Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On the Road Again: Seafood and Wine in Virginia

We hit the road to ESVA in a beautiful Cadalliac CTS on Friday at 4:30 pm.

Bad idea! The only thing bearable about the five and a half hour drive was being in the sweet car. We were supposed to make it to dinner at Aqua, but we were too late. We heard The Shanty was open, but when we got there the kitchen was closed. It was only 10 pm. Boo! ESVA is apparently a dead zone in the off season. We drove to the grocery store, the only open place to get food, and stumbled upon a Chinese restaurant. They were sweet enough to stay open and cook us dinner. Yay! Bonus: the food was actually super tasty.

We made our was to the Cape Charles BnB. This cute home had the doors unlocked and wine and cheese waiting for us. The rooms were comfy but bright and a bit noisy.

Saturday was a long day for us. We started off the morning with delicious breakfast quesadillas at the B&B. After tasty meal we headed out to shooting point oyster company. 
We learned about the history of the fishing industry in the Eastern shore of Virginia. Shooting Point Oyster Company is a family farm that provides two distinct watersheds: Nassawadox salts from the lower Bayside and shooting point salts from the Atlantic barrier islands. The owners guided us on an oyster barge excursion. We pulled up the cages learned the ins and outs of oyster farming.
Although was a bit chilly, the water was calm the trees were changing colors and it felt so good just to get away from it all. The oyster barge took us over to Chatham Vineyards where we were given a tour of the property. Chatham Vineyards is located on Virginia's historic Eastern shore between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. The Vineyard contains 32,000 Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot vines. The Winery has state of the art equipment with French and American oak barrels. We were treated to a private oyster and wine-tasting featuring six local oysters from the region and three Chatam Chardonnays to pair. The wine is specifically grown to compliment the shellfish produced in the waters that surround Virginia's Eastern shore. The church Creek steel Chardonnays were light in flavor as to not overwhelm the taste of the oysters. 
We tasted Henderson Brothers oysters from the Bayside, Westerhouse Pinks from the Bayside, Nassawadox Salts from the Bayside, Indian Rock oysters from the seaside, Sewansecott from the seaside, and Toby Island Bay Oysters from Chincoteague Island. All of the oysters were salty with a sweet finish, but my favorite were these Westerhouse Pinks. The pinks take their name from the range of pale violet, translucent magenta, and blush pink highlights seen in their new shell growth.
After loading up on oysters we kept on eating with a tasting menu from Chef Amy Brandt. We started with the Seared Rockfish over oyster cream sauce with roasted pumpkin and arugula salad. The dish was paired with Chatham Vineyards 2011 church Creek Oak Chardonnay. Next up was Roasted Hayman sweet potato cake with prosciutto and Apple Cabernet infused vinaigrette. We finished the meal with a pear tart with chestnut brittle and a blackberry sauce paired with the 2010 Church Creek late harvest dessert wine. we spent the rest of the day with even more eating and drinking. John Wehner was kind enough to give us a barrel tasting. We bundled up around the fire on the property and slurped down clam chowder. Such a perfect way to spend a day.
Before heading back to DC on Sunday, we stopped off at Eyre Hall to check out the gardens. Last stop on the journey was the historic Willis Wharf. Virginia is the largest producer farm raised clams on the East Coast. It produces more than 100 million clams annually. Representatives from H. M. Terry Company took us on a boat ride and walked us through the process of aqua farming. 

All in all, Eastern shore is a great place to spend the weekend.

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