I had the pleasure of meeting owner Sue Ryan at the behest of my dearly departed friend Matt Haley. (I love saying “behest”.) “She's a really cool lady,” he told me on the phone, “and I want to help her out. Will you meet her?” Matt always loved helping people out, and I was honored that he felt I could perhaps contribute my then-meager resources to that. So I wrote about her newly opened store in Rehoboth, and apparently some people discovered it because of my article (truth be told, the store on The Forgotten Mile is STILL hard to find). Read about it here.
In the meantime, a lot has happened, including even more newspapers, magazines and radio to which I must answer weekly. And while all this craziness was going on, Susan continued to expand her home and farm just south of Ocean View in what is technically Clarksville. Just west of the Rt. 17 (Roxana Rd.) intersection on the left is what has become a well-run restaurant, outdoor farm (with integral al fresco dining), a greenhouse and even a tiny house. Good Earth has arrived.
It took me long enough to get down there, and to tell you the truth I wasn't sure what to expect. We were accompanied by a good friend who is a personal trainer and health food nut (except when it comes to desserts…). So I wondered, would they serve me a grape in one of those Phô spoons? Or perhaps an apple disguised as a lamb shank? Maybe a rutabaga carved to look like a 5-Guys burger? The minute I walked in and saw Chef Nino Mancari I knew all would be well. Nino has a long history in the area, including helping to put both Sedona (Bethany) and Salt Air (Rehoboth) on the map. He has had an interesting life, and appears to have finally found a permanent home there at Good Earth. In fact, any place where Sue Ryan is would make a great permanent home. She is delightful.
We started with a basket of bread and butter. But this wasn't just ANY bread. This was bread from The Bread Whisperer himself, Keith Irwin at Old World Breads in Lewes. And the butter was organic, along with some delicious berry jam. You will notice that there is no photo of the bread in the gallery. Simply because the minute it hit the table it was like the feeding frenzy scene from Jaws II, but without the cool music. I'll try next time. Needless to say it was delicious. I would expect no less from Old World Breads.
Nino asked us if we wanted to start out with the roasted beet, radish, feta, greens & balsamic salad. We politely declined, simply because we had already picked out stuff we wanted. Nino is not well known for taking “no” for an answer, so the salad was delivered to the table anyway. It is as beautiful to look at as it was to eat, and we devoured it (see it in the gallery). Yes, The Rehoboth Foodie eats vegetables. Cool your jets.
Our officially ordered goodies began to arrive, and we proceeded to rip and tear at the curried butternut squash bisque (with yogurt and the cutest little pepitas), the snow-white burrata with acorn squash, ‘snip whip (yup, you guessed it, whipped parsnips) and a balsamic syrup that I could have sipped out of a wine glass. We also loved the robiola cheese plate with date preserves and earthy, crunchy pistachios. All were amazing. Images of grapes cut on a bias and rutabagas-as-burgers were leaving my mind. This stuff was delicious.
Do I really have to tell you?1/9 That delectable beet salad2/9 Burrata. A creamy cloud.3/9 That pork belly. The way it's supposed to be.4/9 robiola in its natural habitat5/9 The scallops with the shrimp & grits in the background.6/9 DIY taco party7/9 That soup with the pepitas8/9 Good Earth Market & Organic Farm (Clarksville)9/9
All of my silly (and probably inappropriate) non-meat jokes were not lost on Susan or Nino, as they both ganged up on us to get the crispy pork belly and that night's special, the short rib DIY tacos. The pork belly was prepared exactly as pork belly should be. The fat was properly rendered into a yielding crispiness, and the meat layers were like perfectly done bacon (which, by the way, is what pork belly is anyway). There's nothing more annoying than underdone pork belly. It's supposed to be cooked to a meaty consistency and anything less is like chewing on an earlobe. Thank you, Nino, for sparing us the earlobe chew.
The do-it-yourself short rib tacos were just that. All the possible taco ingredients were assembled on a large oval platter (including some we hadn't even thought of). I love tableside assembly, especially when the tortillas are still hot and moist. DO take a look at this one in the photo gallery. It's a stunner. Our slightly-more-health-conscious friends ordered the pan-roasted scallops with sauteed mushrooms & chard. Chef Mancari has not lost his touch, as it had to be his idea (and a good one) to drizzle it with black garlic vinaigrette. Accompanying this dish was one of Good Earth Market's signature plates: The shrimp & grits with mildly spicy chorizo and grits that were perfectly done. We shared. I hate sharing. I got over it.
While I was perusing the cookie display (if/when you go, HOPE that they have the brown-butter sugar cookies), our personal-trainer-turned-fresser ordered the brownie dessert with vanilla ice cream served with the perfect textural foil: blanched almonds. I was able to get a shot of this one before it was attacked.
This is just a sneak peek, as I always visit a place several times before I assign a star rating or call it a review. So while I'm getting my act together to go back to Clarksville for a repeat performance, check this place out. It's relaxed and informal, and it's refreshing to see vegans, vegetarians, carnivores and sugar-holics (our personal trainer) chowing down elbow to elbow.
Good Earth Organic Market is located just west of Roxana Rd. (Rt. 17) at 31806 Good Earth Lane on the south side of Rt. 26. Be careful or you'll pass it. Check their hours at 302-537-7100.
I'm quite aware I left you hanging at “Tiny House.” Click here to learn more.