Mid-Shore Food: Jordan Lloyd Takes Over Eagle’s Cafe

It’s not often that you hear of people going out of their way to have lunch at a golf course. But then again not many golf courses have chef Jordan Lloyd taking over the Eagle’s Café at the Hog Neck Golf Course. Featuring a new and tempting menu which ranges from pulled pork BBQ sandwiches to pasture-raised beef burger, there are two things hungry clients can count on: they’re going to get an affordable, delicious meal and, as much as possible, the produce will be locally grown and raised. That’s because Lloyd is passionate about both quality and the farm-to-table model, and he has a plan to show others in the food and hospitality companies how it can benefit both the community and local economy.

The idea probably began when he and wife Alice opened Bartlett Pear Inn Restaurant in 2009. “We never intended on being a farm-to-table restaurant,” he says. “We never thought of this as a concept. This was just our way of life. We wanted to open up a really great restaurant, and I was always taught that the way to do that is through providing the highest quality available. We do that by making sure we know where our products are coming from, and we make sure that they’re at the freshest peak value that they can be.”

But running a successful fine-dining eatery that only had 30 seats, was not making financial sense and in 2016 they decided to close the restaurant while continuing to operate the Inn. The lessons learned, however, were invaluable and ones he felt he could teach others to do. They included: how to create superior food, how to hire quality management, how to incorporate fresh local produce, and how to create the right atmosphere to attract clients who appreciated quality service. He turned his focus to Hambleton House, LLC, the contracting and consulting company he and Alice formed when they first went into business. Through Hambleton House, Jordan Lloyd would use his vision to transform the hospitality and food business, all while supporting the local economy.

After taking on a couple of DC-based restaurants. Lloyd invigorated their recipes, changed their menus, and trained new staff. The reshaped businesses picked up new customers and rave reviews. With those accomplishments under his belt, he began looking for something local that fit the scope of his dreams. It appeared when Nauti’s, the new seafood restaurant project at the Ferry Point Marina, asked him to oversee and design their kitchen operations. Despite that project being currently on hold due to permit issues, other opportunities arose as his successes became known.

The next venture was the retirement community, Londonderry on the Tred Avon. Lloyd redesigned their menus, hired a chef, and brought in Chesapeake Harvest to provide some locally sourced foods to the restaurants. Chesapeake Harvest, part of the Easton Economic Development Corporation, connects farmers to the consumers (both wholesale and retail) through an online farmer’s market that Lloyd helped create. “The carbon footprint impact with Londonderry buying local is huge, he said. “That’s thousands of dollars a year in the pockets of local farmers.” But his excitement didn’t end there. “The residents were coming to me saying, ‘Jordan, ever since you started cooking here my feet don’t swell. Ever since you started cooking here, I don’t have headaches like I used to.’ I mean, we are making real nutritional impacts with food. In the past, if their feet were swelling, they may have taken medicine. Now, it’s being helped with good nutritious food.”

Which brings us back to the Eagle’s Café at the golf course. Right now, Lloyd says, they’re able to tap into the best of what is available locally. “The café is serving Hummingbird Farm tomatoes. It has Bramble Blossoms Farm lettuces. It has Shi-Mar Farms pork shoulder. All available like good local products at a concession stand.” Affordable, locally sourced, flavorful food, served in a beautiful setting excellent has led to some fantastic feedback from clients. “It was just a matter of resetting the facility with products and a nice menu,” he says. He’s equally proud that the ‘amazing foundation of employees,’ despite all the changes, are enthusiastic and want to remain with the café.

And that’s the whole point Lloyd feels. “If you’re bringing in Hambleton House you are bringing in a company that has a constant pursuit for higher quality. We will be relentless for that pursuit because we believe that’s what makes great businesses great. The quality that they execute and that quality is not just food and beverage, but it’s also in its people and its atmosphere, and it’s in its presentation. So, it’s quality across the board is really our pursuit.

Next on their client list is Pope’s Tavern in Oxford. “I’m there to set them up with a business plan,” Lloyd says. “Really good food for sure, but on a consistent level that the staff on-site can execute consistently with quality and with understanding. For example, if they’re ever having trouble with a particular soup, I’m either going to work extra hard to train them on making it correctly, or we’re just going to change it to something easier for them to execute.”

Lloyd also sees Hambleton House’s mission as being an incubator for other businesses. Starting June 1st, Amanda Cook, a world-class pastry chef and baker will be moving into the area and starting a wholesale baking company at the Bartlett Pear Inn kitchen. Lloyd, looking at the future, doesn’t discount a storefront retail situation, but for now, the focus will be to support her on the wholesale side.

Not surprising, Hambleton House’s reach has extended beyond the restaurants and cafés. As part of a task force, Lloyd has been meeting and working with Maryland Delegates and Senators to create a state level bill called Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions. The goal of this proposal is to mandate that a percentage of all food procured by state institutions be bought from in-state farms. “Imagine how this impacts the farmers in our area,” Lloyd says. The bill is expected to become law within the year.

Stay tuned. There is much to be done and much that Jordan and Alice Lloyd would like to accomplish. “I would say our mission as a couple and as community participants is that we really do care. We care a tremendous amount about the success of the community and anything that we can do to support the efforts of our community business leaders or community aspects, we’re 100% there.”

Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.

Mid-Shore Commerce: Ten Years of Crow Farms

Judy Crow, from Crow Vineyard and Winery, remembers 10 years ago when The Spy came for lunch on the patio of the newly renovated Farmstay B&B. She remembers mentioning during the interview that the questions on the minds of the locals were, how were they going to get people there and why would they come? “For us,” says Judy, “it felt like people are going to want to come to be a part of the farm and stay at the farm. It just seemed like that wasn’t a challenge. And with the Internet the way it was back then, you’ve put yourself up on a few platforms, and people find you. We had no problems filling rooms.”

This innovation, foresight, and daring is the reason why The Spy is here 10 years later, talking about the expansion of Crow Vineyards and their influence on local development.  Judy perceives it this way: “I think when we see opportunities, we are fluid enough that we can change. And I think it’s also about the diversity of the management team: My husband Roy, myself and our son, Brandon. All three of us have a little different approach. But we have seen that each new idea can be proven to be successful. It doesn’t matter whose idea it is because we all work together at it.”

The B&B was just the beginning of their plans. Next, they learned how to grow grapes and used three and a half of their 365 acres to plant some vines. Then, Brandon thought they should be involved in wine-making. “So, we started to think about renovating an equipment shed and making some wine, says Judy.” While they were doing that, they also became intentional about growing their 10-15 Angus cattle herd and raising them as beef. Today, the 100-head herd, the 12½ acres of wine, the 5,000-case wine production, and a store at Queenstown Outlet are just some of the changes affecting the farm.

Clearly, Crow Vineyard’s success has also been an enormous boost for the entire area. Led by Judy, a collaborative and marketing relationship formed known as the Rivers to Canal wine trail. It encompasses three wineries located within 15 minutes of each other: Crow, Broken Spoke, and Chateau Bu-De and encourages visitors, tourists, and residents to tour all three locations during their trip. “When you have this Upper Eastern Shore region becoming a destination for people coming for the day or the weekend from areas such as New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, or Baltimore, it just makes sense.”

The collaboration does not end there. Crow Vineyards is also committed to supporting the growth of the Eastern Shore wine industry by renting out their wine-making production to other new startup wineries. “Some people we make wine for would like to satisfy the sweeter pallets of a wine drinker,” says Judy. “So, there they have sweeter wine. Or they just want to make a few wines and have a good tasting room. Then we work with them to do that. As we’re growing, we’re bringing others along with us to really map this out as a tourist destination.” The effort to expand Maryland’s diverse wine growing regions is one Judy can speak about with authority. For the past two years, she’s served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Wineries Association.

When asked to reflect on how she measures their success, Judy responds: “I think it’s two things. One is we’ve been able to make really good wines, and I think that speaks to our commitment to, have something pleasing for everyone. The other thing is our focus on teamwork and good customer service.” The type of customer service that Judy talks about means that visitors who want to hear how the farm got started will get to hear it directly from the owners. It means visitors who express interest in helping to harvest the grapes get to do so by signing up and joining them in the fall. It means that anyone who wants to stomp grapes can do so at the Crow Fest on September 8th.

Speaking of the Crow Fest, Judy sees the annual event as an opportunity to expand their enthusiastic customer base and support those who have supported them throughout the years. The festival will feature live music, wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, exhibits from local vendors, and yes, grape stomping. “The grandchildren are the first to stomp the grapes, and then the public is welcome to join them. Monies raised are donated to the FFA (Future Farmers of America).”

As for what may be forthcoming, Judy knows they will continue to be open to new possibilities and will involve their other children if they are interested. “When I first met Roy (and even though he owns the farm), he said his philosophy has always been, that he’s the caretaker of the farm. There will be somebody else for the next round, whatever the next round is. When I married him, I bought into that concept that I’m a supporter and caretaker here. Everything I think we’ve done so far has invigorated, not only the farm but the local economy and it’s pretty exciting when you can do that.”

Whatever that future might bring, today a visitor can come to stay overnight, be part of a working farm, taste the wines, enjoy the breathtaking farm views, chat with the owners about how it all was different years ago, before the vineyards, before the festivals. Today they’ll leave with some great memories, some fresh beef and their favorite wines. Not bad for 10 years!

Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.

​Sabine Harvey on Farmers’ Markets and Tea Parties ​

While it may indeed take a village to do certain things; in Chestertown, the phrase might be turned around to say it takes a Sabine Harvey.

From the moment she arrived with Washington College professor Michael Harvey decades ago, Sabine has been one of those extraordinary quiet forces in Kent County in countless areas. From being a Girl Scout leader, to PTA president, to being the volunteer president of the Chestertown Tea Party festival, it is hard to a more actively engaged community member. All of comes after her doing her day job as a horticulture program assistant with the University Of Maryland extension program.

Now, more recently, Sabine has added the role of managing Chestertown’s Farmers’ Market (taking over from the late Owen McCoy) which gave the Spy all the more reason to catch up with her on all this remarkable activity. We finally connected at the Spy HQ last week.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Chestertown Tea Party please go here. For the Chestertown Farmers’ Market please go here.

Spy Food: A Very Special Squeeze

It catches your eye. Lemons from Sorrento, Italy at $6.99 a pound. The lemons are large and juicy. The color is beautiful, but the color doesn’t increase the cost. Weighing it at a bit over 8 ounces produces an eye popping price when compared to the offering at a local supermarket selling their lemons for 79 cents each.

Still, standing in the Piazza Italian Market and discussing the quality of these lemons with the proprietor, Emily Chandler, the desire to buy and try this unique experience is strong. After all, if you traveled to Sorrento, how would you bring a few of these beautiful lemons back into the country.

This is a lemon where every part of it deserves to be used! So, while preparing dinner, a twist of lemon from the Bella Vita lemon provided an exquisite experience at cocktail time, building confidence in the wisdom of making the investment in a lemon from Italy.

In fact, it was so good that I tried, as suggested in an online story, just enjoying the fruit by itself. Amazingly good!

We enjoyed some lemon juice on our meal and confidence was high with regard to the real lemon expert in the family….my wife.

I explained just how remarkable this experience really was, dining while enjoying this Italian lemon. So, the question was popped….what did she think. “Well,” says she, “it tastes like a lemon.”

High praise, I suppose, from someone who likes fresh lemon juice on most things…and, after all, it really should taste like a lemon.

Like so many things in life, the total experience is what’s important. I’ve never taken so much time focusing a dinner on a lemon….come to think of it, I’ve never written about a lemon.

Go to Piazza. You decide!

And, here is a bit of information found while doing research…something else that’s new…researching lemons!

Growing the perfect lemon is a process Italians take great pride in and celebrate. The process of growing lemons requires an attentive and nurturing caretaker and a warm, subtropical climate. As a lemon tree begins to blossom, a fragrant sweet smell is released. This aroma is captured in the form of lemon essential oils, which are often used for perfume making, as well as adding fragrance to soaps and lotions. As lemons continue to grow and ripen on the tree, they become sweeter. A lemon so sweet and full of flavor, it is often enjoyed plain with just a pinch of salt on top! But it’s not just the juice that is prized — Italians enjoy every part of the lemon, including the peel and rind.

Spy Wine Notes: Piazza Tasting Finale

Piazza Italian Market founder Emily Chandler introduced the final wine tasting event of the year saying we would be “touring” Umbria.As with each of the enjoyable wine tasting events this year, Emily and her team beautifully prepared food with each of the three wines tasted.

The full house at Piazza started with a white wine made from the Grechetto grape by the Antonelli winery .

This wine described by the maker as opening with elegance to the nose: fresh, fruity and floral with notes of citrus, peach, almond and hawthorn blossom, was paired with a simple but delicious bowl of red potatoes and tuna.

The selection of reds involved another offering from the Antonelli winery – Montefalco Rosso. This blend contains 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 15% Montepulciano. Described by the maker as being ruby red in color. Olfactory impact is intense and fruity, with hints of cherry and wild berries. To the palate this wine is dry, balanced and well structured. The freshness provided by the Sangiovese gives it an excellent drinkability. It was paired with a tasty bruschetta.

And, the final wine – Perticaia’s Montefalco Sagrantino – was made 100% from the Sagrantino grape.

This wine is described as being very full and persistent, tannic with an agreeable touch of bitterness.

Piazza paired this wine with a salumi selection fairly representing the fine offerings available everyday in the market.

As with all other tastings at Piazza, the guests were given the chance to purchase the wines for home consumption along with meats and cheeses. The evening brought a great year of tastings to an enjoyable conclusion….and, we can’t wait to see what comes next in 2019.

Mid-Shore Food: LTO on High, Stams, and the Return of Neyah White and Brandywine Hartman to Chestertown

While Chestertown foodies will need to demonstrate a bit more patience over the next few months, there are some promising signs that High Street will soon be the center of a dining revolution in the not too far future.

That’s because of the Mid-Shore return of Neyah White and his wife, Brandywine Hartman, who is heading up a massive effort to restore the building where Andy’s and the Lemon Leaf restaurant called home until a few years ago as well as the old Stam’s Drug Store down the street.

Neyah, a native of Kent County, very quickly became one of San Francisco’s best known and successful bartenders in the 2000s when he moved there after college. With a remarkable career launched at some of that city’s most popular bars, including the Clift Hotel, Bacar, Mecca, and Supper Club, and then opening up the legendary Nopalito and Nopa, Neyah swiftly became rose to the top of the mixed drinks hierarchy from almost the day he settled in the Bay Area. But his one consistent long-term plan from day one was to return to Chestertown and open up his own bar.

That plan worked well for his bride to be, Brandywine Hartman, who had created her own remarkable reputation as one of the Fog City’s most applauded pastry chefs. With her background working with two of the city’s two Michelin-rated restaurants, Brandywine found herself as one of the stars of the critically-acclaimed Bar Agricole in the SOMA part of town before the two plotted their exit from California to return to Neyah’s hometown in 2016.

Since that time, life has come with a new baby, a temporary pop-up bar where JR’s and Andy’s was located, and more permanent plans to take the reigns of a entirely new bar once the High Street building has been renovated, and the re-establishment of Stam’s a few blocks down as the home of an ice cream parlor and pastry shop.

The Spy caught up with Neyah, Brandywine and their daughter Suzie, a few weeks ago to talk about their new quality of life and their long-term plans of putting Chestertown on the foodie map in the Mid-Atlantic region.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about LTO please go here.

 

Mid-Shore Food: Nighttime Surveillance on Sprout HQ’s Open House

It was hard for our Spy to enter the new Sprout HQ on North Aurora a few nights ago. As might have been expected, grateful customers and public officials crowded into the organically pre-prepared and locally sourced meals new business location to the point where our agent couldn’t immediately enter its new hub. Relying on the art of outdoor surveillance techniques after years of specialized training, our Spy captured the festive scene through several windows.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about Sprout. please go here

Spy Wine Notes: Piazza Trifecta

Our story begins in the Swiss Alps, specifically on Alp Trosen, where 35 cows, a heard of goats and pigs and a cheesemaker spend several weeks in an aging hut built into the side of the mountain.

(Great way to start a Spy story, don’t you think?)

This first report involves an unbroken tradition from the Swiss Alps known as transhumance involves cheesemaker Jakob Knaus moving from his home in the Toggenburg valley up to the 6,000-foot level of Alp Trosen. This is all part of a cheesemaking practice that can be traced back over 2,000 years.

With his cows eating only wild grasses, herbs and flowers, the milk produced makes a cheese full of flavor. All this is done by Jakob Knaus and an assistant using a copper kettle over a wood fire where their alpkase cheese is made by hand.

As Piazza’s Emily Chandler describes it, “…this is beyond organic and the resulting flavor of the cheese is a pure expression of the alp and its microclimate. It is a beautiful cheese from a beautiful place.”

And, yes, it is now available at the Piazza Italian Market because they have again participated in an annual event where stores around the country adopt an alp! Fortunately for us, Piazza’s Alp is Trosen.

As part of the introduction to their adopted alp, the cheese from Alp Trosen was “part one” of this past weekend’s wine dinner at Piazza.

The second part of this very successful event was the wine.

With cheese from the Alps, Emily selected a perfect wine from the Italian Alps. Where better to go than to Lombardia where the Perego family have been tending vines set on sheer granite terraces in the mountainous Valtellina since 1860. The vines are so far north into the alps they are practically in Switzerland.

The family works only with Nebbiolo, or Chiavennasca as it is called locally, growing the grapes up to nearly 2,300 feet above sea level on sheer, south-facing, sunlit vines that dig straight into rock. The resulting fruit is intensely mineral.

Their Rocce Rosso wine is named for red rocks, because the winemaker feels that the flavor of iron and earth are most prominent in this wine. And, this vintage won the Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award from Gambero Rosso, the Wine Spectator of Italy.

Finally, for the third important element of our story, the cheese and wine became vital elements in a series of food courses prepared by chef Rosario del Nero. He prepared extraordinary offerings traditional to the Italian Alps featuring alpage cheeses. Starting with a cured beef dish, the second course was Pizzoccheri, a specialty of the valley known as Valtellina from where Chef Rosario comes. Chef Rosario’s main course was a roast pork loin with porcini sauce.

Once again, the Piazza Italian Market delivered an extraordinary evening, this one rich in traditions of the Swiss and Italian Alps.
Now, everyone can be touched by the history and incredible craft achieved over generations producing the exceptional cheese and wine that have traveled here to Easton

For more information: Adopt an Alp  and ARPEPE Wines

Mid-Shore Food: Piazza’s Adopt-an-Alp Program 2018

Piazza Italian Market is pleased to announce it will again participate in the Adopt-an-Alp program. This five-year-old program was created to generate awareness and appreciation for the endangered practice of transhumance and to highlight “real” Swiss cheeses. Piazza was one of three winners of this competition in 2016 which resulted in a free trip to visit alpine dairies for one member of the Piazza team. Owner Emily Chandler selected Brandy McKinney to represent the store.

Historically, many cheeses in Switzerland and other Alpine countries were produced via transhumance. As the summer sun warms the slopes, green grass sprouts, and the cows follow. Herdsmen were just behind the hungry cows, living and making cheese in small huts. While the idea of spending a solitary summer high up on a Swiss mountain with only animals for company might sound idyllic, life away from the comforts of home is not easy. Some of the huts that provide shelter have neither running water nor electricity. Remarkably, production of Alpage (cheese made from alpine-grazed cow’s milk) has increased over the last 5 years, arguably due to the Adopt-an-Alp program.

Piazza has selected to adopt Alp Trosen this year. Brandy McKinney of Piazza Italian Market visited Alp Trosen in 2017 and was struck by the humbleness of the operation and the quality of its cheese. Jakob Knaus Sr. stays on the alp for 9 weeks, most of the time alone. During this time, he lives in a one room chalet directly above the stables. There are few modern amenities at this 500-year-old hut, only a government-required filtered water system and solar panels. Jakob is required by the Alpkäse consortium to use a wood fire and a copper kettle to warm the milk for cheesemaking. These little details result in a sum that is more than its parts. Importer Caroline Hostetter describes Alp Trosen’s cheese as very flavorful and having “a lot of the earth” in it, even when young, and the rest of us can’t wait to try it!

To celebrate the arrival of the cheeses, there will be an Alp Dinner on Saturday, November 17th at Piazza. Featured chef Rosario del Nero will be using the Swiss alpkäse to cook dishes from his native alpine valley in Italy, the Valtellina. Tickets will become available in October.

Additionally, we will be celebrating the transhumance practice by unique events created by Jenn Martella, Special Events Coordinator. She will once again involve the community by reading at the children’s hour at the Talbot County branch libraries, a cowbell art contest for artists of all ages and Swiss jeopardy at the kick off dinner. Prizes will be awarded to the winners.

Adopt-an-Alp was created by Caroline Hostetter at Quality Cheese and it is officially supported by Schweizerischer Alpwirtschaftlicher Verband (SAV), (translates to Swiss Society of Alp Economy) a Swiss government agency for protecting and marketing Alp products including the platform http://alpkase.ch. All cheeses sold through the Adopt-an-Alp program are exclusively imported by Mifroma USA and distributed by Atalanta Corp.

For more information about the art contest or to make a reservation for the Alp Dinner please call Jennifer Martella at 410-253-1100.

Spy Wine Notes: Virginia Wine on the Eastern Shore

It is reported that nearly 400 years ago the first colonial legislative assembly in Virginia passed an act requiring all Virginia households to plant 10 vines for grapes. Undoubtedly, since then the quality of wine from Virginia has been subject to debate.

Well, this past weekend at the Talbot Country Club Wine Dinner, there was no debate about the quality of very enjoyable wine from the Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, Virginia. Four exceptional wines from Boxwood were tasted, paired with exquisite offerings from the Club’s Sous Chef.

The evening was made all the more remarkable with a lively discourse on the wines, the winery, Middleburg and even a new California wine project, all from Rachel Martin. Boxwood, a family owned winery, is run by Rachel and her brother, Sean Martin.

In addition to the winery in Middleburg, Rachel launched her own wine project along the California coastline in San Luis Obispo. From this winery, the assembled wine tasters enjoyed a 2016 Chardonnay that was exceptional.

The Boxwood Vineyard wines demonstrated just how high the bar is now placed when in comes to Virginia wines. And the offering from Oceano suggests we will hear a lot more from this new winery.

The evening was the final one of the wine tasting series for the season offered by the Talbot Country Club and it was an exciting way to conclude the successful wine tasting dinners offered to members.

 

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