MARCH 4: The Lewes Gourmet and The Tea And Spice Exchange In Rehoboth

Dark Chocolate "Hagelslag" is the breakfast of champions in the Netherlands.

We’ve been having a great time selecting different monthly themes here at Coastal Cuisine since the new year began, and while there may not always be a particular theme for some months, we’re – pardon the pun – on a roll and not running out of ideas any time soon.

We dedicated the month of March to “Foreign Food”. There’s a huge variety of internationally focused restaurants throughout Delmarva, but before we make our selection, we thought it would be fun to focus on some specialty shops where food, drink and spice from around the world was always in stock.

First up, Lewes Gourmet. Half of the popular Puzzles shop (see our last Arts & Entertainment Report about the super fun shop here), Lewes Gourmet features mostly hard to locate (at least here in the states) British food and pantry items. But, in homage to the history of Lewes and the one-time country that shop owner Andrea Spuck (along with husband Tim Southerst) once called home, several “Dutch Delicacies” can also be located on the quaint shop’s shelves.

One of our favorites was a traditional Dutch breakfast item called Hagelslag. Here in the United States, the chocolatey treat is known most widely as “Sprinkles” and served over ice cream cupcakes and cookies. In the Netherlands however, it’s sprinkled over a butter slathered piece of bread and eaten either alone or as a sandwich. In the Netherlands, it’s even a popular lunch sandwich with adults!

It’s so popular in the Netherlands that the item has cultural implications. According to Spuck, it’s traditional that when a woman is pregnant, she will serve either pink or blue Hagelslag to friends as a way of letting them know the sex of the child.

Looks like some is going to have a baby boy...

Looks like some is going to have a baby boy…

Host Michael Sprouse sampled the dark chocolate variety during our visit. It didn’t take long to realize why it was so popular amongst the Dutch kids.

Our next stop was the Tea and Spice Exchange on Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Wow – the scent when you walk in the door is incredible and aromatic. The large shop is filled with teas, spices and specialty flavored salts and sugars from around the world.

Store Promotion Coordinator Brenda Pfautsch described it as the “best smelling shop” in all of Rehoboth. During our visit it made sense (or maybe “scents”). The Tea and Spice Exchange also is very involved with the cuisine on a local level as they often offer in-house cooking demos with some of the area’s top chefs.

It’s a true “feast for the senses” and opening the jars of spices and teas and taking a big sniff is encouraged by the staff. We could see many a meal being inspired by the contents of the beautiful jars that populate so much of the interior of the rustic and relaxed shop with the fantastic scent.