The Business of Eating

The true spirit of Festivus (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)…

December 23, 2014

When a restaurant suggests that you “eat like a pig and drink like a fish,” you know they have a sense of humor. And that sense of humor was unleashed in full force last week at Pickled Pig Pub, the Coastal Highway sister to downtown Rehoboth’s Pig & Fish Restaurant Company.

The event? Why, Festivus, of course. Seinfeld fans still celebrate Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) and his made-up alternative to the commercialism of the Christmas season. Beloved traditions include airing grievances against family and friends using the hallowed Festivus Book. Gotta love it. And apparently a lot of people agree, as Pickled Pig Pub’s event sold out very quickly. One die-hard Seinfelder even brought a homemade Festivus Pole (a stark, unadorned aluminum pipe to replace the Christmas tree) and his very own Festivus Book, complete with handwritten grievances.

Cleverly themed courses were paired with similarly themed beers, and Seinfeld fans loved the references to their favorite episodes. The first course was appropriately named Yadda, Yadda, Yadda and featured an assortment of items (such as marble rye breadsticks) that stirred memories of episodes past. The dish was complemented with a trio of brews: Brooklyn Lager, Brooklyn Winter and Brooklyn Quadraceratops. In real life, Jerry was born in Brooklyn.

The second course paid homage to three Seinfeld episodes with mutton (actually, delicious lamb lollipops) from The Wink, apple pie (in the form of a nicely constructed tart) from The Pie and of course fancy mustard (you might remember the reference from the Jimmy episode). The beverage was Ommegang Adoration, brewed in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Chef Ian Mangin and beermeister Ben Cowell outdid themselves with a glass of Southampton Biere de Mars (another New York brew from Southampton Publick House Brewery) that accompanied a spicy veggie-peanut relish reminiscent of kung pao chicken. (Remember the Chinese Restaurant episode?) A crispy chicken thigh and a creamy risotto brought to mind egg rolls and fried wontons.

Course number four embodied the Traditional Festivus Meal. A pork terrine (hiding a tasty sausage), crispy pan-fried kugel and buttered peas were immediately recognized by fans as references to the Strike, Fatigues and Pony Remark episodes. What faithful fan could forget when Jerry upsets an elderly female guest of honor (Rozsika Halmos) with a snide comment about hating anybody who had a pony. She announces, “I had a pony!” and storms out in anger, only to die shortly thereafter. Of course, Jerry is accused of hastening her demise with his thoughtless remark. Hilarious, with that predictably cynical edge. Fans of Seinfeld co-writer Larry David’s HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” immediately recognized where much of this mock-meanness came from. It often seemed that Larry and Jerry’s characters were saying out loud what many of us only dared to think. Both shows are still wildly popular in reruns. The beverage included a respectful nod to Dogfish Head with a Randall-infused (and very hoppy!) Sixpoint Resin Ale.

Classic episodes The Burning, The Rye and Suicide were represented by a moist devil’s food cake topped with merlot-laced buttercream, and … get this: ice cream containing Drake’s Coffee Cake! If you like those little cinnamon-streusel confections, imagine them as ice cream. Nice job, Ian.

A few weeks ago I wrote about local eateries with dedicated owners who work hand-in-hand with their employees to offer consistently good food and service with a minimum of drama. Pig & Fish in downtown Rehoboth and Pickled Pig Pub on Coastal Highway both fall into that category, and throw in a side of humor for good measure.

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