Dining Insider: a blog about the Delaware Wine & Beer Festival, brunch at Chelsea Tavern, Frank's wine dinners, Orillas' big move and the urban agriculture summit

A Festival for the Books

We’ve been hyping this one for weeks. At long last, it’s here: the Delaware Wine & Beer Festival on Sunday, Oct. 23, at Pizzadili Winery in Felton from noon until 5 p.m. “This event is a showcase for locally made wines, beers and artwork by local artisans, and a place where those who appreciate Delaware-made products can sample and enjoy them in one venue,” says Cindy Small of Kent County Tourism, producer of the event. “It is the only place where you can meet all of Delaware’s brewers and vintners in a single setting”—or watch a highly competitive keg-tossing contest. All in all, there will be more than 30 wines and brews, as well as food by Pizzadili, handmade cigars from Veritas Cigars and delicious cheeses from Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Participating Delaware wineries and breweries include: 16 Mile Brewing Company, Georgetown; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton; Evolution Craft Brewing, Delmar; Fenwick Wine Cellars, Fenwick Island; Fordham/Dominion Brewing Company, Dover; Nassau Valley Vineyards, Lewes; Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery, Felton; Stewart’s Brewing Company, Bear; and Twin Lakes Brewery, Greenville. Private wine label Sonata Wines of Millsboro will also participate. This one just gets better with age, folks, so don’t miss it. Tickets are $25 until Oct. 17, $35 day of. Both include 10 sampling tickets. And if you blow through them, don’t worry—you can buy samples and glasses. Call 734-4888, or go to visitdover.com/winebeerfestival.

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Wine Dinners You Don’t Want to Miss

We’re fans of Frank’s Union Wine Mart, and especially its wine dinners. Check the Web site for the full slate, but you should buy tickets for now: “Wine 102: New and Old World Basics” at Caffé Gelato in Newark on Oct. 27, and the Winemaker Dinner with Raymond Merlo at charming Teca in West Chester, Pa., Nov. 8. Here’s what you’re in for at Caffé Gelato: a comparison of Ladoucette Les Deux Tuor Sauvignion Blanc and Matua Sauvignon Blanc, Delas Freres Cote du Rhone and Peter Lehman Layers Red, and Chateau de Pez Bordeaux Blend vs. Napa Cellars Cabernet. Hors d’oeuvres include shrimp-pineapple-scallion spiedini with rosemary-scented lemon-honey vinaigrette, prosciutto-wrapped scallops with artichoke pesto, and risotto croquettes stuffed with mozzarella and pancetta. Entrées include pan-seared scallops with citrus beurre blanc and grilled center-cut filet with roasted shallot-peppercorn demiglace. There’s more, of course, including truffled triple chocolate gelato for dessert—natch. At Teca, sample some of the best from Raymond Merlo: the 2009 Chardonnay. 2006 Pinot Noir, 2007 Syrah and 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. If you love meat, this is for you. The menu features papardelle with wild boar and osso buccu. See all of Frank’s dinners at frankswine.com.

Joining the Brunch Bunch

Here’s a welcome addition to the Sunday scene: brunch at Chelsea Tavern on Wilmington’s Market Street. Starting at 10 a.m., Chelsea applies its sense of fun to the foundation meal of the day. That means a fruit bowl of Greek vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, Chelsea’s own granola and local honey. Try fritatti of Virginia ham and cheddar or chorizo with cheddar, roasted jalapeños and sour cream. Eggs Benedict comes in several styles. Choose your favorite meat: scrapple, shaved turkey, smoked bacon or crab cakes. We dig the vanilla Belgian waffle with strawberries, maple syrup and lemon-blueberry butter. Salad lovers will find several interesting offerings. Sides include fun dishes such as apple fritters with caramel sauce and grilled fennel sausage. It’s the perfect way to follow up your Saturday night. Check it at chelseatavern.com.

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Movin’ On Up

Nearby, a change we’re remiss in not having mentioned sooner: Orillas Tapa Bar and Restaurant has moved from the 400 block to 902 Market, the former home of Vinoteca 902. Chef Julio Lazzarini trades the rustic charm of the old location for a larger contemporary room close to the action of The Grand Opera House, Chelsea and Public House, but he keeps the same menu of tapas that has intrigued us for the past three years. That means mussels with green sauce and pico de gallo, shrimp sautéed with garlic and piquillo peppers, roasted red peppers with grilled eggplant and sweet onions with sherry dressing, as well as fun flatbreads and tantalizing daily creations. Find Orillas at 575-9244, or visit orillastapasbar.com.

Pizza Parties

Being in little Fenwick Island and way ahead of the trend, Mancini’s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Restaurant has often been overlooked when it comes to craft pizza, but it’s been a fave of ours for nearly 15 years. On its fall schedule since mid-month (closed on Sundays and Mondays), it compensates amply with a weekly schedule of specials. Tuesdays and Wednesdays bring a menu of small plates of the restaurant’s most popular dishes at reduced prices, along with half-priced apps. Thursday Pizza Nights mean half-priced pies (except seafood pies). Friday Night Flights let you pick three wines by the glass—2-ounce samples—for the price of one glass. It’s a happy place, and there’s no better time than now for a visit. Check Mancini’s at 537-4224, or mancinisbop.com.

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For National Food Day… 

It may not be the sexiest food event going, but it is certainly one of the most important. The Delaware Urban Farm Coalition, the Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Delaware Department of Agriculture will hold the state’s first urban agriculture summit on Oct. 27 as an attempt to address unequal access to fresh, healthy food in New Castle County. If you believe it’s as important to eat right as to eat well, consider attending. “The time is now for all of us in New Castle County to take action so that our residents can purchase a local apple or fresh greens just as easily as they can currently purchase processed, pre-packaged foods that are high in fat and sodium,” says Jeff Kline, chair of the Delaware Urban Farm Coalition. The meeting will unite food promoters, community organizers, farmers, faith groups, neighborhood advocates, health educators, investors and others—including you. “I am really pleased that we are all coming together to explore the economic, structural, and often cultural barriers that may affect easy access to fresh, local, affordable, healthy foods in Wilmington and New Castle County,” says Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “We need to work together to determine access levels, availability, and prices of foods in the core urban areas as well as the more suburban areas in the county for individuals at all economic levels. Delaware farmers provide First Rate from the First State agricultural products that should be enjoyed by everyone.” The meeting will occur at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington at 4 p.m. It is free but, but pre-registration is required. For more, visit the Delaware Center for Horticulture at thedch.org.

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