Sunday, February 13, 2011

Las Tapas in Old Town

I've been to Las Tapas in Old Town Alexandria many times in the past, and until last Saturday I had never been disappointed.

Perhaps it was the fact that it was crowded and the cooks were concentrating on the "set menus" for couples, but the tapas - almost all of them - that we ordered a la carte were not very good.

The pinchitos are some of my favorite tapas on the planet. When I lived in Spain, they were usually served using ex bicycle wheel spokes as the skewers. The ones that we got last night at Las Tapas were tasteless - they certainly didn't have that pinchito-unique flavor - and they were lukewarm, and they were tiny! They should be called tapitas, not tapas.

The Calamares Rellenos En Salsa De Tomate looked great, but when I went to cut into one of them, the stuffing popped out all in one lump, as it was also lukewarm and the dish had been allowed to settle back and separate, thus allowing the stuffing to congeal into one lumpy mass.

The Pulpo A La Gallega was acceptable, but once again, it was lukewarm and the thinly sliced octopus would have probably tasted a lot better if it had been hotter in temperature.

The Mejillones Al Vapor were hot and delicious; no complaint there. The Pa Amb Oli, one of the priciest tapas on the menu, was also good.

I had a half jar of Sangria and this is where La Tasca really failed. This was by far the worst Sangria that I have ever tasted in a restaurant, Spanish or not.

It was essentially made up of Triple Sec and wine, with the Triple Sec overpowering all the other stuff which is supposed to be in a true Spanish sangria and which I think was missing from this "sangria."

I suspect that what happened was that they ran out of the pre-mixed Sangria (we were there at 8PM) and they were just dumping wine and triple Sec and cut up apples into the pitchers.

As many of you know, and anyone who went to a Fraser Gallery opening between 1996-2006 can testify to, I can make one really decent sangria, which follows a recipe that I learned while living in Spain. This perhaps makes me a tough juror for Sangria.

But if you are a Spanish restaurant, and your Sangria tastes like watered down Triple Sec, then you have a problem.



Arlington's wonderful new Artisphere has three visual art galleries within it:

The Terrace Gallery is a 4000 square foot gallery that showcases international, national and regional artists in five annual exhibits. Curated exhibits often investigate trends in contemporary art.

The Mezz Gallery promotes the work of artists and curators who live, work, study or have a studio in Arlington, Virginia as well as artists from our Sister Cities program. Artists and curators may propose individual or group exhibits to be featured along the 140 running feet of wall space. Group shows may feature work from non-Arlington artists so long as the curator meets the requirements. Shows are scheduled one to two years in advance. Visit Artist Opportunities to learn more.

Works-In-Progress Gallery - The WIP (Works-in-Progress) Gallery is situated at the entrance to the Terrace Gallery. WIP exhibits cross multiple disciplines that are constantly changing, providing the public a window into the creative process and offering critique opportunities for artists as their work evolves.
At the Mezz Gallery they currently have Victoria F. Gaitán's photographic series of "flesh-and-blood still lifes visualize human subjects as meat puppets. The images are calling cards from the artist's explorations of internal worlds, illness, in-between states, shared delusions and hells, stillness, memory, interpretations of pain, private and public intimacies, trauma, beauty and conditioned responses." That exhibition is through March 12, 2010 and it is a "must see" for all DMV art aficionados.

An artist talk with Victoria F. Gaitán and Curator Al Miner is scheduled for Friday, February 25, at 6 pm. Also, the below video has Victoria talking about the exhibition:

VICTORIA F. GAITÁN from Arlington Arts on Vimeo.

Both Victoria and Al Miner are in my 100 Washington, DC Artists book. Check it out on Amazon here.

- If you are an artist and you live or have a studio in Arlington, then see this.

Call for Artists: Bethesda Painting Awards

Deadline: Friday, February 25, 2011

Submissions must be received by Friday, February 25, 2011. The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is currently accepting applications for the sixth annual Bethesda Painting Awards. Up to nine finalists will be selected to display their work in an exhibition during the month of June in downtown Bethesda, and the top four winners will receive $14,000 in prize monies. Best in Show will be awarded $10,000; Second Place will be honored with $2,000 and Third Place will receive $1,000. Additionally, a “Young Artist” whose birthday is after February 20, 1981 may be awarded $1,000.

Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. All original 2-D paintings including oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, encaustic and mixed media will be accepted. The maximum dimensions should not exceed 60 inches in width or 84 inches in height. No reproductions. Artwork must have been completed within the last two years and must be available for the duration of the exhibit. Each artist must submit 5 slides, application and a non-refundable fee of $25. Digital entries will be accepted on CD in JPG, GIF or PNG format. For a complete application, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Bethesda Painting Awards, c/o Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814, visit for the downloadable version or call 301-215-6660 x17.

Opportunity for Artists with a disability

Deadline: March 11, 2011

, the international organization on arts and disability, announces Shift, an international call for art. Artists ages 18 and older who have a physical, cognitive, or mental disability are invited to apply. Artists are asked to submit up to four artworks of any media that address the theme of Shift – an investigation of a moment of change in one’s life that alters the direction of a person’s path. For more information about how to apply, visit The online application be found on CaFE, Please contact Sonja Cendak, visual arts manager, with any questions. Selected artwork will be exhibited at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC in June 2011.

Opportunities for Artists

Deadline: Before February 23, 2011

The new Touchstone Gallery has announced membership opportunities as they launch 2011 solos and member exhibitions in their new modern gallery at 901 New York Ave. NW. It's an attractive street-level space in the heart of Washington, DC. They are seeking "excellent artists with a contemporary vision who work in fiber, book as art, video, glass, interactive art and other media."

New Members Benefits: a biennial solo show, one or more pieces on exhibit in each monthly member show, artist bins and gallery website artist pages.

To be considered for one of the limited membership’s available, contact Ksenia Grishkova, Gallery Director, now at or 202 347-2787. She'll answer questions and explain their jury process. The next jury of actual works will take place on February 23, 2011.

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave NW
Washington DC 20001
Tel: 202-347-2787