Month: April 2015

Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Chef Joseph Lennon

By: Chester Simpson Mason Social 728 North Henry St. Old Town Alexandria 703-548-8800 Chef Lennon moved to Virginia in 2008, and has worked at, in chronological order: Vermilion, Columbia Firehouse, The Grille at Morrison House, Urbana and Bourbon Steak and now Mason. When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career? I started cooking after a car accident during my freshman year of college left me without transportation to get to my job at a farm in southeast PA. I was on the grill station when the bus pulled up, about three months into my tenure.  It was busy, it was scary, it was fast, and then four hours later, it was over.  I was hooked.  I started reading cookbooks in history class, cooking in my free time and spent all summer in a tiny kitchen working on my knife and saute skills. Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career? Chef Dan Profita was one of the first chefs I worked for that really taught me the value of a work ethic, cleanliness, and mise en place.  He was a great inspiration to me very early in my career.  Since moving to the DC metro area, John Critchley has been a guiding light as I transitioned from line cook to running a kitchen.  He taught me how to manage numbers and how to manage people individually.  Dennis Marron and Tony Chittum also inspired me to help my kitchen staff excel to the height of their capabilities because it truly elevates the guest experience when every member of the kitchen and service staff are well-trained and knowledgeable. What dish on the menu are you most curious to see how it is received? I want to get more raw seafood preparations, raw beef,…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Cannot. Stop. Listening. – Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase.

If prog were to have a reigning king, that title would surely be bestowed upon Steven Wilson without any opposition, no doubt. Primarily known for over 20 years as the mastermind behind Porcupine Tree, Wilson completely changed the face of prog in ways that has made it more relevant, more original, and more successful than ever. In addition to his work with Porcupine Tree, Wilson has also spent almost thirty years as one half of no-man (the influential synth-pop duo with Tim Bowness) as well as projects such as Bass Communion, IEM, Blackfield (a successful collaboration with Israeli superstar Aviv Geffen) and Storm Corrosion – his 2012 album with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. If that wasn’t enough, Wilson has also become an in-demand producer, having been responsible for remixing the entire King Crimson catalog, as well as classic albums by Yes, Jethro Tull, and others, and is revered in the audiophile community for those projects. And, yet he still has time for solo albums. Following 2013’s mind-bogglingly-amazing The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories), Steve put his solo band to task on this new set which stands damn near, if not AT, the very top of his entire output. Fans of every facet of Wilson’s style will find something to love on this album, from the ambient to the heavy. It’s like he looked at everything he’s done before and decided to better it. Building from a sound sculpture, the opening “First Regret” sets the mood with sparse piano and a subtle beat before drifting right into the epic, “3 Years Older”, which comes in sounding not all that different from Permanent Waves-era Rush, with further detours through Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and perhaps even a little Crosby Stills & Nash. But with all those influences, this still…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Exploring VA Wines – Spring 2015

Spring is finally here and I find myself thinking about some bigger issues. As we have built our business over the last ten years, I have worked hard to identify and take advantage of good opportunities. Closely managing vineyards and orchards, hiring people who demonstrate a great work ethic, and producing authentic, marketable and high quality products are all crucial in helping turn a good opportunity into a success. We want to grow good crops sustainably, we want our staff to feel appreciated and we want our products to consistently demonstrate high quality. I have also worked hard to avoid exploiting any situation or opportunity. I recognize that the words “take advantage of” and “exploit” can sometimes be interchangeable, but the difference in nuances can mean the difference between good business and bad ethics. This is the difference between, say, recognizing a great entrepreneurial opportunity in knowing that outdoor concert goers will get thirsty, and charging $10 for a bottle of water at the event. Businesses are not the only ones to exploit opportunities; consumers can, as well. For example, in the past we have had winery visitors bring large groups of people, who bring their coolers, dogs, kids and even tents and other camping gear in tow. They would camp out for hours in our picnic area and purchase one or two bottles of wine. That would be taking advantage of the opportunity but it would also be exploiting it for all it is worth. (For the record, we and many other wineries no longer allow our facilities to be treated like public parks.) We need businesses to identify and take advantage of an unfulfilled need and find the way to fill it. The business deserves a profit for providing solutions and filling those needs. As the business matures,…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

Can My Life Line Tell Me How Long I’ll Live?

Hand Analysis, or as I like to call it, Pragmatic Palmistry is an interesting topic for so many people. Whenever people find out that I not only read hands, but that I spent a year getting my first certification and another year gaining my Master level certification they think I’m either bonkers or really interesting. It’s up to you to decide for yourself, of course. Here are few Myths and Facts about Hand Reading for your next trivia night. You cannot tell how long you’re going to live by the length, depth or shape of a life line on the hand. A life line begins between the index (Jupiter) finger and the Thumb and it curves around that fleshy pad below the thumb. It may be long or short, it may swing wide or curve close to the base of the thumb. It can tell you how grounded you are in the life you’re living right now – how much you enjoy being here on the planet, and how good you are to your body, but it cannot show you how long you’re going to live. If you’re interested in your life expectancy – – your family history, your eating habits, your drinking habits and your tendency to walk in traffic or down dark alleys in the worst part of town are more indicative of your life expectancy than a line on your hand. You may or may not have a “marriage” line. It doesn’t mean you will or will not be married. It seems that the internet is full of pictures of “marriage” lines and people who have been happily single for decades suddenly wig out thinking they are supposed to have TWO marriages! Or worse, there are people who are happily married and then find out (according to…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Gallery Beat – April 2015

Last month I had rotator cuff surgery and my right arm is pretty much out of commission for 6-8 weeks, and thus I asked DC area artist Amy Marx ( to guest review a show and below is her review of Phyllis Plattner’s recent show at American University’s Katzen Museum: In 1770 Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  These words are as relevant today as they were then.  There are, in the history of the visual arts, many examples of artists “doing something”, speaking in images rather than words. In 1830 Eugene Delacroix painted “Liberty Leading the People.”  He renders “Liberty” in feminine form leading the people over the dead bodies of the old order, in one hand holding aloft the tri-color flag of the French Revolution, the epic violent battle for freedom, and in the other hand she carries a bayoneted musket.  This iconic painting of the July 1830 Revolution depicts the overthrow of King Charles X of France.  Delacroix wrote his brother:  “If I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.” In 1814 Francisco Goya painted “The Shootings of the Third of May 1808 in Madrid.”  It is a gut-wrenching portrayal of a man with arms upraised before a firing squad.  He has an expression of horror on his face.     His comrades lie in a bloody heap at his feet. Goya’s emotionally charged depiction of this man’s last minutes of life was unprecedented.  The painting graphically illustrates the Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s invasion and occupation in the Peninsular War.  Art historian Kenneth Clark has said this is “the first great picture that can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention”. In 2001…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month! Adopt today!

Jeff (A063499): Hi! My name is Jeff and I’m eager to find my forever family! I’m a neutered male Dogue De Bordeaux mix, estimated to be about two years old. I love meeting new people and am always excited for playtime. Tug-of-war, fetch, tag – you name the game and I’m happy to play! If you’re looking for a goofy dog who will keep you active and on your toes, you can count on me! Biscuit (A063403): We would like to share our recipe for a terrific cat named Biscuit, who is sure to exceed your every expectation! He is a neutered male Domestic Shorthair, estimated to be about one year and 6 months old. Biscuit’s ingredients are: 4 cups of sugar (because he is so sweet!), 2 tablespoons of meow’s, 1 teaspoon of catnip, 1/2 cup of tuna fish, plenty of water, and a pinch of magic. Follow these directions for a purrrrfect Biscuit: snuggle and pet him regularly between play sessions, let rest when needed, repeat. Whether or not you enjoy baking, Biscuit is sure to butter you up! King Street Cats Adoption Calendar for April 2015 For details please see our Website: Or contact us via email at:   King Street Cats 25 Dove Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1.30pm-4.30pm   Pro Feed Bradlee Shopping Center, 3690 King St, Alexandria, VA 22302 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-4pm   Petco Unleashed 1101 S Joyce St, Arlington, VA 22202 Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19 from 1pm-4pm   The Dog Park 705 King Street, Alexandria, VA22314 Saturday, April 4 from 1pm-4pm   Dogma 2772 S Arlington Mill Dr, Arlington VA, VA 22206 Sunday, April 12 from 1pm-4pm   Barrett Street Library 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA22314 Saturday,…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Pet Friendly Spring Cleaning

I don’t know about you, but this time every year, when hints of spring are all around, when the temps are rising a bit and the sun is shining more, I get the urge to spring clean and refresh my home. If you’re reading this column, chances are you’re a pet-lover, so you may be interested to learn that there are lots of ways you can spring clean and refresh so that your pet is happier and more comfortable. The most important thing to keep in mind is that pets are, in general, much more sensitive to toxins, fumes, and irritants than we humans are. Consider the results of this study, by the Environmental Working Group, of products used in the home: “Dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 chemicals tested, including 43 chemicals at higher levels than those typically found in people, according to our study of plastics and food packaging chemicals, heavy metals, fire retardants, and stain-proofing chemicals in pooled samples of blood and urine from 20 dogs and 37 cats collected at a Virginia veterinary clinic. In dogs, the average level of stain- and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) was 2.4 times higher. In cats, fire retardants (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers or PBDEs) were 23 times higher, and Mercury was more than 5 times the amounts compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG.   The study is the most comprehensive investigation of the chemical body burden of companion animals conducted to date, with 23 chemicals reported in pets for the first time. The results reinforce findings from prior studies showing that pets’ unique behaviors may place them at risk for elevated exposures and health risks from chemicals pollutants in the home and outdoors,…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Donkeys in Paradise

Assateague Island National Seashore, the 37 mile long pristine Atlantic barrier island straddling Virginia and Maryland, boasts world famous wild ponies. Fifteen hundred miles south, the Virgin Island archipelago, mostly thinly developed mountainous tropical islands has it’s not so famous, but well-loved feral donkeys. Donkeys have been a key part of Virgin Island life for centuries. And, donkeys still have their day on the principle islands of St. Croix (US), St. Thomas (US), St. John (US), Tortola (UK), Virgin Gorda (UK) and Anegada (UK). About 300 of these “burros” roam the forests and yards of St. John, trimming roadside bushes, cutting grasses the old fashioned way and delighting tourists and residents alike. Anegada has also has a few hundred donkeys among its 2,000 wild hoofed animals. As transportation, they had (and still have) advantages over internal combustion engines that go beyond the price of fuel. An older gentlemen from St. Thomas laughingly told me their donkey would bring his father home on Saturday nights when he’d had too much rum to find his own way. When he was a boy, every family had a donkey.   It was the only way, other than sailing, to get around the often steep, rugged island trails. Sadly, donkeys are growing more scarce on some islands as jeeps and pick-up trucks replace their once dominant roles in personal and farm produce transport. Last August, a story in the British Virgin Islands Beacon, for instance, was headlined “Wanted: Donkeys.” The Beacon quoted several native “belongers” who bemoaned the dearth of donkeys. Tortola farmer Moviene Fahie explained how she tamed them: “I just talk with him, treat him good, feed him good, bathe him, shampoo him,” she said. “And he come tame.” On nearby St. John, where two-thirds of the island is the U.S. Virgin Islands National…

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Almost the End – Appomattox

CIVIL DISCOURSE, APRIL 1865 In late March of 1865, Grant threatens Lee’s supply line to Petersburg, meaning that Lee‘s army is now in danger of being enveloped and starved into submission. Lee characteristically chooses to go on the offensive. At about four in the morning on March 25th, Confederates masquerading as deserters surged out of the darkness before Fort Stedman. Follow-on troops overrun the fort and punch a hole in the Union lines 1000 feet wide. Lee’s ultimate objective is very ambitious – to seize and destroy the Federal supply depot at City Point. But then the attack slows and fizzles, the Yankee artillery pounding the captured fort until a counterattack pushes the Confederates back into their own lines. The breakout lasts just four hours.   Grant loses about 1000 men, Lee about 4000 – this at a time when Lee was already outnumbered about 125,000 to 50,000. On March 31st Grant goes on the offensive. He severs Lee’s supply line on Boydton Plank Road. The attack cuts off about 10,000 Confederates at Five Forks under General Pickett. Sheridan pounces with cavalry, but his unsupported troopers cannot overcome Pickett’s veterans and are driven back at Dinwiddie Courthouse. But the next day Warren’s corps arrives with infantry and gets behind the Confederate line. It turns into a route. With the Petersburg line about to become enveloped, Lee reports to Jefferson Davis on April 2nd that he will abandon Petersburg and can no longer protect Richmond. The Confederate government evacuates; the final capital will be Danville, then wherever Jefferson Davis lays his head. On April 3rd, Union troops occupy Petersburg and Richmond. Ironically, the mayor actually begs the Yankees to occupy the city to put out the fires set by the retreating army, gutting the downtown area. On April 4th, Lincoln visits the…

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