Wining & Dining

Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

For Your Summer Drinking Pleasure…The Shandy

By Timothy Long It gets hot in the DC area in August, real hot. It can be unbearable. This is the time of year that reminds us that large parts of our area are reclaimed swamp. If the humidity doesn’t remind you of it, the mosquitos certainly will. For many, it is a time for cooler, lighter drinks. The stouts and ales become less popular. And the Shandy takes center stage. That’s right, the Shandy. Or its German cousin, the Radler. No matter which of the names you choose, it’s a beer with either fruit soda or fruit juice in it. As my readers know, I am not usually a fan of any kind of flavored beer. My sister once tried to hand me a Bud Light Lime when I asked her if she had any beer. My first impulse was to disown her. I didn’t. But when we are together, I now tell people that she is a distant cousin from a foreign land called Cleveland. Yes, I am a purist when it comes to beer. And now I’m recommending a beer with fruit juice in it.  Yes, I am once again being a hypocrite. But summers are hot, and adjustments can be made. These traditional summer delights are refreshing and quite enjoyable. The trick is to make them correctly. More to come on that point. People argue over beer all the time. Fisticuffs have ensued over which beers are the greatest. Belgian and German beers are often at the center of these arguments. The answer is, of course, German. The German purity laws, the Reinheitsgebot, are second to none. The German’s approach to beer is as pure as a bee’s approach to honey. And both the bee and the German bring us perfection. Do not take me wrong,…

Continue Reading

Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Hot Eats and Cool Treats That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

By Nicole Flannigan / Photo by Busra Yaman The hazy hot and humid days of summer are here. Regardless of the heat, my favorite part of summer is cooking out on the grill and relaxing with friends and family. The wonderful part of summer is all the fresh produce that is available at your local farmers market. Fresh fruit or garden salads make a great addition to any meats cooked on the grill, and it’s all healthy! This month I have made a list of some of my favorite summer recipes. These healthy and flavorful dinners and drinks will be a great way to compliment a nice summer day. Perfect Burgers 1 slightly beaten egg white 2 tablespoons water 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot 1/4 cup finely chopped onion 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pepper 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 pound lean ground beef 6 whole-grain buns Shredded carrot, sprouts, mixed greens, tomato slices, and/or red onion slices (optional) Combine egg white, water, bread crumbs, carrot, onion, sweet pepper, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and ground beef; mix well. Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Grill burgers on an oiled grill rack for 7 minutes. Turn and grill 8 to 11 minutes more or till no pink remains. Serve burgers on buns with vegetables, as desired. 6 servings – Calories 232, Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 3g, Sodium 334mg, Carbohydrate 19g, Fiber 3g, Protein 18g Chicken With Black Bean Sauce 3 tablespoons diced yellow onion ½ tsp minced garlic 1 14oz can of black beans rinsed and drained 2 tsp ground chipotle chile 1 cup chicken stock ¼ cup diced tomatoes ½ tsp minced fresh cilantro 1 tsp sea salt 1 tbsp of…

Continue Reading

Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Training Day

By Doug Fabbioli Life got turned upside down for all of us about two and a half years ago, and we continue to work our way back to some sort of normalcy. One of the largest and most visible industries still affected by the pandemic is our food service industry. I include our tasting room operations under this tent, as we have the same challenges as everyone else in finding people who can and want to work serving others. We will get through this staffing challenge eventually, just like we get through our other challenges, but this one is pretty widespread and will take lots of training to get through. I guess training is a part of mentoring, if you stop and think about it. We need to find the folks and convince them that this work experience will fit them now and help them in their future life. We need to teach them to put themselves in their customers’ shoes for a moment. They also need to understand the business and get a feel for my shoes as a business owner in order for us all to be successful. They need to learn how to become a part of the team, pulling together with their co-workers to provide an experience for the guest that is welcoming and comfortable, and at the same time productive for the business. When I am out and about, I recognize more training going on than ever before. Many people new to their position find their learning hat and wear it proudly, and their trainer takes the time to show them what they need to know to be successful. Everyone has had to go through this job training part, and if we are successful, we keep learning and looking for more ways to do better….

Continue Reading

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Getting to Know Virginia’s Assistant Winemakers

By Matthew Fitzsimmons When Melanie Natoli of Cana Vineyards was handed the 2022 Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition’s highest award, Doug Fabboli of Fabbioli Cellars was there to witness the event. Doug had a personal interest in watching Melanie ascend the stage; she was his Assistant Winemaker a decade earlier, one of a long roster of people he’s mentored in the Virginia wine industry. Melanie’s journey demonstrates how today’s assistants are tomorrow’s leaders. Many also have their own projects which deserve attention. Not only are these young winemakers introducing new ideas, their progression is changing the industry’s demographics. A number of today’s Head Winemakers such as Chelsey Blevins, Christopher Harris, and Corry Craighill got their start elsewhere in Virginia before moving to their present gigs. Kent Arendt, Assistant Winemaker for Walsh Family Wine & maker of his private label Boden Young What drew you to winemaking? “My last job was in data analysis. I was always interested in wine, but I didn’t think much about it until 10 years ago. But the more I enjoyed wine the more interested I became in the details; like how different wine is regionally, why it tastes so different, why different winemakers use different styles. So in 2016 I decided to give it a try. I’m the kind of person who needs tangible results in his work. I interned in Washington State and worked a harvest at a big facility. When I came back, I realized that’s not the kind of place I want to work at. So I applied to an ad from Nate Walsh and was his first hire.” Describe your role of an Assistant Winemaker: “Winemaking is 90% organization and cleaning and 10% winemaking. But being an assistant varies depending on the winery. For us, the Head Winemaker becomes more and…

Continue Reading

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Union Street Public House – An Old Town Icon

By The Gastronomes With summer’s heat upon us we decided to take a different approach to dining out and write about a cool place for lunch and a good sandwich in particular. This led us to Union Street Public House on Union Street (imagine that!). Union Street (as we all call the restaurant) has a double claim in Old Town as one of the oldest restaurants and one of the newer (sorta). Let me explain. When I came to Old Town in 1977, where Union Street sits now – contrary to what many have published in the past – was an upscale, fine dining restaurant called Kings Landing, not a warehouse. It was said that Kings Landing was Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant when he came to town. The late 70’s and early 80’s were also bringing change to Old Town. The rather small restaurant with the nice front yard was torn down and Union Street maximized the space and built the restaurant out to the sidewalk. The new place had it all…a beautiful Tap Room, Whiskey Bar, a casual Oyster Bar on the ground floor with a large, beautiful dining room upstairs and a balcony looking down on Union Street. The building was designed by renowned Alexandria architect Bob Holland. It is truly a beautiful restaurant. The very first day Union Street opened there were lines to get in. Back then, there were lines at most all restaurants and bars because Old Town was so small and most of the action was within three blocks of the waterfront. From day one Union Street was known for their large selection of draught beer, fine whiskeys and great food. Locally sourced, their food was always very good and plentiful. Union Street was also home to some of the best bartenders in the…

Continue Reading

Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Louisiana Shrimp Creole

By Charles Oppman Shrimp Creole is a dish of Louisiana Creole origin―French and Spanish heritage―consisting of cooked shrimp in a mixture of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, onion, celery and bell pepper, parsley and garlic spice with condiments.  This dish is commonly served over steamed or boiled white rice.  The shrimp may be cooked in the mixture or cooked separately and added at the end.  Other “Creole” dishes may be made by substituting some other meat or seafood for the shrimp, or omitting the meat entirely and make an all veggie version.  Nearly every restaurant in Louisiana has its own version of Shrimp Creole.  Apart from the foundation ingredients of onion, celery and bell pepper, Creole dishes are commonly used as “improvisational” delight, as the basic recipe may be altered to include whatever ingredients the cook has readily available.  The shrimp may be substituted with alligator, fried fish, chicken or pork. Smoked sausage may be added. Serves: 8-10 Time: 1½ hours Ingredients 2 pounds large shrimp with heads and shells ½ cup bacon, diced 1 cup bell peppers, chopped 1 cup onion, diced 1 cup celery, diced 1 cup curly parsley 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons minced garlic 2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves 2 cups tomato sauce Worcestershire, hot sauce salt and cayenne and black pepper to taste Directions Peel the shrimp and use the shells and heads to make a shrimp stock. Simmer the heads and shells in two cups of water for 20 minutes. Reduce to one cup. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet sauté bacon until fat is rendered out.  Add celery, bell pepper, parsley, onion, bay leaves and thyme and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes.  Add garlic, Worcestershire and hot sauce, salt and cayenne and black pepper.  Add shrimp stock and tomato sauce. Simmer entire mixture…

Continue Reading

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Albariño Taking Off In Virginia

By Matt Fitzsimmons Albariño is arguably Spain’s signature white grape. Found mainly in the Spanish wine growing region of Rías Baixas and nearby Portuguese region of Vinho Verde (where it’s known as Alvarinho), Albariño produces a light, crisp wine, famous for its salinity and zestiness. Albariño isn’t well known in Virginia, but be prepared to hear a lot more about it. While Virginia currently only has 34 bearing acres of Albariño, its proven so popular that in the last several years an additional 27 acres have been planted. This makes it the fastest growing grape variety in the state. It isn’t just a handful of local wineries that are dominating these new planting either. According to Skip Causey, co-owner of Potomac Point Vineyard and President of the Virginia Vineyards Association, “When we were writing the latest Virginia Commercial Grape Report we found 27 new acres of Albariño spread across 12 vineyards. And it isn’t just a handful of big sites that are dominating these plantings. Albariño is going in everywhere.” “The Mighty Mouse of Grapes” Chrysalis Vineyards helped bring Albariño into Virginia in 1996. Owner Jenny McCloud explained the idea for planting a Spanish variety was inspired by an American Society of Enology and Viticulture panel on ‘alternative grapes’ led by Dennis Horton and Alan Kinne of Horton Vineyards. But it wasn’t until Jenny visited Rías Baixas that she discovered Albariño, which impressed her with its minerality and acidity. She may not have realized it at the time, but the weather in Rías Baixas is similar to that of Virginia. Not only do both regions endure high levels of humidity, frequent Atlantic squalls make Rías Baixas one of Spain’s wettest regions. These conditions mean grapes that grow there would likely perform well back home. Jenny later learned Dr. Tony Wolf…

Continue Reading

Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

Oysters and Beer

By Timothy Long “The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork.” – Oscar Wilde Oysters and beer, one of the greatest culinary delights known to man. A delicacy of indulgence beyond any other. The two go together like eggs and bacon. Back in the 90s, my buddy Devo and I walked into a bar that we knew had great oysters. We wanted to watch the WVU/Syracuse football game. The bar was running a Saturday afternoon special, 25 cent oysters. Good luck finding that price now. We sat at the bar, got a pitcher of beer, and ordered 5 dozen oysters. The bartender gave us a derisive look and informed us that she was not shucking 5 dozen oysters. Fair enough. I then asked for a dozen and that we would order more as needed. We ate 6 dozen while watching WVU lose to Syracuse. The oysters saved what would have been a disastrous afternoon. Oysters are wonderful, but don’t eat one in a month without an “r” in it. That’s the rule! Don’t do it! You’ll be sick for days and vomiting so hard that you’ll see your shoes drop into the water! I have questioned this ‘R” rule from the first time I heard it. Really? What the hell does the spelling of a month’s name have to do with getting a bad oyster? The answer is almost nothing. Although, there was a time when this rule did have merit. According to the New York Times article, Oysters, Despite What You’ve Heard, Are Always in Season, this rule dates to an English cookbook from the 1500’s. “The adage of eating oysters only in “r” months goes back (at least) to 1599, when it appeared in an English cookbook, Dyets Dry Dinner, What it really means is: Say no…

Continue Reading

Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

 The Heat of the Season

By Doug Fabbioli As all farmers know, one of the biggest elements of our business is free: sunshine! But it takes other, more costly components to allow us to capture that sun and turn it into a sellable product. We also need the rains to come at the right time to make all the growing happen. That magic balance we ask Mother Nature to provide is not always delivered in the way or with the timing we need. The rain and storms are usually the most unpredictable part this time of year. We can count on the sun coming up tomorrow and we even know what time it will rise, but the summer rains, the hail storms, and gully washers that can make or break a crop are harder to forecast as exactly. We want some rain, but not too much, and we want it spread out enough so the plants have the moisture when they need it. In many winegrowing regions the weather patterns do not provide the summer rains we have here in the Mid-Atlantic. California is relatively dry from March into October, and farmers there rely on deep roots on their vines and drip irrigation to keep the vines in balance and get the fruit to the best condition for harvest. They have some control over the dry season only if they have access to the water they need when they need it. Here on the East Coast most vineyards do not have irrigation. When a new vineyard is planted, we need moisture for those young roots to grow. Oftentimes we can count on those summer thunderstorms to bring the rain needed to get the vines off to a healthy start. Older vines have deeper roots and can handle some dry spells during the growing season. However,…

Continue Reading

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Celebrate Bastille Day at Bastille!

By the Gastronomes Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the National Day of France and celebrated on July 14 each year. The French National Day is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution. In honor of Bastille Day we decided to revisit Bastille Restaurant in Alexandria for this month’s Dining Out article. Bastille is located at 606 N. Fayette Street in north Old Town. Although there are no views of the Potomac River, there is ample free street parking to help relieve that hassle. The restaurant has a comfortable bar and a bar dining area as well as two more dining rooms. On nice days there is a beautiful patio in the courtyard for al fresco dining. We picked a good evening to visit Bastille as they had just released their new summer menu. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t order their delicious beet salad but there are many new items to enjoy. I will just have to wait for fall to roll around for my beet fix. We are particularly fond of the Prix Fixe menus offered here. There are currently three 3-course Prix Fixe Menus available. The Bistro menu is $45 while the Brasserie is $57. They have recently added Le Menu Budgetaire that offers three select courses with a $29 price tag with a glass of house wine available for an additional $5. All are excellent values. The choices are numerous as you can see from the photo of the menu. All of the items on the fixed price menus and several other choices are available ala carte. For my dinner I ordered from the Brasserie menu. My first course was the French Onion Soup. The soup was served in a piping hot crock with…

Continue Reading

View More