9.08pm, Tuesday 16th October, South President Street, Fells Point, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Evening again, folks – back from dinner in Baltimore’s Little Italy because I had a serious craving for home-style veal saltimbocca. I stopped in at Chiapparellis and was looked after like famiglia. If you get a chance, they’re well worth a visit – besides the fab veal they start you off with one of their signature ‘chips’ salads. Picture a mountain of chopped iceberg lettuce laced with sweet onions, tomato, pickled peppers, and the ‘secret recipe’ crushed garlic, Parmesan cheese and crumbled egg dressing. All very good for you and tastes great as well. Then just when you think it can’t get any better … it does. The walk back to the hotel just happened to take me past the revered local pasticceria Vaccaro’s. Couldn’t help myself, because they fill canolis to order! Ive been a good kid, so I went with the minis – one with vanilla custard, one with chocolate. ‘Yum’ is a valid descriptor. Oh … .and I would recommend our Yalumba Antique Tawny with all its raisin, dried fig, caramel and dry walnut brandy spirit finish as the perfect partner for Vaccaro’s canolis.
**If you’re in Adelaide – South Australia – substitute canoli from Cibo coffee and stay with the Antique Tawny.
Now back to our big day on Chesapeake Bay. Normally, when one of our distributors suggests a 6.30am trade call, you would think they were joking. Not our Bruce Gearhart, the man in charge at Bacchus – our truly staunch, long-standing agents for mighty Maryland and the capital of the country – Washington ‘DC’ or the District of Columbia. When he suggested we plan to leave Baltimore at 5.30am to be at our first call by 6.30am – and leave the plans for the day to him – we just got ourselves organized! So away we went, and arrived at the designated address to meet Bruce – the Kent Island BP Gas Station on Romancoke Road, Stevensville, Maryland – at 6.30am. Here we got our first pleasant surprise, because the gas station services the local community which is mostly concerned in some way with fishing – on the nearby Chesapeake Bay. There’s a small general store, huge choice of coffees and light meals, is licensed to sell alcohol, and has our Oxford Landing wines on the shelves – excellent choice for the icebox or the fridge on the boats.
Next stop was the Kentmorr Harbour Marina, where we found out what the plan for the day was. Fishing! With some blokes that are top supporters of our Yalumba wines, and Jim Brady – from the Capital Gazette. So we clambered as gracefully as we could onto the good wooden fishing boat the Ellen-R and met Captain Jeff … and were off onto Chesapeake Bay just as the sun started to poke its nose over the horizon. I’ve seen the words ‘Chesapeake Bay’ on so many seafood menus across America – mostly with respect to their famous soft shell crab season – and now I can put a huge open water face to that name. Chesapeake Bay is huge, about 20-25 feet deep in most parts, with a 200 foot deepwater channel through the centre, allowing oceangoing shipping their access to Baltimore Harbour.
Several of those ships were lying at anchor, and we slid up and down their sides, looking for bluefish and striped bass. It’s a very strange experience to do that sort of fishing, I kid you not, but we were in extremely good hands with Captain Jeff! The bass fishing was a whole new thing for me. You’re using live bait, you have to leave your line open, feel the bite, then resist the urge to rip the rod up, and let the line run … let the bass take the smaller fish and get onto the hook more or less itself. Then, you close the line, set the hook, and reel in like a mad thing! Result … striped bass in the icebox! Danielle – our gal in Maryland and DC, as well as The Carolinas – and I both caught fish, but the stars were our mate Rick from Stateline Liquors, Bruce, and Grady.
A great day out, with mini crab cakes on board for lunch – with our 2010 Eden Valley Viognier and 2009 Wild Ferment Chardonnay. Not to mention the on board tasting of a top set of our current red wines once we got back to the Marina. So that was our Tuesday … on Chesapeake Bay. Thanks a million Bruce, and good luck to the USA with their attempt to qualify for the World Cup 2013.
Here was our day out in pictures