Today is the day 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 Harry’s Savoy Grill in Wilmington. 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.
The AAA Five and Four Diamond Awards are among the most coveted symbols of excellence for lodgings and restaurants. One local restaurant has earned the honor this year, the Green Room of Hotel du Pont, which it has done for the past 28 years. As it turns out, the Green Room is chief among restaurants on the new Delaware Culinary Trail. If you missed the February issue, here’s what we wrote: “The history of the venerable Green Room is lost in the mists of time, says food and beverage director Daniel Bradway, but having worked there for 29 years, he feels part of it. That’s not an uncommon sentiment among chefs who have worked in the 100-year-old restaurant, for it’s respect for the past that allows the staff to continue the hotel’s tradition of Old World service. As the expansive rococo dining room has been updated over the years, so has the menu, relaxing recently from traditional French to contemporary French. But no matter what the changes, always subtle, the focus remains excellence. The Green Room is Delaware’s longest-running AAA-rated four-star restaurant—27 years and counting.” Congratulations to all. And while you’re there, check out the new dessert menu, featuring a special centennial confection: Gâteau Saint-Honoré of puff pastry, pate á choux, chocolate rum cream, chantilly cream and caramel-topped cream puffs. Mmmmm. 594-3154, hoteldupont.com
Hop Heads, Unite
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Newark is gearing up for Hopapalooza 2013 on Feb. 23, an all-day celebration of the hoppiest beers from some of the country’s best-known craft breweries. “Whether it’s part of a memorable meal or just a delicious quaff all on its own, we always love beer and we love sharing it with our guests,” says head brewer Justin Sproul. Hopapalooza will feature a wealth of hop-heavy beers, including Iron Hill favorites such as Alpha Tripel, an American version of a classic Belgian tripel; Boulder Bank IPA, an international-style IPA brewed with domestic malt and New Zealand hops; cask-conditioned Big Red One, an imperial American red ale with caramel malt sweetness and citrus hop flavor and aroma; English IPA, a golden ale brewed in the traditional English style; and Iron Hill India Black Ale, an American-style IPA with pronounced bitterness and a touch of roast character. Other beers will include: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, an IPA brewed with rye for a distinct, spicy malt profile; Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, an aggressively hopped beer that is aged for a full year; Stone Ruination IPA, a hop monster with delicious, intensely bitter flavor and a refreshing malt base; Elysian Immortal IPA, a Northwestern interpretation of a classic English style with golden copper color; and Greenflash West Coast IPA, brewed with layers of hops for full potency and depth of flavor. Beers will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis or as samples of 10. The fun starts at 2 p.m. Reserve now. 266-9000, ironhillbrewery.com
Starr of the Show
Speaking of beer, Starr Hill Brewery, Virginia’s largest and most award-winning craft brewery, is expanding into Delaware. As of this month, you’ll find many of its core brands available including: Northern Lights IPA, Starr Pils, The Love (wheat beer), Jomo Lager, Dark Starr Stout and Double Platinum (Imperial IPA), as well as Starr Hill’s seasonal beers, variety packs and bottles of its special All Access series brews. “Entering Delaware is a real milestone for us,” says Mark Thompson, founder and master brewer of Starr Hill. “We believe our beers, brewed to the highest quality standards, are going to be well received.” NKS Distributors Inc. will distribute Starr Hill throughout Delaware. “Starr Hill brews a wide array of high quality award-winning craft beers, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring Starr Hill to Delaware,” says Tim Donnelly, president and CEO of NKS. “Delaware has always had particularly sophisticated and well-educated beer consumers, and the demand for high-quality craft beer seems to have no end.” At the Great American Beer Festival in 2011, Starr Hill was awarded a gold medal in the Vienna lager category for Jomo Lager, a light-bodied amber lager. The company also won silver medals for two of its specialty beers, Monticello Reserve Ale (indigenous beer category) and Smoke Out (smoke beer category). The company has won 17 GABF medals and two World Beer Cup medals since its founding. If you’re looking forward to sampling the brews as much as we are, keep your eyes peeled at your favorite beer outlet.
Garten of Eatin’
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