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Hold the lettuce: how to diversify your salads



Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing salad, but you don’t always have to opt for lettuce as the main ingredient. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

Pasta salads
You don’t have to settle for macaroni with mayonnaise and celery. There is a huge variety of pastas to choose from. Conchiglie pasta, better known as shells, is perfect for salad thanks to its shape. Orzo, gemelli and rotelles are equally great choices.

Be sure to enhance the flavor for your pasta salad by incorporating fresh herbs like basil, coriander or chives. You can also add some savory texture to the dish by including roasted nuts or seeds.

Don’t be afraid to play around with interesting flavor combinations like shrimp and mango, chicken and sundried tomatoes, bell pepper and prosciutto or cranberry and apple.

Potato salads
This deli mainstay is more versatile than you might think. For starters, consider experimenting with different types of potatoes — there are around 80 varieties that are commercially available. Leave thin-skinned potatoes unpeeled to add texture to your salad.

In terms of dressing, think about swapping mayo for plain yogurt for a more calorie-conscious dish. Add Dijon mustard or wine vinegar for a sharper flavor profile.

Experiment with incorporating ingredients such as cherry tomatoes, pineapple, radishes, bacon and eggs.

Other salads
The base for a salad can be derived from nearly any ingredient including beets, legumes, quinoa, couscous, rice, bulgur wheat and buckwheat. Next time you go to the grocery store or farmers’ market, be inspired by in-season ingredients and use your creativity to step up your salad game.

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Maple garlic kefta kebab



Looking for something a bit different for your next barbecue? Try kefta, a type of Middle Eastern street food.

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 8


• 1 pound ground pork
• 1 pound ground veal
• 2 green onions, finely chopped
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Wood skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

1. In a bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients.
2. Divide the mixture into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a tube around one of the skewers.
3. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.
4. Grill the kefta for about 2 minutes on each side, until browned.
5. Transfer to top grill to finish cooking. Serve either wrapped in pita bread with a yogurt dressing or on top of a salad.

If you don’t have wooden skewers on hand, you can form the mixture into burger patties instead!

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5 ways to make the most out of your wine tour



Wine tours are becoming increasingly popular in wine producing areas. If you’re planning to visit one or more vineyards, here’s how you can make the most out of the experience.

1. Book in advance. Wineries aren’t always equipped to handle unexpected visitors. Scheduling your tour in advance will ensure your party can be accommodated.

2. Visit early in the day. If you go on your tour before lunchtime, the wineries you visit are likely to be less crowded. This means that the staff will have more time to discuss the wines with you.

3. Remember to eat. If you’re visiting more than one winery, plan to go to a vineyard with a restaurant. Alternatively, stop in at an eatery en route or pack a picnic lunch.

4. Try something new. Wine tours provide the perfect opportunity to sample different varietals and blends. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experience new flavors.

5. Ask questions. Learn more about wine and the art of winemaking by asking questions. Most vintners are passionate about what they do and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.

One final suggestion for your wine tour: book a car service or bring along a designated driver. With the wine flowing and so many exciting new flavors to try, you’re likely to drink more than you intend.

Wine tour etiquette

• Drink in moderation. Avoid becoming so intoxicated that you make the visit unpleasant. Don’t be shy to spit some of your wine into the buckets provided.

• Don’t wear perfume or aftershave. This will mask the aromas of the wine, making it difficult for you and the people around you to fully appreciate what you’re sampling.

• Buy only what you love. There’s no rule that states that you must buy wine from every winery you visit. But if you taste something you love, by all means bring some home.

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Lettuces and greens: types and how to use them



Lettuces and greens are a summertime staple and there are countless varieties available for making salads. Follow these handy preservation and preparation tips to get the most out of them.

Romaine lettuce
In addition to being the primary ingredient in Caesar salads, romaine lettuce has a number of uses. The larger leaves can be used in place of a tortilla when making wraps, and they’re delicious when charred on the grill. Washed, drained and wrapped in a paper towel, romaine leaves will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.

Iceberg lettuce

Crunchy and low in calories, iceberg lettuce is ideal as a garnish on hamburgers and club sandwiches. They also make stylish and edible bowls in which to serve hors d’oeuvres. Iceberg lettuce will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Frisée lettuce
The curly endive also known as frisée has a slight hazelnut flavor that makes it perfect for salads. It pairs beautifully with most nuts, fruits and seeds. It’ll keep for two to five days in the refrigerator, so eat it fast.

This deliciously bitter and spicy green is a close relative of cabbage and kale. Perfect in salads or as a garnish on pizza, it can also be made into pesto. It’s not very hardy, however, and lasts only two or three days in the refrigerator.

Originating from the Provence region of France, this mix of small leafy greens can include arugula, endives, lettuce, mustard greens, dandelion leaves and a host of other ingredients. Ideal with fruits and sweet dressings, this popular mix needs to be eaten fast, as some of its components wilt quickly.

This summer, experiment with a variety of leafy greens. Find them at your local farmers’ market and on shelves at your nearest grocery store.

Revive your lettuce
Has your lettuce wilted? If so, trim off any brown bits and revive it by soaking it in cold water for about 20 to 60 minutes. Use it as soon as possible for best results.

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Raspberry cheesecake ice cream



No ice cream maker? No problem! Making this delicious frosted dessert requires no special equipment.

Start to finish: 4.5 hours (20 minutes active)
Servings: 10


• 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1-1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a pot, combine raspberries and sugar and cook over low heat until the raspberries release their juice.
2. Add cornstarch and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
3. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sweetened condensed milk, cream and vanilla extract slowly. Continue to mix until the ingredients are well combined.
4. Pour about one-third of the cream mixture into a bread pan and top with half the raspberry mixture. Repeat with the remaining cream and berries, ending with a layer of cream. With a butter knife, distribute raspberry mixture using circular motions to create swirls.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving.

Try substituting blueberries, blackberries or strawberries for the raspberries, or use store bought jam to make this recipe even easier.

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ViNoVA opens its doors to a tour of European cuisine and beverages



ViNoVA Chef and co-owner Chris Kenworthy – Photos Courtesy ViNoVA

A new restaurant with a distinct European flavor, ViNoVA, has opened its doors at 124 East Main Street in downtown Front Royal. For the first time in the area, tapas and exclusively wines and beers from Europe and basic foodstuffs fresh from the fields of Warren County are featured.

To the uninitiated, by the way, tapas means servings of ever changing foods from oysters to cheese to pates and other delicacies on small plates that accompany the many wines ranging from inexpensive ($25 to $30) to high end ($50 to $100) per bottle. The restaurant offers a Happy Hour (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.) daily, however, promising three tapas and wine or beer for about $15.

The hostelry, which had a “soft” opening a couple of weeks ago, isn’t so new, however. Nor is one of the owner-operators, Rachel Failmezger. The property signals her return to 124 E. Main where the old Vino E Formaggio wine and cheese shop – later re-named Vino 124, a full service restaurant – was situated and run by the same Rachel Failmezger along with her husband Christian.

A Happy Hour special: three tapas and beverage of your choice

After a decade, the couple closed the Vino124 and repaired to a broken down gas station on Commerce Avenue that they turned into a successful destination restaurant, The PaveMint Tap & Smoke House, now two years old. The PaveMint continues to operate under Christian Failmezger, who also has an informal hand in ViNoVA.

Rachel and Christian Failmezger

In a sit down interview with the Failmezgers on a Tuesday “closed for business day,” the couple introduced a co-owner of ViNoVA, chef Chris Kenworthy. After 15 years in the restaurant business, including a notable period in the Philippines where he consulted and helped build a restaurant in a Filipino jungle community, he’s demonstrating his flair for unusual cuisine at ViNoVA.

My first question of the interview was about the close proximity (next door, in fact) of another new Main Street bar, the popular Front Royal Brewing Company which I suggested ViNoVA would be in competition with.

“Not competition,” responded Rachel, “the words are ‘complementary to.’ ”

The front entrance and small outside seating area

And there followed a description of the unique-to-the-region cuisine, the vintage wines from countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Germany, and exclusively showcasing Pilsners from Czech, Trappistes from Belgium, stouts from Britain, cocktails, fashioned by barkeep Chris Carboni, seemingly have jumped from the pages of Hemingway or Fitzgerald.

Beverages with a dash of European culture, including a very dressed drink below, to compliment the tasty tapa dishes

“They will be a perfect complement to our colorful food menu,” Rachel promised of the beverage selection.

Chef Chris’s promise was “a journey through the Mediterranean with stops in Italy and Spain in spring and summer (with) fall and winter menus touring Europe’s comfort cuisine of Belgium, France and Austria.”

The much-changed from years past decor, a muted black and white motif, and controllable subdued lighting, lends an ambiance perhaps unequaled in the area: think date night rendezvous!

The two “soft opening” days by invitation only resulted in packed houses and an exciting evening of new experiences and meeting friends from the old days of Vino124, much in evidence both days.

A very tasty-looking tapa dish – Chef Chris, I want one of THOSE!

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Must-try wine pairings



Pairing wine with food is an art form and choosing the right combination will enliven the inherent flavors of both the meal and the wine. Here are a few suggested pairings.

Italian cuisine

A dry Chianti is the perfect accompaniment for Italian dishes with tomato sauce like traditional pizzas and pasta bolognese.

If you’re enjoying a dish with pesto or seafood, choose a light- or medium-bodied white like a Soave or pinot grigio.

For something with cream sauce or a lot of cheese, try an oaked chardonnay.

Mexican cuisine
The bright, spicy notes of Mexican food are well suited to fresh and crisp wines with lots of acidity. Sauvignon blanc goes nicely with tortilla and salsa-based dishes.

Pair the smoky, rich flavors of Mexican barbacoa (meat slow-cooked over an open fire) and chipotle with a light and acidic red wine like a pinot noir or a gamay.

Szechuan cuisine
Bolder and spicier than other types of Chinese cuisine, Szechuan food goes well with off-dry white wines like rieslings and gewürztraminers.

Generally, spicy foods pair best with chilled white wines, so save your red for another meal.

When it comes to pairing wine with food, it’s hard to generalize. Fortunately, many restaurants employ a sommelier to help you choose your wine. If you’re dining at home, enlist the help of a specialist from a liquor or wine store to help you find a good pairing.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

5:30 pm Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Aug 22 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Medicare Basics Educational Presentation @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Come learn the basics of Medicare including: Eligibility, Important Dates, Medicare Coverage, Medicare Parts A,B,C, and D and Supplement Options. No Cost No RSVP required Walk-ins welcome For Educational purposes only For accommodations of persons[...]
8:00 am Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Aug 24 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Hosted By: Front Royal/Warren County S.A.L.T./TRIAD Are you a senior 50 and over in need of learning current driving trends, traffic laws and just an overall overview of driving safely? If so, AARP provides a[...]
10:00 am Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Aug 24 @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class at the Jig ‘n’ Jive Dance Studio. Saturday, August 24th. 10:00 – 10:45am. $2/dancer. Boys and Girls. No experience or registration required.
4:30 pm Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Aug 24 @ 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps BBQ Cookout @ Salvation Army
The Front Royal Salvation Army Corps will host a BBQ Cookout on Saturday, August 24, 2019, from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 296 South Street, Front Royal. A BBQ chicken meal, including chips and[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]