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    Welcome to planet #MountVernon! Actually, @ianaberle has used the #TinyPlanet App to get this really cool effect. While George Washington's home looks on top of the world here, in reality it sits high above the beautiful Potomac River near Alexandria. #LoveVA #georgewashington #president #planet #virginia #vatravel #photooftheday @mount_vernon @visitalexva
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  • Archive for February 6th, 2014

    Chocolate Lovers’ Delight

    by Casey | Posted on February 6th, 2014

    Chocolate is a tempter. Indulgent, smooth, delicious. Fulfill your sweet cocoa desires with a visit to a Virginia chocolatier or an upcoming event.

     

     Chocolate Artisans

    The Ultimate Chocolate Experience by Chocolate Spike

    The Ultimate Chocolate Experience by Chocolate Spike

    Alexandria – Artfully Chocolate - Part art gallery, part chocolatier, part cocoa bar and completely fabulous!

    Arlington – Artisan Confections - Specializing in high-quality, hand-made chocolates that are elegant in both design and flavor.

    Blacksburg – Chocolate Spike – Artistic chocolate endeavors by by Genie Ranck, producer of exciting creations.

    Charlottesville – Gearhart’s Fine Chocolates - An artisanal chocolate shop in Historic Downtown Charlottesville that specializes in handmade confections of uncompromising quality.

    Dayton – Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe - Homemade in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley: old fashioned creme fudge, chocolate creme truffles, and “sugar free” chocolates, just to name a few.

    Glass House Winery

    Glass House Winery

    Free Union – Glass House Winery – You read right. A winery that not only excels at wine making, but also makes their own in-house chocolates. Win-win.

    Harrisonburg – Chocolate Occasions – See for yourself how the goods are made, then take home a box or two!

    Lexington – Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co. - Offering a wide assortment of chocolates in dark, bittersweet, milk and white. Also featuring turtles — hand poured caramel over fresh pecans topped with milk chocolate; butter cremes, hand rolled truffles … the list goes on!

    Louisa – Cooper Vineyards – Drink your chocolate! Noche Chocolate is a Virginia Norton dessert wine infused with chocolate. It’s also an award-winning wine (2012 Silver Virginia Governor’s Cup and others).

    Richmond – Chocolates by Kelly - See chocolatiers make world-class chocolates right before your eyes. Take a class, buy a gift, try something new and exciting, or taste a treat that’ll make you feel like a kid again!

    Richmond – Gearhart’s Fine Chocolate - Voted one of Chocolatier Magazine’s “Top 20 Artisan Chocolatiers” in the U.S., Tim Gearhart combines Single-Bean Venezuelan Chocolates, fine local and exotic ingredients, and passionate craftsmanship to create chocolates of unparalleled depth and complexity.

    Virginia Beach – The Royal Chocolate - Indulge from cases filled with store made chocolates using Belgian Chocolate – truffles, creams, caramels, chocolate and caramel coated pretzels, not to mention the famous chocolate covered apples!

    Williamsburg – MAD About Chocolate - A chocolate cafe by Marcel Desaulniers, author of Death by Chocolate and nine other cookbooks.

     

    Chocolate Events

    February 7 – Winchester – Chocolate Escape – Thirteen participating downtown restaurants are offering a $2 chocolate sampling menu while and 16 retailers have chocolate themed deals and offers available.

    February 8 – Warrenton – 4th Annual Chocolate Extravaganza – This is a chocolate tasting fundraiser in memory of a 22 year old who lost her life to Leukemia. Six samples for $10.

     

    Chocolate and Wine

    February 7-15 – Bridgewater – Wine & Chocolate Pairing in the Tasting Room at Bluestone Vineyard – Eight wines paired with eight Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe chocolates for $12.

    February 8 – Oak Grove – A Taste of Wine & Chocolate at Ingleside Vineyards - Indulge in the finest Ingleside wines with an elegant chocolate experience. Reservations required.

    February 11 – Norfolk – Chocolate Wine Pairing at Mermaid Winery – Four pairings for $20. Reservations required.

    February 14 – Stanley – Valentine Chocolate and Wine at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard – Join in the chocolate fondue and wine! Get a plate of dipping goodies and a glass of wine for $15.

    February 14-16 – Middleburg – Wine and Chocolate Weekend at Greenhill Winery and Vineyards – Handcrafted nut-free/gluten-free chocolates by locally owned Simply Nut Free will be paired with four Greenhill wines.

    February 14-16 – Purcellville – Breaux Vineyards’ Chocolate & Cabernet Tasting – Hand-rolled truffles and imported chocolate are paired with Breaux cabernet. $30; reservations suggested.

    February 15 – Floyd – Valentine’s Weekend Wine and Chocolate Pairing at Chateau Morrisette –  Chateau Morrisette’s wine-crafter, Rachel Lagergren and Wilbur’s Chocolates Master Chocolatier, Dona Peters will give an expert presentation of five wines paired with Wilbur Chocolates. $40 per person; reservations and pre-payment required.

     

    Where do you find your favorite chocolate? Leave a comment to tell us!

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    Events, Food, Food and Wine | 1 Comment

    5 Out of the Way Places to Explore in Northern Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on February 6th, 2014

    Let’s say you’ve visited the bigger attractions in Northern Virginia and now want something out of the ordinary to do. Got it. Let’s go …

    Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

    Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

    1. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary  Museum in Alexandria is a quirky place straight out of 1796. As one of Alexandria’s oldest continually run businesses, the Apothecary has a remarkable collection of medical equipment, herbal botanicals, handblown glass, and archival materials (i.e. journals, diaries, prescription and formula books, etc.), many with famous names included. Certainly you’ve heard of Martha Washington, Nelly Custis and Robert E. Lee?

    Beyond taking a 30-minute guided tour, sign up for the special Behind the Counter Tour that allows you to get up close and personal with the objects that aren’t typically displayed. The tour is 90 minutes for no more than eight people at $15 each. The standard 30-minute tour is $5 per adult and $3 for ages 5 to 12. $1 off coupon

    Upcoming Events:

    • March 16 – Wonders of Science - Discover curious objects, from poison bottles to dragon’s blood, and find out how they were used–and if they worked.
    • April 6 – Mad Science - Meet the museum’s very own mad scientist, bringing to life some crazy concoctions and the science behind them.

    2. Bugs are so cool to so many kids. Let them get a really good look at exotic insects, spiders, crustaceans, a pet snake, turtles, frogs, toads, salamanders, and more when they visit the quaint Bug Box in Fredericksburg. You’ll all have a story to tell when you join the “I Ate a Bug Club.” To join, just eat a chocolate covered cricket! Bug Box is a perfect day time activity for spring break, summer, or for families with preschoolers, as the public hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is $3 per person.

    Claude Moore Colonial Farm National Park

    Claude Moore Colonial Farm National Park

    3. The pre-Revolutionary War Claude Moore Colonial Farm National Park in McLean is a delightful surprise. Once you’re on the grounds, consider yourself in 1771. Period interpreters perform the chores and work the farm as was conducted in the 18th century by the Thornton family.

    Think your children would like to give the chores a try? The Farm Skills Program  allows them to pound corn, card wool, dip candles, and more. Reservations are required, and the program is available select Thursdays throughout the year. Claude Moore Colonial Farm National Park opens for the season April 2, 2014. Admission is $3 per adult, $2 per child, and $2 per senior over age 60.

    Riverfront view of Gunston Hall

    Riverfront view of Gunston Hall

    4. Beyond Virginia’s presidents, there are many other famous figures to learn about through their preserved Virginia homes. George Mason IV and his Gunston Hall Plantation is but one example. Mason was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the document upon which the United States Bill of Rights was based. His home was constructed between 1755 and 1759 on 5,500 acres overlooking the Potomac River in Lorton. The corn and tobacco plantation now sits at 550 acres. Tour this grand estate daily, including the stately home, outbuildings and hiking trails. Admission is $10 per adult, $5 per child 6 to 18, and $8 per senior 60 and older. $1 off coupon

    5. Little train lovers (and maybe big train lovers, too) will enjoy a Saturday morning visit to the Railway Workers’ Museum in Fredericksburg. Take a self-guided tour of the restored rail cars, the artifacts that lie within, and if crew is available, a ride on the Little Yellow Train! Rides are dependent upon weather and commercial rail activity, but offer a feel of how 1900′s rail workers commuted to their work site. Open mid-March through mid-November. No admission fee.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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