FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up
with four excellent travel sites:
by Christopher Hirsheimer for The
Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews (2010)
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!
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SEE ME, HEAR ME. . .
The Casa Italiana-Zerilli Marimo (New
York University) and Gruppo
Ristoratori Italiani are proud to present on Wednesday evening, March 24, John Mariani as the second
guest lecturer for the "Genuinely Italian" educational lecture series.
Mr. Mariani will present the fascinating history and development of
Italian cuisine in New York City. He will then be joined in a lively
discussion on the topic by one of the nation's most respected
restaurateurs, Tony May, owner of SD26 Restaurant & Wine Bar and
Chairman of Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani. Call 646-624-2885 ext.
. . .
On March 26,
at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (March 24-28) "A FIRESIDE CHAT WITH JOHN MARIANI," who
will give the scoop on the latest national restaurant trends. Here's a
chance to ask an expert one of those foodie questions you've been
keeping on the backburner. Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier Street,
(Limited Seating), $35. Sponsored by Windsor Court Hotel. For tickets
and more information, visit www.tennesseewilliams.net.
NEW IN ATLANTA, PART ONE by John
NEW YORK CORNER:
42 by John Mariani
Notes from the Wine Cellar: Earthquake
Causes Widespread Damage
but Chilean Wines Are Still Best Bets for the Future by John
NEW IN ATLANTA,
by John Mariani
3344 Peachtree Road Northwest
Karatassos and his Buckhead Life Restaurant Group (BLRG) have given
Atlanta more wonderful restaurants than any similar company has done
for any other city. There have been vanguard places like the Buckhead
Diner and downhome places like the Atlanta Fish Market, a beautiful
Greek place called Kyma, and a great
steakhouse in Chops. Now, after researching French bistros for
more than a year, he has brought the city its first significant French
restaurant since Brasserie Lecoze closed several years ago. With
Gary Donlick, Karatassos has crafted as winning an homage to the
revered traditions of cuisine
bourgeois as any in the U.S., all with a
splash of American hospitality, for which BLRG is famous.
The bistro is named after Karatassos’ youngest son Niko Karatassos,
Director of Operations for the Group.
Bistro Niko serves
lunch Mon.-Sat. and dinner nightly. Brunch on Sun. Appetizers at dinner
run $6-$16, entrees $14-$18. There is a 2-course meal at $22 and a
3-course meal at $28 offered each night.
This is a big place, bright and convivial, jammed in every room,
beginning at the hallway of white tiles you pass
through as you watch the cooks in their well-lighted open kitchen with
hanging charcuterie. The main dining room is done up with
vintage scones, Venetian glass mirrors, and a painted mural of famous
landmarks in Paris. Beyond is a zinc bar where you can enjoy more
than 60 international bottled beers and more on tap, with 70 wines, 30
offered by the glass, their prices all very reasonable. There is
also a patio that just about now should be flocked with more guests.
Last, there is The Salon, a private dining room that seats up to 80,
with vintage French posters and painted tiles.
The menu is way too long, forcing
the kitchen to keep up with everything from rillettes of salmon to baba au
rhum, with scores of items in between. Nevertheless, most
I had was done with exceptional finesse and authority, starting with
the array of charcuterie. Get a basket of the cheesy good gougères, those rillettes of salmon with crème fraîche, or, for old times'
sake, the escargots en croûte
with garlic butter, a touch of Pernod, and puff pastry. Râclette--the melted cheese
Swiss wintry classic you rarely see on these shores--is done expertly
here, with pickled mushrooms. But don't miss the tartes at Bistro Niko (the menu
calls them French pizzas)--flaky, gooey miracles of richness,
especially the tarte flambé with
onion, crisp bacon lardons and
fromage blanc. I could
eat this with a glass of Sancerre and be blissful for the afternoon.
entrees here are as notable for their range as for their number.
I only scratched the surface, rewarded with a fine paillard of chicken
sautéed on a plancha
and served with endive, asparagus, tomatoes, and chicken jus (just make sure those asparagus
and tomatoes are in season). Boeuf
bourguignon is made with Kobe beef, the cheeks braised in
burgundy red wine, with macaroni, baby carrots, and onions on the
side--a great dish at this time of the year. And of course there
is steak frites and a
luscious coq au vin done the
right way, winey, with sweet onions and bacon.
Bistro Niko offers a great deal
more I didn't have a chance to sample--this
time--including "Les Sandwiches" like Croque
Monsieur and Madame,
which come with French fries, along with cheeses, and salads, and
caviar with brioche croutons, and rafters of oysters galore.
Then there are the delicious
desserts, including that boozy baba
BLRG has always run restaurants
that are fun to be in, and this new bistro reeks of Gallic charm and
joie de vivre of a kind Atlanta has lacked for a long time now.
This is the way to do it right.
Q&A with Pano
by Suzanne Wright
Portrait by Rise Delmar Ochsner
SW: Atlantans haven’t embraced
French restaurants. Why French, and why now?
Atlanta has been good to Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and the
anticipation for Bistro Niko was enormous. We were ready for the
avalanche of guests that would come, and the team impressed them beyond
expectations. From the authentic and tasteful interior to the
well-tested, comfort French menu selections moderately priced, along
with a well-thought out French wine menu, again very affordably priced
at $35 to $55 per bottle. We also feature more than 60 carefully
selected popular European and American beers by the tap and bottle.
Finally, we had the luxury of recruiting and training well-groomed,
intelligent and passionate servers. A seasoned kitchen brigade, led by
Executive Chef Gary Donlick, a long-time French trained chef of BLRG,
led to flawless execution of the menu, assisted by Pano Karatassos,
corporate chef and my son. My other son, Niko, assisted the
well-seasoned staff and managers of Bistro Niko.
How is the dining scene
different from when you started in 1979. What
can you do now you couldn’t do then and vice versa?
Guests could smoke at the table while dining, so our service staff was
always prepared with lighters and conscious of changing the ashtray
when one cigarette butt appeared.
More people used to drink cocktails with
dinner than now.
Men and women used to dress up a lot more. In an
upscale restaurant 20 years ago, it was rare to see a gentleman without
a coat and tie. Now it’s rare to see either. We used to see a lot more
business entertaining. It seemed that businessmen had a lot more
freedom and latitude to spend how they wanted on the most expensive
food, wine, cocktails and after-dinner drinks.
Champagne was just for special occasions (and hardly ever served by the
glass) and now it’s just another cocktail. All classic cocktails (like
Moscow Mule, Manhattan, etc.)
were common, now they’ve resurged and are
“vintage” or to some, a new cocktail. Guests would never dine
at the bar.
Back then, we didn’t have computers on which to take orders and
You used to see a lot of “Continental” fare. Now,
most restaurants of that type designate themselves as American or
Regional, and there are even more ethnic restaurants than in the past
SW: What are three ways that
Buckhead Life Group has impacted dining in
PK: We’ve had a lot of the
now-prominent Atlanta chefs in our kitchens, working under our
executive chefs. Gerry Klaskala, Kevin Rathbun, Richard Ullio, Scott
Serpas, and others, including managers like Sia Mosk, Richard Clark and
Michael Arnet, have worked in our company and have gone on to own their
own very successful restaurants in Atlanta. The dining landscape in
Buckhead would certainly be different without us—we have 10 restaurants
within a 1-mile radius of the center of Buckhead. It has been commonly
stated throughout the years that BLRG has set the standards for others
similar scale to Bistro Niko and with just as much impact, Abattoir
would be an exciting restaurant anywhere. Anne Quatrano and Clifford
Harrison's Star Provisions have already seriously elevated the status
Atlanta as an exciting restaurant town with Bacchanalia,
Floataway Café, and Star Provisions, and Abattoir is their
latest and, perhaps, their finest achievement.
1170 Howell Mill Road
Photos: Lauren Rubenstein
The space used to be a storehouse and it has a
sleek industrial look toned down with rustic touches of old wood, water
pipes, polished concrete, white wooden tables, barn accouterments,
tufted banquettes, and country plates, bowls, and napkins.
The menu, under chef/partner Joshua
Hopkins, is up to the size of the restaurant, offering a great
not too many dishes. You can begin with "snacks" like oysters, a
pretzel with grain mustard, even beef jerky. Or nibble on French fries
(excellent ones) or those addictive puff pastry cheese-and-ham-rich gougères that
will either stir your appetite or sate you before you
begin. "Salted/Cured" is the section for charcuterie, from
wood-grilled bratwurst with mustard and sweet onions to terrines of
pork, pig's foot, and rabbit. Then there's "Food in a
Jar," the best
of which is the potted chicken livers and foie gras--an honorable
of the humble and the exalted liver. "Local Produce" includes a fine confit of mushrooms with
grilled sourdough bread and red wine, and a
butternut squash duck confit.
With these kinds of dishes you can
certainly go with a nice bottle
of wine from a list oddly heavy in non-French bottlings, but there's a
beer selection that's even better for these foods, including something
called Mama's Little Yellow Pils Draught I highly recommend.
"From the Wood Grill" comes
a succulent lamb loin with farro salad,
but the "Offal" section is my favorite part--delicious tripe
stew with pork belly and a poached egg, and tasty lamb liver fritters
with tomato relish--Food & Wine
Magazine called this one of the best dishes of 2009. There is also a
good chicken schnitzel, evenly
browned, crisp and buttery, and a plate of glazed duck meatballs with tatsoi
at Abattoir has richness, deep flavor, hearty honesty, the kind of food
that Americans increasingly take to with the same gusto Europeans
always have. Yet, this is a very American twist in its
décor, amiable service, generous portions, and price, with
nothing on the menu over $20.
The same virtue of simple goodness
extend to the sweets, which include desserts with unexpected
ingredients in them, like maple bacon beignets I found a bit of a
stretch, and gold rice pudding with vanilla milk. Chocolate pot de crème is more
traditional and very very good.
I applaud Quatrano, Harrison, and
for hitting the nail so squarely on the head at a time when this kind
of food and
these kinds of prices are what everyone with good taste wants right
now. Abattoir is genuine, from every inch of its rustic
décor to its honest-to-goodness cooking.
Abattoir is open Tues.
through Sat. for dinner.
with Anne Quatrano
by Suzanne Wright
photo: Our Labor of Love
SW: Abattoir feels like “affordable
Annie” with wallet friendly
AQ: Since we first
developed the ‘meatcentric’ idea, we have made it our goal to create an
affordable menu that enables new guests to experience our cuisine.
Abattoir’s price point is very accessible in this economy, enticing a
wider range of casual diners from guests with an adventurous palate to
those who simply wish to experience fresh, quality produce and
SW: You’ve been a fixture on the
Atlanta dining scene for close to 20
years. What has changed?
Over the past few years, as we developed our charcuterie program at
Star Provisions, we began to see Atlanta’s culinary and dining
communities become increasingly more receptive to our offerings that
could best be described as ‘whole animal cuisine.’ We were confident
that Atlanta’s sophisticated dining community would embrace the
‘meatcentric’ concept and we continue to see a more adventurous and
curious culinary scene in Atlanta.
SW: We are entering a new
decade. What’s your crystal ball say about
dining trends over the next 10 years?
AQ: We are proud to see
the dining community make a more widespread commitment to sourcing
fresh, quality ingredients, produce, meats and seafood. Focusing on
quality, local ingredients is not a task – it’s just the right thing to
do. The dining environment is also becoming a more integral part of the
guest experience. With Abattoir, we wanted to create a casual, rustic
and comfortable environment that complemented the culinary concept and
encouraged shared dining. We also were able to offer outdoor seating
and an outdoor fireplace for the first time. In addition, Abattoir is
receiving positive guest feedback that proves to us that Atlanta is
ready to welcome more innovative and adventurous restaurant concepts in
by John Mariani
A bit over a year ago White Plains acquired a
restaurant of daunting dimensions and ambitions, set atop the
Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown, with a panoramic view that puts you in
sight on the Hudson Valley, Westchester County, Lower Connecticut, and
the New York skyline. The restaurant sprawls from
space to space, wrapping around the building from lounge to dining room
to banquet rooms, with its own elevator that takes you up to a hallway
past the kitchen where Chef/partner Anthony Goncalves works with his
crew in a brightly lit, state of the art kitchen.
1 Renaissance Square
White Plains, NY
Goncalves, self-taught as a
chef and previously owner of a fine restaurant nearby named Trotters
(now a tapas place called Peniche), and his investor spared no expense
to make 42 a spectacle and much was expected of such a multi-million
enterprise. Sadly, upon opening the food didn't live up to the
view. The plate presentations seemed
to trump the actual flavor of the cooking, which was fancy for the sake
of being fancy.
Several chefs de cuisine
later, with Goncalves (right)
now nightly in the kitchen, 42 has emerged as a restaurant well worthy
of its aerie and becomes one of the best dining experiences in the
region, certainly well worth a dive up from Manhattan (and you can stay
over at the Ritz).
The menu has
been trimmed and focused more in the style of Goncalves' true
bent--heartier, more flavorful and robust. Thus, my recent meal
began with tender Portuguese octopus with quinoa, mango, citrus and a verjus, all texturally
complementary. Beets came in an array--roasted, pickled, smoked,
and as carpaccio, with walnuts, balsamico, and chèvre cheese--a nice turn
on a ubiquitous item. "Torched" shrimp had a sprightly roasted pequillo
pepper puree with piri piri and
a gentle dose of garlic. Agnolotti,
a bit overcooked the evening, came with a tomato-duck confit ragoût that worked
well, although housemade pork sausage with sauerkraut and mustard,
while tasty, seemed better fit for the lounge than the swank dining
room. Very fine indeed was foie gras with apple butter and apple
chutney--not too sweet--with the crunchy surprise of pecan brittle and
five-spice gingerbread, which would have worked just as well after the main course as before it.
the two seafood dishes sampled, branzino
of very fine quality, meaty and juicy, with olives, winter vegetables,
and a chickpea puree that shows off Goncalves' proud Portuguese
heritage; wild Alaskan halibut was good if a little overwhelmed by
mushroom-dusted, black truffle risotto with truffle jus and roasted mushrooms.
Goncalves lists his
ingredients' sources and you can bank on their being the finest, like
the Jamison Farm rack of lamb with potato croquettes and a mint salad,
and Good Earth Farms Pastured pork tenderloin with sweet dates, pea
shoots and verjus.
The kitchen has fun with its
desserts, from a chocolate lover's gorge on milk chocolate semi-freddo,
grapefruit brûlée, and flourless white chocolate cake, and
a luscious bread pudding with apple and cinnamon, Calvados crème anglaise, struesel,
and vanilla ice cream. Goncalves has fallen momentarily under the spell
of avant-garde molecular cuisine, but you can forgive him the drama of
beating dry ice and ice cream together to make a witty kind of
The winelist at
42 is among the best in the county these days, with some pricey numbers
but also a good range for the current economic budgetary concerns.
I'm delighted to
see that 42 has not just turned around but shifted to what it always
should have been--a fine dining restaurant with a spectacular view to
match rather than the other way around.
42 is open
Tues.-Sat. for dinner; Lunch Tues.-Fri. Brunch is served
traditional afternoon tea service is offered on Sun, and a happy hour
is offered in the bar every night from 5:00-6:30, featuring $1 oysters
and $7 specialty cocktails.
Also: When Chef
Anthony Goncalves introduced his new “Chef’s Tasting Menu” last fall,
he also announced that a $10 donation would be made to Blythedale
Children’s Hospital in Valhalla for each tasting menu served. The
popular promotion has already raised nearly $3,500 for the hospital and
Chef Goncalves has announced he will continue the “Chef’s Tasting Menu”
and the $10 donation to Blythedale. Guests can
also enjoy a market special four-course menu, priced at $42; The five-course “Chef’s Tasting Menu” is
$65 per person, and a wine pairing an extra $30. The seven-course menu is $85 per person,
with a wine pairing $42.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
but Chilean Wines Are Still Best Bets for the Future
by John Mariani
last week’s massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile caused widespread damage to
the country’s wineries, the current supply of Chilean wines should
guarantee little disruption in export their sales, which last year
totaled 670 million liters valued at $1.36 billion. The 2010 harvest is
just beginning in the country’s wineries, so production of wines for
that vintage will be largely unaffected.
The real damage has been to stocks of
already finished or bottled wines. According to Rene Merino Blanco,
President of Vinas de Chile, an association that represents more than
90 percent of the country’s wineries, losses may reach about $250
million based on the estimate of 125 million liters lost in the
earthquake, about 12.9 percent of 2009’s total production.
One of the most hard hit wineries
is its largest producer, Concha y Toro, with three out of eleven
facilities damaged are now back up and running; only one is still not
functioning. heavily damaged.
At Miguel Torres Chile, a
spokesperson reported, “The losses are significant at the winery (below): around 300 casks smashed,
one stainless steel vat with a capacity of 100,000 liters has been
cracked, losing all the wine, thousands of bottles destroyed. Luckily
the main structure of the buildings has withstood the quake.” The
company, headquartered in Curico, which suffered extensive damage, is
sending 50,000 Euros to the city council “to help alleviate the
difficulties faced by those most in need.” Insurance should cover the
Yet despite the
dimensions of the catastrophe, I believe that Chilean wines will
continue to have a major impact on the global wine market because of
high, consistent quality and moderate prices that consumers now demand.
In those regards, Miguel Torres Chile, whose vineyards in Spain date
back 300 years, is the most innovative. The family-owned company bought
land in Maquehua, Curicó, near the Andes Mountains in 1979 and
has been the country’s bellwether winery ever since. It was the first
winery in Chile to introduce stainless steel cold fermentation tanks
and French oak barrels for aging red wine.
From 2004 to 2008 Miguel Torres Chile’s
sales have gone from 8.38 to 11.24 million Euros, making it the second
largest segment of the company, with sales of 3.9 million bottles
(about 325,000 cases) in 2008, 82% of which are exported to more than
The company’s mission has been to find the most
productive soils for individual varietals and is in
the forefront of organic viticulture with its Las Mulas line. Tradition
and heritage may be the backbone of winemaking, but it is youth that
drives its future. In the case of Miguel Torres Chile, the
appointment of fifth generation scion Miguel Torres Maczassek, 35, as
executive president, has given the winery much of its current vigor.
(His sister Mireia, 39, is Technical Director of Miguel Torres Chile
who previously was the company’s marketing director in Spain, studied
business at Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, NC, received
his MBA from ESADE Business School in Barcelona, and studied oenology
the Universitat Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona. Speaking six languages,
including Japanese, Torres obviously has world conquest on his mind.
I met with him just three days before the
earthquake struck while he was on a business trip to New York. We had
dinner at New York’s La Fonda del Sol restaurant,
where chef Josh De Chellis matched his highly imaginative cuisine to 12
wines—-bay scallops with tomato and saffron; tuna tacos with avocado,
jalapeño, and pickled onion; and beef cooked on a barrel stave
in red wine and Scotch.
One of the real surprises was a
sparkling Espumante made from Chile’s workhorse grape pais (also called
mission). It was a bright, brisk bubbly I would gladly drink as an
aperitif. “This wine is an experiment,” said Torres. “We wanted to see
if this old, widely planted varietal could work as a fine wine, and if
it succeeds, it will enable us to pay the workers more money to harvest
it.” Plans are to release it in a year or so, at $12-$15.
I also tasted the fresh, grassy 2009 La
Mulas Sauvignon Blanc and a mediocre, sweet 2009 rosé made from
cabernet sauvignon. I moved on to a series of reds, beginning with the
2008 Las Mulas 100 percent cabernet, whose youth was actually a bonus
in a wine of medium body and ready to drink. The Las Mulas wines retail
cabernets showed how their wines change with vintage and age: with
ideal weather in 2006, the Manso de Velasco ($37) was macerated on the
skins for an entire month, its tannins still tight and way up front, so
that it will be better judged in two to five years. The 2003
($37) was much more aromatic and its tamed tannins gave way to a
full-fruited intensity and complexity. The tough-to-find 1997 was the
driest vintage in the winery’s history, and it proved the old adage
that grapes must suffer to produce great wines. This was a superb
cabernet, rich in minerals and spice, mellowed by age, and balanced
As I noted, Mr. Torres is excited by
innovation, so he also makes a big, smoky, tannic 2007 Santa Digna
Carmenère ($11); 2007 Cordillera Cariñena ($27), a
plummy blend of 66 percent carignane, 16 percent shiraz, and 18 percent
merlot; and 2004 Conde de Superunda ($55), a marvelous mix of 54
percent tempranillo, 24 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent
monastrell, and 10 percent carmenère that mimics the fine
out of Spain but shows off the effect of Chile’s brilliant sunshine in
producing a fleshier, more voluptuous wine.
The final wine, to be released next year (no
price yet), was Torres’ new showpiece—2009 Empedrado, a 100 percent
merlot made on difficult to harvest terraced, slate based soils called
`piedra laja.’ It’s a massive
wine at the moment, very rich, and, like
the best out of California, demonstrates the power of merlot.
Torres also believes these vineyards (right)
in Constitucion are prime terroir for pinot noir, which they have also
These wines are impressive not just for their
soundness and varietal expressiveness but for their reasonable alcohol
levels—none above 14 percent—and the prices Torres sells them for in
the market. They are in the sweet spot right now, and if they can
manage to keep ego in check, they should be there for a long time to
John Mariani's weekly
wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was
adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to
wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.
YO, MAMMA, WE GOT A
GOLDMINE HERE! NO, TWO!
Daniel Angerer of Klee Brasserie is now cooking with
"Mommy's Milk," which he obtains from his wife who has been busy
nursing their new daughter. "We are fortunate to
have plenty of pumped mommy’s milk on hand and we even freeze a good
amount of it – my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant
milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such, but for the
meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups, which takes a little while)
our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like
wasting gold." He is now making cheese from the milk and offers a
recipe on his site.
THERE'LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND
"Irksomely named puddings raised the artistry a notch, particularly
`The Girl From Ipanema,' which showcased pineapple in all its myriad
glories. Yet for all the presentational magnificence, the highlight
didn't come until I asked for the bill. `You don't want to sample
the infusion trolley?' asked the waiter, and it felt callous to
decline. A trolley overflowing with foliage duly arrived, and a
line was spoken that will, like the fifth of November, never be
forgot. "We have Miombo honey," he said, "from the forests of
Zambia!"-- Matthew Norman, "Restaurant: Alain Ducasse at the
Dorchester," The Guardian
for submissions: QUICK
only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant
openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the
pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple
e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John
On Mar. 15, in NYC, Eleven Madison
Park has joined with The Rare Wine Co. and Roberto Conterno for
an evening of rare Giacomo Conterno Barolos, paired with Chef Daniel
Humm’s cuisine with proceeds going towards rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
Chef Humm will prepare a multi-course menu and the wines will
feature seven pairs of Barolo and Barolo Monfortino going back to 1958,
capped by the very rare 1937 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva. Roberto
will be present at the dinner to talk about his grandfather’s and
father’s legacy as the greatest of all Barolo producers. $995.
Mar. 16 in NYC, Executive
Chef Pham of Le Colonial will
create a special meal for Street Soccer USA’s homeless soccer players.
At this benefit event guests can meet the players and sample free hors
d’oeuvres inspired by the meal. Proceeds will support the
organization. Call Alexandra Tatrallyay at 212-217-9065 or email
On Mar 19 in Arlington Hts., IL,
Le Titi De Paris will
host the American Wine Dinner, "Pinot Noir From Around the World." with
Sommelier James Crooker. Chef/Owner Michael Maddox has created an
amazing six-course menu to compliment these delicious and complex
wines. $85 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Call 847-506-0222.
On March 21, in Atlanta, RA Sushi will host a “Maki Madness”
sushi eating contest to benefit Bert’s Big Adventure. Contest
winners will receive RA Sushi gift certificates, and guests will also
enjoy drink specials and a discounted price on the restaurant’s popular
Tootsy Maki. Entry fee is $10 pp. Call
On March 21 in NYC, Cochon 555 holds the only heritage
pig and chef competition in the U.S.,: 5 Chefs, 5 Pigs and 5 Winemakers
working to raise awareness for heritage breeds. The chefs incl.
Mark Ladner, Corwin Kave, Marco Canora, Adam Kaye, and Gavin Kaysen;
winemakers incl. Elk Cove Vineyards, Gamble Family Vineyards, Wind Gap
Wines, K Vintners and Buty Winery. In the VIP, sip reserve wines from
Domaine Serene along with local favorite Shinn Estate Vineyards while
watching Tom Mylan breakdown a pig. Ryan Farr will perform a whole pig
breakdown during the main event. To be held at Pier Sixty. Visit
On March 22, a Grappa Tasting will be held at Tulio Ristorante in Seattle. $30
pp. Call 206-624-5500, to view grappa menu:
On Mar. 22 in Los Angeles, CA,
Philippe Chow will be
hosting a special three-course menu for $50 with 20 percent going
towards March for Meals. Call 323-951-1100.
On Mar. 22-28, Love By The Glass,
the first-ever Virginia Wine
Week takes place at 200 participating restaurants and wine shops
statewide. Enjoy varietals from nearly 160 Virginia wineries will
dining on local cuisine in historic downtowns and city centers.
Visit www.VirginiaWine.org. Call 1-800-VISITVA for participating
On Mar. 23 in Charlotte, NC,
Upstream and Executive
Chef Scott Wallen will present a special 5-course wine dinner featuring
the award-winning wines of Davis Family Vineyards. Guests will have the
opportunity to learn first-hand about the vineyard's wines from
founder, CEO and winemaker, Guy Davis. $75 per person. Call
Mar. 23 in Beachwood, OH, Melange’s chefs Adam Bostwick and
Matt Creighton will create their first annual “Bar Dinner,” a 6-course
mélange of bar-food courses paired with special spirits,
beers, and an occasional wine. $45 pp. $80 per couple. Call Jennifer at
On March 23, Ray’s on the River
in Atlanta will host a
Peirson Meyer and L’Angevin Wine Dinner with Chef Tom McEachern's
4-course menu paired with wines. $125 pp. Call
770-955-1187. Visit www.raysrestaurants.com.
Mar. 23, in Charlotte, NC,
Zink. American Kitchen
will offer a 5-course beer dinner featuring the lagers and ales of
Louisiana's Abita Brewing Company. The dinner, as part of
Charlotte’s Inaugural Craft Beer Week (March 18-28), will be hosted by
special guests Ralph Nicotera and Greg Kirbabas. $48 pp.
* From March 25-27 in Atlanta, GA, the High Museum of Art Wine Auction
kicks off its 18th year, celebrating “The Allure of Wine: Uncork a
Journey.” Call 404-733-5335 or www.atlanta-wineauction.org.
On March 26, the New Orleans
Roadfood Festival kicks
off at the historic Boucvalt House with an open bar and regional
specialties from across America. $75 pp. The French Quarter street
festival runs March 27 and March 28, offering Cajun, Creole, and
all-American dishes. Admission is free; pay as you eat. Saturday
night's highlight is a Crawfish Boil and cochon de lait in bayou
country. $95 pp. Call 504-293-2657 or visit
* On March 29 and March 30 in NYC, Capsouto Freres
(www.capsoutofreres.com) will continue its 23-year old tradition of
hosting special Sephardic (non-Kosher) Seders for Passover, conducted
by a Cantor with a reading of the Haggadah. Communal table seating;
$150 pp. payable in advance by check to the Joint Distribution
Committee (JDC) and mailed to Capsouto Freres (451 Washington Street,
at Watts Street, New York, NY 10013). Call 212.966.4900.
* On May 31 in Los
Angeles, the first annual City
of Angels Wine Fest will take place downtown at the Music
Center Plaza, hosted by the Rotary Club of Los Angeles and benefiting
the Volunteers of America Los Angeles’ Rotary House, and will
feature wines from 30 California wineries and food by several of
Patina Restaurant Group’s downtown restaurants including Nick + Stef’s
Steakhouse, Café Pinot, Kendall’s Brasserie, Zucca Ristorante
and ‘Tina Tacos. $65 in advance and $75 at the door.
* Available from April through June, the Draycott Hotel in London is offering the Royal
British Isles Package. In 6 nights, with a
golf excursion in the coastal Scottish town of Carnoustie, and a
retreat into the Highlands at the Alladale Wilderness Lodge and
Reserve. $4,572 (GBP 2,802). Call (01144) 2077 306466 or email
* On April 2 & 3, Hawaii's most renowned artisans, musicians,
practitioners and educators will converge at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui for the its annual
Celebration of the Arts. Complimentary hands-on art and cultural
activities are offered for the entire family. The finest luau foods and
entertainment can be enjoyed at The Celebration Pa'ina &
Show. Call 808-669-6200 for tickets and information.
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: BORN TO SHOP: ONE PERFECT DAY IN HANOI.
Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet
A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food
scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is
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: 2010 Hall of Fame Inductees
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
An engaging, interactive wine
column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine
Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickonwine.com.
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.
John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Bloomberg News, 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
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.
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
so many wonderful things seemed possible.
For those of you who don't think
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 amazon.com
or click on Almost Golden.
© copyright John Mariani 2010