Day: January 1, 2021

Notes from the Publisher

Publishers Notes January 2021

Publishers Notes January 2021 Thank God that 2020 is now in the rear view mirror. It certainly was a survival year. For the past 32 years we have built our publication around the hospitality business. We built a nice book of business with restaurants, hotels and destinations like Calvert County, St. Mary’s County, Leonardtown and Solomons in Maryland, and Middleburg, Marshall, Sperryville, Washington and Culpeper in Virginia. When the “virus” hit we lost over half of our revenue. We had to make quick decisions for cost reductions that were painful. We are proud to say that we didn’t miss an issue during this past year – something very few print publications can say. We felt we owed it to our readers to keep some “normalcy” in their lives. With this issue we begin our 33rd year of entertaining the region and producing a product that many look forward to each month. This was, as is every month, a team effort. Our writers are the best. Some have been writing for us every month for over 20 years. They are the reason this publication has survived for 32 years. I also want to acknowledge our advertisers as well. Over 32 years many have come and gone. Some have been there at just the right time to help us get through a rough period. Corporate ads like Pulte, Craftmark and Brandywine were our backbone. Others who climbed on for the ride made every day interesting. We could not have made it without those folks who advertised with us yesterday, today and hopefully tomorrow. I encourage every one of you readers to patronize these fabulous establishments. I do hope a certain calm overcomes us all this year – like an early morning mist. I hope there is a light that shines on truth…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Understanding Virginia’s “Natural Wine”

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Understanding Virginia’s “Natural Wine” Natural wine is a trendy term in the wine industry. It certainly hits several items on the hipster bucket-list. Some claim that it’s healthier for you than regular wine (unlikely to be true). Natural wine is often confused with organic wine (not the same, but somewhat in the ballpark). While there is some overlap with biodynamic, natural wine doesn’t necessarily have to be biodynamic. So if it’s none of those things…what is ”natural” wine? The U.S. wine industry has struggled with this question because – unlike organic wine – there is no legal definition for the term ‘natural wine’. It’s also unfair to imply that conventional making is somehow ‘unnatural’, or that organic automatically means ‘good for you’, further adding to the confusion. So lacking a U.S. definition, France’s adoption of the term vin méthode nature is a good starting point. Introduced in 2019, French wines utilizing this label must adhere to the following standards: Low (maximum 30 ppm) or no sulfites (with separate logos for both options) No additives (except for sulfur) in the wine cellar or “brutal” treatments Only indigenous yeast fermentation is allowed Grapes must be organically farmed and hand-picked But even France’s wine industry admits this is more of a marketing term that qualified producers are allowed to post on their label, not an official certification for ‘natural wine’. Moreover, pinning down specific criteria may miss the point. As natural wine expert Alice Feiring once said, “In my heart of hearts, I just don’t think natural wine is certifiable”. So rather than think of natural wine as a product, think of it as more of a philosophy how wine can be made. As winemaker Ben Jordan of Early Mountain Vineyards explained, “It seems to me that the market accepts…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining


Lets’s Eat by Charles Oppman Cassoulet   Now that we’re in the cold weather months it is good time for a hearty country dish. Why not make a classic bean dish―cassoulet? Cassoulet is a rib-stickin’, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, pork, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin (couennes) and white haricot beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware casserole dish. I made cassoulet the other day with northern beans. I made it in an ultra-heavy cast iron Dutch oven I found at a Salvation Army for like $5. I cooked it on the stove top, but could have baked it, which I considered doing because I was thinking about whipping up a batch of corn bread as well, the perfect quick bread for this dish. I vary the meat when I make cassoulet, but this time I used smoked sausage, bratwurst, pork spare ribs, thick-cut bacon and some pieces of pork butt and a ham bone I had in the freezer. I was also able to use the last of my home-grown thyme and rosemary.   Serves: 6   Ingredients 1 pound bratwurst, cut into 3” pieces 1 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1” cubs 1 pound of smoked sausage, cut into 3” pieces (ham hocks can replace smoked sausage) 4 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces 1 pound duck breast halves (optional) 1 whole onion, diced 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced 3 sprigs fresh thyme 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 1 cup coarsely chopped curly parsley 1 pound dry navy or northern beans, soaked for 3 hours 3 bay leaves, large 1 cup celery, diced (optional) 1 (or more) quart chicken broth, canned is fine. (Please…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Starting 2021 With Good Luck Foods!

By the Gastronomes Starting 2021 With Good Luck Foods! While the pandemic protocols are still in full force for our restaurant and bar businesses we are looking toward a much brighter future. There is a vaccine now and more people seem to be willing to dine at an establishment – indoors and out – but we need to conjure up all of the good juju we can get. Let’s start off the year with some “good luck” foods that just might help change the course of 2021!  We enlisted the help of Real Simple contributor, Betty Gold, and she has outlined the lore of 9 of these lucky edibles for us. “We pour bubbly on New Year’s Eve, but what about the menu? That depends on where you live. In different cultures, certain foods are considered to bring good luck in the year ahead. These traditional New Year’s food options all have unique stories behind them, and are well worth considering putting on your menu as you set your 2021 intentions. Whether it is black-eyed peas on a New Year’s Day brunch or cabbage on New Year’s Eve, adding these New Year’s good luck foods to your menu plans are a delicious way to say “see-ya” to the old year and “hello” to a lucky new year. Black-Eyed Peas Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a time honored tradition. Not to be confused with green peas (or the hip hop band!), black-eyed peas are actually a kind of bean. There are a few different reasons why they’re associated with luck on New Year’s Day. One theory anchors the tradition in the Civil War, when Union soldiers raided the Confederate army’s food supply, leaving behind only this bean. Another is anchored in African American history, where newly-freed slaves celebrated the January 1863…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

The Gift of Letting Go

By Lori Welch Brown   The Gift of Letting Go My brothers and I laid our beloved father to rest on December 19, 2020.  It was a lovely service complete with military honors and a chorus of Amazing Grace.  When he died on December 10 from complications due to COVID-19, he was 19 days shy of his 91st birthday. Yeah, he was 90 and lived a full life, yaddah yah.  But, he spent the last nine months of his life virtually alone, and he died alone.   Planning a funeral while other people are planning Christmas menus and Hanukah festivities adds an extra layer of sadness to an already painful process, but it also felt like par for the course for this dreadful year.  How else could this year possibly end but by ripping my heart apart?   It was a year plagued with worry and stress around COVID-19.  How to keep from contracting it, passing it.  To glove or not to glove?  Masks definitely.  The election.  Forget it.  The revolving news stories that seemed to just get worse with each passing day. Each and every one of us has been living with a level of stress humming in the background like a record we hate, but can’t shake.  We have been in a constant state of worry about friends and family, jobs, businesses we love, maybe even rent and mortgage payments.   I laid in bed at night worrying about Dad. Was he getting the care he needed and deserved?  Did anyone turn on Judge Judy for him?  Did they help him cut his meat?  When he said he was at Montgomery Wards was it a bout of dementia or the beginnings of a UTI?  What if he fell?  What if he ended up needing skilled nursing care?  Could…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Road Tripping in 2020

By Bob Tagert Road Tripping in 2020 As most of you know, we take a road trip each month and write about our destinations in this space. I has been our custom to highlight our previous year’s treks in the January issue each year. We do this for two reasons. One is that it is fun to remember last year’s destinations and the other is, well, due to the holidays our production schedule for the January issue gets moved up so not a lot of time to take a trip. Last February we went to one of our favorite destinations… the Boardwalk Plaza at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. If you grew up in the northern Virginia/Maryland area you probably spent your summers, or a part of them at Ocean City, Maryland or up the coast at Rehoboth Beach. Fifty years later, volleyball on the beach and other activities have given way to watching sunrises along the coast with a Bloody Mary in hand. The wintertime is great in Rehoboth. The crowds are gone yet most of the businesses are open as Rehoboth is a year round town. There are no lines for dinner and there is always a seat at the bar. Although Fun Land is closed there are other venues open for your enjoyment as you walk the boardwalk. You may even get lucky and catch a 60-degree day in the winter and you will think it is spring. I have seen many sunburned faces after a couple of these kinds of days. In the evenings the firepits are lit and a nice cocktail under a complimentary blanket by the fire is a wonderful end to the day. In March we took a trip south to Hollywood Maryland in beautiful St. Mary’s County.  Hollywood is famous for the letter “O”…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On the Road

Feb – Rhine River, Europe Mar – Chandler, Arizona Apr – Philippines June – Kitty Hawk, North Carolina July – Headwaters of the Mississippi Sept – Playa del Carmen, Mexico Oct – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Nov – Oxford, England Dec – Itasca State Park, Minnesota     On the Road Recap 2020 was pretty much the year from hell and we are glad to see it head on out the door; however, despite the tumultuous political atmosphere and the insurgence of COVID-19 and the travel ban, our readers were diligent in providing us with “On the Road” images. We thank our subscribers here at home and from all over the place for their submissions.

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

THE WORST OF 2020: Let’s *YEET these words and phrases back to the last decade!

THE WORST OF 2020: Let’s *YEET these words and phrases back to the last decade! By Julie Reardon Now that 2020 has finally ended, let’s help it make a clean break and kill the use of a whole host of trite phrases and sayings it spawned and/or popularized. I took an informal poll of my little corner of Fauquier County to find out if it was just me that was hugely annoyed by the overuse of these jaded words and phrases this past year, or if they were more universally disliked. What phrase or word did you find the most annoying one of 2020? And go!   Yes. Yes, I really said “And go.” Even though it’s at the top of my own and many other lists of most hated words and phrases on social media. Do people really think strangers, or even friends for that matter, are eager to fall over and race each other jockeying to be the first to answer a question you were too trifling to research yourself?   “Let that sink in.” We all love to hate this one. Unfortunately it just doesn’t want to sink out of use. Probably because it’s so festooned with dead wood from being attached to memes and earnest blogger pleas to change your mind on some political hot potato. All that dead wood from past, present and future attachments will probably keep this baby from sinking, ever.   “Adulting” is not a verb. Just stop using it as one. Grow up and get a job. Likewise, curated used with anything other than an art gallery or collection. No. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sometimes feels at a loss for words when complimenting someone on social media, for example, praising some of the really eye catching photos…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Bring On 2021

By Lani Gering Bring On 2021 Happy New Year Everyone! Unfortunately 2020 isn’t behind us as I write this but I have high hopes that 2021 emerges with lots of positive things, including restrictions on indoor dining being lifted in PG County. As I write this, indoor dining has been banned and capacity in the shops has been reduced until January 13th. My question is….what in the wide world of sports happens on the 13th that makes it “OK” to open back up? It is ridiculous when restaurants in surrounding counties and across the bridge in Alexandria can still offer indoor dining. Without indoor dining, many of the eateries in the Harbor cannot function. Take out and the minimal outdoor space many of them have will not generate enough income to keep them open. Right now, about the only entity in the Harbor that the new mandate doesn’t affect is the Wheel and the Flight Deck. They operate outside and the pandemic protocols they have had in place pretty much since the inception keep their patrons safe. Sitting by the fire pit with a hot beverage and good friends is always a good time. (See their winter special in the sidebar). I don’t want to start off the year with a “Debby Downer” column, so let’s concentrate on what you can do at the Harbor.  In addition to being able to take a spin on the wheel, there are some restaurants that have the capacity to keep outdoor, semi-enclosed, heated dining available. We can only hope that the January weather is as pleasant as much of December has been. Your best bet is to check with the restaurant of your choice before heading to the Harbor to make sure they are open-especially during the week. No need to set yourself…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Creep, Genius, Auteur

Creep, Genius, Auteur   By Miriam R. Kramer I just finished reading famed film maker Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, in which he discusses his life from childhood to his current age of 84. I borrowed it from the library, since as a disillusioned fan, I was not sure I wanted him to receive more of my money. I have kept up with him out of fascination for his artistry since I first encountered his work at age fifteen. His custody fight over the children he adopted with Mia Farrow first swept the news in the early 1990s, and recently was resurrected during the #MeToo era, as his purported son, Ronan Farrow, raked powerful men like movie impresario Harvey Weinstein over the coals for his abuse of women. Although Woody Allen grew up in a loving home in Brooklyn, he describes himself as an anxious misanthrope by nature. From the very beginning, he was good at baseball and other sports, but hated the boredom and repetition of school despite, or probably because, of his high IQ. He also denies his reputation as an intellectual, saying that his black glasses and ability to extract apt quotations from serious thinkers and writers helped him gain that reputation. He proclaims that his penchant for intellectual, bohemian girls also made him bone up on certain academic subjects to attract them. His parents did not encourage intellectual activities, and he cut high school many times to go to the movies and art museums, also learning to play the clarinet after discovering a lifelong love for jazz. At sixteen he started writing jokes and submitting them to various newspaper columns across New York City. Finally some of them made it into the paper, and he started making more money even than his shady but loving…

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