French Wine Expert Leads Tasting at Hotel du Pont

Score chocolate along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, mark your calendars for Mid-Atlantic Wine + Food Festival in May, Cheesetoberfest and more.

Book it Quick

A special Chateau de Beaucastel wine dinner
 at the Green Room of the Hotel du Pont on Jan. 31 introduces you to French wine importer and expert Danny Haas, who will lead a tasting of Beaucastel’s famous Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, Coudelet Rouge and two vintages of Chateauneuf du Pape during a four-course prix-fixe dinner. The $100 includes valet parking and gratuity. It will be a very special night. Reserve right away at 594-3154.


Wine + Chocolate = True Love

Take your sweetheart to celebrate chocolate month with the wineries of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail as they present delicious wine and chocolate tastings and other romantic events throughout the month. Here’s a sampling:

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On Feb. 8-9, Feb. 15-16 and Feb. 22

, Black Walnut Winery in Sadsburyville, Pa., will offer its wines paired with gourmet chocolates from Bridge Street Chocolates of Phoenixville. Your $20 ticket buys you a commemorative glass. A wine and chocolate education class on Feb. 23 introduces you to winemaker Lance Caste and chocolatier Gail Warner, owner of Bridge Street Chocolates. Lance will take you through the journey of winemaking, describing the process of making the most common types of wine. Gail will explain the journey of making chocolate. Learn about where cacao is grown, how different regions impart distinctive flavors to the beans, and how cacao beans are harvested and prepared. The class ends with a sampling. Reservations for all events are required. Call (610) 857-5566.

On Feb. 8-9 and Feb. 15-16 enjoy chocolate fondue made with Bevan’s dark chocolate and Kreutz Creek Vineyards Ruby “K” Port at Kreutz Creek Vineyards In West Grove, Pa. Harpist Marueena Spadaro will strum love songs on Feb. 8 and Feb. 15. Call (610) 869-4412 or click

On Feb. 15-16, treat your sweetheart to a pairing of reserve wines and Neuchatel chocolate truffles at Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg. Call (610) 255-5684 to reserve your spot.

Taste five of Penns Woods Winery’s reserve wines paired with local chocolates and chocolate desserts. The deliciousness happens in Chadds Ford Feb. 1-2, Feb. 7- 9, Feb. 14-16, Feb. 21-23. For reservations, call (610) 459-0808.

Not all wine trail wineries have events, but there’s much more at Don’t forget rezzies…

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Super Chefs

Delaware will soon play host to an extraordinary number of international chefs during the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival May 14–18 in Wilmington. More than 90 chefs will visit from six continents for 43 events. Here are a few of the jet set.

Born into the Thai Royal Family, ML Sirichalerm Svasti, known to many as Chef Siri McDang, grew up in a Bangkok palace and has become one of Thailand’s most celebrated chefs. He is the expert on Thai cooking for Le Cordon Bleu, as well as an author and well-known television personality in Thailand. Delawareans would know him as a former chef of Rehoboth Beach’s Back Porch Café.

Chef Yara Castro Roberts authored “The Brazilian Table,” the first book about Brazil’s cuisine written in English by an acclaimed Brazilian chef. She operates the Academy of Cooking & Other Pleasures in Paraty, Brazil (featured on “Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth” on PBS), which offers courses in four languages that cover the Minas Gerais, Bahia, Amazonas and Cerrado cuisines. Chef Roberts has presented at Culinary Institute of America, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, New York University, Châine des Rôtisseurs, Les Dames d’Escoffier, conferences and festivals. She has collaborated with Old Ways Preservation and Exchange Trust to create the Latin American food pyramid and with Brazil’s Slow Food movement. Chef Roberts hosted the PBS Emmy-nominated “Cook’s Tour” and is the host of a new, in-production TV series, “Delicious Brazil.”

Chef Bronwyn Zeca Solomon is executive chef of Morukuru Family Restaurant in South Africa. Morukuru is part of Relais & Châteaux, an exclusive collection of the finest restaurants and hotels around the world. Recent chef engagements include some of the most exclusive lodges within other Big Five game reserves in Southern Africa, namely, Kwandwe Private Game and Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. Chef Solomon attended Silwood Kitchens and completed a grande diploma in Cordon Bleu Cooking in 2011.

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Chef Vincenzo Trotta is the executive chef of Chateau Tanunda, Barossa Valley, Australia. Once Australia’s youngest executive chef, at Mount Lofty House, Trotta has also served as chef aboard Rodney Fox Great White Shark Expeditions, as owner of Salter’s and as executive chef with Accor Novotel Barossa Valley. Following successful engagements at Bar Ravesi and Rogues Streetons, in 1998, he was named one of the top 25 young chefs in Sydney and won Sydney’s Best Pizza award at Bondi Restaurant Biboteca. He has served as guest chef at Vinexpo (France), The Grand Formosa Regent (Taiwan) and The Hong Kong Jockey Club. Trotta was executive chef at the 2001 South Australian Premiers’ Federation Feast Dinner.

 Chef Robert Staegemann is executive head chef of Commander Porterhouse and Oyster Bar in London, England. A Johannesburg, South Africa, native, he has achieved two coveted Chef of the Year titles in his home country. Staegemann has consulted on restaurant openings, run successful establishments, mentored many aspiring chefs, written recipes for magazines and newspapers, appeared on cooking programs and led master cooking classes. This year he will be launching “Confident Cooking,” a relaxed home-based cooking course. He was previously executive head chef of Vivat Bacchus, where he had London’s most expensive set menu at £1,000 ($1,640 at today’s exchange rate) per head for a seven-course extravaganza including grilled Wagyu fillet plus a board of 15 cheeses.

 “We set our sights on having six continents represented between chefs and winemakers—one more continent than last year,” says festival founder Ajit George. “We’re more than thrilled to have achieved it with just the chefs, and six continents’ worth of winemakers is not out of reach. We know it’s unlikely that we could ever get an Antarctic chef to participate, but we’ve been known to dream big. Perhaps next year.”

Chefs from North America include several chefs from the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti and St. Lucia. Read about them next week. For more on the festival, click


So Cheesy

Here’s big news from one of our favorite events: The 2014 Cheesetoberfest will include a macaroni-and-cheese category. That’s right—competing alongside all the great grilled cheeses will be another of everyone’s favorite comfort foods. You’ll remember the Cheesetoberfest last year as “an all-out, no holds barred, grilled cheese competition” at Fordham & Dominion Brewing in Dover in October. Twenty restaurants from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Philadelphia battled for top honors while the brew flowed and an oompah band tooted on. Tickets for this year’s events are already selling fast, so act accordingly.


Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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