Rocker Paul Cullen Blends Food, Music and Wines

Fill up this holiday season with Soffritto’s feast of seven fishes, Peruvian rotisserie chicken and new flavors from Donny Merrill at his new spot Skipjack in Newark and brews from 16 Mile Taphouse



Rockin’ Good Italian

When Paul Cullen was growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., he loved watching his grandmother, Elsie Tagliaferro, whip up a delicious meal with Italian flair. “She was a farm-to-table chef long before it was cool,” says Cullen, who now lives in the Millsboro area. His grandmother sparked a passion for fresh Italian cuisine that Cullen loves to share with others. He’ll do just that on Dec. 14, beginning at 6 p.m., when he brings A Night in Italy to the Bellmoor Inn & Spa on Christian Street in Rehoboth Beach. The event pairs four dishes from Italy’s regions with matching wines, so it’s no ordinary cooking class. Think of it as a tasting and a show. Cullen, former bassist for the rock group Bad Company, is a talented guitarist. Between courses, he’ll play music, so guests can experience both the taste and the sounds of the Mediterranean. “These demonstrations blend my passions: great food, cool music and jazzy wines,” says Cullen. “It really makes for a fun night out, for me and the class.” In addition to leading the classes, which often feature an Old World approach to making gnocchi and pasta, Cullen frequently performs throughout the area. The cost is $55, which includes a tasting of everything Cullen makes and wine. You must be 21 to attend, and there are a limited number of seats. To purchase tickets, visit www.paulcullen.net, email booking@paulcullen.net or call or text 228-9775. 

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Even More Italian

It’s difficult to pin down the origins of the traditional Italian seven fishes dinner of Christmas Eve. Some say it represents the seven holy sacraments of the Catholic Church. Some say the seven cardinal sins. Some believe it represents the seven days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem, or the seven hills of Rome, the seven winds of Italy or the Seven Wonders of the World. No matter. The important thing to know is this: From Dec. 20 through Dec. 25, Soffritto Italian Grill in Newark will be offering a traditional feast of seven fishes for the holiday. Book your table, then relax and enjoy. It’s the best meal of the year. 455-1101, soffritto.com

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Playing Chicken

Pollo a la brasa, or Peruvian rotisserie chicken, like all of the world’s great barbecue, hinges on the simple yet elegant dance of fat, salt and fire. Soaked in brine, rubbed in dense, peppery spices, then spun over blistering natural charcoal, the chicken’s skin caramelizes to a deep brown crisp. The meat, cooked gently and evenly on rotating spits, is rendered juicy and melt-apart tender. It is a pure, serotonin-level comfort. Pollo a la brasa is also the secret handshake that unites the ever growing number of converts who have discovered one of Delaware’s buzziest cult restaurants: The Chicken House. For operator Nancy Pacheco, who opened a second Chicken House location on Wilmington’s Philadelphia Pike this summer, perfecting pollo a la brasa has been a 70-year undertaking. Her husband’s family began developing the secret marinade in their native Huariaca, Peru. It was there, and in Lima during the 1950s, when the dish exploded into popular culture when a pair of Swiss immigrants developed and patented a mechanical rotisserie that could cook dozens of chickens at once. Today it’s one of Peru’s most consumed foods. And one you can enjoy here, obviously. Go. Now. Read more here793-1504, 737-2426, 
thechickenhouserestaurant.com

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One Crazy Cat

Chef Donny Merrill had a few hectic weeks between April, when he left the esteemed Krazy Kat’s in Montchanin, and June, when he opened his own place, Skipjack, in the Shoppes at Louviers in Newark. “It was crazy,” Merrill says. “Any time I had off at Krazy Kat’s, I was here, doing what I had to do—painting, cleaning, that kind of stuff.” The effort has paid off. See why here. 456-1800, skipjacknewark.com

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The Worship of Beer

Brett McCrea and Chad Campbell knew their 16 Mile Brewery beers had gained plenty of traction at home in Sussex County. “But we needed that proverbial church for people to become familiar with us upstate,” McCrea says. In September, the iconic Stone Balloon Wine House became the 16 Mile Taphouse, and beer took center stage—with great food, natch. See more here. 266-8111, 16miletaphouse.com

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STAFF WRITER MARK NARDONE DISHES ON THIS WEEK’S
BEST WINE EVENTS AND MORE

About This Blog

Mark Nardone
Wilmington, DE

From chocolate festivals to wine tastings to new restaurant openings, Dining Insider has the Delaware dining scene covered. Delaware Today's Mark Nardone shares the scoop each week on the food and wine events you simply can’t miss. Contact Mark at mnardone@delawaretoday.com.

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