If travel plans or your backyard’s proximity put you anywhere near Maryland’s Eastern Shore over the coming week, you simply can’t miss Talbot County’s Restaurant Week! This is your chance to try out some of the area’s top culinary stars in a region that’s blossomed in recent years into a must- taste culinary mecca.
No fewer than twelve Talbot County dining spots are listed in the 2011 edition of the famed Zagat guide to Washington, DC and Baltimore. The main reason behind this development is the region’s abundance of just caught seafood and loads of fresh seasonal produce from numerous local farms. This is largely due to the fact that the tentacles of suburban sprawl have been kept at bay here. Naturally, talented chefs have followed establishing themselves in this top quality food purveyors’ paradise. “Talbot Restaurant Week introduces diners to the most contemporary trends in gourmet dining, from European infusions to Chesapeake Bay specialties. Not only have our chefs trained and worked around the globe, many offer their time-honored recipes from esteemed culinary regions. They can’t wait to present their special culinary creations to tantalize diners’ taste buds”, says Debbi Dodson, Talbot County Office of Tourism Director.
Here are my experiences with 2 stellar restaurants among the lineup in this event:
Sherwood’s Landing at The Inn at Perry Cabin
the Chesapeake, is helmed by new executive chef Aaron Mc Cloud who has worked in an impressive lineup of top restaurants from the Vermont mountains down to Victoria and Albert’s in Florida. At an early age, Albert traded in his violin bow as a professional musician, picked up a chefs knife, and carved out a remarkable performance in the culinary arts. His artistry shows through in his world class preparation and presentation of farm-to-fork dishes that change with the seasons. Standouts that I ordered included roasted wild rockfish with pumpkin & apple salad, oyster stew, and a goat cheese mousse dessert plate.
Tilghman Island Inn
Tilghman Island Inn, right on the waterfront of Knapp’s Narrows, overlooks marsh and the Chesapeake Bay beyond. The restaurant’s menu incorporates local seafood and game whenever possible and David McCallum, co-owner and Executive Chef, is heavily influenced by his southern roots in South Carolina and New Orleans. Since David grew up on a farm, sourcing fresh produce, eggs, and meat is second nature to him. He has formed partnerships with local
growers and fisherman to get just picked vegetables as well as fresh caught rockfish, crabmeat, bluefish, soft shell crabs, oyster and shad roe. He also inventively uses unique regional ingredients like heirloom rice from South Carolina, grains from Minnesota, and grits from Georgia. But don’t come here expecting comfort food in a rustic setting. The dining experience and kitchen prowess is all about white table cloths and international panache influenced by David’s culinary excursions to Europe, South America and Asia.
During my visit, in honor of the weekend’s Waterfowl Festival, David hosted a Wild Game and French Wines dinner. Tasty inventive dishes included chick pea dusted frog legs with lemon caper tartar sauce; spicy Brazilian duck tart encrusted in cornmeal; braised rabbit; and my favorite, wild boar sausage with lobster, mustard, and scallion risotto. For me, the big surprise wine pairing with these dishes was an array of Lanquedocs. The dark chocolate red wine mousse served as a crowning touch to the meal.
Be sure to check out the full roster when planning your visit!
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky