The Food & Drink Issue 2021

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IF YOU’RE INTO OYSTERS THEN THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO GET YOUR FIX THAN QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY, MD The Eastern Shore of Maryland was once considered the “Oyster Capital of the World” and Kent Narrows, located in Queen Anne’s County, was the self-proclaimed epicenter as it was home to 15 oyster houses and many more oystermen that made their living harvesting the delectable mollusk. Although the current landscape of the Kent Narrows waterfront has progressed it remains an active “Working Waterfront” and continues to be the home-base for many of the County’s local waterman who fish the surrounding waters supplying local restaurants. Oyster season remains in full swing through the winter months and there is no better way to “taste” the Chesapeake Bay than with a visit to Queen Anne’s County. Local dishes like oyster stew, fried oysters, oysters “Rockefeller” and even raw oysters are served up at award-winning restaurants rent Lewis hom pson & B T e frequented by locals and visitors alike. ik M rtesy Cou

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The area of fers Nothing pairs a vast selection of with oysters li ke a local cra beverage. The ft re are severa l area brewe and distilleri ries es to Eyck Brewin sample including Ten g, B Classic Brew lackwater Distilling, Cu lt ing and more . Looking to ge outside on fa t ir we scenic trails a ather days? Enjoy miles of nd w the wildness a ater landscapes that refle nd changing w ct ildlife of win ter.

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Cruising Editor: Jody Argo Schroath Multimedia Journalist: Cheryl Costello Contributing Editor: Susan Moynihan Editors at Large: Wendy Mitman Clarke, Chris D. Dollar, Ann Levelle, John Page Williams


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Contributing Photographers: Andy Anderson, Mark L. Atwater, Skip Brown, André Chung, Dan Duffy, Jay Fleming, Austin Green, Jameson Harrington, Mark Hergan, Jill Jasuta, Vince Lupo, K.B. Moore, Will Parson, Tamzin B. Smith, Chris Witzgall



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CHESAPEAKE BAY MEDIA, LLC Chief Executive Officer, John Martino Executive Vice President, Tara Davis 601 Sixth Street, Annapolis, MD 21403 410-263-2662 • fax 410-267-6924 Editorial: Circulation: Billing: Chesapeake Bay Magazine (ISSN0045-656X) (USPS 531-470) is published by Chesapeake Bay Media, LLC, 601 Sixth Street, Annapolis, MD 21403. $25.95 per year, 12 issues annually. $7.99 per copy. Periodical postage paid at Annapolis, MD 21403 and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes or corrections for Chesapeake Bay Magazine to 601 Sixth Street, Annapolis, MD 21403. Copyright 2021 by Chesapeake Bay Media, LLC— Printed in the U.S.A.


State of the Economy

By Stephen Holt, Managing Partner, Premier Planning Group U.S. markets remained calm at the end of 2020. Investors are optimistic. This optimism about the future has many feeling bullish. 2021 is expected to bring a rebound in economic activity, supporting sectors that have already soared in value since the pandemic began, but also buoying industries that had been left behind. Bond yields are expected to stay low. 2021 will not be risk free. Market experts list the following as their top worries: - Mutations of COVID-19 and the possibility the vaccines will be less effective - Virus side effects - People refusing to take the vaccines - Bursting of the technology bubble - Central banks ending the stimulus too soon - Inflation returning earlier than expected It’s possible that none of the above will occur and we will sail smoothly forward in 2021. Right now, investors need to balance risk and reward on the journey toward meeting their financial goals. Remember, money doesn’t have to be complicated. Let’s talk. Stephen R. Holt PS: Watch for information on my upcoming online webinar: State of the Economy.

Premier Planning Group is an independent firm. Securities offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Summit Financial Group, Inc, a registered investment advisor. Summit and Cetera are affiliated and under separate ownership from any other entity. 115 West St, Suite 400 Annapolis, MD 21401. 443-837-2520.

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ON THE COVER: Ironclad small-batch bourbon is made with Virginia corn, wheat, and rye in their Newport News distillery. Photo by Aubrey Griffin

Whip up a party with appetizing recipes from three of our favorite restaurants.

Kombucha brewers around the Bay make a big impact with local ingredients.


Partnerships between small farms and restaurants are a success story for the region.

52 21

Meet the distillers putting their own spin on a centuries-old area tradition.

We celebrate a classic Smith Island cookbook on its 40th anniversary.

08 From the Editor

If you think food trucks are just about tacos, think again.




Oyster restaurateurs take inspiration from the past for thoroughly modern results. The Food Issue 2021

10 Contributors

BAY PARTNERS 56 Real Estate 61



FROM THE EDITOR The Fundamentals of Food (& Drink)


Calve alvert al vert Marina vert arina SOLOMONS, MD

ALFRESCO MARINA Means having dozens of picnic tables, over 40 acres of open space for dogs, kids and fun, walking paths, plentiful parking, large pool and deck, outdoor dining, a beach, lots of room to breathe and enjoy nature and view wildlife. We also have open and covered slips available.




’m always looking for what’s new, be it a resort in some tropical locale or a restaurant opening in my hometown. As a travel writer, it’s a trait that’s served me well—or at least it did until the pandemic. The onset of COVID forced us all to step back, stay put, and reevaluate what’s most important. For me, that meant Mrs. Kitching’s getting back to Crab Loaf calls for basics and 2 lbs. of backfin. appreciating what I have here, close at hand. The pandemic gave me the time to explore our region at a much slower pace, delving into the roots of life around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Much of that is reflected in this magazine. One of the country’s oldest distilling regions, we are currently undergoing a rebirth of creative companies making spirits in new and old ways. Today’s casual oyster bars reflect traditions in vogue more than century ago. Supply chain limitations led to us buy more from local farmers— and restaurants used their local farm connections as a resource to give back to the community. Food trucks aren’t new, but whenever one came to our neighborhood in the early days of lockdown, I was struck by their diversity, and how tasting something different felt like taking a field trip without leaving my block.

The Food Issue 2021

Since I wasn’t rushing off to an airport every other week, I had time to plant vegetables in my backyard, and watch them grow. Along with supporting restaurants with takeout and outdoor dining, I discovered a newfound love of cooking (which ties nicely with my longtime love of eating). This brought me back to one of my favorite books, Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook, which celebrates 40 years in 2021. I’d read it cover to cover, but never attempted a recipe. Digging into a piece of crab loaf (in this case deliciously prepared by our production manager Patrick Loughrey, for our photo shoot) brought me to another time; with each bite, I could taste what it was like to be in a boarding-house dining room on Smith Island in the 1960s, sharing this rich dish with decades of tradition behind it. (Check out the recipe on page 41, and more at-home eats on pages 12-15.) Like the rest of you, I can’t wait to get back out there, to taste and explore and find what’s new. But at the root of it is a love for what’s old: our connections via food. I look forward to seeing you out there, and sharing a bite together.


by Susan Moynihan

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CONTRIBUTORS SUSAN MOYNIHAN CBM contributing editor Susan Moynihan has visited six continents in her two-decade career as a travel writer/editor, writing for disparate outlets including USA Today, Jetsetter, Architectural Digest and more. These days, she is happiest driving the back roads of the Bay, seeking out the tastiest bites and views along the way. Her book 100 Things to Do in Annapolis and the Eastern Shore was published in 2019.





Based in Charlottesville, Virginia native Larry Bleiberg is president of the Society of American Travel Writers. The former travel editor for Coastal Living magazine and The Dallas Morning News, his work has appeared in, the Los Angeles Times, and National Geographic books. While researching the distillery story, he developed a taste for rye.

Jess Mayhugh is a Cities Editor for Thrillist, where she covers food, drink, and travel in nearly a dozen regions throughout the country. Her work has also appeared in Serious Eats, All About Beer, Smithsonian Magazine, and Baltimore magazine. Additionally, she hosts a podcast called Buzzed in Baltimore, which chronicles the craft beverage industry in her hometown and beyond.

Tim Ebner is a Washington, D.C.based food and travel writer, and the winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ 2020 Award for Cocktail Writing. He also contributes to The Washington Post, Eater, Thrillist, Edible DC, and The Washington City Paper. Follow him on Instagram: @ebnert

Kristina Gaddy writes about history and culture. She is the author of Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis. Based in Baltimore, she is currently working on a history of the banjo in the Americas, due out in 2022.


The Food Issue 2021

CHARLIE YOUNGMANN Charlie Youngmann is a writer by day and a carpenter by trade. Raised in the low-lying wetlands of Southern Maryland, Youngmann sets his sights on conservation efforts around the Chesapeake. No stranger to the art world, he specializes in profiling creatives.


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Seasonal ingredients are showcased in classic American cuisine at the Tides Inn.

SIPS & BITES Tastes to tide you over till we meet again. by Susan Moynihan



here are few things better than the simple pleasure of joining friends at a favorite restaurant, passing plates and sharing general conviviality. While we’re all supporting our dear friends in the restaurant industry by doing limitedcapacity, in-person dining and lots of takeout, we can’t wait for sunnier days when we can pull up a seat at the bar and dig in with a crowd. To tide us over until then, here are tastes (with drink pairings) from three favorite spots around the Bay. h


The Food Issue 2021

BAKED RAPPAHANNOCK OYSTERS CHESAPEAKE Executive Chef Truman Jones Chesapeake Restaurant & Terrace, The Tides Inn, Irvington, Va. This part of the Northern Neck is known for oysters. “I like this recipe because it showcases two regional jewels of the Chesapeake—oysters and blue crab—in a rich and decadent presentation with silky garlic cream and smoked bacon,” says Chef Jones. “It pairs well with both a crisp, light Chardonnay or a rich, oaky one. It’s perfect for enjoying oysters on a cold day or night.” Adds Assistant Director of Food & Beverage, Tori Kersh, “Rappahannock Cellars offers a rich, buttery Chardonnay that has a crisp finish, so it doesn’t take away or hide the sea taste and texture of the oysters.” INGREDIENTS 4-6 Tbsp Roasted Garlic Bechamel sauce (recipe below) 6 each Rappahannock oysters 1/4 cup Chesapeake Bay lump crabmeat 1 Tbsp cooked bacon, chopped 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese 2 tsp chopped parsley Preheat the oven to 400° F. Carefully shuck the oysters and loosen the oyster from the shell, but leave it in the lower shell. Set aside.

ROASTED GARLIC BECHAMEL 2 ounces butter 1/2 cup flour 1 cup vegetable stock 1 1/2 cups cream 1 cup roasted garlic purée, approximately 15-20 cloves 1/4 Tbsp salt pinch white pepper 1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated

Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until foamy. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux for about 2-3 minutes, then add the stock and cream. Whisk to dissolve the roux into the liquid. Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the garlic purée and seasonings, and whisk to combine. Simmer this mixture for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and, when cool, store in an airtight cooler until needed.

The Food Issue 2021


Mix the crabmeat, chopped bacon, chopped parsley, and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Once mixed, scoop a generous portion on top of each oyster in the shell. Place the oysters in a heat-proof pan and bake in the oven at 400° F until you see the sauce bubble and start to turn golden brown, approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!


CHESAPEAKE CRAB DIP Executive Chef Paul Shiley Knoxie’s Table, Kent Island, Md. The in-house restaurant at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club is known for great food, and a great setting. Socializing is a natural on their expansive flagstone patio, centered around a great stone fireplace—the perfect place to dig into this appetizer. “The inspiration simply was to be a little different, thinking these flavors would blend together well,” says Executive Chef Paul Shiley of his take on crab dip. The ham gives it an extra bit of saltiness and texture. Beverage director John Michael Fromert suggests pairing it with a sauvignon blanc, such as Rodney Strong.



1 1 2 1 1 2 2 1 1

pound softened cream cheese small diced onion (sautéed until translucent) ounces chopped artichoke hearts ounce chopped spinach (fresh) ounce country cured ham (chopped fine) dash Worcestershire sauce dash Tabasco tsp Old Bay pound jumbo lump crabmeat

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream first 8 ingredients together, then fold in 1 pound of jumbo lump crabmeat. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


The Food Issue 2021

CRAB BISQUE Chef/General Manager Mike Fox Chesapeake Inn Restaurant and Marina, Chesapeake City, Md. “It’s the flavors of the Eastern Shore, all rolled up into one great soup,” says General Manager and Chef Michael Fox about this house favorite. We suspect Jimmy Buffet agrees; on a recent visit, he had some onsite and took more to go. Assistant General Manager Corey McDaniel likes pairing it with their (adult-only) Lemon Spring Water. 3 1 2 1 1 3 1 4 1

stalks celery large onion medium peeled carrots cup dry sherry 1/2 gallon crab stock tsp Old Bay quart 40% heavy cream ounces unsalted butter pound lump crabmeat

BLONDE ROUX 1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup all-purpose flour

TO MAKE THE SOUP: Mince all the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables in butter. Add sherry to vegetable mix, and simmer to cook off the alcohol. Add crab stock and bring to a boil. Season with half the Old Bay, then thicken up the soup with the roux, adding slowly to avoid lumps. Add heavy cream to thin to desired consistency. Add crabmeat. Add additional Old Bay to desired taste. Serve hot.

LEMON SPRING WATER 1. Muddle 3-4 lemons with a splash of club soda in a cocktail shaker. 2. Fill with ice. 3. Pour in 2 1/2 ounces Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka. 4. Add club soda and top with Sprite. 5. Shake well and serve in a pint glass.

The Food Issue 2021


TO MAKE ROUX: Melt down 1 cup of butter. After the butter has melted, add flour and cook over low heat until the mixture starts to turn a blonde color. Reserve for later use.


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Cure your cabin fever this winter with a trip to Dorchester County, Maryland! Get outside to one of the best spots in the region to see winter wildlife. Cozy up with some delicious oysters. Plus, it’s a great time of year to take advantage of off-season lodging deals. Find out more in our “9 Ideas for Winter Fun” at

GUT INSTINCT Kombucha-makers in Maryland & Virginia tap into the nature of the region.


by Jess Mayhugh

The Food Issue 2021


Maha’s multiple flavors pair with all types of food.



eaghan and Shane Carpenter were driving back from an intense, five-day fermentation study in 2011 when it happened. The husbandand-wife duo were avid home cooks and vegetable growers already, but now they were learning from beloved Wild Fermentation writer Sandor Katz about all things kimchi, kraut, yogurt, mead, and kombucha. “In the car on the way back, I turned to Shane and said, ‘Our lives are never going to be the same.’” That was the birth of Hex Ferments, a Baltimore-based company founded in 2014, after years of getting the proper licenses and permits to start a business that seemed pretty foreign at the time. But with the rise of the health-food movement, the aversion to sugary sodas, and a bigger focus on locavore culture, kombucha has become a household product in the Chesapeake Bay region.


“People want their drinks to do something for them now,” says Nathan Mahadeva, who founded Maha Kombucha in Virginia Beach in 2018. “They can’t just be refreshing. Kombucha is a multi-purpose drink— it tastes good, is good for the digestive system, and is high in vitamins and amino acids.” Kombucha—a fermented drink that dates all the way back to 221 BC—is traditionally made with a tea base and a live culture, or SCOBY, that transforms the tea into a bright, tart, effervescent beverage with probiotics that support gut and immune health. “There are a lot of misconceptions that it will taste like straight-up vinegar, or that it’s mushroom tea,” says Sid Sharma, who co-founded Wild Bay Kombucha with his two best friends, Sergio Malarin and Adam Bufano, using a family

The Food Issue 2021

recipe from Peru. Founded in 2015, the company is now the largest producer of kombucha in the Delmarva region. “People get nervous about the idea of a living thing or something floating around. But no one is scared of high-fructose corn syrup, so they should not be scared of healthy probiotics.” In fact, creating delicious flavor profiles with local ingredients is what kombucha-makers consider the most fun part of the process. “Having 26 years’ experience as a mom, I know it has to taste really good to get people to wrap their brains around a healthy beverage,” says Gayle Galbraith, co-founder of Federal Brewing Company, which is about to move its facility into an old bank building in Federalsburg, Md., near the Delaware border on the Eastern Shore. “For a long time, good-for-you meant bad tasting.”

have really started to embrace the Galbraith says one of her most fermented beverage. popular flavors is Green Garden “I’ve seen it evolve from a sour, Chamomile, which is made with a flat, tea-like beverage that you’d drink whole-leaf green tea, chamomile, as a shot to people incorporating it cinnamon, and a hint of clove. She into beers and cocktails,” says also makes a version with garden Carpenter from Hex, who tried her huckleberries sourced from an first kombucha in Ireland in 1999. “It African farm in Montgomery County. went from a hippie beverage your Unlike a lot of kombuchas on the market, Federal Brewing uses traditional methods, Federal Brewing Company’s so each batch is kombucha starts with their organic tea blend. varied and noncarbonated—more like what the ancient version would have tasted like. But for Sharma at Wild Bay, the natural carbonation is key. “There’s a reason we put it in a classic beer bottle that’s twist-off and you get that fizz factor,” he says, adding that flavors like Ginger Grapefruit and Watermelon Hops are so popular because people are used to those friend’s mom brewed to a multibillioningredients. “We want it to feel dollar industry.” familiar and not intimidate people In fact, Hex’s Butterfly Lime who aren’t knee-deep in the health kombucha—which is made with an community.” infusion of bright purple pea flowers, Because it can now be found at farmers markets and on the shelves of organic lime juice, and organic honey—was used in a sour beer places like Giant, Food Lion, and made by Monument City Brewing. Harris Teeter, kombucha has become Local partnerships and sourcing are more mainstream, and average craft important to Hex, which gets wholebeer and/or boutique coffee drinkers

leaf basil from Starbright Farms in White Hall, Md., and elderflower from Two Boots Farm in Hampstead, Va. These businesses also support the region with financial commitments. Both Wild Bay and Maha donate one percent of their sales to environmental causes, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the James River watershed. “Anyone who wants to make kombucha has to be a little more in touch with the environment,” says Mahadeva, who added that in 19 months, Maha only produced one bag of trash that wasn’t composted, recycled, or reused. “Prior to starting this company, I wasn’t aware you could create a business that would actually improve the environment.” It’s certainly fitting that kombucha-makers care about the world around them, considering the beverage has such a symbiotic relationship with nature. “Even though we’re in a temperature-controlled facility, kombucha knows when it’s going to be warm or cold outside,” Carpenter says. “You really have to learn its personality and watch it grow. I’ve been making kombucha for 20 years now and it has never stopped fascinating me.” h

The Food Issue 2021


Kombucha is traditionally made with a tea base and a live culture that transforms the tea into a bright, tart, effervescent beverage with probiotics that support gut and immune health.


Annapolis Redefined

Resilient to the core, Annapolis has been redefining itself for nearly 400 years. This Navy town has a track record of rolling with the punches and emerging ever new. But don’t take our word for it. We invite you to hop in the car and drive to a place where life’s simple pleasures abound. Treat yourself to an afternoon of sailing or cruising the Chesapeake Bay. Dine and shop al fresco along centuries-old brick-lined streets. Bike or hike our miles of trails. Discover best kept secrets on a ghost or history tour before calling it a day at a historic inn or hotel. Discover Annapolis redefined.


DEEP ROOTS Chesapeake chefs take farm-to-table to new level with committed collaborations.


by Tim Ebner

Mediterranean mixed salad with grilled shrimp from Sunflower & Greens

The Food Issue 2021



hef Bryan Byrd is familiar with the concept of farm-totable dining, but more recently he’s digging deeper by going straight to the root of farming. His restaurant, Dredge—which gets its name from a method of oystering— has always had a seafood-focused menu; after all, it is located in Irvington, Va., near the confluence of the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay, a place well known for its bounty of bivalves. “Basically, it was a menu heavy on the boat, but more recently, I’ve connected to the region’s community of farmers, which also makes this place such a unique place to eat.” Byrd’s family roots helped connect him to the region’s independent farmers. His sister and brother-in-law, Kasey and Russell Haynie, are first-generation farmers who own and operate Black Sheep Farm in Lively, Va. What started out as hobby farming quickly turned into a larger project,


Chef Bryan Byrd calls his approach to sourcing foods “root-to-table.”


The Food Issue 2021

“With our connection to farms and the water, we’re marrying the terroir— the flavors of the land—with the merroir—the flavors of the water.” CHEF BRYAN BYRD, DREDGE

with the couple raising sheep, cows, and pigs, plus seasonal produce, and giving Byrd first dibs on fresh ingredients. “Having the farm was a huge step forward for us [last] year. It gave us access to produce in a period of time when it was really hard to get it otherwise, during COVID-19,” Byrd says. “Many food supply chains were being disrupted while we were pulling fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and peppers. We got through summer despite the pandemic.” Byrd also believes that by supporting local farms, his restaurant can supply ingredients that promote the environmental sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. “With our connection to farms and the water, we’re marrying the terroir—the flavors of the land—with the merroir—the flavors of the water,” Byrd says. “Sustainable farming practices not only deliver the freshest and highest-quality ingredients, but these practices also help keep the Bay cleaner.” Byrd thinks any restaurant, big or small, can take the lead on a farm program that makes it easier to sustainably grow food; instead of farm-to-table, he calls it a “root-totable” approach for restaurant food sourcing.

Dredge’s community-sourced menu draws from the land as well as the water.

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A FARM PARTNERSHIP ON THE EASTERN SHORE Meanwhile, 178 miles away in Easton, Md., another chef-farm partnership is helping deliver quality ingredients for both everyday and specialoccasion eating. Harley Peet is the executive chef at Bluepoint Hospitality, which runs several kitchens in Easton, including Bas Rouge, an upscale contemporary Viennese restaurant, and Sunflowers & Greens, an accessible fast-casual concept with a bistro vibe, featuring a menu that changes with the seasons. Peet thinks any small restaurant group can strike up a flexible partnership with a local farm. By working directly with Dogwood Farm in nearby Sherwood, Md., he’s found a way to source free-range brown eggs, custom grown greens and sweet corn, and a space to plant a dedicated summertime garden of vegetables, squash, and beans. He’s also preserving and using some of the ingredients to last him through the winter months, such as the vanillaglazed turnips and blackberry gastrique he pairs with duck breast at Bas Rouge. The produce comes from Doug and Lisa Raymond’s farm, which also produces more than 15 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Of course, a constant supply of produce is not always a guarantee with small, independently owned farms, and that’s okay. Peet looks at the changing growing seasons as a creative challenge. “Constant supply, as with any small, independently operated food grower or harvester, can mean quantities are limited and not always available when needed,” he says. “Just because you ‘ordered something’ doesn’t mean it will show up in the amount you wanted. You need to be very flexible, and work creatively with changes to availability and amounts.”


At Bluepoint Hospitality, Executive Chef Harley Peet sources and preserves foods from a nearby farm.

“You need to be very flexible, and work creatively with changes to availability and amounts.” EXECUTIVE CHEF HARLEY PEET, BLUEPOINT HOSPITALITY

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Local produce features in haute cuisine from Bas Rouge and the not-so-humble salad bar at Sunflowers & Greens.

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Atlas Farms’ Larson Weinstein believes farm-to-table should be for all, not just some.

“Every acre of land we can take out of Big Ag and put into the hands of regenerative and sustainable agriculture is better for the Bay” LARSON WEINSTEIN, ATLAS FARM MANAGER


A BALTIMORE RESTAURANT GROUP GETS ITS HANDS DIRTY Flexibility is also key for Atlas Farm Manager Larson Weinstein, who runs a five-acre working farm in Finksburg, Md., for Baltimore’s Atlas Restaurant Group. Not many restaurants literally “buy the farm,” Weinstein admits, and it was an investment put to the test in its first growing season. Atlas Farm began operations in early March, just before the pandemic, and while that might have seemed risky, it turned out to be an essential

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resource for the Baltimore community, serving as a food safety net for the restaurant industry as it faced temporary shutdowns and dining restrictions in the early spring and late winter. “Our first crops of the spring were radishes and carrots, and we were completely shut down at that point, so we started doing an industry-wide grocery giveaway for any restaurant employees in Baltimore,” Weinstein says. “This farm also has become a lifeline and morale booster for the

restaurant community. I’ve had dishwashers and line cooks come to work here for a few days, and it gives them something to do with their hands as we all navigate the pandemic.” Atlas Restaurant Group has several restaurants and bar concepts, from the very swanky digs at The Bygone, a 1920s-style grill serving contemporary American and French cuisine at the top of the Four Seasons Baltimore hotel, to some very come-as-you-are bars and restaurants, like nautical-themed spots The Admiral’s Cup and The Choptank, both in Fells Point. Each place has been impacted by the pandemic, but Weinstein believes it’s the farm’s ability to save on food costs and resources that will see them to the other side. He thinks a restaurant-farming model adds equity and access to farm-to-table dining, too. “Farm-to-table shouldn’t be for just some. My hope is that it will be for all,” Weinstein says. “And for people like me—a first-generation farmer, who wanted to farm but couldn’t afford to buy the land—this model of a restaurant managing a farm is a viable path forward.” There’s also the sustainability factor that make this a winning model. Since the farm is located about an hour from Baltimore, it means fewer carbon emissions to transport a strawberry that might typically come from California or Mexico. Small-scale farming also helps move away from industrial farming practices that require intensive amounts of fertilizer or manure, which frequently end up as runoff in the Bay. “Every acre of land we can take out of Big Ag and put into the hands of regenerative and sustainable agriculture is better for the Bay,” Weinstein says. “I grew up in Maryland, and in the ’90s the Bay looked a lot worse. We’re seeing the success of regulations and farming practices that limit runoff and improve the Bay’s water quality.”




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Restaurants also have the power to guide food and environmental policy decisions. Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C., is a restaurant of many firsts to lead the way. When the dining concept first opened in 2008 at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 20th Street, in Northwest D.C., it was the first LEED-certified restaurant in the city. The business model was also an experiment to support family farmers, launched by restaurateurs Dan Simons and Michael Vucurevich, who partnered with Mark Watne, farmer and president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. The idea was always to source produce from family farms and ship it on trucks (also owned by farmers) direct to the District. “Today, we source from family farms across the country,” Watne explains. “We run a truck from North Dakota that does pick-ups along the way, and we are part of the National Farmers Union, so we can reach out to their members for more products.” While Founding Farmers has turned into a mini-restaurant empire in the mid-Atlantic region, with more than a half-dozen restaurants in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, it hasn’t lost touch with its farming roots. “Aside from what comes to us on the truck, we also source a tremendous amount from our region:

Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania,” Simons says. “The Chesapeake Bay watershed can provide us so much for the long-term, if we care for the land and the water, and ensure the economics work for the independent family producer.” Where many family farms lose value is through a complex network of manufacturing, logistics, and shipping, Watne says. By cutting out the middlemen, small-scale farmers see greater returns on every order. “Due to COVID-19, we’ve also pivoted from restaurant operations to offering a full line of more than 750 market and grocery items,” Watne says. “Along the way we try to source as local as possible. We want the farms in the area to have a spot to showcase their products.” They also look at their D.C. roots and connections to American farmers as a way to transform farm policy nationwide. “Our restaurants exist to support and advocate for the family farmer. We do this through our purchasing decisions, our cooking decisions, and our approach to caring deeply about communities where we have restaurants,” Simons says “The fact is, the independent farmer’s share of the food dollar has been steadily declining for decades. We hope to educate consumers so they ask questions about what they eat, and where they spend, to ensure we’re prioritizing the independent farmers first.”

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ate in 1620, just a few months after arriving in the wilderness of North America, the Rev. George Thorpe, a missionary, land speculator, and member of the British Parliament, tried an experiment. Using corn acquired from the Powhatan Indians, he set up a copper still along the James River not far from present-day Williamsburg. He found the moonshine he created quite pleasing, preferable even to English beer. Although Thorpe would die two years later in an Indian attack, his whiskey—predecessor to bourbon, rye and much more—soon found its way around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Indeed, not only is the midAtlantic the cradle of American democracy, but it also has a deep, boozy history. Today, a Chesapeake traveler—or drinker—will find plenty to quench their thirst, from classic versions of gin and rum to funky new spirits flavored with oysters or bacon. At Eight Shires Coloniale Distillery near the James River in Williamsburg, Va., Bill Dodson recreates preRevolutionary War alcohol using a process he calls “applied archaeology.” Working with replica historic stills, he follows original recipes to craft rums, whiskeys, and gins. His plank-floored tasting room, outfitted with board games from the 1700s, offers the perfect place to try Warrosquyoake bourbon, named for an early Virginia settlement (today’s Isle of Wight). Dodson, a trained historian, first made the spirit with commercial corn, but realized that the grain was a genetically modified hybrid and nothing like what the early English settlers would have used. When he substituted heirloom maize from New Kent, Va., it yielded an entirely different taste. “The old grains gave us a completely different


BAY SPIRITS From corn whiskey to hot-honey bourbon, mid-Atlantic distillers offer a high-proof spin on history by Larry Bleiberg


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A custom pot still at Baltimore Spirits Company


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flavor of maple and honey.” The bourbon ages three years, because research suggests that was the longest early settlers would have waited, he says. Up the Chesapeake in Maryland, the preferred hooch relied on rye, which tobacco farmers were using as a cover crop. European settlers harvested and distilled the grain to make their own unique spirit. Some of the state’s early ryemakers left to create whiskey dynasties on the American frontier of Kentucky. They included people like Jacob Beam, whose descendants founded Jim Beam whiskey, and Basil Hayden, the “Old Grand-Dad” who inspired the venerable whiskey brand. But other distillers stayed, perfecting a sweet, spicy spirit that eventually became known as Maryland-style rye, which is how the state became the third largest whiskey producer in the country before Prohibition. “People don’t realize we have this distilling history that goes back before Kentucky was even a state,” says Brian Treacy, president of Sagamore Spirits in Baltimore, which began in 2013 with the goal of reclaiming some of that glory. “We’re very intrigued by the fact that we had this incredible industry in Maryland, and we lost it. It gives us

Distiller Dwight Chew, at work at James River Distillery

RYE TRADITIONAL: Rye Straight Whiskey, Sagamore Spirit, Baltimore This busy Port Covington distillery has quickly built its reputation around rye. You’ll understand why when you taste its flagship offering, which it calls the ultimate definition of what Maryland rye may have been. It’s approachable with sweet and fruity notes and not too much spice. $39.99,

The craft maker offers its own take on the state spirit, using a custom pot still. Unlike typical Maryland ryes, it skips the corn and relies on a 100 percent rye mash bill. The end product is surprisingly smooth, but at 115 proof, not to be underestimated. $39.99.

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MODERN: Epoch Rye, Baltimore Spirits Company, Baltimore


Ironclad Distillery cask-finishes their bourbon whiskey in flavor-infused barrels.

the right to get in the game. We don’t have to make up a story,” he says. But not every spirit-maker looks to the past. James River Distillery in Richmond has developed a cult following for putting a local spin on things. How else to explain Oystervit, its version of aquavit, a clear Scandinavian

spirit usually flavored with carraway and dill. James River starts with an organic Virginia corn vodka base and flavors it with oyster shells from the popular Rappahannock River Oyster Company. The spirit steeps in the shells from 48 to 72 hours, offering just a hint of minerality and salinity, says Dwight Chew, head distiller.

It makes for an incredible Bloody Mary, he says. He also suggests trying a dirty martini with vermouth and olive juice. “It really does work together.” None of this is traditional, of course, and Chew’s OK with that. “People are really flexible and interested in trying new things, and they don’t necessarily want to restrict

RUM TRADITIONAL: Four Port Rum, Virago Spirits, Richmond, Va. This award-winning spirit starts with rums from a dream team of makers from Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Panama, which is then blended and finished in port barrels. The result is something to behold: smooth, smoky, and complex. $31.99,


MODERN: Rock & Rum, Lyon Rum, St. Michaels, Md.


This wry take on a Maryland favorite puts a white rum spin on the classic rock and rye, traditionally made of rye whiskey and rock candy. The result is a sweet, citrusy drink that tastes like an old fashioned straight out of the bottle. $45,

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BOURBON TRADITIONAL: Straight Bourbon, Tobacco Barn Distillery, Hollywood, Md. This St. Mary’s County spirit relies on corn grown onsite and rye produced in a neighboring Mennonite community. The water comes from a 380-foot well on the property. Expect deep caramel and vanilla notes tempering the citrus and pepper spice. $34, tobacco

MODERN: Vessel Craft Coffee Cask, Ironclad Distillery Co., Newport News, Va. This craft maker uses local products to flavor its house-made bourbon. The spirit is perfect as an aperitif, or over ice cream, but at 122 proof, it’s no pushover. $55.99,


themselves to what their parents and grandparents were drinking.” Over at Baltimore Spirits Company, distillers buck tradition by using a technique associated with tequila to produce a unique apple brandy called Fumus Pumila. The mezcal-style process starts by fermenting apple juice with smoked apple peels in the same way a tequila-maker would prepare agave. Then it’s double distilled in a copper pot. “You get an apple brandy backbone, but then you get this mezcal-like heavy, smoky character on top of it,” says Max Lentz, one of the company’s co-founders. He says it seems natural to combine two North American distilling traditions, and customers as far away as Washington state agree. “It’s a core product for us,” says Lentz. Likewise, Kara King says her family was influenced by her grandmother’s love of bourbon when they started Ironclad Distillery in Newport News, Va. “We want to just make bourbon and do it well. We wanted to put our own spin on it and put out some new flavors.” Their success speaks for itself. They distill and age onsite and then cask-finish the spirit in barrels infused with different flavors. But these aren’t bottled additives poured into barrels. The Vessel Craft Coffee Cask uses The Food Issue 2021


Lyon won best craft rum distillery by USA Today voters in 2020.

beans from a Norfolk coffee roaster, and the AR Hot Southern Honey Cask uses a product from popular Richmond honeymaker Ames Russell. In nearby Smithfield, Va., Blue Sky Distillery drew inspiration from the local pork industry to create a smoked bacon maple whiskey. It has been so popular that the distillery recently released a spirit flavored with

another regional product, peanut butter. “We try to be a little bit unique in almost everything we do,” says distiller Mark Rangos. But perhaps Jaime Windon does the best job of bridging history and new traditions at Lyon Rum in St. Michaels, Md., which was recently named the country’s best craft rum distillery by readers.

The sugar cane-based alcohol was America’s founding spirit, she says, noting that George Washington served a barrel of Barbados rum at his inauguration. Windon, president of the Maryland Distillers Guild, says she wanted to offer her own take on the spirit. “We keep trying to innovate. We’re trying to define the undefinable: What is American rum?”

VODKA TRADITIONAL: Lone Vodka, Gray Wolf Distillery, St. Michaels, Md. Vodka made with malted barley might seem surprising, but the proof is in the bottle. This version stands out for what you don’t taste: There are no chemical or harsh notes. Expect just a hint of malt sweetness, making the perfect base for a martini. $45,


MODERN: Sloop Betty Caramel, Blackwater Distilling, Stevensville, Md.


This award-winner starts with organic wheat and sugar cane, and then adds vanilla and house-made caramel syrup. Try it with hot apple cider and cinnamon. $30.99,

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GIN TRADITIONAL: Continental Gin, James River Distillery, Richmond, Va. This New World tribute to the classic London-style gin touches all the bases. While the juniper is unmistakable, you’ll also taste coriander and cardamom. Taken together, it brings the classic G & T to new heights. $34.19,

MODERN: Tinkerman’s Curiously Bright & Complex Gin, Fredericksburg, Va. Made by a subsidiary of bourbon giant A. Smith Bowman, this gold medal-winner at the 2019 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition lives up to its name. Expect Asian-inspired flavors of jasmine, green tea, and lemongrass. $29.99,

She imports raw sugar-cane crystals and molasses from Louisiana and distills onsite. Starting with quality products makes the difference, she says. “The sugar cane provides the bright, grassy sense of terroir, and

then the molasses provides a baking spice-kind of richness.” But that’s just the base. Other offerings include white and dark rums, and surprising flavors like coffee and citrusy curacao, which are among its bestsellers.

The choices would have certainly confounded colonial distiller George Thorpe. But one can imagine America’s original boozehound would be eager to give them a try.

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Crab loaf, one of the many inventive takes on crustaceans in Mrs. Kitching’s collection.

SEEKING MRS. KITCHING In honor of its 40th anniversary, we discover the back story behind a Chesapeake cookery classic. by Susan Moynihan

Frances Kitching will not serve muskrat or diamondback terrapin to guests in her famous Smith Island, Maryland, inn. “I do for others what I do for myself,” she will tell you. “I don’t like muskrat and I don’t want any little turtle fingers floating around in my soup.”


o goes the introduction to one of my favorite books: Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook. I discovered it some years back in a used bookstore on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I told the bookseller I was looking for something local and unique, and he handed it to me. It was a first edition, published in 1981, with a worn cover and dog-eared pages. I wasn’t looking for a cookbook, but leafing through it, I realized this is no ordinary one. Along with recipes handed down for generations, it’s a book of stories, of the watermen and families who lived and worked on this unique island community in the middle of the Lower Bay. Frances Kitching learned to cook at the hem of her grandmother’s apron. She started her business in the early 1950s, preparing meals for the linemen who came out from the mainland to install electricity on the island. Soon after, she began opening her home as a seasonal boarding house for tourists, where the overnight stay came with dinner and breakfast. Word spread of her fantastic, down-home meals, served family style in her large dining room. There was no menu; you ate what she was cooking, which depended on what she had on hand and what she felt like doing (or, in the case of muskrats and terrapins, what she didn’t feel like doing).

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Frances Kitching in her happy place, in an undated photo.

The book’s co-author, Susan Stiles Dowell, first went to Smith Island as a producer for Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. This was just after the Great Freeze of ’77, when temperatures dropped so low that the Bay froze, cutting off the channel that was (and still is) the residents’ connection to the mainland. The island remained cut off for seven weeks, and provisions were dropped in by helicopter. The story made big news across the region, which led to Dowell’s assignment to do a profile of life there. The writer stayed with Mrs. Kitching while reporting the story, and through her wanderings around the island met many of the locals via introductions from Frances and her waterman husband, Ernest. Dowell found more stories than she could fit into the assigned piece, but kept her


notes, hoping to find a place to use them. “I didn’t really feel like I caught everything about this culture. The warmth of the people, the incredible food…,” she said, when I tracked her down to ask about the book’s origins. Around this same time, Mrs. Kitching’s cooking was getting buzz beyond the shores of Smith Island, including an invitation to appear at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a profile in The New York Times. The latter, which appeared in The Arts section in July 1979, included recipes for corn pudding and clam fritters, but not for her prized pickled carrots. “I might write a cookbook someday,” she told the reporter. Soon after, she reached out to Dowell. “She said, ‘I would like to get my recipes published,’” recalled Dowell. “I told her I’d help.”

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Helping meant joining Mrs. Kitching in her kitchen and watching her cook. “She measured with a teacup and a teaspoon,” Dowell said, chuckling at the memory. “She inherited all this stuff…everything was in her head.” Dowell watched, took notes, and then recreated the recipes at her home outside of Baltimore, translating Mrs. Kitching’s years of instinct into clear measurements and directions for mainland cooks. In addition to the recipes, the book also gave Dowell a chance to share the stories and traditions she’d learned on her multiple trips to the island. “This is a place of storytelling,” she said. “This is a place with 400 years of a society of people who pull together, who help each other. I wanted to [share] what brought these people there, why are they still there, and how they feel about their environment.”

A FEAST FOR ALL SEASONS Most cookbooks are arranged into courses, but this one is done by season. “It had to start with summer, because that’s the crux of the foodway on this island,” Dowell said. “It’s the crabs; it’s how they catch the crabs and how they do the crabs. It all had to be hand in glove, and the stories had to enhance it.” Recipes include crab of all kinds: cakes, soup, flash fried, imperial, stewed, steamed, and more. (Dowell’s favorite recipe is from this section, a Mrs. Kitching original called Crab Loaf.) But you also find a wider taste of summertime life, with picnic staples including barbecue chicken, macaroni salad, and yes, pickled carrots, following an evocative introduction to the history and geography of the island. There’s also a short section on clams, hardshell and softshell (or manos), hinting at the long-standing but good-natured rivalry between watermen. Mano clammers and oystermen by law must keep their distance. Faint snickers from the oystering contingent, however, may still accompany the sight of a mano boat broiling up the foam in its lurching reach to starboard.

MRS. KITCHING’S CRAB LOAF INGREDIENTS 2 pounds crabmeat, backfin or special 1 small onion, finely diced 1/2 medium green pepper, finely diced 3 Tbsp butter or margarine 1 cup milk 3 tsp cornstarch 2 eggs 3 Tbsp mayonnaise 1 Tbsp prepared mustard 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (use one tsp for less-spicy crabmeat) 1/4 cup butter or margarine 8 slices of bread without crusts, cubed Sauté onion and pepper in 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine. Dissolve cornstarch in one cup of milk and add to sautéed onion and pepper. Stir over low heat until a smooth paste results. Set aside. Put crabmeat in bowl, and pick through for extraneous shell. Add the eggs, which have been slightly beaten beforehand. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay Seasoning, 4 slices of the cubed bread, and the cornstarch mixture to the crabmeat, and stir gently. Spoon the mixture into a 10 x 14-inch baking dish and spread evenly. Do not pack. Place the remaining bread cubes on top of the crabmeat mixture. Melt 1/4 cup of butter or margarine, and spoon over bread cubes. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cut into 3-inch squares, and serve on a platter garnished with cherry tomatoes.

Fall moves into the pursuits of oystering, fishing, and hunting, and observations include the local take on hunting restrictions: According to [longtime islander and hunter] Paul Marshall, there are not enough people on Smith Island to disturb the environment. “People here are more in danger of going extinct than the animals.”


Recipes including baked rockfish with potatoes, fried duck, and white squash pudding, paired with recollections of waterfowl hunters collecting arrowheads while waiting The Food Issue 2021


for ducks, and oystermen bringing up fossils as they tonged for bivalves along the ancient Susquehanna riverbed. One elementary-school science class gathered some of their fathers’ finds; it ended up taking them to the Smithsonian Institution, where they learned that their casual school project was in fact the remnants of a 12-million-year-old whale. Winter is when watermen get the chance to sit around the general store and spin tall tales. Former Tangier Sound Watermen’s Associate President, Jennings Evans, explains…“Some of them are true. The majority got a little truth to ‘em. Some have been polished up to make the laugh even better.” The recipes in this section are heavy on winter’s biggest crop: oyster stew, oyster puffs, scalloped oysters, and more. But others shed light on what you do when grocery runs to the mainland are disrupted due to unpredictable weather; you make do with what you have, turning saltines into Cracker Pudding and canned fruit into Pineapple Sauce Casserole. These

recipes could be 40 years old, or they could be 140 years old, reflecting the timelessness of life here. Spring brings warmer weather, and a return to the long hours it takes to survive and thrive on Smith Island. Men are busy with boat and equipment repairs, while women are hard at work prepping their gardens. The whole world around Smith Island goes on vacation at once. The sky, wind, and the marsh scintillate in the warming sunlight. Wildlife is more visible and more beautiful as its numbers primp for the mating season. Flocks of cranes, egrets, herons, and ibises replace departing ducks and geese. North of Ewell, the rookeries fill entire islands….Although every islander owns the means to take you to these isolated spots, few will oblige. “Too much to do to go gallivantin’…” The recipes are a compendium of everything that didn’t fit in the other seasons, from homemade scrapple and “Gringo cabbage” to cookies, cakes, and pies fit for a Sunday social, reflecting how central church is to the island life and connection.

A highway bilboard, Smith Island-style.

LATE-EDITION ADDITION Surprisingly enough, the original cookbook did not contain a recipe for the island’s most well-known delicacy, Smith Island cake. That was added more than 10 years later, in the 1994 edition. “One day she called me and said, ‘I have something that needs to be here,’” Dowell said. The cake had been an island tradition for generations, but the recipe had yet to appear in any kind of cookbook. “She had me come out and I sat there and took notes while she did it,” said Dowell. “She would take innumerable cake pans and spread the batter very thin, like a pancake. She’d put in a couple at a time, take out the ones that were in there, put more in, take those out, put more in, until she finally had the number of layers and maybe a few extra. She let them cool off, and then she would slowly build the cake.” Mrs. Kitching’s recipe calls for 10 tiers and is tucked without fanfare in a section called Sundry Kitchen Favorites. Little did she know the impact that the sharing of this cake recipe would have, on her island and on her home state. It’s now Maryland’s official dessert.



Mrs. Kitching’s cookbook, dedicated to her grandmother, brought new attention to remote Smith Island. “She was so proud of the book,” said her daughter, Pam Tyler, who worked alongside Mrs. Kitching, helping with cooking and serving. The book drew a slew of curious visitors to the island, looking for an authentic taste of the Eastern Shore. “People would come in on sailboats and come up the house and say, ‘Can we have a meal?’ She would say, ‘Come back at 6 o’ clock and I’ll see what I can do for you.’”


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Readers would send her letters and postcards, and she would travel off-island for cooking demonstrations. “She really enjoyed those because she got to talk to her admirers—people who really cared about her cooking and recognized what a unique individual she was, that she represented a very unusual place,” said Dowell. “It was like touching something that not too many people get exposure to.” “She didn’t speak unless she felt it was really necessary,” Dowell added. “She reminded me of New Englanders that I grew up with; this kind of taciturn, self-sufficient way. Just kind, and careful.” At this point, Dowell’s voice took on a bit more emotion. “It always amazed me at how she could see things without really saying anything. She was what they call on Smith

Island ‘an old head’—she knew things. She just understood and had not just a common touch but a great deal of tenderness and humanity.” On their last in-person meeting, at a cooking demo in Annapolis, she gave Dowell some advice. “She told me basically to pay attention, and to be happy with what I had. That was the underlying message.” Eventually, health issues took Mrs. Kitching to the mainland, and she passed in 2003 at age 84. But her legacy remains strong. The book has sold thousands of copies, and is still in print, now by Schiffer Publishing. And in 2008, the humble Smith Island cake was named Maryland’s official state dessert. As for Mrs. Kitching’s home, it was sold and eventually torn down, being deemed past repair. But her

legacy, and that of her grandmother and great-grandmothers before that, lives on in her recipes. Mrs. Kitching’s legacy isn’t only in food. She was a key player in the drive to bring a museum to the island, giving visitors a place to learn about the island’s history, as well as offering practical necessities like public bathrooms, so in-need tourists wouldn’t bother residents by knocking on their front doors and asking to use their toilets (something that apparently happened quite frequently). “It wouldn’t have happened without her,” says the museum’s director Sandie Marine. The Smith Island Cultural Center opened in 1996, and welcomes visitors from May through October. One of its permanent exhibits is a video of Mrs. Kitching in her kitchen, sharing her love of Smith Island food. h

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Nestled on a harbor in the heart of the Chesapeake, our historic Eastern Shore town is perfect for a romantic escape or weekend getaway. With museums and boutiques, gourmet restaurants and crab shacks, award-winning inns and B&Bs, and adventure by land or by sea, foodies, sailors, wine connoisseurs and art enthusiasts alike can get lost in all the town has to offer. For your safety, masks are mandatory in the Town

of St. Michaels. Enforced withJines.

FOOD TRUCKS by Charlie Youngmann


here’s a bright side to every dark cloud, and in the case of COVID-19, a bright side could be the rebirth of food trucks. Mobile kitchens have long been a staple, catering to office workers on city streets during the week and setting up shop at venues from farmers markets to breweries on weekends. But this past year, many trucks have added by-request visits to residential neighborhoods, bringing a tasty diversion to families who are staying close to home. Since they don’t have designated dining areas, many food trucks are able to maintain a socially distant business model. Some have even adopted online ordering systems to keep lines from forming around the parking lot—all convenient adaptations that will likely stick around as life gets back to normal. Another plus: Mobile eateries run the gamut in style and flavor, and their owner/chefs aren’t afraid to experiment. If you haven’t checked one out lately, here is a tasty sampling to whet your appetite.

DD214 Smokehouse, named after the military discharge form, was started by Navy veteran, Kevin Russell.






“I’ve loved grilling probably since I was about eight years old,” says DD214 owner and pitmaster Kevin Russell. So when he got out of the Navy in 1991, he tried his hand at making pork ribs for fun. After winning a local competition, he left his day job as a grocer and started a business. Within a couple of years, he bought out his partner and began serving all around coastal Virginia under the name DD214 Smokehouse.


Befitting a business named after the military discharge form, DD214 offers a discount for veterans, which is much appreciated when your home turf is also home to the world’s largest naval base. “Whatever we do, we gotta do it with honor and respect for everybody,” Russell said. “We are very honored and proud to serve the military, and we’re very honored and proud to serve the community as well.”


A Baltimore native, M.J. Medlar moved to Colorado and was surprised by the lack of quality seafood available. “We couldn’t find anything that wasn’t frozen or deep fried,” she said. Having worked in restaurants since she was 14, Medlar decided to run her own food truck, in partnership with her husband Steve Jones, and opened Capt’n Crabby in Denver in 2011.

Russell’s ribs are an award-winning fan favorite, and DD214 offers pulled pork (as a sandwich, or atop fries, burgers or nachos) plus smoked chicken wings, Bang Bang shrimp, and more.

After providing Colorado with authentic Chesapeake cooking for a few years, Medlar felt the urge to head back to her roots. “We could have stayed out there and been very successful, but we wanted to move back east,” Medlar said. “The good thing about a mobile business is, we just packed it up and drove it out here!”

WHERE TO FIND THEM: DD214 gets all around the Virginia Beach area, from the Exchange at Langley Air Force Base to Sly Clyde Ciderworks in Hampton. Find their “Deployment Schedule” online at or on Facebook and Instagram at @DD214smokehouse.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Crabcakes and crabby fries are a natural pairing with breweries; they hit one or two around the Virginia Beach area most weekends. Check out the online calendar at or follow on Facebook and Instagram at @captncrabby.


The Food Issue 2021


They re-opened in Virginia Beach in 2015, sourcing local ingredients as much as possible for their kitchen on wheels. Their Maryland-style crabcakes come in all sorts of variations, from classic to “The Hipster,” a crabcake sandwich with bourbon bacon jam, Frosted Flakes, and a fried egg. You’ll also find an assortment of gyros, plus sandwiches and a tasty Frito pie.



Jesse Lang and his family have been operating Love. Crust. Pizza. near Bel Air, Md., for about two years now. “We started cooking pizzas in our backyard with family and friends,” Lang said. “It started off with your typical cheeses and pepperonis and by the end of the night, you’re kind of experimenting into trying chicken and waffles and putting peaches on top of pizzas.”


Back in 2005, Toyin Alli wanted to share her love of the bread pudding her mother used to make so she applied to sell at the Eastern Market in D.C. They already had a dessert vendor so she wasn’t accepted. Undaunted, Alli took some time to finish up her master’s in public finance before applying again in 2010 with a wider menu. Her business took off, selling shrimp and grits, gumbo, and bread pudding to a hungry public. Soon enough, Alli was able to leave her job as an auditor and make Puddin’ her full-time gig. Over the next few years, Alli converted an old ice-cream truck into a mobile kitchen, expanding her range. “Essentially you’re building a kitchen on wheels, so you have to have some basic understanding of how plumbing, electrical, mechanics all work,” Alli said. “And I didn’t have that, so it was a huge learning curve.”

Love. Crust. Pizza.’s signature brick-oven trailer takes about two hours to heat up, which gives Lang and his family just enough time to prep ingredients and set up tables and tents for service. “It’s really a 5,000-pound beast that you don’t see every day,” Lang said. With rotating weekly specials drawn from old favorites as well as customer suggestions, you can get almost anything on a Love. Crust. pizza, from crispy prosciutto to crabmeat to breakfast pizzas with scrambled eggs, mozzarella, and sausage. Bonus: As regular vendors of the Bel Air Farmers Market, they have access to fresh-from-the-field produce, which they use to adorn their pizzas. WHERE TO FIND THEM: In addition to the Bel Air Farmers Market, you’ll find Love.Crust.Pizza at spots including Pooles Island Brewing Company and food-truck events like Hump Day at Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Department. Check out, or Instagram at @lovecrustpizza.

Puddin’ specializes in Cajun dishes like chicken ‘n’ beef sausage gumbo, and po’boys made with wild blue catfish— all rich with West African influences Alli got from her father. The signature blend of African American and West African flavors gives the food truck a sense of history you can taste, she said. “When we look at American food, Cajun and Creole food is probably the most American food that we have, because it is really a melting pot of everything.” WHERE TO FIND THEM: Puddin’ has a daily retail space in D.C.’s Union Market, and two food trucks hitting popular farmers markets including Dupont Circle and Mt. Vernon. They also offer delivery. Learn more at or @dcpuddin on Facebook and Instagram.

The Food Issue 2021



Working as a pastor and musician, Gerald Ricks spent 15 years traveling the southern United States. Shortly after moving to Maryland in 2018, Ricks was looking for his next step when his daughter suggested he try to sell his fried chicken. Commercial real estate for a restaurant was pricey, so Ricks opted for a food truck instead of brick and mortar. Ricks combined his love of gospel music with Southern home cooking and dubbed his truck “The Gospel Chick.” The menu is as fun to read as it is to eat, with items like the popular Heavenly Heat Mac & Cheese (the heat comes from jalapeños), Alabama Swamp Soup with collards, sausage, and two types of beans, and the Three Hebrew Boys Collard Green Egg Rolls.


Together, Chef Emile Debsia and Chef Hooverlay Rodas are 2 BOLD Chefs. Having previously worked together over long careers in hotels, the pair combined forces for a new venture, purchasing a truck and leaving their jobs behind to take their passion on the road in the Baltimore area. “Six years later, we have now two food trucks, a deli, and a catering company,” Chef Emile said. Rather than focus on cuisine from a single country, Chef Emile said they wanted to offer fusion dishes that could encompass a variety of Mediterranean flavors. The creative menu asks you to choose a protein—chicken shawarma, beef kabobs, lamb gyro, or falafel—and then enjoy it in a wrap or a rice bowl, with flavors reflecting a variety of different nationalities including French, Moroccan, and Portuguese. You can order a gyro done in the traditional Greek style or add an Italian twist with a special blend of spices and pesto sauce, said Chef Emile.

The Gospel Chick is a family affair, including Ricks’s wife, Crystal, and their children. He credits the solid approach he learned from his mother for the quality of his fried chicken: Nothing flashy nor fancy, just well-refined technique and fresh ingredients over frozen. Or, as he puts it, The Gospel According to Fried Chicken. WHERE TO FIND THEM: Check out the menu at or via Instagram at @thegospelchick, then pick up curbside in Lusby, Md., at the site of their forthcoming standalone restaurant, Holy Hell Kitchen.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: 2 BOLD Trucks have daily contracts in different areas, so call ahead to reserve them for an event. You can also try most of their dishes at Lucia’s International Deli, located in Glen Burnie, Md. Get the latest online at or, or find them on Instagram at @2boldchefs.


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Along with wraps and bowls, the menu caters to vegetarians with an array of salads. They hope to integrate seafood into the menu in 2021 with a chili-glazed grilled salmon, said Chef Emile.



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Capt’n Crabby; DD214 Smokehouse; Love. Crust. Pizza.; The Gospel Chick; Black Market Bakers; 410 Empanadas; 2 BOLD Chefs; Puddin’.

The Food Issue 2021



Sarah Carr had been working as a baker at various outlets around Maryland for over 10 years when she was contacted by Annapolis restaurateur/entrepreneur, Tom O’Leary. “He wanted to do a French bistro/bakery-inspired project and so he reached out to me for some help there, and we ended up becoming business partners,” Carr said.


Gladys Springsteel and her husband, John, were looking for something to do with their savings after John left a landscaping job. When one of John’s former coworkers asked to buy some of Gladys’s empanadas, she said, “You know what? There you go: Everyone loves my empanadas. Maybe we should do an empanada food truck.” They’ve been selling their empanadas from a bright orange trailer for nearly three years now. The star of the menu is Springsteel’s original beef empanada, “The OG,” which she’s been making at home for over 30 years. But at 410 Empanadas you can find everything from buffalo chicken to Thanksgiving fixings fried up in a pastry, she said. The Korean BBQ beef is slow cooked for eight to 10 hours, and the authentic Peruvian empanada— accented with boiled ghee, sweet black raisins, and manzanilla olives—represents Springsteel’s mother. The Cuban-style guava con queso adds a sweet finish.

Together with O’Leary’s son, Steve, the team sought out a retail space before settling on the idea of a bakery food truck. This was cheaper than brick and mortar, and Carr thought a bakery food truck would fit a unique niche. The Black Market Bakers truck began rolling in June, and despite opening during a global pandemic, their food is in high demand, with lines gathering before their daily opening time to scarf up their ever-changing menu of muffins, scones, and cinnamon buns, along with breakfast sandwiches and avocado toasts. “It feels like this business grew legs and we’re just trying to chase after it,” Carr said. Black Market Bakers is currently looking for a place to establish a physical location, she told us. Once they have a storefront in Annapolis, they plan on taking the truck on the road to other places. WHERE TO FIND THEM: The truck has a regular spot on Route 2 in Annapolis, outside of Chevy’s Restaurant. Follow them at

WHERE TO FIND THEM: The little orange trailer gets all around Harford County, from breweries to food truck meetups, and visits Baltimore and Cecil County as well. Check out the schedule at, or on Facebook and Instagram at @410empanadas.


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BIVALVES & BYGONES The legacy of simple 19th-century oyster parlours has inspired a resurgence for restaurants around the Chesapeake Bay.


by Kristina Gaddy


he Bay creates some of the best bivalve beds in the world. The salt water from the Atlantic meets the fresh water from 100,000 tributaries, forming an environment where the Crassostrea virginica thrives. As early as 1701, a visitor to the Bay wrote that “the abundance of oysters is incredible. There are whole banks of them so that the ships must avoid them.” Native Americans fished and ate oysters raw and roasted. In early America, oysters had no class distinction; they were simply a delicious source of protein. They showed up on George Washington’s menus, while Frederick Douglass wrote that the enslaved people at Wye House fished oysters to “make up the deficiency of their scanty allowance of food.” They appeared in oyster cellars and saloons, became staples of Chesapeake diets, and were sent across the globe. That’s when overfishing and disease caused the populations to plummet, making them a luxury item. Today, oyster restaurants around the Chesapeake are rethinking how we eat oysters, going back to basics with an approach that reflects the industry’s beginnings.


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Even before the Civil War, the oyster industry offered free African Americans good-paying jobs. In Oyster, Drew Smith writes that, “Gathering oysters was one of the highest-paid jobs for black men,” and in cities like Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York, Black men opened oyster restaurants. Alternatively called parlours, cellars, saloons, and bars, they were generally small with a menu of oyster dishes and drinks. British author Charles Mackay wrote in 1857 that in these places, you could find, “Oysters pickled, stewed, baked, roasted, fried, and scolloped, oysters made into soups, patties and puddings; oysters with condiments and without condiments.” Thomas Downing might be the most famous oyster-cellar owner. Born a free Black man in 1791 around Chincoteague, Va., he brought his love for oysters to New York City, opening his restaurant in 1825. When he died in 1866, the Baltimore Sun reported his restaurant was well-respected and he’d earned enough to send his children to Europe for their education. As early as 1840 there were oyster cellars in Baltimore, and by the 1880s, at the height of the oyster harvests, Blacks owned “businesses patronized by both races,” according to Mary Ellen Hayward in Baltimore Alley Houses. In the area of St. Mary’s Seminary alone, three residents ran oyster shops. Into the 20th century, Black newspapers advertised oyster saloons not just in the cities, like George Victown’s Cafe and Oyster Saloon in Philadelphia, but also John Grey’s oyster saloon in Pocomoke City and Warrie Stevenson’s oyster saloon in Snow Hill, Md. Baltimore’s AfroAmerican also reported that Black men “owning oyster boats” were doing good business in Cambridge, Md. and, “The oyster industry is doing much for our people financially and

we are glad of the progress we are making.” Ironically, it would be in Cambridge where some of Maryland’s most memorable Civil Rights demonstrations against desegregation would take place. Jasmine Norton of The Urban Oyster wants to normalize the oyster experience again and make it something for everyone. “For my culture, that’s why a lot of African Americans don’t like oysters—because they couldn’t afford the establishments that served them,” she says. While she grew up eating raw oysters at home, served to her by her dad on a Styrofoam plate, as she became an adult she felt like

Thomas Downing; the site of his eponymous oyster house, at Broad and Wall Streets in NYC; an ad for Harvey’s in D.C.



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eating oysters had become a whole production. She started The Urban Oyster as a popup in 2016 with the idea that oysters didn’t have to be a special-occasion experience. She wanted to make a place without pretension, for people who want to enjoy oysters but don’t want to get dressed up. She first served her raw and char-grilled oysters at farmer’s markets and festivals, and then at a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Baltimore, before operating out of “ghost kitchens”—that is, empty kitchens who are not operating normally during the pandemic—in 2020. She currently offers take-out from the kitchen at Baltimore’s Hotel Revival.

Chef/owner Jasmine Norton of The Urban Oyster


THE SIMPLICITY OF SALOONS During his time, Thomas Downing’s New York oyster cellar transformed and elevated these types of restaurants. Oyster cellars—operated by Whites and Blacks—were literally in basements, and not always great places to bring the family. A red light hung outside the stairs that descended from the sidewalk into the basement.

Inside one was “a long counter gorgeously decked with crystal decanters and glasses, richly carved and gilt and the wall ornamented with a voluptuous picture of a naked Venus,” according to one 1850 visitor. That picture and the red light were conscious pieces of decor: These cellars were sometimes a

place where people could engage in the sex trade. They also seemed to invite violence. The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post reported shootings, stabbings with oyster knives, and fights in oyster cellars and saloons in their cities, as well as in Norfolk and Philadelphia. Women were generally

Then in their subterranean location in Mount Vernon . . .


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Dylan Salmon began shucking at pop-ups . . .

And finally at their current location in Hampden.


not welcome, and so Ladies’ Oyster Cellars opened as a more respectable option. Downing’s cellar stayed out of the fray. “[He] made oyster cellars respectable, at least his, which was a family restaurant where a man could bring his wife,” writes Mark Kurlansky in The Big Oyster. When Dylan Salmon read Kurlansky’s book, he says it changed his life. He had been working in the restaurant industry and got into oysters, intrigued by how their flavor changes based on how and where they are raised. “I’ve always been a historian about stuff I get into,” he says, so he started seeking every piece of information he could get about oysters. He loved the section on oyster cellars, and decided he wanted to open one. In 2014, he found the perfect space—a basement in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood—and in two weeks, he’d opened Dylan’s Oyster Cellar. “We didn’t have a kitchen, just oysters and booze,” he says, something made possible by the fact that oysters don’t require a kitchen. When the temporary lease ran out, he thought, “Innocently,

Scott Herbst at Sailor Oyster Bar

stupidly maybe, that I could fall into another perfect space.” He didn’t find a basement but instead opened on a corner in Hampden, creating a space inside reminiscent of a cozy, old bar.

Sailor Oyster Bar, in Annapolis, was born of similar simplicity. Scott Herbst opened the restaurant in 2016, and they offer a type of old-school straightforwardness from the first floor of a row home in Annapolis. “We don’t have a kitchen, and we don’t have anything fried or frozen,” says Sous Chef Lorenza Aznar, which differentiates it from a lot of seafood restaurants and evokes earlier oyster shops that didn’t need a kitchen to serve raw or steamed oysters. Aznar also feels that cooking like this—sometimes with a blowtorch, right in front of customers— adds a no-fuss atmosphere. People know, if you like oysters, this is your spot. The small interior features plenty of bar seats facing the raw bar and the drink bar, giving it a localneighborhood-shop feel. Diners also become part of the experience of cooking. “You are in front of the kitchen, dealing with the ice machine,” and that’s OK, she says, it’s like being on a ship. And ships can bring us oysters.

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Quick Tip: Now that many people are taking on their own DIY projects, remember that safety is always priority #1. If you are using a power tool you must remember to unplug it if you happen to step away for a break or quick phone call, as young children love to imitate you and will want to use the tools just like they saw you.



s our homes are becoming more important to us and we need more space, how do you decide if it’s better to build an addition out or add an additional level on top of your existing home? The answer is not always a simple one. Of course, my suggestion is to contact a design/build remodeler who specializes in these types of projects. However, here is a list of a few basic things to consider. First, do you live on the waterfront? If so, then you should carefully understand and respect the Critical Area guidelines in your county and state, and if in Maryland, the 100-foot set-back guidelines. Within the critical area there are pervious and impervious surfaces which have additional guidelines that are strictly enforced with many requirements and restrictions to follow. The 100’ setback means that there is no permissible building within the first 100’ of the Critical Areas. The pervious and impervious guidelines are all about watershed. Basically speaking, your roof is impervious as it will not absorb water. However, your lawn is pervious which helps with cleaning and watershed before it drains into the Chesapeake Bay. An example of this concern is that the particles which also include chemicals will wash off the roof, into the gutters, down the downspouts and out. So, if there are not enough grass type areas to clean the water, it will all drain into the bay. Stay tuned for more on this in CBM’s April issue and follow these tips and more at (we’ve only scratched the surface on this topic)


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Located: Annapolis

$130,000 OBO! 1984 37’ Pacific Seacraft 2013 42’ Lyman-Morse

2005 42’ Nordic Tugs

2017 28’ Cutwater LE

$795,000 OBO! $329,900 OBO! $169,900 OBO!


NEW COMMISSION INCENTIVE! 7% DIRECT SALE 8% COMPLIMENTARY WE SPECIALIZE IN SELLING HIGH QUALITY, WELL-MAINTAINED POWER OR SAILING YACHTS IN LESS THAN 90 DAYS. Secure dockage in Annapolis for power or sail Personalized, concierge services Targeted marketing campaigns (print & digital) Wide-angle, high-res photos & drone video MLS exposure


443-223-7864 Email us your boat details for a free assessment.

443.223.7864 YACHTVIEW.COM

The Brokerage Boat Business Is Booming! The Demand for quality pre-owned boats is at an all time high and we need inventory! If you have been considering selling your quality pre-owned boat let Annapolis Yacht Sales help. We have 4 locations across Maryland and Virginia, and strong partnerships with other dealerships and brokers. We will work to sell your boat fast and for top dollar.

CAPTAINS LICENSE 6 Pack (OUPV) Master Mariner

HANDS ON CLASSES Marine Diesel Electrical Weather Safety Navigation

ON BOARD TRAINING Junior Captains Course Docking Courses Women at the Wheel Course Basic Boat Operation Course

Ready Readyfor forany any family familyadventure. adventure. 2021 Subaru Ascent. 2021 Subaru Ascent. Come over and trytrythe Ascent. Come over and thefamily-sized family-sized Subaru Subaru Ascent. Bring dog too! Bring thethe dog too!

149 Old Solomon’s Island Road 149 Old Solomon’s Island Road 443-837-1400 • 443-837-1400 •

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