Day: December 1, 2018

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…

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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…

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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….

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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…

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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…

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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….

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Gift of Education

The Gift of Education by Miriam R. Kramer As December rolls in we are looking forward to a joyful holiday season in Old Town. Readers greedy for a local in-person browse have a special reason to celebrate with a much-needed new pop-up bookshop: Old Town Books. The store opened on Small Business Saturday, November 24, at 104 S. Union Street, across the alley from the old Olsson’s Books & Records location currently occupied by Virtue Feed & Grain. Below are a fiction and a nonfiction selection to get you started on your literary holiday shopping there. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is the absorbing tale of Kya Clark, a reclusive young woman who grows up isolated in the marshes outside the small coastal community of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. Her mother, siblings, and alcoholic father leave their family shack out in the wetlands one by one. The lonely Kya must find a way to survive and eke out a living as she matures. Scorned by the nearby town as ignorant trash and called the Marsh Girl, self-sufficient Kya makes a living off the wetlands, learning about the water and wildlife that surround her. She begins to see through a more academic lens by teaching herself to read and study with the help of Tate Walker, a shrimper’s son. Tate appreciates her talent as an artist who paints flora and fauna, bringing her books to enrich her understanding of nature. In 1969, when accused of murdering the handsome lothario Chase Andrews from Barkley Cove, she and the town must finally come to terms with one another. I found Where the Crawdads Sing both airy and profound, light as a sea breeze rustling through piney woods. The novel is a whodunit set in the South, a natural history, and a…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Annmarie Garden in Lights!

Annmarie Garden in Lights! Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center in Solomons, Maryland, announces the Annmarie Garden in Lights for the 2018 holiday season. This family-friendly light art event is a joyful outing for all ages – and has become a favorite Southern Maryland holiday tradition. The Garden is transformed with more than one million lights in dazzling and unique installations and vignettes. Guests will be delighted with the quirky and unique “light sculptures” that transform the Garden into a glittering kaleidoscope of color. Take a walk through the protected ¼ mile wooded path, then come inside and enjoy live entertainment, food, and holiday shopping. “We love putting this show together each year. This event is all about the joy that it brings and celebrating the season.  We are excited to be trying some new things this year that add to the experience with more lights and more dazzle.” says Stacey Ruff, director of Annmarie Garden. Annmarie Garden in Lights also features live entertainment each night, the Hardesty Haven Holiday Café, unique shopping in the Annmarie Gift Shop, an Ornament Show & Sale, Holiday Pop-up Shops, and much more! Special themed nights throughout the month include, Snow Princess Night, Scout Caroling Night, Santa Night, Festive Holiday Attire Night and Pet Night. Special nights include live characters who will greet guests and provide great photo opportunities. The Light Show will be open to the public nightly through January 1st between 6 and 9 pm with the exception of December 3 & 4th and 24th & 25th. Admission at the door is $7; free for children 2 & under; free for Annmarie members. Visit to purchase special Fast Pass Tickets and for a detailed entertainment schedule. Directions to Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center From Washington DC (about a 60 minute drive): take Route 4 South…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

EYC Lights Parade Celebrates 30 Years!

EYC Lights Parade Celebrates 30 Years! The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade, one of Annapolis’ signature events for more than 30 years, is just around the corner! For the third year, our hometown parade has been nominated as one of the USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice Holiday Parades in America! If any of you want to be a part of the process you may vote once a day, every day, until December 8. Fans may go   Scroll down through the current contests to find Holiday Parades…..then VOTE! In 2016, our parade was named the #1 Best Holiday Parade in America! The parade bursts upon the Annapolis waterfront with up to 40 boats of all shapes and sizes, power and sail, brightly decorated with thousands of lights and crewed by jolly revelers. This festive maritime event is great fun for the entire family. Skippers participate for the fun of it, and circle the waterfront in two fleets: one circling in front of Eastport, the City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall, the other circling the length of Spa Creek, inside the bridge. This year, the Lights Parade will be held on Saturday, December 8th, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 PM.  The event will occur rain or shine, with only high winds forcing a cancellation. Twenty to thirty thousand people line the waterfront each year to watch this glittering holiday parade. It’s fun for the entire family with entries such as Santa Claus, Polar Bear Express, and The Abominable Snowman. Lights Parade participants compete for prizes and recognition either individually, or as a representative of their club. The parade is an excellent opportunity to show off a boat or to showcase a club.  Anyone may enter and Eastport Yacht Club provides safety briefings as well as decorating tips….

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