Month: March 2016

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Spring Some Good Weather On Us!

By Lani Gering Good Lord – the February weather is about to send me over the edge! Especially the wind!! Today as I compose this column, it must be blowing 60 miles an hour! Like most of you regular readers know, I am from Wyoming and the wind can really howl there. As a matter of fact they have had gusts high enough to topple semi-trailer trucks on their sides as they drive down the road. I know it isn’t quite that bad here but the 4-Runner I drive was getting blown all over the place coming across the Wilson Bridge this morning. Not only does it mess with your hair, it makes people grouchy!   Hopefully by the time daylight savings kicks back in on the 13th we will be able to begin to enjoy some more “spring-like” weather. I know that March is supposed to “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” so let’s just hope it leans more toward the lamb part sooner rather than later!   There isn’t a lot going on here at the Harbor as far as events are concerned during the month of March. The big excitement so far is that they will be showing all of the March Madness basketball on the Jumbotron (I still really don’t think that is the official name for it, but you get the idea) down on the plaza. It will be fun to watch if you don’t have to take bungee cords to tie yourself to the chairs. The better option, however, is to head to Public House Restaurant on Fleet Street and watch all the round ball you want in a climate controlled facility where you can get a cold beer, some hot wings and everything else you sports nuts like….

Continue Reading

Notes from the Publisher


Instead of the usual Publishers Notes highlighting the contents of this issue, this will be more of a tribute to our recently deceased office kitty…Buddha. I am not really known as a cat lover…I have always preferred dogs, however I got lucky a few times. Over the years I have actually had two cats find me and then Buddha came along. We got Buddha when she was about13 years old. She readily adapted to our office life and quickly became one of the gang. She would join us on the patio for cocktails (she really liked rum) and would also tease the goldfish in the half wine barrel water feature. She would jump up on the side of the barrel and follow the fish as they swam around. Sometimes she would become a bit adventuresome and take a walk around the corner of the building and stay out for the night. Next morning, all I had to do was call, and there she was! There were times she would just look at us until we followed her to her feeding bowl…dinnertime. Buddha was a very, very chubby cat when we got her. She loved to eat and sleep (you can tell that by the photos) but was also one of the friendliest felines around. She was a very smart cat as well. She definitely got me wrapped around her little paw. The last month of her life came upon her fast. She lost weight and her ability to walk and stand up became difficult during the last few days. I would pick her up and carry her from room to room. The night she died I had stayed with her on the couch till 2:30 am watching her heavy breathing. I woke up the next morning at 5:30 am and…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment

Peter Stupar, the Photographer of Legendary Rock Musicians

Peter Stupar, the photographer of legendary rock musicians during their classic 1960s and 1970s (and beyond), will be showing his work at Mackie’s Bar and Grill in Old Town Alexandria. His works will remain on display in the dining area through the month of May. Peter is a good friend of our favorite Rock Musician photographer, Chester Simpson, and is a native of Montgomery County, growing up in Potomac, MD. He spends his time now between San Francisco, CA and Frederick, MD.

Featured Post

Altura Wine, Beer & Gourmet!

By Bob Tagert   Altura Wine, Beer & Gourmet!          I was on my way to one of our advertisers for a meeting when I parked on North Patrick Street. It is a rare occasion that I ever end up parking on that busy thoroughfare but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself right in front of Altura Wine, Beer & Gourmet. I have driven down Patrick Street tens of thousands of times over the years but never really take the time to check out the stores so I had never noticed the Altura. As I got out of the truck and was headed for the parking kiosk, I saw Edgar Salinas – Altura owner and operator – adding a little white paint to the weathered wood on the front of the building. We hadn’t settled on a subject for this month’s Business Profile so I introduced myself and asked if we could write about his store. He consented.   As most of you know we have been producing the Old Town Crier for almost 29 years and I hate to admit that there are many shops that I have never set foot in and I feel a little guilty about that. I decided this was a good start. In this case, Altura has only been open a little over two years, so it was time for a visit.   Edgar and his wife Ana Gonzalez opened their family-owned business in December of 2013. The small shop is filled to the brim with local wines and wines from around the world. Salinas handpicks every item that they carry in the store and has focused on “small producers with a passion”. As you enter the brightly lit store the first rack of wines you see are his choices from New…

Continue Reading

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant & Bar

Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant & Bar By Artie Lang For this month’s Dining Out we went to one of our favorite places…O’Connell’s. Opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 2005, O’Connell’s was an immediate success and a great addition to the lower end of King Street.  The place should be called Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bars because of the four bars that run throughout the establishment. Owners John Brennan and Billy O’Sullivan had been on a search for the perfect location for a truly authentic pub atmosphere serving modern Irish cuisine and fell in love with Old Town Alexandria.  Tapping into their twenty year-old collection of antiques in storage in Ireland, everything was shipped to Alexandria and the extensive build out began.  As Billy says, “O’Connell’s is without question one of the most unique antique Irish bars in the world.  An ancient Irish setting run as a modern Irish bar.  Just walk in our door…this is Dublin, this is Waterford, this is Killkenny or Galway.  This is Ireland right in the heart of King Street.” The menu offerings are a perfect combination of traditional Irish and American favorites.  Starters include Scotch Eggs, Irish Egg Rolls, Irish-American Cheese Plate (very good) and Dublin Nachos.  Soups include O’Connell’s Lamb Stew and a seasonal soup. The Auld Favorites from across the pond feature Fish and Chips, Homemade Corned Beef & Cabbage, Dunmore East Seafood Pie, Classic Irish Bangers and Mash, Shepard’s Pie and an 8-ounce Guinness Burger.  For us Yanks they offer a Lamb Burger and a regular Hamburger, Crab Cake Sandwich, O’Connell’s Reuben, Fried Fish Sandwich, Turkey Club, and a Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich.  All of these sandwiches are huge and served with a large portion of hand cut fries.  O’Connell’s also offers four salads for lunch or dinner. The Entrees are also generous.  Choices…

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Organic Fertilizers

By Jimmy Deaton All plants need oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, which they get from the air, sunlight and water. And they need these in great quantities but they also need nutrients. Most folks go to the neighborhood garden center to pick up what they need but do you really know and understand what it is you’re buying? Well let’s talk about what we use here – that is organic fertilizers. We never use chemicals in any way on our plants or lawn. Well…..what lawn we have left since the back and side yards are veggie and fruit beds now.   First thing is make sure the fertilizer is 100% organic. There are several compound ferts that are described as “semi-organic” or “organically based”. These may be more powerful than the completely inorganic equivalent but they are NOT the real thing. The main difference is generally the potash content which is sometimes supplemented with potassium sulphate. Check to see if the label has the OMRI listing on it which means the products are approved for organic gardening. Natures Source is a fertilizer that is being described by some garden center personal has being a natural fertilizer. While it does contain oilseed extract the majority of the makeup is chemical based. If I have to recommend prepared organic fertilizers I would go with the following:   Espoma company based out of New Jersey. They produce plant foods that are specifically tailored to what you are growing. Garden Tone and Tomato Tone for your vegetable gardens. Citrus tone for your citrus, Avocado and Nut trees. Palm Tone for your Palm, Hibiscus and Tropical plants. They have a wide assortment but you get the idea. The nutrient levels are in sync for the plants they are made for, leaving out a lot of headaches….

Continue Reading

Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Potomac River Fished Out?

By Steve Chaconas   Potomac River Fished Out?   In light of last month’s Dominion Power oil spill, sewage discharges in DC and Maryland, and Dominion Power dumping water from coal ash ponds into the Potomac, it’s no wonder the areas anglers are concerned. Fishing has been declining over the last 5 years. Last month there were two meetings to discuss the health of the Potomac River bass fishery and to consider relentless demands to drop the creel limit to 3 fish and to make the year round size limit 15 inches.   Persistent and often rude emails were sent to Maryland, Virginia, and Potomac River Fishing Commission officials for the past two years at least. Insults and accusations of incompetence and even being on the take to ruin the Potomac River were made in these rants, copied to multiple recipients, which found their way to social media. To separate fact from fantasy these meetings entertained these ideas.   All jurisdictions announced what many anglers already knew, fish count levels for the Potomac River were down, but would be considered close to normal for most other fisheries with lower established expectations. Fishing was tough on the Potomac. Keeper bass, greater than 12 inches, were hard to come by. Once hydrilla filled in, getting a bite was a reward for a full day on the water. The good news is there are record numbers of bass smaller than 12 inches.   Other than restricting all fishing, there isn’t much else the 4 jurisdictions can do. No one suggested that’s necessary nor that it would even be effective. First, the number 99.6% is key. VDGIF biologist John Odenkirk started the PRFC presentations by himself, Dan Ryan DC Fisheries Branch Manager, and Joe Love MD Potomac River Manager. Odenkirk estimated nearly all largemouth…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events

Alexandria Event Calendar

March 5th The 35th annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday, 12:30 pm Old Town Alexandria The units will step off down the Parade Route at 12:30, with other preliminary events happening earlier in the morning. Meet the 2016 Grand Marshal, John Renner!   25th-27th 17th Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Lee-Fendall House   Egg hunts begin at Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.   Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden 614 Oronoco St. 703-548-1789 $12 kids (10 and under); $5 adults, FREE for Friends of Lee-Fendall House   To celebrate Easter, the Lee-Fendall House Museum’s gardens will be filled with hundreds of colorful, toy-filled Easter eggs, in addition to activities like crafts, snacks and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny. Open to children ages 10 and under and their families. Tickets available online.   31st – April 17th   Water Taxi to National Mall: Cherry Blossom Festival Service Daily Departing at 11:10 a.m., 1:35 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Cameron & Union Streets Adults: $28 round-trip, $14 one-way. Children under 12: $16 round-trip, $8 one-way   During Cherry Blossom season, the Potomac Riverboat Company offers a 30-minute direct water taxi between Old Town Alexandria and the National Mall in Washington, DC, every day of the week. The boat docks at Ohio & West Basin Drive SW, just steps from the Tidal Basin, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and a Capital BikeShare station. The water taxi to the National Mall runs through the fall on a varying schedule.   April 2nd, 3rd and May 7th   Concerts with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center 4915 E. Campus Lane 703-548-0885   Performance Times: 2nd at 8 p.m. 3rd at 3 p.m. May 7th…

Continue Reading

Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Keswick Vineyards’ 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve Awarded 2016 Governor’s Cup

Keswick Vineyards’ 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve Awarded 2016 Governor’s Cup   Governor Terry McAuliffe awarded the 2016 Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) Governor’s Cup to Keswick Vineyards for its 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve, a pure Cabernet Franc varietal. This award marks the second Governor’s Cup for Keswick, which received the first in 2009 for its 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Governor’s Cup was awarded Monday evening, February 22 at the Hotel John Marshall in Richmond. Keswick Vineyards Winemaker Stephen Barnard and owners, Al and Cindy Schornberg, accepted the award. In making the presentation, the Governor said, “Their work at Keswick Vineyards embodies those characteristics that are imperative for Virginia farmers and winemakers: an entrepreneurial spirit, a drive to excel, a healthy tolerance for risk and a desire to see what Virginia’s land and terroir can do.” Wine Industry Experiences Tremendous Growth The Governor continued, “It is no secret that the Commonwealth’s wine industry has experienced tremendous growth both in quality and quantity in recent years. Such growth has an enormous impact on Virginia in terms of economic development and job creation, especially in rural areas, and the craft beverage industry as a whole is playing a key role in helping build the new Virginia economy.” The Keswick 2014 Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve is a 100% varietal Cabernet Franc. According to the winemaker’s tasting notes, “this wine is light and graceful, but also powerful – dense with black pepper and exotic spices that turn into darker fruits as the wine is aerated. The wood tannins are firm, yet are well balanced with ample acidity and fruit. The palate is savory with accenting mocha, brambleberry, and bitter chocolate tones that are punctuated with a long finish.” Turning a Dream into Reality “It has always been my dream to make a great red wine…

Continue Reading

View More