Hit the Trail
Keep your ear to the ground on Feb. 12. That’s when Delaware Tourism launches the new Delaware Culinary Trail. The trail celebrates 24 of the state’s must-visit restaurants, from the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington and the Smyrna Diner to the fine Abbott’s Grill in Milford and The Green Room of the Hotel du Pont. It works like this: log onto visitdelaware.com/culinary/ then download a passport. Visit 15 of the 24 restaurants—five in each county—to earn a collectible cookbook of recipes from the culinary trail restaurants, written by DT’s own Pam George. We can’t think of a better way to sample the diversity of great places in Delaware. You’d better start eating.
Boy, Oh, Bahn-Mi Boy
Behold the bánh-mì, a sort of Vietnamese hoagie that has won many converts in Newark since Banh-Mi Boy opened on Main Street a year ago. To celebrate the anniversary, owner Larry Chen is offering full sandwiches for the price of a half sandwich between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. through Feb. 10 (limit two per customer). Not hip? Start with a fresh baguette. Stack it with meat. Add pickled carrots or daikon, slices or spears of cucumber, chilis or jalapeños, and sprigs of fresh cilantro for brightness. The bánh-mì is common street food in Asia, where folks buy them like we buy from hot dog carts or pretzel wagons. Banh-Mi Boy cheers with its bright orange walls, post-modern pendant lamps, and shelves full of Asian candies and novelties. You can try the original bánh-mì of steamed pork, minced pork with a sweet glaze and pâté, or range into new territory with Vietnamese meatballs or pho—just like pho soup on a roll. Whatever you choose, your Insider is 99.9 percent sure you’ll love it. 525-6145, banhmiboy.com
The Event of the Year
The marketing message pretty much says it all, without undue hype: There really is nothing like The MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, which happens March 6-10. International winemakers and chefs team with world-class local chefs to make spectacular food and wine events in unique venues around the Brandywine Valley and Delaware’s Culinary Coast, including Rehoboth Beach. All in all, there will be more than 40 events, from wine dinners to beer and spirits tastings to a pop-up restaurant to gourmet lunches. The highlight: a 1,000-Point Wine Tasting (that’s a tasting of 10 100-point wines), a black-tie Gala Winemakers Dinner and Live Wine Auction, and a Gospel Brunch. Among the special events will be the MasterChef Rematch, when six former contestants from all three seasons of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef,” including past winner Jennifer Behm of Wilmington, show off their culinary skills and tell stories from the show. In “He Said Beer, She Said Wine,” local brewer Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and noted wine author Marnie Old will debate whether beer or wine pairs better with food. This multi-course dinner is served on the stage at The Grand Opera House. And there is more. Events will be held at such magnificent venues as the 100-year-old Hotel du Pont, World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, the former estate home Oberod in chateau country and the Vicmead Hunt Club, as well as a few stunning private homes. New this year is a series of events in Kent County. They include:
Winemakers Dinner at the home of Dr. Bill and Susan Johnston, La Place d’etoile (Place of the Star), in Dover. The events will feature fine European cuisine in the historic Annie Jump Cannon House, named for the famous astronomer who grew up there in the late 1800s. Hosted by the current residents, Wesley College president Bill Johnston and his wife, Susan, it will offer opera music, visual art and fascinating local history. Five visiting and regional chefs will each prepare a course paired with wines by visiting winemakers. It happens Feb. 7.
Master Chefs: Up Close and Personal at Harrington Raceway & Casino’s Gold Ball Room features seven past contestants from Chef Gordon Ramsay's “MasterChef” show on Fox television, who will prepare bites of food so tasty that even Ramsey would approve. It happens March 8.
The dinner called James Beard House Revisited features Delebrity chef Jay Caputo at Foxden Farm in Dover. The James Beard Best Chef award nominee will replicate the meal he’s preparing for guests of the James Beard House in New York City on March 7. The event is hosted by Beth and the Hon. Myron Steele, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. It happens March 9.
There is more, of course. Visit Facebook to keep posted, or hit midatlanticwineandfood.com.
Junk Food Love
Donna Barnes is a certified life coach in New York City. She’s also a local girl, a Wilmingtonian who made the cover of DT in 1985 as a teenage model. She has a new book out that, though not about food, alludes to food in the title, so we can’t resist telling you about it. “Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships: Recipes for Healthy Choices.” In Barnes’ view, relationships that are abusive, dysfunctional or simply a waste of time are junk food. So on the verge of Valentine’s Day, it may be a good time to take a look. Sit down with a box of chocolates for the last time while you read about how to end bad relationships while improving your friendship with yourself. Find the book at Amazon or barnesandnoble.com, or check out Donna at donnabarnes.com.
Ina Garten was a nuclear policy analyst for the White House when she made a big mid-life change by opening a gourmet foods store, Barefoot Contessa, which she has parlayed into a career as an author of cookbooks, magazine articles and, most recently, the popular Food Network show “Barefoot Contessa.” She’ll visit The Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Feb. 19 to talk about food and life with News Journal food writer Patricia Talorico, and you’re welcome to ring in. 652-5577, thegrandwilmington.org