Friday, July 25, 2014
Oh yes, this is one of my favorite shopping events of the summer, and it starts Saturday at 9 a.m. Merchants on Libbie, Grove and Patterson deeply discount all the summer stuff they’re ready to sell before fall, and there are always great deals to be had. My favorite find was several years ago, when I scored a pair of Emilio Pucci wedges for like $60 from The Shoe Box. My advice: Go right at 9 a.m., be decisive, and shop fast. Hit the boutiques at Libbie and Grove, and don't forget Libbie and Patterson where The Shops at 5807 will also have plenty of discounts. 
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That’s right, the once-a-year giant in-store Ledbury sale starts Thursday (running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and continues Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We only do this once a year, and this year we will be offering up to 70 percent off tailored and sample shirts, as well as blazers, ties, sweaters, etc.” says Elisabeth Edelman, vice president of branding and communications, adding that even some sample pants will be on sale. New items will be added daily.

The whole thing starts with a kickoff party Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. Steady Sounds will be spinning soul jams, plus there will be food and drink. Every day of the sale, there will be Saison cold brew on draft and Sub Rosa pastries for snacking in the morning while shopping.

Along with the sale, customers who bring in gently used men’s office attire to donate to CARITAS will receive another $10 off their purchase.

I also got a little tip that you should follow Ledbury’s Twitter and Instagram accounts during the sale because there will be some special giveaways. 

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Boy, 2014 has not been good to some of my favorite shops in Carytown. First Pink, then Murphies, now Heidi Story. Over the years, owner Heidi Story has made an array of sacrifices to keep her namesake store in business, and she says the time has come to give up the fight. "Basically, the economy just isn't getting any better," she says, noting that online shopping has really hurt her business. "The hardest part is missing the friends I've made and the kids I've taught over the years." The shop is set to close on July 19, and until then everything is on sale, even the fixtures, so stop in and say goodbye to a Carytown wardrobe staple. "We've marked everything down," she says, "and we'd love to see everyone one last time." Story and her husband will be moving to Savannah, Georgia.

In addition, Feathernesters is closing its warehouse this weekend with blowout sales on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. All merchandise will be half off. You will still be able to find Feathernesters goodies, however, at RVA Antiques.
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Lovers of vintage, this Sunday is your chance to shop. As long as it's sunny, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., more than a dozen local vendors, including Yesterday's Heroes VintageBlue Bones Vintage, Ultra Violet Vintage (vintage sold by one of the owners of the now closed but still greatly loved Carytown boutique Urban Artifacts), and Floral and Funk Vintage, will set up shop at 105 S. Addiston St. in the lot across from Lamplighter (the event will be canceled if it rains). Pedal Pops will also be on-site so you can enjoy a frosty cool treat while you shop. Stop by and hunt for treasures of the past.

Last Thursday, Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Café celebrated The Summer of Riesling with a special tasting of eight varieties of that special sweet-yet-acidic grape, and I stopped by.

What is The Summer of Riesling, you ask? It’s an international celebration of the patio-perfect wine that runs from June 21 through September 21. The whole thing started in 2008 when Terroir E.Vil in New York City’s East Village sold mostly Rieslings all summer to get Americans more familiar with the grape, and now the celebration has spread worldwide. To participate, a restaurant has to pour three or four Rieslings all summer long, and at least two of them must be German.

Thursday was a full-on Riesling party with Barrel Thief manager and wine buyer Rob Burden and David Witkowsky of Potomac Selections pouring samples from bottles ranging in price from $11 to $42 from Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and even a bottle from the Finger Lakes in New York. The bargain wine of the evening was Von der Leyen 2012 Riesling from the Nahe region of Germany where most of the famous Rieslings come from. At $11 per bottle, it managed to hit that sweet-acid balance that makes for a perfect Riesling and easily hung in with the more expensive bottles.

Barrel Thief's lobster roll
If you decide to make one Riesling splurge this summer, I highly recommend the Schafer-Frohlick 2009 Felseneck Spätlese ($42), also from the Nahe region of Germany. The flavors on the front of this wine were pure, clear honeysuckle followed by a pleasing punch of acid. Burden described it as a saturation of flavor followed by razor sharpness — exactly what a Riesling should be.

Lucky for me, I also happened to be at Barrel Thief on lobster roll night. For about six years now, on the first Thursday of each month during the summer, Barrel Thief sells lobster rolls. They need to be pre-ordered, and then the restaurant orders live lobsters from Maine and whips up these delicious summery sandwiches.

Owner Booth Hardy told me that co-owner Ross Mattis grew up in New England and started the tradition because he missed eating them. Now it’s turned into a popular summer special diners look forward to. Once chef Sam Hall gets the lobsters, he keeps it simple — he cooks them to order, shucks them and places them on a grilled potato roll with mayo and lemon on the side, along with a side of cool, satisfying potato salad. “The lobster roll is straight meat,” Hardy says. “The lobster has to be cooked just to that magic point.” The flavors were simple and delicious — I can see what this is a popular tradition.

Poundcake Panino
Also, just in the honor of tasting for my dear readers, I sampled the poundcake panino — a bargain at $6, this was basically a giant sandwich made with light poundcake filled with chocolate ganache and almond brittle, topped with poached cherries and caramel. I barely put a dent in a quarter of it, but the flavors were just delicate enough to make me keep taking one more bite. I sampled it paired with Leon Boesch 2012 Pinot Blanc “La Cabane,” and was surprised by how well the wine’s mineral and apple flavors complemented the sweet flavors of the dessert.

Along with the next lobster roll night, there’s plenty more to look forward to at Barrel Thief. Every Monday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., there’s a wine tasting for $1. On July 21, the restaurant is hosting a Christmas in July dinner. From now through then, the restaurant is hosting a canned food drive for FeedMore, and 10 percent of the $100 per ticket sales will be donated as well. The meal will feature four courses paired with four high-end wines. The restaurant is already booked for the dinner, but places do sometimes open up, so you can still request a spot on the wait list. Also, on July 23, winemaker Michael Lundeen of Walnut City Wine Works and Lundeen Wines will be in the shop from 5 to 8 p.m., and you can taste four of his wines for $5. I snagged a sample of one of the Lundeen pinot noirs, and think this tasting will be a good stop for red wine fans.
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