Wining & Dining

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Meet Us at Harry’s Place – The Light Horse Restaurant and Bar

By The Gastronomes As with many months, we were getting way close to deadline and didn’t have any idea what restaurant we were going to highlight in this space. Ms. Gastronome decided she wanted a change of pace to do some brainstorming so she decided to hit Happy Hour at the Light Horse and I joined her. While we were sitting at the bar (it is beautiful by the way) contemplating who we should highlight in the October issue, the proverbial light went on. Why not feature where we were sitting? Although the Light Horse is relatively new to Old Town, three restaurants have previously occupied this space and I tended bar at one of those when I was in my late 40’s and I’m 75 now…it has been “you do the math” many years ago. Times have changed and so did the restaurant but the building at 715 King that is home to The Light Horse holds many fond memories for me. A bit of history….The Light Horse Restaurant and Bar has been here for over 13 years and was named after Henry “Harry Light Horse” Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee. The restaurant is a haven for the younger professional crowd, but as you can tell from the first paragraph, we made a visit to this popular watering hole and restaurant for a change of pace and we are a bit on the older side of the professional spectrum. The ground floor is home to the main dining area and a large bar, with several high tops with both booth and chair seating and a one piece winding table in the middle of the dining area. Not sure how to describe it. Check out the photo. There is still ample seating for a good sized crowd but…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

The Long Journey of the IPA

By Timothy Long “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life—are you man enough to drink it?’ It’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had—are you man enough to eat it?’” – Master Brewer of Brooklyn Brewery in 2008 My friends joke about how easy it is to find me in a bar. All you need to do is listen. It’s true, that’s why it’s funny. My mom always told me that my voice carries, which is a nice way of saying that I’m loud. In elementary school, I was the kid who got in trouble whenever the teacher left the room. I would be admonished when they returned. “Timmy Long, I could hear you all the way down the hall!” I wanted to be quiet. I just didn’t have the ability.  My wife often leans over to me and says, “Honey, inside voice.’ If you ever do find me in a bar, again, which is not hard to do, you may catch me staring at the beers taps. I am often in awe of beer taps. Those taps reflect the choices of the bar manager who set them up. My awe is not always a good sign. Sometimes it’s like looking at a car wreck. It can be a real “What were you thinking?” moment.  They think that they have a variety of beers on tap, but what they have is a variety of IPAs. Ah yes, the IPA, the Indian Pale Ale. The over-hopped little darling of the American craft beer industry. It’s been the favorite of American brewers, and bar managers, from the beginning of the craft beer trend. This coveted style of beer has gone through…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

October in Luckettsland

By Doug Fabbioli That autumn feel is in the air! The harvesting of the crops, the cool evenings, and the changing leaves all help to create a season that makes our Virginia countryside an iconic setting for a fall experience. Out here in Lucketts, just north of Leesburg, October seems to be our busiest month of the year. I refer to Lucketts as Luckettsland: “From the merge to the bridge, and from the river to the Ridge.” We have fabulous farm stands throughout the year but fall brings out more of the color, produce and decor that you can take home. Apples and apple cider, pumpkins, gourds, mums, and cornstalks all help to give that seasonal feel to our region and home. The autumn leaves on the hillsides highlight feel of the season. Our antiques stores have truly put us on the map, and the themes of each vendor or venue show each one’s creativity and personality. Hopefully that inspires your own creative drive to bring home some decor, the hand-crafted plant stand and the plant that goes with it. The produce for your meal and the fruit for the homemade applesauce you used to make with grandma are here in Luckettsland for you to experience and bring home. One of our attractions here in Lucketts is Temple Hall Farm Park. This is a great venue for the kids as it has a play land element along with a bit of education. They have a variety of farm animals as well as farm activities specific for the month of October. Pumpkin picking, hayrides and more will make help to make some great memories for the kids as well as for the adults. October has been Virginia Wine Month for as long as I can remember. Because the wineries are farms…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Haunted Wineries and Ghost Tours

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Those visiting Old Town Alexandria in the evening will occasionally come across a lantern-wielding guide decked-out in late 18th-century clothing, weaving a tale of spooky stories and little-known local facts. These Ghost Tours have long been a staple for tourists looking to combine history and entertainment. A number of Virginia wineries have similar events. Several are positioned near old battlefields, or use old manor homes as their tasting rooms. Even wineries that lack paranormal activity (that they know of) get into the act. So if you’re a wine lover and want to try something both fun and a little spooky, here are a few places to visit this October. The Winery at Bull Run (Centerville) The Winery at Bull Run is close to the Manassas Battlefield, the first major engagement of the Civil War. Union troops used this property (then called Hillwood Estate) as a staging area, and later as a field hospital. The tasting room displays relics from this era. Bull Run has been investigated by paranormal investigators who have stated the property is indeed haunted. The staff can attest to this, with stories ranging from hearing their names whispered in empty rooms, sightings of floating light, to items being pushed off of tables. Tour director Colleen Corrado explained, “There is an energy here that you can’t explain, that defies a rational explanation. That’s what hauntings are – energy that remains. There is a common occurrence of the unexplainable.” Bull Run has a ghost tour, but the emphasis isn’t on cheap scares. Instead, this is an intellectual ghost tour, as “the spirits of the battlefield come to life and tell you their stories.” Tours Oct 3rd through Nov 6th – Tickets include a Winery at Bull Run logo glass, a wine tasting, exclusive access to the…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

The Caramel Apple – A Fall Classic

By Cooking Classy It is said that the first caramel apple was created in the 1950s when a Kraft Foods employee named Dan Walker discovered the recipe when he experimented with excess caramels from Halloween sales. He melted the caramels down and dipped the apples, and as they say – the rest is history. Caramel apples are one of the ultimate fall treats! This is a foolproof recipe that is nearly impossible to mess up and it makes perfectly tempting and tasty caramel apples that are great for holidays, parties and gifting.  The easiest caramel apple recipe! Made with just three ingredients, plus toppings if you want to make them extra special. One of the ultimate fall treats! Perfect for gifting and parties. Makes 7 caramel apples (about 3 servings per apple). Ingredients 7 small granny smith apples (about 2 1/4 lbs) 15 oz. caramels, such as Werther’s Chewy* 3 Tbsp heavy cream Various toppings, optional (see hints) Instructions Rinse and thoroughly dry apples with a paper towel. Insert a caramel apple stick*. Having toppings ready if you’ll be adding some to apples. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet or baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper, spray parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray, set in the fridge. Place caramels and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl (about 5 cup size bowl)*. Heat in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring well between intervals, until melted and smooth. This will take about 2 – 3 minutes. If caramel is extra runny let it cool just briefly so it doesn’t run right off the apples. Dip apples one at a time into caramel on an angle so it covers nearly to the top center. Rotate and turn to coat apple. Lift apple and let excess run off, then run bottom of apple along inside edge of bowl to remove…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

“Born In Ireland, Raised In Old Town!”

By the Gastronomes Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar is one of Old Town’s most beautiful restaurants. Most of the buildings in Old Town are old renovated seaport warehouses and OC’s is much the same but they took it to another level. In 2006, on St. Patrick’s Day, O’Connell’s opened the doors to the eager throng outside. Adorned inside with pieces from Irish Castles, Monastaries, Churches, an apothocary and other valuable furnishings from the Emerald Isle, O’Connell’s stands today as a classic renovation. The kitchen was not fully functional that first St. Patrick’s day so management brought in pre-made sub sandwiches for their guests. The next day the kitchen was running smoothly and O’Connell’s has been serving up authentic Irish fare along with many American favorites for 16 years. In their own words, “Born in Ireland, raised in Old Town, shipped 4,527 miles and 400 years young and called after Ireland’s great patriot Daniel O’Connell “The Liberator”. Come sink into our comfortable surroundings in our truly unique atmosphere. View our mesmerizing array of Irish historical antiques. Stroll through four ancient Irish Bars with blazing fires and enjoy warm friendly Irish staff and meet the lovely people of Old Town. On balconies, in snug corners, nooks and crannies, every corner has a story to tell. All this, while tasting the bold, exciting culinary delights that have emerged from modern Ireland.” We couldn’t agree more. On the night that we dined we chose to sit in one of the “Snugs”, a piece of Irish history. The Snugs have significance in Ireland’s and Alexandria, Virginia history. Recently renovated, these cozy spaces make O’Connell’s a special and unique place altogether. I have been going to O’Connell’s since it opened and this is the first time I sat in the elevated Snug and was I…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

The Balance of the Season

By Doug Fabbioli In my 42 years in the wine industry, I have seen plenty of ups and downs in the harvest and crush balance. Wineries have only so much space but they have needs for certain grapes to make their wines, have their own grapes to bring in, and often have long-term contracts to buy grapes as well. Independent growers have their fruit coming ripe and hope that the winemaker’s promise to purchase the grapes holds up through the season. (Some wineries have not been good players in the past on this point.) Sales fluctuate for a winery through its lifespan, and the grapes planted 20 years ago may not be what it needs now, or it may not need as much of it. It may offer that fruit to another winery and can even do a little “horse trading” so that each winery gets the grape it needs. This year, because there was no wide-spread frost damage in the spring, there seems to be more fruit on the vines that will be coming available at harvest. I am seeing a number of wineries posting their excess fruit on the various forums for the industry. We all need to find space for these grapes without throwing off our inventory balance. In a good year when a winery has more fruit growing on its own vines, there may not be as much of a need to purchase from another grower. This is really the challenge of being an independent grower, and each wine region has a lot of them. You want a winery committed to taking your fruit year after year, but the winery you work with may not need your fruit, or may not have the space to process it. I have talked with some growers who would hold…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Fresh Corn Dip

By Mr. Food What a novel dip to serve when you’re expecting company and what a good way to use up some of the very last of the sweet corn in season! Our creamy, Fresh Corn Dip is made with super sweet corn and lots of flavorful add-ins, so you know it’s going to be addictive. Serve it in an edible bread bowl for a super change-of-pace from traditional dip recipes. What You’ll Need 4 ears fresh corn on the cob, cooked (see Note) 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese 4 scallions, sliced 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained 1/4cup diced roasted red pepper 1 cup sour cream 3/4cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin powder 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1 (1-pound) round pumpernickel bread, unsliced What to Do Using a sharp knife, remove corn from cob and place in a large bowl. Add cheese, scallions, green chilies, and roasted red pepper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients except the bread; mix well. Pour over corn mixture and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate 2 hours, or until ready to serve. Using a serrated knife, cut a hole in top of bread about 3 inches in diameter. Hollow out bread, leaving one inch of bread around sides. Spoon dip mixture into bread bowl. Cut bread top and hollowed out pieces into 1-inch chunks for dipping. Mr. Food Test Kitchen Tip! If you prefer, you can substitute 2 cups thawed frozen corn for the fresh. Here are 3 easy ways to cook corn on the cob: Steam — Bring 1 inch of water to a boil, add husked corn, return to a boil, cover, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Microwave — Wrap corn in a damp paper towel and microwave 2 minutes per ear….

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

What Oktoberfest Means to Me

By Timothy Long Remember those terrible assignments in school? I hated them. Mainly because the subject was always dictated to you. It was things like country, family, friends, school, or worse, the church. One such assignment stands out to me from elementary school. The name of our school was Broadview Elementary. It was right down the road from the Broadview Inn, a local pub. The joke was that the school was named after the pub, which is hilarious when you are seven years old.  The assignment was called “What Broadview Means to Me.” The students got to vote on the best essay, which was to then be submitted to a state contest. The title of my essay was “What Broadview Means to Me, A Penitentiary.” I likened the school to a prison. I described it as a place void of freedom. A building where the expression of ideas was restricted, and democracy was dead. We were to read our essays to the class. My classmates roared with laughter and cheered at the end of my dissertation. If they could have, they would have hoisted me on their shoulders and carried me through the halls of the school. I was a hero. No, I was a god! I was Zeus, using my pen to hurl my lightning bolts and smite my enemies. Well, at least I thought I was. Even though I won, the school never submitted my essay. The teacher just rolled her eyes and said, “Very nice, Timmy.” The kid who was awarded the win wrote about how nice the teachers were and about how much she loved spelling, math, and Pizza Wednesday. Really? No one loved math! They were looking for conformity, not creativity. I’ve come to terms with it now. Well, at least after I wrote that…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Greenhill Vineyards & Winery – Raising The Bar for Virginia Wine

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Middleburg’s Greenhill Vineyards holds a unique place in Virginia wine lore. Not only is Greenhill breaking new ground in showcasing Virginia wine to a national audience, it continues a legacy which forever changed the wine business in the United States. Prior to David Greenhill purchasing the property in 2013, this historic farm was known as Swedenburg Estate Vineyard. Founded in 1988, Swedenburg was one of Virginia’s first wineries. Not only did these Virginia wine pioneers demonstrate vinifera could find a home in the state, they created the blueprint for today’s ‘agro-tourism’ model whereby wineries focused on selling directly to visiting customers. But these customers discovered a problem. While they could stock up in person, those who wanted to order from out of state were out of luck. That’s because the 21st Amendment allows states to regulate alcohol, leading many to ban shipments from out of state wineries. Owner Juanita Swedenburg argued this amounted to a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and took her case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2005 it issued a 5-4 decision that such laws amounted to protectionism, leading to the direct-shipping model the beverage industry use today. After his purchase David rebranded the property as Greenhill Vineyards; no doubt his surname foreshadowed his future role as a farmer. Yet his attraction to the estate is easy to understand. The farm includes 128-acres of landscaped property, a natural pond, and an 18th century manor house that for a time was Greenhill’s member club house. Many Virginia wineries like to brag about their fancy tasting building. Step aside; Greenhill has bragging rights of likely being the country’s only winery with a tasting room that literally pre-dates the country’s founding. With this background it’s not surprising Greenhill aims at providing a more…

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