Month: March 2018

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The Circus Is Coming To Town!

By Lani Gering The Circus Is Coming To Town! I can’t remember the last time I attended a circus. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been to a “real” circus in my entire life. Maybe I watched Under the Big Top enough times as a kid and over the years that I thought I had witnessed the real thing. I grew up in a small town in southeastern Wyoming and the nearest Barnum and Bailey gigs were 190 miles away in Denver, Colorado. During our county fair each year, however, there were small versions of circus performances in my early years. I don’t remember any lions or tigers or bears and certainly no elephants. My hometown is more tuned in to the rodeo circuit! That being said, I am looking forward to seeing The Big Apple Circus here in the Harbor this month. It won’t be quite like the circus’ from “back in the day” since there are no wild animal performances – which I am totally alright with since I personally feel that circus life is no place for those beautiful creatures – but it looks like there will be plenty of acts that we will be “oohing and awing” at during the performances. While I don’t want to get in to all of the sordid history of the circus in general, I think it’s good to know a bit about The Big Apple. 2017 was a tough year for the circus business with Ringling Brothers calling it quits and Big Apple filing for bankruptcy after entertaining audiences for nearly four decades. Coming in to save the day – just like in the movies – were retired doctor, Neil Kahanovitz and a group of like-minded friends. You can read all about Dr. Kahanovitz in the “Personality Profile”…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Brews, Booze and Bacchus Southern Maryland Style!

By Bob Tagert   Brews, Booze and Bacchus Southern Maryland Style!   With the few 70-degree-days that we had in February, I contracted a big case of spring fever and started to think of the work that I need to do on my sailboat so we combined a trip to southern Maryland to check out one of my favorite summer hangouts in the winter. We also timed the trip so that we could attend the Maryland Distillers Guild event at Patuxent Naval Air Station Museum. This would give us the chance to check on the boat, see friends and taste their new whiskeys and see how Solomons Island fared during the winter.   If you haven’t been to the museum at Pax River you must really check it out. On this particular day, however, the museum was closed to the public so that the distillers could set up their wares for display, tasting and sales.   Let’s start out with a little history from the Guild’s web page:   “Maryland’s distilling history dates back as early as the 1500’s, when the colonists first began producing rum and whiskey. Over the next few hundred years, the number of distilleries surged, solidifying Maryland’s place as a leader in the nation’s spirits industry. Prior to Prohibition, Maryland was the third largest producer of rye whiskey, with over 100 brands on the market.   The 13 years of Prohibition hurt the entire industry, but Maryland gained its reputation as the “Free State” by refusing to pass any legislation enforcing Prohibition. Not surprisingly, distilling rebounded following the repeal of the 18th Amendment with distilleries increasing production to satisfy demand of the distinctive & renowned spirit unique to our state: Maryland Rye Whiskey. However, the boom was relatively short-lived, and after WWII a combination of economic…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes March 2018

By Bob Tagert As I write this at the end of February the temperature today is 52 and a little overcast. The rest of the week will be in the low 50’s. We have even had a few days that hit 70 degrees. These temps made me think of the work I need to do on my sailboat and my thoughts turned to southern Maryland. With that in mind, we took a Road Trip to our Maryland neighbor and our typical summer playground and checked out a fun event at the Pax River Naval Museum. As we have done for several years, the From the Bay column regales the cathartic “Annual Burning of the Socks” that takes place in Eastport. Julie Reardon has noticed the warm temps as she writes about spring steeplechasing and other early springtime events in her To the Blue Ridge column. Ashley Schultz takes a break from all of the bad stuff out there in the interwebs and clues us in on the new blockbuster movie, Black Panther in her Social Media Message. In keeping with the Irish theme we interviewed Andrew Bryan at Irish Whisper for our Behind the Bar and the man who makes the Irish stew at Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub, Lester Fields, is this month’s Master of Cuisine. Our Personality Profile takes a look at the local man who saved the “Big Apple Circus” while the Business Profile looks at John Crouch Tobacconist after 50 years. These and all of our other columns and features are just waiting to be read. Don’t forget the St. Patrick’s Day Parade here in Old Town. It is way too early for us but at least it will get you in the mood for the real day. It steps off at 12:15 on the 3rd and…

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Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Masters of Cuisine: Lester Fields

Chef Lester Fields Murphy’s Irish Pub 713 King Street Old Town Alexandria 703-548-1717 Main Photo Caption: Lester gets ready to enjoy some of his Traditional Irish Stew. When did you first become interested in cooking? When was in high school I worked at Manny’s Restaurant in Washington D.C. cleaning the kitchen area.  I thought that the chef was awesome and that his food presentation was great and it seemed that people always had smiles on their faces when he cooked for them. I said to myself then that “this is what I want to do some day.”  In 1980, I was given the chance to work in the kitchen at the Holiday Inn in D.C.  I will never forget this because Ronald Reagan became president that year. This is where I started cooking. I started out making soups and sauces and working with Ben, the Banquet Manager, at the time. Ben knew that I had my hopes on becoming a full time cook and he passed that information on to the Chef and it all mushroomed from there. I have been at Murphy’s 10 years now. Who have been your biggest inspirations in your career? That would be Chef Steven White, because he gave me the tools needed to be the chef I am today. He taught me that there is more to being a chef than just cooking the food. Treating your employees well and by example is the most important. He also taught me how to cost out food and how to negotiate with the all of the food purveyors! What are some qualities that you think a successful chef should have? I think a successful chef needs to be good with people, receptive to feed back and be able to adapt to any given situation. Being a “multi-tasker”, not…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Kremlin’s Candidate

The Kremlin’s Candidate Miriam R. Kramer By recently gobbling up Jason Matthew’s long-awaited new release The Kremlin’s Candidate, I finally finished his fascinating Red Sparrow trilogy: a spy novel trifecta focused on an intelligent, beautiful Russian double agent and her American CIA handler. While I had a few issues with this recent book, I can still recommend it highly for those who have enjoyed his previous works. Matthew’s newest spy thriller follows Red Sparrow, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and its successor, Palace of Treason. In the first novel Nate Nash, a young CIA officer making his bones in Moscow, Finland, and other CIA stations, is tasked by his superiors with recruiting a Russian foreign intelligence (SVR) agent, Dominika Egorova. Egorova, a talented former ballet dancer, has gone into Russia’s secret service, the SVR. Physically lovely, she is forcibly sent off to Sparrow School, where she must learn how to seduce and manipulate SVR targets sexually, compromising and extracting information from them. Gifted with a superb memory and synesthesia, an ability to see music, feelings, and others’ psyches in the form of colored halos, Dominika has the potential to rise high in a male-dominated service where guessing others’ intentions is crucial to survival. In Finland she is sent to meet Nate Nash, the talented young agent fluent in Russian. They play games as each tries to recruit the other as a double agent. Disgusted by the roles she is forced to play, Dominika decides to do her part to bring down the corrupt SVR, military, and internal security bureaucrats surrounding the Putin regime by working for the Americans. In the process she and Nash fall in love against all the rules of his agency and colleagues. In The Kremlin’s Candidate, Matthews picks up the story continued…

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

Welcome Spring

Welcome Spring by Julie Reardon Despite some unseasonably warm 75 and 80 degree days in February, technically spring’s not here quite yet. But the days are noticeably lengthening and the sun is stronger; in sheltered areas daffodils and crocus are already blooming. They might just be mixed up due to those balmy days, even though we could still get a big winter storm. I personally take comfort in the fact that the snow doesn’t hang around in March the way it does in January or February.  Gardeners are itching to get their hands dirty although we know better—we scratch the itch by starting seeds indoors and pruning things that need it until the danger of frost passes. Skunks have been on the move—February is their mating season; and we see the geese and wood ducks pairing up and nesting a little earlier than usual. This can be a tricky month to plan ahead for outdoor activities, so we’ve included both indoor and outdoor fun things to do and see in the Blue Ridge. Most don’t require much, if any, advance planning. And you’re guaranteed to see lots of daffodils, forsythia and maybe even some early blooming redbuds at the end of the month on the drive out. Starting with the Warrenton Hunt point to point on March 17, there is no better harbinger of spring than horse racing over fences in the hunt country. The typically smaller and casual point to point races, also known as the pots and pans circuits (because horses race for trophies only, no purses) serve as tune ups for the big sanctioned steeplechase races that start in April. So pick one to attend–there are races every weekend for the next two months.  General admission is generally $15 to $20 for the point to points and…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

How to Have a Reunion with Mother Earth this Spring

By Peggie Arvidson How to Have a Reunion with Mother Earth this Spring No matter your spiritual beliefs, it’s hard to argue with the miracle of new life that is reflected in the buds on the trees, the sound of the peepers and the baby birds making their way from their shells to the nest. It’s a great time to reconnect with the Earth. As the sun begins to hang in the sky a little longer each day I’m willing to come out of the self-imposed hibernation that takes precedence in the winter. As humans in the modern world we’re blessed and cursed with modern inventions like lights that illuminate our homes and lives no matter the time of day or season, as well as electronic devices like phones, tablets, laptops, television and even “Alexa” that provide us information and entertainment at all hours and in all seasons. These are wonderful inventions but they also distract us from the natural ebb and flow of the life of the planet we call our home. There are obvious smarter minds than mine working on issues of global warming and carbon footprints and I’m not here to preach to you about recycling or hugging trees (although both can feel really good). Nope, I’m hear to invite you to use Spring as the time to imagine how you want to relate to the Earth this year. Rather than worrying about the big things (like those Artic Circle icebergs that are melting), start where you are, right now and dig in. This doesn’t have to be hard, in fact it’s the most natural thing in the world! Listening to the Earth and your innate rhythms is the key to your happiness and to the loving symbiotic relationship with your home, Mother Earth. Recently I watched…

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Social Media Message

How #BlackPantherChallenge Changed Lives

By Ashley Schultz In a time where it seems like we are ridden with tragedy everyday, it is always nice to see some light in this seemingly dark World.  The movie Black Panther has inspired many, and partially through the use of social media! An online crowd funding effort turned a social media hashtag into a movement that has already let tens of thousands of kids see Marvel’s latest superhero movie for free. Thanks to a worldwide effort, dubbed #BlackPantherChallenge. The challenge prompted community members to pay for children’s tickets and concessions via websites like GoFundMe. New York resident, Frederick Joseph reportedly started the movement by raising more than $40,000 to let Harlem children see the superhero movie in theaters. The global GoFundMe page claims that more than $400,000 had been donated by at least 10,000 people in 40 different countries. The Atlanta Hawks, invited 150 youth and chaperones at Regal Atlantic Station Stadium as part of the team’s Black History Month celebration. Hawks players, included Mike Muscala and 2018 Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars participant Taurean Prince, who addressed the youth and engaged in a Q&A session prior to watching the film. “We are beyond excited to accept the Black Panther Challenge and provide an opportunity for local teens to watch this film and learn ways they can be heroes in their own right,” said Andrea Carter, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Atlanta Hawks. “We are determined to impress upon them that they can make a positive difference regardless of their circumstances and we are proud to use our NBA platform to inspire our young people.” Attendees included young people who have been touched by the juvenile justice system, members of the BlazeSports Jr. Hawks wheelchair basketball team and youth from local parks and recreation centers in underserved…

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Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Andrew Bryan

Andrew Bryan The Irish Whisper 177 Fleet Street National Harbor 301-909-8859 Andrew serves up the traditional Guinness Pint and a shot of Jameson How did you get started in the bartending business? My family has owned and operated one of the oldest bar/restaurants in college park MD, cornerstone since the 70’s when it was the Rendezvous. I worked there when I was in high school doing maintenance and once I was 18 I started bar backing and eventually worked my way up to bartender and I’ve been a bartender ever since. What is your biggest bartender pet peeve? My biggest bar pet peeve is people who are inconsiderate of other guests. Being in their space or being too loud and obnoxious when others are trying to enjoy their time out. What is cleverest attempt a customer has made to garner a free drink from you? I like really classic cheesy pickup lines. I would say the best was when I was first starting out and a girl came up and said “hey, you look like I could use a drink.” Twirled her hair and batted her eyes. That was worth a vodka cranberry. The best part though was right after that, a drunk college guy came up and used the exact same song and dance followed with “hey, it worked for her!” He also got a vodka cranberry. What is the best and or worst pick up line you have heard while behind the bar? Like I said before, I like cheesy pickup lines so they’re already kind of the best and worst. The best is when someone gets totally shot down when they try one. The delivery has to be right. A guy once tried the old “is that a mirror in your pocket? Cause I can see myself…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Rites and Refusals

by Molly Winans Rites and Refusals I refuse to burn my socks. It’s a quiet refusal. I’m not trying to mess up anyone’s rites of spring or to rally support for an anti-sock-burning movement. It seems to me that my quiet rebellion, exercising my right to just be me, is in the spirit of the season. I’m not the only sailor in Annapolis who will attend a sock-burning gathering for the vernal equinox and walk away still wearing socks. I’ve seen a few shamelessly sock-clad friends participate by pulling old socks out of a pocket and dropping them into the bonfire. As if removing and torching one’s footwear as a seasonal ritual isn’t quirky enough, imagine what the outside world would make of such cheating. As well as a fondness for the occasion, the sock-in-pocket crowd and I share a preference for warm feet on damp, chilly March days. Besides toasty toes, I have other reasons for clinging to my socks. I don’t have that many pairs. If I’m wearing them to a bonfire party, it’s likely that I consider them part of my sailing gear. I’m not trying to perpetuate the stereotypes of the frugal sailor or the starving writer. I can afford new socks, but I choose not to buy them often. Why? I’m not desperate yet. My feet are still warm. I have enough pairs of socks to get by—just not enough to sacrifice to the equinoctial gods for fun. I think a lot of sailors have this sort of attitude toward their gear. They hang on to it until it’s lost, destroyed, or so leaky that they suffer for one bitter day before throwing it away, if they can part with it. Imagine a sailor friend blowing out a toe in his old dinghy boot. Does…

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