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Savor, The Review: Paradise Found

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Eden, 23 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227.3330 www.edenrestaurant.com

Grilled prosciutto-wrapped shrimp is served with a salad of haricots vert, pancetta, red peppers and toasted almonds dressed with  a balsamic reduction.

Photograph by Keith Mosher http://www.kamproductions.com

 

 

Dressed in the colors of sand and sea foam, Eden remains one of Delaware’s loveliest restaurants. Banquettes draped in filmy fabric give diners privacy, while a party table near the open kitchen and a curved corner booth offer a see-and-be-seen factor.

Eden has never been shy about expressing itself. That has remained the case even since founder Rob Stitt sold Eden to customers Jeff McCracken and Mark Hunker last year.

Chef Jamie Wilson, who started in May 2006, has taken the restaurant’s innovative streak to another level. Wilson, who cut his teeth at neighboring Celsius, has worked in Key West, St. John and, more recently, at Rehoboth’s Nage. His cooking possesses imagination and verve. There is nothing timid about his style.

Plump mussels yawned in a white wine broth flecked with tomatoes and fennel. The touch of tarragon could have overwhelmed the dish. Instead, it enhanced it.

Slices of rare free-range duck, splashed with brown butter, fanned across a plate of oyster mushrooms that were as rich and pliant as custard. Wilson perfected the accompanying hand-cut noodles during his tenure at an English-speaking school in Italy. Each glistening strand was embedded with chives and parsley. “It’s a noodle, for heaven’s sake, but it’s a great noodle,” one dining partner said in awe.

The pungent Saint-Nectaire on the cheese plate drew mixed reviews, but I liked its silky, creamy quality. The cheese, along with the Stilton, smoked Gouda and porter cheddar, tasted luscious dipped in truffled honey. If only the pale-tasting fruit had been in season.

A novel dusting of jasmine rice, corn meal and flour coated day boat scallops. Though seared crisp on the outside, our scallops were too translucent. We sent them back for more heat. I loved the tart, heaped with crabmeat, that came with the dish.

The entrée also featured applewood-smoked bacon, which, along with ham, was a favored embellishment. Pancetta graced my duck breast appetizer, and it peeked from the nest of red peppers and grilled haricots that cradled prosciutto-wrapped shrimp. The shrimp were delicious, but between the two hams, the dish was salty.

Quail was prepared so perfectly that any excess salt was easy to overlook. The tiny breast bones had been replaced with moist duck confit and a mushroom stuffing. Risotto studded with diced asparagus and shaved black truffle delivered the wow.

My favorite dish, however, was the juicy New York strip steak that sprawled alongside escargot in a roasted duck demi-glace. The combination was like pairing a Chanel purse with Manolo Blahnik shoes: an enviable display of opulence.

Since we’d cast calories to the wind, we sampled dessert. Cinnamon ice cream was too much of the same flavor atop warm apple crisp, which was otherwise well prepared. Key lime pie was appropriately puckering.

Service was stellar. The waitress was never ruffled, even when we pelted her with questions. “What kind of cheese is this again?” “Are the noodles handmade?” She simply smiled and said, “I’ll ask.”  

D

 

 

 

Pandemonium

 

The Delmarva Chicken Festival has grown since its humble beginnings nearly 60 years ago, but one thing has stayed the same—the giant frying pan.

 

It could be the summer weather, the games and music or the promise of tasty food that lures thousands of poultry lovers to the Delmarva Chicken Festival, but according to Connie Parvis, director of education and consumer information for the Delmarva Poultry Industry, the biggest attraction at the festival is the pan.

“It’s an incredible piece of machinery,” Parvis says.

Mumford Sheet Metal works of Selbyville designed and built the first frying pan in 1950. Weighing in at 650 pounds, with a diameter of 10 feet and a depth of 8 inches, the pan was quite a wonder. It cooked more than 100 tons of chicken before its retirement. The original pan was replaced in 1988 by an identical one.

During this year’s festival in Federalsburg, Md., June 22-23, about 10,000 pieces of chicken will be fried in a medley of ingredients. That amount of chicken calls for 375 pounds of flour, 60 pounds of salt, 30 pounds of pepper and 30 pounds of paprika—not to mention the 150 gallons of propane gas required to fire the frier for two days. The frying pan uses more gas than does an average family in one year. It rests on a concrete block base and requires about 20 bodies to man it.

For Parvis, who says she typically stays away from fried chicken, the taste of it from off the frying pan is just too tempting to resist. “It’s the one time I have to eat fried chicken,” she says. “It’s just so delicious.”

—Emily Picillo

 

 

 

 

 

Sonic Boom

 

 

“America’s Drive-In” rolls into the First State. Say, would you like some tots to go with that shake?

 

A universal law of fast food is that chili dogs and tater tots are best served on roller skates. The Sonic restaurant chain has proven this for the past 50 years, mostly to deep-fried denizens of locations to the south and west of Delaware.

Yet “America’s Drive-In” has begun its capillary-clogging expansion into Delaware. A Dover location opened in March, stores will open in New Castle County within the year and, by 2012, there could be up to 12 Sonics in Delaware.

Get ready, Blue Hens, to be up to your eyebrows in tots.

“Delaware is really the heart of the mid-Atlantic region,” says Drew Ritger, a development specialist with Sonic. “The demographics are great, the lifestyle is great, and the climate is great in Delaware. Those factors made Delaware very appealing to us as a place where we could build stores.”

Sonic prides itself as being the only mass-made drive-in left in the United States, a throwback to the 1950s, family friendly service, freshly made products and, yes, rollerskating carhops.

“There are not many like us in the country,” Ritger says. “When you go to one of our restaurants and it’s run well, it’s a lot of fun. There’s good energy. There are carhops in roller skates. It’s really kind of a great place to hang out.”

Those who make their way to Sonic can partake of staples such as made-to-order burgers, Coney Island-style chili-cheese dogs, and the restaurant’s famous tater tots. Sonic also boasts an absurdly extensive drink menu that covers every possibly variation of shake, malt, slush, smoothie and soda.

A lunch stop might set you back 1,800 calories, give or take. But when you’re washing it all down with an Oreo Sonic Blast, does anything else really matter?                                                      —Matt Amis

 

 

 

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