Month: December 2018

Business Profile

Lisa Katic and Wine Gallery 108

By Lani Gering Lisa Katic and Wine Gallery 108 We had the pleasure of meeting the “Chief Wine Taster” from Wine Gallery 108 located here in Old Town Alexandria at a wine tasting event at Society Fair last month. We were on the hunt for some subject material for the January Business Profile and she just fell right into place.   Wine Gallery 108 is a rebranding of the former Altura Wine and Gourmet that was in this space and the subject matter of a previous profile in the OTC. Katic purchased the business in mid-2018 after deciding to “follow her dream”. She has definitely put her mark on the shop. She is not only the Chief Wine Taster, she’s an accomplished artist as well. This shop has a very distinct personality and is a lot bigger inside than one would think. “I take wine seriously but I don’t take myself too seriously,” Lisa says with a grin. You get a feel for what is inside by what is in the front window. Pay close attention to the sign in the display in the exterior photo that is accompanying this column. Wine Gallery 108 is a boutique market in Old Town Alexandria offering fine wines, craft beer, artisanal foods, local art and handcrafted gifts. The items that she has chosen to accompany and compliment the wine she sells are very unique. It is worth the stop even if you aren’t on the hunt for vino. The art that was on display when I did the interview included many of Katic’s originals as well as the work of other local artists. The whole theme blends together seamlessly. This is a very interactive place with Friday night Happy Hour from 5-7 pm and Saturday Tastings from 2-5 pm. They also host seasonal…

Continue Reading

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Holidays in the Harbor – 2018

By Lani Gering Holidays in the Harbor – 2018 I am officially in the holiday spirit now! The tree lighting here in the Harbor took place a little bit early for my taste but I have to admit that it did give me a nudge toward getting psyched up for the season. I will admit that I have been watching my Christmas shows on Hallmark and Lifetime since before Thanksgiving….don’t judge me. It’s going to be a fabulous holiday season. Being the co-publisher of the OTC has a few perks and one of the best is being invited to the Media Preview of ICE! and the opening of Christmas On the Potomac at the Gaylord National Resort. I look forward to this event each year almost as much as I do 4th of July fireworks. Part of the allure is the fact that since this isn’t open to the public, it lends itself to a nice sized crowd and not a “ton” of kids. I know, I know, it should be all about the children but sometimes you just want to enjoy things with “child-like” adults. The resort’s signature holiday attraction, ICE!, returns for the 10th year to showcase the true meaning of Christmas with its rendition of the beloved classic story, A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. My favorite characters including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and friends come to life in more than 2 million pounds of colorful, larger-than-life ice sculptures hand-carved by 35 artisans from Harbin, China. And…my very favorite ICE! feature – the ice slides! I really do get a thrill sliding down the two-story tall slide. I am probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest, participants at 65. As in years past the show culminates with the impressive, crystal clear ice sculpture of the Nativity scene….

Continue Reading

Notes from the Publisher

This Month’s Publishers Notes

By Bob Tagert Another year draws to a close. It doesn’t seem possible that we have been publishing this magazine for almost 31 years…seems like just yesterday we were pulling the first issue together in Dave Underwood’s dining room. Time flies when you’re having fun! This issue is packed with lots of good stuff. As most of you know, each December our Road Trip brings us back home to Old Town Alexandria. Our city has changed rapidly over the last couple of years and appears to remain on this course – 2019 will be a banner year for the waterfront. Business Profile takes us inside Society Fair “where everything is devoted to food!”  Dining Out highlights the fairly new Tequila & Taco in the Carlyle development. The Bay Section highlights Annmarie Gardens in Solomons, Maryland “Garden In Lights” display and the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade. Both events are a great treat for the whole family. Unfortunately the issue came out after all of the holiday happenings here in Old Town but I am hoping you enjoyed the Scottish Walk and our very own Lights Parade on the 1st. The Blue Ridge section highlights some of the areas favorite places for choosing and cutting your own Christmas tree. After our annual Thanksgiving stuffing, our fitness section has some tips on burning some of those calories and From the Trainer you can learn how exercise helps relieve holiday stress. Now that everything else is decorated, First Blush teaches you how to “Get Your Holiday Glow On!” Lori Welch has great advice for “giving” and receiving in Open Space. Guess you can tell from the photo accompanying these notes that ICE! is back in full swing at the Gaylord – check out the National Harbor section for the details. Lani thought the…

Continue Reading

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Tequila & Taco

By the Gastronomes Tequila & Taco If you are looking for a new place to take a break from the rigors of holiday shopping in Old Town, take the short drive to “New Town” and visit Tequila & Taco on John Carlyle Street in the heart of John Carlyle Square. The Square is located between Duke Street and Eisenhower Avenue across from the train station and King Street Metro and is home to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office and the Federal Courthouse. This fairly new area of Alexandria is growing at a steady pace and is also home to several new eateries. One of the newest kids on the block is Tequila & Taco – another of local restaurateur Mike Anderson’s dining establishments. T & T joins sister restaurant Sweet Fire Donna’s BBQ on the 500 block of John Carlyle Street. We decided to test the waters….and the tequila….at T&T on that rare, sunny Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving. It was a nice treat after the turkey and wine. Naturally, we started out with a couple of margaritas on the rocks w/salt to accompany the chips and salsa while we perused the menu. Just like the name indicates, there are several taco variations (13 to be exact) and tequila choices (over 40 kinds) but we were also impressed with the other offerings. The menu is simple and straight forward with the ever popular fajitas (chicken, shrimp, steak or a combo), burritos (cheese, pulled chicken, pulled pork and sliced brisket), enchiladas (pulled chicken, sliced brisket and veggie), three salads (beet, taco cobb and Caesar), T&T style shrimp ceviche and tuna tartare. There is also a burger on the menu. Not to be overlooked are the starters and desserts. The starters range from some of the best queso blanco that we have…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

The Art is the Thing

By F. Lennox Campello In the last issue, I offered my thoughts and predictions on the Superfine! DC art fair which by now has come and gone to the District’s historical Union Market. I visited the fair, and spent a few hours enjoying the “artmosphere” (new word that I invented decades ago) that any major art fair brings to any city, and I have some new thoughts and facts to share. Bottom line: Superfine! art fair management announced that they’ll return next year – that by itself is a major success in view of the DMV’s past attempts to entertain and host a major fine arts fair such as the ones that routinely take place in many other world capitals as well as in Miami each December for the art world’s big dance. This is excellent news for the capital region’s art scene! Upon entering the fair spaces, and as a veteran of nearly 100 art fairs all over the nation and overseas, I immediately noticed two things: (a) Zenith Gallery – which had my work at this fair – had the primo spot by the entrance, and (b) this fair’s display booths were superbly well designed and spaced, and unlike any other art fair that I’ve ever seen! That’s a good thing. Why do I say that? Because every other fair on this planet has one mission in mind when designing their floor plan: maximize the number of booths, because the more booths that you can squeeze into a floor, the bigger the profit that the fair organizer stands to make. Kudos to Superfine! DC management for their booth arrangement. Another important thing separates this fair from your typical New York or Miami art fairs: Artists can have individual booths. This is both a positive (especially in the DC…

Continue Reading

Business Profile

Society Fair – The Butcher, the Baker and Not Quite the Candlestick Maker!

By Bob Tagert Society Fair – The Butcher, the Baker and Not Quite the Candlestick Maker! We are all such creatures of habit that sometimes we miss what is right under our nose and I am no exception. I live and work a block and a half from Society Fair but never take the time to take the five minute walk there. This month I forced myself to make the trek to really check out the store and to talk with owners Dan and Nadine Brown. Both of these hard-working individuals are a delight to talk with. It was easy to see that Dan was preoccupied with the days business responsibilities while Nadine was very upbeat and laughs easily. She is a delight. I remembered when renowned chef Cahall Armstrong and is wife Michelle opened Society Fair six years ago. I went then to check it out but never really went back. Now I know what I was missing. Society Fair is four businesses under one roof.  It truly is “A boutique emporium delight, where everything we do is Devoted to Food” as their website states. As you walk in the front door, the market, the butcher and deli/lunch counter is straight back with the massive bakery area in the far back of the store.  There are high tops and low tops for seating in this area as well. The restaurant and bar sit off to the left with the wine room on the right. At first it is a bit overwhelming with how many items they have, but after a few minutes of looking around and asking questions you begin to understand that all of this is done for you. They make your Friday nights easy with a complete dinner for two, dessert & wine included for only $49….

Continue Reading

On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On the Road

Ryan and Tracy Unverzagt treated their daughter, T. Adlee, to her first trip to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming this fall. Ryan is one of the OTC’s contributing writers and pens the From the Trainer column for us. They are pictured here at their stop at the famous Old Faithful geyser and at Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin with the OTC in hand. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get the photo taken during the eruption of Old Faithful.

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Enchanting St. Thomas

Enchanting St. Thomas Though it’s only 32 square miles in size, St. Thomas has a million miles worth of things to do. Go shopping and sailing, snorkeling and sightseeing, or diving and dining. Enjoy the island’s world-renowned golf course, picture-perfect beaches and spectacular nightlife. Take the Skyride 700 feet above the city or climb the famous 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie for an incomparable view of the Caribbean. And if you’re interested in culture and history, don’t miss seeing the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, the 1680-built Fort Christian or the childhood home of Camille Pissarro, one of the best-known French Impressionists. St. Thomas’s history and culture alone are worth a visit to the island. Fort Christian, a U.S. National Landmark, is the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands and home to the Virgin Islands Museum, where early island memorabilia and old maps trace the islands’ history. Market Square, a bustling produce marketplace, was once one of the West Indies’ busiest 18th-century slave markets. Also of interest is the Synagogue of Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States. On nearby Government Hill, looming over Charlotte Amalie, stands Blackbeard’s Castle. Known during colonial times as Skytsborg, this 17th-century fortified tower also served as a popular restaurant and hotel before the ravages of Irma. They are in the process of rebuilding but the historic portion remains. Located in the hills not far from the heart of Charlotte Amalie, Government House has been the center of government in St. Thomas since the mid-1860s. Visitors interested in seeing St. Thomas’s political life may tour the building’s first two floors. The 99 Steps, made by bricks that were once used as ballast on Danish and British ships, were built into the hillside to keep the orderly grid…

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Home for the Holidays – Old Town Alexandria

By Bob Tagert Home for the Holidays – Old Town Alexandria As most of you know, every month we take a road trip and then write about the experience and destination. Each December, however, my road trip is about our home town of Alexandria, Virginia and the history that has been created here and about the history still being made. This past year saw the sale of the Old Dominion Boat Club building to the city in order to create the new Portside Park at the foot of King Street. As of this writing, the project is still under construction due to the difficult weather (rain) that we have encountered this past year. It looks like the final stages will not be completed until late winter, but Portside Park promises to be a great addition to the Old Town Alexandria experience. The park will feature free-to-the-public themed happenings in history, art, music and fitness with activities for families and for adults. The addition of the now-popular “pop-up” experiences and events will be a big part of Portside throughout the year. Alexandria will reclaim her history as a seafaring port with the acquisition of the tall ship Providence. The Providence will provide a living link to the city’s rich marine, naval, and Revolutionary history. The Providence is a replica of the first ship authorized to serve in the Continental Navy and John Paul Jones’ first command. The Providence will set the tone for the city as the Schooner Alexandria did years ago. The waterfront development began a little over a year ago and much has happened. The new Old Dominion Boat Club opened last year and is a beautiful addition to the waterfront as is the year- old Indigo Hotel and Hummingbird Restaurant. During the excavation of the Indigo Hotel, Alexandria’s…

Continue Reading

Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

Ya Gotta Have Faith….

By Peggie Arvidson Ya Gotta Have Faith…. “I don’t need to know how it works, but I have faith that every morning when I get out of bed my feet are going to land on the ground and I’m not going to float up in space…because….gravity.” She said it tongue in cheek as our conversation on faith was getting deeper by the minute. We laughed and moved on to other topics. I still wasn’t sure that believing in gravity, which can be proven by science, was equivalent to having faith. I’ve been researching the concept of faith for several years and recently doubled-down on the research. It’s not been as easy as I’d hoped to get a handle on faith. I guess you could say that my faith in the ease of writing about faith was misdirected. Faith comes from the Latin word fides roughly translated to mean “trust, guarantee, proof, sincerity, loyalty and/or belief.” Can there be faith if there is no religious or God-connotation? One would think. Yet when you type “what is faith?” or “Can you have faith without being religious?” in any search engine you will find thousands of results all discussing faith in religious terms, primarily in traditional Christian theologies. There’s no argument that faith is essential to Christian doctrine, but what about faith for the millions of people world-wide who don’t practice Christianity? Meriam-Webster defines faith in a number of ways, as “1 (a) allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty; (b) 1 fidelity to one’s promises, 2. Sincerity of intentions,” as well as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” My theory has been that faith is hard to describe but I know it when I experience it. Years ago I wrote about walking in dense fog in Northern Virginia….

Continue Reading

View More