Virtual Gourmet

March 9,  2008                                                        NEWSLETTER

                                 Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, John Wayne, and Barry Fitzgerald in "The Quiet Man" (1952)

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In This Issue

Oregon Wine Country by Suzanne Wright

NEW YORK CORNER Irving Mill by John Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: What About the White Wines of the Rhône? by Brian Freedman



The Willamette Valley from Youngberg  Inn, McMinnville, Oregon
Oregon Wine Country

by Suzanne Wright

     Home to more than 200 wineries, the Willamette Valley is Oregon’s largest and best known wine-producing area.  In addition to checking out the wines—particularly the famed pinot noir and pinot gris—I am checking into a series of B&Bs.
      In the past, I’ve had some pretty disappointing B&B experiences.  So on this trip I stayed exclusively at a number of Unique Inns, a network on the West Coast that vets its owner-operated member properties.  Each inn has a distinctive personality shaped by its owner and I decided to surrender myself to the innkeepers and let them guide me to experience the best of each place.
     Portland’s White House (1914 NE 22nd Avenue; 800-272-7131 or 503-287-7131) is located in the city’s Northeast quadrant, in leafy, historic Irvington.  Built in 1911, the magnificent craftsman mansion (below) with its graceful columns (inviting comparisons to the nation’s capitol) was the summer home of a lumber baron. Exquisitely restored by Lanning Blanks and Steve Holden, the White House has the flourishes of a grand hotel with the personal touches of a B&B, like freshly baked cookies on the bedside table. Each of the eight rooms is immaculately clean and graciously appointed with four-poster beds, Jacuzzis, European chandeliers, oil paintings and fine porcelains. Rooms rent for $125-225.
    Crossing the Broadway Bridge, I spent the day in Northwest Portland shopping, trying chocolates at Moonstruck, eating a fat burrito at Laughing Planet, and noshing a toasted coconut cupcake at St. Cupcake.  I had dinner at El Gaucho (a 3-course dinner runs $75+), a swanky steakhouse where the valet expertly steered us past a wily panhandler without being rude. (Portlanders are nice, very nice.)  The interiors are sexy, the service is attentive, and a Penner-Ash 2005 pinot noir was liquid cashmere with the chef’s rib eye with bordelaise sauce and sautéed seasonal mushrooms.
     Southwest of the city, the fertile valleys are buffered by the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade mountains.  That’s where the grapes grow and that’s where I headed. A snaking driveway led to an impressive Tuscan-style property built in 2004, the Black Walnut Inn (9600 NE Worden Hill Road : Dundee; 866-429-4114; rooms $295-495), with its commanding views of Dundee’s red hills (left).  Local artisan details include wrought ironwork and a sun-dappled color scheme of gold, pumpkin and olive completes the theme.  A family-run business, mother Karen and daughter Melissa Utz animatedly work the phones to set up appointments at their favorite wineries just minutes after my arrival.
  Rangy, gray-haired Cliff Anderson of Anderson Family Vineyards explains that he “dry farms,” meaning he doesn’t use irrigation but instead relies on rainfall to nurture the grapes. “We have a lot of spring, a lot of fall and not much summer or winter.” A boutique producer, Anderson sells his wine at several high-end Manhattan restaurants, at a local restaurant called The Painted Lady and at the vineyard.  Anderson describes his wines as “Burgundian in style,” as do many Oregon winemakers; the two regions are on the same latitude.   A former marketing executive, his tag line is “steep slopes, deep roots, intense flavors.”  His 2005 pinot noir evokes cola, coffee and plum.
Breakfasts are a highlight of great B&Bs, and the Black Walnut's are exceptional.  Chef/son Kris is a Cordon Bleu graduate, and his menu showcases the best local, seasonal ingredients.  There’s fresh apple juice, powdered apple spice donuts, an omelet made with eggs from neighboring chickens, Rogue Valley bleu cheese, and Carlton Farms bacon.  I did my best to keep up as the “greatest morning hits” arrived:  crumbled fresh pork sausage and rich cream gravy over fluffy biscuits, Dijon and wine-splashed eggs Benedict over toast, corned beef hash braised in pinot noir with sautéed onions and garlic, accompanied by red-skinned potatoes.  I’d been eating for an hour and a half by candlelight.
     Next, I visited the Argyle Winery, especially known for its sparkling wines, including the 1997 Extended Tirage that Wine Spectator rated #25 of 100 wines in 2007.   I favor the Brut Rosé with its strawberry and spice notes. The wine pourer said the rosy hue has been likened to the “color of the eye of a partridge.”  I take her at her word.
      Dinner was at Tina’s (
760 Hwy 99W, Dundee; 503-538-8880), one of the best restaurants in the area.  Even if you can’t go with friends-in-the-know, be sure and ask for the “secret” wine list, with its prize selection of “odds and ends” bottles.  For starters, rake the plump, juicy pan-fried Wilapa Bay oysters through the sorrel mayonnaise and enjoy the East-West interplay of the salmon spring rolls—perfect with a local pinot gris; just give a price range and the knowledgeable server will recommend a good one.   Meats are stellar here, like the braised rabbit with greens, chanterelles and garlic mashed potatoes, tenderloin with cognac demi-glace, roasted rack of lamb from Su Dan Farms in nearby Canby, its meat glazed with a port garlic sauce, delicious when accompanied by a Beaux Frères pinot noir.  A 3-course dinner runs about $45.
     It was winter and it was wet and misty in Oregon—not the best time to visit, but the upside is I got most places to my soggy self.  The land is restive to the eye, rolling and spacious and green.  Oregon vineyards, too, have breathing room:  the vines are interrupted by farmland and forested areas.  The people also have a cadence of their own:  friendly, keen to recommend their favorite destinations.  The whistle-stop town of Carlton is the most charming in the valley and provides a day of touring.  The Carlton Winemakers Studio is sleek and modern and operates like a co-op, with 11 or 12 individual winemakers housed under one roof.  All the rage right now is Riedel’s newly-released Oregon pinot noir glass with a big bowl and tulip top; you can taste several wines on any given day from its contours and decide for yourself if it makes a difference to your tongue (debate is raging).
The old train depot serves as the rustic tasting room for Tyrus Evan wines, the warm weather varietals—syrah, claret, malbec—of legendary winemaker Ken Wright; Scott Paul Wines is across the street.  Horseradish is the place for lunch; they’ll put together a Northwest cheese sampler with a proper baguette, and you can buy chocolate covered hazelnuts.

    Wayne and Nicolette Bailey are the former Midwestern proprietors of Youngberg Inn (right; 10660 SW Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville; 888- 657-8668; $170-290) in McMinnville.  Surveying the panoramic view and the surrounding vineyards, Nicolette says, “We don’t feel like we own it, we just take care of it.”  Single vintages, Wayne explains, are named for their daughters; I especially like the Jordan Block.
     It was foggy and the Wadensil Suite has a fireplace and cozy oak furnishings, so I donned a robe and stayed in for the night with a bottle of wine and a good book.  It was like having breakfast in the clouds the following morning, as I enjoyed citrus salad, fresh baked muffins and a savory potato, herb and sausage French toast.

    Downtown McMinnville is darling and has a clutch of independently owned shops.  One features a t-shirt emblazoned with “ruralsexual;” another, called Honest Chocolates, sells pinot-infused truffles.
    At the boutique Mes Amies on N.E. Third Street in McMinnville, owner Naomi Bruce steered me toward some lesser-visited wineries as I headed south. Bethel Heights Vineyard is a family-owned operation founded in 1977; owner Marilyn Webb tutored me on sustainably grown wines that carry the LIVE and "Salmon Safe" designations. When I asked her to expound on the subtle differences between adjoining blocks of grapes, she said, “It’s hard to know what is the hand of the winemaker and what is the terroir.”  She believes that the varietals and the land result in “bigger, more extracted, more lush wines—an advantage to an American palate.”  The lightly oaked estate grown 2004 chardonnay is a nice balance of acidity and round fruit and the just-bottled 2006 flat rock pinot noir is an appealing combination of raspberries and spice.
     Webb called ahead to her neighbors at Cristom Vineyards, where winemaker Steve Doerner, who'd worked in California, talked of how Oregon’s cooler climate providing greater complexity to wines.  Tasting the 2002 Eileen pinot noir with its notes of black cherries, earth and currants, made me a believer.  Witness Tree Vineyards is named for the Oregon oak that bears witness—a surveyor’s term—to the boundary of the land. Winemaker Steve Westby uncorks a soft pinot blanc, a peachy, honeyed viognier and a jammy 2006 pinot noir with leather and cassis undertones before I push on to Eugene, where I’ve got a room waiting for me at The Campbell House (252 Pearl Street, Eugene; 541- 343-1119; $129-399).
  Built in 1892, the downtown Victorian estate has been restored by owner Myra Plant. After settling into the Eva Johnson room (above), with four-poster bed, gas fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, hardwood floors, I headed downstairs for dinner. I sampled the Oregon-made Cascade Mountain American gin (not bad, a change from wine), I tried the flavorful lobster saffron poached wild-caught salmon with barley and bean ragoût and a rich chocolate hazelnut and berry coulis. Earplugs had been placed on  my pillow to drown out the train that roars past several times during the night.

     Breakfast is another fine meal: blackberry scones with a crispy sugar crust, granola with cranberries, pecans and almonds, and herbed scrambled eggs tucked into crêpes covered in a mushroom sauce.  Before I worked off the day’s first meal, it was time for the holiday tea, which features the Hanson Family Singers as Victorian-clad carolers, butternut squash soup, cucumber sandwiches, chicken hazelnut sandwiches, and various sweets.
Though there are wineries within striking distance—Sweet Cheeks, King Estate and Iris Hill—I’m suffering from wine fatigue, so I spend the afternoon browsing at Fifth Street Market and getting a massage at Pearl Day Spa, then check into the Excelsior Inn (
754 E. 13th, Eugene; 800-321-6963).  Owner Maurizio Paparo’s old-fashioned, onsite Tuscan Room (right) restaurant with its creaking floors; it serves prawns wrapped in prosciutto, lamb with roasted shallots and olives and mushroom risotto.  His B&B was the first I’ve encountered with an elevator—though I need to walk off the calories on the stairs.  Nothing exceeds like excess. Rooms go for $120-270.

For more information on touring the Willamette Valley and its wineries go to

by John Mariani

116 East 16th Street (off Irving Place)

     The neighborhood around Irving Place is rich with New York history, not least the name itself, commemorating the affable American writer Washington Irving (left), who has a high school named after him here. Then there's Pete's Tavern, dating back to 1829, where legend has it that O. Henry wrote "The Gift of the Magi" in the second booth. The area architecture is remarkably varied--Stanford White did The Players and Vaux and Radford the National Arts Club, both on Gramercy Park.
     The restaurant called Irving Mill, which opened this winter, sits aptly within this quiet oasis of Manhattan, for it was once a 19th century stable and now has an interior that would not look out of place in an Irving story about the gregariousness of New York taverns. Rustic but also cosmopolitan, it has ceiling beams, soft lighting, pictures of farm animals, a Tap Room up front, huge displays of flowers, and banquettes whose fabric are imprinted with Irving's own handwriting.  The decibel level is congenial, the servers are cordial (though they tend to spend a little too much time chatting among themselves), the reception warm, and John Schaefer's food delightfully American, with, of course, European touches of a kind Europeans brought to Manhattan in colonial times.  Prices, with no main course over $28, are very pleasing indeed, as they soar everywhere else.
      The winelist is commendable not so much for its comprehensiveness as for its appropriateness to Schaefer's cooking, with sturdy reds and a good dose of pinot noirs that complement so many dishes on the menu.
There is also a judicious number of wines by the glass, from $9-$20.
       Schaefer (below), formerly of nearby Gramercy Tavern, is not doing flourishes on his plates and is not experimenting on his guests.  This is comfort food of a high order, beginning with a wonderful grilled quail with green tomato relish, Cheddar cheese grits and smoked paprika--each element in perfect balance.  Another two quail on the plate and this would make a first-rate main course.  Nantucket bay scallops (get them while they're around: it's been a poor season for bay scallops) came with a salad of baby fennel, blood orange and picholine olives, flavors that slightly compromised the natural, subtle sweetness of the seafood. Ricotta dumplings with rutabaga, Speck, and brown butter were simple and good.
      Roasted monkfish certainly worked well with its wintry red cabbage, celeriac, bacon, and truffle vinaigrette, and a braised lamb shoulder was lusciously served with wild mushrooms, Savoy cabbage, butternut squash and orrechiette pasta. I like the way Schaefer spices his pink Muscovy duck breast, accompanying it with quinoa, Swiss chard and the spark of Meyer lemon. Pork belly seems to be on every menu in New York these days, and Schaefer's is as good as anyone's, with a decent streak o' lean and a light saltiness that tempers the fat. A good, juicy pork chop, nicely cooked, came with collard greens and cranberries, so you can begin to discern a definite seasonal style here, using salty bacon and the textures of greens to match the proteins on the plate. Come spring, we'll just have to see what happens.
     Desserts follow the homey American line, with chocolate bread pudding with bourbon-roasted bananas and cinnamon crème anglaise; a warm apple and cranberry crisp with luscious buttermilk ice cream; and a rich caramel nut tart with delicious milk chocolate sauce and cream whipped with Cognac.  There is also a selection of seven farmstead cheeses and several tea options.
       Schaefer seems not to want to surprise his guests but to please them, much the way Geoffrey Zakarian does so admirably at Country and the way the long-gone Coach House (now Babbo) in Greenwich Village did so well for thirty years.  It's not a bad way to think about the people who come to your restaurant and a good way to get them to come back again and again to see what the new season will bring.

Irving Mill is open for lunch and dinner daily. Prices for appetizers run $9 to $16; entrées, $25 to $28.


What About the White Wines of the Rhône?
by Brian Freedman

          Since the release of the 2005 Rhône Valley reds, demand for the wines of the region has reached a fever pitch. From Côte Rôtie in the north to Châteauneuf-du-Pape down south, bottles of the Rhône’s best reds have been snapped up from retail shelves almost as quickly as they’ve been stocked.
          But lost in all this clamor for world-class syrah, grenache, and mourvèdre are the Rhône’s white wines, which quietly, and without half the fanfare of their red counterparts, offer idiosyncratic and often downright delicious drinking.
          Most people, though, tend to think of the Rhône Valley as universally warm. As a consequence of this, its white wines are often overlooked. Or worse, they’re not even considered. And because the region’s primary focus is on red wines—they account for approximately 95% of the Rhône’s Appellation Contrôlée bottlings—the whites have typically been much more difficult to find on retail shelves. 
          They are, however, worth seeking out.  And just like their red counterparts, they are produced in a wide range of styles and  at prices that will appeal to both collectors and casual drinkers alike.
          In the north, the three permitted white grape varieties are viognier, marsanne, and roussanne, though the latter two are far more widespread. Viognier, the sole ingredient in the wines of Condrieu and Château-Grillet, is glycerin-rich, intensely aromatic, and one of the few varieties that will generally not improve with extended time in the cellar.
          Marsanne and roussanne, on the other hand, find their way most notably into the whites of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint-Joseph. They are an interesting pair: Marsanne provides the flesh to roussanne’s more acidic skeleton. And while marsanne’s stock has increased beyond its partner’s, they remain inextricably linked in the wines of the Northern Rhône.
          Down in the Southern Rhône, mirroring the laws regarding its reds, more white grape varieties are permitted, including crisp grenache blanc, citric picpoul blanc, clairette with its tendency toward stone-fruit aromas, viognier, and bourboulenc.
          The Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2005 ($11) is a simple, straightforward charmer with an aroma like seashells and a hint of soft lemon acidity. At cellar temperature its mineral austerity just begs for a bowl of clams to be paired with, though as it warms up, a pronounced dried-apricot character develops on the nose, making it delicious on its own.
          Domaine de la Janasse, on the other hand, has fashioned a much rounder, richer Côtes du Rhône Blanc for its 2006 bottling ($20). Base-note aromas of mushroom and brown spice counterbalance the higher-toned apricot scent with aplomb.
          Janasse’s 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($55) needs either a stint in the decanter or, even better, several years in the cellar. Right now it is a young wine and feels a bit disjointed. But the surprisingly tropical nose of coconut and fresh-cut pineapple is appealing, as are the almost haunting hints of toasted honey-whole-wheat bread. Its overall balance and the length of its stony finish promise several years of development in the bottle.
          I was bowled over by the E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Blanc “Lieu-Dit Saint-Joseph” 2005 ($47). It smelled like super ripe oranges, Marcona almonds, and cream, and had a flavor that reminded me of everything from roasted pineapple to orange blossom to almonds again. The fact that all of this was packed into a wine that retained a solid sense of structure was just amazing.
          And in a similar vein but more austere was the Delas Hermitage Blanc “Marquise de la Tourette” 2004 ($54), whose almond-butter-and-cream aroma and palate-coating texture were attenuated by a backbone of damp-stone minerality. Though hard to resist right now, this is a white that should continue to improve for another several years in the cellar.

Despite the range of styles exhibited by these five wines, they do have one very important characteristic in common: A real sense of place. None of them, regardless of their richness or austerity, could have come from anywhere but the Rhône Valley. That’s not only a major source of their appeal, but also something to seek out in a world of increasingly globalized bottlings. Rhône whites may not be lining the shelves of retail shops right now, but the ones you can find are likely to reward your efforts in ways that few other white wines will.

Brian Freedman is food and wine editor of LifeStyle  Magazine (, restaurant critic for and, director of wine education at the Wine School of Philadelphia and editorial director  at


"I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"--Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood."


In Columbus, Ohio, three couples were married on Valentine's Day at a White Castle.  The cake was made to look like a White Castle food tray with burgers, fries, and drink made from cake and frosting. The wedding was broadcast on a local radio station.


* Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco and Meadowood Napa Valley are offering a 5-day, 4-night offering that begins with a personal chauffeur to greet arriving guests inside the SFO Airport to drive to Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco’s door for 2 nights’ accommodations; dinner for two paired with select wines in Silks restaurant; daily breakfast, followed by 2 days at Meadowood, incl. a private fireside wine tasting,  4-course dinner with wines;  breakfast. Rates begin at $4600. Call 415-276-9888 or Meadowood Napa Valley 707-963-3646.

 * In  celebration of national vegetarian month Waterloo Brasserie in London will be offering a special vegetarian menu (two courses for £13.95 or three courses for £18.95). Call (0) 20 7960 0202.

* This month in Chicago, La Madia's chefs Jonathan Fox and Gianni Zonca offer cooking demos every Saturday, after which students will sample their new creations along with wine or cocktail pairings. $25 pp. Classes incl.  Perfect Pizzas and Tuscan Red Wines; Savory Pasta and Crisp Chardonnay; Spring Salads and Cool Cocktails; Pretty Paninis and Pinot Noir. Call 312-329-0400.

*From March 10-14 Fourth Wall Restaurants (Quality Meats, Smith & Wollensky New York City, The Post House, Park Avenue Winter, and Maloney & Porcelli) celebrates National Wine Week in NYC, introducing Magnificent Monday, on March 10, with 5 wines from Moet & Chandon, Grgich Hills, Domaine Serene, and Miner Family poured by guest from the wineries;  $15 with the cost of lunch.  For the remainder of the week, 10  wines for $10 with lunch. Part of the proceeds donated to Friends of the High Line. Visit

* On March 12 in NYC, Barbetta hosts Cinzia Travaglini to speak on 4 vintages of Gattinara Travaglini with paired with a multi-course Piemontese dinner at $150. Call 212-246 9171.

* On March 16 in Portland, ME, Cinque Terre ( will usher in with its First Annual "Eco Appetito - Good Eating for a Good Earth" to benefit the "Food for Thought" program offered at Ferry Beach Ecology School in Saco, Maine.  The event will showcase local Maine food and beverages from dozens of producers. $50 pp. Visit     or call 207-671-0643.

* On March 17 in Lousiville, KY, Park Place on Main chef Jay Denham hosts an event of tastings of a diverse array of in-house cured meats and discussions led by meat experts, incl. Nancy Newsom from Newsom's Aged Kentucky Country Ham , Allen Benton from Benton's Country Ham, and Prof. Greg Rentfrow of the U. of Kentucky.  $100 pp. Call 502-515-0172;

*On March 18 the Chef Ricardo Cardona Hudson River Cafe in NYC will offer a 6-course Spanish wine dinner for  $90 pp.  Call 212-491-9111;

* From May 18-24 Jean-Louis Gerin of Restaurant Jean-Louis in Greenwich, CT, and Burgundy expert Etienne Touzot will host a tour of “The Very Best of Burgundy: A French Food and Wine Adventure,” incl. accommodations in Beaune at Hotel Le Cep, cooking demos with Jean-Louis, dining at La Bache farmhouse, tour of vineyards,  dinner at Jacques Lameloise in Chagny, and much more.  $5,500 pp; Call (800) 593-6350.

  On March 19 chef Todd Humphries of Martini House in St. Helena, CA, collaborates with Italian Family Estate Wine Importer Dalla Terra(tm) Winery Direct® for the annual "Wine Geeks and Mushroom Freaks," with wines from regions of Asti, Barbaresco, Sicily and Abruzzo. Exotic mushroom dishes will be served, along with commentary by  Patrick Hamilton, Mycena News "Foragers' Report" columnist and Camp Chef for the Sonoma County Mushroom Assoc,, and Connie Green of Wine Forest Mushrooms. $125, or $80 for food alone. Call 707-963-2233. Visit

* On March 22 in Crested Butte, CO, The Crested Butte Nordic Council's holds a 4-course Progressive Bonfire Dinner along a luminary-lit path with snowshoes and Nordic skis. $35 for adults and $15 for children. Call 970- 349-1707. Visit
* On March 22 in Yountville, CA,  the 15th annual  “Taste of Yountville,” will be celebrating Napa Valley’s mustard  season, with 15 area restaurants, 20 local wineries and an array of mustard and olive  oil producers on tap for tastings.  The 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. event is free; tasting ticket available on  site for $1.00 each.  Visit

* Le Titi de Paris in Arlington Hills, ILL, holds 2 Global Wine Dinners Series with “Zinfully Delicious” on March 23 prepared by Chef/Owner Michael Maddox. $85 pp. “A Gourmet Visit to Provence” on March 28, Marcel Floriwill host this month's 2008 Tour de France Gastronomique. $85. Call 847-506-0222;

*On March 24 in San Francisco, as part of its 25th Anniversary, Masa's will hold a tribute to 25 Years of Desserts benefiting Project Open Hand, with desserts, mignardises, and wine pairings selected by Master Sommelier Alan Murray. Call 415-989-7154. Visit

*      On March 24th, Cold Heaven Cellars' Morgan Clendenen, August West's Ed Kurtzman and Kirk Venge of Venge Vineyards, Macauley Vineyard and Igneous Cellars will present their wines paired with a 5-course dinner by Executive Chef Stephen Lewandowski at TriBeCa Grill. $175 pp. Call 212-941-3900.

* On March 26 in Chicago, Café Matou's "4th Wednesday Wine Cellar Raid' will be held with Wine Director James Rahn pulling more than 25 wines from the cellar, for $17 per bottle with dinner by Chef Charlie Socher's seasonal French menu.  Wines will range from Vin du Pays to Vin de Savoie.  Call Café Matou at 773-384-8911. Visit

* From March 27-30 the  Pebble Beach Food & Wine will bring together 35 chefs and 200 world wineries for wine-pairing dinners, cooking demos, vertical tastings, a sommelier challenge with master sommeliers, and a rare-wine auction and dinner, at venues throughout the Pebble Beach Resorts. Culinary "dream teams" will create multi-course lunches and dinners, incl. chefs Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Alain Passard, David Kinch, and Claire Clark, pastry chef at The French Laundry.  $165 for a single event pass to $12,400, based on double occupancy, for a3-night stay with the VIP ticket package.  Call 1-866-907-FOOD or visit

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with two excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  THIS WEEK: HONOLULU ON THE CHEAP

Tennis Resorts OnlineA Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored  two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to  Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). Click on the logo below to go to the site.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,  Naomi  Kooker, Suzanne Wright, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

 John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Wine Spectator, Bloomberg News and Radio, and Diversion.  He is author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press).

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from by clicking on the cover image.

My newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our years growing up in the North Bronx. It's called Almost Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our lives when so many wonderful things seemed possible.
    For those of you who don't think of the Bronx as “idyllic,” this book will be a revelation. It’s about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful neighborhood filled with great friends and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives. It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this very personal look at our
Bronx childhood. It is not yet available in bookstores, so to purchase a copy, go to or click on  Almost Golden.
--John Mariani

 © copyright John Mariani 2008