No Spicy Means No Nicey

A chili cook-off reminds us all of the golden rule.

    Welcome to Home Skillet, a weekly blog devoted to all things dining in Delaware. Apologies to all (both) readers I punked last week with my phony Rachel Ray headline. Rachel was supposed to call in last Tuesday, but had to rush out to promote her new line of canine throat spray. Here’s the haps for this week:

    Saturday, April 11: Ah, one of my all-time personal favorites, the Ruddertowne Country Chili Cookoff goes down Saturday at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach.
    Who doesn’t love copious amounts of chili, beer and, um, more chili? Chili might be lower down on the culinary totem pole, but I can honestly say, as a former judge of this competition, that people can do some crazy inventive things with their chili. Good times.
    Among the local restaurants competing this year are 1776, Pig + Fish, Green Turtle, Lighthouse Landing, Nage, Venus, Jimmy’s Grille, Rusty Rudder and Northbeach.
    As in years past, critics and audience members will vote on their favorites and cashes prizes, trophies and more goodies will be handed out. Head to the Rusty Rudder at noon Saturday and bring your special chili-tasting boots. And as always, no spicy means no nicey.

    New digs: Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet, a huge new restaurant (and soon-to-be lunch hotspot) in People’s Plaza in Glasgow has its grand opening this Thursday (4/9).
    Last week I received a very moving letter from Hibachi’s owner, Zai Geng Chen, which told about the new restaurant and his family’s . Chen and his wife, Zhuping Zhang, used to own King Garden in Wilmington, when one night two years ago, his wife was accosted and held up at gunpoint by what Chen called “a scoundrel with a black mask.”
    The masked man fired three shots at Zhang. Miraculously, she survived, but a bullet in her spine resulted in paralysis from the waist down.
    Nonetheless, this family has regrouped bravely, and is preparing to open Hibachi this week with 11 buffet tables serving Chinese, Japanese, American and Italian food at an affordable price. I know I’ll be giving them my business. Call 838-3888 for more.

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    Food-related shout-out: In the May issue of Bon Appetit, the foodie mag canvasses every state to find its definitive eats. Here’s what they had to say about Delaware:
    “What to Buy: Focaccia at Black Lab Breads (812 N. Union St., Wilmington, 302-658-1307, What to Eat: Crab cakes at Sambo’s Tavern (283 Front St., Leipsic, 302-674-9724. What to Drink: 90 Minute IPA at Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats (320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-226-2739,”
    Sounds pretty legit to me. Dogfish is a no-brainer, but I’m a bit surprised Grotto didn’t make the cut. What do you think, loyal readers? What are your quintessential Delaware foods? Muskrat at the Wagon Wheel?

    Mini-review: Every time I walk out of Culinaria in North Wilmington, I find myself wondering why I don’t go more often. I’ve never had a meal there that wasn’t darn good, and it’s right in my backyard.
    I snagged a table by the window on Saturday night, and along with Ms. Skillet, had another fine dinner. I managed to snap a few pictures with my cameraphone, but the key lime dessert didn’t survive long enough to be photographed. So sad.  Let’s go to the tape:

I started with some garlicky, buttery escargot with mushrooms, hazelnuts and (even more) garlic toast. The snails were plump and tender and had soaked in all the heavenly cooking liquids. (Seriously people, if you like mussels or clams or any other chewy seafood-type food, get out there and eat some snail. Trust me.)

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Ms. Skillet loved the grilled shrimp fettuccine, which was on special that night. It was intensely garlicky. Thank heavens for Altoids.

The crispy chicken was doused in a sweet-and-spicy chili glaze and came on top of a kickin’ Thai salad. Our server warned me this dish was spicy, and I chomped down the chicken with bravado thinking, “Psht. That wasn’t so bad.” But the really spicy part was the salad.

    Photo recap: A horde of Delaware Today heads went to Caps & Corks last Friday and partied most heartily. Our own superstar account executive Mike Palombi was kind enough to share a few of his photos from the evening, which I previewed here last week.

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Grotto Pizza, of course, never misses a party.

NKS Beverage Group was on hand with lots and lots of adult beverages.

Valle Cucina, home of awesome pizza and crab cakes, brought some shrimpy tapas.

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