Posts Tagged ‘Vienna’

Curry Mantra 2 and Curry Mantra 3 Closing; Asad Sheikh Opening New Indian Restaurant in Arlington

Posted by Editorial / Monday, October 27th, 2014

Curry Mantra & Curry Mantra 2

Curry Mantra & Curry Mantra 2

By Stefanie Gans

“My goal is to go big now,” says Asad Sheikh. The owner of the Curry Mantra chain of Indian restaurants is closing Curry Mantra 2 in Falls Church and Curry Mantra 3 in Vienna to open a bigger, more upscale restaurant in Rosslyn.  

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Hungry for Linkage: Oh Hi Pumpkin Panang Pizza + Plaka Grill Moves + Tallula and EatBar Close

Posted by Editorial / Monday, October 27th, 2014

Photo courtesy of Astro Doughnuts

Photo courtesy of Astro Doughnuts

By Stefanie Gans

Pumpkin + Panang Chili Sauce + Pizza. Thank Ashburn‘s Apinya Thai Food Company. [WJLA]

Vienna‘s Plaka Grill to move to Falls Church by the end of the year. [FCT]

Hollywood loves food too: 11 foodie movies from the last three years. [Atlanta]

The 2015 trend-casting starts, with visions of “spicier and funkier” Asian food; “cannabis will move beyond pot brownies”; and hop-free beers. [Food Navigator]

Tallula and EatBar closed on Sunday. 

Be everyone’s best friend when you pick up (October 30-31) a dozen Halloween-themed min-doughnuts ($20) from Astro Doughnuts food truck stationed in Arlington, flavors include: crème brûlée, PB&J, Nutella glazed with jimmies and vanilla glazed with candy toppings of Kit Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Snickers. 

Opening Next Year: Chase the Submarine, A Joint Venture from Maple Ave Restaurant and Caffe Amouri

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez/ Under a Bushel Photography

Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez/ Under a Bushel Photography

By Stefanie Gans

Two of Vienna’s power players in the food-and-drink world will combine to launch a sandwich shop and butchery, set to open early next fall. Chase the Submarine, from Michael Amouri of Caffe Amouri and Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant, will be what Ma calls a modern deli, plus a small butchery operation.

“I think we just started talking because we opened [businesses] around the same time,” Ma says of his partnership with Amouri. Ma began selling Amouri’s coffee at his restaurants and then the two became friends. “He’s a big idea man,” Ma says of Amouri, describing their friendly rap sessions centered around restaurant premises, finishing sentences of “wouldn’t this be cool?”

At the same time, Ma and his wife and partner Joey Hernandez we’re looking to open a fast, casual spot. “I’m not good at tacos,” jokes Ma, and so with sandwiches there’s room for creativity. 

>>Draft menu after the jump

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Beer N Black on Their Sound, Their Environment and Their Upcoming Show

Posted by Editorial / Friday, September 5th, 2014

By Andy Tran

Last week, we had the chance to sit down with Beer N Black, a Vienna-based hip-hop group composed of JRock and Tweeter. They have a show coming up at Jammin’ Java on Sept. 6 with local artist Bo Jankans, along with DJ Ragz and Kane Mayfield. Expect the group to give a high-energy, crowd engaging set. They have West Coast cadences with a bit of Southern twang, impeccable rhyme schemes, and the mindsets of Deejays in the way they control the crowd with their bombastic beats and colorful lyrics. 

I see that you guys are great friends; can you give me the story of how you bonded and developed your group?

JRock: We first met before college, but we didn’t know each other, we were playing basketball. He thought he was really good, real flashy. I was guarding him and I scratched his arm. Fast forward, second semester at CNU, we both pledged at the same fraternity PI Lambda PHI, and from there when you’re in your own pledge class, we were forced to depend on each other during the pledging process. We started being partners in beer pong and we went to the same classes, and always being with each other, having each other’s back, that all developed our friendship. Also after college we ended up being roommates.

Tweeter: I’m from Madison in the mountains in Virginia. The Walmart is 21 miles away. And I know that because my father walked from there and all the way back home. It’s a country area. I can say I’ve always been into urban things. I didn’t really listen to hip hop when I was growing up, but the first time I really ever got into hip hop I listened to Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise.” Before that, I was listening to a lot of blues—BB King and 70’s soul a lot of Marvin Gaye.  I had no idea that I could rap until my friend rhymed about my sister, and I freestyled back to him and crushed it. At the time our friend Big Dave had passed away from cancer and it was a huge blow to me. We were both invested in hip hop, and when he passed hip hop grew serious for me. Marty Diggs is the first guy we ever rapped with on a song called “Smart Guy.” And then the first ever show we did was with him and the whole set was sick. Last month, at Jammin’ Java, we gave him a three-song set and he came over and crushed it.

What was it like to open for Pusha T at Echo Stage last summer? And how did you find the opportunity?

JRock: The opportunity was awesome. We got a connect from my guy Chris and he knew a guy who does promo named Jamal. He listened to our music and asked us [if] we can get around 200 people for the show. We ended up getting 300. So we went there and did our promo, talked to fans from Richmond and North Carolina, a lot of people came to support us from Charlotte. We learned no matter how large the show is, you have to adapt to the situation and the environment. We were supposed to do a 30-minute set, and we ended up doing a 10-minute set. But it was still a great opportunity to play in front of 1,100 people, at a great venue. We got the chance to get exposure, but we felt our fans wanted more from the experience.

How did you guys come up with the name Beer N Black?

Tweeter: Basically every Thursday night after college we were in that limbo space when we would smoke some Black & Milds, go out to bars and drink, and go to work on Friday hungover. So we would be in a room, smoking and drinking, hanging out, listening to beats and think up of songs. Beer and Black & Milds were a huge influence in forming the name. We just said we drink beer; we smoke blacks, that’s what we do, that’s our name.

Does Northern Virginia influence your sound? Has Vienna inspired any of your songs?

JRock: I would say that Northern Virginia embraces our style, more than influences it. We made the same sound, since we began until now, and we’ve improved our skills. We used to have a party background, I think this area is full of people who went to college, who kinda party but are going through that transition with having babies, going to jobs, paying bills. Our group and our audience have transitioned with us. We’re young professional people facing the same things they are.




Panty Droppers is the new album, what was the process in creating it? Such as writing lyrics, producing tracks, and recording songs?

JRock: It actually is four songs, and they were done for our full-length album. But then we decided not to put so many love-tracks on it. They’re all about women; all focused on them, what we love about them … our women. Our process is all in home studios. We’re big on doing things ourselves. Up to this point we’ve done independent home-based recordings. But that will change in the next week and a half. Before we were doing the grunt work, making sure the sound levels were checked. Maybe it’s better for other people doing the sound balancing, and if people show us a professional ear.


Jammin Java
227 Maple Ave. E, Vienna
September 6 @ 10 p.m.

Out of Chaos, Order by Design

By Jennifer Shapira

Birch & Platinum elfa décor study wall from the Container Store.

Birch & Platinum elfa décor study wall from the Container Store. Photo courtesy of the Container Store

The result of Kacy Paide’s work is often evident in tears of happiness and in grateful hugs. Paide, an organizing expert at The Inspired Office, helps clients tackle the insurmountable. But once they learn to take control of an aspect of their life, that realization is thrilling and reciprocal.

“I worked with a woman a couple years ago who won a couple of hours of my time at an auction. I walked in, and it was a really, really big project in a small apartment. Paper everywhere, kind of like a hoarder situation,” Paide recalls, “and I said: ‘OK. With the two hours we have, where do you want to use me?’ And she said: ‘With the paper in my dining room.’”

Taking baby steps, Paide devised a system that the woman could use for collecting bills and action projects; “I think I left her with five color-coded file folders. And she hugged me. She had tears in her eyes and she said: ‘I have hope for the first time in my life.’ And that was my happiest moment as an organizer because it wasn’t about the room looking different, it was that she took the first step and she saw the great change that could happen in her life from just a tiny change that we made in those two hours.”

Driftwood & White elfa Walk-In Pantry from the Container Store. elfa melamine and ventilated shelves make room for everything from canned goods to kitchen appliances, and smooth-gliding drawers with translucent label holders provide storage space for linens, paper goods or recyclables.

Driftwood & White elfa Walk-In Pantry from the Container Store. elfa melamine and ventilated shelves make room for everything from canned goods to kitchen appliances, and smooth-gliding drawers with translucent label holders provide storage space for linens, paper goods or recyclables. Photo courtesy of the Container Store

Paide specializes in taking control of cluttered home offices, but she’s also tamed a nature-loving woman’s unruly collection of animal pelts in Pittsburgh and restored order to an electrical engineer’s unsightly Northern Virginia desktop/office thanks to a desperate call from his company’s HR department. And while those jobs may be extreme organizing, on a day-to-day basis Paide works with new clients and checks up on others, sometimes via Skype in far-flung states (California, Idaho) and countries (United Kingdom, Finland).

“There’s so much variety in what I do. I meet so many different people,” says Paide. “I always like to say: disorganization does not discriminate. All socio-economic classes—male, female; young people, old people—you name it. It’s like a great equalizer.”


Office Order
Closer to home, Paide recently helped with Tecla Murphy’s before and after home office renovation in Arlington. Murphy’s previous space had been a hodgepodge of furniture: two mismatched desks, utilitarian but underutilized filing cabinets and an outdated desk chair. Not unlike most situations Paide regularly walks into, bulging folders, papers and office supplies were strewn across all surfaces. She methodically set about trashing, recycling and filing, taking care to note what would make the transition from old office to new.

Paide credits Murphy with the wise decision to involve her before the carpenter started the renovation so she could purge as much as possible before the streamlined space was built out. She helped account for a tailored and accurate number of clever niches, from out-in-the-open mail slots to hidden cabinet space. On the opposite wall sits one very long, uninterrupted multi-use desk, which doubles as a dedicated spot for children to do their homework.

Murphy set about transforming more than just her workspace; she was eager to increase her total body wellness. So, at the suggestion of her physical therapist, she added a temporary platform desk from Vienna-based Stand Steady to her desktop to encourage her to sit less while she was in the office working.   

“After [the home office] was totally built out and beautiful, I went back and we did another session where we put everything back together again,” says Paide.

DIY home organization.

Janice Rasmussen transformed a boy’s bedroom into a home office.

Creative Corners
A trained eye helps when carving out niches in the home to make room for order, but so does creativity.

Professional organizer Melanie Patt-Corner’s dining room also functions as her home’s library, making it the perfect backdrop for book club. From what she has seen throughout working in many homes, dining rooms are often underused. It’s no exaggeration to say she can count on one hand the number of times she’s been ask to organize a dining room. So she took that idea and applied it to her own home in Cabin John, Maryland.

Though she doesn’t fully employ the Dewey Decimal System, she admits her shelves are modeled on it. All fiction is alphabetical by author. And there’s a section on gardening; one on poetry; another on pre-Raphaelite art history, her favorite subject.

“I’m constantly reorganizing them and getting rid of old books,” she says. If a book “doesn’t pass muster for the dining room,” it gets shelved in her husband’s study.

Experts agree, creative uses of space is not rocket science; it’s about maximizing how you live in your home.

Professional organizer Janice Rasmussen recently made over a boy’s bedroom into a home office. After the son left for college, his desk was rehabbed with new drawer pulls, the room got a paint job and new lighting fixtures. His twin bed was sold on Craigslist and replaced with a daybed. The newly organized bookshelves and closet are shared between mother and son, but day-to-day, the space is wholly hers.

“It was really just depersonalizing the child aspect of it and making it more adult-oriented,” says Rasmussen, “which is why [along with painting and changing fixtures] we used artwork that was important to her. The room could function in a whole new way and when her son comes back home, he still sleeps in his bedroom.”

Rasmussen is also currently working on a niche carved from a previously underutilized family room closet. That pocket of space is being turned into a home office zone for the family, with a zebrawood melamine countertop and shelving from the Container Store’s elfa line. The family had removed the closet doors, and bookshelves held the children’s toys, but now the space has a new purpose and requires an uncluttered and more adult look and feel.


DIY Home Organization

C. Lee Cawley decluttered this home office. Photo courtesy of C. Lee Cawley.

Be Kind to Your Future Self
From her experience, Paide cautions, most people don’t sort through the “nitty-gritty” before a renovation, and they end up cluttering the new space with items that should have been trashed or recycled.

Do the heavy lifting first and the weight will be off your shoulders. You’ll be more likely to appreciate and keep up with the newly ordered space.  

The same goes for tackling any project, no matter how large or small. It might seem like common sense: experts say if you have five minutes, start something that you can finish in five minutes. If you have 30 minutes, stay focused for that time on a particular task. It doesn’t matter what the task is. What matters is what will make the most difference to you.  

Professional organizer C. Lee Cawley, of Simplify You, Inc., helps clients take to that concept with an oft-quoted mantra: Be kind to your future self. “It’s the idea of: What’s in it for me?”

That is, in a moment of exhaustion, it might seem like a hassle to hang your keys on their designated hook, she says. “But in the morning, when you don’t have to spend time looking for them, you’ll thank yourself.”  


Have a Few Minutes, an Hour, a Weekend? Get Organized

First-Hand Success 


(August 2014)

Have a Few Minutes, an Hour, a Weekend? Get Organized

DIY Organization at Home.

Photo courtesy of Elena Elisseeva/

Whether you have one minute or five, an hour or an afternoon, local professionals offer their tips to help you get organized. Consider their suggestions, try them out, get inspired—but remember that staying on task for a block of time is the key to accomplishment.

If you have five minutes:
Look around the space you are sitting in. What is the biggest eyesore? What is causing the most stress? Ask yourself what you can add or eliminate now to make it more functional or beautiful. –Kacy Paide

When I give talks, I always take a roll of empty paper towel roll with me and I say look through the roll, anything you see through that roll you can do in five minutes. It helps them focus on one tiny little area, so they don’t get overwhelmed. –Melanie Patt-Corner

Take charge of one shelf in your refrigerator. Take everything out and wash the shelf. Only put back the things that haven’t expired or aren’t moldy or ruined. Sometimes people get carried away and they’ll do a second shelf. –Melanie Patt-Corner

If you have 15 minutes:
Ask yourself what would give you the most immediate relief right now? This can be as small as a pencil cup or corner of the countertop. Zero in on clearing that space by tossing, trashing or moving things to other parts of the home or office that don’t belong. –Kacy Paide

If you have 30 minutes:
Empty out a junk drawer and organize it. Use little boxes or plastic trays to contain small objects, and throw out all the little twist ties, old used-up pens and pencils and dead rubber bands. –Melanie Patt-Corner

Walk through your whole house with a laundry basket and fill it with items you don’t want anymore. Then bag them up and immediately put them in your car to donate. A lot of people have no trouble gathering up bags of things to donate. But then they leave them in the living room or basement for six months, which defeats the purpose. You want to get those bags of donations out of your house within 24 hours, or you will lose momentum and they will become part of the ongoing clutter. –Melanie Patt-Corner

If you have an hour:
Clean out your coat closet. Take everything out, and only put back what you wore this winter. Hang a pocket organizer on the inside of the closet door to organize mittens, gloves and small objects. Put baskets or bins or a small shelf on the closet floor to hold boots and shoes. Separate the shoes by owner, with a different basket or shelf for each person. –Melanie Patt-Corner

If you have an afternoon:
Toss. Toss. Toss. Challenge yourself to eliminate anything in your home or office that is useless, broken or ugly. Start with the low hanging fruit. Determine where the highest concentration of trash or donations are lurking and start there. –Kacy Paide

If you have a weekend:
Do a whole clothes closet. Take everything out of the closet, put all the clothes on the bed and only hang up things you have worn in the past one or two years and that still fit you. Put everything else in bags and donate them. It’s OK to keep a fancy dress or outfit that you only wear now and then as long as it still fits you. Don’t forget to go through all of your purses and shoes and larger totes as well. Don’t keep something just because you spent a lot of money on it; if you’ve never used it, will never use it or hate it, get rid of it. I organize clothes by season, and then within the season, by type of clothing and then by color. –Melanie Patt-Corner

(August 2014)

Water Pups

Just as humans take to the water in sweltering heat, dogs want a part of the action, too.

By Kate Masters

How to Keep Your Pets Cool and Hydrated this Summer.

Photo courtesy of Franklin Park Staff.

While fetch is fun and it’s hard to beat a nice walk in the park, swimming might take top dog in terms of canine cardio. According to Roger Collins, the owner and operator of the Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center in Middleburg, there are wide-ranging health benefits for dogs that swim regularly, from increased muscle tone to pain relief.

For younger, healthy dogs, swimming can provide an invigorating break from their normal exercise routine or regularly supplement their daily activity. For older dogs, the benefits might be even greater. Collins says that water eases arthritis and joint pain in geriatric dogs by giving them a greater range of mobility, and rebuilds muscle much faster than walking or running. Swimming can even help dogs with degenerative neuromuscular diseases, slowing deterioration and providing a level of activity that improves their outlook on life.

Despite their shaggy exteriors, most dogs take like ducks to water—if they’re given the opportunity to develop their skills. Veronica Sanchez, a trainer and behavior consultant at Cooperative Paws in Vienna, says that breeds like Labradors and Newfoundlands were bred to work in the water and usually jump right in with little to no prompting. With other breeds, it’s not so easy. Dobermans don’t particularly enjoy the water, nor do many lap-dog breeds. In cases like these, Collins says pups need time to build confidence before they embrace the doggy paddle.

How to Keep Your Pets Cool and Hydrated this Summer.

Photo courtesy of Michelle P. Long.

“All dogs have the instinct to swim, but it needs to be developed,” Collins says. “Dogs suddenly introduced or thrown in will panic.” Collins and Sanchez recommend training reluctant dogs in calm, shallow areas of water to make them feel more comfortable.

“Tossing toys or offering treats when the dog walks into a shallow area can help build confidence,” Sanchez says. “It can also help if the owner enters the water first, or if the dog has a canine friend that is happy to play in the water.”

Whether they’re novice paddlers or seasoned swimmers, Collins says that a dog’s safety in the water depends on their owner’s common sense. “Some people think dogs can swim forever, but they do get exhausted,” he says. “You have to consider a dog’s limitations and keep them away from areas frequented by non-dog owners,” such as boat camps and crowded beaches, where broken glass can litter the ground, as well as fishing grounds where dogs can get caught on broken lines or stray hooks. Collins also says it’s important to watch out for dirty water—since all dogs drink while they swim, it’s up to the owner to check the site’s water quality.

Pooch swimming is all about safety, and Virginia’s sweltering summers present the perfect opportunity to warm dogs up to water. With a little owner oversight and a doggy life vest, pups can swim anywhere their humans would, and enjoy it just as much.

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Road, Lorton; 703-339-2385
Mason Neck is known for bald eagle conservation, but the beach may overshadow the birds for water-loving pups. Take the Bay View Trail for easy access to Belmont Bay, an ideal inlet for doggy paddling.

Prince William Forest Park
18100 Park Headquarters Road, Triangle; 703-221-4706
Prince William Park protects some of the earliest settled land in American history, and visitors can find centuries of history hidden along its forested paths. Explore sites like an abandoned pyrite mine while Fido splashes through brooks and pools formed by industrious beaver colonies.

Leesylvania State Park
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive, Woodbridge; 703-730-8205
You can’t get more Virginia than Leesylvania State Park, the ancestral home of the Lee and Fairfax families. Head to Freestone Point Beach at the northern tip of the park for a sandy strip of Potomac shore, perfect for wading or a few rounds of fetch.

Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center
35469 Millville Road, Middleburg; 540-687-6816
Ideal for swimming beginners, the Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center offers a safe environment for dogs to adjust to the water. The Center offers year-round training, conditioning, and rehabilitation sessions for dogs in their two indoor swimming pools, where owners can guide their canine friends through the water with a chest harness and lead.

Pup ’N Iron
21 Perchwood Drive, Unit 111, Fredericksburg; 540-659-7614
Besides training, fitness and wellness services, Pup’N Iron in Fredericksburg also offer a heated hydrotherapy pool for dogs with injuries or mobility issues. Healthy dogs are also free to make a splash—the facility offers Fun and Fitness sessions where owners can play in the pool with their pups.

Shirlington Dog Park
2601 S. Arlington Mill Drive, Arlington; 703-228-6525
The Shirlington Dog Park offers its furry visitors unique access to a creek that runs alongside the main play area. Pups can wet their paws in the shallow areas near the bank, or enjoy a full-fledged swim in the deeper areas by the creek’s waterfall.


Pools Offering Dog Swim Days

Atlantis Waterpark
7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville

Pirate’s Cove Waterpark
6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton

Ocean Dunes Waterpark
6060 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Great Waves Waterpark
4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria

Volcano Island Waterpark
47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling
While the parks haven’t set an official date for their dog swim days, they’re traditionally held on the Saturday after Labor Day.

Larry Weeks Community Pools at Vint Hill
4248 Bludau Drive, Warrenton
The pool will hold a Doggy Swim Pool Party on September 6 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

A.V. Symington Aquatic Center
80 Ida Lee Drive NW, Leesburg
Swim day scheduled for September 6.

Lovettsville Community Center Pool
57 E. Broad Way, Lovettsville

Franklin Park Pool
17501 Franklin Park Road, Purcellville
Weekend of September 13, usually 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Veterans Memorial Park
14300 Featherstone Road, Woodbridge
The pooch plunge is held the weekend after the pool closes.

Curtis Park Pool
58 Jesse Curtis Lane, Stafford
Curtis Park is holding a Drool in the Pool event on September 6 from 10 a.m.–noon.

(August 2014)

Lili The First

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Lili The First.

Photo by Mollie Tobias.

Destination: Don’t blink or you might miss it.  This quiet boutique is disguised amongst the hustle of downtown Vienna, sitting adjacent to Polo Seafood House (formerly Marco Polo restaurant) in a small quaint looking building off  of Maple Avenue.

Lili the First.

Photo by Mollie Tobias.

Atmosphere: Walking into the store is like walking into a cozy living room. There is wood flooring, a wide-open center, a couch, coffee table and beautiful female-inspired art that hangs on the walls—all designed to help relieve the stress of everyday shopping and create an intimate shopping experience.    

Bread and Butter: All the items of the store are handpicked by storeowner, Ifat Pridan, who strives to bring specialty one-of-a-kind pieces from around the world to women in Northern Virginia. The pieces in the store are colorful, feminine and full of flare; they include office, casual and formal-wear as well as accessories. Most of the store items are made by designers in Pridan’s home: Israel; although, she is always looking for new designers and has pieces coming from Australia, England, Italy and around the United States.

Sweet Surprise: On top of the coffee table neighboring the usual fashion magazines is a handmade book by Pridan with information on all the designers in the store. Pridan prides herself on trying to personally get to know every designer in the store. She can tell you where they started, how they make their pieces and other need to know tidbits.

Fiercest Fan: Women who crave extraordinary style with a desire to dress in a sophisticated and trendsetting manner. The pieces have a “funky flare” to them says Pridan, who realizes the clothes are not for everyone, but for those who are after a unique style.

Blows to the Budget: Prices run anywhere from $35-$700 depending on the origin, designer and material of the piece. —Helen Ray

Destination: Lili The First
101 Pleasant St. NW, Vienna;

(July 2014)

Singer, songwriter and teacher, Natalie York, returns to Jammin’ Java

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

York performing. Photo by Luis Ruiz.

Photo by Luis Ruiz.

By Jessica Godart

After a three-week Spring tour promoting her newest album, Promises,’ Vienna-native Natalie York returns to her hometown on Saturday, Aug. 2 to rock Jammin’ Java.

The venue is a bit of a change of pace to the New York artist who finished her tour after visiting cities such as Philadelphia, Arlington, Waynesboro, Norfolk, Durham, Knoxville, Nashville, Indianapolis and Chicago. Even after her first tour, though, York is still excited to play in Vienna.

“Not everywhere I get to play is full of people who have known me my whole life and that’s more special,” says York.

The 25-year-old singer-songwriter looks forward to showcasing some new covers at the concert also, saying that the songs will be well-known, but with her own sound to them.

“I always try to put my own spin [on covers],” she says. “It’s always nice after a break to get back in.” ‘Promises’ was released earlier this year in January.

York’s summer break has been anything but, though. She has spent the past several months working as a teacher for high school students attending the University of Virginia (UVA) Young Writers Workshop summer program held at the Sweet Briar College campus.

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

“It was such a treat to come back to that program from the other side and get to teach some really amazing young writers,” York says.

York’s sessions focused on songwriting, the same class she participated in for the four summers she attended the workshop, stating that it’s “where [she] became a songwriter,” she also explained that she attended the workshop “not really even knowing [she] was a songwriter.”

Jammin’ Java attendees will be able to experience York’s songwriting skills on Saturday during her performance. York writes all of her own songs and will be featuring some from her “Promises” album. She describes the sound of the CD as “a fun hybrid.”

York's newest album, "Promises." Painting by Tim Hildebrandt and Design by Matthew Fleming.

York explains that, along with her four other band mates, the album focuses on the Americana genre of music, blending others as well such as “rock and roll…old country and we slip in a little bit of R&B.”

Coming soon York hints there might be a music video and working on focusing on recording some new songs. “I definitely want to get some stuff recorded.”

York advises aspiring songwriters to “write every day and set parameters for yourself. Some of the best stuff comes not just when you’re purely inspired…but to write all the time sometimes you have to give yourself assignments” to complete and to be “constantly working on something.”

On Saturday, York will be joined by her opener, Karen Jonas, a current resident of Fredericksburg known for her array of personal and energetic songs.

Natalie York at Jammin’ Java
 August 2, 7 p.m.
227 Maple Ave E Vienna 
Advanced VIP tickets $20 / Bar $12 / Premier $12 / GA $12 
Day Of VIP tickets $20 / Bar $15 / Premier $15 / GA $15 



Okra Deconstructed

Forget the slime and Southern stereotypes, there’s more to okra than Ghostbusters references and Paula Deen. —Stefanie Gans

Okra, the misunderstood delicacy.

Photo courtesy of JIANG HONGYAN/


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.”



Peppered-up classic
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.”



Like candy
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.

(July 2014)

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