Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mind Your Peas and Queues

For someone who never had a great interest in the English language in high school, I cannot offer much explanation for how I turned out to be a word nerd.  I recall giving my parents book reports and such to proofread, but I would become agitated when there was a lot more red pen than I had bargained for.  Yes, I wanted to know if I had left out a comma or apostrophe, but not that my syntax was wrong, or that there was a more efficient or eloquent way to express the thought.

It was during college that I became hooked on the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.  Many view it as the pinnacle of puzzles, others, a self-inflicted punishment of puns and wordplay.  But I saw it as a daily lesson on language and an opportunity to bone up on dinner party parlance.  Let's face it: after a few years of doing them on a regular basis, you're going to pick up a lot.  A lot of what I gained was due to my understanding of the Spanish language.  I never studied Latin, but when conjugating words, similar rules apply to most of the romance languages.  Even in English, it only takes filling in a word you think you know how to spell to find out that it doesn't fit, and then you know the right way.  More than anything, I liked the challenge of finishing what I started.

How I became a Grammar Nazi among my friends, is still up in the air.  I still lay no claim to being anything beyond decent at punctuation.  I've always been a chatty person, and so my sentences tend to run on.  So when writing creatively, I take a lot of creative license, which is, of course, another way of saying I don't follow the rules.  This is evidenced in the very post you are reading, as it has taken me three paragraphs to finally mention the subject of this post: The War on Words, a new book written by my colleague, Bob Yearick. 

Bob is the editor-in-chief at Out and About Magazinea Wilmington, Del., monthly that covers the arts, entertainment and restaurant scenes.  He has been writing for 45 years.  As you can imagine, I was a little intimidated when first approached by O&A for writing a regular column, but I was encouraged in hearing that the staff enjoyed my blog posts.  I saw this as another opportunity to strengthen my writing skills under the tutelage of a seasoned pro.  

Bob’s “The War on Words” column, which debuted in 2007, has become a reader favorite.  Now these columns have been collected in a paperback book. Each page contains a lesson in grammar, punctuation or pronunciation, all presented in an entertaining and sometimes snarky manner, of which Fork-n-Cork is heavy in content.  Still, like crosswords, there are rules, people.  And if we want to be taken seriously in the real world, we need to know how to spell.  

The book reveals what Yearick believes is the most misused punctuation mark and the most misused word, as well as such language niceties as the true meaning of “begs the question.” Hint: it does not mean “raises the question.”
The English language and its abuse, especially by public figures, has been his obsession for many years. “I spent a lot of time in the corporate world and I’m a big sports fan,” he says. “Corporate types and sportscasters and sports writers are among the primary offenders when it comes to misusing the language. They’ve given me plenty of fodder for my column.”

In the introduction to the book, Maria Hess, editor-in-chief of Delaware Today, says, “Bob gets actual fan letters and has become something of a local grammar superhero. He can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he has managed to get thousands of people to care about proper use of the English language. In a world where texting, twittering and email are eroding our writing skills, Bob’s accomplishments are nothing short of heroic.”  

Yes, word nerds rejoice; we have a hero, and his name is Bob Yearick.

The War on Words can be purchased through the Out & About website:, for $9.95 plus $3 shipping, or contact Yearick at It is also available at Ninth Street Books in Wilmington and the Hockessin Book Shelf. The e-book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and iBook for just $3.95. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year's Eve Black Tie Gala at the Whist Club

 Our second annual New Year's Eve Black Tie Gala was held last week at the University and Whist Club.  It was a very festive and convivial evening with everyone in formal attire!  All the stops were pulled out for this 12 course food and wine event.

at the
University and Whist Club
Of Wilmington
December 31, 2012
A velvety blend of chardonnay and pinot noir in magnums, 
this grower Champagne was an elegant beginning to the meal
Creamy and rich Fanny Bay oysters from the Puget Sound in Washington State had a lovely melon and cucumber finish to them; they were topped with a sliver of serrano chili.  
Fanny Bay Oysters
Ponzu-Wasabi and Serrano
Serge Mathieu Cuvée Prestige, Brut, NV

In a salute to a dish in the gorgeous "Eleven Madison Park", we prepared this exotic ice cream made from potato with red sea salt, creme fraiche, chive and American caviar.
 Amuse Bouche
Kentucky Paddlefish Caviar
Potato Ice Cream, Chive

My favorite course of the evening, this foie terrine is layered between a tuile cookie of almond and pretzel, dusted with dark cocoa and drizzled with pomegranate molasses.  The Pineau des Charentes Blanc was provided by Moore Bros. of Delaware.  Thank you to the great tasting team there for an exquisite pairing.
First Course
Foie Gras Terrine
Pomegranate, chocolate, almond tuile
Vieux Pineau des Charentes Blanc, Jean Fillioux, NV

Winter Striped Bass from Maryland; a pool of English pea nage is jumped up in flavor with fine herbs and braised salsify.  Confetti of winter flowers jump off the plate.
Second Course
Maryland Striped Bass
English pea nage, winter flowers
J.M. Boillot Meursault, 2008

As much a comfort dish as it was elegant, this was a beautiful example of thinking
outside the box with flavors.
Third Course
Veal Sweetbreads
pork belly, Grain mustard crème, savoy slaw
Kistler, Chardonnay, Les Noisetiers, Napa,  2010

Orange-Cardamom Sherbet
Candied ginger, orange zest

Braised rabbit saddle in its own juices with shaved Grana Padana and wild chanterelles.  Hearty, rich, soulful and restoring. 
Braised Rabbit
Handkerchief pasta, golden chanterelles
Domaine Joseph Voillot, Volnay “Vieilles Vignes” 2010

A first for many attendees, this "filet" of ostrich from OK Coral Ranch in California was tender and juicy and just the right foil for cognac and truffles.  The Saint Cosme was revelatory!
Ostrich Filet
Black truffle, faro, Cognac
Saint Cosme, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2005

Another "outside the box" dish, the carrot tartare was fully cooked, but resembled a true beef tartare in every way.  Much credit to Sous Chef Drew Ramage
for this creative and well-executed dish.
Carrot Tartare
Caper, truffle and brioche toasts

The garden gods were with us, as we landed some fresh Turkish figs accompanied by the smokey Idiazabal from Spain with chorizo-almond and plump winter blackberries.
almond-chorizo crumble, Turkish figs
Camins del Priorat, Alvaro Palacios, 2010

A fun display of milk chocolate bouche de Noel, dark chocolate ganache Christmas tree and Bailey's Irish Cream -white truffle snow man with coconut and apricot.
Chocolate Wonderland
Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto, 2000

Mignardises and Coffee

Executive Chef Robert A. Lhulier
Sous Chefs Andrew Ramage and Stephen Seth
Pastry Chefs Debora Saienni
and Michael Preske


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