de Chartres" poster by Girard (circa 1950)
QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN MARIANI WRITE
by Nikki Buchanan
by Nikki Buchanan
Stepping off the plane
and into the Denver International Airport, I stood gazing up at those
— a series of bright white tents that from the outside looks like a
21st Century Bedouin encampment — when a gray-haired greeter in cowboy
hat and boots asked me if I needed help finding my way around. “So this
is Colorado,” I thought to myself, “a little bit country, a little bit
rock and roll.”
At the Armstrong
Hotel, a shiny red cruiser sits in
the front window, a
reminder that bicycles are complimentary and easy to come by here as
well. Built in 1923 and restored five years ago, this charming place
offers 38 rooms and suites, each decorated differently but containing
the same plush beds, down comforters and pillows. Some of the rooms
feature wood floors and replicated antiques; others have patterned
carpets, modern desks, and platform beds. I stayed in the latter, a
crisply designed but soothing room overlooking the crabapple trees and
bustle of College Avenue. The Armstrong sits right in the thick of
surrounded by the gorgeously restored historic buildings, shops and
restaurants that make Old Town such a fun place to explore. It’s easy
to kill an afternoon browsing the shops or just plunking down at one of
the pubs for some great local beer, which it is now time to talk about.
In a college town, beer’s a given, but
Ft. Collins has a major advantage in the suds department, boasting more
brewers and microbreweries per capita than any city in the state. With
the exception of Anheuser Busch Brewery, all of the brewers in Ft.
Collins are craftsmen: by definition, small independents, using (in
most cases) 100% malted barley as well
as traditional brewing
methods inspired by behemoths such as Great Britain,
Germany and Belgium. For serious hops-heads, Ft. Collins is
the Promised Land, not to mention home base for New Belgium Brewing
Company, the makers of Fat Tire.
Prairie natural area lies 25 miles due
north of Ft. Collins, five miles west of the I-25 on the
Colorado/Wyoming border. This 28-square-mile wildlife corridor,
connects the mountains to the plains, was officially opened to the
public on June 11th of this year, a scary thought given how relatively
untouched it’s been for centuries. Soapstone is one of the few places
in this state or any other to find undisturbed prairie grasslands and
it’s the perfect spot — accessible, yet still remarkably remote — to
enjoy the 360-degree views and wide-open spaces that typify the west.
Cliffs, canyons, arroyos, unique rock formations and intermittent
streams dot the landscape. Biodiversity is high, and the area is home
to 52 butterfly species, 800 plant species and over 100 bird species,
including Colorado’s state bird, the lark bunting, which seems to be
everywhere in the summer months.
Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park
Buchanan writes for The
Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, azcentral.com and azfamily.com. She also does
weekly restaurant reviews on KTVK-TV.
NEW YORK CORNER
is made about Rouge Tomate's commitment to SPE®, the acronym for
Sanitas Per Escam (Latin
for Health Through Food), which also stands for Sourcing, Preparing,
and Enhancing, an organization founded by Emmanuel Verstraeten, a
Belgium entrepreneur concerned about poor eating habits
and limited healthy dining options, in his city and abroad. Along
with dietitian and nutrition
professor Veronique Maindiaux, his
mission was to develop a cuisine that "first
appealed to the pleasure senses while also nourishing and strengthening
Tomate is open for lunch daily and for dinner Mon.-Sat. Appetizers at
dinner run $12-$18, main courses $21-$31.
GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS DEPARTMENT
to a research study by German and Swedish scientists, it appears that
beer does not cause pot
bellies (also known as beer bellies). The study
showed that heavy drinkers do
put on weight but that it is distributed
over their bodies, and pot bellies may be more of a genetic
problem. The study also indicated that the men most likely to put on
weight were those who drank either the most beer or those who did not
drink at all. Moderate drinkers put on the least amount of weight.
MORE FASCINATING RESTAURANT
NEWS FROM LA-LA LAND
"George Hamilton walks into Cecconi’s. Tanned (of course) and relaxed, he is about to sit at a center table in the crowded courtyard when from within the restaurant a guy yells, `George, George!' The man is going for it, pulling on some frayed thread that links him to the actor. Hamilton ignores him, though, and the man sits back down, unheard, unheeded, unseen, and in the unspoken but shared estimation of those who have witnessed the moment, snubbed."--Patric Kuh, "Mixing old school and new, two Italian restaurants prove that there's more to them than just good looks," Los Angeles Magazine (July 2009).
* Through the end of August in Houston, Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar is serving a special Julia Child Tribute Tasting Menu to honor Julia Child and the release of the film “Julie & Julia.” The four-course tasting menu is available with or without wine pairings during dinner service. Featured dishes will change weekly – menu posted at www.mockingbirdbistro.com. Cost is $69 plus tax & gratuity for the tasting menu, and $89 plus tax & gratuity for tasting menu with wine. Call 713-533-0200.
Aug. 10-16 Vermilion Chicago is celebrating "Summer,
Spice & Liberation" (the Indian Independence day) with a 3-course
$22, both lunch and dinner. Celebrations peak Saturday
night with a DJ and dancing, Bollywood style. Ca;; 312.527.4060,
www.thevermilionrestaurant.com. . . . Vermilion
NYC is hosting
"Bombay Alley" a street stand every evening Mon-Fri 5-8pm all summer
for afterwork chaats on the luxurious Lexington patio, $7 each for any
of the 4 daily chaat slections made interactive, customized, and street
side. Call 212-671-8800.
* From now
through the end of August, in
celebration of the new film, "Julie & Julia," Chef Vincent
Guerithault of Vincent's on Camelback
in Phoenix, AZ, will be
offering a special prix fixe menu featuring dishes from Julia Child's
Cookbook for $35 pp Vincent Market Bistro for $18 and they'll
receive a coupon for one free bag of popcorn when they visit any
Harkins Theatres. If guests can't make dinner, they can bring their
Harkins Theatres ticket stub from "Julie & Julia" to receive a
complimentary dessert at either location. Visit
www.vincentsoncamelback.com/julieandjulia.php or call 602-224-0225.
* On Aug. 13 in London, Le Bouchon Breton launches “La Fete de la Chasse,” a range of game platters including “Grouse à la Anglais” to celebrate the start of the game season, by Chef Olivier Ripert. Call 08000-191-704.
* On Aug.
13, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR)
host the second annual “Unite for a Bite”. Diners are called to
visit participating restaurants, who will donate 5% of their food and
beverage sales to support WCR’s scholarship and educational programs
fostering growth of women in the culinary world. For participating
* On Aug.
14 & 15, Sweden’s Way Out West
music festival takes place in Gothenburg,
at the city’s central park, Slottsskogen, incl. regional food,
supervised Chef Mats Nordstrom, owner of Wasa Alle, an organic
gourmet restaurant. Tickets: 1,345 Swedish crowns ($159) for a
2-day festival pass incl. club performances. Call 011-46-77-165-1000;
* On Aug.
15 The Venetian and The Palazzo
in Las Vegas will co-host
the 2nd annual Carnival of Cuisine in The Venetian Ballroom with
cooking demos, tastings from 20+ restaurants, prizes, restaurant gift
certificates, show tickets and live entertainment. Chefs incl.
Luciano Pellegrini (Valentino Las Vegas/Venetian), Zach Allen (Mario
Batali’s Carnevino/Palazzo), James Boyer (Canyon Ranch Grill/The
Palazzo), Hiroo Nagahara (Bar Charlie by Charlie Trotter/Palazzo)
and Peter Woo (Woo/ Palazzo). $50 app. Call
702-414-7469 or visit www.venetian.com.
* On Aug. 15 on Oahu, The Royal Hawaiian has created a special package, "The Epicurean Tropical Getaway" package incl. limo airport transfers; Luxury accommodations (4-night minimum); Breakfast at Surf Lanai; Tour of Nalo Farms or Pier 38 Fish Market; Chef’s tasting menu dinner at Azure Restaurant; Take-home recipe cards. $820 per night. Call 866-716-8110 or visit: www.royal-hawaiian.com.
* DrinkLocalWine.com, the Web site
that focuses on North American wines not made in California and the
Pacific Northwest, hosts its first conference and Twitter
Taste-Off at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas. Presented by the Texas
Dept. of Agriculture’s GO TEXAN Program. The conference focuses on
Texas wines and will include a Texas Twitter Taste-Off with more than
40 Texas wines. Online registration is $35 and day-of-the-event
registration is $45. Visit www.DrinkLocalWine.com;
* On Aug.
20 in Chicago,
Shaw’s Crab House and Owen Roe Winery host a 6-course wine
dinner prepared by Chef Arnulfo Tellez; Sommelier Steve Tindle will
pair with Owen Roe wines, with a discussion led by special guest David
O’Reilly, Proprietor of Owen Roe Winery. $99.99 pp. Call 312-527-2722;
* From Aug. 20-26 in Chicago, the 4th Annual "Show Me Your Tomatoes!" Contest at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, when the gardener of the tastiest tomato wins a trip for two to Las Vegas. Chef Cottini will lead the Festival with new tomato-inspired offerings throughout the week, Call 773-935-5000; visit cafebabareeba.com.
On Aug. 23 in Shelburne, VT,
some of the nation’s most authoritative authors on artisan cheese will
gather for the first annual Vermont
Cheesemakers Festival, hosted by the Vermont Institute for
Artisan Cheese, the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, and the
Vermont Cheese Council, featuring over 100 types of cheese from 40
cheesemakers, a variety of locally produced wines and beers,
and other artisan foods, incl. maple syrup, honey,
chocolates, baked goods, and more. Visit
www.vtcheesefest.com for $20 pp, open to the first 1,000 people
Oriental Hyde Park in London
is celebrating all that is British this year with a ‘Best of British’
program, incl. 1 night’s accommodation, Full English Breakfast, A
Harrods Gift Certificate, lunch in the Foliage Restaurant,
Complimentary membership to Aspinalls gaming club. Visit
www.mandarinoriental.com/london or call +44 (0) 207 235
2000. Available thru Jan. 31, 2010.
From Aug. 28-30 the 6th annual Epicurean
Classic takes place on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in St. Joseph, MI, with over 45
cooking demos, 16 cheese/wine/beer tasting seminars, 6 Guest Chef
Dinners, the opening Great Lakes Great Wines BBQ Reception, the Grand
Reception and the daily Tasting Pavilion. Some of this year’s featured
artisans incl. Curtis Stone, Jean Joho, Gale Gand, Takashi Yagihashi,
Tom Valenti, Anna Thomas, Jennifer McLagan, Giuliano Hazan, Brian
Polcyn, Eve Aronoff and Mary Sue Milliken. Visit
www.epicureanclassic.com or call 231-932-.0475.
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." To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK: ALL WE NEED IS MAINE, OYSTER HOTEL REVIEWS VERSUS TRIPADVISOR; SUMMER GEAR; DEALS ON THE HIGH SEAS
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.
All You Need to Know Before You Go
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.