Thanks for machine guesses

February 15, 2011

15 February 2011

Thanks to the folks who offered suggestions for what the mysterious piece of machinery at Cape Henlopen State Park might be. You can see them at the bottom of that blog – everything from threshing machine to porcupine groomer. Take a look. The question I have is how did a threshing machine or porcupine groomer get into the park’s piney woods? There aren’t many porcupines out there and that sand isn’t much for raising grain.

We’re still looking for three straights days of winds with south in them to signal the end of this winter. That was always Grayson Smith’s test for the arrival of spring. It also signaled time for him to buy a new pair of white tennis shoes to wear with his khaki suit. Grayson was an adherent to the church of the latter day Frisbee. That faith proclaims that our souls are like Frisbees that have landed on a roof and slid down into the gutters, stuck there for an eternity, never falling to earth again.

I’m keeping my eyes out for the reddening tips of maple branches and the earliest shoots of unfurled skunk cabbage leaves in the local swamps.

Happy birthday today to my sister Mary. She teaches piano and spreads good humor from her home along the Intracoastal Waterway between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. She likes boiled peanuts and other North Carolina ways.

One day she told me about teaching a student a Christmas song. The song mentioned reindeer prancing.  Mary asked if the young student knew what prance meant. “Sure,” said the student.  “It’s like the marks the animals make in the mud with their feet – like footprance.”

Mary liked that one.

Spread a little love wherever you go.

Haley’s Travels: Italian wine country

February 15, 2011

Even in the late fall, long after picking, the Italian wine country is colorful and pleasing to the eye.

Delaware coast restaurateur Matt Haley traveled through Asia and Europe last fall and winter and sent back several blogs related to his travels.  This is his final report of 2010.  He stopped back into Delaware’s Cape Region over the holidays and then headed back to Asia in January.

Late Fall 2010Siena and Tuscan Wine Country

A trip to Siena is well worth it for lunch on the way through Italian wine country. I would also add a great place to stay the night but we were in a hurry to get to wine country and see our friend Manfredo.

This was the final stage of my two months away and one I was looking forward to before coming home.

Casa Di San Bonifacio vineyard and boutique hotel is a beautiful place. We rode through the rolling hills and vineyards of the Roccastrada area in Tuscany and arrived to this picture-perfect place in Ribolla. At the top of the winding driveway Manfreddo waited with two freshly squeezed pear juices fresh off the press.

Casa di San Bonifacio, Ribolla, Italy

The afternoon started with conversation on the growth and potential of this relatively new winery while sitting around the pool on top of a hill overlooking the whole valley and a new Rothschild vineyard which was equally as beautiful.

Walking Italian wine country is a must. Being a nondrinker has made the adventure in wine for me very interesting. I first realized this in Napa Vally years ago when I felt forced to experience wine through sight, smell, feel and conversation.

Cured anchovies with garlic, parsley, red vinegar and topped with olive oil.

I was walking the Casa Di San Bonifacio vineyard and decided to sit and close my eyes. I concentrated on the winds, the smell and dug my hands into the ground and experienced the vineyard at its fullest. This made a lot of sense when later we sat for a tasting. For me it made smelling the wine complete. It’s almost like not drinking the final product forces your other senses to expand.

Dining here was like the others: simple, fresh , traditional. Simple penne with basil pesto, herb roasted steak with arugula & parmesan, farro cheesecake one night and, the next, wild field green salad.   There was also braised rabbit, mashed endive and sweet Rosemary crackers with pistachio gelato for dessert.

The next day, with Manfredo, we visited an old farm with an illegal grapa still. Classic! An 80-year old Italian woman walked us to the hidden barn and, in Italian,  went through the process of making grapa.  I didn’t understand a word but understood. Afterwards she took us to the house for espresso. One of the many things about Italy I love is the connection to espresso. Millions of relationships in Italy have been formed over espresso.

Illegal grapa still.

We drank espresso with the family, over a wood-burning stove, with fresh cookies and wood-oven baked crispy polenta.  I haven’t had polenta like this but I highly recommend it.

Our last night here, Bry, Manfredo and I discussed our potential partnership in an Italian vineyard and my participation in a few farm-vineyard dinners this spring in Italy. All seems good. We will be back in the spring to check out the new plots of land.

I am on my way to Rome to fly home. It’s been a long two months. I have had another wonderful trip and can’t wait to get home, rest, and share some of these adventures with the class.

I will be back in Nepal and NW India in January to help complete the film and spend time with the kids and somewhere in between build three new restaurants, one or two for us and one or two for Highwater.

Feel free to email me at Sodelconcepts@gmail.com with any questions on food and travel connected with these blogs.  – Matt

Matt's favorite sign in all of Italy.

 

What is this piece of machinery?

February 4, 2011

It looks like some kind of grinder - but for grinding what?

4 February 2011

I’m not sure what the ground hog said this year but I know the days are growing longer and we’re sliding inexorably toward spring. That’s nice.

I wrote in my Barefootin’ column this week about snow geese and eagles and other groovy stuff.  I also mentioned an unusual piece of equipment apparently abandoned near the head of the Salt Marsh Spur Trail near the west end of the campground.  The machine looks like it was belt-driven and has metal spikes inside aligned to cross in opposite directions as if set up as a crusher of some sort.  The timber frame of the machine is also notable for its heft and stallwortiness.

If you know the origin of the machine or have any ideas what it was built to accomplish please comment at the bottom of this blog, give me a call at 645-7700 extension 303, or put pen to paper and feel the satisfaction of watching words flow from your brain onto paper.

C’mon spring.

Haley’s Travels: In Abruzzo, nature’s brilliance

January 27, 2011

Honey making in the village is popular in San Stephano. Great at breakfast too.

This is a blog posted by Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley late in 2010.  It gives a flavor of the countryside and cuisine of Italy.

San Stephano, Abruzzo, Italy

After leaving Matera I am headed north to San Stephano in the Abruzzo region. I’m to stay in one of the Sextantio Hotels. It is clear now that this hotelier only builds hotels in remote areas that are surrounded by extreme beauty and stays completely indigenous to the small village’s surroundings and history.

Bry looking over the valley from San Stephano.

San Stephano takes a while to get to but upon arrival after driving some dirt roads and a hundred switch backs up the mountainside I arrive in this quaint little thousand-year old town at sunset. For the first time truly have an understanding of the color palate of the Italian artist. I am not sure what or why the colors of the sky are so intense in Italy but for years I thought the Italian masters were embellishing their colors in landscape. Not true. The blues, grays, pinks, yellows and oranges are absolutely heavenly. The energy and presence of whatever you believe in exists at sunset in the Italian Alps.

Standing on a hillside in San Stephano I imagine what it must have been like to live here over the years and then realize they are still living that way. Traveling has done a lot for me and my life but if it has done only one thing, it has helped me realize how much time I have wasted worrying about nonsense in my life. If my fears of amounting to nothing and being broke on a street corner ever come true, like my teachers told me, I now know what to do……and it ain’t a bad thing. I would scrape up enough money and fly to Mexico, India and now Italy and find a job cooking on the side of a mountain and live pretty well and pretty happy, fear-free.

Entrance to our hotel's restaurant & cantina.

Tonight I will eat at the hotel’s restaurant. Another one with no name or sign. This one is down the alley a ways and the hotel front desk will show me the way. If it comes half as close as Matera’s dinner I will be moved.

I arrive and meet Andrea Colleti, a newly graduated chef from an Italian culinary school. He is very young but has a great smile and is excited to cook tonight. He has found out that I am a kitchen guy too and is really wanting to impress. I am OK with that as long as he knows we will be fine either way.

Leaving San Stephano we travel through the southern section of the Italian alps. There is a lot of flat land at about 8,000-10,000 feet where we see hundreds of wild horses roaming, with the fog rolling of the mountains like big waves. At one point I was waiting for Julie Andrews to show up and start belting out “The Sound of Music” but she was a no-show.

After driving through L’aquila, the earthquake-ridden area of a year ago (300 people died, 80,000 displaced) and stopping to pay our respects, we’re off on another Italian adventure.

Typical afternoon break food in a village Cantina. Salami, cheese, fresh rustic bread and fresh-crushed apple juice.

Mysterious items on the cape’s point

January 24, 2011

It's like a desert on the point of Cape Henlopen. What survives is tough. What dies, gets bleached by the sun.

24 January 2011

One of Hemingway’s novels or short stories – I think it is Snows of Kilamanjaro – begins with a short observation about the frozen carcass of a leopard (or some similar predator) lying cold and drying near the peak of a mountain.  The observation concludes with a question: what was the leopard doing up there?

The same question coursed through my brain Sunday morning while I was pondering the skeleton of what appears to be a dog in the stony sand flats of the point at Cape Henlopen.  I have included a couple of photographs here in hopes that a reader will have some insight as to the identity of these remains.  What strikes me most is the length of the hind legs and the narrowness of the rib cage.  Could it be the remains of a greyhound? Many questions.  Did it wash up there, already dead?  Did it wander out into those desolate reaches, run out of energy, and die?

The point was quiet and cold Sunday despite a stiff wind bearing down out of the north.  A good day for beachcombing.  No one was there before me and I doubt they came afterwards either. Anyway, I came across a number of items that I need help identifying. Here are pictures.  If you have any idea of what these items are – including the skeleton – send me along a note.

Maybe together we can get some of this figured out.

Here's another angle on the skeleton. I have no idea what that electronic device might be where the animal's head out to be.

Here's a close-up of the foot. You can see why I think it must be a dog.

What is this, sticking out from a dune, being revealed by the eroding winds of winter?

I have no idea what this item is. It's about the size of a football.

This looks like an industrial float of some kind. It grounded inside the point of the cape, not far from the parking area .

 

An old coastal homestead on Wolfe Neck

January 21, 2011

Allan Anderson enjoys searching the winter woods of Sussex for evidence of past history.

21 Januray 2011

In my Barefootin’ column in Friday’s edition of the Cape Gazette, I wrote about an overgrown homestead on Wolfe Neck.  Here are a few of the photographs from that column, and more, that I took last Sunday while hiking in that beautiful coastal forest.

A buckle, buttons and shards of pottery from the old Thompson homestead.

A pile of bricks against a tree provides further evidence of past lives.

The shed skin of a black snake hangs from a holly branch near the homestead. Pricks on the edges of stiff holly leaves must provide a natural tool for helping snakes shed their old skins.

The path of a raccoon near a freshwater stream, that must have served the homestead, witness other creatures that live in the forest.

Haley’s Adventures: Food and art of Florence

January 12, 2011

One of our best dinners was fried eggs with roasted potatoes and freshly shaved truffles.

Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley traveled extensively through Tibet, Nepal, India, Italy and other parts of Europe in late 2010.  A number of his blogs were posted before the holiday break.  Now we’re resuming with publication of a couple final blogs from that trip. This first blog about Florence in Italy was mailed into the Gazette on Nov. 26, 2010.

Florence

We decide to drive through Perugia and stop for the night on the way to Florence but get our first bad vibe of a city in Italy. Perugia doesn’t feel right so it’s off to Florence.

After arriving in Florence after a long beautiful day’s ride I need sleep, but first food, and I want a Tuscan steak. Off the Piazza de Rebublica square there is a place called Buca Lipi that is famous for serving fat T-bone steaks rubbed with garlic, salt and parsley after hand-cutting it and roasting it over a wood fire. I got this steak with a simple salad and a side of truffles white beans followed by a Jewish apple cake. Please eat here when in Florence.

Tripe stew and chicken liver frosting in Florence. Lunch staples and favorites everyday.

Florence (like Rome and other Italian cities) is beautiful but very expensive so I suggest bottled water, buying meats and cheeses and some fruit for walking around so you have enough money for dinner. If you do stop for lunch, you have to have tripe stew and chicken liver crostini at a local trattoria.

The unassuming Academie’ was very exciting even though hard to find in a way because in Florence, where they may house the greatest art on earth, they also have decided to build unpretentious museums. I think they want and believe the focus should be on the inside, not out.

Once in, I was excited to see Michaelangelo’s famous piece, what some say is the greatest work of art of all. I got myself ready for a journey through the museum to find the piece like I did when it took an hour to walk through the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel.

One turn, I lifted my head and Bam! There he was.

It was rainy and early so apparently a lot of people had not come out and the museum was empty.

I was alone with “The David,” the greatest work of all time. He stood down an empty hallway 40 feet away, staring me in the eyes. Within seconds I was so overwhelmed I broke into tears and my legs began to shake.  I moved closer, sat and did not move for an hour.  It was the most spiritual art experience of my life. To me this masterpiece was exactly like what was quoted by a great artist and critic of that day: “the last piece you will ever need to see.”

Piazza art and sculpture. Due to restrictions and security no photos are aloud inside museums in Florence.

Driving through the Italian Alps to Florence.

Haley’s Travels: phenomenal cuisine in Italy

December 15, 2010

The church in Matera, melting into the cliffs at night.

Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley, after extensive travels in Tibet and India, made his way to Italy to sample the art, culture and cuisine.  His next few blogs will focus on his experiences in Italy. Timing wise, these next few blogs were all written before Thanksgiving. All of the writing and photographs are his.

Matera, Basilicata Region, Italy

Getting to Matera was easy. Just a few turns from Rome off A-1 south, but it was four hours: four great hours of driving through the inland mountains off southern Italy in the Basilicata region. Winding roads, muted fall colors, orchards and ancient hilltop towns. It is amazing how much open space there is in Italy.  I didn’t expect that.

A look at one of the roads from the balcony of the Sextancio Hotel.

Driving into Matera I was a little taken back. It was beautiful but I had read that it was more than Rome historically, but without the tourists and driving in it looked contemporary modern. I drove through the streets until I saw the signs that directed me to the neighborhood called “Sassi.” After a few turns I was in history. The town went back thousands of years. It was like watching an old movie. Coincidentally, I found out later it is where they shot the movie “Passion of Christ.”

The city of Matera.

It was beautiful. The entire town seemed to be carved out of a mountainside. At the top was an ancient church with a beautiful temple lit up by the sunset, with caves on the backside of the town, across a large ravine from our hotel. The ravine resembled a small Grand Canyon.

I knew I was in for a treat when I could not find the hotel because it had no sign. The Hotel Sextancio is the brainchild of a German winemaker whose family owns Italian wineries. He has developed a model for investing in old Italian villages that are losing their commerce to the big cities and easier tourist attractions. Some of the rooms in this hotel were over a thousand years old: rebuilt caves in the side of a hillside village turned into a five-star hotel.

The dining room at Sextancio.

So no sign. I had to have the women from the lobby come down to the street to show me up the winding stone staircase. Once up top I knew it would get better because the restaurant had no name and the dining room was a thousand years old too.

I spent a day in Matera and it was great. One afternoon I chatted with a man who showed me how to really eat bruschetta. With fresh-toasted ciabatta, he drizzled local olive oil and sea salt on the crunchy top then explained how the only way to finish it was by biting the top of a fresh picked cherry tomato and squeezing it on the top then eating it. He finished with a nice dry white wine; I, a glass of fresh-squeezed apple juice.

Beef Carpaccio at El Bottegha.

I had a phenomenal meal at “el Bottegha” one night. Fresh carpaccio of beef, orrechetti with chickory and bread crumbs, white bean mash and kale, finished with a hot chocolate cake. But the real dinner was the second night at Sextancio.

This may be the best meal ever. Please remember I said this and can’t take it back. I was with Bry and we walked into this cave dining room that was purely lit with candles and sat down at a table and were fed family style. The table looked like it was made by an apostle a LONG time ago. On the table (like the rooms) was all handmade linens indigenous to the area, candles, flowers and hand-pounded silverware. We enjoyed ricotta and mozzarella made within an hour of service followed by fresh-made cavatelli pasta with local squashes, fried zucchini, eggplant involtini stuffed with fresh marscapone, bread balls (like meatballs) poached in tomato ragu, sliced local hams, salumis and cured sausages and fresh squash blossoms sauteed with squash. The cheese was so fresh I felt like the cow was sitting right next to me.

When I was finished I asked our server, who was also our desk lady and housekeeper, if I could meet the chef if he or she wasn’t busy. After all I really did feel like I just experienced the most all-around, authentic better meal of my life. She replied ” it was me.” At that moment, without a second thought, it all made sense to me. A chef could not have produced that meal. Only a great granddaughter of a great grandmother who has passed down those recipes in a small village town in southern Italy using the same products from the same hillsides for all that time.

Enough said. I am trying to get Elizabeth to come to America to reproduce that dinner on a farm next fall with Lupo Di Mare.

Bry and Matt in the lobby of the Sextancio with chef Elizabeth, the inn keeper, and Oliver the security dog.

Laundry. A staple in every window in town.

Peanut butter vodka, banana bread beer!

December 8, 2010

The beer board at Arena's in Rehoboth.

8 December 2010

This northwest wind won’t give us a break.  It’s sharp and it cuts and it’s cold! We’ve been riding the Great Cape Loop Trail a lot lately, on weekends.  What a fabulous biking adventure that is.  Marshes and Boardwalk, ocean and neighborhoods, great downtowns and open forests and fields in between.  So many great places to stop to see the beauty of nature and the creativity of humans.

In Rehoboth last Saturday, we stopped into Arena’s for a quick refreshment. My eyes were attracted to the colorful beer board. A couple of impressions:

• You can eat the titles of some these beers.  Others are emotional.  Some are old standards.

• In all the colors, look how white stands out.  It’s the same reason why bucktails catch the attention of fish underwater, why cottontail rabbits pop their tail to warn others, Probably because white is the presence of all colors.  Cool.

Bartender Colleen Carney told us that Miller Lite is the beer most ordered at the bar.  Craft brews charge on toward creativity and character but the heavily advertised national brands command the lion’s share of the day-in and day-out beer market.

At DogFish Head the creativity of the brews always jumps out.  On the board their own distilled and flavored Peanut Butter Vodka jumps out.  I hear one person say they will use the peanut butter vodka along with some kind of chocolate liquor to make a Reeses Cup martini. There are no limits to creativity.

By the Rehoboth Beach Museum, the canal overlook park is complete and looks great.  New light fixtures are in place. There’s a nice harmony between the park and the museum and a synergy between Grove Park, the overlook, the museum and the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce offices and visitors’ center.

I like the historical display outside the museum of the old mill stone and one of Rehoboth’s many historic homes.

A sweet spot – the overlook park alongside the Rehoboth Beach Museum by the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

Check out the mill stone and information about a classic Rehoboth Beach residence, outside the Rehoboth Beach Museum, along Rehoboth Avenue, in town, just over the drawbridge. Occasionally sea gulls fly over and, in the winter, Vs of crossing Canada geese.



Haley’s Travels • A layover in Qatar

December 8, 2010

Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley is visiting children at an orphanage he supports in Nepal, exploring the Himalayan culture and cuisine, traveling throughout India and then on to Europe, and reporting on an occasional basis.  His reports are presented here to expand our own perspective on other parts of the world and cuisines that may eventually find their way into the local restaurant scene. All of the photographs are by Matt or members of his traveling group.

Doha, Qatar • Mid-November

I arrive in Doha, the capital of Qatar, for a day layover and decide to take in the sites. I have never been to a middle eastern county. This is a first and I am impressed. The Royal Sheik of Qatar is a smart man and has built a strong country. Doha, the capital, is manicured perfectly. Every detailed touch is in place. I find it strange the way we sometimes think of countries before we visit them, after growing up with impressions bestowed upon us most of the time. My impression is usually changed quickly.

I love the way the men dress here: the long white neck-to-toe outfits with the head piece tied elegantly around the top. These guys are on it. The women mostly in head to toe black, with faces covered, still find ways to use their iPhones and seem to be smiling underneath. It feels good here. You got to love a place when the guy in charge is also a world champion speed boat driver.

The food is good. I stop and grab some falafel on the side of the road with some fettosh. Falafel is a chick pea fritter and fettosh is a chopped tomato salsa Arabic style (tomato, onion, parsley, lemon, cumin, chili). These two go well together with, of course, some great flat bread.

Doha is close to Dubai in growth and presence. It is an impeccable city from the inside out. It might be one of the more organized, clean and energetic cities I have been in lately.

I wish I had time to stay but Rome is calling. I will plan a more extended trip to the middle east soon.

Stay tuned. •  Matt

Editor’s Note: Here is one of the photos that Haley sent along with his blog from Rome.  He was most impressed with the art there. The next blog will detail his impressions and include other artworks.

The fountain at Borghese, in Italy.