Tag Archives: Virginia

Racing – Great Meadow


Saturday, October 24, 2015
Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Rd, The Plains, VA

Virginia Downs Racing at Great Meadow

The Fall edition of the International Gold Cup will again feature steeplechase races but like the 2015 spring edition, will also include a minimum of three flat races. Sponsor/corporate tent and tailgating tickets can be purchased at www.vagoldcup.com or by calling 540-347-2612. The Gold Cup, which moved to its current location at Great Meadow in 1985, highlights the annual Fall steeplechase season.

For more information visit vagoldcup.com

SAM PuttLab Evaluation

Reduce your putts per round with a SAM PuttLab Evaluation with Raspberry Golf Academy’s Scott Adland! Get expert tips with the latest technology to improve your putting stroke in one session. Contact Scott for more details and lower your score today!

Ph: 480-861-7490
Email: sadland@raspberrygolfacademy.com
RGA Locations: Augustine Golf Club, Bull Run Golf Club, Landsdowne,
Old Hickory Golf Club, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club and Virginia Golf Center.

39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival


SEPTEMBER 12 & 13, 2015
Great Meadow Foundation, 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, VA

The Virginia Wine Festival offers a unique array of both free and ticketed tasting and learning opportunities.

vawineVisit the free Seminar Tent to broaden your knowledge and understanding of wine and wine culture, or make a grand day of it with a ticket to the gourmet Wine and Food Pairing Tent. Shorten your wait and enhance your experience with a ticket into the You Be the Judge Tasting Tent. Descriptions and purchase links on the ticketing page.

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Volunteer Opportunities in DC

:. Volunteer Opportunities

Have you been wondering where to go to help others and improve the community we live in? Here are some places where you can help:

  • Miriam's Kitchen
    2401 Virginia Avenue NW
    Helps homeless people in the Washington area through breakfast programs to case management programs.


  • Capital Area Food Bank
    645 Taylor St. NE
    The largest public, non-profit food and nutrition education resource in the D.C. Metro Area.


  • Greater DC Cares
    1725 I Street, NW, Suite 200
    Bridges community resident's skills, time, and goods with community needs to improve lives and strengthen D.C. region.


  • American Hospice Foundation
    2120 L Street, NW, Suite 200
    Supports programs that serve the needs of the terminally ill and grieving individuals of all ages.


  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
    1518 K Street NW, Suite 206
    Its mission is to mobilize the nonprofit, public and private sectors of society in an alliance to end homelessness.


  • The National Park Foundation
    11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 600
    Chartered by Congress in 1967, NPF's mission is to raise private support for National Parks, and to build a broad community of people who care about their parks.


  • American Red Cross
    2025 E Street, NW

:. Donation and Support

Consider a donation of support through one of these sites:

  • Center for Community Change
    1000 Wisconsin Ave. NW
    CCC is committed to reducing poverty and rebuilding low income communities.


  • Resources for the Future
    1616 P Street, NW
    An independent institute analyzing environmental, energy, and natural resource policies.


  • Goodwill of Greater Washington
    It's mission is to educate, train, employ and place people with disadvantages and disabilities, creating a stronger workforce and a more vital community while building dignity for the people we serve through the removal of barriers to personal success.


  • Cars4Charities
    An overview of the benefits of donating a car in DC, including links to DC charities represented by cars4charities.


:. Other Volunteering and Charity Resources

More information about volunteer activities and charity organizations in Washington D.C.:

  • dosomething.org
    – a volunteer network. Type in your zipcode and find many ways you can help in the DC area.
  • KSD Partners
    An international fundraising and management consulting firm committed to helping non-profit organizations achieve their development goals.
    Clients | Approach | Resources

Hottest Networking Event in DC

FLOCK Network Night – Theme: Beauty & Wellness
Thursday, June 26, 2008
5.30 – 7.30 PM
River Bend Golf and Country Club
375 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA 22066
Open bar, hors’ douerves, all door prizes valued 0-00.
Receive complimentary consultations, treatments, massages, product samples and more!

Come join us this Thursday, June 26 at the River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls, VA for our Beauty and Wellness-themed networking event!
Event runs from 5.30 – 7.30 PM.

Aside from being a high-quality business and social networking event at one of the most exclusive country clubs in the area, you will:

Meet Metro DC area’s premier dermatologists, the cosmetic dentist Long Beach office and cosmetic surgeons who will give complimentary evaluations, consultations, demonstrations, product samples and share the latest trends, procedures and revolutionary products in the cosmetic beauty industry. Some of our experts include Dr. David Green of David Green, M.D. And Dr. Chong W. Lee and Dr. Joseph Oh of Galleria Dental Aesthetics, voted Best Aesthetic dentist by the Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Living Magazine.

Meet Mark Terna of NuSpaCeuticals, exclusive distributor of Intraceuticals’ Oxygen Facial and skin care line who counts Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez as some of his most loyal clients.

Try Dr. Siegel’s Cookie Diet – a national diet phenomenon recently featured on The Today Show, CNN, The View, Entertainment Tonight, E! TV and The Big Idea: Donnie Deutsche.

Receive product samples, demonstrations and consultation from brands such as Laura Mercier, PRIMA Day Spa, Dr. Kathy Thompson, M.D., Dr. Karen Lawson, M.D., Arbonne International, Salon Keenan, Body Elements, Lifestyle Weight Management and more!

Get a chance to receive lots of fabulous door prizes ranging from diet, cosmetic and Skincare products to a 10-session Endermologie cellulite and contouring treatment (00) and a package of 4 Laser genesis treatments (00). All door prizes are valued between 0 – 00.

Indulge in good food and company, an open bar, great music and gorgeous views of the River Bend golf course.

This event is by invitation only and limited to 150 attendees so sign up today (please register additional guests under your name) – call 703.268.5626 or emailinfo@flockevents.com to RSVP or for more information. pre-registered; at door. Reception starts at 5.00 PM.

River Bend Golf and Country Club is located at 375 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA 22066.

Event will be held in the main clubhouse banquet room – ample parking available in adjacent parking lot.

The Troubled Times at The Washington Examiner

It used to be that in order to survive in the corridors of powers in the local journo establishment you had to work all sides of the aisles – politics, lobbying and the press. But these days, going by the goings-on at The Washington Examiner newspaper, the turnstiles are all about going back and forth between the same employers, or jumping ship even before the vessel has sailed.

Take the famed Pentagon ace Rowan Scarborough as an example. He was a star correspondent for years at the Washington Times snagging exclusives-after-exclusives (he had one yesterday splashed across the top of the front page) but then he got sucked into the Examiner by the newly-minted editor, Stephen Smith (whose married to the more prolific and more successful Vanity Fair chronicler Sally Smith who takes him around the party circuit) and he quit the Times to go work for The Examiner. Part of the deal also was to get his columns to run nationally on the Examiner website (more on that later) and promote a book he was putting to bed.

[PIC CAPTION: Rowan Scarborough's stint at the Examiner was marred by sloppy copy editing and constant clashes with the ME on when to post stories to the web. One day Exec Editor Steve Smith clashed with the online desk on posting Scarborough's stories. The next day Scarborough's desk was empty.]

The honeymoon barely lasted a few months. Sloppy editing of his stories across town where the copy desk sits in Virginia editing both the DC and Baltimore papers, constant clashes with the then Managing Editor, and a showdown with Steve Smith over placement of hot stories on the web, and one fine morning, the newsroom found his desk empty. Rowan had had enough, and he bolted.

After a sabbatical, Scarborough has resurfaced to helm the Pentagon coverage for his old employer: The Washington Times.

He's not the only one not to get a goodbye from Smith and his entourage. Ace Capitol Hill reporter Charlie Hurt also had a turbulent time with Smith at the Examiner. He lasted there but a few months even though his Pork coverage ranked high in online traffic for the paper's website and left without a goodbye party.Not to mention that more than a dozen staffers since Smith took over have quit took over his management style and people began to complain about his mercurial ways and short-temper bursts and quirky monday morning quarterbacking in daily editorial meetings where he's known to shoot suspenders and plot strategy to defeat the online powers-that-be in Denver that run the online arm of the paper. Among Smith's new hires was also a New York-based investigative reporter but the ink was barely dry on his pieces that soon he too was gone. No word on why he left.

But more than anything, Smith's relationship with the then-Managing Editor Nicholas Horrock spoke volumes of the fractures within the newsroom. Just a few months after Smith cemented his boots on the table, he trained his guns on Horrock and he was one of the earlier casualties of the Smith weapon about to be unleashed on the newsroom. Horrock was essentially fired for speaking up against his boss (and sometimes taking power cat naps at his desk). Soon thereafter a bevy of editors left the editing operations in Virginia where a editor was dispatched from the newsroom to clean up copy (and the mess). He also soon departed taking a couple of eds with him. On some days there are a couple of eds scurrying to bed both the DC and Baltimore editions and using AP copy to fill the pages seems the most likeliest exit.

[PIC CAPTION: Charlie Hurt didn't last long enough to make an impression but his stories did get a lot of impressions on the website.] Rubbing elbows with the online team – headed by a now-deposed Dave Schafer who ran the online operations from Denver with three editorial types including Gil Asakawa who was popularly nicknamedDave's Garage Door Opener

– was a royal treat for Smith who rallied against the online team on a daily basis inside the newsroom. Often jockeying for more power to control the online version of the local paper, he found himself at loggerheads with senior Denver management on how best to position local content getting to an excruciating low by cutting off content access to the Denver online team from the local eds. Things got so heated between him and the online team that he cut the cord with Denver. For a while there was a logo for the paper and right next to it a globe-trotting new logo for the online edition that appeared in the paper. Today, you only see one logo on the paper. The globe's been replaced by a link to a local online site he's reportedly developing called DCExaminer.com. So, in a nutshell, you've got a publication within a publication. If you belong to the Denver camp, you visit examiner.com. If you belong to the Smith camp, you visit dcexaminer.com. Nowhere is what more visible than on the website where the co-existing Israeli-Palestinian accord has been carved out where both staffers for examiner.com and dcexaminer.com learn to co-habit. Of course, they don't like talking to each other.

Smith is known to hire cronies and seldom does he like to venture beyond favoritism. There is no meritocracy when it comes to hiring. After Horrock was shown the door, Smith hired a former colleague from the Austin newspaper he felt compelled to leave to take on the job. Michael Hedges, a notorious web-basher , was hired as a hatchet man who put the brakes on any support to the Denver online team. Few weeks into his job, Hedges began to roll back any promises the desk made to the online team in Denver to post stories during the day and also began to question the reach and readership of the online edition as a justification to put the web initiative on the back burner.

Lets just put it this way, said a Denver staffer who quit in disgust: They're not FOOLs out there in DC. By FOOLs just what did he mean? "Friends Of On Line," he quipped as he drove of to a restaurant.

[PIC CAPTION: Mike Hedges was known by Denver as a notorius web-basher.]









[PIC CAPTION: Then-Publisher Herb Maloney, Patrick Gavin, Executive Editor Vivienne Sosnowski and Jeff Dufour back in the heydays. Maloney quit in no time, Sosnowski was sent upstairs to corporate and the Y&N gossip guys rarely cover the shenanigans within the paper. Pic courtesy of Washington Life. ]


50 Fun Things Atlanta Got To Offer

Atlanta Ballet

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Braves and Turner Field

Atlanta Civil War History

Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome

Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena

Atlanta History Center

Atlanta Motor Sports

Atlanta Opera

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chastain Park Amphitheatre

Atlanta University Center and the Historic West End

Atlanta Walking Tours

Atlantic Station

Discounts Galore

See a Broadway Show

Buckhead, A Luxurious Experience

Centennial Olympic Park

Center for Puppetry Arts

Chattahoochee River Fun


Chateau Élan Winery & Resort

City of Decatur

Inside CNN Studio Tour

Dine Out

Let’s Do Downtown Year Round

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Festivals Galore

The Georgia Aquarium

Georgia’s History Under the Gold Dome

Golf in Atlanta

The Gone With the Wind Experience

A New High Museum of Art for Atlanta

Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

Marietta Historic District

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Sweet Auburn District

Midtown, The Heart of the Arts.

NEW World of Coca-Cola

Piedmont Park

Roswell Historic District

School's in for Culture

City Segway Tours

Shop Until You Drop

Six Flags Over Georgia & Six Flags White Water

Stone Mountain Park

Find Theater at its Best

Underground Atlanta


William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

Yellow River Game Ranch and Kangaroo Conservation Center


Zoo Atlanta

Beauty May be Skin-Deep But Most Americans In It Knee-Deep

While 77% of Americans say that beauty is primarily about non-physical attributes, almost half would change something about their looks if they could, according to a recent survey by global market research firm Synovate.

Synovate recently tackled a range of beauty issues in a global survey of over 7,000 people in nine countries, included 500 people in the United States. The survey asked people to spill their beauty secrets … how do people define beauty? Where do people from different cultures see themselves on the beauty scale? And would they want to do anything to change their looks?

Virginia Weil, Senior Vice President of Synovate's Consumer & Business Insights group, said beauty is an issue that spawns as many opinions as it does products.

"Humans are complex. Some of us are quite open about wishing we were beautiful, others feel they already are, and many dismiss beauty as an 'on-the-surface' issue. Still more of us think all these things at once!"

While much of the survey was about beauty-on-the-outside, Synovate first asked respondents to define beauty, with two thirds of all people surveyed choosing a definition about something other than physical appearance. Overall, 41% of Americans attribute beauty to 'what's on the inside' and another 36% say it's all about confidence. For 16%, beauty means attracting other people while only 5% said that beauty is 'all about having good looks.'

Not everyone can actually be beautiful but culture, gender and confidence influence whether you think you are. Synovate asked respondents to place themselves on the beauty continuum, anywhere from 'I am beautiful and do not need to change anything about the way I look' through to 'I do not think I am beautiful or attractive and want to change the way I look'.

Interestingly, Americans had the poorest self image when it comes to beauty compared to the other countries surveyed. While almost one third of Americans think they are good looking 'but there's always room for improvement', another 25% think they look ordinary or unattractive and would like to change their looks. Only 6% think they are beautiful and do not need to change anything about their looks.

More than half (57%) of people globally do not want to change the way they look (whether they believe they are beautiful or not), but that means over 40% would change their looks if they could.

According to the survey, nearly half of all people globally think beauty advertisements help make women feel inadequate, including 64% of Americans. However, when it comes to beauty tips in magazines, 41% of everyone surveyed and one third of Americans say they pay attention to them.

So where does all this leave beauty marketers? Operating in a minefield of mixed beliefs, feelings and motivations, says Weil.

"What a challenge marketers face! Creating and positioning a product for people who feel beautiful and confident, versus those who feel ordinary and happy, versus unattractive and not that happy about it, is a modern marketing dilemma."

Added Bob Michaels, Senior Vice President in Synovate's Consumer Insights group, "While not everyone believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perception of beauty certainly varies widely depending upon one's cultural peers. The study findings show some of the strongest differences across countries that we've seen, with causes likely ranging from heavy media influence, such as in the U.S., to strong traditional values in developing countries."

Overall, the majority of all people surveyed agreed that beauty is more about looking after yourself than being naturally attractive. Two thirds think facial or beauty products make a person more attractive – 72% of women and 62% of men believe this is the case. What's more, if money were no object, 46% of women and a quarter of all men would spend more on branded facial and beauty products in the belief these products would work their magic.

When asked about plastic surgery, the number of Americans who would consider it (if money was no object) was quite high at 26%, while 19% of respondents across the globe would consider this more radical beauty intervention and people is less scared of facial plastic surgery procedures and go to the top clinics in NY to get them. In nearly every market, the number of women who would yield to the knife or needle was more than double the number of men.

The survey also found that, even if money were no object, there are still three in ten people across the globe who are comfortable enough with their beauty (within or without, or both) to do nothing at all… no extra products, no spa treatments, no tanning, no skin whitening or surgery, although some people have remove hair treatments in some spas. And that's a beautiful thought.

For more information on this study visit www.synovate.com/insights/infact/issues/200806.

Hollywood Artist Explores the 'Green' side of Famous L.A. Landmarks

Nathan Horner's new installment in the 'L.A. Icons' series celebrating L.A.'s famous landmarks (Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Griffith Observatory) focuses on the vegetation: the shrub outside Yamashiro restaurant, the Palm Trees on Hollywood Boulevard, hedges on Hollywood way. Whereas his earlier paintings focused primarily on the architectural aspect of these landmarks (Beverly Hills Hotel, Mann Chinese Theater, Capitol Records), the new paintings explore the play of light and shadow of the vegetation on the buildings and surrounding landscape. The exhibit opens at EM & Co, a West Hollywood boutique hosting the works of Los Angeles artists alongside fashions from global and local designers.

“I am inspired here by the sea, sky, the light, and how it falls on Southern California. I also find inspiration in the visual history that was, and is created here, and the icons of eras passed,” says Horner. Nathan Horner's style, which evolved over the years, has been influenced by John Singer Sargent, Vincent Van Gogh, and Edward Hopper. Recently, he has been chosen to exhibit his works in the Hopper House Center, in New York, the birthplace and childhood home of Edward Hopper, run by the Edward Hopper Landmark Preservation Foundation, in a show slated for 2010.

“His paintings capture the essence of L.A. And vegetation plays such a strong role in creating this L.A. feel — the golden palm trees, what a perfect symbol of L.A.,” says Eveline Morel, owner of EM & Co. The 'L.A. Icons' exhibit will be at EM & Co from July 24 through August 20.

Born and raised in Ohio and Virginia, in California since the early 90's, Nathan Horner is set on becoming an active contributor to LA's artistic and cultural landscape. Horner has shown in galleries and other locations around the US, including the LACMA sales and rental gallery, Arclight Cinemas, and numerous galleries in San Diego. Earlier paintings in the 'L.A. Icons' series are now sold as post card gift sets at EM & Co and other stores around Los Angeles. For more info. On Horner's past and future exhibits: http://www.nathanhorner.com/.

NBC4 Launches NBC Washington Traffic Cam

NBC4 has partnered with 3rd Dimension, Inc. to launch today NBC Washington Traffic Cam, a free service* for mobile phone users providing live, up-to-the-second traffic video and information for Washington, D.C.; Northern Virginia; and suburban Maryland.

NBC Washington Traffic Cam is designed to help millions of daily commuters view traffic tie-ups on their mobile devices before beginning their commutes. With access to a network of 450+ live roadside cameras, the service can help data-enabled cell phone users plan their commutes more carefully and avoid gridlock areas. This advertising-supported service is powered by Mobileyes software from 3rd Dimension.

“Washington area traffic is consistently ranked among the worst in the nation,” said Michael Jack, president and general manager of NBC4. “We're pleased to provide this useful service to help our viewers save time and ease frustration while they're on the road.”

To download the application, commuters should click on the NBC Washington Traffic Cam link at www.NBC4.com or by calling 1-877-NBC-DC03 (877-622-3203). A text message is then sent to the user, who can click on the link to download and install the application.

Once installed, users can view more than 450 roadside traffic camera displays that are operated by the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Montgomery County (MD) Department of Transportation, City of Fairfax (VA) Department of Public Works and the D.C. Department of Transportation in association with TrafficLand, Inc.

Selecting cameras is simple and user-friendly. Freeways, highways and city streets of interest are available with full motion video or up-to-the-second still photos. As an added bonus, favorite routes can be stored and accessed quickly with a push of a single button.

“Mobile phones are everywhere and have become an indispensable tool in our personal and professional lives,” said Eric Joseph, president, 3rd Dimension. “Washington Traffic Cam, built on the Mobileyes software platform, puts a simple to use, on-demand traffic advisory service in the palm of your hand.”

The NBC Washington Traffic Cam application is compatible with data enabled phones on the Sprint, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and includes popular smartphones such as the BlackBerry, Palm Treo and the Motorola Q.

Wine That Shines: Alamos Malbec 2007 Catena

The 2007 Alamos Malbec has a dark, blackish purple color. The nose shows ripe black fruits, black pepper spice and floral notes. The mouthfeel is full yet soft and supple, with black raspberry and currant flavors mingled with notes of sweet spice and a touch of leather. The finish is long and persistent with soft, sweet tannins. This Malbec, sent over to us by the generous PR folks at Springfield, Virginia-based Billington Wines, was the instant winner among the reds we poured at the consumer product tasting lab we held last week. Our reviewers loved the vino for it oozes dried raisiny fruit character and has ripe sweet tannins, resulting in an incredibly approachable wine. Ready to drink now and over the next 2-5 years.


PartyDigest Dining Diva Blogger

Dining Diva Review: The World’s Best Barbecue–Troy’s Ribs Boynton Beach, Florida

The best ribs I have found in the world have been at Troy’s BBQ in Boynton Beach. I’ve been a BBQ Ho for my entire life and have eaten Q all over the USA and the world and I have yet to find a better rib joint than the little take-out shack at NE 10th and Federal Highway (US 1) in Boynton Beach, Florida. There’s no point in reviewing ambience or service because there isn’t any–it’s a takeout window in a 600 square foot building so close to the railroad tracks that you can’t hear a thing when the train goes by. Troy is only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and you better get there early because when it’s gone you are SOL until the next batch comes out of the smoker–and that takes at least 18 hours. The limited menu features ribs, chicken, beef and pork along with a sweet potato pie that is a really excellent rendition of a humble dish.

Troy uses a secret spice rub and then gently smokes the ribs for hours over a wood mix that leaves them incredibly delicious and shake-the-meat-off-the-bone tender. He has a house BBQ that is good, but I rarely use it–those amazing ribs don’t need it!! It’s a sweet mustard based sauce that is very similar to Blue Front BBQ Sauce and it’s good, but the flavor of BBQ is in the meat, not in the sauce. Call ahead for large orders. He also does catering and I have served his ribs at countless parties where my guest ate every single rib and raved about them. Tell him the limo lady sent you, he’ll know! I wish I could talk him into franchising so I could get a franchise here in Illinois!! I used to live 15 minutes from there and now I live in Virginia and every time I come to visit, I bring back 50 pounds of ribs as carry-on luggage to sustain me until my next Florida visit. If there is a heaven, then Troy certainly will have the rib concession because between here and heaven there are no better ribs to be had for love or money, and I am sure that angels will line up for his BBQ! His fame has spread nationwide–I mentioned him to the owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse and he has also heard of Troy’s Ribs. I’d never live in Florida again, but I sure do miss Troy’s ribs–they are one of two places in Florida that I never fail to visit when I am home for a visit with my family!
Dining Diva Review: China Restaurant, Highland Illinois–A Rural Surprise That Rivals Hong Kong’s Finest Restaurants!

Imagine the shock of moving to a tiny town in rural Illinois and discovering a Chinese restaurant on the same level as the magnificent ones I dined in all over Asia! This is the case with the China Restaurant located on the town square in Highland, Illinois. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but there’s ample parking and even though the booth seating is a little lumpy, the staff is friendly and they all speak English fluently. The menu prices are VERY reasonable and although the portions aren’t huge, they are more than enough for a substantial meal. The egg rolls are more like spring rolls, but are very tasty. The Wonton soup has big meaty wontons in a lovely chicken broth that was made from chickens instead of soup base. The Hot and Sour soup is one of the best I’ve had in the USA and only equalled by a restaurant in Palm Beach, FL and another one in Richmond, VA who use the virtually the same recipe. The LoMeins are tasy and filled with meats and veggies as is the fried rice, and even though this is ordinary fare, they do a very good job of it–and if you can’t do the basics well, the rest won’t be good either. They do excellent sweet and sour dishes as their meat pieces are mostly meat instead of mostly breading and is very crisp and not greasy.Where China Restaurant really shines is in the Chef Specialties. Their General Tao’s Chicken has a very thin crisp coating and is tossed in a wonderful sauce and served with very fresh steamed broccoli and has a spicy sweet bite that can be adjusted to your taste preferences. Their Orange Beef is likewise a tasty dish with a definite orange flavor and bits of juliennes orange peel prominently scattered through the dish. The Sesame Beef is tender with a light sauce that again will have a spicy bite altered to your taste. They will also add spice to dishes that are not normally though of as spicy dishes if you request it. The Mu Shu Pork (or beef, chicken and shrimp) is wonderfully flavored and rolled up in lovely thin rice pancakes with just the right touch of Hoisin sauce and the Twice Cooked Pork is a classic in brown sauce that lightly glazes the cabbage, peppers and pork. Even the fortune cookies are good–fresh, crisp and individually wrapped. The service is attentive and water and beverage service is prompt, and chopsticks are available on request. They have a small selection of imported beers including Tsing Tao which is a very good Chinese imported beer and a small wine selection. They deliver lunch and dinner locally as well as catering and selling their sauces (sweet and sour, etc.) by the pint or quart for use in home recipes. Friendly service, low prices, fresh ingredients and an excellent chef make this little Asian restaurant jewel shine in the heartland in a place you would not expect to find it!
Food: 4 stars
Service 3 stars
Dining Diva Review: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Baton Rouge, LA

We dined here with my husband’s parents to celebrate his Dad’s birthday. The ambience was very nice and the table properly appointed, but the meal left a lot to be desired. Fleming’s is owned by Outback, so I was hoping for a great dining experience in the expensive restaurant category, in the class of the Raindancer Steak House. Alas, this was not to be. They did make an effort to make my father-in-law happy for his birthday by bringing him a “birthday salad” composed of a wedge of iceberg lettuce heart slathered in bleu cheese dressing which Dad absolutely LOVES after we declined the cake offer (we had gotten an Ambrosia Cake from Baton Rouge’s best bakery that was at home for later) but while it showed the dedication of our waiter, the rest of the meal was substantially below what we had expected for a restaurant of this alleged calibre. It was WAY WAY overpriced for a steak full of gristle. Service was good but it should be for what they charge. As expensive as Ruth’s Chris and also a la carte which I find annoying–for a steak would it kill you to toss me a 50 cent potato? The salads were good, the wine list impressive, but the steaks were a miserable failure all the way around. I’d never eat there again, I’ve had better steaks at Golden Corral than the miserable piece of meat they served me at this failure of a restaurant. My father-in-law had a good time, but he always has a good time with us–we could have stayed at home and gotten a slew of boiled crawfish like we did last time we were in Baton Rouge, spicy and fresh cooked with corn and potatoes, we dumped them on the patio table a had a feast! Fleming’s needs to find a new meat supplier or they need to lower the prices because their meat supplier is ripping them off in a big way–and apparently their executive chef doesn’t know how to pick out and butcher a decent piece of meat.
Dining Diva Review: Mungo’s Restaurant in Fairview Heights IL–Review

My husband and I had dinner at Mungo’s tonight (9/5/07) and it was quite a distressing experience. I grew up in the restaurant business, owned a very profitable one for a while and spent 2 years at Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo–along with having been cooking for almost 40 years. First, there was some sort of black gunge in my iced tea–not a big deal, the tea was replaced immediately but I couldn’t figure out what it was that was in there–but it made a yukky dark brown smear on the tacky white butcher paper they put over the tablecloths–what’s up with that by the way? Can’t they afford tablecloth laundry? It looks REALLY tacky to have white paper over a burgundy tablecloth–here’s a hint–spring for the Plexiglas cover if you can’t afford tablecloths or better yet no tablecloth. Anything is better than the white-trash ambiance of the paper-covered table! I had the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and asked for the chicken to be well done since I’ve been served MORE than my share of raw chicken and shrimp over salads and pastas and I hate sending food back. The fettuccine was good, but the chicken was ROCK HARD and obviously had been microwaved–there wasn’t a grill mark or browning of any sort to be seen on it and I could barely cut it with a knife–really bad. I told the waiter this but didn’t send it back because in all fairness I DID ask for well-done chicken and I figured the chef wanted to make sure it was not coming back. The waiter insisted that it hadn’t been microwaved, but it had been not that I cared to argue about it, I just wanted to eat after a stressful day of wedding planning and auditioning restaurant and caterers. I had forgotten about it; when to my utter astonishment, a man dressed in blue-jean cutoffs claiming to be the OWNER (who looked like he’d been nipping a few at the bar) came to my table and began screaming that the chicken had not been microwaved and that it had been sauteed in olive oil and that I had insulted his restaurant and that I shouldn’t tell them how I wanted my food cooked–just let them handle it. Up to this point the crud in the tea, the tacky butcher paper over the tablecloth and the rock-hard microwaved chicken were basically non-issues and I would have given the restaurant another try somewhere down the road since I always eat somewhere twice before reviewing or deciding never to eat there again. In the limo/wedding/hospitality biz one has to be a little flexible and realize that doo-doo does happen–regular chef is sick and the replacement pops a piece of chicken in a microwave to try and give the customer what was requested, but for the owner to come out and scream at dinner guests is an experience I have never had–and won’t repeat. I didn’t understand why the place was so empty at the dinner hour, but after being lambasted by the owner, it all makes perfect sense and I understand why the poor chef lied about microwaving the chicken to his enraged boss–who then turned his rage on the customer, a super no-no in the hospitality industry. As a retired restaurant owner, professionally trained chef and limousine business owner, I do have more than my fair share of cooking and hospitality experience and I wouldn’t eat there again if I were STARVING to DEATH. My wedding guests CERTAINLY won’t be subjected to a dining experience at Mungo’s and the owner should seriously consider some etiquette lessons–which would be a tax write-off because it would help him manage both his restaurant and temper. I was so stunned that I didn’t even think to get up and walk out–which astonished my husband to be who told me later that he was fully prepared to get up and walk out. This man has a LOT to learn about the restaurant business–treating customers badly explains why he can’t afford a good chef, table linens and iced tea without crud in the bottom of the glass!
Food: 1 star
Service: 2 stars
Screaming and Possibly Drunken Owner: Unbelievable!
Dining Diva Review: Dewey’s Pizza, Kirkwood Missouri

We visited Dewey’s Pizza in Kirkwood, MO on Saturday and were delighted by the entire experience. There was a 10 minute wait for a table, which wasn’t a big deal but we were surprised that the restaurant was so busy since Saturday lunch is historically the slowest day of the week for most places. We were seated at a booth that was spotlessly clean, (as was the restroom I visited while waiting for a table) given menus, and our drink order was taken promptly by our server, Annie. The menu was clear and concise and unusually informative, something I really appreciated as I like to know what’s going to be on my plate. Even though there was a team service concept going on, Annie was our main server and returned quickly with our drinks. She patiently told us about the pizza and answered our questions even though they were very busy and when I asked for a slight variation on my salad, her “no problem” reply was instant and came with a genuine smile. She also told me that there would be a slight extra charge for what I wanted, which was no big deal–fifty cents–but it was nice to be told in advance and not get the check and see it there. I love informed consent! She left with our order and the other wait staff members refilled our drinks at hal
-full cheerfully, albeit hurriedly, as they were still slammed. My salad arrived promptly and was delicious and unusual. The usual iceberg lettuce was nowhere to be seen, but the cold, crisp mix of field greens was a pleasant change! Since I was unable to decide between the peppercorn ranch and the house balsamic vinaigrette, Annie brought me a waffle cup of each on the side, and as a sidebar, she is one of the best wait staff I’ve ever had at any restaurant. She could easily make the jump to fine dining at any 5 star establishment in the country, I was very impressed with her and hope she realizes her potential. Both of the dressings were so good that we saved them after the salad course, something I normally do NOT do.Annie also told us that we could have a half white and half red pizza, a choice I have never been given before and was delighted to have since I like both red and white pizza. I finished my salad and one of the server team (not Annie) whisked away my plate, but took my used silverware off of the plate and placed it back on the table–the ONLY service flaw in the entire experience, I would have expected clean silverware to be offered and if it wasn’t, the dirty utensils removed–I left them on the salad plate for a reason. Service plates and extra napkins were left in advance of the arrival of the pie, and the plates were shiny clean. The pizza arrived and it was magnificent–plenty of toppings and perfectly done with a satisfyingly thick layer of cheese on both sides. I prefer my toppings under the cheese to hold them down and prevent them from escaping off the pie, but it’s a minor point. The red side was spicy with just the right bite and amount of sauce and the white side was just as good with the hint of garlic that could have been stronger, but that’s a personal preference. The crust was crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside and totally delicious–one of the best pizza crusts I have ever had. I’m ashamed to admit that we ate every single morsel of the pizza between the two of us–we are hogs to be sure–but we couldn’t stop eating the delicious pizza which is why there is no dessert review included this time. Annie came by to make sure the pizza was the way we liked it and the tea refills were continued until we finished the pie and declined any further refills. The check was presented right after the empty pizza dish was removed, and the credit card was whisked away and returned for signature promptly but we were not rushed to leave even though they were STILL very busy. I have not had a service or dining experience to beat this one at any pizza establishment I have ever visited and it rates many returns and a top rating–the best I have ever given any pizza or family casual dining establishment in my life! Keep up the good word–I’m a customer forever! When I have 6 months to live, I am having my bed moved to the store!! I have also dined at their sister restaurant in University City Missouri and the food is just as good, but the service at the Kirkwood store is a little better. It’s nice to see consistency in a chain!
Service 4.75 starsFood 5 stars
Dining Diva Review: Millenium Hotel Restaurant–A View To Die For, And A Chef Who Should be Shot!

City: St. Louis, Missouri, Top of the River Restaurant, Millennium Hotel.

My beloved husband and I went to celebrate our FIRST wedding anniversary tonight. He picked a restaurant that had a carousel top revolving 28 floors above the St. Louis streets: The Millennium Hotel’s Top of the Riverfront. The Arch and the river made for a beautiful view as the sun slowly sank in the west and the lights of the big city came on as we watched. Our waitress Brenda was a darling, and the evening began with the promise of wine, romance and a sumptuous meal. But, sadly, like the song says, two out of three ain’t bad. John did his very best and the romantic atmosphere was delightful–the view, starched white table linens and crystal clear goblets filled with a crisp German Riesling made for a wonderful beginning. Then the baby at the next table began to scream–and the evening that had started with such promise unraveled into an unparalleled dining disaster. We made our displeasure at having to listed to the screaming brat known to dear Brenda who did everything but toss the miserable spawn of Satan out the window to make the noise stop. My first instinct was to finish the wine and soup, pay the bill and leave but John said the periodic 110 decibel shrieks were tolerable so we stayed. I do not know why restaurants of this supposed calibre allow children under the age of 12 when the world is full of Denny’s and McDonald’s where even though screaming brats are still annoying, they are “family oriented”. At for a 9 oz filet, I don’t want to hear anything but the lovely sound of the talented piano player. We asked if we could move but that apparently wasn’t an option, but I digress. We started our dinner with the Apple Jack Onion soup which was topped with a thick and satisfying layer of melted cheese and two pieces of crispy garlic crostini. For some unknown reason, pieces of RAW purple onion were placed in the soup under the cheese, but after I picked them out, the soup had nice flavor even if they did add pepper by the boxful, but we like spicy food so it was an interesting twist on a classic recipe. The crisp Riesling was a nice counterpoint to the soup and the screams from the next table were intermittent and barely made me jump more than 2 or 3 inches. Brenda went to the table several times to try to quiet the demon seed, and to her credit (and tip) had some success in silencing the lamb and blowing them out of the restaurant in the way a good waitperson can do when s/he wants the table turned and fast! God bless Brenda. John ordered his steak medium and I opted for my standby of Pittsburgh rare (black and blue by any other name is still burnt and cold) and as I have come to expect in 99% of the steakhouses in the world, they didn’t know how to do it. They did manage to make John’s filet Mignon so raw that he barely nibbled around the edges (and to avoid the large chunk of gristle in the middle of his steak–the first time I’ve ever seen gristle in a filet Mignon) so that it wouldn’t bite him back since it was still alive and brought mine out barely pink and minus the burnt crust that I so love–and am willing to forgo overcooked centers for that burnt flavor I crave. The first bite of my steak was filled with gristle, the second bite flavorless and the third bite had another huge chunk of gristle and I didn’t bother with a fourth. I didn’t know that Dollar Tree had a meat section, but doubtless that’s where the restaurant buys their steaks. The “Bearnaise” sauce was from a mix and tasted of flour and tarragon with none of the buttery tartness of a Bearnaise made with tarragon, wine vinegar and egg yolks with butter lovingly beat in to form the emulsion that makes Bearnaise sauce what angels dine on, the “Yukon gold” potatoes were ordinary white potatoes with no cheese flavor and I didn’t bother to taste the lone baby carrot because I didn’t care by then, so it might have been the world’s best carrot ever–but I somehow doubt it. The 3 small asparagus spears were quite good though, they were the highlight of the meal. Brenda was mortified by the huge chunks of gristle and the errors in cooking and we ended up paying for the soup and the wine (and of course tipped her on the entire amount of what the bill was before they removed the steaks from the check) and then we left, John very disappointed in the food and me very disappointed that the wonderful evening that John planned for our first wedding anniversary went south since he had tried so hard to make it a special evening. He gets an A+ for effort because he really went to a lot of trouble, and I was astonished that the restaurant didn’t require jacket and tie. I guess when your food is that bad, you let anyone in–squalling babies and jeans and flip flops are welcome. The view was breathtaking as the sun went down and the lights of the city came up, but the food ruins the whole experience. I expected so much more from this gorgeous venue, it was a total disappointment. I might go there to have some wine and watch the sunset but I’d never eat there again. Service 3 stars Food 1/2 star