Taste of Talbot County, Maryland
Story by Katie DeTar
Talbot County, Maryland, boasts the most shoreline of any county in the USA—600 miles! The land curves in, out, and around the Chesapeake Bay, offering photogenic scenes in practically every direction. The area bursts with abundant boating and watersport opportunities, friendly communities, distinct arts, intriguing history, and scrumptious seafood.
A diverse assortment of sailboats and waterfowl dot the expansive Bay views from sunrise to sunset. Dive into action, whether you prefer to paddle, pedal, trek, or drive around exploring. Relax and linger at your pick among the plentiful waterfront activities, lodging, and dining options. From great fun to flavor, there’s much to savor in Talbot County.
What To Eat in Talbot County
Local seafood can be enjoyed in many mouthwatering ways in Talbot County, from eye-popping formal preparations by renowned chefs to casual grab-and-go picnics.
Among the local fare, crab reigns supreme throughout Maryland as the favorite seafood for travelers and residents alike. In addition to addictively delicious crab cakes, dig into creations like cream of crab soup, crab fried rice, crab ravioli, crab mac and cheese, crab tart, and many more tempting dishes.
Seasonally available soft shell crab is a local favorite; try it tucked into a sandwich, splayed across pasta, nestled atop salad greens, or featured center of plate. For a hands-on culinary experience, order a bucket of hard shell crab and hammer and crack your way to the sweet meat. Pull it out of the shell to devour straight up or dip morsels into a sauce of your choice from spicy to creamy to buttery.
Local oysters and rockfish are other enduring favorites across Talbot County menus. Try local oysters on the half shell, fried in a spicy cornmeal crust, baked Rockefeller style, tucked into a sandwich, tossed upon a salad, stuffed into a fresh catch, or another creative application. Whether blackened, broiled, fried, baked, seared, or cooked another way, rockfish (also known as striped bass) is another Bay harvest worth every bite.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of seafood, you’ll still find lots of yummy things to eat. Local menus present a full range of options from familiar favorites like hamburgers to creative spins on healthy vegetable plates, decadent pastas to innovative tacos, aromatic pizzas to comforting soups, and so much more.
Save room for Maryland’s state dessert, the Smith Island Cake: it’s a towering sweet treat of multiple thin cake layers sandwiched together with lots of creamy frosting.
Hands-On Foodie Fun
For a genuine sea-to-table experience, go crabbing! There are numerous public fishing and crabbing piers in Talbot County where you can bring your own equipment. If you need gear, you’ll find it at many local gear and tackle shops. Just be sure to follow all Maryland State regulations and note that crab season runs April 1 through December 15. For the best possible results, you can also hire an outfitter and charter a boat to bring you to the best crabbing spots, prepare your gear, and get you out on the water for a fun-filled day of crabbing.
If you’d rather leave the harvesting to the watermen, visit the Easton Farmer’s Market and the St. Michael’s Famer’s Market. Both offer fresh seafood and farm products from local producers. Grab some local oysters, crab, and other catches to cook up a feast. Farmers and watermen bring their fresh harvests to the markets weekly.
When To Visit Talbot County
Join locals at seafood celebrations and food festivals held throughout the year. Among the traditional options…
The annual Tilghman Island Seafood Festival benefits the Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Company in July. The event includes live music, lots of seafood to enjoy, and even a live crab race.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum hosts OsyterFest each October, with an oyster stew cook-off, oysters prepared and served in dozens of creative recipes, plus live music, cooking demonstrations, fall-themed events, games, and boat rides.
Talbot County’s “Crab Drop” event on New Year’s Eve honors the revered local food. Every December 31 the town of Easton gathers for celebrations and to watch a giant crab drop a few stories to ring in the new year.
Things To Do in Talbot County
The landscape shapes the area’s history, economics, and tastes. Talbot County was an early shipbuilding center, and residents were tied to the water as seafaring watermen and fishermen working the Bay and surrounding rivers to earn a living.
For an intricate look at the waterfront history of Talbot County, head to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. This 18-acre indoor/outdoor immersive museum tells the story of the local fishing industry through exhibits of water vessels, sailing and fishing artifacts, classes and seminars, and the preservation of the Hooper Strait lighthouse (which was moved to the site in the late 1960s). The “Floating Fleet” exhibits former Bay vessels, including the Enda E. Lockwood, the last working oyster boat of her kind that was built in the late 1800s on Tilghman Island.
The Oxford Museum tells the story of the Chesapeake Bay and Islands fishing and seafaring history. Among the exhibits are artifacts from sailing, fishing and ferry vessels, and a Fresnel Lens from a former nearby lighthouse.
The St. Michaels Museum presents culture and history through historic artifacts as well as the stories of people preserved as oral histories, and a calendar of programs and activities. Among the highlights is famed abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass, who was born and raised in Talbot County in the early 1800s and enslaved on local farms before escaping North.
The Phillips Wharf Environmental Center, located on Tilghman Island, is a waterfront learning facility rooted in the center of a working fishing village. It features exhibits and classes geared towards environmental stewardship and local ecology. You can learn how to advocate for the waterways, and ensure that the oyster, crab, and fish populations can thrive in the Chesapeake Bay for generations to enjoy.
Plan A Trip
Katie DeTar is the host and producer of “Fringe Benefits,” a Public Television travel series that highlights destinations in and around featured American cities. The show also delves into nearby and lesser-known villages, scenic highlights, unique shopping, local flavor, and relaxing getaways found just on the fringe of the featured city. Learn more about Katie and “Fringe Benefits” on her website, katiedetar.com, and also in this interview.