- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
There will be wine, spirits, ales and whiskey, but one of the draws of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation’s annual wine tasting is what all of it is washing down — the food.
Chefs and bakers, some of whom are Charles County natives, will attempt to create offerings with the event’s theme in mind.
This year’s Bottles & Boots offers a unique challenge.
“I had to step outside the box and be creative,” said Richard Hunt, chef at Point Grill, the restaurant at Swan Point Yacht & Country Club, the sponsors of the wine tasting’s VIP reception.
Hunt, who was raised in Charles County, is putting together pulled pork sandwiches with Old Bay seasoning, Tidewater coleslaw and fried oysters.
The restaurants and groups providing food and desserts at the wine tasting include Bobby Rucci’s Famous Italian Deli & Doughboys, Charles Street Bakery, Chick-fil-A, DJ Delectables, Grace Lutheran Church and School, Johnny Boys BBQ, Michelle’s Bakery, Red Oak Bistro, Point Grill at Swan Point Yacht & Country Club and Tri-County Hearth & Patio.
Hunt said he is taking tried-and-true regional recipes and “putting a twist on them.”
Joe Croson, Red Oak Bistro’s general manager, said his La Plata restaurant is comfortable thinking about flavors and how they mix well with others.
The restaurant does a lot of infusions, he said — like a Spanish moscato with jalapeño and honey.
At the wine tasting, Red Oak’s chef Dwight Wells will make gazpacho with shrimp, avocado and cilantro, along with spareribs.
The hits outweighed the misses when it came to whipping up dishes.
“We got really lucky,” said Croson, who added that the restaurant strives to help local charities when it can.
The eatery’s offerings at the fundraiser will feature flavors that transition from summer to fall, Croson said.
The Koos family — mom Michelle and daughters Nikki and Heather — of Michelle’s Bakery will whip up fall-inspired flavors in cupcakes, minipies and cookies like pumpkin, red velvet and maple bacon, “but not very heavy,” Nikki said.
Michelle Koos has been making cakes for 30 years, and the family opened a brick and mortar bakery three years ago in Indian Head.
She and Heather are sugar artists, while Nikki is the baker.
“We’re very excited and happy they brought us on,” Nikki said of the event.
Charles Street Bakery also will be adding a touch of sweetness to the 17th annual wine tasting with brownies and cupcakes.
Bakery owner Deborah Taylor said the business has been participating in the fundraiser for the three years.
“It’s the best event in Charles County as far as I’m concerned,” Taylor said. “The support is absolutely amazing, and it’s so much fun.”
She’s not alone in believing the wine tasting is the year’s hottest ticket.
John Flatley, owner of Chick-fil-A in La Plata, said he was amazed when he attended the event last year — offering food, iced tea and lemonade.
“It was twice as big as I thought it would be,” he said, adding that it is also one of the best organized events he has been a part of.
“It’s the best taste of Charles County,” said Flatley, who described himself as a “foodie.”
This year, Chick-fil-A will debut its new Thrive Farmers coffee that can served iced or hot.
“There’s a point at the end of the night when coffee is a good idea,” Flately said.
Before that point, Colonial Liquors will set out wines, ales and whiskey for the adult crowd to sample.
There will be more than 30 different wines, some from Maryland vineyards, said Shelly Culhane of Colonial Liquors, which has participated in the event for at least 13 years.
In the cigar lounge there will be an assortment of brandy and Scotch and a honey rum by Canary Island-based distillery Arehucas.
Event co-chairwomen Darlene Breck and Becky Hoffman said there will be a bigger dance floor this year after hearing requests for one.
“Our crowd is getting younger,” Breck said. “The last two years we’ve heard ‘We want to dance.’”
Slated to perform will be the Naked Jam Band, and quick line dancing lessons will be given, Breck said.
The wine tasting — a fundraiser for the hospital — started small at Linden Farm in La Plata 17 years ago and has only grown, hosted at the Port Tobacco Courthouse for the past 11 years, Breck said.
It attracts about 800 people and proceeds this year will go to the hospital’s birthing center — the theme is a play on words, Breck said.
“Bottles and boots ... baby bottles and booties, get it?” she said.
Bill McGee, owner of the landscaping company Outdoor Creations, which helps decorate the courthouse grounds, is up for the challenge of working with the broad theme.
In the past, Brazil and low-country themes lent themselves to outdoor designs.
“We’ll come up with something interesting,” said McGee, a member of the foundation’s board and a member of the wine tasting committee.
He first attended the event as a guest and was so impressed he became more involved.
It’s a way to meet your neighbors and a good community builder.
“You meet and see your community — the people you live with,” McGee said. “And it’ll be fun.”