. (1020 Kaolin Rd.), and pick up some Maitake mushroom. This edible mushroom, known as the “hen of the woods,” is great on the grill or in stir-fry and has anti-cancer, anti-viral and immunity-enhancing properties. It also may help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. The Woodlands is the retail store of Phillips Mushroom Farms.

— Julie Miro Wenger, Event Allies

Northern Delaware Greenway Trail
This 7.2-mile trail provides a unique and spectacular view of some of New Castle County’s recreational treasures, including Alapocas Run State Park, Bellevue State Park, Rockwood Park and Bringhurst Woods Park. Walk, run or ride it.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Oddball Art Hall
Have you ever found yourself at a craft fair or arts festival and thought the selection was tacky or basic? If yes, check out Oddity Bar’s Oddball Art Hall. This local artist collective is held on the third Friday of every month, the next date being Jan. 20. Support some great local artists, including Dea Daly, Kristen Margiotta and Cori Anne.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

South Chesapeake City
Come visit a quaint little historical town separated by the C & D canal. It’s a charming town with lots of interesting shops and some good food with local lodging available. Take a walking tour and see the restoration of lovely homes and gardens. Less than an hour’s drive from Wilmington, it will transport you back in time. Visit the website: chesapeakecity.com.

— John Murray, Proprietor, State Line Liquors & Contributing Writer

Embrace the Season
Winter can be an easy time to stay inside and hibernate, but I say try to do something outside to embrace the season. Why not lace up your skates and enjoy the Riverfront Rink on the Wilmington Riverfront? The kids love it and it feels great to get outside and do something festive around the holidays. riverfrontrink.com.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

From the Publisher: Just a Thought

Welcome to our annual Worth Trying issue. We introduced this theme back in January 2011 and are pleased that it continues to resonate. Throughout the year, each issue of Out & About offers suggestions we consider worthy of your time. Just look for the Worth Trying page in our Start section.

Remember, this is not a “Best Of….” list. The suggestions on the pages that follow are personal recommendations from our staff and contributors. These are things we’ve experienced, things we’d recommend to a friend. Try them for yourself and let us know if you agree. While you’re at it, let us know of things you feel are worth trying. We’ll give them a shot and maybe even share them with your fellow readers.

Perhaps you have already noticed, but in this issue we also debut a new logo for Out & About, not an insignificant occurrence in our world. This is only the fourth logo modification in our 28-year history. In this year of significant change, it just felt like good timing.

Indeed, change is in the air for 2017. In addition to the election of Donald Trump as president, we have a new governor, a new executive for New Castle County, and a new mayor for Wilmington. I encourage you to read Larry Nagengast’s insightful interview with Mike Purzycki on page 16. Wilmington’s new mayor is nothing if not thoughtful.

Thoughtful. Good word. Characterized by careful, reasoned thinking, say the folks at Merriam-Webster. I think most would agree that thoughtfulness is a characteristic we should demand more of in our public discourse, more of in our leadership.

Clever slogans may get the juices flowing, but real solutions aren’t found on a bumper sticker. There are no silver bullets; no eureka panaceas. To proclaim that remedies are as simple as black and white, to suggest all that is needed is bravado is not just disingenuous, it’s dangerous.

Shame on those who make such promises. Shame on us if we buy into them.

So, while we must demand more thoughtful solutions from leadership, it’s imperative to be equally thoughtful in our responses. That requires reading beyond headlines, arming ourselves with facts, and listening to the counter argument—without interrupting.

It’s easy to read, watch and listen to those who reinforce our view of the world. But we don’t just enjoy freedom of speech in this country, we enjoy freedom of thought. And, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.”

So, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, let’s be more thoughtful in 2017. Only Twitter limits your thinking to 140 characters.

Worth Trying – Aug. 2016

Suggestions from our staff, contributors and readers

Constitution Yards

The new seasonal beer garden is the perfect addition to the Riverfront. Located at Justison Landing and open seven days a week, the summer go-to destination offers backyard games, classic barbecue fare and of course, a variety of beers and cocktails. Grab a summer ale and get in line for giant Jenga!

—Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Quinn’s Café

Whenever I go out to breakfast with family or friends, my first instinct is to go to Quinn’s. The eatery has been around for a while, but became known as Quinn’s Café in 2011. This Hockessin favorite tends to be a little crowded on the weekends, but the delicious food is made to order so it’s always worth the wait (quinnscafe.com).

—Emma Driban, Intern

Mini-Cannoli from Toscana To Go

I went with my mom to pick up dinner from Toscana To Go, and after I bugged her enough she let me get a dessert. But she would only let me get the cannoli because they were small and only cost $1.50. I was nervous because she said there was cheese inside, and that kind of sounded gross. I didn’t like it. I LOVED it! The outside was like a thin cookie, the inside was sweet and creamy, and there were chocolate chips sprinkled on it. You have to try one.

—Oliver Poot, 1st grader and Wilmington Resident

Movies on Tap

When the good folks at Premier Wine & Spirits sat down with our friends at Penn Cinema, they conjured up some sweet synergy. The meeting’s magic resulted in the “Movies on Tap” series at Penn Cinema, which pairs cult-classic films with seasonal offerings of local breweries. For film geeks, it’s a great opportunity to see some popular movies of the past on the big screen in a fun setting. For beer freaks, it’s a chance to meet area brewmasters and get a taste of their latest concoctions. That these nights raise money for local charities is simply icing on the cake. Caddyshack with Mispillion River Brewing, Ghostbusters with Sicilian cannoli with chocolateYards Brewing Co., Pulp Fiction with Evil Genius Beer Company and The Blues Brothers with Blue Earl Brewing Co. were big hits. This month, it’s The Goonies with 2SP Brewing Co. on Wednesday, August 17. To reserve your seats, go to penncinema.com.

—Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Worth Trying 2016 – Drink

Picks of the drink variety

White Sangria in stemware on a white background

Cocina Lolo Sangria Cocktails
Since Cocina opened (the newest culinary baby of Bryan and Andrea Sikora, located at 405 N. King St.), they’ve enjoyed a great dinner buzz. But I feel everyone should know they also have a terrific at-bar Happy Hour too (Tuesday-Friday, 4-6 p.m., with $5 classic margaritas, $3 cervezas and $2 tacos). Above all that, my favorite new thing is their homemade BLANCO (white) Y TINTO (red) sangrias: Spanish wines mixed with oodles of brandy-soaked fruits and a touch of Cointreau—the perfect “something new” for your everyday HH party. P.S., also try their mushroom fundido for another something new.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

hop_sing_laundromatHop Sing Laundromat in Philly
The best bar within 100 miles of where you are right now. It’s this crazy hidden speakeasy in Chinatown. You give a big, scary, ex-football pro your ID when you buzz in. He disappears for an uncomfortable amount of time, then returns to read you the rules. Sneakers or jeans? Don’t even bother knocking. Take a photo, even with your phone, and you get kicked to the curb. But man, the drinks…I recently had the Funkify Your Life (Thai pepper with gin, ginger liquor, mint and lemon juice), which is so spicy if it touches your lips you are toast. But it is all delicious and worth the dance, whatever your poison.

— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

narrangansett-allies-donutsNarragansett Allie’s Donuts Chocolate Porter
I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate beers. Simultaneously, they’re my most favored and most detested brews. This beer is sweet as expected, and proves to be light, uncharacteristic of many chocolate-based batches. I found my pack of six at Inner Spirits in Trolley Square.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

Wine & Cider-making
Creative Director Matt Loeb and I have always suggested home brewing beer in O&A Worth Trying editions, but each time we try to offer something different. This past fall, I tried my hand at making hard cider with locally-sourced apple cider from Highland Orchards. Everyone who had a chance to try it fell in love with it, and making hard cider is much easier than home-brewing beer. With wine or cider-making, you cut out the actual “brewing” part and just add some yeast to your “juice,” let it sit and follow regular home brewing procedures.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

Defiant_WhiskyDefiant Whisky
Born in moonshine country, this American single malt whisky was a spontaneous buy at Frank’s Wine. I finally tried it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s obvious that Blue Ridge Distillery mastered this blend before it hit the bottle and the shelves. It’s the perfect sipper to enjoy with holiday guests.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

old_rasputinOld Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
The eerie mystic on the label of California’s North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is anything but welcoming. But the bitter brew, an enigmatic blend of coffee, dark cocoa and dark malts, is rich and smooth. At 9 percent ABV, it’s one to sip slow and savor.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

glass of spritz aperitif aperol cocktail with orange slices

Aperol Spritz at Capers & Lemons
I’m typically a beer and red wine drinker, but at our office holiday party at Capers & Lemons I was in the mood for something different. They had lots of delightful looking options, but our server recommended the Aperol Spritz: prosecco, aperol (an Italinan liquer made with bitter orange and rhubarb), club soda, and a splash of fresh orange juice. It was delicious! Exactly the festive-type cocktail I had in mind.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

dark_stormyDark and Stormy
A colleague introduced me to this concoction during a recent holiday dinner. Trust me, I will be having another. Created with Crabbie’s ginger beer, Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda dark rum, and a twist of lime, the drink has a nice bite, is not too sweet, and the perfect option when you’re looking for a break from a filling craft beer or glass of wine.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

swiggSwigg – Wine, Craft Beer & Artisan Spirits
Located in Independence Mall, David Govatos’ new shop is both stylish and thoroughly engaging for the adult beverage aficionado. It focuses on lesser known producers from all over the world, quality products are offered at very competitive pricing. One wall features an ever-changing roster of 15 red wines and 15 whites, all under $15. If craft beer is your thing, craft is all they sell. An impressive collection of local, regional and other quality American brews are chilled and ready for a session with the crew. And an outstanding selection of premium artisanal spirits make excellent gifts or additions to your liquor cabinet or winter sipping list. Located at 1601 Concord Pike, Wilmington.

— Chef Robert Lhulier

Life Behind Bars

Four Delaware bartenders dish on serving The First State

Walk into most restaurants, and whether it’s a slow Tuesday afternoon or a busy Friday night, there’s usually something going down at the bar. Customers are laughing and carrying on, or yelling at the TV, or even singing along to the acoustic duo doing covers of Dave Matthews and Billy Joel.

In the center of it all is the bartender. He or she mixes drinks, pours beers, takes orders, conducts traffic, tell jokes, and in effect creates an environment that makes customers feel at home.

We spoke with four “lifers” with a total of more than 85 years behind some of Delaware’s most well-attended bars to find out what it’s like being the ringmaster of all this action. They revealed how they got started, what keeps them in the business, and described some unique tips they’ve received over the years. They also threw in some advice for today’s bar-hoppers.

Alan Rutherford, The Man at Kid’s

Just a little over 20 years ago, while he was waiting tables at Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon in Wilmington, Al Rutherford was offered a shot at tending bar during one of Kid’s famously busy Sunday brunches.

Anyone who has stopped in for steak and eggs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Sunday knows that the scene at Kid’s can be a dizzying display of servers, hostesses and kitchen staff working as a well-oiled machine.

For Rutherford, it was baptism by fire, but he survived it, would continue working nights while getting his master’s in physiology from the University of Delaware, and then would be faced with a decision to make when he graduated.

“Most people will tell you they get into bartending for the money, and I’m no exception,” says Rutherford. “The job offers I got when I graduated were for peanuts, so I decided to stay on at Kid’s, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Now 48, Rutherford hasn’t a single regret. He’s become as much a part of the bar scene at Kid’s as the comfy swivel chairs aligned on the back side of the bar itself. But aside from the money – Rutherford says Kid’s has been a “gold mine” – the North New Jersey native says you have to love people to be a good bartender.

“The best part of tending bar is the people, although the worst part of tending bar can also be the people,” says Rutherford. “I’d say 95 percent of the people are great; they come in to share their stories, hang out and have a good time. But of course you’ll always have that 5 percent of cantankerous folks that just don’t want to be nice. For each type of person, you have to be a professional and try your best to show them a good time.”

Over the years, some folks have had a little bit more of a good time than others. During the 1990s, when Kid’s was under different ownership (the Trolley Square icon is now owned by the Harry’s Restaurant Group), Kid’s featured a DJ Night on Thursdays that sometimes got a bit rowdy.

“Yeah, I remember seeing some girls get up on the bar on those crazier nights,” says Rutherford. “And I remember seeing some of those girls’ clothes come off. After a few incidents, we had to, um, discourage that. The ‘90s were a different time.”

Today Rutherford still enjoys his job, but does feel that the younger clientele has changed the relationship between bartender and customer, mostly because of the smartphone. They’re constantly on their phones, he says, and it comes off as rude.

“I don’t want to sound like an old guy, but the kids with the cellphones…it’s gone too far,” he says. “We used to have a no cellphone policy years ago, but that doesn’t fly anymore. I’d just say that if you’re gonna go out to the bar, enjoy your experience. Engage with your bartender, your friends, and the atmosphere. Kid’s is a really fun place to hang out, and I think you miss out on that if you’re constantly looking down at your phone the entire time.”

Matty Kasper, Starboard Icon

Drive down Route 1 through Dewey Beach just about any weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day and you’ll see a packed house and lines out the door for what is one of Delaware’s most popular bars, The Starboard. Somewhere buried among the throng of bikini-clad ladies and the dudes in swim trunks you’ll usually find Matty Kasper busy juicing hundreds of grapefruits and opening bottles of Bud Light.

It’s been that way for 18 summers, ever since Kasper, now 44, was offered a job bar backing (basically being a busboy for the bartender—getting him ice and other supplies, cleaning up after hours; a bartender starter job). That turned into a bartending gig a few summers later.

It’s been said that Starboard bartenders don’t quit; they simply die, implying that the gig is so coveted because of both the money and the excitement of working at such a busy establishment that no one ever leaves the job. Kasper agrees.

“It really is a phenomenal place to work, from the co-workers to the owners to the regular customers that come through here every summer,” says Kasper. “It’s like a big family here, which is kinda cool. The hours can be rough, but the pace of the place makes them fly by. However, if you want to be a bartender here, get in line.”

While The Starboard does great business for New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day weekend, things really kick off on Memorial Day weekend, when Dewey sees its annual flood of out-of-towners and vacationers looking to kick back and have a few adult beverages. Kasper says that three-day weekend is the longest stretch he works each year.

“The craziest shift is Memorial Day Sunday. We can’t serve booze until 9 a.m., but we’re open for breakfast at 8 a.m.,” says Kasper. “By 8:59 a.m., we have a line of 300 people around the building, and the waitresses already have pre-ordered drink tickets for their tables. Once it strikes 9 a.m., the floodgates open and it doesn’t stop until 1 a.m. the next day.”

He says that’s roughly a 22-hour shift, if you begin with a 7 a.m. call time and continue until all the checks are closed and the bar is cleaned Monday around 4 or 5 a.m. Though he doesn’t know how many crates of oranges or grapefruit the bar goes through to make its famous “Crush” drinks, Kasper says he’s been told by distributors that they sell the most Absolut Ruby Red vodka in the country to make the drinks.

When bartenders get busy, according to Kasper, they have a system of getting to patrons one by one, avoiding long waits for people based on when they belly up. However, if you’re at Kasper’s bar during a busy shift, one thing can guarantee you slow—or no—service: Yelling “Yo!” or calling him “Bro!” if you don’t know him.

“If people just stand there and smile, or raise their hand, I’ll get to them,” says Kasper. “It’s when you start yelling at me that I’ll likely tune you out and move on to the next person. I know you’re waiting there, and I’ll get to you, just be patient.”

Brian Ford, Mr. Main Street

Brian Ford is another lifer. For 23 years, Newark bar-goers could find him perched at Klondike Kate’s on Main Street. Every Thursday around 5 p.m., he’d have the same set of regulars who bellied-up and joined him and co-workers for what felt like a weekly private party.

Now down the street at Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, Ford finds himself in a slightly different environment. The hours are a little easier and the clientele is a little more grown up, but he still feels that being a good bartender comes down to a few fundamentals.

“For me, bartending is all about interaction with the guests, and getting to know people,” says Ford. “The drinks and food, to me, have always been secondary. You can get a Ketel and tonic or a chicken sandwich anywhere. But if you get to know your bartender, and maybe even become friends, you’ll go back again and again.”

The 44-year-old has certainly worked at enough bars—including Scratch Magoo’s, Firestone and the Columbus Inn in Wilmington—to know that guests can sit at any table and have a waiter or waitress serve them a burger. But to Ford, the bartender-customer relationship is different.

“A martini is just a martini, but if I ask what you do, ask your name, and get to know you a little, I guarantee it’ll be a more memorable martini than usual,” he says. “And I’m not just trying to start new relationships for better tips, but it usually does work out that way, which is great.”

Ford says he’s been rewarded heavily over the years for great service. Parents of a University of Delaware ice hockey team member once tipped him a thousand dollars for “looking after their son,” while another regular once offered him keys to a beach house in Key West.

“Don’t get me wrong, those kinds of tips are great, and I’m always very appreciative when someone goes out of their way to show their gratitude,” he says. “But a lot of younger bartenders today, from what I’ve seen, kind of expect 20 percent or more just for showing up. It doesn’t work that way.”

Ford says tips need to be earned, rather than expected. As the bar manager at Grain, he’s trying to instill the ideals of hard work, conversation, and relationship building with the next generation of bartenders.

“If you can get on a level with your customers where you become Facebook friends with them, or text them to go out and grab a beer the next time you’re not working, you’ve really gone above and beyond as a bartender,” says Ford. “When you’re tending bar, you should be having fun with the people around you. With two bars here at Grain, that’s our goal: to create a great atmosphere at each one.”

Nicol DiMarzio, Logan House Linchpin

Nichol DiMarzio pours a Yuengling lager upstairs at Kelly's Logan House. (Photo by Anthony Santoro)
Nichol DiMarzio pours a Yuengling lager upstairs at Kelly’s Logan House.
(Photo by Anthony Santoro)

Now a 24-year veteran of the restaurant-and-bar business, Nicol DiMarzio’s start in the hospitality industry includes a bit of humor as well as a historic tragedy. Her first bartending shift took place in her home state of New Jersey, where a customer ordered a Bloody Mary, and after tasting it, asked for DiMarzio to make it hotter.

“I went in the back and microwaved the thing,” says DiMarzio, laughing. “I had no idea he meant make it spicier; that’s how naïve I was.”

So much for the humor. The tragedy was on a much greater scale. Her first “real shift” as a bartender, as she puts it, came just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, while she was working as a server at Kid Shelleen’s.

“One of the owners at the time had a son who died in the terrorist attacks,” says DiMarzio. “It was awful. But that Friday, we held a benefit and they needed an extra bartender. I guess they figured that for that kind of event, no one would complain if my service was slow on a Friday night. They threw me back there and I started working bar shifts the next week.”

For DiMarzio, bartending is about three things: interaction with guests, the money she’s made over the years, and avoiding the monotony of a corporate desk job. She’s now at Kelly’s Logan House, where she acts as manager much more often than she tends bar, but she still enjoys talking with people.

“I’m not the kind of person who would start up a random conversation with people on the street,” she says, “but get me behind the bar and I can’t stop talking with them. Just don’t call me sweetie, baby, or hon.”

Besides her disdain for pet names, DiMarzio also doesn’t like it when she hears people ask her co-workers about getting a “real job.” She says some customers don’t view waiting tables or tending bar as real careers, just because they’re not 9-to-5 desk jobs.

“I’ve had people ask me what I do for a living while I was tending bar,” she says. “I used to work for DuPont, but I couldn’t do the corporate desk thing. That’s probably one of the best parts of working in the restaurant industry: things are a little more relaxed, and you can joke around and have fun with customers.”

For DiMarzio, a good regular bar patron asks about how the bartender is doing, and has some respect for the job. After working at places like Six Paupers, Dead Presidents, Lime and even the long-forgotten Café Bellissimo, DiMarzio says the guests who treat bartenders the best usually get treated the best in return.

So to sum up: the perfect bartender is a professional—not some moonlighting amateur—who will lend a sympathetic ear, deliver a well-mixed drink in a timely manner, and expect an appropriate gratuity for his or her services. In return, customers are expected to be respectful, keep cell phone use to a minimum, and never, ever use the words “yo,” “bro,” “hon,” “baby,” or “sweetie” within earshot of the bartender.

Worth Trying 2016 – Eat

Picks of the food variety

 

Black chopsticks with flower pattern

Yong’s Oriental Grocery, Elsmere
Tucked in a nondescript strip center in front of BJ’s Warehouse on Kirkwood Highway, this compact but well-provisioned store sells all manner of Chinese, Japanese and Korean groceries for both novice dabblers in Asian cuisine and experienced epicures. The staff is gracious and friendly, especially with overwhelmed newbies. The store features more obscure spices and foodstuffs (sambal oelek, anyone?) unavailable in your local supermarket, and even the more familiar flavors (such as sweet chili sauce, black sesame oil, etc.) can be found in larger quantities at lower prices. In addition to the extensive selection of canned and bottled goods, Yong’s also features a number of homemade prepared foods.

— Mark Fields, Movie Reviewer

 

Black chopsticks with flower pattern

8th & Union Kitchen
While his 8th & Union Kitchen is still in its rookie season, owner Brian Ashby has been making savvy moves more indicative of a seasoned pro. First came a complete overhaul of the interior space, which includes plenty of welcoming woodwork and a more spacious bar. Second has been his ability to keep a high profile in the Wilmington dining scene without reaching the point of saturation. But most important, he’s figured out how to deliver on the promise of both tasty Asian cuisine and hearty American gastropub fare. The Pho and Pad Thai offer wonderfully paired flavors, while the Kennett Square Burger would satisfy just about any taste. Meanwhile, the Brussels sprouts are out of this world.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

worth_trying_dobermanPureBread Doberman Bagel
Smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion, cucumbers, capers, and tomato on your choice of bagel, this open-faced PureBread delight at $9.79 is perfect for any meal of the day. The staff is always so friendly, too, at any locations of the local chain.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

 

Vintage Eat Arrow Sign

Marsh Road Diner
Just off Philadelphia Pike, at 407 Marsh Rd., this 24-hour eatery offers what every good diner should: good ol’ American food served quickly and in generous portions. Seems to be one waitress for every four patrons, so there’s no waiting for those ham and eggs, T-bone, or club sandwich. For dessert, try the rice pudding.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

bella_coastBella Coast Kitchen & Market
This place has been open for a little over a year on Rt. 202, but my fiancée and I just finally tried it this past fall. We fell in love with our first meal there. The place looks awesome and features a small Italian market. She had a Napolitano hoagie and I had a handcrafted pepperoni pizza. Both were deliciously amazing, but their ricotta cheese cheesecake with caramel and apples took the cake (pun intended). Once you’ve tried this place, you won’t go back to any of those “Italian” chain restaurants.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

LOMALOMA Coffee & Breakfast Wrap
A few weeks ago, fellow O&A-er Marie grabbed us some coffees and breakfast wraps at Market Street’s LOMA Coffee. My wrap, the build-your-own breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs, hot sauce, cheese and spinach, was amazing. The coffee is great, too. As I write this I’m considering running out of the office for a mid-morning snack.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Chinese Fortune Cookie

Newark Szechuan explosion
Newark’s Main Street (and just beyond) is undergoing a startling multiplication of hard-core, ultra-authentic Szechuan-style restaurants, all of them filled (as if to confirm their worth) by Chinese international students from campus. On Main Street proper, there’s Red Bowl (153 E. Main) and Colorful Yun Nan (59 E. Main), and just around the corner on South Main (i.e., “Elkton Road”) is the intriguing Kung Pao Palace (259 S. Main)—all worthy of brave forays into the sometimes daunting world of real Chinese food.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

 

sushi on the white background. (isolated)

Sakura Japanese Restaurant of Elsmere
A few weeks back, I stopped by Sakura for a late lunch, mostly consisting of sushi. While the storefront doesn’t scream “Japanese restaurant,” the interior takes you somewhere else. Definitely a traditionalist set-up, music included. The quality of rolls and presentation were above average and the staff was very friendly.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

 

Chole with puri or Chana Masala with Puri Indian Food

Choley Puri
Indian-food neophytes won’t find a more comforting introduction than this taco-esque creation: a silky bowl of simmered-spicy chickpeas, perfectly suited to folding into the accompanying rounds of delightfully oily and puffy “puri” bread—lusciously executed in Newark at the Tavva Café, 215 E. Main St.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

 

Fork filled with corned beef hash

Breakfast at Hank’s Place
There are not many things I’d wait in line for. Breakfast at Hank’s Place is one I would. This folksy Chadds Ford eatery, located at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 100, is nearly as famous as the Wyeth family. And wouldn’t you know it, Hank’s is one of the Wyeths’ favorite breakfast spots. The French toast is great, the omelets are even better and the corned beef hash is a must-try. One piece of advice: If you venture there on the weekends, prepare for a wait.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

From the Publisher – A Practice Worth Trying

Welcome to our annual Worth Trying issue. We began kicking off the year with this theme in 2011 and we’re pleased that it continues to resonate with readers. Throughout 2016, Out & About will be making suggestions the staff deems worthy of your time. Just look for the Worth Trying page in our Start section.

To be clear, this is not a “Best Of…” list. While that approach is a staple of many magazines, the truth is many of those themes are self-serving and veiled attempts to sell advertising. Sure, we’re all about selling advertising—it’s how we pay the bills—but we like to do things our way. So when it comes to endorsements, we prefer to temper the hyperbole.

The suggestions on the pages to follow are personal recommendations from our staff and contributors. These are things we’ve experienced, things we’d recommend to a friend. Give them a shot and let us know if you agree. While you’re at it, let us know of things you feel are worth trying. We’ll try them and maybe even share with your fellow readers.
Which is a perfect segue to a practice worth trying for each of us in 2016. Hey, ‘tis the season of resolutions and turning over a new leaf, right?

Today, we’re so consumed with getting an edge we’ve gone over the edge. We anticipate the worst and are suspicious of the best. What if we anticipated the best—without letting our guard down?

In November, I attended USA Cycling’s national conference. During his state-of-the-sport address, newly-elected USAC President Derek Bouchard-Hall, knowing there were many competing interests in the room, offered a few words of wisdom that resonated with me. It was advice he had received years ago. Once applied, it became a practice he found indispensable as he progressed in his career.

Before entering any important encounter, be it a business negotiation, community discussion, political debate… assume the other side is trying to do the right thing. Trust there is no hidden agenda. Believe your adversary’s heart is in the right place. Accept that negotiation is not a zero-sum game.

Assume best intentions drive the other side, he continued, and it’s remarkable how it leads to a more fruitful encounter.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Those are words of wisdom? Sure, and all we need to do is love thy neighbor and we’ll have world peace.

Not so fast. When is the last time you paused to consider that the other side might sincerely believe it was doing the right thing? Before you made assumptions about their motivation? Before you began focusing on ways to get an edge?

Today, we’re so consumed with getting an edge we’ve gone over the edge. We anticipate the worst and are suspicious of the best. What if we anticipated the best—without letting our guard down?

Naïve? Perhaps. But do you not agree that the discourse of today has deteriorated into bellicosity? Are you not turned off by today’s raucous, political tit-for-tat? Far too often we strive to win the argument through intimidation. Being louder certainly gets you noticed, but it doesn’t make you right.

So tone it down, listen with an open mind, and assume your opponent is trying to do the right thing. Aren’t you more receptive in a discussion if you feel the other side respects your opinion? At worst, it will produce a more civil dialogue. At best, you might even arrive at an ideal solution.

Worth Trying

Suggestions from staff and contributors

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Hiking Boot

For anyone up for a mini road trip, this picturesque town just under three hours away is an autumnal treat. Nestled serenely in the mountains between the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, it’s a small village with intriguing—and important—colonial and Civil War-era roots. Small shops, pubs and cafes dot the hilly, cobbled sidewalk that winds through town. Lush woodlands and hiking paths, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, surround Harpers Ferry. Walking a few miles along the trail through the foliage during this time of year is enchanting.

—Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Incline at Manitou Springs

inclineOK, so this is a bit of a hike (pun intended), but if you ever find yourself in Colorado Springs, you have to tackle this unique physical challenge. Originally built as a cable car to carry materials to help build pipelines on Pike’s Peak, The Manitou Incline is now a strenuous one-mile vertical hike up approximately 2,744 railroad ties that has become a must-do for Olympians training in Colorado Springs and a bucket-list cardio challenge for locals and visitors from around the world. It ascends 2,000 feet over the one mile with an average grade of 41 percent and the steepest grade at 68 percent. Oh, and there’s a false summit…and you’ll be hiking above 6,000-feet of elevation. But you can do it (just rest frequently) and you’ll take great pride in saying you did. The hike is free; parking is $5. manitouincline.net

—Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Terrain at Styer’s

10956044_10153144444211095_4685158028516634032_nGo north on Rt. 202, turn right on Rt. 1 and look for this hidden gem on your right. It’s a nursery, mammoth gift shop and high-end restaurant all in one location. The furniture, kitchenware and gardening supplies include many unusual, even unique (and often pricey) items. The restaurant features hand-selected local produce, meats, and dairy products, with menus created from the seasonal harvest of nearby farms. Careful, though: despite the size of the place, the entrance is easy to miss—at 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, Pa.—610-459-2400.

—Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Super Subs

It’s easy to take the good things in life for granted, like Wilmington’s rich heritage of savory sandwiches that we all know as subs. Within a mile radius of the intersection of Lancaster and Union, we have perhaps the best collection of sub shops on the East Coast. Yet where’s the fanfare?

The Union Street Capriotti’s, where the world-famous Bobbie was born, merits a plaque or monument in the street simply for putting our city (and state) on the map for foodies nationwide. Slightly north, Yatz’s goes so far as to make every sub to order, carefully slicing every tomato, onion and hot pepper on the spot. And just across the border in Elsmere shines Casapulla’s, a family-owned business that has been making hearty and delicious subs for nearly 60 years straight.

This “Holy Trinity” of sub shops deserves greater acknowledgement and pride in our area—as well as your business.

—Jim Miller, Director of Publications