Spy Wine Notes: Piazza Transports Guests to Italy’s Piedmont Region

Easton’s Piazza Italian Market has been setting a high bar with wine tasting events. This past week ended with an exceptional occasion where the guests were introduced to wines from the Piedmont region of Italy produced by the Malabaila di Canale winery ( www.malabaila.com ). The family proudly claims to have a winery that has produced wine since 1362. Today, the Malabaila estate consists of 150 acres with 22 separate vineyards.

Joining Piazza proprietor Emily Chandler to tell the story was Lucrezia Carrega Malabaila who traveled to the United States from her home in Roero, Italy. She represents the 65th generation of the family involved in the wine making business. Her travels throughout the U.S. are designed to share the exquisite and unique wine from one of Italy’s best known regions for Barolo and Barbaresco. Along with the exceptional wine selections – with sparkling wines personally developed by Ms. Malabaila – came a full four-course dinner prepared by the fine chefs of Piazza.

It was an evening a few hundred years in the making, and the perfect introduction to a vineyard that has much to offer all who enjoy fine sparkling, white and red wines.

For more about Malabaila di Canale visit their site at ( www.malabalia.com ) or drop by Piazza Italian Market and sample a bottle.

Wine Notes: Simpatico Welcomes Mauro Maugliani for Dinner at Scossa

Simpatico, Italy’s Finest welcomes Mauro Maugliani, Italian Wine Director & Brand Specialist for Kobrand Imports, for a special wine dinner at Scossa Restaurant and Lounge, on Thursday May 10th.

Growing up in Rome, Mauro shared the same passion for wine with his father, who was a collector of Italy’s best wines. Because of his enthusiasm and experience, Mauro was given the opportunity to fulfill one of his dreams by becoming a representative of his country’s finest wines.

Mauro started his career at the age of twenty as proprietor of a bar in Rome. He then emigrated to the United States to further increase his knowledge of the world of food and wine. Mauro soon managed some of the finest Italian restaurants in Chicago. The last two experiences that shaped him professionally include working as Manager and Wine Director in one of the major hotels in the world and also as a restaurant proprietor.

Currently, Mauro is responsible for the entire Italian Portfolio for Southeast United States as Italian Wine Brand Specialist with Kobrand Corporation. Now he works closely with the major Italian wine producers and directs wine seminars, staff training, wine tasting dinners He introduces the knowledge and passion of his wines to distributors, customers, and prospective buyers throughout his territory.

Mauro and Bobbi Parlett, Owner of Simpatico, Italy’s Finest, will be co-hosting the dinner at Scossa Restaurant & Lounge on May 10th at 7:00 pm featuring a selection of wines that represent the best of Italy, paired with a special menu prepared by Giancarlo Tondin of Scossa. Reservations can be made by calling Scossa at 410-822-2202 or for more information call Bobbi Parlett at 610-209-5409.

As We Gather
Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso Secco (Dry)
90 pts WE, 90 pts Wine & Spirits

First Course
Burrata with speck and Balsamico
Masi Rosa dei Masi
– A fresh and fruity Supervenetian rosé wine, but complex and elegant at the same time
WE 90 pts, Gold Medal, International Rose Drink Pink Wine Competition

Second Course
Ricotta & Parmesan Cheese Ravioli Guardi & Arugola
Masi Campfiorin Rossa Verona, Supervenetian
– one of our favorites, WE 90, Blend: 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara

Third Course
Roast Roast Veal Short Ribs Tartufo & Mushrooms Sauce with Asparagus
Tenuta San Guido 2015
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Sangiovese; JS 91-92, WE 91,

Torta Nocciola
Michele Chiarlo Nivole, WE 90 pts
$80.00 per person (Plus Tax & gratuity)
***Special discounts for wines purchased at dinner, Cin Cin***

The Spy’s Monthly Sprout: Ken Mann

Over the next several months, the Spy will be doing short interviews with residents that have using the Trappe-based Eat Sprout prepared meal company. In a joint effort with Eat Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll, we wanted to hear first hand why both individuals and families decided to order using this new food option.

We continue this month with, Ken Mann, a managing director of Equity Partners in Easton. A cyclist and weight trainer, Ken was looking for a convenient way to include a sufficient amount of protein in his daily diet without having to result to the sometimes questionable value of commercial protein shakes. He found the answer with Sprout’s ever-changing menu choices.

After meeting Ryan while he was working as a personal trainer several years ago before Sprout started, Ken was well aware of the extraordinary knowledge that Ryan and Emily brought into their new business, and he signed up immediately.

The Spy spoke to Ken at his downtown Easton office last month to talk about Sprout and the impact it has had on his physical fitness.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Full disclosure, Sprout donates food to the Spy from time to time. For more information about Sprout please go here

Spy Report: Tasting Trifecta in Talbot County

This past weekend, Easton became the epicenter of wine tasting. Three evening events over four days allowed participants to enjoy twelve different wines. We believe that only one person, our intrepid agent, actually attended all three events with the mission to share the story…

Talbot Country Club

First, the Talbot Country Club landed one of the winemakers from Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. The evening focused exclusively on wines from his winery and was coupled with exquisite food courses created by the Club’s Chef. Impressively, each course had food with a wine infusion.

One of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of a new wine, just released by Chateau Ste. Michelle, a delightful Rose. All the offerings are very affordable, found in the area and can be enjoyed immediately.

You can learn more about this fine winery founded in 1934 claiming to combine Old World winemaking traditions with New World innovation at their site.

The wines enjoyed by the guests from Chateau Ste. Michelle:

Columbia Valley Rosé – released March 1, 2018

Horse Heaven Vineyard / Sauvignon Blanc  2016

Indian Wells / Chardonnay / 2015.   

Canoe Ridge Estate / Merlot 2013 

Cold Creek Vineyard / Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.

Piazza Market

In another of the series of Saturday evening wine tastings hosted at Easton’s Piazza Italian Market. Emily Chandler provided a “snack” of select mushrooms along with a meat prepared with Barolo wine, all accompanied by the wonderful never-empty bread basket. We toured Italy with the selections below, ending in the always popular Piedmont region where the Nebbiolo grapes are grown to produce Barolo and Barbaresco wines. The wines are available now at Piazza Market.

Valdinera – Roero Arneis  

San Fereolo – Valdiba

De Forville – Barbaresco  

Osteria Alfredo

The third wine tasting event took place at Osteria Alfredo where the exceptional chef selected wines paired with his fine Italian food specialties. A full restaurant enjoyed fine Italian wines that perfectly complemented every course.

Altemasi Millesimato Brut 

Antinori Bramito Chardonnay  

Sella Mosca Villamarina Cabernet

Sartori Amarone Bra

With spring and summer coming, you will not go wrong with any of these selections!

The Spy’s Monthly Sprout: Matt Herron

Over the next several months, the Spy will be doing short interviews with residents that have using the Trappe-based Eat Sprout prepared meal company. In a joint effort with Eat Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll, we wanted to hear first hand why both individuals and families decided to order using this new food option.

We continue this month with Matt Herron, owner of Mid-Shore Martial Arts in Easton.  Matt was motivated to use Sprout when it first started not only because his business encourages healthy eating, but he also must watch his diet due to a preexisting autoimmune deficiency that he has had for years.

By switching to Sprout, Matt found himself losing almost sixty pounds, but more importantly, found himself having more considerable energy and the ability to start limiting the use of drugs required to manage his rheumatoid condition. He also found himself going back to very bad habits when he temporarily suspended his orders, by rushing out for Dunkin Donuts or Hardee’s and spending more money on junk food than his monthly costs with Sprout. He came back in a hurry.

The Spy spoke to Matt at Mid-Shore Martial Arts on Information Lane space in Easton, which also serves as a Sprout distribution location) affectionately known as a Sproutlet, a few weeks ago.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Full disclosure, Sprout donates food to the Spy from time to time. For more information about Sprout please go here

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.


Easton Sidewalks: Every Coffee House has Its Place

Rise Up New Building Image

Since the Spy prides itself on being a faithful observer of downtown Easton sidewalks, it has not gone unnoticed that the town has seen the recent openings of more than its fair share of high-quality coffeehouse establishments. From Piazza’s expanded space in Talbottown to Federal Street’s Weather Gage, the addition of Evergrain in the Conservation Center, and Rise Up’s plans to expand on Dover Street, Easton now finds itself in the possibly awkward position of having too much of a good thing.


Just a few years ago, some excellent locally-owned breakfast and coffee venues had sadly come to an end.  The corner store on Goldsborough and Washington, the Bartlett Pear Inn”s small store on Harrison, followed by the Cafe in the Inn, and finally, and very sadly, the untimely end of Joe’s Bagel, Easton was looking mighty thin on the coffee house front.

And yet, within twenty-four months, all have changed again. Just as the general economy has improved so has Easton’s, and poof, the community is now blessed with four new great places to frequent.

Nonetheless, having grieved over the obituaries of these former morning hangouts, it’s instinctive to wonder if all can thrive in a small town of 15,000 or so.

The Spy thinks they will.

New Piazza Location

After mapping out their different spheres of operation, clientele, and unique circumstances, it seems quite possible that all of these terrific establishments can make it work.

Weather Gage

When one looks at the bigger picture and realizes the unique territory each coffeehouse serves, as well as differences in how one arrives by foot or car, what time the store opens, all add up to each venue having their own, and very vibrant subset, of the total population they collectively serve.

While Rise Up and Piazza generally can attract motorists, Weather Gage and Evergrain will be relying on much more significant pedestrian clientele. And while Piazza and Rise Up can offer more space for customers, the other two are far more intimate. And finally, like any genuine coffee place, they will establish, if they have not already, their unique idiosyncrasies, specialties, and ambiance to draw different kinds of customers.

And that is the Spy’s hopes for these very special places on Easton’s sidewalks.

Which coffee place do you go to daily?  Take the Spy poll here

EEDC Partners with Homestead Gardens and Tidal Creek

The Easton Economic Development Corporation has recently entered into a partnership with Homestead Gardens, the Anne Arundel gardening stores, and Tidal Creek, an Eastern Shore grower, to use the Chesapeake Harvest name on a new line of starter plants.

Tidal Creek’s 50 most popular varieties will be packaged in eco-friendly, bio-degradable pots with tags bearing the Chesapeake Harvest name and logo and will be sold at Homestead Gardens’ two garden centers.

Brian Riddle, owner of Homestead Gardens, approached the EEDC to license the Chesapeake Harvest name, says Tracy Ward, executive director. “He wanted a new brand that would resonate with his clientele,” Ward explains.

The EEDC will earn a percentage of sales to put back into its programs that help the Eastern Shore’s food economy. In addition, the Chesapeake Harvest name and logo will reach some 20,000 customers this season alone.

If the product line is a successs, Mike Leubecker, manager at Tidal Creek, says he hopes to expand it beyond the initial varieties while introducing it to other stores up and down the eastern seaboard.

Chesapeake Harvest Savory Basil starter plants available at Homestead Gardens

February has been filled to overflowing with food safety efforts! Farmers near and far are singing the praises of food safety educator, Lindsay Gilmour, and the whole Chesapeake Harvest team. This month, in addition to attending numerous seminars and conferences, we’ve provided one-on-one support, including risk assessments, food safety plan writing, and wholesale marketing consultation, to nine farms. Six of those farms were in Virginia and were part of a collaborative effort with Local Food Hub.

We also teamed up with Future Harvest/CASA, for a GAP vs FSMA workshop at Chesapeake College, as part of the Field School educational series.

Holly Gorham of Agape Gardens in Queenstown, MD, who took part in the Field School class, says, “I learned so much! I always wash my hands before harvesting, but it didn’t occur to me that I needed to set up a hand washing station for my kids.”

Lee O’Neill, of Radical Roots Community Farm in Keezleton, Virgina, took part in a farm risk assessment. He reports, “Lindsay’s understanding of GAP policies and her guidance on how to apply GAP to our farm is invaluable. Her ability to look at our current systems and make suggestions to streamline the recordkeeping process and to highlight the necessary changes required make the process of applying for GAP certification much less intimidating. I am so appreciative of her time and of the funding offered to share her services to farms like ours.”

Is there a farmer in your life who should tap into the Chesapeake Harvest resources? Email us at info@chesapeakeharvest.com.

The Spy’s Monthly Sprout: Kathy Foster

Over the next several months, the Spy will be doing short interviews with residents that have using the Trappe-based Eat Sprout prepared meal company. In a joint effort with Eat Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll, we wanted to hear first hand why both individuals and families decided to order using this new food option.

We start with someone that knows a good bit about nutrition. Kathy Foster worked for the Talbot County Health Department for 34 years, including serving as the Health Officer for Talbot County and Director of Community Health Nursing. In her Spy interview, Kathy talks about the importance of Sprout’s locally sourced food but also the desire to spent more time with her grandchildren than in the kitchen.

We spoke to Kathy at one of the Sprout pickup stations, affectionately known as Sproutlets, located at Lyons Distillery in St. Michaels a few weeks ago.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Full disclosure, Sprout donates food to the Spy from time to time. For more information about Sprout please go here

Mid-Shore Food: Chef Erin O’Shea at Mason’s Redux

Just like any other hiring process for a significant leadership position, the search for the right executive chef with the proper credentials is paramount to the success or failure of that dining establishment. All serious searches start with the premise that a person’s background and education that will made an indelible impression on the community and its long-term reputation.

That is why the Spy has continuously found a way to interview some of the best Mid-Shore chefs who have made the Eastern Shore their culinary home. From the past brilliance of Jordan Lloyd in Easton, Patrick Fleming’s remarkable presence in Cambridge, or Kevin McKinney’s legacy in Chestertown, we have intentionally sought to understand better these chefs unique pedigree and history.

That was why the Spy was excited to catch up with Erin O’Shea, the new executive chef at Mason’s Redux on Harrison Street in Easton. To our surprise, Erin is no stranger to the Eastern Shore having attended school in Talbot County before heading south for a brief tenure at Texas A&M University. But while college life didn’t quite fit with her ambitions, the cooking scene in Houston did, and very shortly she headed back east to pursue her passion for food and cooking.

Last week, the Spy sat down to talk to Erin and those early years of training, her mentors, and the privilege to bring Easton’s beloved Masons back alive with her own unique touch.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mason’s Redux please go here