Wining & Dining

Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

A Funny Thing Happened While in Cabo

By Timothy Long Approaching any situation with an open mind is tantamount to success in life. Life will often remind you of this fact. I was reminded of it recently, during a trip to Mexico. We were vacationing in Cabo at the beginning of December. A fun family vacation, one of the many that my wife’s brother sets up. I love the place. It’s beautiful. The only drawback to the trip is that the flight is over five hours long. There was a time that you would be served a meal on such a flight, but not anymore. The cart came around only once. We got a drink and cookie, lucky us. Makes paying that extra $50 for the checked bag totally worth it. So, by the time we land in Cabo, wait for our luggage, wait for our rental car, and then drive to the resort, we are starved. Our villa isn’t ready yet, so we stow our luggage and head to one of the resorts restaurants for lunch. I decide to have a beer with lunch. I know, big shock. They have the usual suspects listed: Corona, Tecate, Dos Equis, Modelo, etc. When given this list, I usually go with Dos Equis, the Modelo Negro, or the Modelo Especial. All three are good beers. I then spot a beer on the list that I do not recognize. It’s called Cabotella. And it’s brewed by Baja Brewing Company in Cabo San Lucas, which is right down the road from us. I knew that there was a brewery in Cabo, but my hopes were not high. It’s a craft brewery in Mexico. How good could it be? The Cabotella is a blonde ale. A blonde ale in the land of light lagers. I’m highly skeptical. My wife then points it…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Working Together for Better

By Doug Fabbioli Working Together for Better When my family and I moved to Virginia in 1997, there were about 60 wineries in the state and only four in Loudoun County. I was hired to be the new winemaker and vineyard manager at Tarara Winery, just a few miles up the road from where we eventually bought our own farm. My new boss encouraged me to get to know the other winery folk and get involved with the industry associations that were around at the time: the Virginia Wineries Association and the Virginia Vineyards Association. These groups were focused (and still are) on growing and strengthening our industry through sharing knowledge of best practices, the marketing of our products, and getting the voice of the industry to our business representatives’ ears. As our industry has grown, more associations and organizations have started up to address specific groups or regions. Here in Loudoun, the Loudoun Winegrowers Association began with a focus on vineyard operations. Not long afterward the Loudoun Wineries Association came along to focus on tasting rooms and wine sales, along with many other related issues. Recently these two groups have merged, making a stronger, more cohesive, and efficient organization that hopes to achieve even more than in the past. The Loudoun Bed and Breakfast Guild, an offshoot of our industry, has many wineries signed on as associate members in order to collaborate in our efforts for our guests and visitors. On a local government level we have the Rural Economic Development Council. Although I no longer serve on this council, I spent over a decade helping this organization give the county guidance and feedback on issues regarding the future of all of the agriculture and rural-based business sectors of our county, including the wine industry. Another organization, Visit Loudoun,…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Meet the New Owners: Barrel Oak, Fox Meadow, and Sunset Hills

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Chris Pearmund once said, “The sale of a winery is the fulfillment of two dreams. The dream of the new owner, and the dream of the seller.” This statement holds more truth than people realize. Operating a winery is fraught with financial risks, ranging from swings in the economy to Virginia’s capricious weather. At any given time there are around a dozen wineries on the market, many of which take years before they find the right buyer. While some prospective vintners prefer to start their dream winery from scratch, others opt to purchase an existing property. The new owners of Barrel Oak Winery, Fox Meadow Winery, and Sunset Hills Vineyard (with its sister property, 50 West Vineyards) decided to take this second route, all with an eye of how they can elevate Virginia wine. Barrel Oak Winery: Kavelle and Ken Bajaj Kavelle and Ken Bajaj already possess a long roster of titles including President, Founder, and CEO. With their July purchase of Barrel Oak they have a new title; ‘Winery Owners.’ The Bajajs emigrated from India in the 1970s and made their fortune in the IT world. Despite this, their joining the Virginia wine community is hardly surprising considering their interest in both wine and farming. “I’m a farm girl at heart,” laughed Kavelle. “His dream is to make the best wine in America. I’ve been drinking wine forever!” The couple looked at several local wineries before choosing Barrel Oak as their latest venture, in no small part because it possessed an established brand and experienced staff. The family-oriented nature of the Virginia wine industry, and Barrel Oak in particular, was also a draw. “That’s what was appealing about Barrel Oak,” said Ken about founder Brian Roeder. “The families of these places were doing the work.” Making ‘the best…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Mamma’s Turkey Pot Pie

By Charles Oppman Now that the holidays are over what do you do with all that leftover turkey? We can only eat so many turkey sandwiches and soup recipes. Why not turn those turkey leftovers into a filling dish that will get you through the chilly days ahead? Make a turkey pot pie. It’s easy, inexpensive (you already have the main ingredient) and tasty. Americans are pie lovers. Pies are a vestige of our colonial past, especially here in the Mid-Atlantic region. The English are great pie makers, especially savory ones. The French tend to make sweeter versions known as gallettes the most famous of which is the gallette du Rois (King Cake) eaten on the day of the Epiphany. The filling 1 stick salted butter 1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 cup celery, chopped 1 cup frozen peas and carrots 1 cup onion, diced 3 tablespoons flour 1 cup turkey broth or canned chicken broth 1 cup table cream 1 teaspoon thyme leaves Salt and pepper to taste 2 cups leftover turkey, chopped Method In a heavy-bottomed pot melt butter. Add potatoes, celery and onions and sauté until al dente. Add frozen peas and carrots, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Mix in flour until distributed, allow cooking for several minutes, but do not brown. Stirring continuously, add all cream and broth, only as needed, to achieve a thick stew-like consistency. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Transfer mixture to casserole of baking dish. Allow to cool before topping with pastry. The Pastry 2 sticks unsalted butter ½ tablespoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt ¼ cups very cold milk, as needed 2 cups sifted cake flour, all-purpose will suffice 1 egg, beaten Method Mix together sifted flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut butter into the flour…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Great Eats at Good Prices – January Restaurant Week Is Back!

By the Gastronomes We are pretty sure the majority of our local readers are familiar with the ins and outs of a “Restaurant Week” since we have several of them during the year in the DMV and it appears that Alexandria is starting off with the first one of the New Year starting on the 20th and running through the 29th! In actuality, it is 10 days (including 2 weekends) of over 70 eateries in Alexandria offering great eats at good prices. The number of participating restaurants has grown exponentially over the years and they are as varied as the cuisine they serve. There is something for every palate. Restaurant Week showcases the inventiveness of local chefs throughout the city. In addition to the popular Old Town section, eateries located throughout neighborhoods in Del Ray, Carlyle, Eisenhower and the West End will offer a $25, $35 or $45 prix fixe dinner for one. Special menus will be available for in-person dining at participating restaurants with many having heated outdoor dining options. We have highlighted offerings from some of our favorite participating restaurants in this writing and encourage you all to try them out. We are looking forward to experiencing some “new to us” establishments during this promotion as well. We tend to get stuck in a continual loop of our favorites but it is always good to step outside of the box. Guests can browse a list of participating restaurants on AlexandriaRestaurantWeek.com. Stay tuned for a digital flip-book of menus at participating restaurants that will be available on the Restaurant Week site early this month. Bastille Brasserie & Bar $45 Dinner for One Person Bastille is an award winning brasserie and wine bar, offering guests a contemporary spin on French cuisine, in a sophisticated yet comfortable atmosphere. Chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux’s creations are sparked by the…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Three Cheers for Holiday Beers!

By Timothy Long It was 1995, a few days before Christmas. I was arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport, visiting my family for Christmas. As usual, my father was there to pick me up. Mom was home making Christmas cookies. A yearly job that none of us would ever dream of interrupting. In my unbiased opinion as her son, the woman truly made the best Christmas cookies in the world. When Dad picked me up, he always liked to stop for a drink on our way home.  It had become a tradition. A little father and son time before arriving home and being swarmed by the family. I, of course, was always game. On this occasion, I did ask that, before we stopped for our yearly Christmas drink, we visit a local wine and beer store that was nearby. Dad replied that he and my brother had already picked up beer and wine for Christmas. The thought of this nestled into my gut like a lump of coal. My father did not drink beer, so he was no connoisseur. And I know what beer my brother would have purchased, Budweiser, the King of Beers. This had to be handled gently. I needed to dethrone the King of Beers with tact and poise. “Dad, I want to buy good beer.” OK, not very tactful. “What’s wrong with the beer we bought?” A typical Irish American steelworker father response. “Nothing. I just thought adding something different might be nice.” There’s the tact. “Son, I’m not sure we need any fancy beers.” The problem with the conversation so far, we had not even discussed the wine yet. I could picture a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco sitting on the downstairs bar. “Dad, it’ll just take a minute to stop.” After a while, he agreed. I…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Who Gets To Judge?

By Doug Fabbioli Any form of competition needs to have people involved as officials, experts, or judges to make sure the process is fair. Wine competitions are no different. But how do people get to be chosen as a wine judge and is there a process that leads to becoming one? In order to be able to judge a subject, one needs to be an expert in that subject. There also needs to be the desire: the willingness to do what is needed to become educated and prepared. For wine education one way to enhance your knowledge is the WSET program (Wine & Spirit Education Trust). The courses start out relatively light and simple at Level 1, and then a person can continue through the program with more challenging wines, subject matter, and tests in order to train the palate as well as the brain. Time in the industry helps a lot as well. Making wine, selling wine, buying wine, even just being intentional about tasting wine with others are all good for gaining the knowledge. The idea is to understand the grape growing and winemaking process in such a way that one can taste a wine, identify characters in the wine, and judge whether that character is good or bad based on the typical characteristics of that wine and style. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? A friend of mine as well as of the Virginia Wine industry is Kathy Wiedemann. She says “My journey to being a wine judge has been long, encompassing a decade of wine studies, tasting thousands of wines, and having a deep passion for wine. I consider myself an unofficial wine ambassador for Virginia wine as it is where I truly found that passion. Having worked for seven years just about every weekend in VA wine,…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Encore Pour Program Highlights Holiday Wines of Virginia

By Nancy Bauer When autumn leaves begin falling and temperatures start to drop, Virginia’s wineries heat up with hot spiced mulled wine and more. I love this time of year at Virginia’s wineries and am also the event organizer and founder of the Virginia Wine Love website and Facebook group, where the promotion was launched. With all the success Virginia’s had in recent years with red blends and up-and-coming whites like petit manseng and albariño, it’s easy to forget we also make some really lovely port-style and dessert wines. Virginia’s winemaking spirit of adventure may even be most evident in our holiday wines. They can be a chance for winemakers and the tasting room teams to be a little less serious and try some things just for fun. Chilly weather opens the doors to Virginia’s winter wines. Mulled, port-style, even chocolate—the abundance of choices make selecting a few to bring home for holiday gatherings a challenge. Now a new wine country promotion, Virginia Wine Love Encore Pour, gives wine lovers a chance to taste before they buy. Thirty-seven Virginia wineries are offering an extra pour of special holiday wines, slushies, sangrias, and wine cocktails through New Year’s. Just mention Virginia Wine Love or Encore Pour when purchasing a wine tasting or flight to receive the treats. Participating wineries span the state: Mountain Rose Vineyards in Wise, in the far southwest, is offering an extra pour of their locally-famous OkieDokie; Hickory Hill Vineyards at Smith Mountain Lake is pouring hot mulled wine; Zoll Vineyards on Virginia’s Middle Neck peninsula is giving a choice of wine cocktails; and Briede Vineyards in Winchester has uncorked their Arandell, a red similar to Cabernet Franc and the only single varietal Arandell in Virginia. “We’re excited about this promotion,” says Loretta Briede of Briede Vineyards. “When it gets…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Charcuterie Boards That Bring Holiday Cheer

By Stephanie David The holidays are fast approaching. All the décor I see up in stores right now keeps reminding me. That means it’s time to start planning for all the gatherings and events surrounding this festive time of year. One of my favorite parts of get togethers are all the tasty appetizers – charcuterie boards in particular. When it comes to deciding what to serve up, a charcuterie board is a perfect to-go option that is always a hit and makes for a beautiful display. They’re versatile and can take on almost any theme for the occasion. You can easily adjust the components for different preferences, scale the portions based on guest count, the price range you’d like stay within or to take on a theme by focusing on a color palette, geographic region or season. At times, charcuterie boards can seem intimidating to create, but they’re easier than you might think! I’m going to help break down the process by sharing my tips and tricks so you can knock your holiday charcuterie board out of the park. Your Cheese Board Tools First things first, we must pick a serving dish and tools for delivering the deliciousness. You can use anything ranging from a platter, wooden board, piece of slate, all the way to right on the counter to make a grazing set up. The size of your gathering will help determine the size of the spread you will want to put out. You’ll also want to have a few ramekins or small bowls on hand to fill with the liquid items like, honey, jams, chutney, etc. and some cheese knives for cutting and spreading. Your Cheeses and Meats Selecting your cheeses is a good starting place. Here you can offer a range of flavors through aging, milk, etc….

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Michael’s on King – The New Kid on the Block….Sorta!

By the Gastronomes Location, Location, Location! As King Street in Old Town continues to evolve, our friend Michael Strutton and his wife Kelsey recently relocated his Italian restaurant, Michael’s Little Italy from the 300 block of South Washington Street to 703 King Street (formerly Magnolia’s on King) and rebranded it Michael’s on King. Having a spot on King Street on a block with 8 other eateries is a great place to be. You can’t put a monetary value on having significant foot traffic when you are in the restaurant or retail business. I first met Michael in 2017 when he opened his first restaurant on South Washington Street. He already had a successful business in Nashville but came to Old Town to be near his Mom. He also always wanted his own restaurant and now had the opportunity to take the plunge. Sometimes it is nice to understand the thinking of someone when planning how to turn their dreams into reality. The following paragraph is Michael’s thoughts taken from his website: Passion for our Culture – My grandparents came to New York City from Sicily at a time when Fiorello La Guardia held mayoral office, Lucky Luciano was beginning a prison term, and the world was just starting to hear the music of Frank Sinatra. While many Italians were reaching great heights, the average Southern Italian immigrants lived modestly, kept to their own neighborhoods, and raised families built upon whichever traditions from the old country could be maintained in the U.S. Most family settings revolved around food…and while not all of the same ingredients were available to them, my family and so many others proudly built a new culture: The Italian-American Culture. Somewhere in-between European and American personalities, we found this new definition of who we are…a charm that erupts…

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