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Posted by / Friday, September 30th, 2011

(Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

Guten Tag, Gut Checkers!

This weekend, don’t miss out on your chance to put on your lederhosen and polka your eyes out! Here’s a guide to all the Oktoberfest events going on:

Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest
September 29 – October 2 - Fremont Field, Fort Belvoir; (703)879.4088; Prices and hours vary

Octoberfest at Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling
October 1, Noon - 5 p.m. - Sweetwater Tavern, 45980 Waterview Plaza, Sterling; (571)434.6500; Free

Vienna Oktoberfest
October 1, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.  - Historic Church Street in Vienna; (703)281.1333; Free

I am planning to head to the Vienna Oktoberfest myself, where I’m promised there will be lots of great German food, live music and beer gardens galore. I can’t wait to go get my bratwurst on!

I’ll see you there!

– Jennie Whistler


Gelato a Go-Go at Piccomolo

Posted by / Friday, September 30th, 2011

Piccomolo in Fair Oaks Mall

I know, it’s not really ice cream weather anymore but I, for one, can always be talked into a sweet treat. And Piccomolo is where I love to go to get my fix!

According to their website, gelato is the stuff of legends. Supposedly created in northern Italy, in the small town of Dolomite, gelato was served during the winter seasons to tourists traveling through the mountains. Over the years, sales of this sweet, cold treat became such an attraction that it developed into the main source of income for the people of Dolomite. However, since only tourists and privileged families could afford it, gelato artisans began migrating throughout Europe, spreading the word of their invention everywhere they went.

The reason I love this particular gelateria is because, like me, they always want to know exactly what’s going into their food. Not only do they always use all-natural ingredients, but their gelato is naturally sucrose-free (that means no added sugar, kids) and low in cholesterol. It’s sort of a way to have your cake and eat it too.

And just because it is naturally low in sugar doesn’t mean they skimp on the taste. Real, natural fruit creates real big flavors like harvest peach, mango and strawberry kiwi. All their ice cream is made fresh daily and flavors rotate so you’ll rarely see the same selection twice.

Strawberry kiwi and chocolate-strawberry swirl = yum

Did I mention that all their “sorbetto” (fruit gelato) is non-dairy and fat-free?

Even the dairy gelato, with decadent flavors such as peanut butter, coconut and fudge use all natural ingredients, real milk and does not contain any preservatives.

Check out their cute little graph, telling you exactly why their gelato is fat and carb smart.

Piccomolo used to have a store in Old Town Fairfax, but has recently shut down for reasons unknown. So now, with only one VA location in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, I can only hope that word spreads of how awesome this place is and more start popping up. Until then, visit the mall, make a day out of it and rest assured you can enjoy this treat guilt-free! Check out our list of more yummy gelato joints in your area here!

Piccomolo - 11931U Fair Oaks Mall

– Jennie Whistler


Kickin’ Butt Apples, Trendy Super Foods to Extremist Cleanses

Posted by / Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Helping to reinforce tomorrow’s How-Do-You-Like-Them-Apples Friday, a recent newsletter from the Report on Advanced Natural Medicine paid homage to good ol’ apples in “This Could Be the Healthiest Food You Eat.”

Like breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we have been hearing our mothers and fathers telling us the old an apple a day keeps the doctor away line for years now. But alas, it’s really true!

Kicking the butts of all the other trendy super foods out there like açai berries, dark chocolate or pistachios, apples prove to be good for your heart, brain, muscles, immune system, and digestion.

Image: Pennyimages/Shutterstock

But how many apples can you have before steeping too extreme? I’ve recently read about an apple cleanse that sounds intriguing. I’m not one to support these trendy cleanses (how anyone can survive on a liquid diet of juice for a week straight while exercising for 60 minutes a day beats me) and I don’t think I would willingly choose to do anything but chew my intake of calories for any given day, unless I were surgically forced to have my jaw wired shut.

But with my recent ode to deliciously crisp, sweet and juicy fall apples, I’m thinking a strict apple diet doesn’t sound so bad.

The point of the apple cleanse diet, as explained by Livestrong, is to cleanse your body of toxins. Most of the apple cleanses out there tell you to eat nothing but apples for two to three days in order to achieve a body detox. There isn’t much clinical evidence on the effectiveness of apple cleanses or cleanses in general, however, and Livestrong advises anyone with health conditions such as high blood sugar to always check with a doctor before trying anything new like a cleanse.

With so many diets and cleanses out there, it’s hard to know what’s healthy and what’s not. I tend to follow my gut and in doing so I’d probably enjoy eating nothing but apples for one day. If anything, I would do it for the pleasure of enjoying delicious apples and the bonus of slightly cleansing my body after indulging on a night of a heavy dinner, while then returning to and maintaining a healthy, normal diet.

Knock it or try it—and if apple extremism fails, you can always go the old fashioned route of an apple a day. 

-Julia Harbo


Go Green- Irish Style!

Posted by / Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The Auld Shebeen, Old Town Fairfax

In old Irish, a “shebeen” was akin to a speakeasy- an after-hours hub where you could always find good spirits, great food and better camaraderie. That’s exactly what you’ll find at The Auld Shebeen Irish Pub and Restaurant in Old Town Fairfax.

Located in a low, unassuming brick building, this popular local spot is also very close to my heart; as a former employee for over 3 years, I can personally say that the atmosphere is as warm and inviting as the people who own it. Dominc Keane and Mick Boyle, partners and life-long friends, opened their doors about 6 years ago and have been thriving ever since.

On any given night you might see a variety of souls: a mix of older gentlemen nursing amber glasses of Irish whiskey or college students in carefree clusters along the bar. This is always the way it is- an eclectic mix of old and young, newcomers and regulars, families and singles which make the atmosphere fun and full of constant change.

The only authentic Irish pub in the Fairfax area, The Auld Shebeen offers a mix of old Irish classics and new American menu items. Such favorites as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and corned beef and cabbage can be found alongside thick cut pork chops, a variety of fresh salads and hearty pastas.

Not to mention the beer.

Let’s be honest. You can’t have a great Irish pub without an extensive selection of great Irish beer. Not only does The Auld Shebeen pour a mean pint of Guinness, they also boast Smithwick’s (pronounced, “Smitticks” to all you genuine Irish), Harp and Magner’s Hard Cider, along with an impressive array of imported drafts as well as bottles.

But my heart still lies with a perfect pint of Guinness; thick, creamy and wonderfully dark with hints of cocoa and rich coffee- this is almost better than a meal any day!

So pretty!


I said, “Almost!”

When it comes down to it, nothing beats a pint and a plate of stew. Atop a mound of creamy mashed potatoes is a thick stew swimming with thick cut carrots and beef so tender you can cut it with a spoon. What could be more homey and comforting on a seemingly endless rainy day (or month)?


The perfect dinner


How about classic fish and chips? Perhaps the most popular dish on the menu, they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. At The Auld Shebeen they are crispy, light and oh so flaky and delicious. Never greasy or thick, and piled high with chips, onion rings and coleslaw, you definitely will be coming back again and again for this fan favorite.


Can you say, "Yum??"


One other thing you should NOT miss out on is the curry sauce. I know, it sounds a little odd at first, but curry is a true staple of Irish and British cuisine and traditionally served with chips or fish and chips. It’s fragrant and mild, so don’t worry about the spice factor. Trust me, once you’ll try it, you’ll go back for more.

Aside from the tasty food and friendly service, there’s always something going on at the ‘Been (“bean”). Join them every Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. for live Irish music, Pub Quiz on Tuesday nights and Irish music sessions on Saturday mornings. They also feature a lower-level area called “The Cellar” which is a great late-night venue, hosting live bands and DJ’s every weekend, as well as Karaoke every Tuesday! Phew!

Going back there for me is always like coming home- there’s always a smile and a tall, frosty Guinness waiting. So whether you’re in the mood for a couple of pints after work, meeting friends for dinner or just wanting to cut loose, The Auld Shebeen is a true Fairfax landmark and can always be counted on for having a craic.

And if you don’t know what that means, you’ll just have to go there and find out!

The Auld Shebeen, 3971 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax; (703)293.9600

For a complete list of Irish pubs in your area go here.


– Jennie Whistler


Great Food for a Great Cause

Posted by / Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

This week, September 26-30, the FundsOn organization is partnering up with participating restaurants Foster’s Grille, Pizza Go Round, and Red Hot & Blue in their charity campaign GIVE 50. The campaign will give 50 percent of the participating restaurant’s purchases to local schools and non-profits.

As government budget cuts continue to affect the amount of funds available for public schools, school programs such as athletics, fine arts, and other extracurricular activities are becoming more threatened.

To help support the campaign to keep public school programs up and running, you can purchase vouchers from the three restaurants at and also receive a 10 percent discount from each purchase as you dine.

Within two months of their Grand Opening, Pizza Go Round has helped 12 area schools and non-profit organizations raise money! Thanks PGR Team!


Foster’s Grille (2004 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria; 703-519-0055; and 5007-E Westone Plaza Drive, Chantilly; 703-378-3797)

Pizza Go Round (44640 Waxpool Road, Ashburn; 703-858-1818)

Red Hot & Blue (Locations in Arlington, Fairfax and Herndon;





What’s better than that? Enjoy your food while feeling good about supporting a great organization!

-Julia Harbo


Crop Rapport: Bigg Rigg’s Farm

Posted by / Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Amazing array Big Rigg's chili peppers

Welcome back, Gut Checkers! Every Wednesday look out for Crop Rapport- where we’ll be featuring a new vendor from local farmers markets every week and all the information you need on where to find them!

The Cascades Farmers Market in Sterlingis open on Sundays, May through November 20  from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Although small, this market doesn’t disappoint. Everything from fresh baked bread, to locally-grown vegetables, to farm-fresh eggs can all be found right here.

Everything sold at the market is raised, grown or made from scratch by the seller- and when you know where your food comes from it just tastes better! The Cascades Farmers Market, run by the Loudoun Valley Home Grown Markets Cooperative, Inc., is dedicated to just that: providing a place for local farms and food artisans to sell their wares.

Big Riggs Farm is one great example of local farming at its finest. While produce you buy from the supermarket can come from as far away as China, you can rest assured that all of Bigg Rigg’s food comes straight from his farm, high in the mountains of West Virginia.

Apples as far as the eye can see

Crates and crates of luscious apples, vividly-colored chili peppers and crisp, leafy greens line the rows of their station; but what really catches my eye are the jars lined up above them.

Awesome Sauce (buffalo ranch dressing), Ramp Mustard (a leek-infused, garlicky mustard), Basil-Garlic Vinegar (two of my favorite things combined in vinegar!) – every jar sounds better and more intriguing than the one before it. And I’m assured that Bigg Riggs products are made with strictly all-natural ingredients with an emphasis on homegrown, down on the farm flavors.

Bigg Rigg's sauces

The family’s farm has been owned and operated for 5 generations. The first trees were planted in the 1930′s and in 1940, it was the first fruit stand opened on old US Route 50 between Romney, WV and Winchester, VA.

I’m told that the idea for creating Bigg Riggs products and preserves was born overseas in the deserts of Iraq in 2003, while owner Calvin Riggleman was completing his deployment with the United States Marine Corps. He began sharing stories of his farm life back home with his fellow Marines. His tales of farming life and food became of particular interest to his friends, whose own lives were quite different growing up in big cities.

After much talk, they began urging him to preserve the tastes and fruits he grew up with in an effort to extend the shelf-life of his family’s products and promote local eating throughout the area at the same time. And thus, Big Rigg’s Farm was born!

All his products and produce can still be found at that original fruit stand in West Virginia where it all began, as well as at farmer’s markets throughout the region. And, of course, you can buy all their products online.

After browsing for several minutes, I finally decide on one of their most-popular items: Hot Pepper Jelly. In addition, I also buy “Cowboy Candy,” a sweet and spicy mixture of preserved hot peppers and a jar of Pumpkin Pie Butter. Being a huge fan of apple butter, I can’t wait to try this new take on an old classic.

All for me!

I can see why the Hot Pepper Jelly is one of their most popular sellers. It’s sweet with just a hint of lingering heat, perfect on toast or muffins, or mixed with cream cheese for a unique and delicious dip!

These jellies and sauces make great gifts (to yourself or others) and if you buy 3 or more, they’re all just $5 apiece! Don’t forget about the produce either; there’s a reason they’ve been in business for so long; fresh, local and beautiful- it doesn’t get any better than this!

Check out Bigg Rigg’s Farm at any of these local farmer’s markets:

Old Town Alexandria Farmer’s Market, Saturdays, 5:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Great Falls Farmer’s Market, Saturdays, 8 a.m. –Noon
Leesburg Farmer’s Market, Saturdays, 8 a.m. –Noon
Alexandria West End Farmer’s Market, Sundays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cascades Market, Sundays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Be sure to visit their website for more information and to order any of their products online!


Northern Virginia Farmer’s Market and Hours:

Annandale Farmers Market • 6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale – Thu, 8-noon 
Arlington Farmers Market • N. 14th St. & N. Courthouse Road, Arlington – Sat, 8-noon 
Ashburn Farmers Market • 44036 Pipeline Plaza, Ashburn – Sat, 8-noon
Ballston Farmers Market • N. Stuart St. & N. Ninth St. – Thu, 3-7 p.m. 
Brambleton Farmers Market • 22875 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Burke Farmers Market • 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke – Sat, 8-noon 
Cascades Farmers Market • 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Clarendon Farmers Market• 3100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Columbia Pike Farmers Market • S. Walter Reed Drive & Columbia Pike – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Community Farmers Market • West & Main Streets (Sat), North St. & Old Lee Highway (Sun), Fairfax – Sat: 8-1 p.m.; Sun: 10-2 p.m.
Crystal City Farmers Market • Crystal Square Arcade between S. 18th and 20th Streets – Tue, 3-7 p.m. 
Culpeper Farmers Market • E. Davis & Commerce Streets – Sat, 7:30-noon
Dale City Farmers Market • Dale Blvd. & Minnieville Road, Dale City – Sun, 8-1 p.m.
Del Ray Farmers’ Market • E. Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria – Sat, 8-noon 
Fairfax Farmers Market • 3720 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax – Tue, 8-noon
Falls Church Farmers Market • 300 Park Ave., Falls Church – Sat, 8-noon 
Fredericksburg Farmers Market• George and Prince Edward Streets, Fredericksburg – Mon-Sat, 7-6 p.m.; Sun, 12:30-4 p.m.
Frying Pan Farmers Market • 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon – Wed, 8-12:30 p.m.
Great Falls Farmers Market • 750 Walker Road, Great Falls – Sat, 9-1 p.m. 
Haymarket Farmers Market • 1500 Washington St., Haymarket – Sat, 8-2 p.m. 
Herndon Farmers Market • Lynn and Station Streets, Herndon – Thu, 8-noon
Kingstowne Farmers Market • Kingstowne Center & Kingstowne Blvd., Franconia – Fri, 4-7 p.m.
Leesburg Farmers Market • 20 Catoctin Circle S.E., Leesburg – Sat, 8-noon
Lorton Farmers Market • 8990 Lorton Station Blvd., Lorton – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
McLean Farmers Market • 1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean – Fri, 8-noon 
Middleburg Farmers Market • 300 W. Washington St., Middleburg – Sat, 8-noon
Mount Vernon Farmers Market • 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria – Tue, 8-noon
Nokesville Farmers Market • 13005 Fitzwater Drive, Nokesville – Sat, 8-noon
Oakton Farmers Market • 3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton – Wed, 8-noon 
Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market
 • 301 King St., Alexandria – Sat, 5:30-11 a.m.
Old Town Manassas Farmers Market • 9201 Center St., Manassas – Thu, 7-1 p.m.; Sat, 7:30-2:30 p.m.
Nokesville Farmers Market • 13005 Fitzwater Drive, Nokesville – Sat, 8-noon
Purcellville Farmers Market• 751 E. Main St., Purcellville – Sat, 8-noon
Reston Farmers Market • 11400 Washington Plaza W., Reston – Sat, 8-noon
Smart Markets – Centreville • 5875 Trinity Parkway, Centreville – Fri, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Fairfax Corner • Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax – Tue, 3:30-6:30 p.m. 
Smart Markets 
 Gainesville • 13297 Gateway Center Drive, Gainesville – Sun, 10:30-1:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Herndon • 460 Elden St., Herndon – Thu, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Oakton • 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton – Sat, 10-2 p.m. 
Smart Markets – Reston • 11890 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Wed, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Upper King Street Farmers Market • 1806 King St., Alexandria – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Vienna Farmers Market • 131 Church St. N.E., Vienna – Sat, 8-noon
Wakefield Farmers Market • 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale – Wed, 2-6 p.m.
Warrenton Farmers Market • Branch Drive and Warrenton Village Center (Wed), S. Fifth & Lee Streets (Sat) – Wed, 7-1 p.m.; Sat, 7-noon
West End Farmers Market • 4800 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria – Sun, 9-1 p.m.

– Jennie Whistler


Honoring the Late Doritos Inventor

Posted by / Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Image: GoodMood Photo/Shutterstock

In recent news, the inventor of the America-to-world famous Doritos chips has passed away at age 97. According to a Washington Post obituary, Arch West’s family plans on dusting his grave with a layer of Doritos.

As the story goes, Mr. West, the marketing vice president of Frito-Lay at the time, was vacationing in Southern California in 1964 and bought a bag of toasted tortillas at a roadside shack, inspiring him to pitch the idea of a triangle-shaped tortilla chip. The triangle-shaped tortilla chip was much different from the pre-existing skinny and curly Frito corn chips or the round and thin Lays potato chips. And so the revolutionary triangle-shaped tortilla chips with a Spanish-sounding name of Doritos were released in 1966, marketed as “a swinging, Latin sort of snack.”

It is sad to announce the passing of such a legendary inventor (and one can imagine how many obituaries there are out there of such a culturally important figure), but I have faith in saying that Doritos will live on.

Doritos have grown into a classic snack of American culture over the past 50 years and are now sold all over the world. Aside from the obvious classics of Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese, Doritos now come in a much-too-great variety of flavors including Guacamole, Wasabi, 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero, Taco, and Pizza Supreme, among others.

My personal favorite is Cool Ranch. I must admit, however, I never was a huge Dorito eater (probably because my mom never let me have them as a kid—she was worried that their ingredients such as “Red Dye #40” was bad for my health). But I might just have to rip open a bag today in honor of the one week’s passing of the late genius inventor.

-Julia Harbo


Sandwich Paradise

Posted by / Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

New York Deli sandwich

If you’ve ever wondered where to go to get a totally unique, mouth watering, New York deli-style sandwich, look no further than your own backyard!

In a world of Subways, Quiznos and other nation-wide sandwich chains, it’s refreshing to see a place like New York Deli, a small, privately owned deli nestled in an unassuming strip mall in Tyson’s Corner. Not that there’s anything wrong with the aforementioned restaurants; you are talking to a former Subway Sandwich Artist and I’ve always been a loyal customer ever since. However, if you’re looking for a different kind of sandwich, I suggest starting here.

New York deli came to the area 18 years ago and has been steadily gaining a fan base ever since. They offer New York deli favorites like pastrami and corned beef for affordable prices. Their sandwiches are always made with fresh vegetables, cheese and meat, but the real star of the show is the bread.

Ever notice how a really good piece of bread can make everything seem right in the world? Each sandwich comes atop its own pillow-soft, mini loaf of bread with a choice of white, wheat or pumpernickel. Baked fresh daily, the bread is super soft and warm on the inside, with just the right amount of crisp crustiness on the outside. Mmmm! All is well.

Each sandwich comes with a thick sliced dill pickle and they always have lunch specials, offering deals with chips and drinks. Trust me- you won’t go hungry here!

Like I said before, the place is small and the parking is limited. Luckily there’s a paying garage adjacent and they’ll validate your parking if you just ask.

I’m told their website is in progress, so for now, just call! They do catering, call-ahead pick-ups and even delivery for a limited area!

New York Deli
8150 Leesburg Pike, Vienna

– Jennie Whistler


Pinch Me: Pinxtos Come to NoVA!

Posted by / Monday, September 26th, 2011

Pinxtos are here!

Image: fedor kondratenko/Shutterstock

For those of you who don’t know, pinxtos (pronounced peen-chose with an American accent) are a type of food from the Basque region of Spain. Slightly different from tapas, they are smaller, in one or two bite-sized portions, to be enjoyed out with friends before moving onto tapas with your main meal.

Pinxtos are generally creative, various concoctions of seafood, meats, cheeses, and vegetables on top of mini toasted bread, usually held together with toothpicks (which, in Spain, are used to count the number of pinxtos you have eaten, and thus to determine how much you are to pay—usually €1-3 per pinxto, depending on the variety).

Vinifera is now offering $1 pinxtos (which is a steal, when compared to Spain’s with the euro conversion) as a part of menu to be eaten up with their selection of over 300 wines, available in flights of three, so you can really feel Spanish in America (and, in Spain, no meal is complete without wine). Vinifera’s Chef Bo Palker has even created the pinxto menu using fresh herbs and vegetables grown in his garden on-site at the restaurant!

The pinxto menu features:

Fresh Mozzarella and Oven Dried Tomato
Harrisa Dusted Shrimp, Olive and Tomato
Crispy Baby Artichoke and Smokey Blue Cheese
Caramelized Onion, Tarentaise Cheese and Olive
Boquerones (Anchovies), Tomato, Parsley and Garlic
Abruzze, Appellation and Quince Paste
Speck & Farmstead Cheddar
Medjool Date and Lime Chirvel Mascarpone

All I have to say is YUM! Especially to the last one—dates and cheese are two of my favorite things, especially when cooked together; personally, I would say the only thing that could make them better is if they’re wrapped in bacon.

And if $1 pinxtos don’t seem to fill you up, Chef Palker also has tapas style dishes for $3-6, including:

Lobster Cohiba in Sweet Chili Sauce
Portuguese and Venison Sausages with Green Tomato Marsala Compote
Lamb Kafta on Pita with Tzatziki Sauce

Vinifera offers their patio, equipped with fire pits to add warmth as the weather gets starts to get cooler, to enjoy their new pinxtos and wine.

“Our pintxo and small plates menus are a versatile dining option created to encourage conversation and a communal dining experience for our guests,” said Chef Palker. “They are intended to be mixed and matched to satisfy varying appetites and allow people to feel comfortable trying a range of flavor profiles without breaking the bank.”

Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro is located in The Westin Reston Heights (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston; 703-234-3550).


-Julia Harbo


It’s an Oktoberfest-fest!

Posted by / Monday, September 26th, 2011

Mad Fox Brewing Company

This past weekend marked the official beginning of the fall season and with that brings the promise of dozens of Oktoberfest celebrations! This year I celebrated the changing of the seasons by visiting one of the first establishments to put on their lederhosen- Mad Fox Brewing Company.

Mad Fox celebrated the second weekend of Munich Oktoberfest ( that world-renowned event which takes place every year between the end of September and the beginning of October in Munich) with a celebration right here in the City of Falls Church. They promised their own Oktoberfest Lagerbier, German-themed food specials and live music.

While we didn’t indulge in and of the German-themed food, we did enjoy a basket of “Frickles,” breaded, deep-fried dill pickles (and if you haven’t tried fried pickles before- do it! Go right now!) accompanied by tall frosty mugs of Oktoberfest Lager. Amber colored, slightly sweet and with just a hint of hops on the back of your tongue, this lager was the perfect pairing.

Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810 and continues to this day. Of course now it’s more about carrying on the tradition and sharing it with friends and family then anything else. I have to give props to the Germans- there really is nothing better than sitting outside on a fall day, sipping a beer, chatting with friends and listening to music. This, to me, is what Oktoberfest is all about- celebrating the season, eating great food, and sharing it with people you love.

Tonight: Monday, September 26:

Dogtoberfest Beer Dinner
September 26, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Join us for a five-course, all inclusive beer dinner! Enjoy comfortable, casual surroundings and service, tasty and unique wood grilled food and, of course, the craft brewed Dogfish ales! Call or go online for details and reservations. Dogfish Head Ale House, 13041 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy, Fairfax; (703)961.1140; $65

And don’t miss out on your chance to party German-style- check out this list of all the Oktoberfest celebrations going on this month! Also, be sure to visit our tastings calendar for more great Northern Virginia events.

Octoberfest at Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling
October 1, Noon - 5 p.m. - Sweetwater Tavern, 45980 Waterview Plaza, Sterling; (571)434.6500; Free

 Vienna Oktoberfest
October 1, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.  - Historic Church Street in Vienna; (703)281.1333; Free

Capitol City Oktoberfest
October 8, Noon-7 p.m. - Shirlington Village, 4001 Campbell Avenue, Arlington; (703)578.3888; $25 if you want to sample beer, otherwise free.

Reston Oktoberfest
October 7-9 - Individual Oktoberfest food and beverage tickets may be purchased on site for $1 each, or in sheets of 24 for $20! Reston Town Center, 1763 Fountain Drive, Reston; (703)707.9045; Free admission

Oktoberfest at Döner Bistro
October 13-16 - Döner Bistro, 202 Harrison Street, Leesburg; (703)779.7880; Free

Rustico’s Oktobeerfest Celebration
October 15, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. - Rustico, 827 Slaters Lane, Alexandria; (703)224.5051; Free admission, beer tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance

Taste of the Alpines Oktoberfest
October 22-23 - Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, 38906 Mt Gilead Road, Leesburg; (703)777.8161; $15

Northern Virginia Brewfest
October 22-23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. - Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville; (888)695.0888; $20/$25 in advance/day of, $15/$20 for dd

– Jennie Whistler


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