Day: December 1, 2017

Featured Post, Wining & Dining

Virginia Chestnuts Bring Back a Holiday Classic

Virginia Chestnuts Bring Back a Holiday Classic   By Lauren Evoy Davis   Did you know that a chestnut orchard is thriving in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains? It’s true. Virginia Chestnuts is a family owned and operated orchard that has deep roots in the heart of Nelson County. Although orchards can take many years to establish, their chestnut orchard yielded a robust harvest in 2017, which generated a lot of buzz and interest from local bakers, brewers, and distillers.   A Dream Deferred, Then Fulfilled   The story of the chestnut tree is one of survival. American chestnut trees were once grown in the United States but most trees succumbed to a bark disease, known as blight, in the early 1900′s. Still wanting a seasonal favorite, consumers began buying chestnuts from Asia and Europe. Today, many of the chestnuts consumed in the United States come from Italy, France, and China. Virginia farmers David and Kim Bryant dreamed of bringing the chestnut back to Virginia. David grew up in a cattle ranch family and Kim is a year-long gardener; both love being outside. They have had professional careers in the software development industry and are starting to look at a second career as they enter retirement in the next 10 years. The Bryants, both 53, purchased land in Nelson County, VA in 2003. After clearing the acreage needed for chestnut trees they began buying, planting, and growing 200 test trees to see if the crop was viable in the Virginia soil. Indeed, it was.   They purchased and hand-planted more than 1,600 Dunstan trees, an American-Chinese hybrid. Although blight resistant, they are not weather resistant. Between 2009 and 2014 the orchard experienced a harsh winter and later cicadas that threatened the trees, but in 2015 things began to…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets Of The Month December

Cupcake – Senior, Spayed Female, Domestic Shorthair Cupcake is a sweet as the most delicious frosting with sprinkles on top! This delightful kitty is currently residing in one of our staff offices at the shelter. Her officemate reports that Cupcake has been an amazing work buddy and is incredibly affectionate! She snoozes in a soft bed on top of the desk next to the keyboard so that her friends can still get work done (if they must…), but also give her chin scratches and ear rubs during their breaks in productivity. Cupcake is a fabulous cat, who doesn’t ask for a lot from her people. She just wants to be with you and keep you company, whether you’re working or playing. If you are looking for a sweet buddy to satisfy your snuggle-tooth, Cupcake is your gal!   *Thanks to a generous donor, my adoption fees have been paid!*   Parkour – Young Spayed Female, American Pit Bull Terrier Our sweet girl, Parkour, just had a quick weekend vacation at a foster home and here’s what they had to say about Parkour in a new home environment. “Parkour still has some puppy playfulness, and relishes long walks followed by long naps. She believes that humans make the best pillows. Parkour will rest her head on your arm or leg and softly snore for hours. If the weather’s cool, she’ll want to snuggle. She might need to hold your hand during a scary movie.”   Parkour can’t hide her sweetness for long. Her smile will spread to everyone she meets. She’s smart and curious. She starts a new experience with a little apprehension and quickly becomes comfortable. WMATA busses changed from “big, loud, scary monsters” to “something to keep an eye on” in a just a few days. Parkour is polite…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Landini Brothers – Setting the Standard in Old Town!

By the Gastronomes   Landini Brothers – Setting the Standard in Old Town! The above moniker for one of Old Town’s most iconic restaurants has graced the pages of the Old Town Crier more than once over the past 29 plus years. Landini Brothers Restaurant opened their doors in 1979 and has been a favorite of the Gastronomes since the beginning. In fact, almost every new eatery that has opened over the course of the years has aspired to enticing the crowd that frequents LB’s. The place has a very loyal following. What has kept these loyal customers coming back for so many years? In our opinion, it boils down to three very simple reasons: A great drink pour, consistently good Tuscan and American cuisine and great service.   The first time I dined at Landini Brothers was about 30 years ago and I ordered Veal Landini for dinner. A few weeks ago I ordered it again as I dined with friends. I remembered how much I enjoyed this meal the first time around, but it seemed to have gotten better. This is the legacy of Franco and Noe Landini and their iconic restaurant…consistency in the kitchen has never wavered.   Landini’s is always a pleasant place to dine or join the locals at the bar. This is where the signature “Landini Pour” adult beverages are concocted. As one would expect, they serve a lot of traditional, upscale cocktails – one would be hard pressed to find another place that serves a better Manhattan, Martini or Old Fashioned. If these “old” standards aren’t your cup of tea, the bar staff are very proficient at those still popular Cosmos and Lemon Drops. Manning the bar for the most part of the week are Susan Hergenrather and Mitch Hughes – they have…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

By Bob Tagert As I write this the day before Thanksgiving, it is 57 degrees outside and the sun is shining. I hope this weather holds for a few more weeks so I can sail one more time. Speaking of sailing, if you get this early enough check out the Scottish Christmas Walk and the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights during the first weekend in December in Old Town. While the tree lighting the day after the Thanksgiving might be the “official” kick off to the season, this is the weekend that seriously kicks it off. Check out the calendar of events for details. This is what is in store for you as you peruse this issue…we are bringing it “Home for the Holidays” in Road Trip and decided that it was time to highlight my favorite hometown dining establishment, Landini Brothers, in Dining Out. I have been frequenting Landini’s since the day it opened in 1979. As you begin your holiday shopping you might want to consider Carol Supplee’s Imagine Artwear – featured in this month’s Business Profile. Check out Aladdin the Christmas Camel in the Personality Profile. For those of us who toured Mount Vernon too many years ago, this is a reason to make a return trip. Lori Welch Brown offers some holiday tips to get through the season in Open Space and Jeff McCord updates us on St. John and writes about other storms that bashed the islands over the centuries in Caribbean Connection. Nancy Bauer writes about Christmas shopping for Virginia wine presents in Grapevine. You might want to pick up some bottles for yourself and sample your prospective gift before you buy. We bid a fond farewell to our High Notes contributor, Chris Anderson, with this issue. He has been a big asset for…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

A Holiday Miracle 52 Years in the Making

By Peggie Arvidson A Holiday Miracle 52 years in the Making Holidays mean family in all their messy, human glory. Holidays don’t always go as planned but this year I’m able to revel in the magic of miracles that happen as we change our perspective on things. For years I thought if I bought enough bling for everyone on my list, then I’d be “winning” the holidays. I knew that in giving I’d receive and I figured that by giving enough, I’d cover up the hole in my heart that adoption left on my psyche. Let me be clear, my family is first rate. My parents are loving and selfless and truly do everything “right” by way of myself and my two siblings. Still adoption leaves its mark on even the well-adjusted and I am no exception. This is the story of how my adoption scar is finally beginning to fade. The adoption debate is one I’m mired in nearly daily as I work with adult adoptees and their families to heal wounds that are hard to understand and even harder to see. I began searching for my biological family when I was 16. In the days before the internet this was even more arduous than it is now. My adoption was closed and I had a hard time tracking down details about my birth and the people who brought me into the world. If you’re not an adoptee, this may seem like a colossal waste of time and energy. If you’re an adoptive parent you may feel that your child’s desire to find their birth family is a negative statement about you. Neither is true. Adoptees are the only people on the planet who are denied their own identity. Understanding and having a connection to our biological identity, for…

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Business Profile

Carol Supplee and Imagine Artwear

By Bob Tagert Carol Supplee and Imagine Artwear   This month’s business profile will be fun to write. Imagine Artwear is one of the great success stories in Old Town Alexandria and owner Carol Supplee has worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the city and business groups. I started the Old Town Crier in January o1988 and when Carol bought her store in 1992 she began advertising with us and has every month since. I love success stories in Old Town, but it takes hard work.   Carol first discovered the American crafts world as she pursued a journalism and history degree at Northwestern University and that is where her interest in hand crafted art emerged. “My Mom loved to sew and she was very good at it. She made all of the clothes for her three daughters and she taught me to sew as well,” says Supplee. Carol’s Grandmother’s last name was Penland as in the name of the Penland School of Crafts established in the early 1920’s in North Carolina and is the largest and oldest professional craft schools in the United States. Carol married and when her husband was transferred to Virginia she came along and transferred to George Washington University to continue her education and graduated with a degree in Art History and a Masters in Museology. In 1976 Carol worked for the American Freedom Train to commemorate the United States Bicentennial. The train itself consisted of 10 display cars each representing a segment of American history. Her job was to select all of the American Art for one of the cars. The train carried more than 500 treasures of Americana throughout the 48 states.   Later Carol moved into the corporate world and worked with many prestigious ad agencies including Williams Whittle of Alexandria in…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Hurricanes and the Solace of the Witnesses

Hurricanes and the Solace of the Witnesses By Jeff McCord Last week my wife, accompanied by a knowledgeable friend, left our Blue Ridge cabin refuge to visit St. John and appraise the damage to our home. Ours is fixable. Many aren’t. She aptly described the mood on-island: “There’s so much destruction that one has to be cheerful; it’s all about survival and there’s no room for pessimism.” Optimism is in the air in the islands as trees, flowers, birds and animals recover and return. On St. Thomas, cruise ships again visit Charlotte Amalie. Beautiful Magens Bay beach has reopened. Cruise ships will also soon resume visiting St. Croix where resorts have reopened. And, on St. John, Hawksnest and Honeymoon beaches are open again. Amid recovery, people have some time for reflection. They look for meaning in the catastrophe – or, at least solace. Roman philosopher Livy was correct when he said “the best medicine for a sick mind is the study of history.” So, as a comfort, I looked at eyewitness accounts of previous historic Caribbean hurricanes. The first European witness to such a storm was Christopher Columbus. During his fourth and final voyage of discovery, he commanded a fleet of four ships. He’d just returned to the Caribbean from Spain in June, 1502, when he became worried. From Taino Native Americans, on previous voyages he had learned of the fearsome storms that they called “hurakans.” Early on June 30, he recognized signs of one approaching and sought shelter by anchoring his fleet off the leeward shore of Hispaniola.  He told King and Queen of Spain Ferdinand and Isabella what happened in a letter: “The tempest was terrible throughout the night, all the ships were separated, and each one driven to the last extremity, without hope of anything but death;…

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Single Space

A Peaceful, Easy Feelin’

Open Space By Lori Welch Brown   A Peaceful, Easy Feelin’     This time of year when somebody wishes me ‘peace’ my mind says, “yes—I’ll have another. But just a small one—I don’t want to look like Mrs. Claus.” Peace be with you. Easier said than done, right? Especially during the hectic holiday season when you are racing from one mall to another trying to find not just the perfect gift, but the perfect gift at 20% below retail while simultaneously planning your holiday party outfit, scheduling a lip wax, and responding to 22 texts from your boss about your end of year performance review. Doesn’t she understand the importance of booking early for holiday waxing appointments? Oh, right. She has an assistant who takes care of those details. No wonder SHE looks peaceful and relaxed.   We all don’t have access to a bevy of Christmas elves or even one really top-notch assistant so we are left to fend for ourselves while keeping a big, bright crimson smile on our tired, puffy faces. We are left to rely on friends like those three “wise” men Robert Mondavi, William Hill and Kendall Jackson. So, what can you do to invite some peace into your holiday season besides booking a one-way ticket to the North Pole? Here are a few tips that might help:   Elfin’ Magic. If you must hit the mall, make it fun and festive! Drag out your ugliest Christmas sweater, grab your bestie and blast “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” out your car windows on the way. Holiday Hack: Invite your friend’s mom who has the handicapped parking sticker!   Holiday Baking. When you get the urge, trade in your Pinterest account for Google maps to find the closest bakery. Holiday Hack: Most bakeries…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Old Town Alexandria- home for the holidays!

Old Town Alexandria- home for the holidays Or those of you who read us regularly, you know that each month I take you along on a road trip to a different destination, whether it is to the mountains or the Chesapeake Bay area. However, every year for the December issue, I stay home and write about the sights, sounds and changes in Old Town, Alexandria…where I live.   All of the changes that began last year are coming to fruition while some are still ongoing. Along the waterfront from the demolition dust rises the new Old Dominion Boat Club and the Hotel Indigo. The beautiful new boat club will be opening its doors to members this month. Hotel Indigo, at 200 South Union Street, opened to the public a few months ago and features the Hummingbird Restaurant and bar, the newest project for internationally known chef Cathal Armstrong. To the south of the hotel the entire block is undergoing the infrastructure development of the new Robinson Landing, a mixed-use development.   A new sea-going addition will be added to the waterfront in spring of 2019. In a joint venture with private individuals, the City of Alexandria and the Seaport Foundation, the replica of the Providence sailing vessel has been purchased and is undergoing a refit in Rhode Island. As the year progresses we will have updates on the Providence.   This past October the new D.C. Wharf opened on the southwest waterfront in Washington. Here in Old Town the Potomac Riverboat Company has purchased two new water taxis to transport people to The Wharf and also bring folks from The Wharf and Georgetown to our fair city. There are now water taxis linking National Harbor, Washington D.C. and Old Town. Make a day of it and take metro to Alexandria,…

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Personality Profile

Aladdin – The Christmas Camel – Is On the Farm

By Lani Gering Aladdin – The Christmas Camel – Is On the Farm While we love our two legged celebrities – the likes of Barney Barnwell who was featured in the November issue – there is something about a 4 legged dromedary that has graced the grounds of Historic Mount Vernon during the holidays for the past 9 or so years that captured our hearts vicariously last year. While visiting the Inn at Mount Vernon during the Christmas 2016 holidays, we met a few of the members of the team that take care of the livestock at Mount Vernon. During our conversation we found out that there was a camel named Aladdin in residence during the holiday season. My first thought was, “how fun is that”? And…as it turns out, Aladdin is quite the character.   We met with Livestock Supervisor Lisa Pregent and camel handler extraordinaire, Joe Dearmon, behind the scenes at the farm on Mount Vernon. They took us on a tour of the area where the animals are taken care of when not in their “normal” viewing areas accessible to the public. The special enclosure that is home to Aladdin from November 22nd to January 7th had just been erected as they prepared for his arrival. It was interesting to me that they do this every year as opposed to just leaving the shelter and split rail fence in place year round. This is a labor intensive project in that it also has to be deconstructed and each year. The intricacies of running the operation would probably astound most of you. I was surprised to find that the sheep and pigs that reside here are descendants of the same rare heritage breeds that were residents on the farm when George Washington was manning it and they adhere…

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