Day: February 29, 2020

Business Profile

Hurricane Bob’s – Small Batch, Gourmet Hot Sauce

By Lani Gering Hurricane Bob’s – Small Batch, Gourmet Hot Sauce The publisher of the Old Town Crier has known Commander Robert “Bob” Yakeley (retired) since the mid-90’s and I met him fairly shortly after. While we knew he had a fairly colorful career as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy and was a man of many interests, concocting hot sauce never crossed our minds. I guess in retrospect he was noted for his culinary expertise but I just thought it was to impress the ladies. Little did I know it is truly a passion of his. One of the results of his passion for food resulted in his quest to perfect the hot sauce that he made for friends and family over the years and it has transformed into “Hurricane Bob’s”.  Any of you familiar with fighter pilots or even the movie Top Gun know that they all have a call sign….. What started out as a weekend hobby in his kitchen slowly transformed into the creation of a really good, quality hot sauce. After experimenting with ingredients for 20 years and testing it out on family and friends, he finally found the right combination for his first batch of Cajun Dew, a *Category 4. I can attest to its flavor, he got it spot on, and I am pretty finicky about my hot sauce. He did his homework and found a bottler in North Carolina that met his standards of keeping his sauce true to taste and went into production last August. He told me that his motto is “Flavor First” and he got the right combination of cayenne and habaneros along with garlic, vinegar, and salt in the Cajun Dew. As it is described on his website, “Simple yet flavorful. Great on top of your local…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Beware the Ides of March…But Why??

Beware the Ides of March…But Why?? By Martin Stezano It’s unlikely even Shakespeare could have predicted how his famous phrase would have evolved. Not only did William Shakespeare’s words stick, they branded the phrase with a dark and gloomy connotation that will forever make people uncomfortable. It’s probable that many people who use the phrase today don’t know its true origin. In fact, just about every pop culture reference to the Ides—save for those appearing in actual history-based books, movies or television specials—makes it seem like the day itself is cursed. But the Ides of March actually has a non-threatening origin story. Kalends, Nones and Ides were ancient markers used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides simply referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. In fact, the Ides of March once signified the new year, which meant celebrations and rejoicing. Yet, when heroes in movies, books and television shows are faced with the Ides of March, it’s always a bad omen. Several television shows have had episodes named “The Ides of March.” And it’s never good news. In 1995 alone, the Ides-related episode of “Party of Five” was based around a cocaine-related death and featured a near-incident involving drunk driving. “Xena: Warrior Princess” had its protagonist facing threats from an ominous vision that showed her and her travel partner, Gabrielle, put to death by crucifixion. And Homer Simpson’s rise to power within the ancient secret society known as the Stonecutters in The Simpsons episode “Homer the Great” leads to his self-proclamation as a God. In warning him of his inevitable downfall, Lisa plays the part of the soothsayer, quoting “beware the Ides of March.” Homer simply says “No,” and laughs it off (much like Caesar did in…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant – A Touch of Ireland on 23rd Street

By the Gastronomes McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant – A Touch of Ireland on 23rd Street March is a perfect time to visit an Irish Pub and embrace all that is Irish. This month we ventured out of Old Town to check out McNamara’s, the new Irish Pub and Restaurant in Arlington/Crystal City. The restaurant anchors the west end of “Restaurant Row” on 23rd Street. It had been quite some time since we ventured to 23rd Street we sort of forgot how many varied eateries there are in that one long block. The cuisine choices are very diverse and there is virtually something for every pallet. We need to make a plan to go back. In the meantime, let’s talk about McNamara’s. Scott Dicken, our Take Photos, Leave Footprints columnist, recommended we check it out shortly after it opened a few months ago. Some of you may remember that Fiona’s Irish Pub was in that corner space for a brief time. The building is very roomy with plenty of space to fan out and enough TV’s that one is always visible for viewing your favorite sporting event. The bar is large and done in all dark wood giving a very manly feel to the establishment. As one would expect of a good Irish bar, the taps are stocked with the requisite Irish Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s and Magner’s Cider along with 5 other domestic brands. They have an extensive choice of cans and bottles and the wine selection is quite adequate as well. They also pour a good mixed drink (as most Irish do) and the wine pour here is generous. The bar area also has high top tables as well as barrels throughout for your drinks or pints of Guinness when there’s a crowd. There isn’t a separate dining room per…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Irish Stew

Let’s Eat by Charles Oppman Irish Stew Since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to suggest that quintessential Irish dish―Irish Stew. There isn’t just one recipe for Irish stew (Irish: stobhach or stobhach Gaelach). Recipes can vary from home to home or region to region, but all are agreed that the meat must be lamb―mutton can be used, but this is meat from an older sheep and is less tender, fattier and has a stronger flavor. Another point of agreement is that the dish must include at least onions and potatoes. Many are adamant that carrots and celery are a must. The purist will insist it must also contain pearl barley, which acts as a thickening agent. The meat used is not the best cuts of lamb, but the cheaper ones such as shoulder, leg or shank. This famous meat stew is different than most in that the meat is not browned. In French culinary parlance, it can be cooked blanquette style. Pretty much the only difference between Irish stew and the beef stew Americans are familiar with is the meat itself. Ingredients 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces 1/2 salt 1/2 ground black pepper 2 bay leaves 1 large onion, diced 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch sections 1/2 cup pearl barley (optional) 4 cups beef broth, canned is acceptable 3 large red potatoes, peeled and quartered 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary ½ cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish Directions 1. Heat oil over high heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add lamb pieces and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, but do not allow to brown.  Season with salt and pepper. 2. Add onions, bay leaves and beef broth….

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Striped bass fishing cuts to hit Bay anglers harder than watermen

By Timothy B. Wheeler Striped bass fishing cuts to hit Bay anglers harder than watermen Critics question Maryland plan for ending overfishing, which also goes easier on charter boats Anglers in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries will be limited to landing just one striped bass a day under new rules approved this week by East Coast fishery managers. The only exception is in Maryland, where state officials plan to let customers on charter fishing boats bring home two of the highly prized rockfish, as they are known in the Bay. And there’s still more controversy about Maryland’s plan to stem the slide of the East Coast’s most popular finfish. The state has shortened but not closed its spring “trophy season,” when anglers can go after the biggest of the species, even though those happen to be the most productive spawners. And the state is planning to crack down on anglers who “target” rockfish for catch-and-release during times when it’s illegal to keep them. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates fishing for migratory species in near-shore waters, authorized a patchwork of catch restrictions to be imposed along the coast and in the Bay aimed at halting a troubling decline in the species. They did so only after a lengthy and at-times querulous debate about the efficacy and fairness of states’ varied rules. Maryland’s proposed catch restrictions came under particularly close scrutiny from critics who questioned the science behind the proposal and whether it would actually meet the commission’s requirements. The action approved comes after scientists warned nearly a year ago that the Atlantic striped bass population was overfished, with the number of spawning age females at a worrisome low. The commission last fall called for states to make an 18% reduction in the catch of striped bass as well as in their…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events

Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 March 20th – April 12th The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the world’s great celebrations of spring. The 2020 Festival includes four weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. Visit or call 877.44.BLOOM for more information, check out  Facebook (CherryBlossomFestival), Twitter (@CherryBlossFest), and Instagram (@CherryBlossFest). The Festival has expanded its roster of sports programming, including the return of the Blossoms and Baseball game with the Washington Nationals, a Blossom Night with DC United, and a new partnership with the Washington Wizards. Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 signature events include:  • Friday, March 20: Pink Tie Party fundraiser presented by ANA at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (early-bird tickets available now) • Saturday, March 21: Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theatre • Saturday, March 28: Blossom Kite Festival presented by Otsuka on the Washington Monument grounds • Saturday, April 4: National Cherry Blossom Festival Paradeâ presented by Events DC (grandstand tickets on sale now) • Saturday, April 13: Petalpalooza at Capitol Riverfront presented by CHASE • Dates TBD: Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Performance Stage Festival Partners 2020 Premier Events include: • Saturday, March 21: SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration produced by Smithsonian American Art Museum • Saturday, April 4: Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, produced by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC • Sunday, April 5: Anacostia River Festival produced by the 11th Street Bridge Park

Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events

39th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Fun Dog Show – March 7th

39th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Fun Dog Show – March 7th WHAT: 39th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Fun Dog Show Visitors and residents are invited to don their green and line King Street in Old Town Alexandria, VA to kick off the region’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the 39th Annual Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade, presented by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote and preserve Irish heritage. More than 2,000 participants will march in this year’s parade, including the Notre Dame Alumni Band, dog rescue groups, pipe and drum bands, historical re-enactors, Shriners and Kena cars, and Irish dancers. Parade-goers come early at 10:30 a.m. for the Fun Dog Show on Market Square, which benefits the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. More than 30 costumed dogs will compete in a range of categories, including Best Human/Canine Look-Alike, Most Talented and Most St. Paddy’s Spirit. The dogs will then kick off the parade at 12:15 p.m. TIME: Fun Dog Show – 10:30 am – 12 pm Parade – 12:30 pm – 2 pm WHERE: Parade starts at King and Alfred Streets and ends at Lee and Cameron Streets; the Fun Dog Show is on Market Square in front of City Hall at 301 King Street, Alexandria, VA WEBSITE:

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Take Photos Leave Footprints

Adrenaline Tourism: Swimming with Sharks in Fiji

By Scott Dicken Adrenaline Tourism: Swimming with Sharks in Fiji When thinking of Fiji one may daydream of invitingly pristine white-sand beaches, hammocks strung between palm trees, and bars serving ice cold beers. And you would be right. Kuata, a tiny island only two hours by boat from Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, lives up to those expectations. Yet, I’d made the trip with intentions far from a lazy day in paradise. The sole purpose of my visit was to experience an ‘up close and personal’ interaction with sharks in the wild. World renowned for its opportunities to dive with the predators of the deep, the Barefoot Kuata Resort arranges for visitors to face their fears by offering guided dives and snorkeling with all manner of predators from the notorious Bull Shark to Tiger Sharks, Great Hammerheads, Lemons, and Reef Sharks. Is it safe? Is it ethical? Is it worth it? These are probably all questions running through your mind. Read on to find out. The Experience My day began in relative tranquility, as most holidays to lush tropical paradise islands should. After two hours of cruising between palm-fringed islands and skimming across the azure waters of the South Pacific, we arrived at Kuata’s beachfront. I was greeted by ukulele-wielding resort staff eager to extend a traditionally Fijian “Bula”, an infectiously genuine greeting wishing you good health and happiness. Following further rounds of trading “Bula’s” with pretty much every resident of the tiny island, and having slathered enough sunscreen on to my pasty white British Skin to sink a battleship, we boarded yet another boat to head out twenty minutes towards the local Moyia reef system. At this point you could sense a growing anticipation and excitement amongst my fellow shipmates as we strapped on our fins, tightened our…

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Social Media Message

Instagram and the Restaurant Industry

Instagram and the Restaurant Industry By Ashley Rosson Have you noticed how restaurants and public places are becoming more “Instagrammable”? Suddenly there is a new neon sign on a back wall, a collection of plants framed into a square shot. In some ways, it seems a little forced- but then again, with so many people now posting their experience on Insta, and tagging the location, it can serve as significant, free promotional opportunity for those businesses that get it right. From visually appealing plates to splashing out on eye-catching décor, restaurants are capitalizing on the sharing craze to boost their business and get free advertising from legions of adoring fans. According to • 69% of millennial diners take a photo of their food before eating it. • 59% of millennial diners say they review menus online often or very often. • 20% more millennials dine out than their generational predecessors. • 50% of Gen-Z prefers limited service and fast casual to full service restaurants. • 30% of millennial diners actively avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence. • Some of the most “grammed” foods are pizza, sushi, chicken, salad, past, bacon, burgers, eggs, steak, and salmon. Restaurants are also adjusting the way the restaurant runs and is designed. They are implementing eye-catching wallpaper or wall art providing the perfect background for photographs or food. They are investing in spaces with natural light, or using overhead spotlights for picture-perfect snaps. They are including colorful walls or murals to bring in foot traffic off the street to help them get “geo-tagged,” which supplies the location of the restaurant. Some restaurants are even handing out miniature tripods and LED lights to encourage diners to share their snaps. Restaurants are also creating a narrative in their restaurant to intrigue customers. Jack’s Wife Freda,…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

This Spring…..Just Get Started!

By Peggie Arvidson This Spring…..Just Get Started! Ah sweet Spring. You approach as a gift after the cold and wet of winter. No matter where you live you find that there is an ebb and flow to Mother Nature. So, with Spring arriving full of blossoms and bugs and sneezes is a welcome reminder of the consistency of being alive. Winter is the reminder that everything must end in order to begin again. Spring is the not-so-subtle reminder to celebrate the surprises and fun of starting over. Why is it then that we avoid starting over? No one relishes being a beginner. Whether you’re lingering in an unfulfilling job, a house that you’ve outgrown (or it’s outgrown you) or a city that you hate, odds are you’re hanging on because you hate the idea of starting over. Is there fear in beginning? Probably. Starting something new brings on lots of fear for me – fear of looking silly, fear of failing, fear of not fitting in or not being able to figure out whatever it is that I’m contemplating, and that is tied to the fact that I want to be an expert, all the time, right away. Lucky me – I’m onto my ego’s tricks and try not to fall for the whining and fears and simply face the fact that I’m going to have to be a beginner if I’m going to do something that’s purposeful (and often fun). I was talking with a co-worker (at a job that was brand new to me just a year ago!) about the way that kids can just have a friend for a day, or even an event. They know how to begin things, without worrying about looking silly and as a result they seem to have a ton more fun…

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