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Delaware has its Day in Washington, D.C.

December 19, 2016

Like so many of us who fled to the beach to escape gridlock and traffic, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to venture back over that big bridge to attend the 6th Annual Taste of Delaware event - smack in the middle of Washington, D.C. But one must think twice before turning down a kind invitation from U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, so I gassed up the Stutz Bearcat and pointed it westward.

I even packed emergency supplies (iced tea, ToastChee crackers, DiBruno Bros. Black Lava Salt Cashews and a Munch Bar – you know, the basics: I didn’t want to end up like the Donner party).

The trip was surprisingly easy; the 4 p.m. start time brought us into the Nation’s Capital before the rush hour and by the time we left at 7, traffic was just a memory. In short, the journey was well worth it – especially because this Delaware Day event is all about our state’s food and drink, a subject with which I have a passing familiarity. 

As amazing as the sips, bites and displays were, the star of the show was the venue itself. Directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol, the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building has been center stage for many defining moments in United States history. The towering 74-foot-by-54-foot all-marble chamber played host to the 1912 sinking of the Titanic hearings, the Teapot Dome oil reserves hearings in 1923, the organized crime hearings in 1950, the 1973 Watergate Break-In Investigation hearings and Iran-Contra in 1987 – just to name a few. I truly felt like a part of history as I munched (albeit humbly) on a Bobbie from Capriotti’s and a loaded dog from Johnnie’s Dog House while sipping a Dogfish Head 60 Minute. 

The primary sponsor of the event was the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, quite ably backed up by Bank of America, Comcast, Delaware Technical Community College, DuPont, PSEG Nuclear LLC, Chemours, Delaware City Refining Company LLC and Verizon Delaware. Sussex County was well represented by such luminaries as SoDel Concepts’ Matt’s Fish Camp in Lewes and Bethany, Capriotti’s, Grotto Pizza, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, Mispillion River Brewing and Painted Stave Distilling. It was obvious that nobody was going to leave hungry – or thirsty. 

As the sounds of Paul Cullen’s guitar filled the room (nothing like the acoustics afforded by a couple million pounds of marble!), we learned that there are actually other restaurants, breweries and distilleries located outside the Cape Region. Who wooda thought!? Thanks to the Taste of Delaware, we got to know David Dietz’s BBC Tavern & Grill in Greenville; Chic Treats and Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover; Civil Cider, the University and Whist Club, Wildwich Gourmet Sandwiches, Johnnie’s Dog House, and Maiale Deli & Salumeria in Wilmington; Newark’s Home Grown Café, and UDairy Creamery (part of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources); Twin Lakes Brewing Company in Newport; Delcastle Technical High School’s Cooks & Bakers Club, and Delaware Technical Community College’s Culinary Arts Associate Degree Program. Take-home treats for the pooches left behind as we all drove to D.C. were provided by Waggies By Maggie & Friends, a nonprofit dog treat company that provides employment for people with intellectual disabilities. 

Take a look at the photos to get an idea of the decidedly Delaware-centric businesses that donated their time, effort and resources to shine a national spotlight on everything The First State brings to the table.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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