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Restaurants in Old Town Alexandria offer unforgettable meals in a beautifully historic and walkable setting. With the combination of a polished atmosphere, exquisite ingredients and personal service, Alexandria’s restaurants leave diners in awe after every meal.   There is something for every taste and budget.   Even if one follows a Vegan and Vegetarian diet you will be able to have a fabulous dining experience.  Restaurants range from Ethiopian, Italian, Spanish, Irish, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, regional and Native American fare, Seafood and more.  This is but a brief introduction and look into the dining experiences that await you in Alexandria. I am aware of many outstanding restaurants as well as micro-breweries and pubs that can be found in Alexandria, and I could write a more complete dinning guide. I don’t mean to slight any of them.

An excellent choice of regional American cuisine can be found at Restaurant 219 on King Street in the heart of Old Town. Found in an elegant Victorian setting, serving genuine New Orleans cuisine since 1979. The Basin Street Lounge has live jazz & blues Fri. & Sat. The Bayou Room has dancing with a DJ. Outdoor dining is available weather permitting.

Take to the outdoors and dine alongside Alexandria’s bustling streetscape or tranquil waterfront. With more than 30 of the city’s restaurants featuring sidewalk or patio seating, finding crepes, pad thai, burgers, or seafood (even dog-only menus!) to enjoy outside is simple. Sip on a glass of wine at Grape & Bean or indulge in Greek cuisine on the garden patio of Taverna Cretekou.

Whether setting the tone for a relaxing, laid back weekend or fueling up for a day of activity in Alexandria, there’s no better meal than weekend brunch, where coffee and mimosas flow. For savory dishes like salmon benedict and shrimp and hoecakes, head to Bastille, or head over to the organic-minded Del Ray Café for sweet treats like fluffy brioche French toast tossed in a vanilla batter and served with a strawberry rhubarb compote.

At Il Porto Brunch offerings include a variety of items including Brunch drinks such as Tuscan Punch, mimosas, Grand mimosa. Favorites include our chop salad, coconut shrimp, paninis, sauteed jumbo lump crab cakes, french toast, poached eggs with hollandaise and biscuits. Try the Grilled Filet Mignon & Eggs, short Smoked Salmon Filet, Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Omelet, home fries and more.     Il Porto’s Brunch menu is as expansive and outstanding as their fantastic lunch and dinner menus.   Every dish at Il Porto Italian Ristorante is made from scratch, on premise, including our pasta, all fresh, every day!  The chef has added his own signature to the Northern Italian style of cooking at Il Porto. The daily specials are not to be missed, always new, always innovative, while still rooted in Northern Italy style and tradition. There is also a wide variety of wines to accompany any and all meals as well as after dinner selections.

Bastille offers elegant and contemporary French bistro cuisine in a comfortable yet, upscale setting. Highlighting the cooking of acclaimed chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux, Bastille features an award-winning wine list. Locally sourced ingredients exemplify the cooking of this duo along with an amazing hand selected wine list are just a sample of what awaits you at Bastille. Outdoor seating available, weather permitting.

Nestled in the West End, Tempo Restaurant is one of Alexandria’s best-kept secrets. This elegant, but unpretentious, neighborhood restaurant is where the locals dine. Tempo’s menu displays a blend of northern Italian and French cuisine, featuring fresh seafood.

If you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, look no further than Old Town for some of the region’s most delicious and creative seafood fare. Stop by the Cajun-inspired Warehouse Bar and Grill for crawfish and shrimp beignets or The Wharf for tender clams and oysters steeped in garlic herb butter. DC-area legend Hank’s Oyster Bar, named amongst America’s Best Oyster Bars by Food & Wine, brings New England style comfort food to Old Town. If views leave you breathless, book your reservation at the Chart House at sunset, where diners watch the amber sun’s reflection slip into the Potomac as they dine on macadamia crusted Mahi Mahi drizzled in a warm peanut sauce. In the spring, summer and early fall you can even sit outside at the Chart House and the Wharf to enjoy your meal.

A newcomer to the dining experience is Blackwall Hitch which honors the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay with a modern interpretation of a classic coastal tavern. We deliver an ambiance of relaxed sophistication, with service that pampers and delights and food that is simple, fresh and delicious. Their sophisticated yet comfortable ambiance offers flexible gathering spaces for all occasions. The menu draws upon classic American techniques while we look to our region for additional inspiration. Simply put, the best ingredients make the best food. Their menu is seasonally inspired with classic, local fare. To complement any meal there is an exceptional beverage program complete with creative cocktails and an extensive wine list and draught beer selection. Whether it’s the colossal Blackwall Prawns, oysters shucked at your request, or the wood-fired flatbreads rolled out daily, they deliver an experience you are guaranteed to remember.

In the Del Ray area of Alexandria, I have discovered Cheesetique, a gourmet cheese boutique specializing in hard-to-find cheeses, meats and accompaniments from around the world. Also take the time to browse through their extensive wine and beer selection. If you are unsure of what to choose, do allow their expert staff to help you make selections or create your custom party platter or gift bucket.

For a slightly different dining experience complete with gourmet dining, dancing and an unparalleled view of our nation’s majestic monuments. Day or night, rain or shine, year ’round. Nina’s Dandy features a 465-square-foot marble dance floor and 3,700-square-foot outer deck for dancing under the stars.

There is also the Odyssey. Experience Washington DC from a stunning, glass-enclosed ship on the Potomac River. Listen and dance to live music. And take in the beautiful, totally unobstructed view of our nation’s capital while enjoying creative cuisine. Your Odyssey escape awaits. Come see why nothing on land can compare to the Odyssey.   Delicious food and drinks, top entertainment and stunning views combine for an experience both you and your guests won’t forget. From business meetings to special occasion celebrations, give your event a whole new energy.

There are also two excellent examples to have a bygone era dining experience in Alexandria.   The first is at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town.   Gadsby’s is an Historic 18th-century tavern, serving fine dining since 1770. They also serve Brunch on the weekends. Enjoy lunch and dinner in elegant Colonial dining rooms, while enjoying nightly Colonial entertainment.

The other is the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, located just footsteps from George Washington’s historic estate.  The Inn is open daily for lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends.   They also offer happy hour Tuesday thru Friday. The menu uses only the freshest and seasonal items, and while contemporary in nature, yet remains colonial in nature. The Inn, like Gadsby’s, is also available for private events and both offer seasonal menus.

The Mount Vernon Inn is located 8 miles south of Old Town Alexandria and 16 miles from Washington, D.C. at the southern end of the George Washington Parkway. The Mount Vernon Inn is considered one of Washington’s best- kept secrets.

Kathy Kiefer


The Mediterranean Diet

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The Mediterranean Diet

Myths, Facts, and Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Improving Emotional Health

When you think about Mediterranean food, your mind probably goes to pizza and pasta from Italy, or hummus and pita from Greece, but these dishes don’t exactly fit into any healthy dietary plans advertised as “Mediterranean.” The reality is that a true Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil, hearty grains, and more—foods that help fight against heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive decline. It’s a diet worth chasing; making the switch from pepperoni and cheese to fish and avocados may take some effort, but you could soon be on a path to a healthier and longer life.

What is a “Mediterranean diet”?

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Pizza, gyros, falafel, lasagna, rack of lamb, and long loaves of white bread: all these foods have become synonymous with what we call “Mediterranean.” We picture huge, three-hour feasts with multiple courses and endless bottles of wine. But over the past 50 years, Americans and others have altered the idea of Mediterranean fare, ramping up the meat, saturated fat, and calories at the expense of the region’s traditional fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seafood, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and a glass or two of red wine. What was once a healthy and inexpensive way of eating back then is now associated with heavy, unhealthy dishes that contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

After World War II, a study led by Ancel Keys of the Mayo Foundation examined the diets and health of almost 13,000 middle-aged men in the US, Japan, Italy, Greece (including Crete), the Netherlands, Finland, and Yugoslavia. Remarkably, well-fed American men had higher rates of heart disease than those in countries whose diets had been restricted by the deprivations of war. It was the men of Crete, arguably the poorer people of the study, who enjoyed the best cardiovascular health. This was due to physical labor and their unique food pyramid.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy circa 1960 at a time when the rates of chronic disease among populations there were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest, even though medial services were limited.

Aside from eating a diet consisting mainly of fresh and homegrown foods instead of processed goods, other vital elements to the Mediterranean diet are daily exercise, sharing meals with others, and fostering a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious foods.

Myths and facts of a Mediterranean diet

Following a Mediterranean diet has many benefits, but there are still a lot of misconceptions on exactly how to take advantage of the lifestyle to lead a healthier, longer life. The following are some myths and facts about the Mediterranean diet.

Myth 1: It costs a lot to eat this way.

Fact: If you’re creating meals out of beans or lentils as your main source of protein, and sticking with mostly plants and whole grains, then theMediterranean diet is less expensive than serving dishes of meat, cheese, and processed foods.

Myth 2: If one glass of wine is good for your heart, than three glasses is three times as healthy.

Fact: Moderate amounts of red wine (one drink a day for women; two for men) certainly has unique health benefits for your heart, but drinking too much has the opposite effect. Anything more than two glasses of wine can actually be bad for your heart.

Myth 3: Eating large bowls of pasta and bread is the Mediterranean way.

Fact: Typically, Mediterraneans don’t eat a heaping plate of pasta the way Americans do. Instead, pasta is usually a side dish with about a 1/2-cup to 1-cup serving size. The rest of their plate consists of salads, vegetables, a small portion of meat, and perhaps one slice of bread.

Myth 4: If you follow the traditional Mediterranean diet then you will lose weight.

Fact: Those living on Greek islands don’t enjoy good cardiovascular health just by eating differently; they walk up and down steep hills to tend to their garden and animals, often living off what they can grow themselves. Physical labor plays a large role.

Myth 5: The Mediterranean diet is only about the food.

Fact: The food is a huge part of the diet, yes, but don’t overlook the other ways the Mediterraneans life their lives. When they sit down for a meal, they don’t sit in front of a television or eat in a rush; they sit down for a relaxed, leisurely meal with others, which may be just as important for your health as what’s on your plate.

Health benefits of a Mediterranean diet

A traditional Mediterranean diet consisting of large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil—coupled with physical activity—reduces the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. More specifically:

Protecting against type 2 diabetes. A Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber, slowing down digestion and preventing huge swings in blood sugar.

Preventing heart disease and strokes. Refined breads, processed foods, and red meat are discouraged in a Mediterranean diet, and it encourages drinking red wine instead of hard liquor, which have all been linked to heart disease and stroke prevention.

Keeping you agile. The nutrients gained with a Mediterranean diet may reduce a senior’s risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70 percent.

Reducing risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers speculate that the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health—all factors that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Halving the risk of Parkinson’s disease. In a diet containing high levels of antioxidants that prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress, the risk of Parkinson’s disease is practically cut in half.

Increased longevity. When there is a reduction in developing heart disease or cancer, as in the case when you follow a Mediterranean diet, there is a 20% reduced risk of death at any age.

How to make the change

If you’re feeling daunted by the thought of changing your eating habits to a Mediterranean diet, here are some suggestions to get you started:

Chicken Salad

  • Eat lots of vegetables. Try a simple plate of sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and crumbled feta cheese, or load your pizza with peppers and mushrooms instead of sausage and pepperoni. Salads, soups, and crudité platters are also great ways to load up on vegetables.
  • Change the way you think about meat. If you eat meat, have smaller amounts and leaner cuts. Put small strips of chicken on your salad, or add diced prosciutto to a whole-wheat pasta dish.
  • Always eat breakfast. Fruits, whole grains, and other fiber-rich foods are a great way to start your day, keeping you pleasantly full for hours.
  • Eat seafood twice a week. Fish such as tuna, salmon, herring, and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and shellfish like mussels, oysters, and clams have similar benefits for brain and heart health.
  • Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week. If it’s helpful, you can jump on the “Meatless Mondays” trend of foregoing meat on the first day of the week, or simply pick a day where you build meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Once you get the hang of it, try two nights a week. Be sure not to load up on cheese, though.
  • Use good fats. Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados are great sources of healthy fats for your daily meals. Some vegetable oils higher in polyunsaturated fats—like sunflower, safflower, soybean, and corn oil—are more heart-healthy than the mostly monounsaturated fats in olive oil.
  • Enjoy some dairy products. Try small amounts of cheese, and eat Greek or plain yogurt. You want to make sure to choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • For dessert, eat fresh fruit. Instead of ice cream or cake, opt for strawberries, fresh figs, grapes, or apples.

Quick start to a Mediterranean diet

There is new, even stronger research backing up the Mediterranean diet as a way to prevent vascular disease. The diet includes generous quantities of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish; limited portions of red meats or processed meats; and moderate amounts of cheese and wine. So how can you make the switch? Start with small steps, jump-starting your effort with these top five tips:

  1. Sauté food in olive oil, not butter.
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables by having them as a snack, or adding them to other recipes.
  3. Choose whole grains instead of refined breads and pastas.
  4. Substitute fish for red meat at least twice per week.
  5. Limit high-fat dairy by switching to skim or 1% milk from 2% or whole milk.
Instead of this: Try this Mediterranean option:
Chips, pretzels, crackers and ranch dip Carrots, celery, broccoli and salsa
White rice with stir-fried meat Quinoa with stir-fried vegetables
Sandwiches with white bread or rolls Sandwich fillings in whole-wheat tortillas
Ice cream Pudding made with skim or 1% milk

Kathy Kiefer


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Paccheri con la pescatrice


Conchiglioni al forno con Mozzarella di Bufala

conchiglioni 4

“Alici MButtunate”






Le castagne. Il marrone di ROCCADASPIDE




Mozzarella nella mortella.



Kathy Kiefer


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I think that there might be some things that naturally come to mind when you think of Christmas. There are two that also require the most thought and planning and they are decorations and entertaining, in my opinion. If you’re hosting an affair this Christmas, or would you like to add interest to your dining room or kitchen, the right way to go would be to set your table with a festive decorative accent.   I find that you don’t have to spend an outrageous amount on decorating your Christmas table, as long as you enjoy doing it and it gives you pleasure.   Sometimes all you have to do is use things that you already own to provide the right design one is seeking.

Decorating your table for Christmas can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it, but it can always be eye-catching and uplifting. If you have a little money to spend, you should first establish a limit, and then decide upon a theme.  If you remain unsure on decorating you can always draw upon experiences from the past to get ideas or even ask close friends or family to assist.  Or  you could go to the extreme and hire an event planner (and they tend to be over-priced and ineffective)  to help you, but I  find that sometimes this option works out and sometimes it doesn’t, and you can’t always guarantee you’d get the desired results that you set out to do.  As for myself, I always prefer to do the decorating myself and come up with some different variations every year.   It always looks spectacular!!!!!

Do you want a particular color or colors? There are those who especially love Christmas that would choose the old standbys, with the favorite colors being red, green, white, gold and silver.  If you have a color scheme in your home that you would like to play off of, then that can make it even simpler.  You can always find candles, ribbons, napkins, beads, etc. on line or at the store.  For someone like my mother, that meant using her favorite colors in lavender and green (she even went so far as to spray paint her Christmas tree lavender).   I remember helping her do this on her balcony and it took several cans of lavender spray paint to accomplish the look she desired.   But it was worth it, and the ornaments really stood out on the tree.

If you’re in the mood for a wintery look, I would venture to suggest using white, blue, or light shades of purple and you’re on your way. Along with matching candles in varying sizes, you can add ornamental snowflakes, little snowmen, or strands of clear beads or snowy white garlands.  I’ve always enjoyed having candles around for decorations, they add a special ambience.  Or you could even add touches of winter greenery or small Christmas trees to solidify the look.  If you are able to get some fresh greenery, the look and the aroma would be that much more impressive.  Some years I have done this and it makes a favorable impression.

A Christmas wreath (preferably fresh) laid in the center of the table can be the beginning of a perfect centerpiece.   You can decorate it with any object you desire as the central theme.  If you have no theme in mind other than something special, then ribbons and bows can always come to the rescue. Inside the wreath, place a large candle or several tapers. The tapers can be the same height or differing heights. The choice is yours. Just make certain that the flames or hot wax do not come in contact with anything that could cause a fire. I was at a dinner party once where that happened. We certainly had a lively Christmas party that night!    If you wanted to make a bold statement why not use a candelabra that is adorned with Christmas decorations.  You can a use any type of candelabra on the table be it silver, gold, wrought iron or even glass.   By being creative you could use evergreen or holly boughs that are wrapped around the base of the candelabra can add texture, while Christmas ornaments affixed to each of the candelabra’s arms add a special shine. The decorations will glow in the light of Christmas-hued candles of green, red or white.

Hurricane lanterns placed in a row down the center of the table can take the place of a traditional centerpiece. Stemware filled with beads, nuts, berries, glass marbles, or any small festive objects can be used as well. You can use themed pieces to decorate in between. We’ll use Christmas bells as our example of a theme. Bells can be purchased in packages or they can be purchased already strung on wire. If they are on wire, they can be wrapped around the base of the hurricane lanterns, or you can attach them to ribbon and wrap the ribbon around the lanterns. Long strands of ribbon and beads can flow around the decorations.

Continue to carry out your theme by using table napkins. Use two napkins of different colors for each place setting (such as red and green). Place one napkin on top of the other. You can roll them separately or roll them together, but the important thing is to tie them together. Tie them with a beautiful wired ribbon with the bell attached to the ribbon. Because wired ribbon can be shaped, it is easy to make the perfect size napkin holder. With your napkins inside your ribbon napkin holder, artfully arrange them and place them in the center of each plate. You now have bells on your napkin holders and bells on your table decorations.

You can continue the theme with bells tied to the backs of chairs, hanging from the chandelier or attached to your stemware. The idea is to repeat your color or decoration. By using a theme, your Christmas table will then go from ho-hum to spectacular!

Designer candle holders make the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table. When large enough, you need only a few votives on the table for just the right twinkle and sparkle. When they come in a set, you may display them as a collection for impact, or you may scatter them around the house and use each one as the accent piece in other displays.

You can make a simple traditional Christmas table ornament using fresh or artificial fruit. Line the table with a long piece of fabric, topped with an arrangement of real or artificial fruit. The fruit will glisten in candlelight after a generous coating with glue and sprinkling of silver or gold glitter. Boughs of holly or pine woven around the fruit and down the center of the table will add texture and contrast. Candlesticks topped with tall tapers placed throughout the decoration add a warm glow.

High on my own list is tabletop décor when it comes to Christmas decorating is by using beautiful figurines reflect the celebration at every turn. Small figurines, such as Nutcrackers, or snow globes can bring to life a quiet corner on a shelf or play a key role in larger displays. The larger displays command the center of attention and make a big impression. Collections are very popular and make decorating easy.   I have many, yet different Nutcrackers that I use in m decorating at Christmas, and I vary the arrangements that they are in every time.

I also have found that a bowl of ornaments provides a simple yet elegant table decoration that will give your table a sophisticated look. Set a glass bowl in the center of your table (if you aren’t using a wreath here) and fill it with solid colored glass ornaments or ornaments in a variety of colors. Go a little further and line the bottom of the bowl with pine needles or tinsel and place tea lights around the outside of the bowl.

Another variation of this sort of decoration would be if you use trays and serving platters that can double as the central element of the table decoration. You could even have sprigs of evergreen line the bottom of your favorite dish, topped with pine cones and red berries.  If it even touches your fantasy you could also incorporate tinsel or ornaments. To add even more interest and a merry twinkle, place a strand of battery-operated Christmas lights inside the tray or platter.

For a merry table decoration that also provides guests with sweet treats, fill a large glass vase with red- and white-striped mints. Place candy canes inside the vase so that the arcs of the canes curl over the edge of the vase. Once you have positioned the vase in the place you would like it, scatter red, white and silver glitter around its base. Your holiday guests can enjoy a piece of the candy while they are visiting.

Kathy Kiefer


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Street Fairs – Orange, VA


What is a street fair?

What happens at the street fair and why are they popular?

Why should people go?

OrangeStreetFest2On Saturday, September 7th, 2013,  9am – 5pm, RAIN OR SHINE, on Main Street in denmarkOrange, VA, for the 38th Annual Orange Street Festival. This year’s festival includes live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, family and children’s activities, a beverage garden, fantastic food, and plenty of opportunities to promote your business!  With over 10,000 in attendance, this is the place to advertise!   Since I have family down in Orange, it is always fun every 2nd Saturday in September to go there and little_italytake part in all the merriment.   Orange is an area also that is rich in history and tradition.   This is one of the things I miss from New York City (Manhattan), where there are so many street fairs or festivals in any given month and each one has its own unique flavor and can stretch on for many blocks.festa_di_san_gennaro_a_new_york

A Street fair is a fair that celebrates the character of a neighborhood.  As the name suggests, it is usually held on the main street of a neighborhood.  The principal component of street fairs are booths used to sell goods, (particularly food) or convey information; sometimes they have carnival rides and parades, as well. Many have live music and dance demonstrations.   Some street fairs generally held during the period of a saint’s feast (such as San Gennaro in New York) and in the precincts of his church or abbey.   However, in some localities this was seen as the desecration of a church or churchyard and therefore forbidden.  In these areas the Fairs were held on Village Greens or open land near or within towns. These fairs were not permanent and merchants set up their wares in temporary tents.

italianAlthough the main objective of the fairs continues to be trade and commerce,NYCWFF13_300x250_OSAdam every fair contained some element of merry-making. Possibly starting from merchants trying to sell their goods, people were determined to attract the most customers to their stalls. Therefore, from a very early date, there was always fun at the fair. Any entertainment to attract a crowd, singers, musicians, acrobats, stilt walkers and fools. Some fairs even included various contests such as archery tournaments. There is always a great many chances for fun at any fair. 

 They are usually no more than a few blocks long, although some fairs, such as the 9th Avenue International Food Festival held in New York City and the Solano Stroll in Northern California extend more than a mile. A fair only one block long is commonly called a block party.  Street fairs vary greatly in character, even within one city. For example, the annual street fairs in Seattle, include the University District Street Fair, featuring the work of numerous craftspeople, and requiring that the person who actually made the goods that are for sale must be present in their own booth; the Fremont Fair features crafts from around the world, as well as the Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, famed for its painted naked cyclists.  In the same city the Capitol Hill Block Party fences off several blocks, charges admission, and features many of the city’s best known rock bands while the Chinatown-International District Summer Fair has a distinctly Asian-American and Pacific Islander flavor, with taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, and Hawaiian dance.

Kathy Kiefer

Schermata 09-2456547 alle 16.18.29


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It’s no real secret, I like to cook and more and more I like to make things from scratch and use the freshest ingredients possible.   To get many things I will need for a particular recipe, invariably I need to get some things from the grocery store, but I enjoy going to the Farmer’s Market and get what is in season, in addition to produce that is appealing and that will a fantastic counterpart to what I might be making.

My repitore in what I like to make runs from soup and stews to applesauce, truffles, pasta, salads, fish, plus more (including pies, crumb cake and other goodies).   I’m not opposed to reading a recipe to make something new or a dish that I may not prepared in quite a while, preparing something new can prove to be challenge at times, especially if the recipe calls for ingredients that have not been previously used  or tried.   When entertaining I often take any dietary concerns of the guest into consideration in what I might make or serve, this might include making substitutions in items, even leaving something out (and hoping it would not be missed).   The display and presentation is just as important as is the ambience, congeniality and atmosphere, be it just one guest or many more people.   It’s a great deal of work, but is always worth it.  One doesn’t need to use the most fanciest of place settings, as long as everyone has a good time.

3909317-ortaggi-pomodori-cetrioli-e-mais-vivid-un-39-alimentazione-sana-studio-di-illuminazioneSomething else I’ve enjoyed over the years is growing herbs, tomatoes and other vegetables; you get a fresher taste and flavor.  Even growing cucumbers that can be eaten on their own, put into salads or used to make pickles is an interesting challenge, also making homemade jams and jellies is a fun past-time and is always a nice gift to give someone or send home with your guests as a small token of appreciation.

In New York, as well as in Washington, DC/Northern Virginia/Alexandria, there are many restaurants, a person would never go hungry, and they would be able to find something to satisfy their craving for an excellent meal, even if the restaurant is off the beaten path.   Sometimes a restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but may have the most outstanding food and service that you can find anywhere else.  All it takes is a little searching.

The  New York Places


Just as there are many people in New York, there are just as numerous places to go to eat and relax not to mention locations and/or communities such as Little Italy or Chinatown.

P. J. Clarke’s

Sidecar_PJClarkes-1024x683One of the most famous establishments that is still in operation today is P.J. Clarke’s.    While much of P.J. Clarke’s history has been extraordinarily preserved, the earliest days of the legendary bar are somewhat murky. What is known is that the little red brick building was constructed in 1868 for unstated purposes on a squalid patch of land labeled in city records simply as “squatters’ shacks.” Sometime in 1884, the building was converted to a watering hole by one “Mr. Jennings,” who saw an opportunity to serve the many Irish laborers travelling to and from their jobs at the neighborhood’s slaughterhouses, breweries, manufactories, tanneries, and construction sites.   P.J. Clarke’s didn’t gain its current name until another Irish immigrant, Mr. Patrick Joseph “Paddy” Clarke, arrived in the neighborhood around 1902 as the newly hired bartender under the saloon’s second owner, the Englishman “Mr. Duneen.” (What became of the first owner, Mr. Jennings, or when exactly the bar transferred ownership to Mr. Duneen is unknown. An industrious and apparently thrifty lad, Paddy tended bar and more or less ran the saloon for ten years before saving enough to purchase it outright from Mr. Duneen in 1912.  In the face of this cultural and economic upheaval, P.J.’s remained stubbornly, defiantly, and proudly the same. Despite this – or more likely because of it – the bar thrived. Even Prohibition produced barely a hiccup, as P.J.’s used its discreet “wives’ window” (where women and children would come to fill pails of beer, women being prohibited from entering the bar until the ’60s) to screen customers and give neighborly pjclarkesoriginalhandouts to cops on the local beat.

Sometime in the 1940s, P.J.’s – already a local institution – was discovered by the celebrity set. A fresh-faced Frank Sinatra ended many of his nights at table #20. Singer Johnny Mercer penned “One for My Baby” on a napkin while sitting at the antique mahogany bar. Charles Jackson, writer of the classic book The Lost Weekend, was a regular, and the bar scenes from Academy Award-winning movie adaptation were shot there. And so the legend grew.

PJ Clarke’s serves American fare.

The Rainbow Room


Another well-known restaurant “The Rainbow Room” was an upscale Northern Italian restaurant and nightclub on the 65th floor of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center, New York, NY.  Opened in 1934, it was the first restaurant to be located in a high-rise setting. Suffering from a decline in business following the 2008 economic reversal, the restaurant closed in 2009. In 2012, it was declared a New York City landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission and new investors are currently being sought.

Tavern  on the Green 


The historic Tavern on the Green building has been through many transformations through the years. It was home to Central Park’s flock of sheep and their shepherd until the 1930s, when it was converted into a restaurant. Until recently, it was one of New York’s most famous dining spots.

Tavern on the Green Visitor Center & Gift Shop is currently closed for a complete building renovation. The Tavern on the Green building will reopen to the public in summer 2013.

Windows on the World


Unfortunately no longer in business.  It was lost to us when the World Trade Towers were destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.    The main dining room faced north and east, allowing guests to look out onto the skyline of Manhattan. The restaurant was not only one of the most respected in New York, but due to the premium location also had high prices. The dress code required jackets for men and was strictly enforced; a man who arrived with a reservation but without a jacket was seated at the bar.    A more intimate dining room, Wild Blue, was located on the south side of the restaurant. The bar extended along the south side of 1 World Trade Center as well as the corner over part of the east side. The bar’s dress code was more relaxed and it had average prices.  Looking out from the bar through the full length windows, one could see views of the southern tip of Manhattan, where the Hudson and East Rivers meet. In addition, one could see Liberty State Park and Ellis Island as well as Staten Island with the   Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

In 2000, its final full year of operation, it reported revenues of US$37 million, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the United States.


oldmulberryLittle Italy was once the sprawling home of much of New York City’s Italian population, Little Italy and now has become more of a tourist destination than a residential neighborhood. Little Italy previously spread from Canal Street north to Houston, but now its borders are limited to about four city blocks. Still, Little Italy is worth visiting for delicious imported Italian groceries and to see the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as a chance to glimpse some of the restaurants and bars made famous by gangsters and members of the Rat Pack. It’s also great to experience the San Gennaro Festival that takes place in Little

Italy every September.

The History of the Feast of San Gennaro

*Sep 13 - 00:05*

The Annual Feast of San Gennaro is a celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. First celebrated in New York City on September 19, 1926 by newly arrived immigrants from Naples, the Feast of San Gennaro was a traditional celebration in Naples for Saint Gennaro who was martyred for the faith in 305 A.D.

Immigrants who had settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City continued their traditional celebration with a one day Feast. September 19th is the most religious day of the Festival of San Gennaro, and features a Religious Procession followed by Celebratory Mass at the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street, the National Shrine of San Gennaro.

Little Italy has many wonderful restaurants each one serving up unique and wonderful traditional Italian fare.


manhattan-chinatown[1]New York’s Chinatown is a cultural haven full of ancient and exotic traditions, and a huge amount of restaurants. This bustling and crowded neighborhood is home to over half of the city’s Chinese population. In the grocery stores and fruit stands, you will find many food items available nowhere else in the city, from exotic fruit and vegetables to live snails and dried shrimp. Excellent Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean restaurants have joined the mix. Every lunar new year, the streets are filled with the hubbub of the Chinatown Chinese New Year Parade.

Greenwich Village – “The Village”


Greenwich Village extends from Broadway to the Hudson and from 14th Street down to Houston Street. The Village is primarily a residential neighborhood that gave birth to the Beat Generation. Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Dylan Thomas all roamed the tree-lined streets. Even though rent hikes have sent such starving artists searching for new digs, the bohemian impact is still felt within the walls of the fabled coffeehouses and bars that border historic Washington Square Park. Past literary residents include Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, and today the area is overrun with the NYU students who study them. Downtown charm is personified in lots of low-rise townhouses, thumbnail-size gardens, secret courtyards and a serpentine layout of streets.

534889772_7a48478883_zAt night, Greenwich Village comes alive with sounds from late-night coffeehouses, cafés, experimental theaters and music clubs. AtVLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100 fabled coffeehouses like Caffe Reggio and Café Figaro, you can order a double espresso or cappuccino and pretend for a few minutes that you’re Allen Ginsberg or William Burroughs. Washington Mews and MacDougal Alley are quiet cobblestone lanes right off the square. Legendary streets such as Astor Place and Bleeker Street (famous Beat and hippie hangouts) are lined with super-hip boutiques, delis displaying esoteric beers from around the globe and cafes and restaurants of all stripes.

SOHO (South of Houston)

soho-2SoHo is a most unique shopping area, with everything from art stands on the street to high-end boutiques.   It is area that is certain to exceed one’s expectations.   There are many unique restaurants located in SoHo as well, they include just about every form of food that fits everyone’s palette, from American, to French, to Asian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian and so much more.    I have listed a few:



Offers a tasting of their brick-oven pizzas, focaccias, bruschetta’s, and other delicious snacks from their kitchen with every drink you buy. Come enjoy this Italian “Happy Hour” tradition, eat, drink and have fun, in the heart of Soho.





image-1This downtown Soho bar and lounge est.1994 draws a neighborhood crowd, plays a lot of classics, old school and

has a great weekly lounge vibe. POPULAR for a long running HAPPY HOUR and weekend party scene for Soho hipsters and all of NYC.


DSC_0056aBe seen at Pera Soho’s beautiful garden for lunch, brunch or dinner and enjoy the best season of the city in true NYC fashion. Pera Soho offers some of the signature meze and entrée dishes that made the first Pera (Midtown) so popular, while taking diners’ palates on an adventurous journey through the eastern Mediterranean food ways. The overall aesthetic is relaxed refinement that nonetheless evokes a sense of occasion.   An ingenious configuration defines three spaces that are as suitable for a la carte dining as they are for private events. A large private garden and a stunning roof deck present intriguing al fresco possibilities.



Cozy French Bistro with excellent food at affordable
prices with a smile



Café Café is a coffee and healthy food destination for a friendly, relaxing, and reliable experience. We serves a diverse menu of freshly baked pastries, sandwiched, salads, smoothies, organic breakfast, hot teas, real hot chocolate, iced drinks and quality coffee not commonly available. The Café Café experience is a comforting refuge that provided a sense of community, a third place for people to congregate beyond work or the home, a place that welcomed people and rewarded them for coming, and a layout that could accommodate both fast service
and quiet moments. This collective ‘downtown’ ambience sets Café Café apart since 1997.


delicatessen2Delicatessen brings international comfort food to the cross roads of SoHo and Nolita, serving familiar favorites with a twist for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night, creating a friendly neighborhood vibe. Executive chef Michael Ferraro, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America has worked in the kitchens of Beacon Restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, and the Biltmore Room.  At Delicatessen he presents International Comfort Classics that incorporate elements from his Italian roots and classical French training.


South street seaport

Situated on Lower Manhattan’s waterfront with a breathtaking view, South Street Seaport is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City. It’s a combination maritime museum and mall, offering insight into New York’s rich maritime history and providing a great place for shopping and dining

south street seaport, the pier, lots of activities’


South Street Seaport was one of the most important maritime hubs of New York.
South Street Seaport was one of the most important maritime hubs of New York.

South Street Seaport is located on the site of what was once the busiest port in America. Fulton Street, at the neighborhood’s center, was one of the most crowded streets in the city, Fulton Street especially after a fish market opened here in 1821. A popular ferry service to Brooklyn also departed here.

After the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge nearby trade activity quickly declined and the neighborhood was soon abandoned and left to decay. In the 1960s Peter Stanford and a group of sympathizers formed the ‘Friends of South Street Seaport’, a collective striving to preserve the historic area by turning it into an open air museum. It would take until the 1980s before this idea became a reality. In 1983 South Street Seaport officially opened and two years later a new shopping mall opened here as well.

Today the area is again attracting crowds, be it mostly tourists instead of sailors and merchants. Many come here to see one of the frequently changing expositions, to dine and have a drink or to take a trip on a historic vessel.  The dining choices are varied on Pier 17 include, crepes (French) German (beer garden), Italian, Latino, Irish, tex-mex, fast food such as Johnny Rockets, and many more.  Plus restaurants specializing in sea food.

The Theatre District


The theatre district is an area of Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theatres are located as well as other theatres movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, and other places of entertainment. It extends from West 40th Street to West 54th Street, from west of Sixth Avenue to east of Eighth Avenue, and includes Times Square.  Radio City Music Hall is also a part of this grouping.


There are many restaurants specializing in American, French, Italian, and many others, plus bars and pubs that specialize in pre-theatre fare as well as after theatre specials.

This listing (and albert brief history) of restaurants in New York City is by no means complete, it is only a brief view of some of the places that the city has to offer.   It is so wide and varied, that I would have a small book, but the food offerings are so numerous and covers so many ethnic varieties, that you can find something that would appeal to you and satisfy.    There reason being for the most part with people from all parts of the globe settling in New York City and its environs, places serving and selling food and produce from their native country gives them not only a taste of home, but also gives others the opportunity as well to be transported to an area they might not otherwise get to experience.




Alexandria’s history reaches back more than thirteen thousand years. From the first Native Americans to settle here, to the bustling city it is today, the timeline of Alexandria’s history is filled with events that helped shape the United States of America into the country it is today.

A vital seaport during colonial times, Alexandria is George Washington’s hometown and part of the original Washington, DC. Thomas Jefferson entertained guests at Gadsby’s Tavern. Civil War General Robert E. Lee moved to Alexandria with his family when he was only 4 years old. As a young man, Lee dreamed of becoming a doctor. Instead, he became one of the most famous figures in the American Civil War.

Alexandria restaurants have taken their place alongside Washington, D.C. restaurants as some of the best in the nation with the New York Times praising, “…the city has taken its place at the culinary table.” With both locally-owned and operated neighborhood restaurants as well as nationally-recognized chef-owned ones, Alexandria is a flavorful melting pot in the truest sense. After you’ve dined, take time to experience Alexandria’s Nightlife. From live music by local performers to concerts with world-renowned artists, you are sure to find the perfect way to end your evening in Alexandria.


inside-watching-footballOld World Irish Pub featuring a beautiful roaring fireplace.  Serving robust Irish-American meals at fair prices.  Fresh Salmon, Fish and Chips and Irish Stew are among the favorites.




Gourmet dining, dancing and an unparalleled view of the nation’s capitals majestic monuments.  Day or night, rain or shine, year ’round. Nina’s Dandy features a 465-square-foot marble dance floor and 3,700-square-foot outer deck for dancing under the stars.


22304_nicks_night_club_001_pNorthern Virginia’s only authentic country-western bar and restaurant. Live bands, two large dance floors, couples 2-Step and line-dance lessons, a karaoke bar, and outdoor deck. Kitchen specializes in wood-smoked BBQ beef brisket, ribs and pulled pork.



BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier unites traditional Belgian cuisine with contemporary creativity for distinctive Old Town Alexandria fine dining. Adjacent to the boutique Lorien Hotel & Spa, this restaurant is joined by BRABO Tasting Room and the gourmet market, The Butcher’s Block by RW, for a flavorful King Street trio. Brabo by acclaimed chef Robert Wiedmaier strikes the perfect balance between rustic and refined, timeless and contemporary with its interior designed by famed New York designer Vicente Wolf. Just as the Roman hero Silvius Brabo, our namesake, inspired the citizens of Antwerp by slaying the terrifying giant Antigone, Brabo promises inspired cuisine and a memorable experience.


66166Classical American food – burgers, barbecue, salads and stacked sandwiches – complemented by libations from around the world, including a long list of beers, ales and ciders.



Modern Italian cooking with influences from France and America. For over 30 years, Geranio has combined excellent service with refined cuisine.  Indulge also in Geranio’s Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.


a-la-luciaSituated on a quiet corner in north Old Town, a la Lucia has fast become one of the neighborhoods favorite spots. Consistently recognized one of it the area’s top 100 restaurants, it specializes in southern Italian cuisine. The dishes are simple, not trendy, and flavored by little more than the wonderfully fresh ingredients. The food here stays true to a traditional Italian table. Complimenting this fabulous food is an amazing selection of wines chosen by owner Michael Nayeri. Michael continues to share his passion for fine food and great wine through his own creation, a la Lucia.



At the center of Bertucci’s, you’ll find a brick oven. And there’s a very simple reason for that: everything is better by the brick oven.   The brick oven is where the flavors of vegetables are awakened. It’s where pizza crusts become irresistibly light and crisp, and pizza toppings become perfectly, mouthwateringly caramelized. It’s where an intense heat locks in the natural flavors of everything from our classic Lasagna Rustica to our Frutti Di Mare.  But it’s not just what happens inside the brick oven, it’s what happens around it: the celebrations, the laughter, the energy. The wide-eyed wonder of looking at the dancing fire, the sweet anticipation of watching one of our brick oven chefs prepare your meal in our open kitchen, and of course, the tantalizing aroma.
While the tradition of brick ovens in Italian pizzerias and trattorias dates back hundreds of years, our brick oven is also a place for innovation. Since 1981, Bertucci’s has prided itself on being a pizza pioneer, using the freshest ingredients in new and exciting ways. Today, we offer Artisan Pizzas, with creative new combinations of distinctive Italian flavors, sure to become classics.  With their signature brick oven, culture of hospitality and the world’s best pizza, Bertucci’s lets you and your family and friends share an authentic Italian experience. Everything is better by the brick oven at Bertucci’s.


6874With a blend of Italian and French cuisines, this elegant but cozy restaurant’s specialties include Linguini Vongale, Sole Almondine, Scaloppini di Vitello Marsala and dessert delicacies.



In an elegant Victorian setting, serving genuine New Orleans cuisine since 1979. The Basin Street Lounge has live jazz & blues Fri. & Sat. The Bayou Room has dancing with a DJ.


31501Old Town’s Seafood Restaurant  since 1971.  Recently remodeled and the menu updated to feature many contemporary seafood dishes along with their traditional Chesapeake fare. One block from the waterfront. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Sunday Brunch.





Italian fine dining restaurant in the north end of historic Old Town, proudly serving residents and visitors since 1994. Enjoy homemade bread, pasta and desserts, fresh seafood, traditional Italian appetizers, and daily specialties including ossobuco, lamb shanks, and veal chops.  There is even new outdoor dining patio.


ghostlygadsbyHistoric 18th-century tavern, Colonial entertainment nightly.  American cuisine, casual & elegant style.






Serving Fine Italian Cuisine since 1973!  Old Town`s first Italian restaurant. Homemade pasta, daily lunch, dinner specials and chef`s suggestions.


100264An authentic good-time pub atmosphere plus fare such as Irish potato & leek soup, corned beef & cabbage, shepherd’s pie, Guinness and Harp, plus Irish entertainment.



Award-winning French cuisine and Basque specialties, seafood and seasonal specials in an intimate, Old World setting. Business casual attire.


381044_ratio4x3_width223A careful blend of everything about Spain, with warm decor and authentic cuisine, 45 tapas, Spanish wines and beers.




The charming Mount Vernon Inn restaurant serves lunch daily and elegant candlelit dinners Mon – Sat. The Inn offers six intimate dining rooms, two with fireplace, all with Colonial charm, Colonial servers, and delicious regional and Colonial cuisine.


11830With its breath-taking views of the Potomac River, Chart House offers world-class dining and impeccable service. Recently renovated, take the time to enjoy a seamless blend of fine seafood and steaks, service and atmosphere.





Enjoy spectacular views of the Potomac River while dining on authentic Thai cuisine just steps from the famous Torpedo Factory. Mai Thai serves simple uptown chic combined with delicious hospitality and exquisite cuisine.


description-e6d4a8be94c76e62f29df2fbade740eaStep aboard Washington DC’s most elegant cruising vessel for distinctive dining and dancing. Award-winning wines, exceptional service, delightful ambiance and paired with spectacular views of Washington DC’s historic monuments. It is about taking a celebration, and making it unforgettable.

From each of her three climate-controlled glass-atrium dining rooms to the outside deck, Odyssey III offers a singularly unique setting that begs to be explored. Exquisitely renovated interiors, enticing dance floors as well as a distinctive atmosphere reminiscent of classic ocean liners.  Take an opportunity to visit the Captain’s bridge, open to all passengers throughout most of the cruise.

A menu of creative seasonal hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, entrees and desserts are prepared fresh, on board daily — complemented perfectly by an excellent wine list.  There is also a menu expressly for children.

There are many restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and more in Alexandria, that blends tradition, charm and comfort, I’ve only provided a small sampling of them here.  Be aware there are other dining establishments that also serve fare that vegans and vegetarians alike will enjoy immensely.

Kathy Kiefer

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