Posts Tagged ‘Eastville Virginia’

‘Twas A Crisp December Night For The 15th Annual Cape Charles, Virginia Holiday Tour & Progressive Dinner

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Luminaries light the way to "Willow Lawn"

For the past 14 years,  as a fundraiser to benefit  local organizations,  the Cape Charles -Northampton Chamber of Commerce has hosted this wonderful holiday event of open houses and public buildings with  each one,  in progression,  serving its portion of a very festive dinner. (  Which is why,  duh,  it’s called a  “progressive dinner”,  nothing to do with politics here,   just some good old-fashioned holiday celebration.)  And its always been held in the little coastal town of Cape Charles, Virginia,  home to many gorgeous Victorian historic homes,  always dressed to the nines for the holidays .   As we all know,  incredible Christmas decorating is to Victorian as  gliding on the breeze is  to birds —  about the most fun you can have !   This year, however,  the venue for this iconic dinner tour was changed to Eastville, Virginia,  just a few minutes north of Cape Charles.

1793 Courthouse, Clerk's Office and Debtor's Prison On Courthouse Green, Eastville, Virginia

A slight digression.  I’ve always thought it a bit unfair that very early Virginia history is not better known.   ( If asked about the earliest Colonial settlements,   in my experience,  most people automatically say  Mayflower,  Plymouth Rock,  Pilgrims .   But they would lose their Jeopardy Points because the Pilgrims  didn’t dip  their  smelly little toes  ( think 2  month trip,  no jacuzzi )  into the icy cold waters of  Cape Cod  Bay until the winter of 1620.  But by that time,  the Eastern Shore had already been colonized  by the Virginia Company of London,  folks who  were no doubt enjoying our mild climate and the moderate water temperatures of the Chesapeake Bay.  Unfortunately, we just don’t get widespread credit for our early accomplishments.  )   Eastville  itself plays a very big part in the Shore’s history as it was,  and still is,  the seat of Northampton County.   Repository of the oldest continuous land records in the United States,  dating to 1623,   historians and genealogists from all over the country  have come to the Northampton County Courthouse in Eastville to examine the  old wills,  deeds and records of Court proceedings,  all of  which offer amazing insights into life in those  early Colonial times.   But back to the  2010 Progressive Dinner Tour,  held in this beautifully preserved historic town,  where the Tour even included the Courthouse Green where  appetizers were served  in the 1731 old Courthouse which is next to what was once the Debtor’s Prison.  ( In an interesting twist of logic, apparently the colonists believed that the best solution to debt was to lock up the offender rather than leave him free to try to earn the money to pay the debt !  )

Some crisp salad greens, a little goat cheese, sprinkled with cranberries & pecans- Yum !

Groups gathered  by designated reservation times which started about 5 pm,  last Tour about  8:30.   From there it was shank’s mare,  walking onward and upward,  following the paths laid out by brightly glowing luminaries,   to the  seven different venues,  each one featuring  a new and delicious food item and  new musical entertainment.   A special thanks is owed to the staffs  of the historic Eastville Inn,  built in 1780,   for providing the entree as well as to Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles,  Aqua in Cape Charles,  Don Valerio’s and Yuk and Joe’s,  both of Eastville, and the Exmore Diner,  Exmore,   for all their hard work in preparing  the great food featured at  this event–  guys and gals,  you really pulled it off !   And to all those who played or sang their hearts out,  your  music added so much to the entire evening — bravo !   

Delicious entree, delightful music at the historic Eastville Inn, circa 1780

“Coventon” ,  built in 1795 and owned by the current family for over 100 years,  hosted an  appetizer of taquitos with a very creamy guacamole,  then it was on to “The Little House”,  built in 1882 and renovated in 2005,  where a terrific salad of baby greens  garnished with goat cheese, pecans and  cranberries was served.  A  soup course of butternut squash soup  accompanied by  the traditional southern holiday treat  of  fluffy sweet potato biscuits stuffed with salty country ham were served at the old courthouse complex.  From there to  “Willow Lawn”,   built about 1895 and  named for the  tremendous willow oak tree  standing sentinel on the front lawn,  where a trio of cheeses  were paired with  Chatham Vineyard’s  local crafted wines.  Doubling back  to the beautifully decorated Eastville Inn where  Chef  Charles Thain served a delicious entree of  breast of chicken in a herbed cream sauce  nestled on a bed of Virginia ham with three grain rice and haricots vert on the side.  Onward  to the final stop on the Tour,  “Boxwood”,   built in 1923,  home of the Mayor of Eastville,  named for its lovely boxwood garden.  There a scrumptiously rich dessert  of  triple berry bread pudding  paired  with a lush sweet dessert wine  from local winery,  Holly Grove Vineyards,  and freshly brewed coffee from the Eastern Shore Coffee Company brought this grand dinner celebration to a close.  And so on that crisp December evening,  the 15th Annual Holiday Progressive Dinner Tour proved every bit as  successful as its predecessors,  leaving everyone  who attended looking forward to  the 16th Annual coming next year !