Business Ins & Outs: Officina, Ella-Rue, Hickok Cole

Chef Nicholas Stefanelli joined forces last week with Via Umbria owners Bill and Suzy Menard to open Officina Popup in the Via Umbria space at 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW.

A New Role: Chef de Quarantine

Despite my family’s tendency to retreat to our respective personal spaces during the day, we’ve spent more time together, largely because of dinner.

Breathe Easier With DIY Masks

Now that the CDC is advising us, symptomatic or not, to wear masks when we go outside, they are, of course, nowhere to be found.

Big Wheel Bikes Closes In on 50 Years

Mike Sendar has been in the bicycle retail business for close to 50 years, since 1971, when he opened the Georgetown store with Harold Rivkin. There are now five locations in the D.C. area.

Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships

Dear Stacy: I know this isn’t likely to get a response when I need it, but it’s still worth asking what you think about the disparity between husbands and wives, regarding gift-giving. The long story is that my husband totally dropped the ball with Mother’s Day. The kids had thrown together some cards from school, but he didn’t do a single thing to make the day special (besides telling me I could “sleep in,” after our kids already woke me up). Now it’s Father’s Day and I, unlike him, am thinking about it far enough in advance to even send a question to an advice column. Basically, I am 1,000 times more thoughtful than he is and I am having a hard time not “planning” to give him a horrible Father’s Day so he can see just how it feels. I know you’re going to tell me to talk to him – but what do I say? “You are a sucky partner, so I’m done making you feel special?” -Angry in Advance Dear Angry, I’m really sorry you had a bad Mother’s Day. Does Husband know you had a bad Mother’s Day? And more specifically, was this something you actually said, not something you implied via passive aggressive pouting? My guess would be that no, Husband has no idea that you were expecting something that did not materialize. So yes, you need to talk to him. But not now. You need to wait and breathe and relax now that Father’s Day is over, and get a handle on what it is you want to say. We need to set aside the clichés about men and bad gift-giving (women actually are equally bad, btw, we just don’t get the press the guys do). You say you did not feel special – that is where we start. Many of us arrived at our first Mother’s/Father’s Days without much experience beyond rushing flowers across the country to our own parents, so please give yourselves a break about not being completely sure of what you expect and what you can give on those days. If this is important to you, then it’s important enough to use all the skills we have in the relationship to clear the air. In other words – say something non-accusatory about not feeling special on Mother’s Day. Include a line about wanting to help you both get what you need on those days in the future. Then you two can negotiate what feels right for your marriage. Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist, practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to

Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort Opens in Middleburg

After years of work, design, discussion and delays, Salamander Resorts and Spa in Middleburg, Va., formally opened the morning of Aug. 29 with snips of golden scissors at the entrance to "Sheila Johnson's house." An hour's drive from D.C., the 168-room luxury resort sits on 340 acres and is filled with Johnson's idea of the Middleburg experience and mystique with finely detailed rooms, spas and pools, a library and club bar, cooking studio, wine bar, a stable-inspired restaurant, a stable and paddock, conference rooms, ballroom and terraces. It is the "only new luxury destination resort in the United States to open in 2013," according to Salamander Resort & Spa. Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Resorts, greeted the opening-day guests at the front entrance: "Welcome to the house that Sheila Johnson built." He thanked officials from Middleburg and Loudoun County and introduced the speakers. Middleburg Mayor Betsy Davis recalled that -- after contentious debates on the project and its approval -- Salamander founder Johnson told Middleburg officials seven years ago, "I won't let you down." Davis said that she admired Johnson's way of "paying it forward" and added, "Sheila, we will let you down." Scott York, chairman-at-large of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, crumbled up his speech and said everyone was waiting to see Salamander's interior as quickly as he praised the resort's economic benefits. (Salamander has 2,000 employees.) Rita McClenny, head of Virginia Tourism, tagged Salamander "a crown jewel" for the state and recalled that Jackie Kennedy put Middleburg on the map in a big way 50 years ago. David Gergen of CNN also touched at the history of Middleburg with its connection to the Kennedys and the Harrimans. Gergen mentioned that the resort's opening was during the week of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Gergen said he found it "fitting that … we come to celebrate Sheila’s dream" and noted that Johnson is a co-producer of the film, "The Butler." As she thanked the many involved in the project, Johnson -- businesswoman, philanthropist and second richest black women in the U.S. -- spoke of feeling "so many emotions." "Look at what we have accomplished." When she moved to Middleburg years ago, "Middleburg was my refuge," she said. "I found friendships. I felt at home." With the vision of her resort fulfilled, she said, "There is love in every single detail." And so, with the ribbon-cutting, Salamander was open -- and guests eagerly entered "Sheila's house" to have some champagne and a very fine lunch under the supervision of chef Todd Gray. They could see and taste the love in every detail. [gallery ids="101437,153974,153956,153951,153948,153944,153976,153961,153966,153970" nav="thumbs"]

Virginia Hunt Country: Lovely, Lively and Local

Georgetown’s favorite country getaway — Middleburg, The Plains, Marshall and the farms and wineries that abound in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties — is about...

A Guide to Quarantine Glamour

Days in our comfy college sweatshirt, unwashed hair and no makeup are driving us to the brink — and our partners to the hills.

The Apple of Charlottesville’s Eye

In 1998, a great barn was built in Keswick, VA on the Castle Hill estate, just a stone’s throw from Charlottesville and Monticello. Located on a 600-acre plot of rolling, endless hills, the barn was designed to accommodate cattle auctions for the surrounding ranchers. Like much of Keswick, the land is undeveloped and still entrenched in the natural beauty of Virginia, with a prominent view of the Southwest Mountains. When architect and landscape designer John Rhett saw the abandoned barn in 2008, with it’s 8,000 square feet of open space and 25-foot ceilings, he had other plans for it. He became involved with the current owner of the property fixing up the house and beautifying the grounds, but it was clear that there was much more to be done, especially to the barn. When Rhett was approached about putting a vineyard on the property and converting the barn to a winery, his answer was a bit more interesting than a simple yes or no. “I prefer trees to vines,” he said. “I said, why don’t we think of planting an orchard and starting a cidery.” And so the Barn at Castle Cider, a cidery and the area’s newest event space, came to be. The barn has been completely transformed since Rhett, now General Manager, began renovations. At one end of the barn is a beautiful fieldstone fireplace with white oak paneling, where ranchers used to mingle before the auction. “That’s our tasting room,” says Rhett, who is building a limestone bar and small kitchen into the area. The tasting room is designed fittingly for cocktail parties, rehearsal dinners and other small gatherings. The library, located directly above the tasting room, has its own working fireplace and an upper porch with a breathtaking view of the outlying meadow and mountain range. “The other end of the barn is where they used to wash down the cattle,” says Rhett. “We’re going to convert that room to our tank room for the cider.” In the center of the barn, with the cavernous open space, Rhett is building a stage and a loft. The loft connects to the library by a catwalk, and each end of the loft has wide doors that open to views of the estate. Rhett then designed terraced lawns by the barn, which sit above a stream and small lake. It is almost too easy to envision a wedding ceremony by the water, with the great white barn in the background, surrounded by mountains and apple trees. Beyond its rustic beauty, the Castle Hill estate holds historical significance to the area, and Rhett did not want it lost to the public. “There’s a lot of history here,” he says. “This place was built in 1764.” Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Castle Hill was originally the home of Colonel Thomas Walker, Thomas Jefferson’s guardian and mentor. The land’s local historical significance, and a mission to build the community through the making and partaking of cider, was much of Rhett’s inspiration for designing the barn as a public and private event space. The rich history of Castle Hill bleeds into the apple orchard Rhett planted in the fall of 2009. Made up of 600 trees with 28 different types of apples, its most prized variety is a largely forgotten breed named the Albemarle Pippin. “It’s an apple that became a favorite of Queen Victoria’s,” says Rhett. “She was given a basket of them, and she liked them so much that she removed the tariff from the apple just so it was cheaper to import them.” The Albemarle Pippin got here by the hands of George Washington himself. Originally from New York, Washington gave a cutting to Colonel Walker (the very same Colonel Walker from before), who planted it in Albemarle County. “We’re bringing it all back to Castle Hill by planting them here,” says Rhett. The apple varieties will all be fermented individually to retain their unique flavors, and then blended to create different hard ciders. Rhett has gone back to the origins of cider production with his fermentation process. He has brought in amphoras from the Caucasus Mountains in the country of Georgia, called kvevri. They are lined with beeswax and buried in the cool earth, wherein the cider is poured and the fermentation works it’s magic. “The cider never touches modern material to impart any flavors,” says Rhett, who dislikes the metallic taste he finds in wine fermented in steel tanks. “There’s no one really in the world making cider this way anymore.” The kvevri are buried alongside the barn, protected by a large overhang. Fifty feet away, the very same cider will soon be served at the bar in the tasting room. “You walk into the barn and you smell apples,” says Rhett. “It’s really nice.” The Barn at Castle Hill is a warm and stunning host for any affair, a space that begs to be filled with life. Its high walls echo with the expectations of history experienced, and history waiting to be made. The barn has been hosting fundraisers and events, and they have their first wedding booked for June. I imagine this place will be filling up fast. The next time you visit Charlottesville, stop by the big white barn, have a glass of cider and see for yourself. For more information, visit Castle Hill Cider online. [gallery ids="102508,120188,120177,120183" nav="thumbs"]

Haute & Cool: Say It With Style!

There may not be much good news these days, but Dr. Deborah Birx's enduring poise and fashion flair certainly make the White House briefings more inspiring.