A sampling of the tastes of Delaware has been packaged into a trail of 24 iconic restaurants made to order for the culinary tourist.
The Delaware Culinary Trail was unveiled Feb. 12 at Harry’s Savoy Grill along with the companion book, "First State Plates: Iconic Delaware Restaurants and Recipes," which is the prize for those diners who complete the trail by visiting 15 of its 24 eateries - a trek that begins by downloading a passport at www.visitdelaware.com/culinary.
Dining out is one of the top activities in Delaware, and so the Delaware Tourism Office set its sights on creating a menu-like road map of some of the First State’s restaurants. The trail was modeled after the popular Delaware History Trail, Delaware Geocaching Trail, and Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, offering one-stop tourism shopping, a prize element and a passport system designed to encourage multiple stops and user interaction with the Delaware Tourism Office’s website.
The most challenging part of building the trail was narrowing the field down to 24, which was done with an eye toward representing a diversity of culinary styles and geography, said Linda Parkowski, Delaware Tourism director.
"The restaurants we chose provide an accurate representation of the tastes and traditions of the First State," Parkowski said. "It’s real people making real food, from local favorites like crabs, scrapple and signature pizza to dishes at fine-dining establishments on par with those found in nearby big cities."
Restaurants are big business in Delaware, and the proof is in the numbers. According to the National Restaurant Association, Delaware’s restaurants were projected to register $1.6 billion in sales in 2012.
"Most restaurants are small businesses, and small businesses form the backbone of Delaware’s economy - a backbone that Gov. Jack Markell plans to strengthen during his second term," said Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. "I’m excited to see the launch of an initiative like the Delaware Culinary Trail that will use the success of small businesses to bring out-of-state visitors and added revenue to Delaware."
While the restaurants on the Delaware Culinary Trail will offer a plethora of eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, "First State Plates" provides a feast for the eyes. The book, written by Pam George, features the stories behind the 24 restaurants, as well as recipes for some of the most popular dishes at each of the eateries. The book also features photos of the mouthwatering meals by Keith Mosher.
Those who download a passport at the Delaware Culinary Trail website, www.visitdelaware.com/culinary, and collect codes at 15 of the 24 restaurants - five in each of Delaware’s three counties - will receive a copy of "First State Plates" as their prize. The book will also be available for $25 through the Delaware Tourism Office website.