Worth Trying 2020

Avatar

Welcome to our ninth annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!

 

Look (and Feel) Good in Rothy’s Flats & Sneakers
On a tip from one of my girlie pals, I just ordered my first pair of these eco-friendly, machine-washable sneakers. Their sustainable flats and sneaks come in a variety of styles and patterns, and they’re super comfy. According to the website, Rothy’s has upcycled more than 30 million plastic water bottles into fashionable footwear for women and children. To me, that’s a (ahem!) step in the right direction. rothys.com.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Get Your ‘Puppy Fill’
Over the past year, my father has volunteered to take care of and walk current trainees at Canine Partners for Life, a non-profit organization that breeds, raises and trains service and companion dogs located in Cochranville, Pa. We’ve discovered that it’s a great way to get your “puppy fill” and not have to commit to all the responsibilities that full dog ownership entails. It’s a great experience to help contribute to the dog’s training and watch it grow into a superior service and companion dog. k94life.org.
— Jim Coarse, Contributing Photographer

A New Way to Get Broadcast TV
A young nonprofit called Locast.org offers an economical way to get local broadcast channels for families who stream their television. Sign up online, give your name and email and certify that you’re in the Philadelphia market or the other 15 areas it covers, and you can watch local channels. Sample it for free, or donations start at $5 a month. It’s particularly helpful for WPVI/6 and WHYY/12, which are hard to get with many antennas.
— Ken Mammarella, Contributing Writer

Can You Handle the Truth?
Tired of the fake news, misinformation, disinformation —from both the right and left? Then go to Snopes.com. You’ll find thoroughly researched, factual information on almost any topic, with documented sources. Submit a topic and get the latest scoop. Started in 1994 to investigate urban legends, hoaxes and folklore, it’s now the oldest and largest fact-checking site online. And it’s free—although it gladly accepts donations. So go to Snopes.com—but be ready for the truth!
— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Acupuncture for Wellness
My wife has been regularly trying acupuncture for wellness for the past few months, and when I mentioned that I had some back pain and stress, she recommended that I give it a try. I’ve only had a few sessions, but it has me convinced of its therapeutic benefits. One of the biggest benefits from acupuncture has been reducing my stress level and anxiety, and making me feel calmer. After a session, I feel clear-headed and calm for a few days afterward, not to mention the relief from back pain. There is a list of other ailments that can benefit from acupuncture, so research it and give it a try.
— Tyler Mitchell, Creative Director

Top Spots for Attic Treasures
The best places to procure interesting preowned items is in markets organized by local houses of worship. The time you spend is less than you would chasing after garage sales, since the goodies are all in one place. Prices are usually cheaper than antiques stores and flea markets, since everything is donated. The gratification is faster than shopping online, since you’re returning with your new finds in just minutes. Of course, they’re also great for revealing cool things you didn’t know you wanted. In North Wilmington, worthy markets are run at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Congregation Beth Emeth (twice a year), St. David’s Episcopal Church, St. Helena’s Church (so much it takes two days and several buildings) and Trinity Presbyterian Church.
— Ken Mammarella, Contributing Writer

How Did This Get Made?
Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (three comedians you’ve most likely seen but don’t know their names) discuss movies you hate to love and love to hate on this podcast. Listening to them banter and break down movies like Con-Air, Grease 2, Burlesque and Road House is a laugh-out-loud treat. earwolf.com/show/how-did-this-get-made.
— Lauren Golt, Contributing Writer

Enhance Your Religious Life
You don’t have to be Catholic to shop at Angel Crossing Catholic Books and Gifts Store, but it obviously helps. This store, which has been open since 1998, has everything you need to enhance your religious life, including holy cards, medals, statues, rosary beads, religious books and magazines, as well as First Communion suits and dresses. Located at 550 S. Colonial Ave., Wilmington.
— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Try Some Old Movies
By old, I don’t mean Casablanca or Citizen Kane old; I’m talking about quality cinema of more recent vintage—most of it available now on Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services. Many of these films hold up well, and it’s fascinating to spot some supporting actors whose careers are now flourishing (Bobby Cannavale in The Bone Collector), or who found some success and then almost disappeared (Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride). Some other suggestions: The Usual Suspects, Glengarry Glen Ross, Boys Don’t Cry, American Beauty, The Ice Storm, Election. Grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Learn a New Skill Online
Being a designer means there’s always something new to learn in my field. But with a full-time job and daily life, getting to a classroom or even taking an online class through a university can be a bit challenging. However, I’ve found that you can learn a new skill (or design a program for that matter) from a host of websites that offer courses you can complete on your own time. The sites I’ve found most helpful have been Lynda.com and Udemy.com. So make 2020 the year of gaining knowledge!
— Tyler Mitchell, Creative Director

Restore Those Old Shoes
We live in a disposable age, but John’s Shoe and Luggage Repair, across the street from the Shoppes of Graylyn on Marsh Road, is still here after 30 years to serve people who would rather repair than replace. Not only do they repair shoes and luggage, but also purses and handbags, and they can handle your dry cleaning—usually same-day service. So, don’t chuck those beloved old loafers after all—just get them fixed.
— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Grab a Pizza
Conveniently located next to Wilmington Brew Works, La Pizzeria Metro has some of the best pies around. Consider the Wawaset Park with chorizo chicken sausage, spinach, grape tomatoes, red onion, fontina and mozzarella for $14 (It also comes with bacon, but we went pork-free). The restaurant has a diverse menu—try the wings—and a full bar. lapizzeriametro.com, 761-9199.
— Pam George, Contributing Writer

Balanced Athlete Classes at Empowered Yoga
If you’re looking to start a new fitness routine and work off those extra holiday calories, Balanced Athlete at Empowered Yoga is definitely worth trying. Each 60-minute class, performed barefoot, combines weight-lifting, core-strengthening, and plyometric exercises. The combination of fun music, encouraging instructors, and varying routines makes the hour fly by. empoweredyoga.com/balanced-athlete.
— Lauren Golt, Contributing Writer

Boie Eco-Friendly Products
We should all be trying in some way to help our environment. NYC-based start-up company Boie USA makes simple, sustainable personal care products. The products available currently are minimal but they are growing. Some eye-opening facts: loofahs and washcloths can harbor a ton of bacteria and almost every toothbrush you’ve thrown away is still sitting in a landfill or in the ocean. Boie makes a body scrubber, facial scrubber and toothbrush ($5 replacement toothbrush heads, too) that are naturally antimicrobial, BPA-free and recyclable. Best of all, the body scrubber suctions to your shower wall. Easy on your wallet, this is a great way to make a positive impact on the environment by purchasing one of their eco-friendly products. boieusa.com.
— Blair Lindley, Contributing Designer

The Graham Norton Show
Let’s face it: Jimmy Kimmel is decidedly not funny, Jimmy Fallon is silly, and Stephen Colbert is not nearly as good at playing himself as he was as his alter ego on The Colbert Report. So give Graham Norton a try. The Irish comedian/actor/author starts his show with a very brief monologue, then brings out three guests, who sit on a couch together, have a little wine or other adult beverage, view videos of some of their performances, and engage in generally witty, entertaining, sometimes outrageous chatter. Except for a few English celebrities, they’re all A-listers who are well-known to American audiences. On BBC America.
— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Janssen’s Derby-Style Pimento Cheese Spread
Move over queso, there’s a new snack in town. Pimento cheese, which is often referred to as “the pâté of the south,” is a cheesy, tangy and mildly spicy munchie that tastes divine on just about anything. I’ve tried many variations, but none have left my taste buds in a tizzy more than Janssen’s Derby-style cheese spread, which is hidden in the back of the store, after the deli case. The spread is substantial and a bit lumpy, allowing the flavorful cheeses and spices to really shine. It may not look like much, but you’ll quickly get over that after your first bite. $9.95/pound at Janssen’s Market, Greenville. janssensfinefoods.com.
— Danielle Bouchat-Friedman, Contributing Writer

Charrity & John at Local Venues
Charrity & John, a local duet who perform classic rock, pop, country and other modern tunes, appear frequently at Greater Wilmington bars and restaurants. Both are classically and formally educated, and they offer a combined 30 years of performing experience. Their easy-going, easy-playing, laid back and sometimes improvisational style will get your feet tapping and hips swaying, and they often take requests. To find out more about Charrity & John and their whereabouts, “like” them on Facebook or visit their website: charrityandjohn.com.
— Michael O’Brian, Director of Digital Services

Save $ with Digit
Saving money can be tough. Maybe you forget to set aside a certain amount from each paycheck, or you’re not even sure how much you should save or how often. An app that is available for iPhone & Android, Digit does all of that for you. Sign up and its algorithms learn your spending habits and then it saves accordingly (at an FDIC-insured bank). It could save $1.50 one day, skip a few days and save $230 the next week. Don’t panic, though; you can set limits, make unlimited withdrawals, set up overdraft protection to transfer to your checking and set a savings goal for a rainy day. It also sends you a text message every day with your checking account balance, so there are no surprises. With no account minimums and a $5/month service fee, I must say this app is worth every penny. I am amazed at how much I’ve saved using Digit over the last year or so. (Free for 30 days, then $5/mo.) digit.co.
— Blair Lindley, Contributing Designer

PICKS OF THE FOOD VARIETY

Freshness at Highland Orchards
Healthy, fresh, and clean come to mind when I bite into a crispy, sweet apple from this market on Foulk Road in North Wilmington. The family-run farm grows pesticide-free fruits and vegetables sold in the big red barn, which was built in the 1840s. On the shelves you’ll find reasonably priced products – chestnuts, herbs, honey, jams and jellies, and delicious baked goods made at the farm. They also sell great apple cider and the freshest eggs. Some of the produce comes from other local farms; some are gluten- and dairy-free. The farm also runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For details and holiday hours go to highlandorchardsfarmmarket.com or call 478-4042.
— Adriana Camacho-Church, Contributing Writer

A Touch of France
A compact little restaurant and bakery in Trolley Square, De La Coeur has a way with simple but delicious French breads and baked goods. You may have to wait for one of the few tables, especially in the colder months when outdoor seating isn’t available, but it’s worth the wait. You can always get a loaf or a few pastries to go. delacoeurcafe.com.
— Mark Fields, Contributing Writer

Backfin Blues Bar & Grill
Located in Port Deposit, Md., this place offers a menu loaded with amazing seafood options. Great for a date night, but reservations are recommended. The kitchen is wide open, and you are very much part of the atmosphere and can chat with the chef and bartenders like old friends as they cook and prepare. Some nights they even offer live music and open mic. backfinbluesgroup.com.
— Jim Coarse, Contributing Photographer

Brunch at Dead President’s Pub & Restaurant
Scoring a deal might be more important than ever this month—especially if you overindulged over the holidays. But the good thing is, you don’t have to give up all of life’s little treasures, like your beloved brunch habit. I met some friends at Dead President’s Pub & Restaurant on Union Street for brunch a few Sundays ago, and was pleasantly surprised at the affordability. Mimosas start at just $3.50 and a Bloody Mary is $4. Eggs Benedict is the real star of the menu, however. Try the filet Benedict, a lightly toasted English muffin topped with two poached eggs, grilled petit filet and a chipotle hollandaise sauce for only $11. Brunch is served from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays as well, but at these prices you can afford to treat yourself—and with zero guilt. deadpresidentspub.com.
— Danielle Bouchat-Friedman, Contributing Writer

A Centreville Tradition
Buckley’s Tavern is no revelation to locals, but if you’re new to Greater Wilmington and looking for a sophisticated yet country casual place for a meal and a drink, this Centreville landmark is your ticket. Former Hotel Du Pont executive chef Tom Hannum is part of an ownership team that took over in 2012, and since then the food has been consistently good, something you couldn’t previously say about Buckley’s. The large rectangular bar draws an eclectic mix of patrons—from regulars to visitors in after a day at one of the half-dozen cultural attractions just minutes away. In the summer, Buckley’s offers rooftop dining and relaxing patios in the front and rear of the restaurant. But any time of year it’s a great place to visit. Since it was first established in the 1950s, Buckley’s charm remains.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Limestone BBQ and Bourbon
It took several months, but I finally convinced one of my friends, an astute BBQ connoisseur, to try Limestone BBQ and Bourbon.  During a late lunch, I watched him as he took his first bites into the beef brisket, and it was like a hundred jackpot lights blazed in his eyes all at once. From then on, he couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. It was enjoyable to watch, and also a confirmation of what I already knew: The team at Limestone did their homework, putting a lot of time and research into creating a quality product long before they first opened the doors. If you like BBQ, you’ll find plenty of options here. Even the collard greens are top-shelf.
— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Try Some Cajun
It seems as if there’s no middle ground when it comes to Cajun/creole cooking—either you love it, or it gives you heartburn. If you’re the former, check out Cajun Kate’s on Philly Pike (they also have a booth at the Boothwyn Farmer’s Market). Chefs Don and Kate Applebaum are from Southeastern Pennsylvania, but both spent many years working in New Orleans, so they know the real deal. They serve the usual suspects—gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, po’ boy sandwiches—and add some interesting twists, like catfish fingers served with homemade tartar sauce ($8) and gator on a stick served with creole honey mustard ($6). cajunkates.com.
— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Steak-out at Sullivan’s
Sullivan’s is known for a steak house menu that still thrills execs with an expense account. But if you want all the flavor in a more casual environment, sit at the bar—or outside when the weather is nice—and try the bar menu. I recommend the prime-aged beef burger with cheddar, arugula, sweet pickle dressing and tomato jam on a brioche bun with fries for just $14. sullivanssteakhouse.com, 308-4933.
— Pam George, Contributing Writer

Diner with a Southern Vibe
Metro Diner, located near the Pennsylvania border on Concord Pike, is part of a chain of restaurants with a Southern vibe. If you’re interested in breakfast, their bacon and hash browns are the best around. Also recommended are the fried chicken and waffle ($15.49), biscuits and sausage gravy and huevos rancheros ($11.49). For lunch, try Big Mike’s BLT ($9.49), which, of course, includes plenty of that terrific bacon. Dinner entrees include shepherd’s pie ($10.49), chicken pot pie ($9.49) and country fried steak ($13.49). metrodiner.com.
— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

PICKS OF THE DRINK VARIETY

Cheers to Craft Cocktails at Crow Bar
Wilmington is full of new and fun places to see and be seen, and each has elevated the culinary scene. La Fia/Merchant Bar owners Bryan and Andrea Sikora have given us yet another venue to revel in. This one, in Trolley Square, is complete with an impressive list of craft cocktails. My favorite is the “Other Side of the Tracks”—a blend of Jack Daniels, Cointreau, Grapefruit Honey and Yuzu. It’s as tasty as it is snazzy, smooth and citrusy.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

For the Oenophile
With an unassuming storefront in Trolley Square, Moore Brothers Wine Co. houses an impressive collection of exceptional wines from select small-batch vineyards in Europe and the U.S. Started by Greg and David Moore (the former sommelier from Philadelphia’s Le Bec Fin and his wine-retailing brother), the company has developed personal relationships with all the winemakers represented in their inventory. The frequent e-newsletter describes the wines in such tantalizing detail that one wishes to buy them all. store.moorebrothers.com.
— Mark Fields, Contributing Writer

Slate Farm Brewery
Located in Whiteford, Md., this small brew pub is loaded with lots of very different craft brews to try. Completely off the beaten path but very much worth the effort. slatefarmbrewery.com.
— Jim Coarse, Contributing Photographer

 

 

Happy Hour at DE.CO
The newest and most generous happy hour in Wilmington has to belong to DE.CO—the food hall on the corner of 10th & Orange streets downtown. This windfall of happy hour-ness can be found at the massive, bright white, marble-topped bar seven days a week from 3 to 7 p.m.  It includes specials on wine, beer and select cocktails, and the nosh menu features a rotating list of small plates, perfect for sharing with pals after a hard day’s work…or a little before quittin’ time. decowilmington.com.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer   

Brewed in Wilmington
For ages, Iron Hill Brewery stood on the Riverfront as Wilmington’s only bastion for locally crafted beers. And they continue to make great local favorites like the Philly Special and, in warmer months, the Crusher IPA and Maholo Apollo Summer Wheat Ale. But thankfully, the craft scene has expanded with the Market Street addition of Stitch House Brewery and their excellent Rye Not IPA and Ladybug Rose Lager, which celebrates the annual Ladybug Festival. The craft trifecta became complete in the summer of 2018 when Wilmington Brew Works opened on Miller Road. In addition to steady-pours like its Superfluous Nomenclature, WBW recently released the Delabear Double IPA to commemorate Northern New Castle County’s December brush with nature.
— Jim Miller, Director of Publications   

PICKS OF THE MUSIC VARIETY

Get Wrecked
Heading into 2020, it’s reassuring to see more bands in the area releasing their own material—and, in this case, time-tested veterans who refuse to stop rocking.

Some musicians seek to reinvent the wheel, others are more than happy just to keep that wheel rolling forward with speed and spirit for new generations to enjoy. Wrecking Ball proudly fits that category. A friend of mine described their music as “a mix of Rolling Stones and Tom Petty,” and that’s a fair assessment.

Wrecking Ball came swinging in at the tail end of last year with their 12-track album, Kiss It Away. With the album and the release itself came a sense of youthful energy and gleeful momentum. It’s just another example that rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t have an age, it simply has a primal purpose.

Wrecking Ball’s Kiss It Away is available locally on CD, or online on iTunes, Spotify and Pandora. But do local music a favor and buy a copy.
— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Live music at Blue Earl
Blue Earl Brewing Co.’s tagline is “Brew for your soul,” but the Smyrna brewery also provides music for the soul. A few times each month, Blue Earl opens its side stage to local musicians. Everyone from up-and-coming blues artists to individuals with an instrument are invited to jam out. The brewery even hosts events dedicated to the music it brings in, such as the Shazzizle music fest, held in October. On these occasions, the place feels more like a music hall than a brewery that’s tucked away in a business park.
— Lanna Peck, Graphic Design intern

Mikey Mike
I grew up with him in Salisbury, Md., but you likely don’t know his name although you’ve probably heard some of his music. He’s got a Grammy for producing the music to Rihanna’s “Jump” (it’s a crazy story on how he got the chance and he’s not responsible for the weird dubstep part). His viral debut single “Doin’ Me” was produced by hip-hop legend Rick Rubin, and got picked up for a Canon commercial. And he released a full EP of original songs, Life on Earth, in November. His songs are “alt-pop,” I guess you could say, but they’re also a bit funny and a bit introspective. So give him a listen and a follow on social media. He’s always up to something.
— Tyler Mitchell, Creative Director

Local Record Shops
Those who can remember Jeremiah’s Record Exchange—which closed its Philly Pike location in the ‘90s—hopefully also remember the sense of sonic discovery and musical adventure that place offered to anyone who walked through its doors.

Interesting how, like a spinning record, certain trends come back around. Last year vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. This is a positive sign not just to listeners who prefer the format over other alternatives, but also to musicians, who have the opportunity to actually make money off the format—much more so than the micro-fractions of pennies offered by streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music.

Stores like Rainbow Records in Newark and Squeezebox in Wilmington not only function as places to search for new and old records, they are sacred spaces with a reverence for the concept of making and sharing music. Like the vinyl itself, it’s tangible—and it’s something you’ll never find online.
— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

PICKS OF THE PLAY VARIETY

Get a Delaware State Park Passport
As a long-time resident but non-native to Delaware, I have always admired the state’s commitment to open space, best showcased in many wonderful state parks. The Passport program encourages the outdoorsy set to visit all 19 locations statewide and capture the experience in words and photos. Visit them all and get a free park pass for the next season. destateparks.com/Passport.
— Mark Fields, Contributing Writer

Eagles at the Conowingo Dam
Take a day trip to the Conowingo Dam to watch the eagles soar. More than 300 eagles and 100 species of birds were spotted there last year. The dam, on Route 1 over the Susquehanna River, is a mecca for true bird watching. It’s just a short drive from Newark and Wilmington and has plenty of parking available.
— John Murray, Contributing Writer

More Than Mushrooms
The quaint Southern Chester County borough of Kennett Square may be known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” but its proximity to Hockessin, Newark and Wilmington makes it an ideal destination to experience a different vibe. State Street is idyllic and a great place to stroll, shop, dine or catch live music courtesy of Kennett Flash and Kennett Brewing Co. The Creamery and Victory Brewing Co. have expanded the footprint of gathering places beyond State Street (Kennett’s main street). And the non-profit Historic Kennett Square has done a fantastic job of planning community events year-round—from art strolls to dining in the streets. Visit HistoricKennettSquare.com.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Happy Trekking
Looking for a new trail to try in the New Year? How about the new Tri-Valley Trail just outside of Newark? In the works for years, this paved trail links Newark and Pike Creek and is the first continuous trail that allows visitors with mobility challenges to enjoy the opportunity to hunt, fish, and participate in accessible hay wagon rides. At 2.8-miles, it runs between Thompson Station Road and Smith Mill Road, with an additional spur going to the intersection of Paper Mill and Polly Drummond roads. It offers connections to Newark’s Redd Park and New Castle County’s Paper Mill Park and Middle Run Valley Natural Area Park. The $2.3 million trail project also includes a parking area and bathrooms off Smith Mill Road.
— Julie Miro Wenger, Event Allies

Historic Mount Harmon
Historic Mount Harmon is a restored 18th century manor house and plantation in Earlville, Md., on the Sassafras River. The surrounding land is 200 acres of nature trails and game preserve. This tidewater Plantation has a smoke house, colonial kitchen, carriage house, tobacco barn and beautiful gardens. mountharmon.org.
— John Murray, Contributing Writer

 

So, what do you think? Please comment below.