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The Dining Insider: A blog about Vendemmia da Vinci in Wilmington, a Weyerbacher beer dinner at Longwood Gardens, beer festivals at Dover Downs and Pizzadili, wine and cheese at Stone Balloon Winehouse and banh mi in Newark


Celebrating Wine

If you thought the Societa da Vinci Vendemmia Wine Festival was one kickin’ party, you’re not alone. Buses already come from as far north as Brooklyn and west from Lancaster. Now the push is on to lure wine lovers from the Washington-Baltimore area. “We’re turning it into a regional event,” says chairman Ron Oronzio. And why not? Vendemmia, which celebrates the annual grape harvest, is one of the best wine events going. Twenty-five of the best restaurants in the state—Caffé Gelato, Harry’s Seafood Grill, Soffritto Italian Grill, and the Martuscelli family’s La Casa Pasta and Chesapeake Inn, to name a few—will provide delicious food. Most of the state’s distributors will supply the wine, as will the IMDA, which has facilitated the import of wines directly from Italy. And that’s not all. Vendemmia would hardly be Vendemmia without a homemade wine-making contest. Oronzio expects about 60 entrants. And there will be plenty of entrants for the homemade gravy contest, and you can taste them for yourself. (For non-Italian Americans, gravy is tomato sauce flavored with meat.) Everything happens 2 p.m.-6 p.m. on Oct. 9 at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park in Wilmington. Tickets are $45 in advance (call 866-771-3014), $55 at the gate. That gets you all the food and wine you can eat and drink, and great entertainment by the likes of diva Andrea Arena and Al Santoro and the Hi-liters. And don’t forget your opportunity to win a trip for two to Italy. We hear they have some decent food and wine there.

Longing for Longwood

The brewers at Weyerbacher in Easton, Pa., claim to be continually “obliterating style guildlines”—and it’s true. It’s also true that, “Great beer brings people together, refreshes our souls and stimulates our imaginations.” If that kind of microbrewery sounds like your kind of fun, visit Longwood Gardens on Friday, Oct. 7 for a Sip and Savor beer dinner with Weyerbacher. Start with a salad of grilled prawns and acorn squash with goat cheese from local Shellbark Hollow Farms and pomegranate dressed in smoked chestnut vinaigrette. You’ll enjoy it with Weyerbacher’s Harvest pale ale. Round two: coriander-miso braised veal cheek from Capital Farms with Forbidden Rice, Salsify Cream and maitake demi reduction. That goes with the Belgian-style Merry Monks’ Ale. Moving right along, you’ll savor a  tandoori-spiced filet of pork tenderloin with sunchoke puree, Tuscan kale and anise-scented orange jus, all served with Double Simcoe IPA. There are more pumpkin desserts than you can imagine, with more brews than you could dream. There will be more beer and more food, but we can’t give everything away. Go. For tickets, visit tickets.longwoodgardens.org, or call (610) 388-1000.

Beer Parties

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino Brew Festival will host its first brew festival on Saturday, Oct. 8. Pre-event info is scanty, but the theme will be Wild West. DD promises microbreweries from throughout the Mid-Atlantic. There will be live entertainment and food. General admission is $25 advance, $30 day of. The price includes 10 drink tickets and souvenir glass. Buy them at (800) 711-5882, or doverdowns.com. The fun happens from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Rollins Center.

Also mark your calendar for the Second Annual Wine & Beer Festival, Sunday, Oct. 23, noon-5 p.m. at Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery, 1683 Peach Basket Road, Felton. For more, call (800) 233-5368, or his visitdover.com. Craft brew, artisan fare and keg tossing—what could be better?

A Taste of Southeast Asia

Here’s one we’re looking forward to: Banh Mi Boy in Newark. We don’t speak Vietnamese, but this comment on Facebook from Phuong Du, made after Taste of Newark a couple weekends ago, looks like high praise to our untutored eyes: KHAI TRUONG HONG PHAT! SANH Y HUNG LONG ! mai do mai do! So if you’re wondering what banh mi are, they are Vietnamese sandwiches made on baguettes, not unlike a hoagie, and they’re catching on in big city delis across the country. They’re a little bit French, a little bit Asian, packed with pork meatballs or barbecue and other traditional meats, then finished with a crispy slaw of daikon radish, shredded carrot and fish sauce, with sliced jalapeño and fresh cilantro. Is that how they’ll do it in Newark? We can’t tell you yet. The sign says only that it’s coming in fall. Well, fall is here, and we’re still waiting—eagerly. Check the progress at Facebook.

Wine + Cheese = Heaven

It’s been a couple years since The Stone Balloon Winehouse opened, yet what won our hearts then keeps them prisoner now: cheese. You can find extensive cheeseboards at many fine places, but Winehouse rules. Cow, sheep-goat, bleu—there’s a little of each. A sampling: Knights Vail Roth Kase from Wisconsin, Beemster Gouda XO from Holland, Basque Idiazabal, Gorgonzola dole DOC from Italy, and popular Humboldt Fog goat cheese from Cali. There’s much, much more. Go—and graze widely. At the beach, check out Eden In Rehoboth—not as many cheeses, but some of the same.

Ladies, if you do Winehouse this Thursday (Oct. 4), consider The Perfect Match wine school class. This one will be hosted by Michelle Souza of Southern Wines. It’s casual and informative, but please be on time. Class starts at 6 p.m. Your $45 buys four wines, two courses of food and lots of fun. See stoneballoonwh.com for more.