Day: July 1, 2014

Business Profile

Bubble Dip Old Town – Step Aside Trendy Coffee…

I count on the Crier’s business profile to keep me up to speed on what is new and on the rise, in and around Old Town. In a world of social media, some may call me old fashioned; nonetheless, I manage to survive. This month I had the opportunity to learn about a new craze in the caffeine world, and am excited to share something new for you to post on your Facebook and Pinterest pages alike! Please help me welcome Jess Gurney and her husband Dan Chi to the neighborhood. Business owners, former military, and lovers of Alexandria, this past spring, Jess followed her bliss and brought us the new and popular Bubble Dip, located on 321 South Washington Street in Old Town. I have learned that, finally, there is a drink that is also fun to eat. (Yes, eat.) Trendy coffee drinks can step aside; bubble tea is the new craze and paired with Jess’s baked goods and savory treats Bubble Dip is a place you are going to want to know about. In case you are not already aware, let me bring you up to speed. Bubble tea is a cold drink sensation, originally from Taiwan, of tea infused with fruit flavoring, shaken to produce bubbles, and served over sweet and chewy pearls. These pearls, also known as “bobas”, are are made from tapioca starch and taste sweet like caramel-flavored Jell-O. (She had me at cold drink sensation). Jess has always had a passion for baking and the aspiration to own her own bakery. Now with business owner and manager after her name, she is wearing many hats and living her dream. How many of us can say that? Although she is modest about her craft, there is no denying that Bubble Dip came to the neighborhood…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes July 2014

This months issue looks a little different, especially the cover.  A friend noted, “What does that have to do with Old Town?”…well nothing, but it is relevant to the July Road Trip column.  Looking a little Jurassic Park, Iggy was one of three iguana lizards that visited us at the pool on our trip to St. John, USVI.  After the cold of this last winter it was nice to escape to the tropics with friends.  Read about it in this month’s Road Trip. The Civil War is in its’ last year 150 years ago and Doug Coleman brings the seesaw battles close to home in his column Civil Discourse as the Rebels and Federals engage each other in battles in Frederick, MD, Silver Spring, Leesburg and throughout Virginia. Laura Parker captures the essence of another one of the areas interesting people in her Personality Profile column – Rich Bloch isn’t your run of the mill attorney, he’s also a well-known magician and actor. Liz Jones introduces you to a new kid on the block in the Business Profile column– Bubble Dip. A new Thai bubble tea shop on Washington Street. Lori Welch highlights some of the pros and cons of independence is this months Single Space and Ashley Denham Busse reminds us all about the perils the hot weather causes our furry friends in Points on Pets. This and much more in the pages of this issue. Congratulations this month go out to Team USA in their qualifying for the knockout round of 16 in the World Cup Soccer match, or Futbol as it is known in the rest of the world.  I am not much of a soccer fan, but, like the rest of the country, I am cheering for our team and watching every game.  Good luck to…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

St. John, USVI

In May we had the opportunity to visit St. John, USVI and stay at two terrific villas, One in Cruz Bay the other in Coral Bay.  The first week we stayed at Las Brisas Caribe on the south side of Cruz Bay with a beautiful view of the island of St. Thomas in the distance.  The second week we went to the east end of the island and spent a week at Blue Palm Villa overlooking Coral Bay. I know that this is not your typical “road trip” as it involves flying 5 hours to get to the destination, however the roads of St. John are an adventure in themselves.  The island is 19.61 sq miles in area with two-thirds of the island owned by the National Park Service, so most of the island is undeveloped.  Some of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean are located along the island’s north shore.  The most spectacular and well known of these is Trunk Bay, which has been consistently voted one of the ten best beaches in the world.  Since the beaches are located on National Park land, they are all open to the public with the exception of Caneel Bay, which is privately owned. The reefs near St. John beaches are also world-famous for their snorkeling and marine activities.  In some areas, such as Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, signs identifying various marine flora and fauna have been placed by the National Park Service among the many offshore coral reefs to assist snorkelers and divers. The beaches on the east end are mostly pebble and coral with a few sandy spots scattered around.  In most cases to get to these secluded beaches requires a short hike through natural terrain. St. John is a volcanic island and has many hills and sharp…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Dining Out – July 2014

There is something special about living in Alexandria and being a culinary enthusiast (read: foodie). With the Potomac River, Patuxent River, and Chesapeake Bay within daytrip distance, there is an abundance of local seafood. In their specific season we are blessed with oysters, blue crabs, rockfish, and even fluke. With locally sourcing markets and restaurants there are no boundaries to where our imaginations can take us. Folks from out of town are always eager to see who has the best local crab cake or which method is best when preparing rockfish (the answer to this is always: citric acid denaturation). But seafood does not always entertain the masses and as I consider myself a man of the people – I set out to look for unique foods that are processed locally and hold some type of historical importance. My search brought me to Southern Maryland stuffed ham, which is a tradition that is mainly perpetuated by St. Mary’s county families. The method is simple yet unique – a 14-16 pound ham is deboned, and with the handling of a surgeon, filled with cabbage, kale, onions, seasoning and spices. It is then wrapped in cheesecloth or if you’re not as legit – stuffed into a pillowcase then boiled. I keep hearing that the rule is twenty minutes to the pound but most recipes are family or institutional secrets, and I could not get too much info on the process from the business owners I asked. The one secret I was able to pick up on was the post boil setting. After the ham is boiled it is left to cool for two hours. The excess stuffing and ham is then served cold as a full meal. Traditionally it is eaten during the colder months when the heat cannot spoil the ham…

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Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Chef’s Special – Melvin Urrutia

Melvin Urrutia Flying Fish 815 King Street Old Town Alexandria 703-600-FISH My name is Melvin Urrutia, and I came to the United States at the age of 14. I attended and graduated from TC Williams High School. I worked for a lot of excellent restaurants like Bibiana Osteria, where I mastered and fell in love with traditional Italian food. I also worked for top Chef Mike Isabella who owned Grafiato and Kapnos. At the age of 18, I was the sous chef for Al Copeland’s Cajun restaurant “Copeland’s” in Alexandria and I became a master sushi chef 8 years ago. When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career? I grew up in El Salvador and at the age of 10 decided to do my own cooking. It is not common for men to do the cooking in my home country but for some reason I wouldn’t eat what my sisters or cousins would cook. I figured out ways to do my own cooking better. At 15, I was working as a dish washer at Ramparts, when the chef asked me if I wanted to cook, I smiled and said, “Yes.” From that moment on I realized that this was going to be my career. Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career? I have to say my grandmother. She taught me the value of cooking, how to appreciate an everyday meal, and she taught me how to make excellent tamales. My other inspiration is Chef Nick Stefanelli, who is the executive chef at Bibiana in Washington, D.C.. With him I learned that no matter what it is, it’s always how you cook it and how you present it. Dish on the menu you are most curious to see how it’s received?…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Summertime is Sizzling!

The Harbor just keeps growing in leaps and bounds! The Capitol Wheel is fully operational and still generating a lot of buzz; the erection of the Jumbotron on the Plaza has added another dimension to the harbor experience; completion of the Esplanade luxury apartments is on the near horizon and construction on the new MGM Grand casino will soon be underway on the Plateau. It really is hard to believe that this place is only 6 years old. I have a hard time remembering what the shoreline looked like back in 2008. Dining in the Harbor is taking on a new dimension as well. The new Redstone American Grill is attracting its fair share of visitors and locals. Located right on the water on the north side of the Awakening, it provides another great waterfront dining experience. Redstone is billed as a upscale, casual dining venue serving steak, chicken, pork and fish. The outdoor bar and patio is gorgeous. Soon to open is the Walrus Oyster & Ale House on the corner of American Way and Waterfront Street (the old Ketchup location). The concept was inspired by the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s eastern shore and is based on the Lewis Carroll poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Local award winning chef and proclaimed godfather of seafood, Bob Kinkead, will be overseeing the food program.  They hope to open their doors in early August (the renovation of this 6700 square foot space has been quite an undertaking) and will be serving local, moderately priced eastern shore style seafood and will, of course, feature an impressive oyster bar! American Way no longer has a weekly vendor based market but you can find Miller Farms selling a huge array of fruits, vegetables and baked goods at their stand every Saturday and Sunday from…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Some Don’t Like It Hot!

Did you know that, even if it’s just 78 degrees outside, the inside of your parked car can reach 120 degrees in just minutes?  Many of us love to take our pets with us when we go somewhere, or want to run an errand or two on the way to a pet-friendly outing, or to bring them with us on car trips.  I myself love to take Polly, my Labradoodle, along and that is one of the (too few, to me!) reasons winter is great, because I know she will be comfortable waiting in the car for me for ten or 15 minutes while I pop into the store.  But in the spring and summer?  Not so much. Many people aren’t aware that in just a few moments a car’s interior temperature can skyrocket.  This is true even if you roll down the windows a bit or park in the shade. Cars heat up way faster than you’d think – it’s just not worth the risk, is it? So what should you do if you see someone else leaving their dog in the hot car?  Say something!  Don’t be afraid to speak the truth!  If you see a dog in a parked car – this happens to us dog walkers more often than you might think – call the authorities immediately – either the police or animal control.  Write down the make, model, and license tag of the car and report the person for animal abuse because that’s what this is.  If you’re near an office building or store, have the owner paged and wait until you see some response.  In extreme cases, some people have gathered witnesses and then removed the animal from the car themselves. Here are the signs of heat stroke in pets: excessive thirst, heavy panting,…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

July Garden Tips

Check out the following July gardening tips! Remove faded flowers from perennials after they finish blooming. Deadheading redirects energy towards healthy roots. Maintain a 3 to 4 inch mulch layer around trees and shrubs to protect them from mower and weed whacker damage. Check plants regularly for insect problems; hand pick or use suitable control measures if found. Fertilize warm-season grasses. Plant butterfly nectar and larval food plants such as asclepias, buddleia, and passion flower. Replace spent annuals with heat-tolerant lantana, verbena, pentas, and hibiscus, Consider drip irrigation and/or soaker hoses as efficient watering alternatives. Harvest raspberries and blackberries daily to avoid attracting insects to overripe fruit. Prune water sprouts from apple trees. Water flowerbeds and water flower beds and gardens deeply. This encourages a deep root system. Start basil seedlings for a fall herb garden. Mow warm-season grasses at a height of 2.5 to 3 inches; apply at least an inch of water a week. Prevent rose diseases with a fungicide spray program. For longest vase life, harvest cut flowers just as they begin to open and condition them in floral preservative. Fertilize container plants every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer solution for best bloom. Keep annuals in bloom by removing faded flowers. Bats help control mosquitoes; attract these friendly mammals with bat houses. Help trees survive the heat by mulching heavily over the root system–avoid mulch too close to the trunk. Save space in the garden with trellises, fences, and stakes-harvest is easier too. Be sure to log in to for everything concerning your flower and vegetable gardening!   Written by:

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