Our genes tell us we must pack a picnic and cheer on the horses at Winterthur or find a quiet meadow along the Brandywine or go to the beach. And we need something refreshing to drink—our picnic basket case of beer, chilled wines, pre-mixed cocktails.
Most caterers and beverage shop owners we consulted urged us to curb our enthusiasm, to keep our drink—like our food—simple. That means clear plastic or inexpensive glass barware, pre-mixed drinks with sane levels of alcohol, and minimal mixers and garnishes.
“I love drinks with bubbles in them—Prosecco, Moscato, Champagne,” says Susan Teiser of Montrachet Fine Foods in Centreville. And though we shouldn’t muck up expensive Champagne, Teiser adds flair to less-expensive sparklers with fresh strawberries or shots of liquid fruit and flowers.
“Add a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur to sparkling wine for a nice touch of spring,” says Frank Pagliaro of Frank’s Union Wine Mart in Wilmington. “It’s Longwood Gardens in a flute.” Linda Collier of Collier’s of Centreville likes mixing the traditional cassis-flavored Kier with a kick of Malibu rum. Pomegranate liqueur is a favorite addition for Teiser.
Complex wines are wasted in the informality of alfresco dining, so try crisp but floral whites—Collier argues for Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Vinho Verde—and for lighter, spicy reds such as Beaujolais or red Cotes-du-Rhone. Ryan German, who caters at his Caffé Gelato in Newark, likes the picnic versatility of a Bouchaine Pinot Noir.
For mixed drinks, Pagliaro finds basic red sangria as essential as little black dresses for French women. Just marinate fresh fruits in leftover 2010 Beaujolais nouveau and Cointreau, he says. “Mojitos also always get me going in springtime, and I add spice with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur.”
Teiser has a simpler idea that serves everyone, even designated drivers and kids: Add a lime to lemonade or cranberry juice for those who don’t drink, and for those who never touch virgin fruit juices, add vodka or gin on the spot.
I sometimes think of beer as I do sparkling wines—both have bubbles. Yet beer, with its heavier flavors, is less flexible. Mix a light one, such as Michelob Ultra, with lemonade or ginger ale for a Brit-style shandy. Pagliaro recommends bartending in a bottle. “Corona, Aruba-style,” he says. “Take a swig, add a shot of Bacardi Limon to the bottle, and insert a lime slice.”
Rebecca Mais owns McCabe’s Gourmet Market in Bethany Beach, where many beachgoers stock up—but not on alcoholic drinks. “People love to buy fancy French lemonade with a cork,” she says, “and Martinelli’s non-alcoholic sparkling cider.”
Page 2: A Giant Pit Stop | A temporary supermarket at Dover International Speedway makes life easier for campers, who can motor on in for just about anything.
A temporary supermarket at Dover International Speedway makes life easier for campers, who can motor on in for just about anything.
For the thousands of NASCAR fans who camp on Dover International Speedway’s grassy RV lots and call it home for a race weekend, life just got a lot more convenient.
Last fall, prior to a September weekend of NASCAR races, workers installed a 5,000-square-foot Giant supermarket on RV Lot 10. The store carries all the perishables one needs for a killer tailgate—burgers, dogs, coleslaw, buns and charcoal—but the makeshift megamart is also loaded with a deli counter, seafood counter, health and beauty care items, and hundreds of perishable and drygood items.
“It was great for fans,” says track communications director Gary Camp. “It did well beyond expectations out there.”
The temporary but massive Giant store will be back this month for more NASCAR action May 13-15 (1-800-441-RACE for tickets). It takes Giant about a month to get set up. And while some skeptics expected the grocery chain to capitalize on its monopoly with higher prices, they were happy to learn the Speedway Giant matched the prices of typical Giant stores, including sale items.
There were a few things, however, that had to be learned along the way, such as items that Giant neglected to stock. The most requested item? Pepto-Bismol. Expect plenty in May. “NASCAR people are very passionate fans,” Camp says. “They travel across the country for this. It’s more than just a tailgate to them. It’s their vacation. They get great convenience and they get to pack less.” —Matt Amis
Page 3: Historically Tasteful | Cantwell’s Tavern helps an Odessa landmark return to its roots. Welcome to the 19th century.
Cantwell’s Tavern helps an Odessa landmark return to its roots. Welcome to the 19th century.
The stately Brick Hotel, which rests on the corner of Main and Second streets in downtown Odessa, offered in its prime a bed and a frosty pint to merchants, sea captains and visitors to the port town. Now the 188-year-old Brick is ready for its return to glory.
The Historic Odessa Foundation, headed by Debbie Buckson, has spent months converting the property into Cantwell’s Tavern, an inviting, fireplace-laden restaurant steeped in town history.
Furnishings inside the striking Federal building will reflect an early 19th-century American tavern, and menus will harken to the region’s culinary history while featuring seasonal and locally procured produce, meat and seafood.
Cantwell’s, which opens this month, will be operated by restaurateur K.C. Kulp, the man behind the popular Whip Tavern in Unionville, Pa.
History is part of the fabric of Odessa. Residents love the programs available for kids at the Corbit-Calloway Library, the oldest library in the state, and the Corbit-Sharp House (circa 1774) is a National Historic Landmark. Cantwell’s, for its part, will feature open-hearth cooking, and a custom period bar, built to historically accurate scale. “It’ll be a nice mix,” Buckson says. “It will allow visitors to employ all their senses.”
Cantwell’s will make history for Odessa in another way. The small town, which relies heavily on museum visitors for revenue, is noticeably scant on restaurants. “Museum properties need to look for consistent revenue instead of looking for the next bus,” Buckson says. “We’ve talked about it for so long, and everybody realized how important it was. It’s a major milestone for Odessa.”
Cantwell’s Tavern will offer lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, plus brunch and dinner on Sundays. It will also serve as exclusive caterer for events hosted at any of the Historic Houses of Odessa. —Matt Amis