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Mamma mia! This year’s Societa da Vinci’s Vendemmia wine festival really hit the spot and then some. On an unseasonably warm October day, the gorgeous Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park played host to the fest, which feted Wilmington’s Italian community with more food and wine than Gabby anticipated—I should have dug out a light, billowy top and forewent the skinny jeans so that I could have taken full advantage of the feast. Let’s put it this way—there was one table alone full of 17 different kinds of spaghetti sauce.
Lucky duck DJ Lou Costello was on hand to sample the sauces and crown the winner. I saw Mike Dodson, T-shirt designer extraordinaire, lurking around the sauce table before gazing wistful-like out across the river, glass of wine in hand. It was no surprise that Tina Betz was out and about enjoying the event, seeing as how the director of cultural affairs for the city of Wilmington typically has a direct hand in making them happen. (She might have a thing for oysters, too, if her bid for a gift card to the Henlopen Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach is any indication.) I also spied U.S. Sen. Chris Coons strolling solo in the sun, sans wine glass, with no entourage in sight, a rarity for the good senator.
When the sound of my own chewing on delicious treats from the likes of La Casa Pasta, Soffrito and Caffé Gelato was momentarily quieted only by the pour of my next round of vino, I heard something interesting: New York accents from all the folks who bused it down from the Bronx to take part in the festival. Look at us, Wilmington! That’s some damn good street cred.
I couldn’t leave without dessert, of course, so I followed my nose to the tiramisu, and found it to be quite possibly the best I’ve ever eaten. I crown thee James Lauser, executive chef of the Christiana Hilton, Lord of the Ladyfingers.