A Taste of Talbot County

Written by Anita

October 29, 2011

Looking for a fun fall getaway? Then look no further than your own backyard—Talbot County Maryland (a mere hour and a half from downtown DC) offers a variety of dining destinations that are sure to fulfill your quest for fall flavors. We recently sampled the fare in three Talbot towns—Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels—courtesy of the Talbot County Office of Tourism and were wowed by the wonderful county cuisine.

Start your visit in historic Easton, the county seat since 1711. This unassuming little town boasts several charming restaurants offering a range of succulent selections. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the recently renovated Hunters’ Tavern, located in the beautiful colonial-style Tidewater Inn (the elegant lodgings for our trip) in downtown Easton. Menu highlights included the saffron and cream mussels (plump sweet mussels bathed in dry white wine, garlic butter, and a fragrant stewed tomato broth) and the award-winning crab cakes (golden brown mounds of sweet jumbo lump crabmeat, served with airy piped mashed potatoes, a mélange of crisp snow peas, mushrooms, and roasted garlic, and a zesty coarse-grain mustard sauce--see picture below).

Or stroll down the block to sample chef Daniel Pochron’s lunch menu at Mason’s. We lunched in its outdoor courtyard and savored the shrimp Cobb salad (grilled shrimp, nicely spiced with Cajun seasonings and served atop a lightly dressed mix of fresh romaine, sundried tomatoes, boiled egg, pickled onions, crumbled gorgonzola, crispy bacon, and creamy avocado). Our favorite hot sandwich was the Oyster Po Boy—lightly breaded plump local oysters and creamy coleslaw sandwiched between two sides of a glossy Kaiser bun.

Want an upscale dinner alternative? Then don’t miss the Bartlett Pear Inn. There, Executive Chef Jordan Leif Lloyd (formerly of the Four Seasons in DC) and his wife, innkeeper Alice Lane Lloyd, preside over an intimate dining room housed inside the cozy federal-style restaurant and inn. Start your meal with a cocktail—the Pear Bellini offers a potion of Grey Goose La Poire vodka, fresh pears, Chambord, and champagne. We were struck by the artistic composition of the Elements of Nature starter, which offered a colorful palette for the palate: discs of Creekstone Farms beef carpaccio, Maine lobster, smoked eel, ahi tuna, avocado, and lacey lotus chips studded with black pearls of Tobiko caviar and assorted greens and plated with a sweet truffle port jam and spicy mayonnaise (see picture below).  A standout entrée included the fork-tender Creekstone Farms short ribs, braised in a thick red wine sauce, wrapped in stringed carrots, and flanked by a creamy potato puree and tender baby turnips. If you’re lucky, you can sample the whole roasted chicken for two—poached Four Story Hill Farm organic chicken served in an herby bouillon broth with leeks, carrots, and truffled risotto. We were tempted to try one of the inn’s pear-themed desserts (like the pear pot de crème that melds cardamom custard, caramel pears, almond milk froth, Cointreau, and biscotti), but settled on the plums and cream (Tahitian vanilla and buttermilk panna cotta, sliced Seaberry Farm plums, pistachios, and triangles of crisp phyllo). 

Want to get a jump on the holiday season? Then plan now to attend the 26th Annual Festival of Trees in the Tidewater Inn’s sumptuous Gold Ballroom November 26-29th. The festival, which benefits the Talbot Hospice, includes a collection of beautifully decorated holiday trees, a homes tour, a fun run, kids’ games, and a Christmas elves shop.

Once you’ve explored all of Easton’s galleries, shops, and museums, head south to Oxford, thought to be one of the oldest towns in Maryland. Here, we lunched on the outdoor patio of the historic Robert Morris Inn, where the famed author James Michener is said to have written the outline for his classic novel “Chesapeake”—set in this very locale. We sampled chef and proprietor Mark Salter’s casual regional fare, including the crusty marinated grilled chicken Panini chock full of earthy Portobello mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, spinach leaves, and crumbled goat cheese, which is served with a refreshingly crisp and tart Granny Smith apple and blue cheese coleslaw. We can’t wait to come back to try the lazy Sunday brunch, which includes classic dishes like eggs benedict, malted wheat blueberry pancakes, and steak and eggs benedict. For dessert, sample one of the Tavern’s multilayered Smith Island cakes (the official state dessert of Maryland) in a variety of flavors including apple butterscotch and walnut, lemon coconut, and red velvet. Or saunter over to the nearby Scottish Highland Creamery, where you can try in-house, handmade ice creams in fun flavors like cinnamon-y Scottish Porridge Oats (tastes like the real thing!) or Banana Pie (banana ice cream streaked with caramel and mixed with crunchy graham cracker crumbles).

After experiencing the sites and sounds of Oxford, you can drive aboard the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry (established in1683 and operating continuously since 1836) and head to nearby St. Michaels, home to a variety of restaurants, shops, parks, and museums. Head there next Saturday to experience OysterFest (Saturday, November 5, 10am-4pm, $15 adults, $6 children 6-17) at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The annual event will include live music, oysters, children’s activities, boat rides, oyster demonstration and harvesting displays, cooking demos, and an oyster stew competition.

Who knew that so many savory sensations could be experienced in one mini-vacation!

To see the whole gallery of photos from our Talbot County trip, click here.

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