Monday 4/5:  Special Education Advisory Committee.  Thomas Jefferson School Library, 7:00 pm.

Joint City Council, School Board, Planning Commission Work Session.  Training Center – G Level, 7:30 pm.  Agenda.         

Tuesday 4/6:  Economic Development Authority.  Training Center – G Level, 6:30 pm.

Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.  Venue not stated. 7:00 pm.

Environmental Services Council.  Administrative Conference Room, 7:30 pm.

Wednesday 4/7:  Housing Commission.  Training Center – G Level, 6:00 pm.  Agenda.

Architectural Advisory Board.  Council Chamber, 7:45 pm.

Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation.  Administrative Conference Room, 8:00 pm.

Thursday 4/8:  City Council Budget Work Session.  Training Center – G Level, 7:30 pm. 

Friday 4/9:  City Council Economic Development Committee.  Administrative Conference Room, 7:30 am.

Saturday 4/10:  Town Hall Meeting on Budget.  Falls Church Community  Center, 10:00 am.  Agenda.

Meeting notices are obtained from the City and School Board on-line calendars and from the notice board at the east entrance of City Hall.  Meetings may be subject to re-scheduling or cancellation.

FOOD: A Look Ahead at the Spring Bounty

April 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

April 2, 2010

Tomorrow the Falls Church Farmers Market will return to its spring and summer hours, opening at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. That may not sound like big news, but I think it is. The time switch signifies the fact that the produce-packed wonderland we all know and love will start to show itself in the coming weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what the market has become during the winter months. There are meats, pastas, preserves, and cheeses that rival—and in many ways outshine– the best supermarkets. But for me a farmers market is first and foremost about fruits and vegetables. The City Hall parking looks its best when it’s a reflection of the season.

Don’t expect to see much just yet, though. If we’re lucky there may be some ramps available this weekend or next. The red-tinged wild leeks are one of the earliest spring vegetables to sprout up, often showing up in the first week of April. For years they were overlooked and thought of as “country folk” food that only people out in the boonies foraged for. Now they’re one of the hottest seasonal items on high-end restaurant menus, prized for their unique oniony-garlicky kick. If a vendor brings some along snatch them up and add them to an omelet for a totally-worth-the-bad-breath flavor punch.

By mid-April asparagus and spring lettuces will dominate the landscape. It’s imperative to catch the asparagus as early as possible. The later asparagus crops pale in comparison to the first ones, which bring specimens so thin and tender that they usually don’t require any peeling. Rhubarb, which has a tragically short growing season and is vastly underutilized in the kitchen, may also make an appearance before May. Stock up and freeze all that you can for pies, cobblers, jams and even savory stews—rhubarb’s wonderfully tart flavor works in both sweet and savory dishes.

Curvy garlic scapes (far left) are one of the first spring delicacies to hit the stands.

I’m counting the days until the first garlic scapes hit the stands. I discovered the two foot long green tendrils last spring and fell in love with them. They are a part of the garlic plant that is snipped off to encourage the growth of the bulb, and until recently were never sold at markets. But instead of throwing them away farmers have turned to selling them with great success. They have the taste of mild garlic mixed with spring onions and the texture of asparagus bottoms. I encourage you to chop them up in sautés, pulverize them into pesto-related concoctions, and just enjoy them for the precious few weeks they are available. A garlic scape is something you will never see on a supermarket shelf.

Peas are the classic spring vegetable, but don't expect Mike Musachio's little treasures to come to market until mid-May.

Mike Musachio’s peas are another spring treat I’ve been looking forward to for many months. I called the long-time farmer and veteran Falls Church Farmers Market vendor the other day to see when they would be ready and he said some time in mid-May. Mark your calendars. Why so few vendors carry fresh peas anymore is beyond me. They are irresistible, especially in the hands of a master like Musachio, who puts them on ice at the market to preserve their sweet spring essence.

Strawberries will likely come around the same time as peas. I suggest you come early when they first arrive because the minute I see some I am going to buy several quarts. A locally grown, in-season strawberry is a treat like few things on this planet.

By late May things will really start to pick up. But that’s another story. For now, it’s all about the anticipation of those first few spring treasures. Don’t forget to seek them out in the next few months, because before you know it they will be gone.

CANDIDATE Q&A: John Lawrence

April 2, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

Lawrence is currently Chairman of the Falls Church Planning Commission. Professionally, he is head of Congressional Affairs for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a non-profit organization which assists foreign countries in conducting elections.

Background Information:

I was born and raised in a small town in northeast Ohio, coming to the DC area for college.  I attended Georgetown University, receiving a Bachelors Degree from the School of Foreign Service and a Master’s Degree in Middle East Studies.  I’ve lived, worked, and traveled throughout the Middle East and South Asia as well as parts of Europe, but have called Virginia my home for the past 27 years.  My family and I have lived in the City of Falls Church since 1999.

My community activities include the following:

Chairman, Falls Church City Planning Commission, 2006-present (chairman 2009-present); Trustee, Board of Trustees, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, 2005-present; Member, Citizens for a Better City; Member, Parent-Teachers Association; Member, Falls Church City League of Women Voters; Vice Chair, Day Care Task Force (appointed by School Board), 2007-2008.

I live with my wife, Mary Ann Ralls who is also on the Public Utilities Commission, and our son, Evan, who is at Thomas Jefferson Elementary and loving it.  We all live with our cat, Raisin, who holds the deed to our house. Read more

Plein Air Workshops in April in The Little City

April 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

April 2, 2010

Falls Church Arts is hosting two introductory workshops in plein air painting. Rain or shine, award-winning instructors will help artists with composition and technique to produce plein air (outdoor) works.  In case of rain, participants will work in sheltered or interior locations.

An Oil Media Plein Air Workshop with Denise Philipbar will be held on Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Participants will meet in the public parking lot behind 111 Park Ave, Falls Church.  Registration deadline is Thursday, April 8.

A Water Media Plein Air Workshop with Bill Abel is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (with an optional extra hour for wrap-up and critique).  Artists will meet at Cherry Hill Farmhouse, 312 Park Avenue.  Register by Thursday, April 15.

The fee for each workshop is $35 for Falls Church Arts members and $50 for non-members.  See for a registration form or pick one up at Art and Frame of Falls Church, 111 Park Avenue or at Stifel and Capra, 260 West Broad Street.