at La Vucciria, Palermo" by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery
QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN MARIANI
may now access
Archive of all past newsletters--each
annotated--dating back to July,
2003, by simply clicking on www.johnmariani.com/archive
UN-SUBSCRIBE: You may subscribe
anyone you wish
to this newsletter--free of charge--by
Timbers Resorts by Christopher Mariani
SPIRITS LOCKER: The Daiquiri Makes a Comeback by Misha Mariani
Resorts, Napa Valley
Napa Valley Vineyards
Napa Valley Vineyards
Napa Valley offers one of the most stunning scenery
America has to
offer. The people are
welcoming, and best of all, willing to have a glass of
wine at just
point of the day. Me, too.
evening I attended the grand opening party for Napa
Valley’s annual Festival
Sole, held at Napa’s Far Niente
event kicked off with open tours of
their caves, followed by wine and food tastings
prepared by twenty of
Giovanni, Bottega, Bouchon, Mustards
Grill, Redd, Rutherford Grill, and Tra Vigne.
As the evening
progressed and the light became low, all partygoers
main stage, where we watched the performance of
trumpeter Chris Botti
Joshua Bell. The concert
and the celebration continued long into the night with
wine. The entire evening
part of one of Timbers Resorts' 2010 signature trip,
but the following
showcase the true adventure.
emerged as one of New York's very finest ristoranti.
Opened five years ago
in the Theater District, it's always packed from
5:30 till the
exodus at 7:30, then fills up again after 8
PM. Owners Giuseppe
"Peppe" Iuele and Enzo Ruggiero and chef-partner
Coladonato are always there (unless one of them is
in East Greenwich,
Rhode Island, where they've opened a branch of La
as good--that I will be reporting on shortly.)
La Masseria (which means "the farmhouse") is a beautiful two-tiered dining room and bar done in a winning combination of arched ceilings, farm utensils, photos and artwork, aged wood, and the modernity of iron sconces, stonework, and wine bins, all designed by Libby Langdon (shown with Peppe, Pino, and Enzo right). Windows overlook the street, which is set with tables in good weather, and the main dining room (above) leads to a smaller party room. The noise level is entirely civilized for good conversation., the service staff professional and friendly, knowledgeable and always helpful, never intrusive but always there at a nod, led with affable spirit by Peppe and Enzo, boyhood friends from Capri. The winelist gets stronger every year but is not top-loaded with impossibly priced rarities (though they have some); instead there is plenty of good wine under $50 a bottle.
to begin here is to share a plate of antipasti--oozing
and sliced cheeses, all at the right
temperature--and the best fried
strips of zucchini in town, a big mound of
greaseless, thin slivers you pop in your
mouth. Other signature dishes include freshly
made meatballs with tomato sauce, (which they were
doing long before it
became faddish in NYC), and granotto
cooked till tender like risotto and sharing the
plate with a lush
seafood sauce, mussels, and white beans.
We shared three pastas: tagliolini with fresh sea urchins and a Champagne sauce, a nice balancing act of the briny and the delicate, without the pungency sea urchins can sometimes have. Freshly made fettuccine came in a creamy chanterelle mushrooms sauce, and the ear-shaped orecchiette pasta with broccoli di rabe with the delightful addition of crunchy toasted almonds. I love monkfish tail, though it can easily become chewy if cooked just a few moments past its ideal texture; Pino does them just to a turn, grilled nice and juicy, accompanied by big equally juicy Nigerian prawns.
In a town like
NYC where veal chops and racks of lamb are both
ubiquitous and highly
competitive items on Italian menus, La Masseria's are
best. The former was grilled and served with a
light but richly
flavorful black truffle sauce; the lamb, done pink,
was perfumed with
La Masseria is open daily for lunch and dinner, and it's a great choice for pre-theater dinner. At dinner antipasti run $8.50-$18.50, pastas (full portions) $15-$28.50, and main courses $17.50-$38.50.
Daiquiri Makes a Comeback
As the fashion industry semi-annually insists, styles come and go, hot one minute and not the next; classics define themselves by entrenching their presence, then die down for a while and inevitably make their return with a vengeance. The same, its seems, goes for cocktails, especially in a city like New York, where we are flooded with an abundance of chic cocktail lounges, bartenders who call themselves “mixologists,” and restaurants with specialty cocktail lists in an attempt to stand apart from all the rest, so that we are inevitably going to come across some great new cocktail creations as well as some very strange concoctions.
But what you’ll also now see at some of these same establishments of recent years is the comeback of classic cocktails, either made according to an original or traditional recipe or with a little spin and flair from your barkeep, just as would a chef do a turn on, say, a classic coq au vin. Not only are you getting these classics back but the bars and lounges bringing them back are going even farther by opening in the style of a “speakeasy.” Some notable places to grab a great cocktail are PDT, which means "Please Don’t Tell," the Flatiron Lounge and Milk & Honey.
Of all the classics nudging their way back, like the Manhattan, Sidecar, Gin Rickey, Negroni, and Old Fashioned, the one that I am most happy to see is the Daiquiri. And let’s not get it confused with a slushy, blender-made, fruity, syrup drink. I’m speaking of the wonderfully simple, refreshing classic. A three-ingredient cocktail made of rum, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup.
So let me give a brief history of the prime ingredient--rum, an alcohol made from the molasses byproduct of sugar cane, one of history’s most prized commodities, brought to the New World by Columbus. Rum, which was at first called “kill-devil” in English, may have gotten its name from a derivation of the Latin word saccharum, for sugar. By the seventeenth century rum was being distilled in Barbados, and by 1664 the first rum distillery in New York was set up on Staten Island, quickly followed by one in Boston, which would soon have the largest distillery location in the States.
As rum became more and more popular, its value made it acceptable as a form of currency alongside gold, and when the Sugar Act of 1764 was implemented by Great Britain, it was believed that the disruption of trade helped fuel the fire of the American Revolution. It was part of the Triangular Trade of shipping African slaves to work the sugar plantation where sugar was shipped north to be made into molasses and rum. Some of history’s most highly recognized figures have put their stamp on it. George Washington gave a double ration of it on the Fourth of July to all his soldiers.
this passionately loved spirit came the Daiquiri, a
1896 by an American engineer named Jennings Cox,
mines in Daiquiri, Cuba, a small village south of
Santiago. One story
he had run out of gin while entertaining some
American guests. He
scurried through his quarters, found some rum along
with some sugar and
limes abundant on the island,
and there the daiquiri was born and named after the
village wherein he
story says he invented it at the local Olympia Hotel,
where the miners
James Beard said “of all the spirits in your home, it
like sweet drinks, so his "Papa Dobles" contained no
but a dash of maraschino; he'd knock back half a dozen
of these doubles
in an evening at Havana's La Florida bar, pictured
above and in the
photo below, showing from right to left,
Ribailagua, Mary Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway, Spencer
One of my recently acquired preferences has been for Tommy Bahama rum, to which I was introduced last month at a sky box at Yankee Stadium. (The Yanks won handily.) Tommy Bahama bottles two types of rum, White Sand and Golden Sun. At the 2010 RumXP International Tasting competition, the Golden Sun took Best in Class gold medal and double gold in the 2010 San Francisco Spirits Competition, while White Sand took home a gold.
In rum making, there are two methods used in the distilling process: in the traditional method, most small batch artisanal rums are made from what is called a pot still using copper vessels; large batch distillation is done in tall column stills. Tommy Bahama still uses the more controlled pot still method, a sign of care and craftsmanship, but combines it with the more modern method column still. Both their rums are then aged in small, once-used 210 -liter bourbon barrels made of white oak. After two years the White Sand rum is filtered using a three-step charcoal process to remove any color absorbed from the barrels, while the Golden Sun is aged for a minimum of three years and comprises at least half of the blend with rums aged up to 10 yrs. Both rums are exceptional specimens and ideal for a well-made Daiquiri.
The Golden Sun lends flavors or rich caramel, a pineapple tart sweetness and a slight oakiness from the barrels. Daiquiris made with golden will show the flavors of the rum first and foremost, with the lime and sweetness following. White Sand creates a quite different Daiquiri, but not one subservient in the least, just a different style. White Sand is, however, more complex than the usual white rums, displaying notes of vanilla, fruit, and freshness yet still having a depth of character from the oak, proving to be superb white rum.
So there we have my favorite daiquiri variations, as good for sitting out on a veranda in the cool summer breeze among friends and family or the one you love, beachside with the sun setting over the ocean, or just simply sipped as you prepare dinner at home.
-2oz of either Tommy Bahama White Sand or Golden Sun
-Juice of 1 lime
-2 tsp. Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake cold and strain straight up in a martini glass.
in Atlantic City, I ask myself the same two
questions every time, “How
and “Which steakhouse
will we be dining at?” With
an abundance of steakhouses there like Morton’s,
Ruth’s Chris, Bobby
many more, it seems they are the only dining option. A few weeks ago, I headed to
City for the weekend with a beautiful date and was
pleased to find a
cuisine at Fin,
a seafood restaurant inside the Tropicana.
The interior is grand, layered with shades of light and dark blue, shiny glass aqua tiles that cover the restaurant’s columns, marine murals that hang from the walls, cobalt colored floors, and a terrific view of the ocean’s beach front. The kitchen is run by a Jersey Shore native, Executive Chef Demetrios Haronis, who prides himself on using local fish purveyors and markets. Fin’s wine list, “50 under $50,” also supports local businesses by featuring thirteen labels from New Jersey wineries, all very good wines.
beautifully presented selection of sushi including the
almond-crusted tempura roll filled with crispy crab, masago, tomago,
cucumber. We then had the
calamari that chef Haronis gets from Judith Point,
black pepper and sided by a sweet chili tamarind sauce
remoulade. We also shared
crab and lobster roll appetizer that was better than
I’ve ever had in
the lobster roll capital of the northeast. For
lobster bisque that was very
hearty, full of flavor and filled with large chunks of
section, as opposed to the “without fins” items and
very pleased with the seafood. I
ordered the Chilean sea bass francaise,
a large cut of fish with lots of flavor, roasted,
keeping the fish
sided by a chardonnay peppercorn cream sauce. For
sides, I highly recommend
cheddar truffle Fin fries,
the blue crab
macaroni and cheese, and the creamed spinach and
artichokes topped with
parmesan cheese. For
had a rich lemon cheesecake and the chocolate hazelnut
made in house.
a delightful change from the repetitive steakhouses
has to offer, but the dining experience was extremely
to the friendly and knowledgeable wait staff. There
that one would not
expect from an Atlantic City restaurant, as was their
made my dinner so great. For
looking to stray from the norm, try out Fin, the first
restaurant of its kind in
To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to email@example.com
FAST FOOD FUN FOLKS!
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, a pregnant and drunk 38-year-old woman named Julie Bailey (right) threatened the cashier at a Taco John's with a hammer and shouted, "I want a soft shell and this is a stickup. Give me all your money." But the woman could not manage to get the hammer out of her pocket and minutes later the police arrested the would-be crook who told them that her roommate threatened to evict her if she didn't come up with money to buy crack cocaine. . . . Meanwhile in Atlanta, Police arrested a man wearing a ski mask who robbed a Wendy's restaurant with a gun and was so mad about the amount of money handed over that he called back twice to complain, telling the manager, "next time there better be more than $56." . . . And over in Toledo, Ohio, a woman was caught on video camera punching two restaurant employees and smashing a drive-thru window because she couldn't get Chicken McNuggets. Police said the woman, Melodi Dushane, was angry that McNuggets weren't being served during breakfast time. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH2Cs_YKNq4
BLOCK THAT METAPHOR!
tuna and salmon lay on shiso or lemon slices in the
shade of a banana
standing upright like a spiked surfboard. California
(crab, avocado and cucumber) and spicy tuna rolls
(mildly spiced minced
with crunchy tempura flakes) curled up like napping
pets near puddles
and pickled ginger."--Nicole Aksamit, "Hiro 88,"
✉ 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 now until Dec. 21, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT will host its Indian Summer Package. that incl. overnight stay at Mohegan Sun, 2 complementary drinks at Leffingwells Martini Bar, $50 coupon to Jasper White’s Summer Shack, and a $25 coupon to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Starts at $125 pp, tax included. Call 888-777-7922 and mention code PTIND, or visit mohegansun.com.
* From now until Dec. 30, Kellari Restaurants in NYC will provide a complimentary bottle of champagne to theater patrons with a ticket stub from the Broadway musical "Million Dollar Quartet," valid at Kellari Parea Bistro before or after show. Call 212-777-8448 or visit www.kellari-parea.com. After show only at Kellari Taverna. Call 212-221-0144 or visit www.kellari.us.
Through Oct. 3, Klee Brasserie
in NYC kicks off Oktoberfest by
"Craft Beer Week, "for which Executive Chef Daniel
Angerer will offer a
3-course dinner menu with beer pairing
recommendations. $40p p. .
. . . From Sept. 29 through October., Klee Brasserie
Oktoberfest with a Schnitzel Fest, which
features four types of Schnitzel
* On Sept. 25 - 26, The 2010 Saint Louis Wine Festival in Saint Louis, MO, is partnering with Schnuck Markets, Inc. for a premier wine and culinary experience. Guests will enjoy live entertainment, wine and beer tastings, samplings of food from several restaurants and cooking demos from nationally recognized chefs including our Stella Artois Beer Ambassador, Bart Vandaele. $35pp. Call 877-772-5425 or visit www.stlouiswinefestival.com.
* On Sept. 28 in NYC, Action Against Hunger will hold their 6th annual Great Gathering of Chefs, bringing together more than 150 chefs. Founder Alan Battman Batt will unveil his Pasta and Pudding photography books. In addition, 20+ leading NYC restaurants will provide a tasting. $100 pp, $250 pp. For tickets please visit www.actionagainsthunger.org/donate/2010-great-gathering-chefs.
* On Oct 1, Pensiero
Ristorante in Evanston, IL will
kick-off party for their month-long effort to
raise money for The
Breast Cancer Network of Strength by highlighting
inspired by, named for, or created by famous
women. During the entire
month of Oct, $1 from each drink will go to the
BCN. 847-475-7779 or
On Oct. 7, in NYC, Wines
Spain will host its 17th annual
Great Match ‘Vivacious
Varietals, Tantalizing Tastes,’ featuring more
than 160 Spanish wines
paired with tapas prepared by 10 of New York’s
most notable chefs.
$50pp. The event will be replicated in
Miami on Oct.
13. $45. Call 888-772-4694 or visit www.greatmatch.org.
* On Oct. 7 in Cleveland, Ohio, Moxie, the Restaurant hosts a five course Nickel & Nickel Wine Dinner prepared by Executive Chef Jonathan Bennett. $99 pp. Call 216-831-5599 or visit www.moxietherestaurant.com.
* On Oct. 8
AZ, the Arizona
Festival will pit 30 southwest restaurants
against each other in
a Top Taco
competition, awarding $7,500 in cash. The event will
also feature a
Boutique Tequila Expo, Kid’s Fun Zone, live music, and
over 100 types
for $10/entry and $2/food sample.
* On Oct. 11, Loire Valley Wine dinner in Alexandria, VA, Bastille restaurant presents a 5-course menu by Executive Chefs Christophe & Michelle Poteaux. $54pp. + $30 with opt. wine pairing. Call 703-519-3776 or visit www.bastillerestaurant.com.
* On Oct. 15,
in NYC, the Ultimate
Wine Blast will be held at the Marriott
Marquis Hotel, Times Square. This event will
feature a walk-around
of the world’s finest cocktails, spirits and wines,
seminars and mingle
with book authors at the night’s
multiple book signings. $95( VIP) $75(Gen'l) before
9/30. $110 (VIP)
after 9/30. http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/blastinfo2010
Oct. 16 in Kenwood,
Vineyards hosts a “Day on
the Farm,” incl. meet
and greets with Landmark’s proprietors, winemakers and
jazz, library wine tasting, hands-on vineyard
activities and tours;
wagon rides; a catered harvest lunch paired with
wines; bocce and various lawn games. Children
pp. Call 707-833-0226.
* On Oct. 16 & 17 in Norfolk, VA, the 23rd Annual Town Point Virginia Wine Festival will showcase more than 30 Virginia wineries, featuring gourmet local fare, live music and special boater packages. $15 pp. Call 757-441-2345.
in Nantucket, MA,
the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce is hosting its
Annual Chowder Contest on Main Street in Nantucket
for your favorite chowder, all-you-can-eat. $7
21-24. Lake Placid
Lodge in Lake Placid, NY hosts a
Gastronomic Getaway weekend featuring NY
State products with The Modern's Sandro Romano and
Christopher Buckley each preparing a three-course
dinner and offering
lessons. Jean-Luc Du from Le Du's Wines will conduct
wine tastings and
pairings. Package incl. three nights lodging,
breakfast, cooking lessons, all activities, wine and
multi-course dinners. $2,995 per couple. A daily
package of $150pp
activities and a multi-course dinner with wine
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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, 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: TEN REASONS TO VISIT SHANGHAI NOW
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).
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
nickonwine: 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: 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.
Any of John Mariani's
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the