Posted by Anthony Baracat / Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Ed Zigo never thought much of his music career until coming home from school one summer. Even then, it would’ve been hard to convince the Westmain drummer–who last year helped produce the group’s debut album, “Glamour Fades”–that his hobby would become much more than that. Come to Leesburg’s Tally Ho this Saturday, Dec. 7 to see why D.C. music critics have given this group the nod.
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By Cassandra Sturos
Celebrating Christmas in Northern Virginia comes naturally with beautiful parades, light displays and activities in abundance. If you’re looking for some Christmas fun outside our neck of the woods, however, check out these destinations that tout jolly excitement for the whole family.
The Classic Christmas
Keswick Hall at Monticello pulls out all the stops for the Christmas season, with trees aplenty, antique toy decorations, and their season’s best on full display. To enjoy the holidays at this luxurious estate would be more than delightful: have breakfast with Santa, make a Gingerbread house or take a holiday wreath making workshop. Besides the Christmas events, Keswick has got you covered when it comes to relaxation and activities. Spend a day at the spa, go hot air-ballooning, take a walk with the hounds, or check out their courtside winery. That combined with all the Christmas ambiance you could muster will make for a Christmas to remember. Distance from Fairfax: 100 Miles
The Adventurer’s Christmas
Why go driving around looking for Christmas lights when you can zip-line and see them from the trees instead? For the adventuresome sort, Festival O’ Flights in Harpers Ferry, WV is exactly the way to do Christmas in an over-the-top way, literally. This zip-lining adventure tour combines a two-hour aerial tour in their illuminated Adventure Park, followed by a holiday hayride to take you to the canopy course in the trees just as night begins to fall, where you will then zip-line through lit up trees for three hours. Hot chocolate and granola bars will be provided in between activities. You will also receive a glow stick and t-shirt with your adventure package. The cost is $139 and the Festival O’ Flights takes place on Saturdays starting Dec. 14 – Jan. 4. The adventure starts at 1 p.m., but arrive 45 minutes early to check in and get set up. Distance from Fairfax: 53 Miles
Christmas on the Slopes
Combine your love of the Christmas season with your love of skiing for this holiday getaway. Wintergreen Resort not only has the Blue Ridge Mountains and ski packages to entice you, but plenty in the way of holiday celebrating. Santa will go slope-side to pass out candy canes and then take photos, Christmas cookies will be available for decorating and Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves will stop by for a visit, all this and more to make your stay memorable during the month of December at Wintergreen. Christmas kicks off at Wintergreen starting Dec. 21 with a holiday sing-a-long with folk musician Bill Wellington and the festivities continue straight through the New Year. Distance from Fairfax: 170 Miles
One gazelle died and a zebra attacked its keeper as chaos ensued Monday at the National Zoo.
A former city council candidate in Alexandria has been convicted of brandishing a weapon.
Wallops Island will host a student-built satellites launch tonight at 7:30 p.m.
$17 million from Google will be split amongst 37 states and D.C. after privacy claims.
Lorton Minnieland faces round two of abuse accusations.
The search for a new FBI headquarters trims down its options, but includes NoVA.
Fairfax library battle takes strides after book removal fiasco.
Posted by Eliana Reyes / Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
If turkey-baking and stuffing-making aren’t your thing, Northern Virginia restaurants can help.
Posted by Anthony Baracat / Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Other than listening to jazz in the waiting room of your Northern Virginia law firm, you might not find the fine arts scene and legal worlds too tightly woven. What’s more, you might not expect your defense attorney to, say, be the next big philanthropist.
Yet in its 12th year of existence, the Jazz 4 Justice concert—a charity co-chartered by the Fairfax Law Foundation’s Edward Weiner and George Mason University jazz professor Jim Carroll—can be found at the crossroads of these three unlikely communities: jazz, law and charity.
“We feel that the Jazz 4 Justice fundraising model is catching on,” says creator Edward Weiner, president of the Fairfax Bar Association’s Board of Directors, “that is, the partnering between law, bar associations and the music community. And usually, the music community is through a university.”
When Weiner, previously a casual jazz listener, took his family to their first GMU jazz concert more than 12 years ago, he was shocked at the low attendance yet intrigued by the performance. When he made the connection between his organization’s charitable work (in the form of low-cost legal services, domestic abuse and at-risk teen programs and tours for public school students) and Mason’s music department—less than a mile from his office—everything clicked. “It’s really been a win-win situation,” says Weiner.
And the benefits are not only community-wide. “I had never had an eye over the fence before I got involved with Jazz 4 Justice,” says Weiner, who has had the opportunity of being a guest conductor a number of times. “I was a very casual jazz listener and this has opened up a new musical world for me as well. I owe that to Jim Carroll—sitting through his jazz rehearsals—because when I would, in past years, be a guest conductor I really took it to heart…I would, for weeks before the performance say, “Hey, I gotta go! Gotta go to a rehearsal.”
“When you’re in a rehearsal room like that with such talented musicians–let me tell you–it’s pretty infectious.”
The concert has been so successful that people literally didn’t want to leave at first. So a few years ago, Carroll decided to let young jazz enthusiasts, between elementary and high school age, bring their instruments and actually “jam” with GMU student-performers in a post-concert session.
This year’s show, titled “Nothin’ But the Blues,” features the traditional George Mason student-performers as well as guest conductor and Fairfax Law Foundation President Al Bonin. “The jazz program now is attracting a higher quality student-performer,” Edward mentioned, and had very high praise of the 2013 musicians. “Without question, in my 13 years of listening to the jazz study performers [at GMU], this year’s students are far and away the most gifted and talented musicians.”
Proceeds go to the Fairfax Law Foundation’s numerous community charities, Mason’s Music Scholarship Fund and the occasional stolen instrument. Similar programs have been held at James Madison University and in Prince William, and are planned for D.C. and at Newport News’ Christopher Newport University on March 22, 2014.
Friday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m.
George Mason University Concert Hall
$20 adults, $15 seniors and students
Pieter Sheehan worked as a health inspector in Arizona, California, Missouri and for the past year: Fairfax. Besides inspecting restaurants, his public service includes calculating air quality at gas stations and preventing disease outbreaks at tattoo parlors. Today the 46-year-old rises at 5 for a bakery opening and ends with refereeing rugby. —Stefanie Gans
5:09 A.M. I am up. Feeding cats then off for a quick walk.
Still discovering new things about my neighborhood [on my route] of mile on Huntington Ave., from Richmond Hwy. to Telegraph Rd. and back.
It is dark out. I am listening to JT’s album “The 20/20 Experience.”
Juice is good, but I might leave broccoli out next time.
Need to hurry. Catching a bus to Huntington Metro in 5 mins!
6:15 A.M. On metro heading to Vienna (via L’Enfant Plz). Best part of the day! Sit back and read: “Rugby: The Player’s Handbook” I am a referee for a new club in area, DC Scandals.
7:06 A.M. Will get coffee at my local coffee house in Fairfax and then do an inspection of a breakfast eatery in Vienna.
I need to start early in field. We try to get to restaurants while they are operating.
7:08 A.M. The health department inspections are always unannounced.
7:13 A.M. Dark roast. Cream, no sugar.
7:30 A.M. We generally conduct two types of inspections. Risk-based inspections and routine inspections.
Risk-based are quicker inspections because the health inspector focuses on those areas in the operation that can lead to food borne illness. Food temperatures for example.
A routine inspection looks at risk-base items as well as GRPs (Good Retail Practices). GRPs are floors and walls for example.
This first inspection is a risk-base and should not take longer than 30-45 minutes.
There is approximately 27 categories a GRP violation can fall into. There are also 27 risk factor categories. Risk factor violations can lead to a food borne illness. Is food from approved source? Is potentially hazardous food kept at right temperature? Are good hygiene practices being followed?
9:03 A.M. Just arrived at office. Going into a Consumer Protection Program meeting. CPP is part of the Environmental Health Division and is responsible for food safety inspections. As well as hotel, daycare, pools, tattoo and massage parlors.
9:26 A.M. John’s Cafe. It is in the ICF building. There was no issues/violations during the inspection.
9:32 A.M. Mr. Jae Kim (owner of John’s Cafe) and I going over inspection form.
9:37 A.M. Inspection frequency depends on the risk category a facility is assessed to. There are 4 categories. A food facility can be inspected from 1 to 3 times a year.
10:51 A.M. About to head back into the field with District Standardization Officer (DSO). There are approximately 25 food inspectors. To ensure we are all doing uniform inspections, two DSOs are assigned to evaluate us during an inspection.
10:55 A.M. Debbie [Crabtree, the DSO] will be giving me feedback on aspects of an inspection.
10:57 A.M. Heading out. It is a Lebanese Mediterranean restaurant.
12:34 P.M. We look at the process of food handling and food processing at a restaurant. How food is received, stored, cooked, etc. If a restaurant has a lot of potentially hazardous food (PHF) we would be interested in how an operator is dealing with those food items. Examples of PHF are beef, chicken, seafood, cooked veggies, etc.
Debbie and I went to Al-Maza Restaurant in Fairfax City. Debbie gave me pointers on how best to conduct a standardized inspection.
We [review the menu] to ensure we focus our inspection on those foods and processes that are most relevant to public health.
We mark items IN, OUT, N/A or N/O … depending on the item number. It is important to distinguish between an item “not observed” or “not applicable”.
12:39 P.M. Being around food does not make me hungry. Guess I am use to it now.
12:40 P.M. I am back in office now. Lunch then giving a training on environmental health at 2 PM.
Basic lunch: Hommus and cucumber sandwich with cheese. Made it at home. Not too exciting!
I always bring my lunch. Honestly, I have never had a problem eating after an inspection.
1:57 P.M. We are conducting a training on environment health for another department. Department Code Compliance inspects zoning, property maintenance, building violations, etc.
3:21 P.M. Need to go out on a complaint.
4:28 P.M. Complaints come in usually by the Internet or someone in community calls with a concern. Complaints can be given anonymous or with a name. We respond to complaints usually within 48-72 hours.
The complaint I got was on a pizza restaurant that the pizza they ordered had a strong smell to it. It was an anonymous complaint so I could not ask them questions about the specifics. I checked when the last inspection was (June 25).
5:28 P.M. I just stopped in and did an inspection of temperatures, food quality and when PHF was received. It all checked out and there were no violations.
5:29 P.M. In route to office to check email and voice messages.
5:42 P.M. We use a database to manage our caseloads and permitting activities. Food safety is a community endeavor.
As restaurant customers we need to remember that hot food needs to be hot and cold food needs to be cold.
Ask a restaurant questions if you are unsure if food is not safe. Restaurant operators are very diligent about food safety. We support the community in ensuring that the food we eat is served safely.
An inspection is one component of a sound food safety regulatory program. Food safety education and outreach is an important factor also.
6:03 P.M. [Infractions I’ve seen today are] date marking, uncovered food in a walk-in cooler. Both were one or two items. The issues could be corrected while I was there.
6:19 P.M. I have witnessed imminent health hazards, [fire] of course. We respond to many restaurant fires after they have been put out.
We help assess food that needs to be thrown out, etc. I have never seen a restaurant that would not close after a fire.
The health department plays a huge role in emergency response activities, often after first responders like fire and police.
6:27 P.M. I am out for a while. Rugby. Need to get to Arlington. I practice refereeing [with] the club I belong to.
8:22 P.M. On Metro, Court House. Back to Huntington. A quick bite to eat.
9:16 P.M. Left over chili. I made it Tuesday…. slow cooker.
No TV. Shower then bed. Early morning tomorrow.
9:19 P.M. [I have] no problem sleeping. I get up early and am usually dragging by 9 PM
Edited for style and readability. Darn auto-correct.
Here is what you need to know in Northern Virginia today. Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress today to address flaws of the Affordable Care Act roll-out.
The Washington Post
A team of students from Thomas Jefferson for Science and Technology will have their first school-built satellite launched into spaced.
Woodbridge resident Michael McCarter has been charged for over 300 peeping cases that have terrorized the woman of Fairfax County.
Mars‘ Candy Heiress, Jacqueline Badger Mars, who was involved in a crash that resulted in the death of 86-year-old Irene Ellisor earlier this month, has been charged with reckless driving.
A vandal armed with a BB pellet gun has damaged over 60 cars in Centreville. Be on the lookout.
By Stefanie Gans
FOR: NUTELLA PIZZA
Avoiding the Mixing Bowl is normally priority number one in this horrifying environment of 24-hour traffic. But imagine—through brake lights, in-between-NPR-story instrumentals and re-routing GPS directions—a slathering of Nutella. It is warmed, melting into a soft crust. Bright green pops through the hazelnut choclatey spread as chopped pistachios bring a saltiness and snap. Floating atop, a layer of singed marshmallows, looking so dreamy a Care Bear could call this layer of clouds home. This is a showstopper dessert. It is not fancy. It’s not even original. But it is a fun eat. And that matters.
The rest of the menu at Osteria Marzano, opened this June, plays up the comforts of Italian-inspired food. There’s a housemade pasta with a cream sauce made brothy from mushrooms and a pizza that plays to the brunch crowd with softened, chunky potatoes, thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. Sitting in an office park near the Metro, in an area that could use a new place to eat and with a modern interior and comfortable food, Marzano is worth a try. But mostly, save room for dessert.
6361 Walker Lane, Suite 140; Alexandria; osteriamarzano.com
A revelation in Chinese cooking.
By Stefanie Gans
Go quickly to Peter Chang China Cafe. The chef—famed as much for his gorgeous food as for fleeing restaurants across the South—opened his eponymous Chinese restaurant in a strip mall north of downtown Fredericksburg in May.
The flavors have stayed put in the few months I have eaten at Chang’s restaurants, first at China Grill outside of Richmond in Glen Allen and then in Fredericksburg. I am late to the Chang game. I am a convert.
On the way to Fredericksburg—the three hours it took to slog down 95 from Alexandria one Saturday—I conned my friend into driving. I told her I’d entertain. Road trips usually require snacks, but when you’re driving to eat, other sustenance is necessary. I read her stories of Chang. Both The New Yorker and Oxford American ran articles devoted to the fandom of Chang in the March 2010 issues. I printed both out, including another from Garden & Gun’s first issue of 2013.
“I feel like we’re going to eat Jesus’ food,” my friend said after I read aloud the devotion, the hysteria, the obsession that is the cult of Chef Peter Chang.
Chang first started cooking in this country at the Chinese Embassy. And from there, he’s remained in the United States. He’s cooked in Fairfax (China Star), Alexandria (TemptAsia Cafe), again in Fairfax (Szechuan Boy), then Marietta, Ga. (Tasty China), Knoxville, Tenn. (Hong Kong House) and back to Virginia—first in Charlottesville (Peter Chang China Grill), Richmond (Peter Chang China Grill), Williamsburg (Peter Chang China Cafe) and now Fredericksburg (Peter Chang China Cafe), with all four Virginia locations currently open, serving mostly the same menu. General Lee, owner of the Chang restaurants, and “Peter’s babysitter,” will open a location in Virginia Beach by late November and is looking for space in Alexandria and Fairfax.
It’s not that working at multiple restaurants in a short span is unusual, it’s the speed in which Chang changed locations, and also the way it happened. He left without notice. He left quickly. He left in a way that seemed to haunt his followers. But Lee makes it clear this time is different: “If you made a half-million dollars a year, would you disappear?”
After eating Chang’s food, I’m not convinced the chase was the reason many became enamored with the chef. While the hunt, as any guide on romance will confirm, intoxicates, it is the beauty of the food that mesmerizes his devotees. It is the way fresh cilantro pairs with dried chilies and scallions, garnishing strands of tofu skin that become fettuccine. Silky, fresh, clean, dressed in searing heat. It is Chang’s wife Lisa’s recipe. Mary Lee, the general manager and General Lee’s wife, describes the process: when boiling soy beans, the skin rises to the surface, “like a piece of paper.” It dries, and when ordered, soaks in water to soften, and is then sliced and sauced.
But the heat isn’t everything, although heat junkies will be pleased. It’s the surprise of cumin-scented fish in a Chinese restaurant, located in a strip mall complex so large it can support both a Target and a Wal-Mart. The space in both Fredericksburg and Richmond feels completely ordinary—this is not fine dining, nor cheap eats—but it doesn’t actually matter. The way Chang manipulates fried fish into something that you could spread on cracker is what matters. The bamboo fish, an acclaimed staple in the chef’s armoire, rules the menu. It looks like fried fish—like fish and chips—but the texture feels as though the kitchen poached the fish in oil. (It is actually deep fried for 30 seconds, then placed in a dry wok, removing excess oil). The dish is a food writing cliché: It melts in your mouth. It arrives, as many dishes here do, with the cilantro-chili-scallion garnish and no sauce, unlike many American-Chinese dishes drowning in cornstarch-thickened gravy.
Not everything lives in hyperbole. A tea-smoked duck is dry, although abundantly smoky, and pork dumplings (T17 on the weekend dim sum menu) reveal a tough ball of pig. Misses are few.
Crispy pork belly turns into pork rinds, strips of pig so savory that it no longer tastes like pork. It tastes like everything, which is what we also thought about a red broth that carried orbs of fish, blended with tofu, as tender as matzah balls. The dish is not on the Fredericksburg menu, but when Chang is in the kitchen—as he ensures the stability of his newest restaurant—guests can request it.
When we could eat no more, even after paying the check, we continued slipping spoons into the broth, trying to figure out what was in there—and why we couldn’t stop.
“We’re basically drinking oil,” I said of the concoction of chicken broth and sesame and chili oils, but tasting like an algorithm of flavors Will Hunting couldn’t solve.
“Pretty much,” my friend said back. And we dipped our spoons in the oil again. And again.
Peter Chang China Cafe
Order the bamboo fish. Enjoy.
Appetizers: $3 – 12; Entrée: $9 – 20.
Daily for lunch and dinner.
1771 Carl D Silver Pkwy, Fredericksburg; peterchangschinese.com
By Meredith Minix
I recently worked an event in Fairfax interacting with people of all ages, from infants to grandparents. I was promoting health and wellness and talked a lot about body composition, healthy eating and exercise. During these two days I was, well, shocked at the number of overweight children.
I felt so badly for these kids and, quite frankly, for their parents, too, who were also overweight. This downward spiral has been coming for a long time and is caused by way too many factors for me to put on paper. But what I can do is educate you on what you and your family should be doing to get back on the right track.
The list below comes from the American College of Sports Medicine, and generally, when followed, will bring your body back to its healthy state:
- Cardiovascular exercise—150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
- Resistance training—Two to three days per week, each major muscle group (back, chest, legs) should be trained using a variety of exercises and equipment.
- Flexibility exercise—two to three days each week the muscles should be stretched (always stretch when warm).
- Neuromotor exercise—two to three days per week, 20-30 minutes, to include, but not limited to, balance, agility, coordination and posture work.
If this list is overwhelming to you it is because you are not moving. So begin moving gradually and increase your numbers until you are meeting these guidelines. Notice the differences in your body that happen during this period of time. You should see your sleep patterns change, your mood improve, your stress levels decrease, your resting heart rate become lower (meaning your heart muscle is getting stronger). Your cholesterol and blood pressure should also decrease, as well as, of course, your weight.
Take your health into your hands and thrive!
Meredith Minix is the owner of Fitness Together studios in Fairfax and Tysons. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure with an emphasis in Sports Fitness and Management. A married mother of three young children, Meredith excels at helping her clients juggle family, career and exercise –the balancing act of the 21st century! Find Meredith and her local Fitness Together colleagues at www.ftcustomfitness.com, follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FTCustomFitness) and on Twitter (@FTCustomFitness) to get their health tips and fitness news.