Ernest Hemingway, Sherman Billingsley, owner of The Stork Club, NYC,
and John O'Hara, circa
QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN MARIANI WRITE
RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO by
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Jealous Bitches and Smoking Loons Go for the anti- wine snob market by John Mariani
RESTAURANTS IN CHICAGO, Part One
From all the
media reports about Chicago being America's capital of molecular/sci-fi
(or whatever you want to call it) cuisine, the fact is that the city
three restaurants--Alinea, Moto, and Schwa--doing that sort of thing,
with no particular effect on the enormously wide-ranging diversity of
the city's gastronomy. And even in this lousy economy, plenty of
exciting new restaurants, none in the molecular genre, have opened in
the past year that deserve their success.
The protein combo of fish and meat is nothing all that new
in American gastronomy, but Ajasteak does it very well without
straining to get to the point. The sushi is kept on the left side of
the menu, the steaks and meats on the right, with some Asian-inflected bahn mi sandwiches thrown in for
good measure by Chef Josh Linton, who has managed to congregate many of
the current foodie obsessions in one place, not least an array of
nouvelle burgers like the mushroom-and-caramelized onion burger with
truffled pecorino cheese, and a no frills wagyu burger with shallot
marmalade and lotus chips. The best way to go this route is with
the three Kobe sliders--blue cheese-onion, bread-and-butter pickles,
and yellow mustard.
Paul Kahan is rightfully one of
Chicago's most highly regarded chefs, first for his hip, modern
American Bauhaus restaurant Blackbird,
still going strong, then for avec,
a very casual, wood-sided eatery styled around small plates of
charcuterie and wine. Now comes The Publican, in the Fulton
Market District, which builds on the avec theme with big plates of
hearty American and European food, which Chef Brian Huston turns out
with great aplomb within a gymnasium-sized room with long polished
wooden tables that is supposed to evoke a German beer hall. Indeed,
beer is a very big component of the service here, with dozens of
examples from Europe, many on draught, each described in
impassioned detail by the beer guy here who is happy to do flights, if
you wish. The specialty is a an array of Belgian Trappist and Abbey
The Publican is open
Mon.-Sat. for dinner and on Sun. for brunch and dinner. Dishes are in
categories of fish and meat and vegetables, running from small plates
at $3 up to main courses up to $27.
Hub 51 is open for lunch and
dinner daily, brunch on weekends. Appetizers $4-$$13, main courses
Two of Chicago Dining will appear in next week's issue.
1959 actor Aldo Fabrizi’s sister Elena opened the original Sora
Lella on Rome’s Isola Tiberina, soon becoming one of the neighborhood's
Sora Lella is open for
lunch and dinner daily. Antipasti $9.50-$26, full portions of pasta
$17.50-$22, main courses $22.50-$36.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
labels have a long tradition of
illustrious family names like Rothschild and Mondavi, while others like
Far Niente and Cloudy Bay evoke the romance of wine. But in the last
few years wineries aiming at those who wouldn’t dream of spending more
than $12 on a bottle have been giving their labels odd, funny, even
ridiculous names like Fat Bastard, Woop Woop, and Red Bicyclette that
sell oceans of cheap wine.
WELL, PERHAPS WE COULD CUT BACK ON THE CONTRACEPTIVES
study has found that a 42-year-old Washington State
almost had to have her leg amputated because she was on a grapefruit
diet. The study, published in the Lancet,
concluded that the woman tipped her hormone balance by eating a
grapefruit a day while dieting while on oral contraceptives.
WAYS TO WHILE AWAY THE TIME IN THE
before the flight back [to London], I sat in the lounge staring out of
while they fed the pilot black coffee. I was trying to think of things
that made sitting in the lounge staring out of the window seem less
onerous and, naturally, my thoughts turned to Silvio Berlusconi, and
what it must be like having the absurd little Eyetie maître d’
bounce up behind you with amorous intent. The most riveting
international news of the past month has been that Noemi Letizia, his
chubby, barely legal inamorata, was known by her ex-boyfriend as his
`little anchovy'. Which is, without labouring specifics, unarguably the
most unpleasant, unflattering and unromantic pet name ever given as an
inducement for frolicks and congress. So I whiled away the time
concocting gastronomic nicknames for the dirty duce himself. She could
call him `my truffle': an expensive, smelly fungus. Or `Fanta':
saccharine, effervescent and an improbable orange colour. Or the
`pepper grinder': comes with a flick of the wrist, and mostly over the
linen. She says she calls him `Papi', which is too spookily Humbert
Humbert for words, but being a bimba, I’m sure that she usually reverts
to calling him `Apollo donkey c**k'. Bra-burning came to Italy only
because you didn’t need them with plastic t**ts."--A.A. Gill, Times of London (6/7/09)
* Sandy Lane in Barbados has enhanced their
summer 2009 travel packages to incl. complimentary nights valid
through September 30. Guests who book the “Gourmet Challenge” package
will receive 2 nights’ complimentary stay when they book a 7-night
stay; 3 nights complimentary on a 10-night stay; and 4 nights
complimentary on a 14-night stay. The package includes a wine
tasting with the resort’s Wine Sommelier, a cooking demo, and a special
tasting menu from Sandy Lane’s Culinary Director and Head Chef Grant
MacPherson. All children age 12 and under visiting Sandy Lane through
Dec. 16, will receive complimentary dinner. Visit
www.sandylane.com; Call 246-444-2001 or toll free at
For the sixth consecutive year the Hôtel
d'Angleterre in Geneva,
Switzerland, will host its annual summer spectacular with 5
chefs from London's Tamarind
Restaurant for a 3-week extravaganza between July 27 to Aug.
15. Diners can extend their evening with an overnight stay.
The Tamarind package includes one night's accommodation for two,
buffet breakfast, and a 4-course Indian dinner for two. Call
800-223-6800 and in Europe call 00 800 2888 8882; Visit
Patina Restaurant Group,
which incl. Brasserie, the Sea Grill, and
Naples 45 in NYC,
and Patina, Pinot Bistro, and Zucca in California, is hosting its first
national Tomato Festival this summer, now on the West Coast, and Aug. 1
on the East Coast, until the tomato season ends. Special menus will
feature heirloom and local vine-ripened tomato varietals in liquid and
solid form, including creative and delicious cocktails, appetizers and
entrees. For a list of participating restaurants, with menus, please
In Washington, D.C. Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak now
offers Classic American Suppers that change nightly, priced at $50 pp.
Sun.-Wed., $60 Thurs. & Fri., $70 on Sat., for 3-course menus
through Labor Day. Call 202-944-2026.
On July 29 in NYC, BAMcafé at Brooklyn Academy
of Music, Edible Brooklyn and
magazines, in partnership
with the Good Beer Seal, July Good Beer Month, and
GreatBrewers.com will throw a sudsy soiree complete
with Gramercy Tavern homebrew and weiners, beer cocktails and the
marriage of Brooklyn-brewed beer and Queens-raised pork. $45
(half price when you subscribe to Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan or
Edible East End). Visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/69343
From July 31-Aug. 1, in San
Martin, CA, the 3rd Annual
CordeValle Guest Chefs’ Culinary Weekend will be held. Chef
Luca Rutigliano, at CordeValle Resort will host Chef James Sakatos from
The Carlyle in NYC, and Chef Oliver Ridgeway from Inn of the
Ansazi in Santa Fe, with wines from Quintessa, $1090
per couple, incl: 2 nights’ accommodations; BBQ dinner and golf
event; wine reception and dinner; Call 408-695-4500;
Sonesta Great Bay Beach
Resort Casino in St.
Maarten welcomes couples with its “St. Maarten Seduction”
romance package, valid thru Dec. 19, incl. Bottle of Champagne
and Belgian chocolates upon arrival; Ocean view accommodation;
dinner for two, one glass of house wine pp; Daily
$20 match bet at Golden Casino. $199 per night, with a 3-night
minimum. Call 800-223-0757 or visit www.sonesta.com/greatbay.
The Greater Miami Convention
& Visitors Bureau, brings back Miami Spice for its 8th year,
Aug. 1 - Sept. 30, presented this year by Stella Artois, the
event features more than 90 of the city’s fine dining
restaurants, incl. SRA. Martinez, Hakkasan, Chef Allen’s, Eos, Wish,
Ola, and Asia de Cuba, offering 3-course lunches at $22 and 3-course
dinners for $35. For updates on participating restaurants, special
previews, menus and sponsors, visit www.ilovemiamispice.com.
Aug. 1, China Grill Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale will offer
diners an option to choose between half and whole orders of the
existing sharing plates--giving everyone a chance to sample a wider
variety of dishes without breaking the bank. Later this summer, the Las
Vegas location will be making the same menu change. Call
305-534-2211/Miami; 954- 759-9950/ Ft Lauderdale.
From Aug. 1- 31 in NYC
Las Ramblas owner
Natalie Sanz will be offering several cavas at $7 per glass
and less than $25 for many bottles, with special tapas. Call 646-415-7924;
In Harbor Springs, MI, Boyne Highlands Resort has
introduced a line-up of 3-course dinners highlighting Michigan beers
and wines planned through September. Beer dinners $30 pp,
wine dinners $40. Upcoming dinners feature Arcadia Brewing Co. on
Aug. 3; Blackstar Farms on Aug. 10; Mountain Town Brewing Co. on
Sept. 8. Call 231-526-3059; visit www.BOYNE.com.
Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto
in Berkeley, CA, has
announced a month-long school backpack collection drive during August,
organized to provide backpacks for underprivileged children via The
Berkeley Boosters/Police Activities League (PAL). Spenger’s will give
away a $10 dining certificate in exchange for every new or good
condition backpack dropped off, good towards lunch or dinner at
Spenger’s. Visit www.spengers.com or call 510- 845-7771.
On Aug. 2 in Los Angeles, Wally’s Wine & Spirits, with the
support of Los Angeles magazine, will host Wally’s 6th Annual Central
Coast Wine and Food Celebration, to benefit the Michael Bonaccorsi
Scholarship Fund at UC Davis’ Department of Viticulture and Enology on
Sunday, with 60+ Central Coast wineries, chefs incl. Osteria and
Pizzeria Mozza by Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali, La Brea Bakery,
Spago Beverly Hills, Lucques/A.O.C. /Tavern, Campanile, Comme
Ça, the Hungry Cat and Sushi Roku, et al. $95 pp in advance and $125
at the door, Call 310-475-0606 or thru www.wallywine.com.
On Aug. 6 in Cleveland,
Moxie will host a
5-course dinner pairing Nickel & Nickel wines with Executive Chef
Jonathan Bennett’s cuisine. $99 pp. Call 216-831-5599;
On Aug. 8 at the Historic Custom House Plaza in downtown Monterey, CA, The Monterey County Vintners and Growers
Association is celebrating its 17th Annual Winemakers'
Celebration, with 50+ wineries, in educational displays, barrel
building demo by Seguin Moreau Cooperage, wine auction, and taste local
restaurant delicacies while listening to the great sounds of the Dennis
Murphy Band. $45 in advance, $50 at the door. Visit
www.montereywines.org; call 831-375-9400.
On Aug. 9 in Yountville, CA,
Chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega and
NapaStyle will host an afternoon Napa Valley mid-summer Zin n'
Ribs celebration with a party on the lawn outside Bottega,
'Meet & Greet' book and bottle signings with Chef Chiarello;
Cooking demos by Chef Chiarello and a special guest chef; a variety of
wines and sodas incl. uding Chiarello Family Vineyard’s Zinfandel. $30;
$15 (under 21), children 6 and under are free. Proceeds
benefit Clinic Ole and Land Trust of Napa County’s Connolly. Tix may be
purchased at www.napastyle.com.
On Aug. 9 in Bridgehampton, NY, a 2009 GREAT CHEFS DINNER
to benefit The Hayground School’s Jeff’s Kitchen and The
Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund.
cocktail party; $500 for cocktail party and dinner, with courses
by Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin), Joseph Realmuto (Nick &
Toni’s) and Claudia Fleming (North Fork Table & Inn). Call 631-
From Aug. 10-23 restaurants in the Greater Houston area help fight
hunger during Houston Restaurant Week
2009, with over 50 restaurants serving a 3-course meal for $35
pp. Restaurants will donate $5 from each meal sold directly to the
Houston Food Bank. Visit www.HoustonRestaurantWeek.com.
On Aug. 12 in NYC, Saul Restaurant will be celebrating
Julia Child with a tributary dinner, recreating dishes from Julia’s
iconic cookbook, Mastering the Art
of French Cooking. $65 pp, $45 wine pairing. Call 718-935-9844.
* On Aug. 13 in Schaumburg, IL, Shaw’s Crab House and Lynfred Winery, Illinois’ oldest and largest winery, host wine 5-course dinner prepared by Chef Juvenal Reyes, with Sommelier Steve Tindle pairing Lynfred wines. $89.95 pp. ; visit www.shawscrabhouse.com; Call 847-517-2722 (Schaumburg), visit the website at www.shawscrabhouse.com.
On Aug. 14 Cetrella Restaurant
in Half Moon Bay, CA,
will host a 4-course Ridge Vineyards Wine Dinner $95 pp. Call
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, ForbesTraveler.com 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: The Coast of Summer in New England; Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Last Minute Summer Deals; Kremlin Treasures at the Sackler in D.C.
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A 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). THIS WEEK:
Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!",
is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.