The weather is slowly warming up in Alexandria, day by day, and with that comes more activity — cherry blossoms in bloom, sports teams gearing up for spring and a heavy docket of food-and-drink events to carry hungry diners through it all. Here are some of the month’s top picks around town.
Vola’s Oysterfest, April 7
Start spring off with a passel of oysters down on the water at Vola’s Dockside Grill. Go raw with some fresh-shucked oysters or taste the fried and broiled varieties, plus oyster stew and some wine or beer to wash it all down. 101 N. Union St. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tickets $84.24.
Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day, April 10
Free ice cream? What’s not to love? Celebrate the beloved Vermont-based creamery’s anniversary with a free handout of their mainstay product. And come prepared to make some tough decisions: Despite the celebration’s name, visitors can choose a cone or a cup … and name their favorite flavor. But bring some patience: The lines are often out the door. 103 S. Union St. Noon-8 p.m.
Cocktails and Correspondence at The Hour, April 11
April is National Letter Writing Month, and stationery shop Penny Post has teamed up with cocktail-party purveyor The Hour to spark some creativity and reconnect loved ones via the written word. In support of the national #Write_On campaign, Penny Post is asking would-be writers to commit to posting 30 letters in 30 days. Learn some new cocktail recipes and put pen to paper while you’re at it. 1015 King St. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $20.
Chocolate Through Time at Lee-Fendall House, April 14
Learn about chocolate’s sweet (and sometimes unsavory) past with food historian Joyce White at one of Alexandria’s historic homes. From the industrialization of the chocolate market to the sweet treat’s cultural significance throughout time, the cocoa-based confection has a lengthy backstory. Stick around to taste some chocolate-based recipes. 614 Oronoco St. 2-4 p.m. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
Carpenter’s Cook-Off, April 22
Carpenter’s Shelter takes over The Birchmere for a good – and filling – cause. Take part in the shelter’s largest fundraiser of the year and dive headfirst into delicacies from more than 20 area restaurants. Taste special dishes from the likes of Stomping Ground, Hard Times, Dishes of India and Sugar Shack – among many more – and help the shelter achieve its financial goals in the process. 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Noon-3 p.m. Tickets $100 for VIP, $50 for adults, $20 for kids 12 and under.
Murder Mystery Dinner at the Carlyle Club, April 22
Join the Carlyle Club for a night of murder and mayhem – and dinner – at their “A Murderous Matrimony” evening. Put on by the Michael Murder Mystery Players, the 90-minute show features the nuptials of Marsha and Billy Bob, complete with plenty of dysfunction. 2050 Ballenger Ave. 6 p.m. Tickets $25.
Schlafly Beer Dinner at Stomping Ground, April 24
The Southern outpost in the heart of Del Ray is pairing some good Midwestern beer with five courses of down-home cooking and invites you to be a part of it. Schlafly’s founding brewer, Stephen Hale, will be in attendance to guide diners through the evening’s pairings. 2309 Mount Vernon Ave. 7-10 p.m. Tickets $65.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at email@example.com.