Jake Ziemba, a red-haired, glasses-wearing, 27-year-old novelist, has been writing fiction for the majority of his life. It’s a passion of his that he is determined to follow through with, even as he struggles with two diseases—overcoming one, while battling with another.
A graduate of Herndon High School, he wrote for his school paper and took creative writing classes. During a year-and-a-half stint at Northern Virginia Community College he focused on creative writing, also attending a George Mason University fiction seminar on the weekends. He transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, and while there he won the Undergraduate Fiction Award in spring 2011 for his story “The Proving Grounds.”
The diverse Herndon neighborhood where he resided influenced Ziemba’s second novel, “7th City,” which is due out in October. The book explores how people from various cultures struggle to work together in an urban environment. An indigenous aborigine tribe is absorbed into a global modern civilization, and three main characters struggle with acclimating to their new environment. The story takes place on a great land mass, back when all seven continents were pieced together, to form Pangea. The antagonist is the ancient technological city that consumes indigenous tribes, and the heroes of the story are in the last tribe that is about to be consumed.
This August, Ziemba has released the graphic novel “MT. OLYPHANT” with Christine Skelly, a fellow artist who illustrated the work. The story follows a mythology scholar who has a nervous breakdown and ends up waking in a mental hospital. The doctors give him shock-therapy and every few hours he sees the patients and staff members as figures from Greek mythology; the doctors appear as the twelve Olympian Gods. (The first issue is free on mtolyphant.com and there are eight issues total.)
Ziemba’s first novel is “The Yukon Glory,” a post-apocalyptic vampire tale, which was published in Sink/Swim Press by James Moffitt. While Ziemba was writing “The Yukon Glory,” at 17 years old he was diagnosed with PNH (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria), a bone marrow failure disorder. PNH affects one out of 1.3 million people; the average life expectancy is six to eight years.
“When I was diagnosed, I was terminally ill and housebound for one year, that’s when I wrote most of “The Yukon Glory.” I had an experimental stem cell transplant at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. My PNH has been cured for 7 years, but I developed Graft-versus-host disease, (a common complication that occurs from an allogeneic tissue transplant) which I still struggle with.” For every book that was sold of “The Yukon Glory” Ziemba contributed a dollar to the PNH Research and Support Foundation.
A humble and generous individual, he is definitely a novelist to keep an eye on. And for now, he writes, word by word, sentence by sentence, the ink spilling on the pages, his imagination at work for all to see.
Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 29th, 2014
By Susannah Black
Heritage Brewing Company throws a hop eating challenge tomorrow. [FB]
A new report reveals the gender pay gap is “particularly pronounced” within the restaurant industry, with some disparities being “nearly three dollars per hour.” [WaPo]
Port City Brewing Company releases its popular Oktoberfest brew, a traditional German-style lager, in the tasting room today. [Port City]
Sunset Hills Vineyard offers live music between 1:30-4:30 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday and weekend festivities include 40 percent off Sunset’s whites and rosés. [Sunset Hills Vineyard]
Trend alert: healthy fast food. [FirstWeFeast]
Beltway Brewing Company of Sterling hosts the Fidelis Beer Company launch party on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with the release its first brew: Farmhouse Ale, a rye saison. [Beltway Brewing Company]
Town of Herndon celebrates Labor Day with a festival including live entertainment, wine and microbrewery tastings and cooking demos with O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, Aanga and Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern. [Town of Herndon]
Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 18th, 2014
A continuation of new and almost opened restaurants in NoVA.
By Ariel Yong
Europa Restaurant is owned by Humberto Fuentes and is expected to open in Herndon by mid-September. Fuentes currently owns El Manantial in Reston but says he will close it once construction has finished for Europa. His new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant will focus on French cuisine and have a similar menu to the one at El Manantial’s. / 790 Station St., Herndon
Kobe House in Eden Center opened last month. This family business serves pho Kobe and will add Kobe steak to the menu in the future. / 6763 Wilson Boulevard, Store 6a, Falls Church
Natalie’s is a Vietnamese sandwich shop that is set to open in Fairfax in mid-October. In addition to the banh-mi-inspired sandwiches, it will also serve crepes and beignets. / 10407 Main St., Fairfax
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By Elke Thoms
Summertime means freedom from the cold weather dinner-and-a-movie staple, and for golf lovers, it’s an excuse to spend time with the person you love and the sport you love in the same evening. However, unless you happened to meet in the tee box, chances are your partner isn’t as big a golf fan as you are (and maybe that’s putting it nicely). Still, there are several nearby golf courses that promise to let you work on your swing, while providing enough entertainment for your significant other to forget that you’re actually golfing. The challenge is selecting the perfect golf course.
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For: globally inspired pizza
13047 Worldgate Drive, Herndon
Gleaming white subway tile. Funky swirling Edison bulbs. Herbs growing from wall planters. Chrome. Wood. Pizzanese brings all the modern restaurant design trends to a Herndon strip mall. It also collects the world’s flavors for personal pizzas. And with Tuesday’s BOGO promotion it’s easy take in a kimchi-chorizo-tandoori sauce pie. Most customers, says owner David Neal, chose to build their own, though there are set pies hinting at international affiliations. The Japanese Terimayo uses teriyaki-spiked mayo and nori flakes, but mozzarella and diced chicken bring you out of the Pacific. The Indian-themed pizza smells vaguely of the subcontinent’s spices, but it features mozzarella when paneer would continue the charade. The crust holds up well to the oven’s 600-degree heat and can handle multiple proteins and sauces, so best to concoct one yourself. This includes a dessert pie that you can load with peanut butter, Nutella and marshmallows.
Forget the slime and Southern stereotypes, there’s more to okra than Ghostbusters references and Paula Deen. —Stefanie Gans
Dr. Peter Venkman’s World
“When you hear okra, for me, you immediately think Southern,” says Brys Stephens. For others, though, they think slime. In his debut cookbook, “The New Southern Table,” the Alabama native dedicates his first chapter to the slender green vegetable and shows off okra in worldly preparations: with tomatoes and feta (Greek), cumin and chickpeas (Indian) and shoyu and wasabi (Japanese).
“It’s quirky and misunderstood,” says Stephens, and “there’s the slime thing that people worry about.” To avoid okra’s goo, Stephens recommends buying small pods, using dry, hot cooking methods for a short time (like roasting or grilling), and soaking it in a salt-vinegar solution to maintain a firm texture.
Long and slow recipes, like gumbo, take advantage of okra’s inner mucilage. By adding thinly sliced okra at the beginning of the recipe and “cooking it ‘til it’s literally blasted apart,” says Stephens, the okra will help thicken the stew just as a roux would. Just don’t cook it slow and wet to a pale green, says Stephens: it’ll “taste like canned asparagus.”
It takes seven different types of peppercorns to create the seasoning for Johnny Ray’s fried okra. At his almost year-old Herndon restaurant, Johnny Ray’s Sultry Soul Food, Ray grinds each type of peppercorn to a specific consistency, from extra fine to extra coarse. “I love everything that’s peppery,” says Ray, who bases his cornmeal-battered fried okra on his grandmother’s recipe. “I have to remind myself that not everyone loves pepper as much as I do.”
Tim Ma’s Thai okra started on Maple Ave Restaurant’s menu when it opened four years ago. But okra wasn’t Ma’s first attempt at a fried snack. He tried shredded cabbage, but the strands kept slipping through the fry basket. It was, he says, “the biggest fail.” So Ma, and his wife and co-owner Joey Hernandez, brainstormed about what else would caramelize well. They experimented with okra because it turns very sweet—right before it reveals itself as very bitter—when fried. What makes this cult favorite dish something Ma says, “he can’t take off the menu,” is its sugary coating cut with limes, Thai chilies and fish sauce. The dressing is a riff on the sauce served with crispy spring rolls at Ma’s favorite (mostly because of proximity) Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Thang Long. The okra tastes candy-like and, says Ma, “it’s the most surprising dish” at his Vienna restaurant.
By Micaela Williamson
From funnel cakes to livestock, fire trucks to LEGO trains, August is packed with fairs to delight every interest and age level.
Fairfax County 4H Fair and Carnival
July 30-Aug. 2, 2014
The grounds of Fairfax County’s favorite farm becomes filled with contests, farm animals, carnival rides, and more. Families will love the free admission and so many interactive educational exhibits. Friday night at the fair is Big Truck Night, and kids can climb all over the biggest and coolest vehicles Fairfax County has to offer.
Friendship Firehouse Festival
Aug. 2, 2014
This popular family event includes outdoor exhibits, museum admission, antique fire apparatus, craft booths, entertainment and more. All children receive free helmets and The Alexandria Fire Department invites them aboard for a supervised visit inside the trucks.
Aug. 2-3, 2014
LEGO fans and master builders take over the Dulles Expo Center with mind-boggling displays, models, trains, vendors, LEGO paraphernalia and plenty of hands-on activities for kids and adults alike. We recommend skipping the line by getting advance tickets online.
Arlington County Fair
Aug. 6-10, 2014
Amongst the urban sprawl, this fun-filled event has competitive exhibits, farm animals, community vendors, carnival rides, and lots of live entertainment. Additional events include a family-friendly 5K race and a nightly line up of outdoor movies featuring the fan favorites Frozen and The Lego Movie.
Prince William County Fair
Aug. 8-16, 2014
This highly regarded county fair is always a hit and includes attractions such as midway rides, vendors, interactive community booths, animals, and lots of live entertainment. Have some old-fashioned country fun by watching a tractor pull or rodeo, or the adrenaline pumping monster trucks and demolition derby. Check the website for daily schedules, coupons, and discount days.
The Lucketts Fair
Aug. 17-18, 2014
The Lucketts Fair caters to families and kids. There is true country fun with over 100 artisans and crafters, giant produce, homemade food and wholesome live entertainment. Children will be pleased to pet animals, ride ponies, and participate in a-day-on-the-farm activities. This fair is a must for any aspiring little farmer.
National Book Festival
Aug. 30, 2014
For the first time ever, the annual National Book Festival is moving indoors to the Washington Convention Center. The event is bursting with famous authors, live readings, book signings, and hands-on family activities. Before you go, download the special festival guide for kids and teachers online.
Micaela Williamson is a co-author of local travel guide, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.
Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
By Jessica Godart
Looking for the best time this Independence Day? This round-up of NoVA festivals and fireworks range from Circus shows to ’80′s themes and contests and more. Celebrate America’s big day the way you want with your pick of celebrations.
Starting off with a morning parade at 10, Historic Downtown Leesburg will celebrate America’s birthday with American Originals Fife and Drum Corps and plenty of walking participants ranging from dancers to classic cars and a roller derby group.
Twisting it up this year, the town will also be spinning by to ’80’s with their themed banners, music, signs and bright atmosphere. Eighties tribute band, The Breakfast Club, will be performing Friday evening in Leesburg as part of the celebrations. The band is known for their embodiment of the MTV generation in the decade. Festival goers are encouraged to dress as retro as they can to participate in the theme.
A food court of festival favorites such as ice cream, grilled food, sweets and funnel cakes will also be set up during the celebration. Music will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
Fourth of July Celebration
25 West Market Street
Set up for couples who would like to celebrate the anniversary with a little mood lighting, Mansion Lawn at Morven Park will be lit up for the fourth. Catering by Vintage will provide light snacks and refreshments for visitors as they set up blankets and chairs throughout the lawn.
Fireworks and Romance
17263 Southern Planter Ln.
Old Town Herndon is known for its big celebrations, and the Fourth of July is no exception. Starting at 6:30 p.m., kids, parents and friends will have the chance to take part in free face painting, bingo, crafts and more at Bready Park. The Plaids Band begins playing at 7 p.m. as festival food and drinks will be arranged for attendees.
The celebration is meant for all ages, and this year Herndon will not only be celebrating Independence Day but will also be hosting the grand opening of the new playground in Bready Park.
Fireworks will begin at dark and are uniquely choreographed to music.
Pyrotechnics company, Zambelli Fireworks, will be choreographing the firework show to music selected by staff at the Herndon Community Center. Rock music mixed with patriotic grooves will be in sync with the fireworks to the point where some of the shapes of the explosives go along with the lyrics to the songs.
Old Town Herndon Celebration
814 Ferndale Ave.
Watermelon, apple pies and fireworks – oh my! Historic Manassas will host an evening of competitions and celebration as the sun goes down and attendees prepare for fireworks.
Located in the area surrounding the train depot, Harris Pavilion and Manassas Museum, the part starts at 4 p.m. and goes till 10 p.m. with an explosion of fireworks lighting the sky at 9:15 p.m.
If sitting around and waiting isn’t your style, register today for the apple pie-baking contest; the top three winners will receive a gift card from Historic Downtown Manassas (First place- $100, Second place – $75, Third place – $50). There will also be a watermelon eating contest at 5 p.m. in the pavilion where hungry celebrators will chow down till there’s only one winner left.
For kids less interested in the sweets or fruits, they can decorate their bikes in red, white and blue and prizes will be given out for best decorations.
With a great, open area historical Manassas will light up just right to show off its beauty as the nation celebrates the Fourth.
Old Town Manassas Fireworks
9431 West St.
From pooches to antique car, the Vienna Community Center will be full of activities as they ring in the Fourth. Starting at 11 a.m., the festival will feature the Vienna Community Band, arts and crafts, chili cook-off, a car show, one-ring circus and not to mention the Pooches on Parade. Pets will be dressed in costumes and paraded proudly through Caffi Infield. This will only be the second year the puppy parade has come to the festival, but the parade will offer a wading pool and sprinkler set up specifically for the pooches.
The Old Bay Circus Show will be performing for the first time at the festival. A great family-oriented show, the circus was brought to the festival with the children that attend in mind.
The fireworks scheduled to set off at 9:15 p.m. will be located at Southside Park, a short bike ride or drive from Vienna Community Center.
July 4th Festival and Fireworks Show
120 Cherry St SE
Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
By Ariel Yong
Looking for World Cup-inspired drinks while you watch the games? Here are 6 local places with drinks to get you in the soccer spirit.
What: The Red, White and Blue Cocktail is a combination of Leblon Cachaça, VeeV Açaí berry liqueur, raspberry puree and lime juice, served over ice and topped with sweet lime foam and fresh blueberries
When: Offered during televised games from June 12 to July 13
Where: 4021 Campbell Avenue, Arlington
GRAFTON STREET RESTAURANT & IRISH PUB
What: “World Cup Spotlight Beers” which include Dos Equis, Newcastle Brown Ale, Heineken Lager and Kilkenny Irish Ale
When: Offered during televised games from June 12 to July 13
Where: 7380 Atlas Walk Way, Gainesville
By Robby Osborne
Golf is often considered the sport of leisure, but its also has a reputation as the crossroads of business, where titans of industry can comfortably craft deals away from the boardroom.
With such nuanced negotiations afoot, it’s important to on top of your game. Here are two public courses to sharpen your skills on the links.
With undulating greens and gently rolling fairways, this par 71 course is something special. The grounds include a driving range full of 14 hitting stations, a 11,000-square-foot putting green and a full set of target pins in the chipping area.
Herndon Centennial recently completed an extensive renovation, with retooled sand bunkers, an improved the driving range and made the course overall better suited for rain. If you find that 18 holes works up an appetite, there’s award-winning food and beverage service provided by JJ’s Deli.
Herndon Centennial Golf Course
909 Ferndale Ave, Herndon/herndongolf.com
13 miles outside Fairfax; $33 on Weekdays, $47 on Weekends
While a par 72 championship golf course may seem intimidating to first-timers, the Gauntlet presents a fun challenge, regardless of skill level. The course itself was designed by P.B. Dye, who has crafted more than 30 courses.
Most of the holes are target-oriented, rather than straight forward, so spending time on the driving range and mastering that hook shot would be time well spent. The signature hole (No. 4) is considered unforgiving with a green ringed by water hazards.
This app is a must-have for golfers, as more courses catch up to the 21st century, so must golfers. This app acts as a digital yardage book, includes a built in digital score card, sends news, events and promotions, and depending on the golf course, allows you to set up your tee time directly from the app.