Every year, the NCAA men's basketball tournament is a three-week saga of single-elimination suspense, where athletic juggernauts must fight for their records and overlooked programs have the chance to shine. In 2006, the George Mason Patriots penned their own March Madness Cinderella story by unseating powerhouses Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut to become the lowest seed ever to advance to the Final Four. The Patriots' historic run left fans gasping for air and basketballs everywhere reaching for the nearest pump before the team finally bowed out to the eventual champions, Florida, in the national semifinal.
Though the Patriots' Final Four berth garnered tremendous national attention, George Mason's athletic prowess extends beyond the basketball court. In their proud history, the Patriots have won NCAA championships in multiple sports, including men's indoor track and field and women's soccer.
From the great heights of the Windows over Washington restaurant, a rotation of comedians float nationally toured and tested routines toward dinner and late-night audiences. The Comedy Zone DC keeps punch lines rolling with its regularly stuffed calendar of established and up-and-coming jokesters. Windows over Washington backdrops the onstage uproar with the clinking of wineglasses, aromas wafting from steak and seafood dishes, and stunning views of the cityscape and the Potomac River.
A coalition of nine different wineries founded Southern Virginia Wine Fest in 2009, and it continues to introduce visitors to the finest vintages crafted by local residents. Although the festival has expanded to include 12 growers, it still provides the opportunity to chat personally with winemakers and vineyard owners about the process behind making their bottled beverages. The participants peruse more than 60 different wines, complementing the libations with specialty foods and live music throughout the day. The festival even offers a specialty passport tour, which includes visits to all 12 vineyards and stops at notable sites, local eateries, and Dionysian temples along the way.
Chef Marie, or MJ, wields her cooking prowess through inventive catering services and cooking classes that span a variety of culinary options, from American and Italian fare to South African and Indian dishes. Each of her catering spreads uses a minimum of freeze-dried or premade products, prioritizing housemade dishes made with fresh ingredients. Marie’s one- to three-course cooking classes cover specific techniques, such as preparing seafood or blending sumptuous soups, as well as how to make specific regional cuisines from places such as Northern Italy or the southern portion of Antarctica.
The classes take several different forms; private parties with two to six people at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats, personal classes that take place in patrons’ private kitchens, and six-night group workshops, which also take place at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats. And during kids’ culinary birthday parties, youngsters soak up age-appropriate cooking techniques such as how to crack eggs with their feet.
The Mariners' Museum puts nautical adventure on display with a treasure chest of oceanic artifacts. With either deal, you'll get unlimited admission to the museum. Tickle your grey matter with its outstanding exhibition: artifacts from the USS Monitor, an ironclad ship that battled bravely and sunk during the Civil War’s Battle of Hampton Roads. Or, see exquisite sea-inspired art and thousands of meticulously crafted ship models, which were occasionally used in the Keebler Elves' royal navy. Visitors can also stroll through The Mariners’ Museum Park, which is one of the largest privately-owned and -maintained public parks in the country. Members also receive the following benefits:
Our Military Kids, Inc. provides grants of up to $500 for children of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members and Wounded Warriors. These grants pay for participation in sports, fine-arts, or academic programs to help reduce the children's stress within limited family budgets. Since its inception eight years ago, Our Military Kids has funded more than 34,000 grants for children's activities, totaling nearly $14 million, helping alleviate stress and anxiety for children in one of the most volatile periods of their lives.
Growing up, Chakra Café’s owner Monisha lived two different lives. At school, she was known by her given name and spent lunch hours twirling spaghetti on a fork. But at home, Monisha’s Bengali parents only referred to her by her nickname, Hashi–or laughter–and mealtimes meant scooping up lamb curry with a piece of luchi. The duality of Monisha’s two worlds–and the food she was exposed to–left a lasting impression and is the driving force behind the Café’s menu.
Inside Chakra Café’s kitchen, chefs marry Indian flavors with culinary traditions from around the world, using recipes adapted from Monisha’s mother, according to a Patch.com article. Traditional Bengali dishes such as begun bhartha–roasted eggplant flavored with green mango–are served solo or stuffed inside quesadillas with smoked fontina cheese, roasted pine nuts, and raitha yogurt sauce. Other Indian staples are also Americanized, from the tandoori chicken that tops flatbread pizzas to spaghetti paired with lamb meatballs and a whisper of ghee. Each item on the menu is clearly marked as halal, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making it easy to decipher the dishes without meat and the ones that require each bite to be chewed 32 times.