Spy Wine Notes: Piazza Italian Market Visits Sicily

Easton’s Piazza Italian Market took a full “tasting room” of guests to Sicily in their second Saturday evening tasting at their new location in the Talbottowne Shopping Center. When one learns about the wines and the region from which they come, you must appreciate what Piazza is bringing to us in Talbot County. The evening provided a unique opportunity for the tasters to experience fine wines along with the wonderful food that accompanied the wines…and, both flowed in generous portions.

Emily Chandler, and her colleague Jennifer Martella

Piazza’s owner, Emily Chandler, and her colleague Jennifer Martella shared the history of the three Sicilian selections for the evening. Announcing she was breaking her own rules, Emily explained that the evening would forgo a single white wine and focus only on three delicious red wines. The fine offerings were met with approval by one and all as were the insights and stories about the wine makers and the grapes from Sicily.

Sicily is the southern-most region of Italy and is the largest island in the Mederterranian. Remarkably, the island has been the site of wine making for more than 2,500 years. Still, grapes from the region are new to many in the United States.

The frappato grapes provided the first tasting experience as guests were seated. Arianna Occhipinti’s Il Frappato was a bit on the lighter side, but complex with a long finish. Emily shared that the winemaker, a young woman about her own age, is creating a good deal of excitement with her wines.

Here is a description from the Wine Spectator: The Frappato grape is native to the Vittoria area, characterized by small berries and thick skins. It’s known for freshness and elegance and, other than the 2005, which was showing some dryness on the finish, all the wines revealed vibrant structures and a mix of cherry, floral, spice and mineral flavors. Eighty-five percent of Occhipinti’s 25 acres of vines are 50 years old, the remainder young vine

The second offering was Centonze’s Nero d’Avola. The grape is said to be the most widely grown in the region. It provided darker, bolder contrast to the Frappato. Here is a description of the contrast from a review in Vinous: Dark ruby-red; this wine, made with Nero d’Avola, is much darker than Centoze’s Frappato, as it should be, as the latter cannot give very dark or inky colored wines. Very ripe on the nose and in the mouth, but with still lively aromas and flavors of red and black cherry fruit complicated by tobacco, violet and sweet spice notes. Obviously super-ripe fruit was picked here, but the wine is surprisingly light on its feet.
Finally, the tasting trio was finished with a glass of Terre Nere’s Etna Rosso. As the winery describes this offering: Made from very fine Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards (35 Hl. Per hectar), both young and old. The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation. The wine then continues its life in wood until bottled roughly one year after harvest.

 

Bayside Quilters to Host Nationally Known Quilter Mary Fons April 11

Mary Fons, is a quilter, speaker, an actress, writer, award-winning slam poet, prolific blogger, TV star, amateur quilt historian, accomplished quilter textile designer and a leading voice in the quilting world and is currently pursuing a writing MFA at the School of the Art Institute. She also produces media and appears regularly on television.

Bayside Quilters of The Eastern Shore, Inc. is so very pleased to host Mary on April 11, 2018. She will speak at the regular Bayside Quilters’ meeting in morning and at an open to the public “meet and greet” evening, both at the Easton Fire Hall, located at 315 Aurora Park Drive, Easton, MD 21601 (On GPS) recently changed to Leonard Rieck Drive (on street sign).

The evening event will be a “Meet & Greet” with Photo Ops, light refreshments, Mary’s lecture and a Q&A session. Reservations are $8.00 (strongly recommended) and $10.00 at the door (space available). If you would like to attend please send reservation checks to Bayside Quilters, PO Box 2672, Easton, MD 21601. Please include your email address for an email receipt which will be your ticket.

Storm Report or Honey, I shrunk the Creek!

While there have been not been news reports of major damage to Talbot County as the result of the latest wind storm, the impact of these 60 miles per hour winds still were seen close to the water edge. . One report filed from Oxford shows boats sitting at slips where they normally float and greatly expanded shorelines.

And, along Trippe Creek, residents were grateful that boats were high above the water line on a lift…

Spy Notes: “Visit” to Tuscany in Easton

You just knew that Piazza Italian Market founder Emily Chandler would put her new expanded space to good use when her popular Market moved from its first location. With the larger presence still in Easton’s Talbottown Shopping Center, a full house “traveled” to Tuscany for a delightful wine tasting this past weekend.

The one white and two red wines presented with Piazza’s special light antipasti pairings were exceptional. Our spy found the discovery of Castello Dei Rampolla Sangiovese dl S.Lucia to be a real find. As Emily shared stories of her visit with the winemaker, you learn that this unique red table wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes fermented entirely in terracotta amphorae. After 16 months of aging in terracotta, it is aged another 6 months in the bottle. The 2016 wine offered reportedly had production of no more than 2,000 bottles. More on the wine here.

Piazza is planning future tastings on March 24th, April 21st and May 19th. For details, visit the Market or the website

Evergrain Bread Company Finally Opens in Easton

This weekend is the first for The Evergrain Bread Company in Easton. Founded in nearby Chestertown, the goal of moving south into Talbot County has been realized. Early customers find fresh bread and pastry (the coffee cake is outstanding!). Coffee and espresso drinks are perfectly presented by a barista using the latest in coffee making technology.

 

The Evergrain Bread Company is at South Washington Street and Vine Street. The entrance is on South Washington Street in the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy building. Signage is on the door with something more permanent coming soon.

Spy Notes: “Cover Your Chin for Charity” Grows More than Beards with Record Contributions

A unique charitable initiative caught our attention last year as it began on October 20th. With a Spy growing a beard, we followed with interest a local fundraising initiative that that concluded on January 20th and raised over $31,000 to beat last year’s numbers. Almost 570 people donated contributions with funds going to:

Care Packs of Talbot Countyhttp://talbotspy.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=66910&action=trash&_wpnonce=9029cabdae
http://eescarepacks.org/

Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore’s Veterans Assistance Fund http://www.mhamdes.org/veterans.html

Tree of Life Pet Sanctuary

Tree of Life Pet Sanctuary: Phase One!

The Spy congratulates this year’s winner Ron Venner and all who participated.

Mid-Shore Food: Piazza Grows at Talbottown

After nine years, Emily Chandler’s Piazza Italian Market had more customers than space. Sliding just a 100 yards around from their original location, Piazza opened their new expanded market with a brand new interior. The fine foods and friendly, helpful staff are the same. But, there is more room to look around and a nice section for dining.

While actually making sandwiches, Emily took time to visit with one of our spies about the new location….

Mid-Shore Food: Sakura on Route 50

While technically Route 50 in Easton does not have formal sidewalks, this has not stopped the Spy from reporting that the third (that’s correct, the third) sushi restaurant has officially opened on the west side of the Ocean Gateway.

It must say a lot about the consumer demand for raw fish and rice that a town of 16,000 people, in a rural region, can still attract this kind of saturation on a small market. But in the case of Sakura, it does not hurt that a good percentage of the entire state of Maryland will pass their doors every summer.

The fact that this parade of sushi-starved beachgoers will not happen for another eight months can only be a good thing as Sakura, who, like any new restaurant, must work out some start-up hiccups in the kitchen before the masses arrive and judge.

 

What one can and does give Sakura great credit right off the bat is how one takes a deserted Sonic fast-food stand and turn it into such an attractive dining experience. A very nice job indeed.

Sakura Sushi 410-690-4773 8475 Ocean Gateway Easton, MD 21601

 

Spy Agent Report: Preliminary Findings on Mason’s – Redux 2017

Many new restaurants step up slowly to full menus and a packed house after opening their doors. But in Easton, Mason’s – Redux 2017 has elected to go from zero to sixty in a day. Courageous, and only possible with owners who pay attention to every detail along with a chef who brings restaurant experience and seriously capable culinary skills to the new enterprise.

Our party of three ventured out during the first week to give this long-anticipated dining location a try. While we went with expectations firmly in check given its still early days, we were delighted well beyond what a first-week experience would typically provide.

As you step off the brick sidewalk at 22 South Harrison Street, you notice the freshly painted building now gray. Entry occurs by moving through the velvet curtain – there to keep the cold outside. One immediately notices the tastefully elegant white tablecloth dining rooms as both appealing and inviting.

The young hostesses greet guests with efficient friendliness. Coats are taken without the use of those paper number things that always get lost. (They keep track of your jacket by your name.)

We were seated, offered water and beverages. The glasses of wine were selected from an attractive list of choices.

One can’t help but settle back and enjoy the environment while reviewing the menu. Our selections were made from an imaginative menu where seafood, pork, lamb, and beef are among the choices along with an attractive vegetable dish.

Our first courses consisted of roasted beets that included whipped feta, orange vinaigrette, and pistachios. Bibb lettuce salad topped with grapefruit, avocado, Bulgarian feta and poppy seed vinaigrette. Finally, the third member of our party enjoyed turnip cauliflower soup with cracked hazelnut and olive oil.

These offerings provided a delicious beginning to a dining experience we continued to enjoy.

We moved smoothly from our first course to our main course with the young wait staff removing and delivering plates to the table. The staff is friendly and comfortable in the new setting. Seasoning will come fast, and more senior members of the team are ever present ensuring that guests are fully satisfied.

Our entrees demonstrated the experience of chef Erin O’Shea. One of our party selected halibut that was perfectly prepared. Two of us enjoyed the lamb shank which remained moist and tasty as it fell off the bone.

We finished our fine meal by sharing the rice pudding topped with bourbon currants. This proved a soft-textured and sweet completion to our meal that was finished off with an excellent cup of coffee.

We fully enjoyed our evening. The owners were present and seriously reviewing their domain while warmly greeting friends and diners throughout the restaurant where every seat was taken. Our experience was relaxed and never rushed and came to a comfortable conclusion after two hours. The fare before gratuity was around $200 for our three courses and excellent wine by the glass.

As we departed, the opportunity to visit with one of the owners brought a series of thoughtful questions to make sure we enjoyed our experience. Relaxed fine dining is their stated objective, and that was certainly provided to us with a restaurant that seems positioned to do well in our community.