Piazza Food Bites: And, Yes, Expresso in Now being Served

The pressure was on. Piazza was making great strides in establishing itself as the premier Italian market on the Eastern Shore, but the lack of coffee was affecting their street cred. Customers would complain that they could not have an espresso or a cappuccino with their biscotti, and finally, the store bowed to pressure and installed on authentic Italian espresso machine.

In this installment of Piazza Food Bites, the store’s coffee advocate, Liz Capuano, talks about the simple approach to offering customers what they want.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information on Piazza please go here.

Mid-Shore History: Thinking of Frederick Douglass at Wye House under the “Witness Trees”

While there are certainly some very special moments that come with historical discovery for scholars — a rare letter found in an attic or a personal diary uncovered at an antique store — nothing compares to the feeling and emotion that comes with sharing the same habitat as your subject. Whether that be George Washington and Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson and Monticello, or Frederick Douglass and the Wye House Plantation, to be able to experience a connection between these American heros and where they lived cannot be beat.

That was certainly clear last Sunday afternoon at the Wye House when the Frederick Douglass Honor Society hosted for four distinguished historians to discuss one of America’s greatest social reformers under that Douglass had called the “witness trees” of Wye House. Professors David Blight from Yale, Dale Glenwood Green from Morgan State, Hari Jones from the American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum and John Stauffer from Harvard all spoke of the importance that Wye played in Douglass’ writing and mission in life.

The Spy was able to collect a few segments from each speaker.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about the Frederick Douglass Honor Society please go here.

Spy Moment: Really Fine Art in Oxford, Really…

The Spy couldn’t resist checking out the Fine Arts @ Oxford show at the Oxford Community Center this weekend. While we love the fact that the event has a history of quality exhibitors, and that the proceeds go to support the OCC, what we like most of all is that many of these artists are based in Talbot County.

Given that pertinent fact, we sent a spy on Saturday morning to document just a small sample of these extraordinary pieces on display to encourage others to celebrate the great depth of our local artists.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about Fine Arts @ Oxford please go here.

Piazza Food Bites: Happy Sausages

It shouldn’t be a surprise to local foodies that one of the most requested products Piazza Italian Market customers have been asking for was the addition of meat products that were from farms that treated their pigs and cows humanely. What was surprising was how hard it was to make those requests a reality.

 You would think, given these days of increasingly expanded food choices, that Emily Chandler, Piazza’s owner, would have a number of choices to satisfy her customers wishes, but that didn’t turn out to be necessarily the case given Emily’s high standards, and her use of the same careful research when importing Italian products. In short, reputation is everything.

And that’s what led her to a relatively small distributor in Indiana named Smoking Goose for her sausage and bacon choices. The Spy talked to Emily about her choice and, of course,  some great uses for this special sausage in our latest edition of Piazza Food Bites.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on Piazza please go here

Spy Moment: A Classic Locomobile Arrives on North Street

One of the incredible joys of living in Easton is to walk by the North Street Garage, one of a handful of rare automobile restoration companies on the East Coast, just a few hundred yards from downtown. It seems like every week some remarkable artifact of the car’s Golden Era sits temporarily outside the Garage’s workshop for the public to admire from a distance. This has included beautifully maintained historic Jags, MGs and most recently a classic Essex Coach from the 1920s.

But even by North Street’s standards, yesterday was a landmark moment when a 1916 Locomobile was delivered to the shop for restoration. With District of Columbia license tags dating from 1930, this one-hundred-year-old rare specimen of the early driving days of the country arrived with the engine working and original tires in place.

The Spy took a moment to record this grand old lady before its rehabilitation.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the history of the Locomobile please go here

Good Shots: 4H Teens Head off to National Championships

Two Eastern Shore teens are going to the National 4H Shooting Championships in June, thanks in part to members of the Talbot Rod and Gun Club. On May 10, the Club presented a check for $2500 to Megan Watts and Brock Harris, who won places on the Maryland 4-H shotgun team. They will join P J Hinch from Frederick County and Gavin LaSalla from Cecil County to form the Maryland 4-H shotgun team and fly together to Grand Island, Nebraska at the end of June. The Talbot Rod and Gun Club’s contribution will cover part of their travel expenses.

Club President Joe Cappozoli explained the Club’s support, saying “It is really important that we encourage and support youth in shooting sports. Megan and Brock have been shooting at our club since they were little kids. Young shooters like Megan and Brock represent not only the future of our sport but will also help propagate the longevity of this club.”

Megan and Brock are true natives of the Eastern Shore, being descended from early settlers.

Megan lives in St Michaels and is the 9th generation of her family to live on the Eastern Shore, descended from John Watts to came to Oxford as an indentured servant. She graduated from Saint Michaels High School last year and is attending Chesapeake College intending to study in their Allied Health program. Megan’s mother, Roxane Watts, said that Megan started shooting at age 8, and that she encouraged Megan to shoot with the 4-H because knew that the 4-H’s intensive safety training would keep her from getting hurt. According to Don Proctor, a Talbot Rod and Gun Club member who has helped Megan with her shooting, “Megan is totally committed to the shooting sports, and her dedication paid off when she was the only female invited to compete for a place on the state team.”

Brock lives with his parents on Harris Farms in Caroline County, which has been in their family since 1832. He attributes his interest in shooting to being an avid hunter. Brock is a senior at Colonel Richardson High School in Caroline County and intends to join the Army Medical Corps to train as a combat medic after he graduates. Club member Scott Patrick said that “Brock shows that on the Eastern Shore it is still possible to grow up learning the skills that made American citizen-soldiers the best riflemen in the world.”

The four members of the Maryland team were chosen based on their scores in shooting trap, skeet and sporting clays, on interviews with a panel from the University of Maryland, and on a written resume that they submitted after being chosen as finalists for the team. To be eligible, they had to shoot a cumulative percentage of 82% or better in the three disciplines of trap, skeet and sporting clays. They will compete individually and as a team in the national championships, where they will shoot 100 targets each day against teams from 25 other states. Jack Kemp, the 4-H team coach, says that the qualifiers for the team have been shooting all over the state for practice since October, so that they will be ready for the unfamiliar surroundings of Nebraska. From now on, he will keep them all practicing three times a week getting ready for the event.


Port Street Plan Study Starts to Look at Affordable Housing

While it is too early to have any concrete ideas on the table as to how a Port Street Master Plan might look, the Easton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) took a few important steps over the last three days to start this important visioning process with a special focus on affordable housing.

Through a series of workshops and discussion sessions, the EEDC, working in collaboration with Place, a nonprofit organization specializing in affordable live-work design, began to solicit ideas from a variety of stakeholders on how the Port Street Plan could include innovative ideas on how to accomplish this important goal.

One important aspect of this planning process is to understand what other communities, both large and small, are finding creative solutions to housing needs. And that is where Place’s executive director Chris Velasco helped at Wednesday night’s community meeting at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton when he shared with his nonprofit has done with a variety of different projects throughout the United States.

The Spy was there to capture some of those inspiring examples that Chris highlighted.

This video is approximately twenty minutes in length. For more information about the Port Street Project and the Easton Economic Development Corporation please go here.

Piazza Food Bites: Another Kind of Smart Cookie

Like most things at the Piazza Italian Market, there is very little fanfare given to the large variety of homemade cookies made each week to satisfy food connoisseurs in need of a light surprise at the end of an important meal. Hidden under the counter at the Talbottown store are nonetheless these perfect gems that built on the Italian tradition of biscotti and the simple but satisfying answer to cure a sweet tooth.

The Spy talked to Piazza’s owner Emily Chandler on the special effort that went into making these deliciously modest indulgences.

This video is approximately one minutes in length. For more information about Piazza please go here


The Good Stuff: MSCF Hands Out $500K in Mid-Shore Scholarships

There are some very special days in the life of the Mid-Shore throughout the year, but very few of them can match the joy and the hope that comes with the annual distribution of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation scholarship fund to deserving young people in all five counties.

Last Saturday morning at the Talbot Country Club, Foundation president Buck Duncan, along with the MSCF Scholarship Fund co-John Lewis and programs director Robin Hill, handed out over a half million dollars of scholarship funding for eighty-one high school and college students from thirty-five different funds at the MSCF. Those awards ranged from $500-$20,000.

The Spy was there to capture the award ceremony and shared these excerpts to share this great moment for the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately seventeen minutes in length.  For more information about the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and its scholarship program please go here

The Spy Checks Out the Airport’s Sugar Buns with Susan Leonard

There is a good chance the Spy is not the only one wanting to know why someone would open a restaurant at a small regional airport. Given the other, some would say more attractive, options. We’ve been curious for some time about the decision to forgo more likely locations like downtowns or suburban shopping areas for a isolated, lightly frequented main terminal building of a airfield that has no regular commercial traffic.

That was the reason we waited a few months for Susan Leonard, the owner of Sugar Buns at the Easton Airport, to return to town from her second home in Florida for a interview And it was a good decision since Susan turned out to be an ideal representative of a very special breed who seeks out these kinds of business opportunities.

In her Spy interview, Susan shares a remarkable story of a professional woman seeking a mid-life change on the Eastern Shore. But it is all the more impressive given Susan’s exceptional start in life as a flight attendant for TWA in the golden years of jet travel; being one of the first women admitted to the FBI Academy; and a owner of many different businesses who escaped the great recession to start a bakery in St. Michaels in 2008 before starting Sugar Buns.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Sugar Buns please go here.