Top Meals from Delmarva
Hey, folks. It’s been a bit. Good news is that I am safe and sound in Green Bay, Wisconsin watching my first northerner snow fall outside my living room window. Now that we are settled into our new place and unpacking, I am finally able to sit down and continue the farewell series I planned before the move.
Today, I wanted to acknowledge some of my favorite meals and restaurants that I experienced on and around the Delmarva peninsula. While I don’t know if I will ever go back, these establishments deserve the acknowledgement of providing my better food experiences in a region known for amazing seafood. You’ll be surprised by how little of it is actually seafood.
Please keep in mind that these acknowledgements are in no particular order, but many of them have had short articles written here on Eating Normal in the past. Each title header will be a link to an older article when it is available. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite things I ate on Delmarva.
Delaware State Fair
Fair food has a reputation: a greasy, nasty reputation. It’s something that a number of Americans look forward to come the summer time. I have never spent a day at a state fair, much to my regret since I spent some time in Iowa. Small, local fairs are often the only chance to get a variety of foods like funnel cakes and regional favorites like fried butter at the Iowa State Fair. This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the Delaware State Fair where the food offered had a special flare to it.
I have never been to a proper state fair before Saturday when I pulled up to the Delaware State Fair. Overhead, a tour helicopter circled the fair. The sun was startingto come out from behind the clouds and giving the large field it’s heat. Luckily, it was a mild summer day that we chose to visit the food vendors.
Dogfish Head Brewery
I had an amazing, glorious birthday weekend. Despite the fact I am a little under the weather, the experiences I was able to share with my husband and close friends were untarnished. Sunday, we went to Milton, DE for the Grain to Glass tour at Dogfish Head Brewery. The primo shit. We talked about doing this from our first sip of Dogfish Head beer in December, and my birthday seemed like the perfect time.
We arrived a little more than two hours ahead of our tour time to visit their new onsite Kitchen and drink a shit load of exclusive beers. They are set up to be a hangout spot before or after a tour, thankfully. There is a ton of outdoor seating and games to be played. You were allowed to take your drinks outside among the fun after ordering.
One thing to keep in mind if you plan a visit is that the kitchen is not a restaurant in the traditional sense. No one seats you. No one comes out to take your order. It’s a walk up window that totally fits with the laidback vibe all around the brewery. Their menu is constantly shifting between a variety of quick cook, delicious foods. I ate so much. I drank so much. The brewery itself is an out of the way destination that unfolded in three pars.
The Kitchen itself may be small, but it’s treats are mighty. Cumulatively, our party must have ate our way through the entire menu. They produced everything from Calzones to pulled pork sandwiches at lightning speed. It was something to watch. We got the food faster than we could get inside and fight the other patrons to order a flight of beer.
It was all delicious, but the pulled pork sandwich was the star of the show to me. The spent grain bun cradled pork in a flavorful sauce perfectly. A minimal slaw at the bottom added a much needed crunch. The sauce never intermingled with the slaw below or soaked the bread, a problem I find on a lot of barbeque sandwiches. It’s thickness kept it firmly on the pulled pork, and it added a soft heat to the meat that could be amplified by the hot sauces available at the counter.
Their calzones were a gem of the menu as well. They served cheese and meat varieties, both of which packed unique flavors. Much to my husband’s delight, the cheese variety did not contain tomato sauce. The filing had a nice, stringy pull when you bit into it. The garlicky sauce inside was enough that you did not miss the marinare.
When I did get a marinara sauce inside the meat calzone, the sauce brought a ton of flavor to the sausage they packed inside. It mingled with the melted cheese, adding on what I believe to be the same cheese blend used in the dedicated calzone. I could write about every damn item, but then we would never progress to the good stuff.
The Kitchen is a reasonable upgrade to the food truck set up that the brewery ran with prior to its opening. It can serve as quickly and do a little bit more creative food out of the set location, for which I am most grateful. I look forward to visiting it in the future with beer drinking family.
The Tasting Room
The actual bar of the brewery was incredible. It was standing room only with very few seats, but with the seating outside, it did not matter. For one thing, they had a number of exclusives available from their R&D brewing department that you can’t get anywhere else but that very spot. The classics, of course, were also available alongside the exclusives and seasonals. It was all too much beer for one trip, but there was something for everyone to try. Beer flights went for only six dollars, and you get a free one at the end of the Grain to Glass tour. Plenty of chances to try at least half of what they have available.
The staff is awesome. Everyone acts like they really want to be there, and they give you a suggestion as to which order to drink the selection for your flight. They didn’t do this for me when I got a flight at Brewings and Eats, not that I mind. The suggestions did make for a more enjoyable tasting experience, however.
I drink a lot of beer when I go out, usually all Dogfish Head, so there seemed to be few items I needed to focus on. The real discoveries came during the actual tour when I was offered samples outside of my normal wheelhouse. I want to discuss those, however, in a separate article for the tour itself which will come this weekend.
Even if you can’t make it out for the Grain To Glass tour or any of their other cheaper and free options, the Kitchen and the Tasting Room are a fun place to go if you are looking for good, cheap food and drink to share with a party. I can’t imagine just going with my husband, but it was so much fun with my friends Josh and Amanda.
Keep an eye out for my article about the tour, coming Saturday, July 21.
Brewings and Eats implies a balance between the two. The food rises to make the balance with the superb beers that I already talked about on Tuesday. I never leave a Dogfish Head joint disappointed with what I eat or what I drink. Sharing that with visitors is a joy, and we began this journey with a table-center appetizer that I had only once before that fateful meal with visitors from distant Illinois.
The dogpile nachos are a sight for the hungry man. Chili, pickled jalapenos and onions, cheese, and (yes, and) spinach-artichoke dip dogpiling together on a bed of freshly fried tortilla chips makes for a very promising appetizer. It was made to sit at the center of the table for a group of ravenous youths, not that we are so youthful anymore.
We dug in together from the bottom up. Each chip we pulled out had elements from almost every layer. You had to work to really get the whole experience from pickled jalapeno to spin dip, but each element eaten separate of each other via tortilla chip vehicle remained pleasant and delicious. All four of us cleaned the plate without the help of the little man at the table. He was very interested in coloring at the time. Can you blame him?
My husband and I shared a favorite that briefly left the Brewings and Eats menu: The Old Man and the Sea. This pizza is the star of Rehoboth Beach to me. It has a soft, crunch on the outside pizza dough covered in crab dip, mozzarella, micro-celery, and pancetta bits. All of it was dusted finely with Old Bay. We have had a lot of interesting seafood related pizzas in Delaware, but this is king.
The crab dip is nearly indistinguishable from the thick layer of cheese. It all stretches apart from the pizza after you take your first bite, and the pancetta is a perfect little crispy bit on the top to introduce some porky fat. God, we love this pizza. We love it so much we highly recommended it to one of our guests who got his own: he took the rest home with him.
Chesapeake and Maine is right next door to Brewings and Eats, although they have added a souvenir/beer store in the once empty space that stood between the two icons of the beach. You can pick up all kinds of things here, namely the distilled spirits that can be hard to find if you leave the state of Delaware.
Once the tourist traffic clears up, I’m worried I’ll wind up down there grabbing a new case of beer every weekend. Thanks, Brewings and Eats, for a delicious meal as always.
Ona warm June evening, I got a text from my husband that there was some food truck thing going on downtown. Those words excited me. The morning Farmers’ Market on Saturdays largely lacked finished food vendors like food trucks, and I missed those most from Burlington. That little town was blessed with such great food trucks and a special farmers market.
We arrived at the riverwalk to find the area up and down Main Street filled with a myriad of vendors, food trucks and art vendors mostly. It was the first I had seen the food trucks physically in town. To me, the food truck is the ultimate delivery system for these summer events. I’ve had some of my best meals come out of a little square window. High hopes were immediately established as we walked down the middle of the street.
I was attracted to the Mr. BBQ food truck parked right along the riverwalk. Any indulgence I make in meat has to be well worth the tummy ache that comes later. Their menu was promising and appeared to be a worthy reason for stomach suffering. Chili cheese fries, for example. Mmmmm… And cheese curds? On the east coast?
Okay, maybe that's more cheese than meat. Still, the draw of chili proved difficult to fight, and there I was in eighty degree weather with a boat of chili cheese fright and another of cheese curds. Heaven on the riverwalk despite the high temperatures.
The best part about the fries is the chili over top: chunky, mildly spiced, and soaking the fries. This makes the dish for me no matter who I get it from. Mr. BBQ makes a chili full of chunky tomato which is all I want, really. Rob’s distaste for tomato makes every bite I get of it twice as special.
The cheese curds lived up to what i used to get in Iowa. The fried shell was nice and crispy, as it should be. The curd inside had softened just enough to get a bit of a stretch out of it when I took two bites from a single curd. They served it with a nice chipotle sauce to give it a little heat, necessary to cut through the richness of fried cheese. I’ll be checking them out again.
What’s awesome about this event is choice. Don’t want food truck food? Georgia House is right there to get you out of the heat. You can shop both the vendors and the stores themselves on main street. There was an ice cream truck during my stay down toward city hall, and it was delicious.
If you need something to do on Thursday, July 19th from 5-8 PM, visit Milford, Delaware’s downtown block party! Local vendors looking for a gig that night can still sign up until July 12th. See their event page for more information.
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