Day: September 1, 2015

Master's of Cuisine

Chef Michael Wagner

By Chester Simpson Blackwall Hitch #5 Cameron Street Old Town Alexandria 703-571-982-3577 Born and Raised on Long Island, New York, Chef Michael Wagner graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1995, then relocated to Miami in the early 1990’s. While here, he worked his way through various high profile Miami kitchens along-side local legends such as Mark Militelio (Mark’s Place), Jonny Vinczencz (Astor Place/Johnny V), Tim Andriola (Timo) and Chef Allen Susser (Chef Allen’s). Realizing a life-long dream of opening his own restaurant, Chef Wagner concentrated his efforts on developing the menu, concept and décor for Lola’s on Harrison, a namesake to his late grand-mother. After working for such groups as the Fireman Hospitality Group and Blue Ridge Restaurant Group as their Corporate Chef, he is now taking his talents to Blackwall Hitch where he recently opened the Alexandria outpost. When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career? My story might be a little different than the typical chef. Even though my Grandma (Bobby) and my Mom are great at home cooks, I didn’t spend any time with them in the kitchen growing up. I was a very active youth who couldn’t wait to be outside playing sports and food was something that was on the table, not an activity I participated in preparing. After attending the University of Maryland on a tennis scholarship, I really didn’t have a clear direction what I wanted to do with my life. This seems very in line with many kids that attend school without any clear direction. All I knew is that I didn’t want to be behind a desk and work the “typical” 9-5 office job. My final year at school, I had a roommate who worked in a local restaurant and…

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National Harbor


By Lani Gering We have been getting inundated with inquiries about the opening of Succotash here in the Harbor. For those of you who haven’t ventured to the Harbor lately or to the southern end of Waterfront Street for that matter, the trio of Chef Edward Lee, Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogin are opening Succotash. Coming from such vibrant and metropolitan cities the likes of New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, these three gentlemen bring expertise from the west coast, the east coast and the south! Chef Lee is the Chef Edward Lee of “Iron Chef”, “Top Chef” and the Cooking Channel’s “Foodography” show fame. Any of you readers who are real foodies are probably familiar with Lee’s culinary style. He draws inspiration from his Asian heritage, his New York training, and his embrace of the American South, coupled with the best ingredients from local farms. Jason Berry grew up in Los Angeles and has been in the restaurant business since he was 15 years old. He was the Regional Operations Director of Rosa Mexicano and helped grow the popular chain from 3 locations to 19. We definitely like the Rosa that we have here in the Harbor. Michael Reginbogin has been working in the restaurant industry in Miami for years and owns the popular restaurant Tongue & Cheek there. Michael also owns his own design company and is responsible for the design of Succotash. Succotash is going to feature a variety of Chef Edward Lee’s southern recipes. Some favorites on the menu include: Fried chicken – both traditional and a dirty version glazed with sweet and spicy gochujang and honey sauce, fried green tomatoes served with goat cheese, arugula, peaches, and buttermilk dressing, Weisenberger Mills skillet cornbread served with sorghum butter; Rappahannock oysters served with a refreshing watermelon…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publishers Notes

By Bob Tagert Well the kids are back to school and Labor Day is soon approaching. The last vestiges of summer are upon us. Folks will be heading for the beach or joining family and friends for an outdoor barbeque. Where did it all go? Even though it has been enjoyable and even fun at times, cranking out this publication for 28 years has taken its toll, physically and mentally. Sometimes it seems like it all just runs together, and you forget where you are and what got you here. Time for a deep breath and a renewal of that fighting spirit! The serenity of fall will be found throughout our region. The harvest begins in Virginia wine country as well as in southern Maryland. The tributaries of the Potomac as well as the streams of Virginia will be welcoming canoes and kayaks as folks take to the water and fall sailing is the best. Camping out and outdoor concerts will be on the up swing as people take to the country.         This month our road trip took us to St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland for a kayak paddle on McIntosh Run, while our featured winery takes us to the Blue Ridge foothills and DuCard Vineyards. With dining out we explore the magic that is being made at The Majestic Café. Doug Coleman writes about secession and not just about the Civil War but, throughout our country’s history. The Plein Air Festival is the middle of this month on Solomons Island in Maryland. This is a great four- day event. Also in Solomons will be Anne Marie Garden’s art show and in Alexandria we will have the 13th Annual King Street Art Festival and the 20th Annual Art on the Avenue in Del Ray. There for a while…

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Behind the Bar

Steve Furtado

Bistrot Royal 1201 North Royal Street Old Town Alexandria 703-519-9110                   Steve is behind the bar Tuesday, Friday, Saturday nights and Sunday day and night.   How did you get started in the bartending business?   When I was 20 years old my older brother was working in a family restaurant in Mattapoisett , MA. I’m from a small town in southeastern MA called Fairhaven where everybody knows each other. They needed a bartender for some short shifts during the busy dinner rush so I worked with my brother. He cracked the whip while training me because he did not want me to embarrass him….or myself for that matter. Some tough love was applied. I learned quick!   What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?   Everything has a place so….if you use or touch something, please put it back where it came from. If I had a quarter for every time I said that I would be in the Florida Keys with Jimmy Buffett.   What is the most clever line anyone has used to garner a free cocktail from you?   A gentleman came in the bar where I was working and had me pour a shot of bourbon and a shot of water. He said if he could put the water in the other glass and the bourbon in the water glass without using another glass or his mouth, would I buy him the bourbon. I bit. He pulled out his drivers license and put it on the shot glass with water, tipped it over on the bourbon shot glass and slid the card a hair. The liquids change glasses water is heavier than bourbon and gravity did the rest. He got his shot!   What is the…

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Road Trip

Leonardtown Maryland and McIntosh Run

By Bob Tagert With the arrival of September and cooler weather, I decided to take a drive to Leonardtown, Maryland and join Dave Lane, owner Dave of PAC Paddle Sports, and take two kayaks down McIntosh Run to the headwaters of Breton Bay and Leonardtown Wharf. PAC Paddle Sports is located next to the Port of Leonardtown Winery at Port of Leonardtown Park, a passive park that provides access to the McIntosh Run water trail.   The McIntosh Run watershed is currently one of the most ecologically intact watersheds remaining in Maryland, containing large blocks of contiguous forest, providing habitat for many different species of wildlife. The cool water, which flows freely from upstream, offers a good habitat for restocking and seining yellow perch. The Maryland Coastal Conservation Association seines in this area three to four times a year to study fish population. Additionally, the watershed supports thriving populations of plants and animals. In fact, McIntosh Run supports one of three viable populations of endangered dwarf wedge mussels in Maryland and several rare plant species.   The paddle itself is fairly easy, beginning at the launch ramp and gradually increasing in width as we come nearer to Breton Bay. The run is affected by the tides running up Breton Bay from the Potomac River. If you begin your journey at low tide, which we did, there are a few shallow spots where you have to get out of the kayak and drag to deeper water. Soon you are in continuous deeper water and can concentrate on the wildlife and flora.   On the day of our paddle the weather was still in the hot and humid cycle of summer, but the canopy of trees provided much appreciated shade. The work of Dave’s crew can be seen along the way as…

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To the Blue Ridge

Harvest Happenings in the Blue Ridge

By Julie Reardon If you haven’t visited a farm or a farmer’s market this summer, September is an ideal month to enjoy the last of the summer corn, peaches and berries as well as apples, squash, zucchini, herbs and more. September also heralds the start of hunting season, with many harvesting dove, geese and early season ducks like teal for their table fare. Out here, informal fox hunting, called cubbing, begins to teach young hounds how to hunt. From fox hunting, many of the traditional horse sports have arisen, such as the hunter classes at horse shows and steeplechasing. Horse events from shows to polo continue through the fall.   Corn mazes have become popular with families and there are several to choose from in Fauquier County: one at the Barns at Archwood Greens next to its farmer’s market that is open Sunday afternoons, and one at Cows-N-Corn, a farm in Catlett. If wine is your thing, you won’t want to miss the granddaddy of wine festivals mid-September at Great Meadow, the oldest and largest in the state.   Corn Maze at Cows-N-Corn Opens Sept. 5th (and open every weekend in Sept) Weekends through October: Saturdays, 10am-9pm; Sundays, 12:30pm-7pm 5225 Catlett Road Midland, VA.   Everyone loves a corn maze! Bring the kids out to explore this year’s maze – a different design every year. Take a farm tour, visit cow class, enjoy hand-dipped ice cream and homemade cheeses. Let the kids play in the “Play Pasture”, and more! For more information call (540) 439-4806 or visit   116th Annual Warrenton Horse Show, Sept. 2 – 6 Held at the Horse Show Grounds Rt. 29, 60 E. Shirley Avenue Warrenton, VA. Opens each day at 8 am.   Drawing many local and out of state exhibitors, this show is…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile

DUCARD VINEYARDS: One of Virginia’s Top Winery Destinations.

The scenic foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains in Madison County are home to DuCard Vineyards, a boutique winery that produces over a dozen varieties of elegant premium wines. DuCard is well on its way to becoming one on Virginia’s top winery destinations. Scott Elliff, DuCard owner, started the vineyard as a hobby 15 years ago, planting seven acres of such noted varietals as Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Norton. He has since added Cabernet Sauvignon to the mix, as well as several acres locally with additional varietals including Chardonnay and Merlot. Elliff also brought on board Julien Durantie, formerly of Bordeaux, France, as DuCard’s vineyard manager and winemaker.   One of the admirable things about DuCard is the focus on green and sustainable principles. The tasting room floor and bar were constructed of reclaimed lumber from 100-year locally sourced barn wood, and the siding came from poplar trees eco-harvested on the property. The tasting room is powered by a bank of solar panels, making it Virginia’s first solar-powered winery. Also, the winery boasts its own artificial wetland system that filters wastewater to protect the environment. Composting, recycling, use of non-plastic picnic ware, lighter weight bottles, reduced use of chemical sprays and other practices all contribute to reducing the winery’s carbon footprint. It’s no wonder DuCard continues to win the Virginia Green Travel Star award as one of Virginia’s two “greenest” wineries.   In addition to breathtaking views and elegant wines, DuCard boasts a full calendar of special events. Among the many activities are music on the patio performed by a variety of area artists, a murder mystery dinner, a winemaker’s brunch, Wineappalooza Arts & Crafts, a music festival, cigar and wine pairings, vertical tastings, chocolate pairings and the popular Oyster Festival, coming up on September 26. Oysters are from…

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Personality Profile

Xun Nian “Sidney” Zhang: Combining Chinese Culture and Western Art

By Bob Tagert Local Springfield resident Xun Nian “Sidney” Zhang came to our attention in a very round-about way. A former “Personality Profile” subject, Jamey Turner, called the office and said he had someone he thought would be a good profile. Many of you have watched/heard Jamey perform down near the Torpedo Factory with his brandy snifters of all sizes full of water at different levels. He does make some beautiful music in a very creative way. I have known Jamey for over 20 years – and he is sort of a local icon -so I decided he probably made a good recommendation. Let me introduce you to Sidney. Sidney was born Xun Nian Zhang in Shanghai, China in 1947. When he was 13 years old, he attended Shanghai Jian An Qu youth art school where he received art training which was influenced by 19th century western academic teaching by Mr. Zhang Ming Yan from 1960 to 1962. Zhang was ordered to be a farmer and construction worker due to China’s political movement “culture revolution” from 1968 to 1980. During that time, his works were often selected to art exhibitions and published by art press in Shanghai. . He told me that during this time he painted great scenes from China’s revolution. Their purpose was to reflect the political spirit of the revolution and the times, and also to express his own individualism. He worked as an illustrator for Shanghai Xim Mine Evening News from 1981 to 1988.   In 1988, Zhang was awarded the Fellowship from Savannah College of art and design and came to the USA to pursue a M.F.A. degree. He tells me that he spoke hardly a word of English when he arrived and it took some doing to get a command of our language in…

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Events, Events

National Harbor Events

September 2015 Saturdays and Sundays 10:00 am- 5:00 pm Millers Farm Market On American Way Miller Farms offers a wide variety of local seasonal fruits and vegetables along with some imports – lemons, limes, pineapple, etc. – as well as baked goods and flowers. It is getting to be mum season and you can find yours here. Fitness on the Potomac with WillPower Functional Fitness On the Plaza – Free! 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm 3rd – Cardio Kickboxing 10th – Zumba 24th – Zumba Live Music on the Plaza On the Plaza – Free! 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm 4th – The Fabulous Exaggerations 18th – Raymi 25th – Bad Influence Military Concert Series On the Plaza – Free! 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm 11th – U.S. Air Force Band with the Airmen of Note 12th – Air Force Heritage 13th – U.S. Air Force Concert Band featuring the Singing Seargeants! Movies on the Potomac On the Plaza – Free! 6:00 pm Celebrate the end of summer with a movie under the stars. Bring you chairs and grab food to go from one of the fun places on the plaza and meet in front of the jumbo screen. Fun for everyone. No coolers. 4th – Encore Presentation of Disney’s “The Kid” 6th – Viewers Choice TBD 13th – Matilda 23rd – Back to the Future Part III 20th – Monsters, Inc. 27th – James and the Giant Peach 25th & 26th Das Best Oktoberfest On the Plateau 3:00 pm – 9 pm Friday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm Saturday This is a free, fun and exciting event for the whole family no matter how big or how small. There will be a German and festival food for purchase: bratwurst, knockwurst, potato pancakes, pretzels, pickles and more. There will also…

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Business Profile

Stomping Ground: Buttermilk Biscuits Always!

By Lani Gering This new “cool cat” addition to the Del Ray area of our fair city is just that – “cool”. Located in the old State Farm Insurance building next to the parking lot that is home to the Del Ray Farmers Market on Saturdays, Stomping Ground has filled a special niche in the dining spectrum in this neighborhood. It is a combination coffee shop, breakfast joint and light lunch place. The brain child of Nicole Jones, Stomping Ground opened its doors this spring. When asked what prompted her to jump into owning her own eatery she told us that she just really wanted to have a job that she could say she literally LOVED.   Jones comes to Del Ray from the “deep” south – Paulding County, Georgia via a childhood stint as an Army brat in the suburbs of Chicago. Her formal education found her pursuing a career in marketing and she ended up being the youngest executive at the local Atlanta, GA NPR affiliate. While working in Atlanta she met her partner – whom she claims is a nerdy economist who absolutely loves his job – and his career brought them to the DC area. This is when Nicole decided that she wanted to love her job as much as her nerdy economist so during her brief stint in the marketing department of Whole Foods she enrolled in night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. You guessed it, her real love is food. She says her cooking style is deeply rooted in the south and she has an affinity for the beloved buttermilk biscuit, the staple item on the menu.   In fact, there are 12 various biscuit offerings ranging from the basic biscuit with butter to the Cowboy Steak & Egg sandwich (espresso-chili rubbed tenderloin, salsa…

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