Colonial Kitchens of St. Michaels, Maryland
Take a culinary trip through the Chesapeake Bay town
St. Michaels, Md., is known as the town that fooled the British. The Chesapeake Bay town earned its moniker during the War of 1812, when residents hoisted lanterns high into the trees; the resulting illusion of a heightened shoreline caused the British to overshoot the town’s houses and shipyards entirely, with only one home the exception — since known as Cannonball House.
While St. Michaels may have thwarted the British in that battle (and well, everyone knows how the war turned out), this pristine Victorian resort town has preserved much of the original Colonial feel, English influences included.
Perhaps no better example of the marriage of new and old exists than the Inn at Perry Cabin, the main building constructed in 1816 for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the likeness of his cabin on the flagship U.S.S. Niagara. Now expanded to 76 guest accommodations interwoven with sitting rooms in colonial revival style, meticulously manicured gardens, and a spa, guests can enjoy the finest pleasures from both sides of the pond.
With executive chef Mark Timms, winner of the Forbes Four Diamond Award, at the helm of the culinary team, guests can savor this talented Englishman’s take on several England classics, particularly in the Purser’s Pub, featuring his own fish and chips, oyster pot pie, and bread puddings. But Anglophiles, or anyone wishing to enjoy one of life’s simplest pleasures, should grab a wingback in the captain’s library or outdoors at one of the waterfront garden tables to nibble and sip on an exquisite afternoon tea, complete with floral-trimmed tea sandwiches, homemade scones, berry butter tortes, pastries, preserves, lemon curd, and Devon cream.
Chef Timms' modern flare can best be enjoyed in the main dining room, Sherwood’s Landing, with exquisite dishes such as his sous vide lobster over a decadent crawfish risotto. He even dabbles in molecular gastronomy, with such delights as a gorgeous "virtual egg"— with an egg white of fresh mozzarella encasing a golden yolk of local heirloom tomato gelée, a delicious and playful twist on a caprese salad.
Travelers seeking less refined pleasures may want to pull a bucket up next to their table for discarding shells at The Crab Claw just down the river, a former clam shucking and crab business that converted into a seafood eatery in 1965, known for its steamed and seasoned blue crabs served by the dozen, paired with beer by the pitcher.
Epicureans seeking to take home a morsel of memorabilia will want to explore Talbot Street. This main street that connects an area of more than 37 bed-and-breakfasts, specialty markets, and retailers of nautical goods is lined with restored homes dating back to the 1700s. One of the most popular stores, The Christmas Shop, has several rooms of Christmas trees decorated by theme, including a culinary tree of food ornaments. Those crab shells so hastily discarded in plastic buckets at The Crab Claw? Here, local artists have turned them into hand-painted Santa Clauses, a seasonal nod to the culinary traditions of this frozen-in-time Chesapeake Bay town.
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