Sightseeing for sweethearts: A whimsical day trip across NoVA

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

 By Cynthia Jessup

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By Cynthia Jessup

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and a good way to express your devotion to your loved ones is to spend time with them. Having a plan will reflect how much thought you put into making Valentine’s Day extra special. A few ideas are given that will have you sharing love all day long.

10 a.m. Spend some time making a dish together and indulge in your sweet tooth. You and a loved one (kids count, too) can head to Sur La Table in Old Town Alexandria and get a baking lesson from a professional chef in creating sweet treats along with loving memories. At this class, you will be learning to bake cookies, whoopie pies and chocolate-dipped hearts. As an added bonus, the chefs will teach you the steps for making cream cheese frosting and offer tips for decorating.

2 p.m. Just 30 minutes away, George Mason University will be hosting Virginia Opera’s performance of Romeo and Juliet. Witness Romeo’s passionate declaration of love to Juliet in the famous balcony scene. With their untimely deaths, Romeo and Juliet touches many over space and time through their love story. Along with this play, there is a special treat for those who arrive early. Take a commemorative keepsake photo and enjoy a glass of champagne with chocolates before the play or during intermission. The champagne glasses are for you to keep and remember that special moment.

6:30 p.m. Lastly, wrap up the day with an exquisite meal in Centreville. Enjoy a four-course dinner with a wine pairing at the luxurious and peaceful Winery at Bull Run.

Find all our Sex, Love and Ghosting articles on this month’s pop-up blog here.


Dare to scare for a unique Valentine’s Day

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

 By Adrienne West

For a horrific twist on the sweetest day, snuggle up with a different kind of red.

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Courtesy of Shocktober

Not everyone loves the traditional idea of red roses, chocolates and a dinner for two. Some couples or single friends would rather get their hearts racing in another way—with terror.

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Local sommelier shares recommendations for Valentine’s Day treats

Posted by Editorial / Friday, February 5th, 2016

By Cynthia Jessup

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Courtesy of Michael Pearce

First the melting of snow and now the melting of hearts; people are soon to become smitten. Love is given special attention during the month of February. When people think of Valentine’s Day, they become abuzz on how to express their affection. Nothing sets the mood like chocolate and wine. Local wine merchant Michael Pierce, owner of The Wine House, says: “Chocolate and wine pairings are actually quite difficult because of the adverse pairings on the palate. The wines usually associated with these pairings are sweet wines, also known as dessert wines. In creating complementary pairs, it requires tasting of the wine and picking out its best components and using our imagination.” He describes three sample pairings and how they react with one another. These wines are available for purchase should you desire after sampling them. 

A sparkling white wine, moscato d’asti, which is imported from Piedmont, a region in Northern Italy, is joined by a white chocolate-covered grape. With the alcohol content of 6 percent, the wine and its natural bubbles clean out the palate with the sweetness of the grape and leave a sweet and crisp aftertaste. Similar outcomes can come from a pairing of white chocolate bread pudding, fruit pies or cake.

Another combination of this contrary couple is a dark chocolate crisp with velvety red wine, malvasia d’asti, also from Piedmont, Italy. The alcohol content of this wine is 7 percent. Other things that can be served with this dessert wine are chocolate mousse or anything with a sweet marinade sauce.

A robust ruby port imported from Portugal is served with a sample of richly textured chocolate covered bacon. It can be also served with serving of cheese or red fruit desserts.The bitterness of the chocolate highlights the hearty texture and sweet flavor of the wine. So like wine, people find their significant others by complementing personalities.

The Wine House will be hosting a chocolate and wine pairing event in honor of the Chocolate Lovers Festival.

Chocolate Lovers Festival at The Wine House

3950 University Drive, Suite 212, Fairfax

Feb. 6, noon


Find all our Sex, Love and Ghosting articles on this month’s pop-up blog here.

How to spend a romantic day in Alexandria

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Simplify your love life.  Check out this week’s step-by-step day trip within the amorous sections of Alexandria.

Credit: R Kennedy for ACVA

By Meghan Meier

Whether it is an anniversary celebration or just looking for something fun to do with that special person, Alexandria has the outdoor and indoor activities to make that day memorable. From restaurants to shopping and historical adventures, there is always something happening just around the corner. When sorting through all the possibilities, this hodgepodge of ideas can create quite the conundrum. However, there is a solution. To help fix this little teaser, here are some places to help make that perfect itinerary.

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Celebrate the Lunar New Year with NoVA events

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

2016 is the Year of the Monkey

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Courtesy of Aleksej Kostin/Adobestock

The Lunar New Year will officially take place on Monday, Feb. 8, but many celebrations throughout the metro area start this weekend. Ring in the Year of the Monkey by watching live performances, tasting traditional fare and participating in these educational events.

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The powerful intersection of neuroscience and visual art in Reston

Posted by Lynn Norusis / Monday, February 1st, 2016

The exploration of scientific concepts leads to visual interpretations at Greater Reston Art Center

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Courtesy of the the Greater Reston Arts Center


As a child Rebecca Kamen always wanted to be a scientist—a trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia solidified this—but she is dyslexic, a term that didn’t exist until she was in college, so she had to learn by observing and making connections. The seed that was planted during this experience at the museum, which she describes as one of “awe and wonder,” is something Kamen strives to manifest in her work today, work she says is at the intersection of art and science.

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Critically acclaimed Dylan LeBlanc plays Jammin’ Java

Posted by Editorial / Monday, February 1st, 2016

By MacKenzie Reagan

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Courtesy of Karen Wiessen


Singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc brings his introspective blues-rock to Jammin’ Java Feb. 1. We caught up with him ahead of his show to chat about his influences, his daily life and what three albums he’d bring with him on a deserted island.

Q: Your new album, Cautionary Tale, deals with themes of isolation and soul-searching. Where does this come from?

A: I think it just comes from, you know, a manifestation of where my life’s been, where it’s headed now.

Q: When you were younger, you went through a period of alcohol abuse. How does that experience influence your songwriting?

A: When I drank, it was about achieving balance. Now that I don’t drink, it’s also [about] trying to achieve balance. I became out of balance over the years.

 Q: There’s a line in “Easy Way Out” that goes, “The lash I felt from the Bible Belt brought me down on my knees/When I thought that I could stand on my own two feet.” What’s the story behind that?

A: I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, and I just couldn’t live with the ideology or the guilt that came with it. In 2012, I finally just lost it, and had to go another direction altogether. It took a toll on me.

 Q: You’ve been performing since you were a teenager. How have you grown as a performer since then?

A: I think I’ve grown a little bit with trying to get better at connecting with audiences and engaging with crowds a little more, being a more confident performer. I’ve surrounded myself with good people who are extremely professional. I think that helps an awful lot.

 Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: If I’m on the road, a lot of times, I do phone interviews. I’ll read, listen to a lot of music. If I’m at home, I usually just clean the house, try to get it looking nice for my girlfriend when she comes home from work, take the dogs for a walk. I do a lot of meditation, too.

 Q: OK, lightning round. Dream collaboration:

A: I don’t know. I honestly do not know. There’s so many people I’d like to work with.

Q: Your sound in three words:

A: It’s kinda cool.

 Q: Three albums you’d bring with you on a deserted island:

A: Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, Good Old Boys by Randy Newman and The White Album by the Beatles.

Q&A with Rock ’n’ Roll Adult Garland Jeffreys

Posted by Editorial / Monday, January 25th, 2016

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Courtesy of Mary Ellen Matthews

By MacKenzie Reagan

Singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys, fresh off performing with Bruce Springsteen at the Light of Day Foundation‘s Parkinson’s research benefit concert, chats about his influences, his performing style and hanging out with Lou Reed. He performs this Friday at Jammin’ Java on Jan. 29.

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Getting in the rhythm with Brian Franke

Posted by Meghan Meier / Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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Photo Courtesy of Stefanie Mendoza

He is recognized as a versatile songwriter and singer in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., area. Performing over 250 shows annually, Brian Franke is an in-demand artist who often takes center stage at area restaurants and wineries.

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Q&A: Herndon musician Crys Matthews

Posted by Editorial / Monday, January 18th, 2016

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Courtesy of CD Darden

By MacKenzie Reagan

Herndon transplant Crys Matthews brings her blues-tinged folk-rock stylings to Jammin’ Java Feb 28. We called her up to get the inside scoop on how she landed in NoVA and how she made music her full-time gig.

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