Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Food

Second Annual “The Vices that Made Virginia”

Photo courtesy of
‘Hazy Morning’
courtesy of ‘Vileinist’

Ah, Virginia–home to part of the Blue Ridge mountains, the Virginia ham, and of course, the land for lovers. So to celebrate the greatness of Old Dominion, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture and Woodlawn, a National Trust Historic Site, are hosting the second annual “The Vices That Made Virginia.”

From 4 to 8 PM on November 5th, you can indulge in bourbon, oysters on the half shell, cigar rolling, as well as other “vices” from the state. In addition to specialty drinks from local distilleries, brewers and winemakers, chefs Nathan Anda, Kyle Bailey, Bertrand Chemel, Tiffany MacIsaac, Steve Mannino and Rob Weland will be serving up a scrumptious autumn spread. Dishes include local lamb, corn spoon bread with leeks and cheddar, spiced apple-oatmeal crumble and much more. Some of the local purveyors showcasing their ingredients in the chefs’ dishes include New Frontier Farms, Kilmer’s Farm & Orchard, Meadow Creek Dairy and Rappahannock Oysters.

Get ready to get your vices on at the farm next weekend, fellow Washingtonians. Tickets are $125 per person and all proceeds from the evening go to support Arcadia and Woodlawn.

All Politics is Local, Crime & Punishment, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The Daily Feed

HOV Violators Beware

Photo courtesy of
‘Wanna go for a ride?’
courtesy of ‘warrenski’

Today, local area police are cracking down on High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane violators, aka: you lousy, stinking cheaters, as part of Capitol Region HOV Awareness Day.

So if you’re traveling in an HOV lane during rush hour either by yourself or with a dummy or your imaginary friend Buster, or with a blow up doll as your “other passenger,” you could a face a $90 fine and one point on your Maryland driving record or fines reaching as high as $1,000 and three points on your Virginia record.

Don’t mess with the law. Cheaters.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

Starting today, you can tiptoe through the tulips and pick some too at America’s First Organic Tulip Festival, held an hour or so down the road in Madison, Virginia. (Charlottesville, Shenandoah National Park, and wineries are in that part of the world, too.)

Wander their 10,000 square foot garden and pick as many of their 40,000 tulips as you’d like, for $1 a stem. You can also spread out a picnic in the organic show garden, among more than 50 different types of flowers, including daffodils, alliums, grape hyacinths and irises.

What does organic mean? That they were raised pesticide-free, for a healthy plant and a healthy planet.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Bag Fees May Come to MD, VA

Photo courtesy of
‘Reusable Giant Bags’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Break out those reusable totes! DC’s new 5 cent fee for disposable bags is such a great idea that Virginia and Maryland may soon follow suit. That is, if two new bills pass.

This week, Maryland Del. Alfred Carr (D-18) introduced a bill patterned after the District’s that would give 3 to 4 cents per disposable paper or plastic bag to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund to pay for pollution mitigation.

Last week, Virginia Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49) introduced a similar bill that works the same way and would benefit the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund. He says this approach could reduce taxpayers’ costs for cleaning waterways and lower stores’ expenses on bags.

Both bills exempt some bags, including those for meat and produce, restaurant carry-out and dry cleaning.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, Interviews, People, The Features

He Loves DC: Lamar Brown


Earlier this week, I sat down with Lamar Brown, engineer and corporate drone by day and wine connoisseur and entrepreneur by night. His cozy shop just off King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Carafe Wines, is the city’s only “micro-winery,” allowing customers to sample and then bottle their own wines. With grape juices shipped in from vineyards in Chile, California, New Zealand, Italy, France and Washington, to name a few, it may not be the most green method, but he’s created a truly unique niche for delightfully aged wines made right in good old Alexandria.

Having lived in Northern Virginia for 10 years, Lamar had a vision to take his extreme interest and admiration for good wine to the next level. His dream was realized two years ago, and now, he proudly allows his customers to make their own wines and their own private labels.

Nestled between a gorgeous marble bar and a bustling fireplace, I sampled the Rosso Miscele Reserve, a Tuscan-styled wine vented from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and later a dab of the Merlot Reserve, a full-bodied wine with hints of red cherries, toasted oak and herbs. Then we sat down to business and focused on Lamar’s storied history with wine, the DC area, and, of course, what wine pairs best with Matchbox sliders.

What inspired you to start Carafe Wines?
Actually, a love of wines, to be honest. And I saw a cool niche. The whole wine making experience actually originated in Canada. I ran into it there, and I worked with a lot of Canadians to bring the concept to DC. I did some research, and DC area is actually the second most wine-centric area in the country outside of California. So, we sell more bottles per capita than anybody. I thought people would get a cool kick out of being able to make their own wine.

So, why do you think DC is the number two area for wine purchases in America? Continue reading

News, The Daily Feed

One Left Dead in Miley Cyrus Bus Crash

Photo courtesy of
‘Free M. Cyrus’
courtesy of

One person was left dead this morning after the tour bus for 16-year-old pop star Miley Cyrus overturned on I-85, 30 miles south of Richmond. Cyrus was not on board.

Her black-and-maroon luxury tour bus hit the concrete at around 8:15 a.m. after skidding several hundred feet, according to Virginia State Police. The bus was on its way to Greensboro, N.C. for the next stop on the 2009/2010 “Wonder World Tour” when the  accident occurred.

Members of the Cyrus production crew were on board but only one of the nine were injured. No further personal information regarding the individuals involved in the accident have been revealed by police.

Cyrus is still scheduled to perform on Sunday in Greensboro.

The Daily Feed, We Green DC

How Much Does No.Va. Recycle?

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

Wait — don’t toss that bottle! Yesterday, Virginia released a report of its recycling rates that shows we’re doing well, but could do more.

In both 2008 and 2007, Virginia’s rate stayed the same at 38.5%. Northern Virginia’s rate was just below that at 37%, up only 2% from the previous year, putting it in fourth place behind the Richmond (53%), Fredericksburg (47%), and Bristol (40%) areas.

Kudos to Falls Church for doing the most in the area; at a rate of nearly 60%, the city recycled 8,600 tons of materials. For comparison, the 2007 national rate was 33%.

When it comes to items you or I might toss into the recycling bin, electronics and commingled recyclables were up by half or more. That’s great! Is it the whole picture? Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Picks for Weekend Wineries

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

My favorite weekend activity this fall has been heading to wineries. I celebrated Virginia Wine Month with a fervor – give me a bottle of wine and some cheese, a nice patio, sunshine and a view and I’m pretty close to heaven. I love to escape the city and relax – if you’ve never been I’m here to tell you, it’s as good as a day at the spa. This upcoming weekend is going to be a gorgeous one, they say. And with the fall leaves at their peak, this weekend is an ideal one to head outside the city and experience what the Virginia countryside has to offer. So where should you go? Well, here are some of my favorites from this season for your consideration. Continue reading

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

Virginians: Time to VOTE!

Photo courtesy of
‘Polling Place Sign’
courtesy of ‘moonShadows7’

Good morning Virginians! The polls all across the commonwealth just opened. It’s voting day. Time to do your civic duty and cast your ballot! While the most talked about contest is definitely the race for governor between Bob McDonnell (R) and Creigh Deeds (D), you also will be casting a vote for lieutenant governor, attorney general and your local state representative in the VA House of Delegates. Depending on your locality, you probably also have a few other local positions to decide on; in Arlington, that would be a seat on the county board and one on the school board. After tomorrow, NO MORE CAMPAIGN ADS!

If you need to know where your polling place is or how to get there, get all the info here or just enter your address in the handy little map below (after the jump)!

Polls are open from 6am to 7pm. VOTE!

Continue reading

The Daily Feed

“We’re not pleased with either candidate’s position”

Photo courtesy of
‘Road Work Ahead on New Hampshire Avenue’
courtesy of ‘Wayan Vota’

Well, it’s not even October and I am already sick of the gubernatorial race in Virginia. Good job, guys. Between the Washington Post’s story on Bob McDonnell’s misogynistic thesis and the onslaught of ads and direct mail that Creigh Deeds has put out in the wake of it, it’s enough to make any voter apathetic.

The Washington Business Journal has an article today on the two candidates’ opinions on transportation issues in Virginia, with a great quote from Richard McDonough, a Chantilly assistant district manager for Lane Construction Corp. and past president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance. “We’re not pleased with either candidate’s position,” pretty much sums up the race so far, but is especially concerning considering how many Virginians who commute into DC are affected by this issue.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

VA Gov Candidate McDonnell’s Disgusting Thesis

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘acebal’

WaPo broke the story over the weekend about the 90 page thesis that the Republican Gubernatorial candidate wrote when he was 34 years old. It’s a paper he wrote about his overall political philosophy and was written in 1989, about a year before he announced he was running for public office in VA. While I am not here to take a partisan stance on any of these issues or races, I must say that this thesis is simply disgusting and absolutely has the potential to be a game changer in this race. McDonnell blatantly discriminates against women and gays with 1950’s like views.

Continue reading

The Daily Feed, WTF?!

And the Winner Is…

Photo courtesy of
‘The result of a Maryland driver’ courtesy of ‘terabithia4’

The results of the National Driver’s Test for 2009 have been released and guess what? We have proof once again that Maryland drivers are indeed worse than Virginians. But worst of all are those who live in the District.

The test measures basic knowledge of driving laws and how much we know about safe driving. And the fact is, we all suck. (Just that some states suck worse than others.) GMAC stated in their press release that they “found that 20.1 percent of licensed Americans – roughly 41 million drivers – would not pass a written driver’s exam if taken today.” Sobering thought.

The District is the 8th worst on the list, followed by Maryland at 11th and Virginia at 31st. The worst? No surprise there: New York.

The Daily Feed

Win A Virginia Vacay

Photo courtesy of
‘Naked Mountain Vineyard’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’ is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the slogan “Virginia is For Lovers”, and as such is sponsoring 40 trips in 40 weeks, a promotion where you can win any number of trips around Virginia. I kind of love this, actually, as all the trips are in my “backyard” so to speak.

They range from a stay at Charlottesville’s Boars Head Inn (complete with a dinner at the Old Mill Room and Presidential Home passes) to a private birdwatching expedition, to whitewater rafting or skiing, to a Roanoke Valley trip complete with lodging , massages, candle-lit dinner, and what else but the orchestra.

I love travel, I especially love vacations, so I’m already signed up! The sweepstakes ends with a drawing of four Grand Prize winners who can choose from four different luxury vacation packages depending on what floats your boat. And honestly, even if I don’t win (tear!) then at least I’ve now got some FABULOUS trip ideas up my sleeve, my home state of Virginia has got a lot to offer!

Arlington, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Yaku

Nestled along Clarendon Boulevard in the Court House area, Yaku looks to be the perfect neighborhood hot spot. Two levels of glass and glowing lights, it always looks warm and inviting from the street. I live in Arlington, and have walked past Yaku almost daily since it’s conception as just an empty office space below my dream real-estate local, The Odyssey condominiums.

When it finally looked as if something was actually going to go in the space (that had stood empty since before I moved here in fall 2007), I got pretty excited. On my walk home, I ran up to check the posted licences to see what it would be. It’s the perfect location to be our new favorite go-to spot. Yaku, the signs said. Hmm… I said. That’s an odd name. A little googling, and I find that Yaku will be another restaurant from Latin Concepts, the same people who brought us places like Chi-Cha Lounge, Mate, Ceviche, and Guarapo (which is only around the corner from Yaku).

According to the Web site, “YAKU, is a “Chifa” restaurant lounge brought to you by Fraga-Rosenfeld.  Chifa is the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine developed by Chinese immigrants to Peru in the late 19th and early 20th centuries… The name YAKU means “water” in Quechua (Incan Language) and is intended to capture Asian-influenced Andean culinary styles unique to the region.” Yaku is also, says our friend wikipedia, a town located on Yaku Island, Japan. So let’s just go with Asian-Peruvian fusion, and call it interesting… Continue reading

Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: HOT! HOT! HOT!

Photo courtesy of magandafille

In Traffic, courtesy of magandafille

And so it begins.

The like-it-or-not High-Occupancy Toll lanes are now a step closer to reality – at least in Northern Virginia.

So what are these HOT lanes, exactly?

These are specialized lanes that will reside on the ‘inside’ of the Beltway (specifically, a stretch of I-495 in NoVA) where carpools can use them for free and individual drivers looking to ditch the rest of us pokies will have to cough up some money. But there’s no actual ‘tollbooth’ to deal with. Continue reading

Adventures, Fun & Games, Travel

Beyond the Beltway: Natural Bridge

Photo courtesy of tsmyther
Natural Bridge, courtesy of tsmyther

We’re starting a new series that we’ll post twice a month, looking at various locations, attractions and other fun spots to hit that exist within a half-day’s drive from the Beltway. It’s a way to give you ideas for some fun outside our little circle of asphalt here on the East Coast, without costing you any more than a tank (or less) of gas. Well, aside from tickets, food and the inevitable souvenir, that is.

I figured I’d kick off our first entry with a place that involved good ol’ George; you can never go wrong with our first President. So where in Virginia did George leave his mark early in his multi-faceted career?

Natural Bridge, Virginia. Continue reading

Life in the Capital

Completing the Trifecta

Four letter word
Originally uploaded by Justin Shearer

I know my news will be overshadowed by the coffee war currently swinging through the blogging community (which I find utterly hysterical), but I need to share!

Last night, my wife and I ended our six-month quest to find a home in the DC Metro area. We’d put out two other offers over the course of the last two months; both were foreclosures. The first one was beaten by another offer that came in right after ours, the second one the bank was countering with miniscule changes of which we got tired of and backed out.

Saturday, we hit square one again and went looking with our awesome Realtor. First house of the day was it. You know what I mean – that feeling you get when you see something and you just know. We put the offer in Sunday and yesterday we got the fabulous news that it was 100% accepted. This wasn’t a foreclosure, short sale or desperate buyer. Just a nice older lady looking to move after being in that house since the 1970s.

We still have to go through the hoops – inpsections, finalizing the loan, etc. But at this point, it’s all gravy. By the end of August, we will finally return to home ownership in the good ol’ U.S.A. I’m just happy we’ve returned to John Locke’s trifecta of rights: life, liberty and property!

Man, do I love this town.