Waking up

February is over!  Thank goodness.

Though it is the month of my birth which brings me joy and the shortest month of the year, February in Virginia always seems long and generally miserable.  I did have some great adventures even though I failed to muster the energy to blog about them via this site.  I had a fabulous Birthday Celebration at Glass House Winery in Free Union, Va.  The greenhouse room is filled with tropical plants and is a great mini-escape from the cold, drabness of winter plus the fabulous wine and house made designer chocolates warm the tastebuds.  I also went cross-country skiing for the first time at Kripalu in Lenox, Ma.  To learn about that journey click here. Otherwise until last week, I laid pretty low.

So what happened last week?

category_21_2277One of the cool people I met skiing is Sarah Cohen, President of Route 11 Potato Chips which just happens to be located in Mt. Jackson, Va., about an hour and fifteen mins from my home in Charlottesville (what are the chances, right?).  Route 11 Potato Chips are organic, kettle -cooked potato chips that are distributed nationally, mostly in boutique markets and gourmet shops.  They are DELICIOUS! and Sarah is totally fabulous so I took a road trip up to see her and visit the factory.  It is really a cool place and I got a VIP tour of the potato chip making process.  Route 11′s process is innovative because it is set up linearly meaning each part of the process from washing potatoes to packing bags of freshly cooked chips happens in a line.  The linear process helps cut on energy used to make the chips which is good for keeping manufacturing costs low and saving the planet.  They also have a “no waste” facility which means they capture and repurpose waste materials like dirt and water from washing potatoes, potato peels and bits of chips and uncooked chips. The dirt gets composted and area gardeners and farmers can come and get it to fertilize plants.  All the leftover potato stuff goes to a local farmer who uses it to supplement his cow’s diets etc. It was a really fun visit. I am actually eating some Route 11 Sweet Potato chips right now- YUM!

Thursday night I attended the Love Feast, a cabaret style celebration of love and fundraiser for the 8th grade class at Tandem Friends School. Why is this included in an arts and culture blog?  Because even though Tandem is a small school of about 220 students stretched over 5th through 12th grades and this was just middle schoolers performing, there is an astounding amount of talent. All the kids were great, including my own little darling playing with her band.

Friday night I saw Monuments Men. My take on it: Don’t bother. This seems to be a film geared towards old farts.  It is slow moving, the script is choppy and the audience is never really engaged with the characters making moments that are supposed to be poignant simply schmaltzy. John Goodman and Bill Murray seemed bored out of their minds. Their line delivery so rote and unrealistic it seemed they might have deigned to glance at the script before shooting the scenes – or maybe they were actually reading off prompt boards, who knows it was just terrible.

Saturday night was devoted to the Financial Aid Fundraiser for Tandem Friends School.

Sunday I took a road trip to Richmond with my pal, actor/singer, Doug Schneider, to see Cadence Theatre Company’s production of Clybourne Park.  It was an exceptional production! I love the play and these actors, deftly directed by Keri Wormald, were in the moment from beginning to end yielding some of the best performances I have yet to see in Richmond. I must particularly mention David Bridgewater because, as a theatre critic, I have railed on him many times for being more about his ego than actually acting but he was astounding as Russ in the first act and marvelous as Dan in the second act. His performances were genuine and convincing, truly good acting.  Big kudos to you David and to Keri for bringing it out in him- and all of the cast for that matter.  The pacing was perfect, blocking spot on.  Just a privilege to be in the audience witnessing a beautifully executed work of live art.

I will mention all of the cast in this post because they are not listed on the Cadance website and they deserve to be acknowledged: Katie McCall, Tyra D Robinson, Steve Perigard, Thomas E. Nowlin, McLean Jesse, Andrew Firda (first time I had seen him on stage and he was fabulous!) and Daniel Allen.

The show runs through March 15 so get your tickets now- it is a small house. For more info click here.

Post show, Doug and I went to Max’s, a new restaurant  on Broad Street near the November Theatre formerly known as the Empire. From the moment I stepped in the door I felt transformed to one of those comfy older French bistro’s in Manhattan with the octagon tile floors and iron, wood and brass elements in the decor. We sat upstairs and enjoyed a sumptuous meal of French Onion Soup and Cock au Vin with ricotta and fig crepes for dessert. Alex, our waiter was an impeccable server, friendly, efficient and informative without being intrusive. It was a wonderful experience and I WILL be back.

Home then the Oscars.

Now it is snowing so it looks like a Lasagna day at home.  March is truly coming in like a lion to Central Virginia. Stay safe and warm and pray for warm weather soon.



The Culture Maven






January Quiet Settles In

It has been a quiet week at Lake Wobegon… uh, I mean in the world of The Culture Maven.  I have been focusing on work and preparing for my first cross country skiing experience coming up in mid-February so the outside activities have been leveled to a minimum.  What I have been doing is building up my cardio ability and strength in the gym via weight training and the elliptical machine.  Though it is super cliche to hit the gym in January, and indeed it is my least favorite time to go due to the crowds of New Years Resolutionists combined with all the cyclists and runners who are usually outside doing stuff in better weather- it is just a crowd and as a rule I dislike crowds.  Anyway, I use the cute little gym in my apartment complex which has a steady stream of patrons but is never crowded making it a much more pleasant experience.  Where was I going with all this?  Oh right, Why am I in the gym in January….so I have signed up to attend a four day weekend of yoga and cross country ski lessons at Kripalu in February in celebration of my birthday and to check off a bucket list item (learning to cross country ski).  Since I was sick or recovering from illness in December, and I have really slacked on the aerobic exercise thing for quite some time, I thought it would be a good idea to build up some cardio capability before attempting to basically run on skis up and down hills through the snow.  Is that a cultural thing worthy of mention in an Arts and Culture blog?  Well,  in our culture, yes.  So there.

Anyway,  I also went to Bachata night at club M&M which is great exercise in winter as Latin dancing will warm up a body pretty gosh darned quickly – and it it FUN!

On Saturday night, following a day of writing, I was a happy guest at the WNRN Winter Party held at The Blue Moon Diner on Main Street in Charlottesville.  It was the first time I met several of the volunteer “Jocks” and the food was fantastic.  I highly recommend the chicken curry which I wish I had demanded buckets of to take home to eat for the week it was sooooo good.

Have a great week and maybe I will have more interesting things to report next Monday.


The Culture Maven

Here is a picture of me eating an olive off of a wonderful creation by The Blue Moon Diner.

Photo by the talented  Rich Tarbell

Photo by the talented
Rich Tarbell

A New Year of Art and Culture

2014 is upon us!  And a happy new year for me already as a dream has already come true.  2013 was a year for planting seeds, for preparing.  I brought in the year with a silent retreat at Yogaville, all introspective and transformational and rung it out with a fine dinner at a friend’s then a play at Live Arts.  Yes, I went to see THE PHILADELPHIA STORY on New Year’s Eve and though the play turned out to be a confusing scriptural muddle, I enjoyed the company and the party afterwards where we brought in 2014 with a traditional champagne toast and a little dancing.

The following days had me putting the finishing touches on my first radio show, a 3o minute broadcast I am co-producing with Matthew Slaats from The Bridge here in Charlottesville, examining how Virginia artists are influenced and influence the world at large.  The show aired on WNRN on Sunday at 11:00am as part of an extended Culture Connection in conjunction with 30 Minute Throwdown, a radio show produced by students from the Tandem Friends School in collaboration with the Music Resource Center and WNRN. This is a dream come true for me and I am really proud of our premier effort which I listened to today.

Other than that, I road tripped up to DC to see THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION an exhibit of art related to yoga at the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian on Friday.  If you are a yogi/yogini it is a must see but hurry because it leaves in two weeks.  Tip:  Use the magnifying glasses provided to get a better look at the minute details in the drawings and paintings.

On the television front, I finished BREAKING BAD this weekend and honestly was happy for it to end.  I had grown weary of Jessie’s whimpering, Todd’s effortless evil and if I had to see Schyler’s deer-in-the-headlights look one more time… Agggghhh!  But loose ends were wrapped up nicely and I enjoyed seeing Badger and Skinny Pete one last time.  At this writing, I await the season premier of DOWNTON ABBEY with tingles of excited anticipation.

ART NOTE:  If you like museums but dislike crowds January and February are THE best months to hit the galleries.  DC and New York are practically empty and you can get great deals on hotel rooms too.

Have a great week and get out there and get cultured.

The Culture Maven

Illness and a few holiday events

In the last post, I mentioned had been/was sick.  Well, I felt better, ran around doing holiday business and work and landed right back in bed for four more days missing a few holiday parties and emerging on Saturday the 21st for a visit to Jefferson Vineyards with my dear friend Jacquie O’Connor and road tripping to Staunton with Jacquie and 7 other good pals to see THE SANTALAND DIARIES at American Shakespeare Center. It was, as usual, great fun.  I adore David Sedaris and have laughed at this monolog countless times.  After the show we all went to dinner at Emilio’s in Staunton and other than the arrangement of a private room (which, as wine was consumed and the group became quite loud, was a godsend), I cannot recommend it.  In fact at least two people in our party felt quite ill later in the evening but we had a great time anyway and next time I will make sure to get a reservation at Zynodoa, Aoli or the Mill well in advance (they were booked that night and it was inconvenient trying to find a better place to eat with a group of nine to herd).

Christmas Eve found me at Pearl’s bake shoppe picking up a gorgeous chocolate/mocha bouche de Noel for an afternoon tea party at some good friend’s in Richmond then off I went with my daughter in tow to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to see the Hollywood Costume Exhibit.  I bought her a membership to the VMFA for part of her Christmas present (the student membership cost the same as her admission to the exhibit) which turned out to be a brilliant idea.  She felt very grown up having her own membership and she actually squealed with glee at some of the costumes she saw worn by a few of her idols like Edward Norton and Robert De Niro (she has strange taste for a 13 year old) plus she discovered some new films and actors.  She thanked me profusely for taking her to the exhibit as we enjoyed a coffee and a ginger ale in the Best Cafe. My favorite costume was one worn by Ginger Rogers, a sequined number with mink on the back of the skirt.  The exhibit leaves in early February (I think) so get there soon- this is the only east coast stop. After tea and carol singing at my friend’s, Sam (my daughter) and I went to my favorite Indian restaurant, Lehja for Christmas Eve dinner.  As usual, Sunny and his staff offered up good service and good food warming us on a chilly night and fortifying us for the drive back to Cville to feed our cat, Norton (yes, named ofter Edward Norton- told you my daughter is a fan) and wait for Santa. I had the corn soup for a starter and we split the Saag Paneer for our entree.  Lehja simply has the best Saag Paneer I have ever tasted, a spinach and cheese dish that means Indian comfort food to me.

We spent Christmas at Keswick Hall where we dined with several members of my extended family.  Talk about decking the Halls, Keswick is especially festive at Christmas with loads of garland, several decorated trees and a buffet lunch with items to satisfy everyone in your party.  I particularly enjoyed the prime rib and the duck salad. I just adore Keswick Hall as a place to take visitors and simple to feel like I am in that certain part of Charlottesville that is gracious, beautiful and embodies the mood that Ralph Lauren strives for in his preppy collection.  I just always feel so at home in the lounge seated next to the blazing fire and just enjoying the sumptuous country life to which Jefferson prescribed.

Friday night found me at The Livery Stable, a new restaurant/pub on the west end of Charlottesville’s downtown mall. There is a drink featured there named something like A Russian Mule, vodka, ginger beer and something else served in a special copper mug. It is my new favorite cocktail.  I also indulged in a pot roast slider (without the bread, of course) which was so delicious I was sorry to have only one order.  Chef Felix has plans to bump up the menu in 2014 possibly including adding Korean bbq. YUM!

Saturday was a day of shopping the sales with my Mum at Short Pump- part of my Christmas present.  We shopped for hours and enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cafe in Nordtrom.  My Tuscan Salmon was pretty good and would have been better had it been served a bit warmer but overall a lovely lunch.

Sam is gone and I am basically basking in the stillness and quiet but if I do go somewhere you will learn about it next week.

Happy New Year!


The Culture Maven

PS: WNRN Culture Connect, the extended version with me and Matt Slaats, premiers on Sunday January 5th at 11:00am on WNRN. Go to worn.org to stream it.

The quiet before the storm

My annual cold/flu/allergy/forced winter hibernation period happened at it’s usual time this year hitting the week before HAMAMGANZA, the charity variety show I have participated in for the last 6 or 7  years. I have performed in this show with a temperature of 104 degrees.  I have performed this show when I could not make a sound come out of my mouth (Organizer, Chris Dovi, thought it was absolutely hilarious to have a silent cheerleader in the show and I mouthed the words to cheers and songs all night).  But this year I was floored and missed the show entirely, staying home in bed to recover.  I was very sad about missing it, particularly since it is the final year of the show and I wanted to be a part of it ONE LAST TIME. C’est la vie.

I was bedridden for the entire weekend, not only missing Hamaganza,but also missing THE WILD PARTY at Firehouse in Richmond, The Virginia Consort concert, Ash Lawn Opera’s, AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS and  the performance of the programI facilitated for the Young Friends for the Christmas celebration at the Charlottesville Friends Meeting.

Therefore, outside of recording the first interview for WNRN’s new Arts and Culture radio show (Chase and Susan from Virginia Repertory Theatre airing January 5th) and that THE  RISE OF THE GUARDIANS makes a charming family holiday movie (LOVE ACTUALLY is still my fav for a more adult group holiday grope, with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE being my number one all time Christmas favorite with MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, the original, as a close second- yes, I watched a bunch of Christmas movies while resting can you tell? But only after watching up through part 1 of season 5 of BREAKING BAD on Netflix on demand which, in a most evil manner, makes one order the 2nd part of season 5 via snail mail DVD delivery. AGGGGGHHHH!!!), I have nothing to report.

The Good News: All of this bed rest, turmeric tea and chicken soup has worked. I am feeling much better- ready for the whirl of holiday activities before me.

Will keep you posted.

Until next week…


The Culture Maven


Short but Sweet Culture Week

images-1Cold weather just makes me want to sleep or move to the South Pacific so my Cultural life was slow but good this week.

One of the best parts of the week was Tuesday night’s San Fermin concert at The Southern in Charlottesville.  The eight piece band, headed by Yaley, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a genius composer who writes all the music for the band, is totally something new.  They are smart.  They are trained really good musicians.  They are nice.  They are my new fav up-and -coming band.  Check  them out http://sanferminband.com. I drank Va Cider and stayed out too late for a Tuesday and suffered for the next couple of days just being plain tired but it was worth it.

I was lucky enough to have 2 lunches out this week.  One at Tara Thai and the other at Taste of India on the downtown mall in Cville.  Tara Thai is a chain but good.  Taste of India was lacking in spice thus disappointing to me but my lunch company, Hawes Spencer, was delightful as always and had me laughing from Masala to my scoop of fennel and candy bits.

Saturday afternoon it was back to The Southern for a WNRN Member event featuring Ha Ha Tonka, five scruffy bluegrass based rock musicians who played a nice set of tunes to perk up a cold late autumn day. Then home to cook dinner for my daughter and prepare for a Richmond road trip to see the very gay holiday play, IT’S A FABULOUS LIFE at Richmond Triangle Players.  Yes, it is a take on the Capra Classic, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but this version is complete with drag queens, hot men in thongs and two of my favorite people/actors, that ADORABLE Chris Hester and Charlottesville powerhouse, Doug Schneider. I went with my friend, Deb, and ate beforehand at Con Su Bucco(is that correct?).  I feel totally stupid that I can’t remember the name exactly but it is in that goofy triangle in the middle of the Boulevard in the building that used to be a porno shop near the old Bill’s Barbecue.  Anyway… It is fabulous and I ate three tacos, chorizo, fish and pulled pork plus quac and loads of chips.  I ate way too much and the chips are from flour tortillas so I felt horrible at the show but it was so fun I forgot about it most of the time.

Ice squelched any desire I had to do anything on Sunday so I cooked, baked and ate a lot of really good food including an almond cake that lasted about an hour between my teenager and myself.

Stay safe and warm until next week!

And remember, Hamaganza – the final show ever- is next weekend in Richmond.  come Saturday night to Lulu’s for the best version.


The Culture Maven

Thankfully Stuffing My Face

I really like food.  I adore really good food.  Since the last couple of weeks has been about good food and some of Charlottesville’s rather Anglophile traditions I have been fatly happy.

It all began on Friday the 22nd with a business dinner at Fleurie, one of Charlottesville’s finest restaurants and a particular favorite of mine because the owner/very talented chef, Brian Helleburg, is one of the first friends I made after moving here about 2.5 years ago while working on a story for VIRGiNIA LIVING. Brian cooked up some Chinese Mystery snails for a story I wrote on invasive species and I knew right then that a guy who could make those things taste good was someone worthy of pal-dom.


The crab appetizer was divine.  Served on an elegant skinny rectangular plate, substantial chunks of sweet blue crab meat swam in a shallow pool of some yummy sauce.  I followed up with the venison, two tender, juicy medallions that melted in my mouth served over thinly sliced potatoes au gratin (because I don’t eat spatzel which I love but contains gluten). It is a rare meal that is prepared with such perfection and really I would marry Brian if I could eat like that everyday but I’m afraid his girlfriend might not like that.

Saturday found me at a tourist standard, Michie Tavern, on 53 on the way to Monticello.  It was my sister’s birthday celebration and she wanted to eat there (she is from out of town) and visit Carter Mountain Orchard.  Michie Tavern serves plain old Southern fare, like spoon bread, fried chicken and green beans boiled with ham for flavoring.  I grew up on this type of food so it is hardly a delicacy for me but I can see the appeal to foreigners and the nostalgia this type of cooking holds for my sister.  We sat at a long wooden table in front of a roaring fire, the perfect place to be on a chilly autumn day while being served by a woman in colonial garb.  It is all quite charming.

Following the obligatory cider purchase at Carter Mountain and sufficiently celebrating my sister, I dropped my daughter off at her friend’s house to watch the season opener of DR. WHO and went for a short hike.  Evening plans included dinner next to a roaring fire, this time in the bar at Keswick Hall.  I adore this particular venue for cold weather dinners because one may choose from the bar menu (which offers the best truffle oil fries I have ever tasted) or the dinner menu from Fosset’s, Keswick’s more formal dining area.  The bar is intimate and cozy and there is a lovely fire place to make it even cozier.  I dined on muscles in tomato broth and seared brussel sprouts which were so good – just tender on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside- that my escort, who is not particularly a veggie fan, devoured at least half of the ample serving. After dinner we sauntered across the street to the Keswick Hunt Club (my friend is a member) for the tail end of a clam bake and dance party.  We danced to about 7 songs before the party shut down and it was time to head home.

Sunday I attended the final performance of BYE BYE BIRDIE at Tandem Friends School. The play was performed solely by TFS eighth graders offering a variety of skill and enthusiasm levels making the show a total hoot to watch.  Director and Middle School drama teacher, Lydia Horan, is brilliantly talented and somehow is able to get these young teens to put together a pretty good show.

The next event on my calendar was Love Cannon at the Jefferson Theatre on Wednesday the 27th.  I took my daughter and we delighted in the catchy, kitchy-ness of ’80′s pop tunes orchestrated to blue grass instruments.  It is just such happy music one MUST move to it.

Thursday morning I experienced another horsey tradition, the Blessing of the Hounds at Grace Church in Keswick before the annual Thanksgiving Fox Hunt.  People gather in front of the adorable stone church as mounted riders are blessed along with the hounds.  There is a ten minute ceremony then the riders, all dolled up in their English hunting costumes, head across rt.22 to a large field, give out some awards, then when the hunt master gives the signal, begin their ride. Apparently they actually hunt wild foxes. What happens to the fox or foxes once they are caught is unknown to me and I thought it impolite to ask at the time.  The event is pretty and pastoral and it is my dream to go out with them one year.

Thanksgiving dinner in Richmond at my sisters. Yum. Then on Friday, dinner of peanut soup (a personal favorite dish) and salad at TJ’s at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond before celebrating Chanukah at Virginia Rep’s production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. This was my friend, Christina’s first visit to the Jefferson (she lives in Charlottesville and her daughter, Mila shares the part of one of the daughters in the show) so I was reminded through her eyes of the splendor of the place.

It was fun to see FIDDLER during Chanukah.  It just added extra meaning to the story. Va Rep even had a menorah displayed in the theatre lobby which I found quite touching and thoughtful. I enjoyed the show, particularly David Benoit’s embodiment of Tevya, the choreography and the dancing. Everyone on stage looked like they were having fun.  At the end of the show, I chatted with WCVE theatre critic, the formidable John Porter, who said this was the best production of FIDDLER he had ever seen.


I laid low the remainder of the weekend, hiding from the shopping crowds venturing out (other than for long walks) only for groceries on Sunday and to be interviewed about Radio Resource (a partnership between Music Resource Center and WNRN designed to give MRC members and other high school aged kids the opportunity to generate a half-hour radio program featuring music created by local teens) before the premier of the 30 Minute Throwdown on WNRN. Damani Harrison of MRC was supposed to be on the show but he was caught up in holiday travels making it impossible for him to be there so as a coordinator of the project, I filled in. 30 Minute Throwdown is full of youthful energy and showcases some amazing young local artists. You can learn more by going to the 30 Minute Throwdown FB page.  By the way, Trader Joe’s has outdone themselves with holiday treats this year, especially the caramels- go for them.

So until next week…be safe, be healthy and have fun.



The Culture Maven

Food and Games sums up Last Week’s Adventures

It is miraculous how a rainy, chilly weekend can erase one’s memory of a busy week.  So it was with me this past weekend with only one event on my calendar but last week was quite busy as I reflect on it for this post.

It all started with a viewing of ENDER’S GAME at the beautiful, still new to us Cvillians, Stonefield Regal Cinemas  on Monday evening to top off Veterans Day off from school for my daughter.  Stonefield is stadium seating and vastly cleaner and better smelling than any other movie theater in town.  I adore it.

Tuesday’s outing included a tuna melt and chic pea with kale soup lunch at FEAST one of my favorite lunch spots.  Feast is a gourmet market and sandwich shop with a casual atmosphere located on Main Street.  The food is good, the people are friendly and the selection in the market is mouthwatering. Tuesday night was a huge sports night because the darlings of my alma mater, THE VCU RAMS, played the UVA HOOS in basketball for the first time in 15 years.  There once was a basketball rivalry between the schools so I enjoyed a perverse pleasure in wearing my VCU scarf (which resembles a Hufflepuff scarf from the Harry Potter series) all day, proudly flaunting it at McGrady’s in the evening during the neck-and-neck game.  Alas, I missed the final winning shot in the last second which made VCU the victors of the game but was even happier the following day flaunting my team scarf once again.

Wednesday was cold here in Cville so lamb curry form JUST CURRY on the downtown mall was the perfect lunch.  It is fast food at its finest, inexpensive, healthy, locally owned and yummy.  In the afternoon I ran into my dear friend and Tibetan Monk, Dr. Kunchock on the mall while on my way to have tea at the TWISTED BRANCH TEA BAZAAR with a client.  Dr. K. was the designated tour organizer and escort for the trip I took to Xining, Tibet over the summer.  He is here visiting with other VIP’s from the Arura Tibetan Medical Group to help move the cause (building a Tibetan Medical Center here) along and to speak about Tibetan Medical practices at the UVA Medical School. I saw him and the others at former Mayor, David Brown’s home at a reception for the Tibetan group on Thursday night along with other local luminaries.

Friday morning I accepted a fabulous invitation from an old friend to have a massage and lunch at THE BOAR’S HEAD.  The massage was fantastic and I didn’t want to get off the table when it was finished.  The spa is comfortable and resembles the SPA AT THE WILLIAMSBURG INN but on a much smaller scale.  Lunch is a buffet with mostly Southern type fare like peanut soup (with a little spice – it was really good) and Chicken in a corn sauce. It was perfectly lovely but outside of the soup nothing to write home about in terms of a Foodie experience. I would cheerfully go back for dinner to sit next to the fireplace and definitely return to the spa to try some other treatments to see how they stand up to Keswick or The Homestead.

The remainder of the weekend was chill until Sunday afternoon when I attended a gallery event at Chroma on the Down Town Mall.  Alex Nyerges of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts gave a short talk.  Food from Tastings and wine from wine from Early Mountain Vineyards were featured at the event.  All of the food contained gluten so I cannot tell you how it was though the crab dip radiated an aroma that permeated the gallery. The wine was very good. With that I took my grumpy (chilly rain does that to me) self home and watched Public Television all night while my daughter worked on a term paper.

Hopefully this week will be a tad slower but you never know.  There are lots of theatre dates to be made for the holidays.

Until next week…

Get out there are get cultured!


The Culture Maven


Film, Food, MoFo’s and Ham


Charlottesville is a cool place to live because we some big city entertainment coupled with small town living.  Last week’s big city type entertainment was the Virginia Film Festival, an event that takes over our little village attracting people from all over the country to C-ville for 100 movies in 4 days.

I for one enjoy the people watching during this event usually more than the films themselves and somehow the VFF always falls on a weekend when I have fifty other obligations, limiting my ability to participate.  So this is how the weeks shook down in terms of my Arts & Culture experience:

On Wednesday I lunched at Farm as I waited to ambush Matthew Slatts, Executive Director of the Bridge Arts Center. Farm is a sandwichy/ salady type place that offers fresh food mostly locally sourced and a good selection of beers and wine.  It is charming and the noodle salad I pulled from the ready-mades cold case was delish.  A great place for a nice lunch and plenty of sunny outdoor seating.

Wednesday night I worked on my Bachata moves at Charlottesville Salsa Club’s Bachata night at club M&M.

Thursday was the first day of the VFF- good crowd watching on the Downtown Mall.  My daughter and I went to see the Lighthouse Films since she was a student over the summer.

Friday night was a family road trip to Staunton to the American Shakespeare Center with friends to see (for me a repeat viewing, I liked it so much the first time) RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET.  Every body LOVED it and I won a raffle ticket for answering a trivia question correctly. (yeah!)  The show is in its final weeks, closing at the end of November to make room for the three Christmas themed shows presented in December.

Saturday morning found me directing traffic at the Tandem Tag Sale which was a mother load of treasures.  If you missed it this year be sure to go next year because there is always some gooooood stuff for amazing prices.

Then a visit to the VFF Family day at UVA near the Culbreth theater.  All I am saying is work is needed on this event.

The next stop was one of my fav eateries – The Flat, behind the Jefferson Theater, for crepes al fresco then to Pearl’s Bake Shoppe for apple cider donuts. The Flat make fat savory or sweet crepes and is loved for the fresh local ingredients, ample portions and great prices.  It is fast food that is truly good for you. I had a veggie on buckwheat crepe – yummy.

Saturday night found me at the Downtown Grille for a quick drink and a sumptuous crab cake appetizer before popping over to Live Arts for closing night of MOTHER F**CKER WITH A HAT. The script itself was so-so with a superfluous final scene that watered down what might have been a spectacular ending but Ike Anderson as Jackie, the central character put in a dynamic performance.

Sunday was another VFF day which culminated for me and my daughter with the documentary, BIBLE QUIZ, about a bible quiz team and the personal dynamics of said team over the course of a critical competition.  Who even knew there was such a thing as Bible Quiz?  Somebody I guess…  We liked the film and were sad we missed so many other films due to scheduling or rating issues.

Sunday night we drove to Richmond for Hamaganza rehearsal in preparation for the last Hamaganza fundraiser for Feedmore ever.  Mark your calendars for December 13 & 14 to witness what is sure to be the most debauched, sophomoric and pathetic Hamaganza of all time – because some legends deserve to go down in flames.

Hopefully things will slow down a tad this week but you just never know what invitations might pop up!

Get out there and get Cultured, Ya’ll.


The Culture Maven

wnrn Culture Connection for Nov 11 – 18

Wine, shopping and a raucous comedy- I can hardly think of a better way to spend the weekend…

What better place to taste wine on Saturday than the Jefferson Wine Festival at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s private retreat.  Sixteen Virginia wineries will be represented along with local food purveyors, artisans and two bands.  

Also on Saturday you can start you holiday shopping at nonprofit Virginia Horse Center’s Holiday Craft Bazaar featuring jewelry, candy, crafts, baked good and more. The event is free but donations for the SPCA and Food Pantry are encouraged.

All weekend in Richmond, nonprofit Richmond Shakespeare presents Taming of the Shrew. Inspired by the VMFA exhibit “Hollywood Costume,” this production evokes the best of Hollywood’s screwball comedies, glamorous musicals and gangster movies.

If you know of a fun event coming up in the next month email me at mary@wnrn.org and help me to help you make a wnrn culture connection.

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