Tuscany on the Eastern Shore

photos: m&j

A magical evening occurred last month on a beautiful farm by the bay in Wittman, Maryland – an al fresco dinner, to which a few of us lucky souls were fortunate enough to be invited. Both the meal and setting will be remembered for a long time to come. And even more impressive than the natural beauty of the site, the graciousness of the host and hostess and the many talents of those who caught, grew and skillfully prepared the bounty of sumptuous offerings we gorged ourselves upon was the company, itself. It’s hard to recall an evening coming together so perfectly. It was supposed to rain, but instead the sun came out and set with a lovely blush to match the delicate Charles & Charles and Sancerre Rosés. Some of us had not previously met, but we are now communicating regularly and planning future escapades. The event and, indeed, the menu was only casually discussed, but suddenly it all seemed to come together as if it had been planned for months.

This is one of those great evenings that we see in photos and wish we could’ve been a part of. And, delightfully, we were. And it all came together in a relaxed and flawless manner that is the hallmark of great entertaining – thanks to the deft hand and eye (and taste buds!) of delightful Carol Bean (our hostess, chef, stylist and farmer), her charming husband Mark Connolly (a third generation waterman, who, along with his brother, caught the delicious fish we ate), Rachel Vecchio (a super-talented baker and pastry chef who supplied the desserts) and Kathy Bosin (a local blogger who graced us with her presence and charming dinner company).

We began with the lovely wine and worked in some freshly pressed & chilled watermelon juice for pacing. Then came the Red Cloud goat cheese served with grilled French bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and Carol’s special, handmade “fish” crackers with sesame seeds and black lava salt. While the whole rockfish – stuffed with lemon, garlic & fresh mint and wrapped in fresh fig leaves from one of the farm’s three fig trees – was grilling along with eggplant brushed with olive oil & sea salt. The parade of delicacies began to emerge from Carol’s magical kitchen; quinoa cakes with slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, yogurt and finished with the tiniest micro-arugula we’d ever seen, fresh honeydew melon salad with blackberries and radish micro greens – tossed with a lavender white balsamic vinaigrette, barley salad with fresh, local raw corn, slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and fresh feta cheese, freshly grown and made chilled cucumber gazpacho “shooters” with a hint of lemon and garlic topped with beautiful, tiny micro greens – all fresh from the garden and Carol’s French green beans, pickled in her own chive flower-infused vinegar. As we ate, drank and enjoyed every nuanced bite of these super-fresh, simple yet complex culinary delights, the dessert table started to beckon …

Carol popped the cork on a bottle of Domaine Du Pre Semele and we started nibbling dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese, rolled in chopped, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, then fresh, local peaches, soaked in a lemon verbena simple syrup, dusted with fresh lavender flowers, drizzled with balsamic reduction which had been grilled on the fire and finally ripe brown Turkish figs fresh from Carol’s incredibly productive tree, sliced over the most delicate and decadent St. Angel cheese, drizzled with local honey. It cannot be stressed how delicious this cheese was (it will be eaten again. Soon!).  And then, just when we all thought things couldn’t get any better, Rachel brought out her now famous honeyed-thyme brown Turkish fig crostatas (made with local figs picked in nearby Neavitt and honey from Sand Hill Farms) served with homemade orange blossom whipped cream and an absolutely out-of-this-world rustic peach galette (made with peaches from Caroline County, and served with lavender-scented homemade whipped cream. Wow. Wow. And wow. We are still quite floored by it all and frankly, just longing for an encore! September, anyone?

16 Comments »

  1. pfe112@verizon.net said

    oh boy! how lovely and beautiful.  hope everyone was pleased with your work and this piece.  see ya soon.    

    • Thanks for the comment, Patsy – it just went up today, but was such a great evening – thinking we’ll have to do part II soonly! xo

  2. Oh. My. Gosh. What a lovely lovely evening you had!! I would have loved to join you. Always delighted with your blogposts and looking forward to every new post! /Sonja in Sweden

  3. Gorgeous, gorgeous images! You’re right, this is one of those great evenings you see in photos… lucky you for having been there to enjoy it :-)

  4. joythejoy said

    These photographs are soooo pretty!!! You’re extremely gifted!
    Have the best day of your life! xxx

    • Thank you so much for your very, very kind words – so glad you like these photos! It was truly a wonderful meal and experience to be a part of …

  5. glorious. i dream of this x

  6. Reb said

    Simply overjoy! A treat for soul, heart and tummy.

    • Thank you so much for this lovely comment – it was a superb evening, for sure!

  7. Charissa said

    Your photos, food AND scenery are so magically beautiful – I’m completely jealous right now!

  8. artie said

    Just got the pasta throwing shot and thought I hadn’t looked at this site for a while. The Honeydew melon salad is being made NOW. It looks an absolute winner!

    BTW, nice setting for dinner…

    • Thanks, Artie – so glad you like the post and hope you enjoy the salad, too – it was quite delicious when Carol made it this summer. We’ve gotten about a million posts behind from lots of tv work, but are nearly ready to update again. So you’ll hear/see more from us soon. Thanks so much for checking in and hope you guys are all wonderful! xo, m&j

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