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Local restaurants and stores can kick up your favorite recipes

August 18, 2017

Our very own dining destination at the beach is not without its James Beard Foundation Award winners, nominees, finalists and semifinalists. We even have a few chefs who have whomped up vittles for Michelin-starred eateries. In fact, international restaurant reviewer Zagat sends me their annual pick hits for editing and updating before they are published. So all in all, this tiny resort town has earned an impressive reputation not only with diners, but also home cooks. 

One of the happy side-effects of this cacophony of culinary kudos is the proliferation of stores and products that cater to home cooks who demand unique, high-quality ingredients. Two of those stores are the Olive Orchard Tasting Room and the Spice & Tea Exchange in downtown Rehoboth. 

Laura and Roy Eckrote's Olive Orchard Tasting Room is at the corner of First Street and Rehoboth Avenue. Shiny steel casks called fustis (foos'-tees) brim with infused black and white balsamic vinegars and gently flavored olive oils. Tiny paper cups invite you to take a taste - and taste you must! Some of the most amazing flavors are the cinnamon-pear balsamic, the dark chocolate and espresso balsamics (mix them for a rollercoaster in your mouth), the jalapeno-infused white balsamic, the grapefruit balsamic, the lemongrass-mint white balsamic ... I have too many favorites to list here. And the oils! They'll forever turn you off to cheap grocery store oils. 

Spice & Tea Exchange, just steps from the Rehoboth Boardwalk near Blackwall Hitch and Indigo Indian restaurant, is one of several fragrant spots owned by Joy Quinn Whalen. Tell the truth: How many huge (and expensive) bottles of spice languish (and lose flavor) in your cabinets after you used a scant quarter-teaspoon 11 years ago? Waste no more! Fresh spices and custom blends can be purchased in tiny quantities for vacation cooking or for trying out a new recipe. This place is a must-sniff, and they carry everything from multiple varieties of cinnamon and curry to jalapeno salt, bourbon black-walnut sugar and ... catnip. 

Hidden inside several local restaurants are gourmet goodies of which the culinary cognoscenti are already aware. Fork & Flask at Nage makes amazing desserts and carryout items available at their adjacent Pantry/Sweet Spot installation. And the cakes! Next door, Touch of Italy's food is so popular that they have branded many of their ingredients for sale to the public. Check out their olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, balsamic vinegars, hot pepper flakes, ravioli, sausage, handmade mozzarella and even selected wines. Just a few steps to the north, Jimmy's Grille sells many of the mixes and ingredients used in their restaurant dishes including their own style of cakes and pies. When it comes to desserts you really don't need to go any farther than Shore Plaza's Fork & Flask, Touch of Italy and Jimmy's Grille. 

Papa Grande's Coastal Taqueria is the local source for SoDel Concepts' flavored salts and custom-made soft drinks. You can sample the Chipotle-Lime variety on the rim of Papa's house margarita, and the soft drinks are available at all the SoDel Concepts restaurants and as mixers at their bars. Lupo Italian Kitchen is the sole source for the amazing Conti di san Bonifacio olive oil, pressed in Tuscany for SoDel Concepts. 

Just inside Semra's Mediterranean Grill near the Boardwalk are refrigerated cases and shelves full of all sorts of Middle Eastern goodies. Just up the Highway, the front section of Rosenfeld's Jewish Deli sports its own selection of delicatessen ingredients - including a strictly Kosher section. Big Fish Market in Rehoboth sells many of the menu ingredients used at their restaurants, including fresh fish processed on site at Big Fish Wholesale Seafood. Just up the road, the BBQ sauces that make Bethany Blues' smoked meats so good are for sale by the bottle. Now all you need is a smoker, pork shoulders, some hickory and about 12 hours. 

Last but not least, the Jerusalem International Market that shares Lewes' Tenley Court with Matt's Fish Camp has a wide range of Middle Eastern and Greek specialties. (The Beirut brand tahini is hands-down the best tahini for your homemade hummus.) 

So if you like to cook, peek into some of the local restaurants and markets that can help lift your favorite dishes to award-winning heights.

  • 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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