Archive for the ‘Alexandria’ Category

Christmas Music

Merry Christmas The holiday season, aside from being filled chaotic shopping, pressure-filled holiday office parties (gone are the days of the making-out-with-the-cute-girl-from-accounting-on-the-copier, apparently…), and all manner of family stresses, is filled also with music. These next two weeks are full of some of the best music that Western Civilization has to offer: full of hope, full of peace, and full of love. Better still, they’re in some of the most astounding acoustical places that our area has to offer. Amidst the chaos and cold, enjoy some peace and sound.

Choral Arts Society of Washington
December 17th, 7pm
December 23rd, 7pm
December 24th, 1pm
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Cathedral Choral Society
Friday, December 14, 7:30pm
Saturday, December 15, 4pm
Sunday, December 16, 4pm
Washington National Cathedral

There are many other choirs in the DC area having events this winter, and I highly recommend checking out their amazing voices. Take the time this week or next to take a pause from the holiday frantics and to enjoy some beautiful music.

Kz’s House of Talent Suckfest

On a Scale of Zero to Sucktacular, I would put Kz’s House of Talent near the top of that scale. Their “comedy contest” tonight at Floyd’s (the best description of Floyd’s is that it’s a TGI Fridays that’s had its soul sucked out) was the single biggest entertainment lie I’ve been told since they tried to pass off Baltimore as DC in this summer’s Die Hard. I was expecting a great slate of comedians. I didn’t make it past the Emcee.

For my $10, I got the world’s worst DJ, a sound system that didn’t work, strobe lights that made me wonder if we were in a bad rave, and two R&B “acts” that could only charitably told to find day jobs and keep them. I felt really bad for the “opener” on the night, Mike Blejer, who was really quite funny, when the crowd could hear him. Sadly, the guys running the sound system were either deaf or unable to notice that the entire crowd at Floyd’s was asking them to turn it up. The representative for KZ’s House of “Talent” foisted her acts on us without warning, despite the event being advertised as a comedy night. They were so bad, I thought about going to the bathroom to hang myself, or using my fork to put holes in my eardrums.

Putting Blejer, who won the Improv’s Comedy Showcase in September, on in front of a dead crowd who couldn’t hear him was the first strike. The second strike was the really shitty R&B acts. I came to see comedy, not bad music in entertaining LED-blinking glasses. The third was the emcee. I understand that comedy is about laughs. I understand that not everything a comedian says on stage is true and actually fact. But that’s no reason to get up there and bag on your girlfriend for a good solid ten minutes. You don’t have to go right for the “my girlfriend so fat…” jokes.

That’s when I found out that my friend who was performing hadn’t been given a performance order, and had to pay part of the cover charge, that’s when we bailed. Don’t go to Kz’s events. You’ll just be annoyed that you spent money for nothing.

The Best Damn BLT Ever.

IMG_0029.JPG Hidden in an alley in Old Town is the entrance to Restaurant Eve, Cathal Armstrong’s canvas. His palette is food of many varieties and his brush is his incredible kitchen. One of my clients, on completion of a serious deadline, took me there today for a celebration. The appetizer today was a tomato soup which was thick and rich and the chives added such a gentle flavor to it that I was very glad that some thick and crusty bread was ready to make sure that not a drop was contained by the bowl when it was whisked away.

For my cohorts, it was the pulled pork sandwich, and the daily special of a ham and gruyere sandwich. For me, though, was the finest combination of tomatoes and pork and bread that I’ve ever experienced. The bacon was the hock-based or back-based bacon instead of the much more fatty American bacon, and the delicate flavor of the bacon combined with the fresh tomatoes and excellent sourdough.

A good lunch, though, ends with sweets. I had the butterscotch creme brulee, but what I should’ve had was the toffee sticky buns with vanilla ice cream. Boy did that look good. Next time. Next time.

Review : Colin Hay @ The Birchmere

Colin Hay @ The BirchmereMuch to my surprise at the other DC Metblog authors, very few of them have admittedly visited the Birchmere for concerts. However, the groups and other artists that tend to float through their roster are either for an older set or are not usually mainstream music genres. But, the venue remains one of the few places in the area where you can take in bigger name genre acts in a more intimate setting, such as Lyle Lovett and others.

Last nights performance by former front-man of the 80’s band, Men At Work, Colin Hay expanded upon his all acoustic performance last year by bringing a full band with him, including his ever hyper and entertaining wife, Cecilia Noel. While obviously (and I do mean “obvious”) plugging the release of his new album, “Are You Looking At Me?“, the set lasted a full two hours, interspersing some of his previous band’s hits as well as a few of his own originals. While, I think “Overkill” was the highlight of the evening, the best resurrection of one of his better solo songs, “Looking For Jack” appeared just before the encore, much to the gasps of the audience, who haven’t heard it trotted out in a while (including last year’s stop). Overall, Colin’s performance was just as good, and just a bit less funny, than last years, with his very raspy but distinguished voice bringing just the right edge to his music (besides the lazy eye).

The opening act was “The Green Cards“, an appropriately titled band composing of one American guitarist, a Brit, and two Australian ex-patriots covering fiddle, mandolin and bass. The sound ranged from neo-adult contemporary ballads to a rather unique Australian take on bluegrass sounds. The instrumental pieces were much better than those interjected with vocals, but remained a pleasant intro to Colin and his band.

Market square mascots

The Alexandria Volunteer Fair treated us pretty well, as it turned out – the weather was okay on Saturday (at least during show hours – what the hell happened that evening?) and just beautiful on Sunday. We were fortunate enough to be assigned a booth that had its back against the fountain, allowing us to spend the quiet moments watching these two ducks, who apparently make their primary home in the fountain.

When I commented on how the female duck was always the one to decide to go from one spot in the fountain to the other and how the male simply followed her around, my darling girlfriend called him “devoted.” I suggested an alternate word.

The bruise has just about healed.

Otherwise it was nice having them around to watch. If you go by and see them, thank them for the company.

First Annual Dick Cheney Paintball Tourney

1stdickcheney.png The Alexandria Young Republicans want you to come out to the First Annual Dick Cheney Paintball Tournament this June. It’s only $45 and comes with a picnic lunch and a kickass t-shirt.

You do know what Tara Reid said to Dick Cheney, right? Not the face!

Okay, sorry, not funny.

I Love Good Marketing.

mycupisfullthanks.pngI love going into Old Town for lunch. The narrow streets and beautiful buildings, it’s the anti-Rosslyn, an escape from the city, in the middle of the metropolitan area. I try to catch lunch at Overwood a couple of times a month just to have an excuse to wander the area. Walled gardens, brick sidewalks, it’s all there. As I left Overwood today, I caught a glimpse of the business directory for the Crilley Warehouse. Contained therein, aside from another restaurant, were several offices…and a place called The Full Cup.

Oooo, coffeeshop, maybe? Soup restaurant? Nope. It’s Fine Lingerie. And appointments are strictly required. Great, great marketing to think of it that way. Well done, Full Cup, Well done.

Alexandria goes smoke free?

Different states have different rules for how autonomous cities can get with their laws. Virginia is one of those states where if the legislature in Richmond doesn’t explicitly say a city can do something, then the city can’t do it. Since Virginia has a booming tobacco growing industry, one of the things that Richmond hasn’t said cities can do is ban smoking.

But those wily Alexandrians have a plan. Taking a cue from DC, they are considering a ban on public smoking. How can they do this without the ok from Richmond you ask? By playing fast and loose with zoning laws. The Washington Post reported the other day that Alexandria officials are going to create a de facto ban on smoking with land-use permits. Richmond allows cities to issue permits for restaurants and businesses. So Alexandria figures that every time a new restaurant wants to open, the city can refuse to issue the permit unless the restaurant agrees to be smoke free. Existing restaurants wouldn’t be initially effected, but if they ever wanted to renovate or get their liquor license renewed they’d have to agree to go smoke free or risk getting shut down.
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Feeling Chipper

When my cousin Mike told me about Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper, he did so in the same tone of voice that he uses to vehemently recommend his favorite beer or a great place to catch a pint. Something told me that he was absolutely right about the place, so my friend Jeff and I caught lunch there on Friday. How can I not love a place whose slogan is “Thanks Be To Cod”?

Wow.

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Please allow me to repeat that, because it bears repeating: Wow. It was very definitely the best fish & chips I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic, and quite possibly the best fish & chips, period. It’s a tiny little place, so be prepared to do the take-away thing as there are maybe 20 seats in the whole place. The ambience, though, is one of reverence for the product. These are folks who take seriously their craft of making good fish and chips. You can order by the piece, and the fries are not to be missed.

Best of all? It’s open late on the weeknights and weekends, so feel free to go out for a night on the town and then hit it up at midnight when you’re feeling the need for something to offset all the beer. Oh, and the best part? They have deepfried Snickers bars. Thanks be to Eamonn’s!

Dinner in the Shire

After a long day stripping windows on Saturday, I went down to the Old Town Waterfront in search of some grub. Something about the smell of saw dust always puts me in the mood for seafood, so I tried my fav spot The Fish Market. The holiday crush was in full effect after the “boats w/ christmas lights” parade however and I couldn’t get a table. So I ended up wandering and found myself eating in a little restaurant that I never, ever thought I’d step foot in.

I always assumed because of the name that Old Town’s Bilbo Baggins Global Restaurant was a wheat-grass, granola, hippy-trippy type joint. The kind of place where earthy types went to eat and drink after a hard day working at the used book barn or the flower shop. But much to my surprise it was far from that.

Bilbo Baggins is a really cozy, culinary oasis. The main dining room has got this great lodge feeling to it, all wood beams and rustic. It reminded me of a BBQ beer-hall I went to in rural Quebec once. The tables are crammed pretty close together but that worked in my favor. As I reluctantly sat down to order my skepticism dissolved after catching eye-fulls of other patrons’ wonderful looking plates of meats and potatoes.

The menu is mostly meat dishes prepared with imaginative garnishes and seasoning. Almost every dish comes with a variety of mashed potato and an exotic combination of fruit and vegetables. Being the original meat-and-potato man I couldn’t believe how wrong my impression was of this place.

The atmosphere was warm, cozy, and festive. I could almost see Sam and Frodo raising a glass in there after dispatching that rascally ring. Our waitress was cute and cudly, almost as if she were a hobbit herself. Needless to say, it was a setting I am hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the DC area.

But it was the food that really sold me on this place.

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