Month: May 2016

Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Alfonso Carnucci

            Alfonso Carnucci Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza 401 East Braddock Road 703-683-5330   How did you get started in the bartending business? My grandmother used to have a restaurant so I was brought up with this industry by my side my entire life. I must have been 21 when the restaurant I was working at in Baltimore needed an extra hand behind the bar and I jumped in. It wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but it got me through school and I’m still having fun doing it to this day. What is your biggest bartender pet peeve? People need to be ready with what they want to order, even if it’s just a menu for the moment. Ideally, they should have a preferred drink, a back-up plan for places that don’t have full bars, and a universal drink that every bar has. What is the cleverest line anyone has ever used to get you to give them a free drink? My former wife told me when we met that she would marry me if I’d buy her a drink. She is a knockout and certainly good for her word! What is the best/worst pickup line you have overheard at the bar? Nothing will ever beat this – one specific Tuesday night I got to witness a guy sing a karaoke song in order to get the phone number of a girl in which he was interested. I later found out it worked perfectly. Hopefully they’re still together….. Tell us about an interesting encounter you have had with a customer(s). The story is longer than what I’m going to reveal so I’ll briefly paraphrase. A regular of mine was seen “releaving herself” on the top floor of the parking garage above where I once worked….

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Business Profile

Signature Federal Credit Union

By Lani Gering Signature Federal Credit Union “We believe in the power of all of us.” My first introduction to Signature Federal Credit Union (SFCU) was when Janeen Mountz in their marketing department contacted us about advertising rates a year or so ago. Needless to say, these are the emails and phone calls we really like to get! Little did I know that it would result in such a great working relationship. While we normally focus on more of the “Mom and Pop” businesses as subject matter for these profiles, there was something about SFCU that intrigued us. While working with them on their advertising I had the opportunity to visit their office. At that time I didn’t realize that the location in the Del Ray neighborhood is their national headquarters. Located in a rather obscure building on a side street, it isn’t exactly what one thinks of as a prime location for a nationally recognized banking institution. Definitely not on the main drag. I have since come to realize that the major portion of their membership takes care of their transactions via the internet and ATM’s so having prime storefront space isn’t a priority. When I inquired as to why they chose the Del Ray area for their headquarters, their CEO, Becca Cuddy,.told me, “We chose the location because of the proximity to both DC and Old Town and, at the time, the relatively inexpensive cost of commercial real estate here. We relocated here in 1989 and, over the years, have watched the Del Ray neighborhood and businesses grow and thrive in this great small town community.” I think that their philosophy is a good one. I couldn’t say it any better than they do on their website: SFCU believes that together, we can do more than we can…

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Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Chef Trân` thi Mai

Chef Trân` thi Mai By Chester Simpson Street Vendor Restaurant =Thuy Xeo 166B Chef Trân` thi Mai learned how to cook from the owners of the outside restaurant and has been cooking for five years. She can cook six skillets of Bánh xèo at a time. Bánh xèo means “sizzling cake” in Vietnamese, but they are commonly called “ pancakes” in English. The ’sizzling cake”, gets its name for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet. It looks like a French crepe with crispy edges.  The batter is made from rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. While still in the pan, pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, diced green onions, are added. It is then lightly fried in a skillet or wok making the edges come out crispy while the center remains soft. Then the crust is folded over to form what looks like a huge yellow crepe or omelet. After being served, chunks of the cake are torn off and wrapped in rice paper, along with lettuce, mint, basil, or other herbs, then dipped in a thin sauce known as nuoc cham (fish sauce mixed with water, garlic, sugar, chili, and lemon juice). Diners can watch their pancakes being prepared. Banh xeo is a healthy dish that is low in fat and cholesterol, so health-conscience diners will appreciate enjoying its tantalizing flavors. Only the most natural ingredients are used in creating banh xeo. All the different flavors come together for an absolutely delicious dish. Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: 0968877752

Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Legacy Planning with Retirement Accounts

By Carl Trevison and Stephen Bearce   Legacy Planning with Retirement Accounts   The popularity and accessibility of retirement plans has resulted in Americans holding a significant portion of their assets in 401(k)s or other employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs. For many, these accounts represent the largest portion of their wealth outside of their homes. If you’re like the majority of individuals you will likely need income from these accounts during retirement, or you may have accumulated sufficient other assets to sustain your lifestyle and wish to preserve your retirement assets for your heirs.   An important first step in preserving these assets is to understand the rules regarding retirement plan and IRA beneficiaries to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. The rules affect who inherits the assets, how quickly they are paid out, and the tax consequences. While you should consult with your tax and legal advisor for advice regarding your specific circumstances, the following provides an overview to help you get started. First, inventory all of your retirement accounts and make sure the beneficiary information is up to date. It’s also a good practice to designate both primary and contingent beneficiaries. A contingent beneficiary will inherit assets only if you have no surviving primary beneficiaries at the time of your death or if they disclaim or refuse the inheritance. Additionally, you can name more than one primary or contingent beneficiary and specify which percentage of the account they should receive. It’s also a good practice to review your beneficiary designations periodically. Situations affecting designations include death of a beneficiary, divorce, marriage, or the birth of a child or grandchild. Remember, a will does not supersede your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts.   Common beneficiary designation options include naming your spouse, a nonspouse, or an entity such as your trust,…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Fast Horses, Old Whiskey and Young Women

Fast Horses, Old Whiskey and Young Women by Julie Reardon Kentucky has the Derby but in Virginia, the first Saturday in May has always been about the Virginia Gold Cup. While there’s no longer even an operational flat track here, Virginia’s love affair with horses runs longer and deeper than Kentucky’s; we’re starting to produce some decent whiskey locally and young girls still hope to find a pony under the Christmas tree, so the cowboy ballad by the legendary Tom T. Hall about older whiskey, younger women and faster horses could have been written about our state. Kentucky’s famous horse race, first run in 1875, may be the country’s best-known equestrian event, George Washington was hunting hounds here in Virginia and colonials were racing horses before Kentucky was even settled. And here in suburban Northern Virginia, the Kentucky Derby is held on Gold Cup day, not the reverse. On May 7th, the Derby will have to share top billing with the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase race meet, held at Great Meadow, The Plains, VA. Fast Horses With crowds of over 40,000 in attendance, the Gold Cup is to Washington D.C. what the Derby is to Kentucky: a premiere social and sporting events. Arrangements and tailgating parties are planned months, even years, in advance; prime tailgating and rail side boxes are often passed down in wills. Good ones are usually sold out long before race day. You can, however, still get general admission tickets up until race day starting at $85 for a car pass that admits 6 by contacting or calling 540-347-2612. The country’s top steeplechasers aren’t the only fast horses you can see this month. Lighting fast, responsive and keen, able to turn on a dime and anticipate the action, polo horses, called ponies, are just as fun…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

By Bob Tagert After a very slow start to 2016 our advertising content is beginning to pick up. The spring and fall months are always the most active. Recovering from winter always leads to adventures. This month I wrote about one of my favorite escapes…Solomons Island at the southern tip of Calvert County in Maryland. As we like to say, “it is Alexandria’s playground,” and only 60 minutes away. We also liken Solomons as our own Key West. Boarded by water on all sides and with an assortment of watering holes to enjoy this is a perfect place to unwind and watch the sailboats glide by. May is Mother’s Day and a perfect place to take mom for lunch or dinner is La Bergerie, this month’s restaurant spotlight. Memorial Day is at the end of this month. Read the poem on the inside back cover and remember all of those who fought for our planet and our continued freedom. Doug Coleman continues to bring the events of the Civil War into today’s world in his Civil Discourse column while Lori Welch Brown gives out some sage advice in Open Space. Chef Profiler and prolific photographer, Chester Simpson, sent us profiles on three chefs he met in his travels to Thailand and Vietnam in April. Always fun to try something new! As you can tell from the photograph I picked to use this month, I am itching to get out on the water! Hopefully all of the April showers have moved on and I can enjoy some sunny sailing days in the very near future! Happy Mother’s Day to all of those moms out there reading us and please celebrate Memorial Day with your loved ones.

Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Exotic Pets: A Spotlight on Guinea Pigs

Exotic Pets: A Spotlight on Guinea Pigs By Sarah Liu   The health benefits of sharing your life with a pet are widely documented. From lowering blood pressure and anxiety to increasing exercise and self-esteem, animal companions enhance the lives of their humans in ways too various to name. But what about animal lovers who don’t have the space, or aren’t ready to commit to the responsibilities of caring for a cat or a dog? For these individuals, guinea pigs can offer a similar level of affection and a unique set of interesting behaviors. Best of all, they are widely available in rescue shelters and come with adoption fees less than cats or dogs. So what do we know about guinea pigs? Also known as cavies, they are a variety of medium sized South American rodent, native to countries such as Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Guinea pigs have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years and are still served as a delicacy in certain South American and Latin cuisine. What do they look like? Typically 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, guinea pigs are sleek, plump, and irresistibly cute. They are available in a variety of colors, and with long or short hair. When choosing a guinea pig companion, consider the time you have for grooming. Shorter hair can be brushed once per week, but longer hair may need daily attention. In general though, guinea pigs are efficient self-groomers and have a preference for good hygiene. The United States Humane Society advises bathing can be done if necessary, but not too often as water and shampoos can dry out natural oils. How do they behave? Guinea pigs are naturally social animals, living in groups of up to ten individuals in the wild. For this reason, many sources recommend pairing your guinea…

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History, History Column

Robert E. Lee & the Mexican War

By Sarah Becker “Success in the Mexican War,” General Winfield Scott exclaimed, “was largely due to Robert E. Lee’s skill, valor and undaunted energy.” Robert E. Lee, the fifth child of Revolutionary War hero Henry “Light-horse Harry” Lee and his second wife Ann Hill Carter, was born January 19, 1807. Of noble descent, he spent his babyhood at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County, Virginia. The family moved to Alexandria to escape financial reverses. Young Robert’s education included both the Alexandria Academy and Benjamin Hallowell’s school. Lee attended the latter briefly to study mathematics. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point because it was free. Lee’s decision to opt for a military career was sustained in part by his deceased father’s friendship with the Marquis de Lafayette, “an invaluable Revolutionary War ally.” In 1824 President James Monroe, also a Revolutionary War veteran, invited Lafayette to participate in a triumphal United States tour. General Lafayette, a Frenchman, arrived in New York in August 1824 and Robert E. Lee’s Alexandria Boyhood Home was among the acknowledged sites. “That [General Henry] Lee was a man of letters, a scholar who ripened under a truly classical sun, we have only to turn to his work on the southern war,” George Washington Parke Custis wrote, “his 1808 Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States.” Robert E. entered West Point in 1825; was listed as a “Distinguished Cadet,” and graduated second in his class in 1829. His rank: second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His assignment: Georgia’s Ft. Pulaski. It was from Ft. Monroe that Lee courted his wife, Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter; George Washington Parke Custis’ daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis. General George Washington died before Lee’s birth, but Robert E. valued his father and General Washington’s…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Mount Vernon Wine Festival Celebrating 20 years

By Bob Tagert Mount Vernon Wine Festival Celebrating 20 years Although the beginnings of wine in Virginia began back in the days of Thomas Jefferson, the rebirth in 1976 was led by the investment of the Zonin family of Italy in a new vineyard in Barboursville. Along with a few other small wineries, Barboursville Vineyards served as a catalyst for renewed growth in the 1970’s and the second phase of the Virginia Wine industry was born. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, many other vineyards and wineries joined the mix and by 2009, over 163 wineries were operating in Virginia. By 2012 there were over 230 wineries operating in Virginia. Except for a handful, these were all small, family-owned vineyards and wineries, and only the largest could develop a distribution network. The small wineries would learn to rely on tourism and direct sales for most of their revenue. We have been writing about Virginia wineries since 1989 and have gotten to know quite a few. The last 12 years has brought a spike in the quality of these wines. And it is here that the wine festivals throughout the state play an important role allowing folks to taste and buy wines from all over the state. I remember that twenty years ago my sales friends in the industry said just what we need, another festival to attend. Little did they know, that in the very first year the Mount Vernon festival would become the most favored of all festivals, and what more fitting venue for a wine festival than at the spectacular Mount Vernon home of George Washington. The historical evolution of a wine industry in the Old Dominion was aimed at the general public. The objective in starting the wine festival was to introduce and educate the consumer public at…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Three Extraordinary Bucks of The Virgin Islands

The Three Extraordinary Bucks of The Virgin Islands by Jeff McCord It’s a curious fact that there is a small “Buck Island” located in the waters off each of the Virgin Islands’ three principal isles: St. Croix; St. Thomas; and Tortola. Visitors might easily assume these “bucks” were named after male deer since white tail deer can be found there. Europeans reportedly introduced them to the islands in the 1700s for game. Actually, though, each Buck Island was named by European settlers for a remarkable local tree called buck wood, according to many sources including a St. John Historical Society paper. Known formally as lignum vitae, this native tree is stronger and more durable than mahogany, another local arboreal wonder. Also known as ironwood, lignum vitae is so dense it sinks in salt water and has been used to make cricket balls, belaying pins on sailing vessels and propeller shaft bearings in World War II submarines. It’s so valuable that most trees were cut down long ago. The biggest of the Virgin’s three Buck Islands is a couple miles off St. Croix, which was once Danish and now part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. An early Danish map labels that Buck Island as “Bocken Eyland.” English speakers later corrupted Bock into Buck. Regardless, today the 176 acre island is an uninhabited gem of tropical dry forest surrounded mostly by crystalline white beaches and easily accessed coral reefs. Because President John F. Kennedy took action to preserve the island in 1961, the Buck Island National Reef Monument off St. Croix is a major Caribbean eco-tourist attraction. The National Park Service explains its’ importance and allure: “Endangered and threatened species live and nest here: four species of sea turtles — hawksbill, green, leatherback, and loggerhead — and the St. Croix ground lizard….

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