Virtual Gourmet

September 5, 2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER

Chill Wills (?), Dinah Shore and Bob Hope were but three of scores of show business stars who worked and entertained for servicemen at The  Hollywood Canteen, located at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, between October 3, 1942 and November 22, 1945.




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GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA.



In This Issue

ASPEN and VAIL by Suzanne Wright

NEW YORK CORNER SD26 by Christopher Mariani

SD26's Cocktails alla Nuova by Christopher Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Controversial Wine Consultant Michel Rolland Puts Rep on the Line with His Own Argentine Blend by John Mariani



Aspen & Vail
One’s got a western vibe, while the other is distinctly European.   But both offer exceptional accommodations, dining, shopping—and oh, yes, those mountains.

By Suzanne Wright


    It’s just before 10 a.m. and a small crowd has momentarily abandoned their huevos rancheros and lemon soufflé pancakes to gather by the outdoor pool.  We’re straining to see a small brown bear in the top of an evergreen.   At the Hotel Jerome (left and below) in downtown Aspen these sightings are evidently not uncommon.  Though mid-August is a bit early for the bear to have headed down from the mountain, staffers say the chilly weather is the reason the animals have sought lower elevations while they forage.

     Jerome B. Wheeler is the father of Aspen. During the height of Colorado’s silver boom, he co-owned Macy’s, constructed the Wheeler Opera House and built the Hotel Jerome, ushering in cosmopolitan civility to a once-raucous mining town.  Today the hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, achieves a feat few historic properties do:  it’s fresh and flooded with light, amid oak paneling and antique light fixtures.

     And you know you’re in the West: the tall, handsome doormen wear black cowboy hats with rakish flair.  The 94 elegant and spacious rooms maintain a Victorian flavor but feature double-basin marble vanities, custom-made wallpaper and flat screen TVs.  Centrally located, the hotel’s Library is a popular watering hole (I liked the frothy sidecar) and the J-Bar serves great casual fare (try the pigs-in-a-blanket with plump, house-made apple wood-smoked sausage).

    Closer to the “front range” of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen draws more Denver residents and history buffs.  The mountains here have an immediacy; one local described Aspen as “a neighborhood with a mountain in the middle.”

      I am getting up close and personal with Aspen Mountain, courtesy of the Aspen Center for  Environmental Studies, whose Mission Statement  "is to inspire a life-long commitment to the earth by educating for environmental responsibility, conserving and restoring the balance of natural communities, and advancing the ethic that the Earth must be respected and nurtured." During the summer, naturalists lead hour-long walks.  It’s a sparkling day.  After riding the gondola up to the top of the windy mountain, I join a small group.  During our hike, we learn a handy, alliterative fauna tidbit:  the needles of fir trees are fragrant and flat, while spruce needles are square.

      Afterwards, at the Ajax Tavern  (above) attached to The Little Nell  at the base of the gondola, I join a throng of sun worshipers under a cloudless cobalt sky for chicken liver pâté with peach preserves, truffled fries with Parmigiano-Reggiano, gazpacho studded with Alaskan king crab and Colorado lamb Bolognese.  Lunch is a hearty affair in the aptly named Roaring Fork Valley, though I’ve hardly burned any calories.

      Aspen and Vail have long vied for tourism dollars during the ever-lucrative ski season and the increasingly popular summer season.   Each has a distinct sense of place, with unique “personalities” that attract different crowds. Aspen is more politically liberal and show biz glitzier than Vail—the Aspen FilmFest draws celebrities and status-seekers comb the outposts of tony international boutiques, from Burberry to Prada.  Vail is more Republican conservative; no wonder Gerald Ford was resident in Vail and has an amphitheater named after him, where the symphony plays.
he Lodge at Vail (right) was the town’s first hotel, built in 1962 at the base of America’s largest ski resort.  One hundred and sixty five rooms and suites are scattered between buildings with views of the 10,500 foot high Vail Mountain.   My handsome suite has heated marble floors in the enormous bathroom, a fireplace in sitting area and a sleigh bed. Turn-down service includes a packet of Gummi Bears.

     Vail Village is a European-style pedestrian town modeled after Austrian burgs, with chalet-influenced architecture. I'm there on a not untypical picture postcard day.  After a scrumptious lunch of pasta with lobster and shrimp at Up the Creek overlooking Gore Creek, I hit the Lodge’s newly refurbished spa, decorated with warm sandstone, river rocks and knotty alder wood, and always packed with guests.

     The Lodge’s restaurant, Wildflower (left), serves New American cuisine in a dining room with starched white linen tablecloths, though most patrons are in jeans: Vail is a casual town.  Our waiter provides impeccable service as the kitchen turns out a series of smashing seasonal dishes:  foie gras and duck rillettes on  toast with grilled local peaches and burnt honey balsamic; wild mushroom and goat's cheese tart; lobster gazpacho; red and golden watermelon tartare with radishes and a soy gelée that has the appearance and texture of tiny caviar roe; and roasted marinated Colorado rack of lamb with golden raisins and pine nut couscous.  I tumble into bed, sated.


Suzanne Wright is a writer based in Atlanta.  Her travel website is



SD26 A Smooth Transition for a Great New Chef

by Christopher Mariani


        Many New York gourmets have wondered what effect the leaving of executive chef of fourteen years, Odette Fada, would have on Tony and his daughter Marisa May’s high-profile SD26.  After a recent dinner at the restaurant, I am happy to report the food is as good as ever, all thanks to the talent of young chef Matteo Bergamini (right).  At the age of 23, Bergamini came to the US and began his relationship with  Tony May at the original  San Domenico, on Central Park South (which closed three years ago), as a sous-chef.  Years later,  after cooking stints in both Egypt and South Africa, and at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel in NYC, Bergamini rejoined the San Domenico team for the opening of SD26 in 2009 as chef de cuisine.  This year, after Fada’s leaving,  he was named executive chef, staying true to the traditional San Domenico Italian cuisine while also adding a personal touch that deserves very high praise.

     SD26 offers a wine bar towards the entrance of the restaurant with 24 rotating wine varietals that pour from a electronic wine dispensing system that allows guests to  sample one-, two-, or five-ounce pours by using a smart card acquired at the bar.
     Over cocktails (see my article below on SD26’s new drinks menu) prior to dinner,  I tried two of chef Bergamini’s small dishes at the restaurant’s stylish bar; one was the papa col pomodoro, a dish that stems from Tuscan peasant cookery, made with lightly cooked tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil mixed together with country bread that soaks up the sweet flavors of the pomodoro sauce.  The second dish was Sicilian chickpea fritters, perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and warm on the inside, with a side of sweet roasted peppers sauce.

Moving to the dining room for dinner, we noted that most dishes are offered in either small or large portions, so that sharing is recommended, eating light is easy at any time of day, and a full-course menu will be spectacular. We started off with the light, chilled tomato soup centered around a morsel of soft creamy burrata cheese with a drizzle of basil oil, a wonderful starter for the hot summer months.  We also shared the crudo of scampi and red Sicilian shrimps, complemented by sweet white peaches, basil, and touch of vanilla oil.

Bergamini’s pasta dishes are among the best in NYC, combining authentic Italian ingredients with a refined preparation that could go head to head against Italy’s finest.  The risotto with triglie (red mullets), nettles and bee pollen was cooked perfectly al dente and had a wonderful balance of sweet and bitter flavors. The leek-and-potato ravioli were covered by a summery  pesto sauce as good as any in Genoa, the city that claims to have originated the basil-based sauce.

Unlike many Italian American restaurants that tend to lose steam by the main course, SD26 continued to amaze me with flavorful main dishes, a section of the menu where many Italian chefs seem to shrug but where I feel Bergamini showcases his best talents.  I shared an order of the succulent beef cheeks braised in hearty red wine, softening the meat to a tender delicacy of texture, served with semolina gnocco and a slightly sweet onion marmalade.  I also savored the saddle of rabbit, with olives and marjoram, sided by a delicious ricotta cake and fresh fava beans.                 The Wine Bar

Do save room for dessert, especially pastry chef Jerry Thornton’s stracciatella ice cream.  For something a bit richer, the chocolate-hazelnut dome is probably the only dessert I have ever tasted that trumps the wonderful hazelnut flavor of  Nutella straight out of the jar.

SD26 has set the bar for modern Italian restaurants in NYC,  free of clichés, combining a fine dining service staff, a romantic atmosphere, and best of all, dishes that are consistently innovative throughout the entire menu. With Tony and Marisa firmly committed to ideals and standards they themselves set when the original San Domenico opened two decades ago, SD26 is a restaurant where you go to learn as much as to feast on contemporary cucina all'italiana.


SD26 is open daily for lunch and dinner; Small dishes at bar $6-$21; See website menu for dining room prices, served in two sizes.



by Christopher Mariani

SD26 Cocktails


    Before dining at SD26 (above), I conducted a cocktail tasting at the restaurant’s bar and was delighted to find terrific new signature drinks by bartender Renato (right), who  does a wonderful job of placing an Italian twist on some of the world’s classic cocktails like the negroni and the old fashioned. When I asked, “What makes a great cocktail?” Renato replied, "Passion and taste are the essential ingredients to making a great cocktail.  Anyone can mix a cocktail but the love you put in makes a difference.  Details are also very important, keeping the proportion of liquid balanced and not overdoing one specific flavor.  The first thing to do to start on that path to a great cocktail is to listen to the customer."

    There is nothing worse than walking into a NYC restaurant and asking the bartender for a classic cocktail like a daiquiri only to be told, “Sorry we don’t have a blender,” a response that baffles me, considering that the daiquiri, simply made of rum, fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of sugar is Bartending 101, and does not require a blender!  These days, it seems a large majority of NYC bartenders are eager to charge upward of $20 per drink yet do not put an ounce of care into what they are serving, using pre-mixtures for almost all of their so-called "specialty" cocktails, so it was extremely refreshing to find well-made cocktails at SD26 served correctly by a bartender who values his craft and understands the beauty of proper proportions and the use of good ingredients.

Here are my five favorite SD26 cocktails:


SD26 Star cocktail




-Orange Juice

The cocktail is a blend between a mimosa and a champagne cocktail.  The Prosecco has a crisp flavor that is accompanied by a great balance of bitterness from the Campari and sweetness from the Cointreau.  For anyone looking for something a bit more exciting than a glass of champagne to begin the evening, try the SD26 Star cocktail.  In addition, the color of the drink is a beautiful rose pink that looked marvelous in the hands of my gorgeous date, Angela, who told me it was her favorite.


SD26 Negroni

-Akvinta vodka



-Fresh Lemon Juice

I was a bit leery about the SD26 Negroni at first, only because I truly love the classic gin preparation, yet when I tasted it, the drink was delicious.  The Mediterranean Akvinta Vodka made with Italian wheat is the key difference in the cocktail; the Aperol is an Italian aperitif comparable to Campari that serves as a substitute for the bitters, and the cucumber adds an enjoyable refreshing finish.


-Passion fruit

-Citrus vodka


The Passiflora is a light drink that I could see myself enjoying on the island of Capri while watching the sunset.  I am not one to praise sweet drinks, but  I am a big fan of this cocktail because, even though the floral flavors of the passion fruit were present, I still knew I was drinking a vodka cocktail.  The Prosecco simply adds a nice texture to the drink with just the right amount of bubbles.

La Verita

-Rye Whiskey

-Maple syrup


-Fresh black pepper

The La Verita is a very simple cocktail with a nice hint of sweetness from the maple syrup and a slightly spicy finish from the fresh black pepper.  I was very happy to finally find a well-balanced whisky cocktail, considering that a good whiskey should stand by itself drank either neat or on the rocks.


Fragola Selvatica

-Hendrick’s Gin




Finally, a strawberry cocktail made with fresh, sweet, pureed strawberries, not the typical artificial strawberry mix that comes in one -gallon jugs  many bars are infamous for using.  The only negative comment I have about this drink is that the pureed strawberries clog up the straw while drinking!


To contact Christopher Mariani, email



Controversial Wine Consultant Puts Rep on the Line with His Own Argentine Blend
by John Mariani


    It’s easy enough to join those wine media who vilify Bordeaux vigneron Michel Rolland, who consults for more than 100 wineries in a dozen countries, for helping to create the fashion for high alcohol cult wines, including high-priced California bottlings like Harlan Estate and Staglin Family.  But a recent tasting of Rolland’s seventh vintage of the Argentine wine Clos de los Siete (left) indicated to me that he is clearly capable of making a 21st century style red wine at the top of its class.  And he does it, with the 2008 vintage, for only $19 a bottle.

      Clos de los Siete is made in an unfined and unfiltered blend of 56 percent malbec—the principal fine wine grape of Mendoza--21 percent merlot, 11 percent syrah, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon and 2 percent petit verdot (the blend may change in any vintage) in the Uco Valley south of Mendoza, Argentina’s finest wine region. Plenty of sun, high humidity and low rainfall coupled with sandy soil and clay make for ideal conditions for such varietals, and all of them come together in Clos de los Siete’s soft and velvety texture (typical of merlot) together with the fruit intensity of the syrah, the mild tannins of the cabernet, and ballast and spice of the late-ripening petit verdot.

      At 14.5 percent alcohol, Clos de los Siete seems to bolster the media’s characterization of Rolland’s advocating red wines whose deliberately overripe fruit, high alcohol, and use of long aging in oak produce “fruit bombs” that win medals in competition. Many critics, myself included, decry such wines as often being out of balance, headache-inducing and closer to Port than red wine.

      A 2004 a New York Times article on Rolland (right) was entitled “Satan or Savior: Setting the Grape Standard” and in the 2004 documentary film “Mondevino” Rolland is shown at several properties advising clients to use a technique called micro-oxygenation that can help tame down tannins and soften wines. “It’s all crap!” Rolland bellowed over the phone to me in an interview. “Nothing is true in that f-----g movie! In some European wineries micro-oxygenation is helpful but you don’t need it in New World wines because there is so much sun to build up the sugars.”

     Rolland has some formidable partners in Argentina, including Rhone Valley vigneron Catherine Pere-Vergne and Benjamin de Rothschild, owner and CEO of LCF Rothschild Group. With such resources he was able to switch traditional Argentinean “parral” trellising and pruning methods to traditional systems used in Bordeaux. Drip irrigation keeps the vines “stressed,” to allow the bare minimum of water. Grapes are all hand picked, and the wines aged for 11 months, 70 percent in new French oak, the rest in vat.

      Total property is 850 hectares, with 430 currently planted. This year the output is a hefty 50,000 cases (with 30,000 going to the U.S.), exported to 57 countries.  Rolland thinks 100,000 cases is possible, noting “We will follow the market as to future production.”

      Rolland and his partners are very cognizant that they might have a big winner on their hands with Clos de los Siete, which means that consistency is key. “In many ways it is more difficult to make 50,000 cases than 10,000 because you have to take care of everything before blending. With small production, a winemaker has the luxury of selecting from many parcels of grapes and wines; with big production, you have to get the best on a large scale right away.  And with global export the labels cannot have any variance or mistakes about what’s in the bottle.”

      Rolland chose Argentina because of its terroir, labor costs, and the open-mindedness of the New World. And he loves the sunshine, which builds up the sugars that convert into 14-plus degrees alcohol. “When you have that much sun, you don’t need or want to manipulate the wine to have more alcohol.  It’s the natural way of the fermentation.”

      Controversy may yet swirl around Rolland and his methods, but Clos de los Siete proves that he can make a serious red wine to rival cult wines ten times the price. At least he can with 50,000 cases. When Clos de los Siete gets to 100,000 cases, things should get interesting.


John Mariani's  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.



In Port Angels, WA, a 21-year-old man in a banana suit was accused of exposing himself first at a restaurant and brandishing a shotgun while riding around with friends.  Upon being arrested, the man could not explain why he was dressed as a banana, The costume was seized as evidence.


"With the arrival of Cumin, you can finally pick up some biryani with your gold American Apparel stretch pants."--Heather Shouse, "Cumin" City Chicago.





Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani

* From Sept. 6 – 12, in Shanghai, China, Spain's Pavilion Gastronomy Program (49 Michelin stars) is featuring Gabriel Kreuther (one Michelin star), from The Modern restaurant, NYC),  cooking the with Spanish chef Tomeu Caldentey (one Michelin star), from Majorca.  Clients at the Acqua Restaurant at Gran Melia Shanghai Hotel can choose a long menu ($115,836pp.), the medium menu ($96,726pp.) or the short menu ($77,616pp.). 0086-21 3867 9777.

* On Sept. 8 in NYC, Stella Artois will present the Regional Draught Master competition, with local contestants vying for a chance at the national competition in Boston on Sept. 17. The event will also incl. food pairings, beer recipes and area draft masters to discuss the brand and the beer. Visit

* From Sept. 10-19 in Denver, CO, the Denver Beer Fest will include 150 beer-centric events ranging from Oktoberfest to the Great American Beer Festival, and events in between incl: beer-paired dinners, meet the brewer nights, beer tappings, brewery tours and a variety of entertaining beer events.; call 800-233-6837.

* From Sept. 10 - 19, in Denver, CO, Elway's Downtown at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver celebrates the Second Annual Denver Beer Fest with a 'Tour de Colorado -- on Tap' serving up only local brews on tap, beer and small plate combos and a brewers tasting from Great Divide. Call 303-312-3107.

* On  Sept.  13, Bastille Restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria, VA, will host a 4-course Virginia Harvest feast. The French bistro’s kick-off fall wine dinner will pair the organic, humanely raised produce of Smith Meadows Farm and wine pairings from Barboursville Vineyard. $45 pp, additional $25 with wines.  For reservations: 703-519-3776.

* On Sept 14th in NYC, Lure Fishbar presents Sonoma meets SoHo,  a 4-course wine dinner featuring the Hanzell Vineyards and Amapola Creek. $135pp. Call 212-431-7676 or

* On Sept. 14 in NYC, Chef Scott Campbell and a group of local farmers, cheese makers, wine producers, baker and Ariane Daguin of D'Artagnan will host a 5-course farm-to-table Harvest Dinner al fresco on the patio of New Leaf Restaurant. Proceeds benefit Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. $125 pp. Call 212-568-5323 or visit

* On Sept. 14, in La Grange, IL, Bella Bacinos hosts Susan Ridley, partner at the Hendry Winery, for an extensive tasting of Hendry's Napa Valley wines with light fare and artisanal cheese. $39 pp. Call 708-420-9600.

* On Sept. 15 in NYC, Wine Down teams up with Boutari wines and Chef Cat Cora to host a celebration of food, wine and the Mediterranean lifestyle at L'ybane Wine Bar & Restaurant. $50 pp Visit

* On Sept. 15 in NYC, Wine Down, America’s premier wine tasting party, teams up with Boutari wines and Iron Chef Cat Cora to host a celebration of food, wine and the Mediterranean lifestyle at L'ybane Wine Bar & Restaurant. $50 pp (Use Discount Code "Boutari" to save $10). For tickets, visit

* On Sept. 15 in Charlotte, NC, Mez presents a dinner featuring wine pairings from Russian Hill Estate in the Russian River Valley. Special guest James Kopp of Acme Wine Marketing and Chef Anoosh Shariat will serve a special menu. $55 pp. Call 704-971-2400. . . .   On Sept. 17 Mez presents a dinner featuring wine pairings from Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata. In attendance Catena’s Florencia Peyera will discuss Mendoza’s high altitude vineyards and the new book about the flourishing Argentine wine country.  $60 pp.

* On Sept. 16 in San Francisco, CA, McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant will host a 21st Amendment Brewery paired dinner with a five-course prix fixe menu prepared by Chef Chris Zekos. $65 pp. Call 415-929-1730 or visit .

* On Sept. 18 in Denver, CO, Breckenridge Brewery is throwing a party, featuring Colorado craft beers paired with the best of Denver’s street food from GastroCart, Brava Pizza, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, The Cupcake Truck, Steuben’s, and Deluxe Burger. $65 pp. Call 303-775-5038.

* On Sept. 18th World Yacht hosts NYC's First Annual Oktoberfest on the Hudson, transforming Pier 81 into a Beer Garden. $10-15 pp. Visit or call 212-630-8100.

* On Sept. 19, L.J. Wiley, executive chef and partner of Yelapa Playa Mexicana in Houston is teaming up with food photographer Ralph Smith in bidding “Farewell to Stone Fruits,” a 10-course dinner paired with cocktails, all inspired by summer’s delicious stone fruits.   $125 pp.  Email

* On Sept. 21 in Chicago, IL, and Lincolnshire, IL, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar hosts the Caymus Interactive Wine dinner, featuring a Napa-inspired menu with Caymus Vineyards owner and winemaker Chuck Wagner, Fleming's Dir. of Wine Marian Jansen op de Haar and Executive Chef Russell Skall. $125 pp. Call 312-329-9463.

* From Sept. 22 – Oct 3. “Crack of Noon France”  showcases the country’s food, wine, and sights where  day’s activities start after “the civilized hour of noon.” Richard Price of Executive Tours International created the “Crack of Noon” with an emphasis on eating and drinking where the locals are and sampling truly regional cuisine. “Crack of Noon France” includes stops in Paris, Provence, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and the French Riviera.  Visit or call toll free 800-521-0070.

* On  Sept.  24, the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival takes over the plaza at the International Trade Center in Washington, DC, , dedicated to all-things-tomato, to support Common Good City Farm and Seeds to Schools. Fourteen chefs will present tomato-tastings paired with wines from the Washington Wine Academy.  $35;

*On Sept. 24 in New Orleans, LA, The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel presents a re-creation of the famousStormin’ of the Sazerac,” when women first were admitted to the bar 61 years ago. Event is free and open to the public. Lunch in Sazerac Bar is available for $25 pp. Call (504) 648-5486.

* From Sept 24 to Oct 9 in ChicagoPierrot Gourmet holds an Oktoberfest celebration with an extensive beer menu, incl. German beer flights and draft selections served in customary beer steins; a special theme menu served for lunch and dinner.  For more info. please call 312-573-6749.

* On Sept. 24 -  25 join the HARVEST: Wine Auction & Celebration of Long Island’s East End. Enjoy winemaker-hosted private dinners, wine and cooking salons, a grand tasting, live auction and gala farm-to-table dinner created by East End chefs Claudia Fleming, Keith Luce, and Gerry Hayden, at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, NY in addition to vineyards and other locations across the Twin Forks. HARVEST benefits East End Hospice  and Peconic Land Trust. Visit

On Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 in Cardiff, Wales, UK,  The Great British Cheese Festival will take place in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Taste 500 cheeses, take cheese-making classes. Call (+ 44) (0) 2920230130.

* On Sept. 25, Hourglass Wine Company hosts the Sixth Annual BackStage Pass Event Auction to benefit St. Helena Public Schools at  in Napa, CA.  Guests will enjoy a Hog Island oyster bar, vineyard BBQ dinner from sponsors Dean & Deluca and Napa Valley wines provided by Blackbird, Bressler, Duckhorn, Cliff Lede, Crocker & Starr, Hourglass, Jones Family, Lail Vineyards, Melka Wines, Pine Ridge, et al. 750 Wines+. $150 pp, proceeds benefitting St. Helena Public Schools.

* On Sat., Sept. 25-26 in Lodi, CA,  the Taste of Lodi Wine Camp & Tasting will teach how to be a vintner for the day - two wine tours, lunch, seminars, dinner, hotel, breakfast, VIP ticket to Sun. event, $450 pp. Sat. Taste of Lodi: 40 Lodi wineries, 20 restaurants, live music, wine ice cream tasting, chef demos, wine seminars, Port - Cigar - Chocolate Pavilion, $40 adv. pp, $50 at event, $25 dd.; 800-798-1810.


* On  Sept 25 & 26, Bon Appetit magazine will present the 3rd annual Chicago Gourmet. $150 pp for a One-Day Pass and $250 pp for a Weekend Pass. Visit  or call 312-380-4128.

* On Sept. 25, executive chef Scott Crawford will present a fall harvest dinner as part of The Umstead Hotel and Spa’s signature event, “An Artful Evening” in Cary, NC. Complementary wines.   $239 per couple or $445 per couple incl. one-night stay. Call 866-877-4141; visit

* From Sept. 25 – Oct. 10 in Lexington, KY, Kentucky Horse Park Farmhouse will host "Cookin’ in the Bluegrass: A Celebrity Chef Dinner Series" in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and the Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games. Each of the 16 dinners will feature two celebrity chefs and one Kentucky-based chef , incl. Dean Corbett of Corbett’s: An American Place, Jonathan Lundy of Jonathan at Gratz Park, Francis Schmitz of Bristol Bar and Grille and Anthony Lamas of Seviche. $300 pp per dinner. Visit

* From Sept. 27 - Oct. 2 in NYC, Wines of Puglia will host the first ever Puglia Wine Week. Participating restaurants incl. Convivio, dell'anima, Felidia, Gusto, il Buco, I Truli, Il Matto, La Masseria, Lupa, Mia Dona, Quartino, SD26, and The Vanderbilt, offering Apulian-inspired prix fixe menus with optional Apulian wine pairings. Prices vary. Visit  or call 646-277-7110.

* On Sept. 27 in Louisville, KY, The Bristol Bar and Grille will feature special guest Bartholomew Broadbent, founder of Broadbent Selections. Wine pairings will be available along with an à la carte menu by chef Francis Schmitz. Call 502-456-1702.

* On Sept. 28 in Brooklyn, NY,  Tony DiDio Selections will host the "2nd Annual TDS Fall Classic" at Frankies 457. A wine tasting, with passed hors d’oeuvres , will begin at 6:30pm followed by a Family Style 4 course dinner with wine parings. $75 pp. Call 718-330-0963 or

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with four 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: Summer in Maine, Cape Cod, New Jersey; Win a 3-Night Getaway to the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.


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 Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.


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).


Family Travel Forum: The 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.

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go


nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, 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 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 2010