Virtual Gourmet

October 10,  2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER



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.
 THIS WEEK: Why USA Cuisine Triumphs


Cap Juluca
by Christopher Mariani

New York Corner: Marc Forgione
by John Mariani

Man About Town: Sunday Foot Diet
by Christopher Mariani

Notes From The Wine Cellar
Pig Rules! So What Wine Goes Best
by John Mariani


by Christopher Mariani


    This past August after a busy summer of travel, I needed to take a trip that would help me to unwind, a trip where my Blackberry would not exist, a trip where nothing back in NY would matter.  I was in need of an escape both mentally and physically.  I decided to head south to the small island of Anguilla, where I planned to lie by the sand all day, listen to the ocean’s waves crash onto the beach, enjoy some fruity cocktails with an extra shot of rum, and of course make sure that my tan was at its best for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
      With all my linen shirts, bathing suits, and boat shoes packed, I was ready for my vacation.  I had decided to stay at the Cap Juluca hotel based on numerous recommendations from friends and family, all soon to be personally re-affirmed.  One must first fly into St. Maarten because Anguilla does not have an airport, a factor that some locals of Anguilla say is a hurdle for tourists, yet I found to be one of the highlights of my trip.  I walked out of SXM airport, put on my shades and was greeted by a Cap Juluca representative who escorted me to their personal ten-passenger hotel boat.  Immediately, I was handed a Red Stripe beer by my ship’s captain as we set off for Anguilla, listening to some Bob Marley under the tropical sun and baby blue skies.  The boat ride was about 30 minutes, just enough time for a second Red Stripe, as we passed the neighboring lush green islands,  then finally docking on the beautiful and untouched island of Anguilla.  Cap Juluca is the only hotel on the island that offers this boat service, otherwise one must wait for a shuttle boat that I’m sure does not offer complimentary Red Stripe.
On the way to the hotel, by way of taxi, I saw the real Anguilla, a beautiful island absent of fast food chains and name brand shopping stores, a charming quality I valued highly.  I passed many small shops and restaurants filled with the faces of smiling locals enjoying the sunny day and laid back atmosphere.  It was refreshing to find a Caribbean island so uniquely natural, very different from the mainstream islands typically filled with casinos and tourist-trap shopping malls fueled by the disgorging of large ships that arrive daily.
      I got to Cap Juluca where I entered the main house, checked-in, and was handed a key to my very own golf cart to navigate through the lengthy property.  The hotel is set on a beautiful Maundays Bay, a semi-circular strip of white beach where the hotel’s white villas are generously staggered for privacy and dressed with grand balconies that overlook the soft aqua sea.  I pulled up to my very own villa, with its private entry way, leading me beyond the high walls surrounding my personal swimming pool, bordered by lounge chairs and cocktail tables.  I later came to find out that Penelope Cruz had stayed at the resort in the villa next door to mine not long ago, and I suddenly wished I'd taken my vacation sooner.  Inside the actual villa, I had a fully functional kitchen, a dining room placed underneath a massive dome ceiling where I ate my breakfast every morning, a living room filled with earthy and beige tones, extremely comfortable couches (below), where I slept one night  after a long night at Elvis’ beach bar, and a spectacular view of the ocean that can be seen through the villa’s large arch shaped windows.  As if all that space wasn’t enough, the bedroom was massive, very romantic, and connected to an outside balcony equipped with lounge chairs for relaxing at night, or maybe even during the day when Anguilla’s sun becomes a bit too much; bring your sun screen. That afternoon I popped a bottle of champagne and sat on my balcony as I looked out onto the horizon and smiled, realizing I was as close as I might ever get to an earthly paradise.  I then headed down to the beach where I laid back on my lounge chair as one of Cap Juluca’s friendly servers came over to hand me bottled water and ask if I needed anything.  I was treated like a king, a feeling that continued for the duration of my stay.
     That night I dined at Pimms, Cap Juluca’s premiere restaurant.  Pimms (below) is set outdoors beside the ocean encircled by broad white columns connected by high archways so that guests overlook the ocean where many small fish can be seen.  If you can take the humidity, typical of August, the restaurant has a very romantic cast, so you will find young couples in love sitting close and enjoying their time together.  I was cooked a wonderful meal that evening by chef Johny Clero, who insisted on a tasting menu.  Chef Clero started the meal with a trio of asparagus--green asparagus Vichyssoise, green and white asparagus tartare, and steamed asparagus with a rich and velvety hollandaise sauce.  The next course was packed with flavors, a Tandoori crayfish Kebab covered lightly with rosemary and sided by a creole vegetable curry and curry-coconut emulsion that captured the fresh tropical feeling of Anguilla.  The third course was a beautiful piece of seared sea bass surrounded by a light saffron sauce that was very well balanced and did not take away from the fresh flavor of the fish, which had a nice crispy layer of skin on top.  For our last course, chef put together a lamb Wellington served with a white truffle coco bean puree and covered in a natural harrissa lamb jus.  The evening was quite a conclusion to an amazing day of relaxation.
     The following morning I began my day at Cap Juluca’s Blue for breakfast, where I sat outside at the closest table I could find to the beach, preparing for another day of bliss.  After a tall cup of coffee, fresh papaya, orange juice, and an order of the coconut-crusted brioche French toast topped with brown sugar glazed bananas, it was time to head to my lounge chair on the beach. Later that evening I decided I would spend the next few days in search of the best restaurants the island had to offer.  Here are some of my personal favorites.

      I dined  the second night at E’s Oven, located in South Hill, a small restaurant colored in bright yellow and red, impossible to miss.  The interior is small, seating around 50 guests with a six-seat wooden bar and two small balconies with outdoor dining.  I started with an order of grilled shrimp simply seasoned with salt and pepper and sided by a refreshing mix of chopped mango, onions, cilantro, and lime juice.  I also shared the fried spring rolls, filled with shrimp, that come with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce.  For my entrée, I ordered the coconut-crusted grouper, a dish  recommended to me by every local who had heard E’s Oven was on my list of local restaurant’s to try.  I must say, the grouper was terrific, a heavier dish than I had expected, somehow capturing the flavor of homemade buttered popcorn. E’s Oven is also known for their curried goat and Creole conch.
       Dinner that evening ended early and I simply wasn’t ready for bed, so I grabbed a taxi and headed to the famous Elvis’ Bar and Grill   (left),  a beach bar that sits just 25 yards from the water, constructed out of a class-C Anguillan racing boat converted into an actual bar where the drink of the night always seem to be rum punch.  I sat by the bar for a few drinks before making my way onto the beach, where everyone was dancing to reggae under the moonlight.   I couldn’t tell you what time I returned to Cap Juluca, but that was the night I fell asleep on the couch.

     The following day I went to Davida (below) in Crocus Bay, a stunning section of beachfront with very calm waves and a great view of the Crocus Bay cliffs. I dined outside on one of the picnic tables covered by an umbrella offering just enough shade so I could  withstand the hot sun.  I started with an order of the seared mahi tuna salad big enough for an entrée, filled with fresh onions, plump tomatoes, chopped fruit, and a light oil and vinegar dressing.  I then ordered the bbq ribs and french fries, an entire rack of ribs with tender meat that ripped right off the bone, smothered in a slightly sweet bbq sauce.  Not the ideal meal to eat under the hot sun, but definitely worth it.

Picante is the best Mexican restaurant on the entire island of Anguilla, located on the West End.  The crowd is vibrant, the drinks are strong, and the food is hot.  Owners Theron and Chloe Loizos do a great job of offering their guests a casual environment with terrific traditional Mexican food, a real favorite of the locals.  I started with the chipotle driblets and chicken wings, along with an order of the chicken quesadillas served with freshly made guacamole.  I followed the appetizers with another margarita on the rocks and an order of the steak fajitas that came to the table sizzling.   I was not expecting to try Mexican food in Anguilla, but was very happy I did at Picante.

For lunch the following day I ate at Tasty’s (left), a delightful restaurant for those looking to try traditional island food.  Chef Dale Carty has been cooking his entire life and replicates dishes he ate growing up, creating a menu that identifies with the palate of the locals.  I began with the fish soup, a mixture of tuna, white fish, calamari, and scallops in a fish broth seasoned with cilantro and a little spice.  I also enjoyed the snapper and papaya salad topped with a simple vinaigrette, a sweet and refreshing appetizer perfect for lunch.  For a main course, do not fail to have the West Indian curried goat, possibly the best preparation on the island.  The goat's meat is slowly cooked and served on the bone, mixed in with curry sauce and Indian spices.  The dish is also served with rice and peas, a side dish that many Anguillans eat at least once a day at home.  Tasty’s is a hot spot with the locals, so make sure you get there early for lunch or you might be waiting at the bar for a while.

      I had left for Anguilla hoping to get away and clear my mind, and the island helped me do just that.  It is  a truly intimate island that offers solitude and beauty. The restaurants are a tremendous part of the culture, offering locals and tourists great food in very relaxed environments.  I have not booked my return trip yet, but I have a suspicion it's going to be much sooner than later.


134 Reade Street (between Hudson and Greenwich)

    I don't mean to pile on--in a happy sense--Marc Forgione, for just in the past week he's been reviewed by the NY Times (two stars) and given a one-star rating by the Michelin Guide.  So you may not get a rez as easily as you might have two weeks ago when I dined there.  But let me add my two cents in the hopes that when the hype dies down, things will loosen up and you can enjoy this downtown restaurant in a calmer way.
     A little history first: Marc (whose nickname "The Forge" used to be the name of the restaurant when it opened last year) is the son of  master chef Larry Forgione, one of the pioneers, back in the 1980s, of so-called New American Cuisine that was much beholden to the precepts for good, honest cooking as laid down by his idol, James Beard.  Marc, too, quotes Beard on his menu, when he said, "I don't like `gourmet' cooking, or `this' cooking or `that' cooking. I like good cooking." And so the legacy lives on.
     Forgione (below) worked with his father at the seminal An American Place, then put in time with
Patricia Yeo at AZ, Laurent Tourondel at BLT Steak, a few stages in France,  then was named corporate chef for the BLT brand. His partner in Christopher Blumlo, whose experience in restaurant management is long and dimpressive, including developing the Mets' CitiField food service.
      Marc Forgione the restaurant, in TriBeCa,  is designed to be casual, with 65 seats and a communal table for 20 and  a bar for 10. In good weather there's a patio seating 20. Tables are bare wood, walls are bare wood, and floors are bare wood, giving it an urban rusticity (or rustic urbanity?) that  allows for no soft surfaces to soak up what is a blistering decibel level, on some nights further fueled by live music.  It is not easy to hear conversation at your table, which makes casual dining here more than a little nerve wracking.
       There is nothing on Marc's menu that replicates his father's, but the same generosity of spirit and attention to good taste permeates everything in the kitchen, starting with housemade potato chips. We started off with sausage of veal scented with coriander, a side of peppery gnocchi, apples and micro-celery, all items balancing each other for fat, sweetness, and acid. Mac & Cheese made with orzo and mascarpone and parmesan was rich and creamy, with the added boost of lamb's neck meat.  Juicy fried quail made for a good entree, along with a succulent wild striped bass with bacon, mustard greens, and cranberry beans, in a nicely seasoned broth.  Maine sea scallops could not have been fatter or sweeter, here served with butternut squash and a mildly spicy lobster-Thai curry emulsion and the lagniappe of lump crabmeat.
      Desserts were good, if not outstanding, with a cobbler a little too soft, not crisp enough, and the rosemary ice cream did less for a pear liqueur, rum-soaked torta with Bosc pears and pomegranate.  A selection of three ripe farmstead cheeses is also available.
The winelist is 60 labels strong with 11 by the glass. One of its most popular weekly promotions is Thursday night's all-you-can-eat suckling pork sliders Happy Hour, for $12.    
      Marc Forgione is wisely toeing the American style by taking traditional ideas and first-rate ingredients and cuddling them all in his own creativity;  the word scrumptious may well leap to mind when you dine here.

Marc Forgione is open  Mon.– Sat. for dinner, and for brunch and supper on Sunday. Appetizers run $11-$18, entrees $26-$67 (higher priced items are for two people to share).



Pig Rules! So What Wine Goes Best?
by John Mariani

     Americans may still eat more beef than pork—about 63 pounds per capita versus 48 each year—but the current foodie fascination with all things porcine has crowned the pig king.  Whether it’s the roast Italian pork called maiale or a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich stuffed with slices of ham, pork hasn’t had better press since  Charles Lamb wrote “A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig” back in 1823, in which he nailed the appeal of the savory porker as a kind of “animal manna.”
      Yet unlike beef, which truly demands a big, brawny cabernet sauvignon to match its mineral-rich, juicy flavor, roast pig, sausages, and ham require a bit more thought as to what wine truly enhances the meat.  So, this year, I decided to find out which wines would go best with the roast suckling pig we cooked over a wood fire in my backyard. As the hours went by and the pig absorbed the smokiness from applewood, its skin turned crisp and mahogany brown, its aromas perfumed the air.
      I collected a dozen bottles of various varietals I thought would go well.  I had already eliminated a few I knew wouldn’t work, including those big cabernets, expensive pinot noir-based Burgundies and Super Tuscans.
      To some extent I relied on cultural tradition, that is, I asked myself what wine would be drunk by people who historically do pig roasts—Italians, Spaniards, Central and South Americans? In the hillside barbecues called lechoneras outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a cold Medalla Light beer seems to work wonders. I eliminated the Chinese, who tend to sweeten the meat with soy sauce, caramel, and ginger. Pig roasts are certainly a part of the American South’s culinary tradition, but wine has never played a big role in that history.
      Because a 25-pound suckling pig of the kind I used has plenty of velvety fat and because I basted it with a puree of garlic, onion, chile pepper, and orange juice, I needed a wine with an undertone of sweetness to complement the richness of the meat. Those two characteristics just happen to be part of the appeal of the best California zinfandels and their Italian counterparts, primitivos.
      A Joel Gott Zinfandel 2008 ($18) from Lodi and Amador had the right intensity, spice, and peppery notes, providing counterpoint to the smoke and basting juices.
      Primitivo is the Italian name for the same grape as zinfandel (both came from Croatia), and a 2007 example from Piana del Sole in Puglia (where the varietal has flourished) had a perfectly pleasant, cherry and raspberry component. Yet overall the wine did not do much for the roast pig’s big flavors.
      More complex but still a bit pale by comparison to the pig were two other Italian bottlings, a Masi Campofiorin Ripasso 2005 ($18) and Tre Roveri Pico Maccario Barbera d’Asti 2007 (left; $25), while a Spanish Mas de Can Blau 2005 ($42.50), a blend of carinena and garnacha had the depth and brawn those grapes are known for, marrying well with the meat.
      But my favorite match-ups with the roast pig were two Amarone della Valpolicellas. These wines from Italy’s Veneto region are made ffrom corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes left to dry out on straw mats to achieve a raisin-like status, intensifying the sugars. A decade ago this traditional process resulted in unique, high alcohol wines that tasted of leather, with more than a hint of sweetness and oxidation.  Today the wines are better made, cleaner, and intended to be drunk earlier, and the result is a wine of enormous body and 15 percent alcohol, but without the musty oxidation.
     I tried two Amarones with the pig, a Vaona 2006 ($44) and a Speri Amarone 2004 (right; $92). The former was right on target to match the big flavors of the smoky meat, melding fruit and soft tannins with fat and smoke. It is a silky, sensual wine and the pig seemed blessed by it. The Speri, considered one of the finest Amarones now made, has the benefit of aging, and its layers and layers of dark ripe fruits and its Port-like bouquet seems tailor made top go with roast pig.
      At $92 it’s a special bottle, one you save for a special occasion. But then, the roasting of a pig is always just that, especially if, as was the case at my house, the occasion was my birthday.

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.



by Christopher Mariani


       As we head into week five of the NFL season, I am looking forward to my fifth Sunday, not including pre-season, of sitting on the couch, drinking beer, and eating “man food”.  Here is what I think is a perfect diet for Sundays during football season, pretty much what I have lived on every seventh day of the week for the last month and a half.
         To start, Sundays mornings usually begin a bit later than normal for me, being as that Saturday nights never tend to end early. (Well, they do if you consider them to end early Sunday morning.I wake up, crawl out of bed, make my way to the 'fridge and grab a nice cold yoo-hoo, Chocolate drink, the secret hangover remedy; trust me on this one.  Next, it’s off to the Bon Appetit deli just down the block from my house in Eastchester, NY, where I order a nice greasy “John’s” bacon, egg and cheese with SPK (salt, pepper, ketchup) on a deli roll topped with hot cherry peppers, the best in the County.  For fluids, I order a coffee with cream and sugar to help wake up, and an ice cold Gatorade for rehydration.  Let’s face it, besides fruits and vegetables, which have no place in a Sunday football diet, my breakfast has covered most of the important food groups.
    Back at the house I sit on the couch, enjoy my wholesome breakfast in peace as I watch ESPN’s Sportscenter and check out what games are to come.  Around noon it's time to actual get ready, meaning showering and throwing on a comfortable pair of sweatpants, then heading to Beverage Mart to pick up some beer for the games.  I usually find myself at my buddy Mike’s house around one pm, just in time for kickoff.  I personally cannot go a Sunday without having chicken wings, and, considering they are not the easiest food to cook, we order from The Eastchester Inn, a local bar known for its traditional bar food.  The key is to call the order in at the two-minute warning of the first half, predicting that the wings will be ready for pick-up within 15-20 minutes.  This leaves just enough time to finish watching the second quarter, get all the money together from your  friends, pick up the wings from the bar, and be back at the house in time to watch the kickoff of the second half.  A personal request when ordering wings that I live by is: well-done, so the skin is nice and crispy, sauce on the side for dipping, and insist the bar never to place a cover over the wing’s container, or else they become soggy.  Oh yeah, and always ask for extra blue cheese no matter what the cost. I’ve seen many fueled arguments arise over a shortage of the creamy delight.
       Now that my hunger is satisfied, I sit back with a cold beer and hope my team wins.  Next up, the four o’clock games, usually  accompanied only by a few bags of chips, eaten simply to hold us over before dinner.  A spicy salsa is a wonderful compliment to a nice bag of Tostitos but add some chopped scallions, one hot pepper and cilantro to the store-bought salsa, and it makes a world of difference.  Now keep in mind, the four o’clock games usually end around 7 pm, leaving only an hour and fifteen minutes until the night game begins, so start to think about what you may want to cook for dinner around the end of the fourth quarter.  I am a burger guy, so there is not much debate there.  As soon as the game is over, I rush over to Stop and Shop for a few pounds of chuck meat, some aged cheddar, a few onions, bacon, and most likely a packet of Nathan’s dogs for an appetizer.  Since  I know exactly what I want, I am usually headed back to the house within 15 minutes, just in time to see the coals start to amber up. Kitchen prep is quick, eyeing the hand-molded burgers to approximately half a pound, (always add more if you are unsure), while someone mans the grill and gets the dogs going, usually eaten while the burgers are grilled.  By this time, 8 pm is nearing, but it's all right, because the game never starts until about 8:20, so we sit back, enjoy a beer, and watch the burgers cook. Once they are done, always medium-rare, it's time to head back to the couch, everyone in the same seats!  At this point we are usually halfway through our meal as the Sunday night game gets under way.
   This is a typical Sunday of eating for me and my friends, a day where many of us are either happy or upset depending on the outcome of our teams winning or losing, but at least we can all say that we ate well.  Who doesn’t love breakfast sandwiches, wings, and cheeseburgers?  Of course this is bit gluttonous, but that’s why Monday is always a great day to start a new diet,  but, oh wait, there’s also Monday night football!

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to




With sales 9% falling last year, Budweiser announced plans to push free beer on younger beer drinkers over the next several weeks with the slogan "Grab some Buds," culminating with the "Budweiser National Happy Hour," with free samples for those 21 and over, ranging from 6 ounces to 12 ounces, depending on state and local rules.


"If my enthusiasm for Gilt Bar seems a little restrained, well, I vowed that I wouldn't let myself get hurt again. You see, Gilt Bar, a spiffy little 6-month-old, so young and appealing and full of promise, sits at 230 W. Kinzie St. And that address has broken my heart before. Since the nightclub George's closed its doors in 1990, this address has seduced me with one appealing restaurant after another. . . . Even the best-forgotten DeJoie's Bistro, in the early '90s, wasn't terrible. They all left me.  Yet here I am again, back at this address, fork in one hand and pen in the other, a hopeful Charity Valentine at the Fandango Ballroom door."--—Phil Vettel, “Gilt,” Chicago Tribune.


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 Oct. 30, Lavendou Bistro Provençal in Dallas, is presenting a Celebration of Culinary Traditions of Alsace, with classic Choucroute Garnie à l'Alsacienne from Chef Owner Pascal Cayet and Executive Chef François Soyez.  $36.95 pp for three courses.  Call 972-248-1911 or visit

* For the month of Oct., in Atlanta, Ray’s on the River, Ray’s at Killer Creek, Ray’s in the City will be selling Johnnie Gabriel’s new cookbook, Second Helpings, to benefit the Northside Hospital Breast Care Program.  Executive Chef Tom McEachern contributed 11 recipes to the cookbook, and guests who purchase the book  will receive a complimentary $15 Ray’s dining card with their purchase. . . . On Oct. 18, in Atlanta, Ray’s on the River will be hosting a Trimbach 5-course wine dinner. $85 pp. Call 770-952-4209;

* On Oct. 14 in NYC, Gnocco offers customers a complimentary heart-shaped namesake gnocco appetizer and a glass of prosecco with dinner to celebrate its 10 year anniversary.  Call 212-677-1913.

* On Oct. 14 in Oakland, CA, Ozumo will host a Sake & Small Plates Dinner with 5 paired courses prepared by Chef Yo Matsuzaki., $55 pp, 510-286-9866;

* On Fri. Oct. 15 in NYC, Brewmaster Garrett Oliver will host The Brewmasters Table with Garrett Oliver at The International Culinary Institute. Enjoy 4 hours of tasting, discussion, and hands-on instruction on the world of beers from smooth, crisp lagers to hearty ales, $195 pp, or call 888.324.2433.

*On Oct. 18, ‘ino Family of Restaurants in NYC will host a series of “whole hog” dinners inspired by regions in Italy. featuring  one night each at corsino (Oct. 18, Tuscany), 'inoteca (Nov. 15, Piedmont), and 'inoteca e liquori bar (Dec. 13, Alto Adige). The 5-course dinners are $160 pp or $400 pp for all three, pairings. Call 212-614-0473.

* On Oct. 18 in NYC, Wall & Water in the Andaz Wall Street Hotel, will host a Ruinart Champagne Dinner with Frédéric Panaïotis,  Chef de Caves in partnership with Maximilian Riedel, Riedel Crystal of America, with a 4-course dinner  by Executive Chef Maximo Lopez May.  $180 pp.  Call 917.833.4137 or visit

* On Oct. 19, Little Dom’s in Los Feliz welcomes the Abita Brewing Co. for a  night of masterfully-brewed Louisiana ales paired with Chef Brandon Boudet’s  Italian-American fare. Proceeds donated to restoring the Gulf Coast. Call 323-661-0055 or visit

* On Oct. 24th Chef Thad Morrow of bacaro restaurant in Champaign, Il will host a Paolo Bea and Umbrian Food Wine Dinner. Ten Paolo Bea wines and six courses of  Umbrian food. T $225.00 pp . Call Chef Thad Morrow 217-390-4066.

* On Oct. 24, in Chicago, chefs Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca and Laurent Gras of L20 will host a “Dine for Hope”  dinner to benefit the Jerry Zucker Ride for Hope.  $125 pp. Call 843-973-3323 or visit

* On Oct. 24, Lee Oneness Foundation World Food Day Celebration: Top L.A. Chefs Dinner in Los Angeles, Chefs Celestino Drago, Walter Manzke, Alain Giraud, Alen Ramos, Carolyn Nugent come together to prepare a 5-course menu to help fight hunger. $150pp. Call 213-228-8998 or

* On Oct. 28, Chicago's North Pond restaurant welcomes Paul Greenberg, author of "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" for 5-course dinner by Chef Bruce Sherman. $85 pp (wine pairings available) and the book will be available for signing. Call 773-477-5845; www.northpondrestaurant.

* On Oct. 30 Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley is partnering with Swanson Vineyards for a joint 25th Anniversary Dinner. Hosted by Swanson’s founders, Clarke and Elizabeth Swanson, five courses designed by Executive Chef Robert Curry are paired with wines, enhanced by Parisian singer Michel Saga. $250 pp. Call 707/967-3147 or

* Beginning Oct. 31-Dec. 2,  in Yosemite National Park, CA, The Ahwahnee will host its annual Vintners’ Holidays event, bringing together 32 of California’s best winemakers.  In 8 sessions, Vintners’ Holidays incl. winetastings, educational seminars, a welcome reception and  5-course gala dinner orchestrated by Executive Chef Percy Whatley.  Two- and three-night packages are available at The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and start at $744.  Call 801-559-4903 or visit

* On Oct. 31 in Atlanta, GA chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison hold Sunday Supper South, a Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner at Westside Provisions District, with  Hugh Acheson, Sean Brock, John Currence, Chris Hastings, Linton Hopkins, Mike Lata, Frank Lee and Bill Smith, et al. $150 for JBF members and $175 for non-members. Call 404-365-0410or visit

* On Nov. 1, in Atlanta,  chef/restaurateurs – Gerry Klaskala (Aria), Anne Quatrano (Abattoir, Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Café and Quinones) and Kevin Rathbun (Rathbun’s, Kevin Rathbun Steak and Krog Bar)  will be  roasted  at the second Legends of Atlanta Hospitality Roast at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  3-course meal  prepared by local chefs.  $250 for a tasting ticket, $400 for a foodie ticket.  Call 678-538-9000 or visit

* On Nov. 3 in Larkspur, CA, Left Bank Brasserie hosts a Wild Game Dinner featuring Scottish game birds and Millbrook venison with entrees from $32-$48. Call 415-927-3331.

From November 1-14 in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Independents, a group over 90 locally owned, independent restaurants, celebrates Cleveland Restaurant Week offering 3-course prix fixe dinners for $30 pp.  Visit


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: TERROR AND TRAVEL


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). THIS WEEK:

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.

 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