Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, Frank's Golden Wine Event, a feast at Ali Baba, more Cajun at Blue Parrot




Chocoholic Heaven
At long last, it’s time for the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, which goes down March 3 at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Show up to taste the entries, or take the bold step of entering your own creation in the Chocolate Baking Contest, There are categories for chocolate makers of all abilities, from kids to amateur to pro, as well as sub-categories such as cookies, cakes, brownies and more. Anything goes, which means if you think you make the best fudge on earth, you should be here. Or go to sample offerings from local places such as Cake Break, Snyder’s Candy, The Coffee Mill, Stringray and Touch of Italy. It’s like visiting Wonka’s factory—but a bit less dangerous. 227-2772, downtownrehoboth.com

Wine of the Times

Frank Pagliaro of Frank's Union Wine Mart has proclaimed “Black is the new gold.” For proof, you’re invited to Frank’s Golden Wine Event, March 9 at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom in North Wilmington. You’ll be feted by Frank, owner Xavier Teixido, chefs Patrick D’Amico and David Leo Banks, and the Harry’s crew, who have designed six food stations—Italian cucina, French bistro, South American grill-Australian barbie, Spanish tapas, California and Pacific Northwest cuisine and German weinhaus—and more than 150 wines to be paired with your food samplings. That means you’ll taste porcini risotto, calamari, pesto tortellini, cured meats, olives, cheeses and Italian desserts with Prosecco, Gavi, Barolo, Amarone, Brunello di Montalcino and Vin Santo; triple cream Brie, påté maison and savory crepes with Grand Cru Burgundy, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and delicious Champagne: bratwursts, schnitzels and Gouda with Reislings and other German wines; and much more. Live jazz and reggae will fill the air as you mingle, graze and sip. It only happens once a year. Don’t miss it. Order your tickets now. 800-AT-FRANK's, frankswine.com

Leap Year Beer

If this didn’t happen only every fourth year, we wouldn’t be so excited—well, maybe we would—so we’ll make a point of visiting Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant on Feb. 29 for the limited release of Leap of Faith, a light brown Abbey-style ale that will send you reeling into March. It’ll be on tap for only one night, with 100 750 ml bottles available for purchase at $18.50 a pop. See what the buzz is about. 472-2739, ironhillbrewery.com/Wilmington

More Bon Temps, Cher

Our Mardi Gras hangover hasn’t worn off yet, so we’re still craving good Cajun cookin’. Blue Parrot Bar & Grille never disappoints. Traditional jambalaya, rich Bayou gumbo, chicken and shrimp Creole, and blackened fish give us a kick of N’awlins spice whenever we need it. The mini muffaletta on the $6.95 lunch menu is a favorite, and there aren’t many places that do jerked chicken so well. The Hurricanes are deadly delicious. When you feel the need for a touch of Bourbon Street, head to Sixth and Union Street instead. 655-8990, blueparrotgrille.com

One of 1,001 Middle Eastern Nights

It had been awhile since the DI idly strolled Main Street in Newark, where Ali Baba always beckons. DI and family, with another couple, eased into the sofa before perusing a menu that boggles with possibilities. The choices: bastilla, shish kebabs, chicken kabobs, the vegetarian blatter of stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush, hummus, olives, heart-shaped falafel patties, and more. The lamb of the shish kebobs was cooked a perfect medium, gently seasoned and served with an amble serving of delicately flavored rice. The chicken was just as delicious, served with Ali Baba’s tahine-rich hummus. The vegetarian platter was, as ever, big enough for two. And the bastilla (puff pastry baked with chicken, egg, raisins, almonds, saffron and sugar) was absolutely sublime. Perfectly sated, we found it was hard to rise from the sofa—and no surprise to see other friends enjoying the night out. We won’t wait so long to visit again. 738-1111, facebook.com/pages/Ali-Baba-Restaurant

Winter Wine

The DI is a big fan of the event program at James Street Tavern in Newport. Tonight: a winter wine dinner with Guest Chef Matt Haley. Haley, force behind the SoDel Concepts restaurants Fish On!, Bluecoast Seafood Grill, Northeast Seafood Kitchen, Catch 54, Lupo Di Mare, will prepare a five-course meal with ingredients from local farms, local markets and local waterways. You will enjoy it with five wines culled from the vast selection at Premier Wine & Spirits in Newport. Check the full menu here. Tickets are a bargain at $45 per person. Order fast. 998-6903, jstavern.com

Get Out the Vote

One last reminder reminder: Vote. Time is running out on Best of Delaware voting, your annual chance to vote for your favorite restaurants and retailers of food and drink. You’ll see the winners in the July issue, as always. There will be more about the Best of Delaware Party as July 26 draws near. Click here. Cheers.

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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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