A Holiday Treat
With or without alcohol, Lewes Dairy eggnog adds spice to the season
Along the coast, nothing signals the start of the holiday season quite like a sip of Lewes Dairy’s eggnog. “I make it just the way I made it when I was young, it just takes me twice as long to do half as much,” says Chip Brittingham, the Lewes plant manager whose grandparents, Grace and Emory Brittingham, began raising Guernsey cows and selling milk in 1919.
Since the dairy’s merger with Hy-Point Dairy Farms in 2013, Brittingham has trekked to northern New Castle County to make the eggnog, which is available starting the week before Thanksgiving until New Year’s. “I want to make sure everything is done right,” he says.
He doesn’t remember exactly when the dairy began offering its celebrated beverage, but its fame was certainly set in the 1940s. Brittingham credits its popularity to top-quality ingredients and a special blend of spices, which produce a silky shake-like beverage with a minimum fat content of at least 7 percent. (The standard is 6 percent.) “It’s a good drink,” Brittingham says simply.
Some say it’s even better with a shot of rum. Mark Harrison, general manager of Nage in the Rehoboth Beach area, whips up this frothy libation for customers who like a creamy cocktail. “I prefer to use local ingredients as much as possible, whether it’s with our food or beverage programs,” he says. “Lewes Dairy is a respected business in the area, and their high-quality products make that decision easy.”
A Legacy to Savor
One year after his death, Leo Medisch remains a strong presence along the culinary coast
On Aug. 21, 2013, coastal Delaware’s restaurant community was saddened to learn that Leo Medisch, executive chef of the Back Porch Cafe in Rehoboth Beach, had died at age 60. Medisch had joined the Back Porch as a grill chef shortly after the restaurant’s opening in 1974, and over the years — as he became kitchen manager, chef and an owner — he symbolized Rehoboth’s celebrated dining scene.
But to many colleagues, friends and customers, Medisch’s talent went beyond the kitchen. Current Executive Chef Timothy McNitt, who joined the restaurant in 1997, says Medisch was “kind, gentle, funny, caring and thoughtful.” Above all, he was a friend.
McNitt, who moved to Rehoboth from Lancaster County, Pa., was hired to work in the Back Porch’s pantry to do prep work and make such items as bluefish-and-apple sausage and duck galantine. “They had a lot of trust in this country boy,” he says. “I loved every minute of it.”
Brined tomatoes, cucumbers or asparagus pair well with seared fish, or make a tangy addition to salads
Pickling and preserving were once the purview of farmers and avid vegetable gardeners. No longer. Pickling is a hot food trend for 2014, according to two surveys: Allrecipes.com’s “The Measuring Cup Trend Report” and the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2014.”
Krista Scudlark, owner of Milton-based Backyard Jams and Jellies, has witnessed the popularity firsthand. “I can’t keep my bread-and-butter pickles in stock,” says Scudlark, who uses her father’s recipe. Some customers order by the case.
As of May, Milton-based Dogfish Head had gone through 97 5-gallon buckets of its branded pickles, sold at the company’s Rehoboth brewpub and from its food truck. (Each bucket holds 213 servings.) “And we haven’t even hit peak season,” says Mariah Calagione, vice president of the microbrewery. That tally does not include the packaged Dogfish Head pickles sold in Whole Foods and other stores.
At the Matt Haley Companies, which has eight coastal restaurants, pickling is as routine as making soups. “We pickle anything when it’s in season,” says corporate chef Doug Ruley. “We’ve pickled ramps, green beans and asparagus, which we use in bloody marys in summertime. We also pickle a medley of carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash and onion.”