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One by John Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER:
Grill by Christopher Mariani
MAN ABOUT TOWN:
Allure of the
Seas—Royal Caribbean International by
Whiskey Keeps the Cold at Bay by John Mariani
by John Mariani
After New York,
London is the city that celebrates Christmas with the most exuberance.
With all its ties to Charles Dickens, the city, in Boz's
words, knows "how to keep Christmas well."
Indeed, it was only in Victorian
times that the celebration of Christmas came to exceed that of all
holidays. The English Puritans had banned any celebrations after
the English Civil War as of 1651, and it was only Queen Victoria's
Saxony-born husband, Prince Albert, who reignited celebrations by
bringing his own German traditions to England, including the Christmas
tree, as of 1840, whose origins dates back to pagan Germanic winter
gave birth to the Christmas card (1846) and kissing under the
singing of Christmas carols from door to door was an English tradition.
At home the making of Christmas pudding began on Stir-up Sunday, the
Sunday before Advent, with a wooden spoon (in honor of the Christ
child's wooden crib), and mince pies were consumed for luck during the
twelve days of Christmas.
Street, photo by Wolfiewolf.
So this is a grand time to
be in London and to dine out with friends at the city's vast variety of
restaurants--51 of which earned stars from the 2011 Michelin Guide. This week I
will tell you about some new entries, next of some enduring favorites.
London is in the midst of what foodies call the “trat
with dozens of new casual Italian trattorias open, and Tempo,
run by Henry Togna, has drawn praise from the critics and a chic
Mayfair crowd that comes for Chef Yoshi
Yamada’s light Italian cuisine.
020 7629 2742
The two-story restaurant has the main dining room
downstairs (right) and private
dining upstairs (below), the
former in a minimalist
décor of cream-and Mediterranean blue colors, round mirror, wall
sconces, and handpainted glass tables. Upstairs there is more filigree
and feminine colors of rose and spring green, sofas and upholstered
chairs. The lightness of everything in the décor--and sun comes
streaming in from Curzon Street when
the sun is out in London--is
buoyed by the lightness of Yamada's cooking, itself reflective of his
training at the great Don Alfonso ristorante
on the Amalfi Coast.
Over two visits to Tempo I've eaten just about
the well-balanced menu, beginning happily with the cicchetti, small
plates of delicacies like a crostino
of funghi porcini,
parsley; a salad of tender grilled octopus with roasted peppers; very
good Pugliese burrata cheese;
bruschetta topped with
tuna loin; and
like calamari and whitefish fritto
misto, and a crostino
Calabrian sausage. You might be tempted to stop there, but push on or
you'll miss a lot of wonderful food.
There is a selection of three carpaccios--I loved the wild
sea bass with grapefruit and a touch of fennel--and five antipasti,
like fat sea scallops with golden beets, the tang of lemon, and
the edge of chili.
And so on to the pastas, ever the shining
Italian menu, and Yamada does some beauties, always with his own touch,
as when adding a little chili to potato gnocchi with tomato and creamy
mozzarella. Indeed, chili seems a leitmotif in his cooking,
suggesting Abruzzese traditions, and it shows up again in tagliatelle with clams, garlic, and
briny bottarga (below). Fat tortelli are packed
with rabbit, pistachio and sage, while risotto is abundant with shrimp,
lemon zest and a bath of white wine. Although I could do without the
dill in his tagliolini with
sweet Cornish crab, it's a lovely
dish. Each pasta may be had as a first or second course portion.
If you crave beef, Tempo has a big thick Scottish
for two, cooked rare and served with its bone marrow, potatoes, and
There is also roasted lamb with borlotti
beans, tomato, parsley, and
the important addition of just a little anchovy to bring the dish into
savory focus. When I visited grouse was still on the menu, cooked pink,
not bloody, and accompanied by polenta,
red wine. And if you feel like seafood, the stufato
stew of prawns, mussels, pollock, and clams is definitive in its class.
A side of zucchine fritte is recommended
Italian desserts have for some time now been getting
more and more interesting in London, and Tempo's are some of the best,
including a sweet-sour lemon tart; mascarpone with peach and elderberry
jelly; and a pannacotta with
sweet poached fig.
So Tempo adds to Mayfair another fine restaurant
like Cecconi and nearby Locanda Locatelli in Marylebone. Tempo,
however, is far friendlier, less pretentious, more casual, and wholly
unlike Mr. Togna's favorite Italian restaurant, The River Café.
The always impeccably dressed host has even removed his necktie at
Tempo, seems to know everyone, and is
absolutely delighted you've chosen to dine with him. In London,
the personality of the greeting is key to success, and when you have
the owner there every day, you know you'll be well taken care of.
Tempo is open for
lunch, Mon.-Sat., for dinner Mon.-Sat.Cicchetti and antipasti run
£2.25-£14.50, pastas (as main courses)
£12.50-£17.50, and main courses £17.50-£28.50.
A discretionary 12.5% service charge is added to the bill, with VAT
Hyde Park Corner
020 7259 5599
London has no more opulent hotel
Lanesborough, premises that were, since 1733, formerly St. George's
Hospital, though the
structure dates to 1825, designed by William Wilkins, who also did the
for the National Gallery. Keeping to that master's model, the current
St. Régis Hotels & Resorts, hired the Royal Fine
Arts Commission, the Georgian Society, the Victorian Society and
Heritage to supervise the change-over into a hotel, which opened in
1991 as a Rosewood porperty, passing to
Starwood's St Regis operation
veal cured in
yogurt, whose acids break
down the fibers and whose creaminess makes it velvety, served with a
puree; or turbot packed
in a salt crust that is cracked open, releasing its steam and aromas,
served with a roasted pepper and potato
Bathrooms are paneled with Carrara marble, floors
are parquet, all
suites (there are 43) are done in polished wood, silks and satins, with
and sofas you sink into
deeply, and superb artwork throughout. The suites (below) have 24-hour
butler service and all the modern amenities, including free use of
personal business cards and stationery printed on arrival, and for
stay in the Royal Suite, the
the chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Phantom. Reportedly, Madonna, Mariah Carey,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Pamela Anderson have taken such
Service throughout the Lanesborough is British
in the most attentive way, save at our breakfast when the dining room
seemed out of touch and unable to bring coffee and croissants to our
table in under 15 minutes. Menus were soiled and unappealing.
Italian restaurant Apsleys--A Heinz Beck Restaurant is anything but a "trat" and replaces a far
French restaurant in this large, two-level space, designed by
Adam Tihany in soft colors of gray and taupe, with wine red accents,
and a striking mural collage (above)
who describes it as "A Greek
painting capturing the passion between Zeus, the king of the ancient
gods, and his wife Hera." They
to be enjoying
The convivial conversation level in the room is
perfect, without the intrusions of noise that even in London is
becoming a problem.
The Lanesborough's decision to go from French to
Italian cuisine indicates just how strong the Italian drift is in
London's gastronomy right now, and to get well beyond the
trattoria style, they've brought in a powerful consulting cannon from
Rome, Chief Heinz
Beck (below), of La
Pergola in the Cavalieri Hilton, where he forged a
highly creative style of cucina
italiana and won himself three Michelin stars in the process.
Thus far, Apsleys has garnered one star.
When my wife and I visited, the menu was still
in its summer mode, but all Beck
does reflects the finest of the season and aims to
lighten tradition Italian cookery by mostly eliminating butter, flour
and cream--ingredients not used that much anyway outside of
Emilia-Romagna. He has also announced that his cuisine "is designed
that the body’s insulin levels stay within recommended levels rather
adding excess sugars and carbohydrates, which create harmful peaks and
troughs. For example,
when meat is grilled at a very high temperature,
even for a short period of time, the glucose and proteins merge to form
proteins which slow blood flow and age organs and cells, something I
avoid.” I arch an
eyebrow at that, since I haven't heard of late of many Italians keeling
after eating bistecca alla fiorentina.
Whatever. Beck's food is superb, often exquisite,
executed with great finesse by Executive Chef Massimiliano Blasone.
Some of the London media have been, as usual, a tad snarky about
Apsleys simply because it is rather fancy, and they don't like fancy
when it comes to Italian cuisine. But anyone who believes modern cucina italiana is on a
par with the best cuisines anywhere will find its new standard at
Apsleys, starting with the tuna tartare with herbal
infusion and green tea sorbet and the wild red sea
bream carpaccio with exotic fruit vinaigrette (below) and the Wild
red sea bream carpaccio with exotic fruit vinaigrette.
The preparation of all dishes here takes
when they seem simple, like the ricotta-filled tortellini with tender, sweet
fava beans. A cannolo (that's
one cannoli!) is plumped with
and black olives, while filet of sole is the essence of freshness,
a little tomato and basil. The traditional children's dish, pappa al pomodoro, has here grown
up aside a filet of beef and avocado, while ravioli is filled with
rabbit and pistachios. Almonds add texture to tagliolini with morsels
Desserts show the same
concentration of detail,
as in the apple and chocolate-hazelnut gianduja, and the ricotta
soufflé with passion fruit and chocolate.
Apsleys wine list is huge, with plenty
of bottlings left over from the days when it was French dominated, so
there are dozens of Champagnes. Prices can reach the stratosphere, but
the Italian labels there is an admirable number priced £30 and
Apsleys' and Beck's contributions
announce that Italian cuisine is ready for star billing in
London, and that star shines very brightly indeed.
pastas £15.50-£55, main courses £29-£38. Seven
£79, with accompanying wines £119.
Westbury Mayfair Hotel
Bond Street (at Conduit)
0208 382 5450
open in the West End since before the war--with extensive 1999
renovations by Cola Holdings. In that time the
hotel has played host to everyone from Mikhail
Navratilova. With 246 rooms, 20 of them suites, the place has an
intimacy within the quiet of Mayfair, not unlike having an apartment in
than staying in a transient hotel room.
The Artisan dining room serves
breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and its Polo Bar draws a sophisticated
group of Europeans and well-dressed Londoners for cocktails. The
week I visited, the hotel had just opened Tsukiji Sushi, a small,
restaurant to the right of the entrance, where Chef Show Choong
oversees a staff dedicated to sushi and sashimi and an array of modern
grilled and cooked dishes. With just 20 seats, it is a good bet for
lunch or a pre-theater dinner, and the service, by darling waitresses,
moves at a genteel pace.
Tsukiji Sushi breaks no new ground
but what it does is very, very good, so you might begin with a seared
sashimi salad or a tatar cucumber roll with yuzu soy, and there is a
choice of misos--jalapeño
miso, and red miso, as well as yuzu
jelly and parmesan crisp. There are several grilled items
and vegetarian too.
But the meat of the matter is in the raw fish,
and Tsukiji's small size makes good the promise of unstinting
freshness. Huge sushi restaurants can be problematic, even if their
turn-over is high; smaller places need to buy fresh everyday and use
only what they think they can sell.
So here you are guaranteed excellent fatty o-toro tuna, mackerel, sweet
shrimp, King prawn, and sea urchin. The cooked items include cuttlefish
and eel, razor clams and there is the sweet omelet called tomago. The sushi rolls are
substantial, in fact very generous, including a California roll of snow
crab and avocado, and eel and cucumber, crispy softshell crab, even an
unexpected foie gras roll.
Tsukiji, named after the vast Tokyo fish market, is
a tidy spot to go to when hunger seizes you, when a quick lunch is in
the cards, or when you want to splurge with friends and eat like
Set lunch from
£19.50; sushi from £18.50.
some of the
original appointments from
Richard D’Oyly Carte, producer of the operettas
of Gilbert and Sullivan. Its Blue Bar has been a
swank watering hole for more than a
The space that now houses
Koffmann's was earlier Jean-George Vongerichten's Vong, and the
Koffmann in question is the master chef Pierre Koffmann, whose
reputation among London's chefs is near idolatry. Having closed the
beloved La Tante Claire in 2004, Koffmann has returned to oversee
his finest, and certainly most modern, restaurant yet.
You enter at the top of a
broad staircase that may remind you of entering a
well-heeled gentleman's new flat, especially given the lighted
bookcase--with Koffmann's favorite cookbooks--on your left. The colors
are of the earth, the lighting inviting, the leather chairs
and banquettes exceptionally comfortable, and the noise level
refreshingly convivial rather than loud. Photos by Jean Cazals of
food are hung on the walls, and the kitchen is open to view.
Kudos to Koffmann and sommelier Mark Botes for
assembling an international wine list of 160
labels, French heavy, with reasonable prices, starting at £19
by the glass from £6. And my applause goes to manager Eric
deft handling of an international crowd.
with squid ink, braised pig’s trotter with morels, and
pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream. New to his menu are
a light, crab salad with celeriac and apple, and a wintry pithivier of puff pastry filled
with game and laced with a thyme sauce. I've come to prefer terrines of
foie gras to fresh livers, and Koffmann does one of the best--creamy,
subtle in flavor, served with its own crisp baguette.
There are two dishes prepared for two,
Scottish rib of beef cooked on the bone and a roast chicken
stuffed with bread and garlic, neither of which I tried on my visit but
both that I am eager to have next time. The
If you've never had that pistachio souffle, by all
means do, but there's also a marvelous quince tarte Tatin and good old-fashioned
floating island, too.
Koffmann's menu is written in delightful
shorthand--no flourishes of six ingredients or rapturous culinary
verbs--proving yet again that the pleasure to be found in fine cuisine
not in its flourishes but in its consistent excellence, year after
year, so that returning to such a restaurant is always preceded by a
well-considered and mighty appetite for favorite dishes.
Koffmann's is open
lunch and dinner daily. Starters
Mains £18-£36; Set lunch menu at
£18 for two course, £22.50 for three; Sunday set
lunch menu three courses £26. A 12.5% service charge is added to
NEXT WEEK: TRADITIONAL
DINING ROOMS IN LONDON
NEW YORK CORNER
by Christopher Mariani
Pitza and Grill
208 1st Avenue (near 12th
that’s not to
say it is
always good, especially in restaurants where authenticity is often
an owner’s attempt to appear trendy and modish. Balade,
1st Avenue in the
Village, is definitely not one of these restaurants.
Chef and owner, Roland Semaan, has created a bona fide
Lebanese restaurant with innovative dishes and creative interpretations
conventional flavors, yet and thankfully still making use of
daily from 11:30am-11:00pm. Starters $5-$16 and entrees range from
entering Balade, there is a small bar off to the right, and straight
dimly lit dining room seating no more than 50 guests, filled with dark
tables, charming lanterns that hang from the ceiling beams and brick
walls decorated with Lebanese murals. My
playing an Arabic stringed instrument called an oud,
Thursdays. The staff is extremely
friendly and accommodating, making
welcome. Balade offers an
interesting selection of Middle Eastern beer and wine, many served by
glass, so do a bit of tasting.
dinner menu is very large, offering an array of choices for such a
small restaurant. The dishes are
packed with Lebanese spices, copped raw onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Chef Semaan also adds wonderful
textures to his dishes, an attribute just as important as flavor and
perfect start to the evening, sided by an Almaza
beer, is the baba ghanouj,
chargrilled eggplant pureed with tahini,
fresh lime juice and sumac (right).
with toum is also a must, a creamed cheese made with
Greek yogurt, mixed
with mushrooms, thyme and garlic. The meat appetizers were the
highlight of my
meal, exciting combinations of flavors, and a balance of heat and
subtle, and happily so.
When I go
back to Balade, I will surely order again the sabousik,
soujouk beef sausages,
slightly spicy, mixed with diced tomatoes and flambeed in olive oil. The main courses are generous in size
and include platters of beef krafta,
shish kabob, chicken tawook, all
juicy and sided by pureed garlic and homemade hot sauces.
Chef Semaan also does an excellent
Lebanese pizza, topped with seasoned ground beef, diced onion and
perfect for a mid-course, and a steal at only $12.
Like the entire menu, the desserts are faithful to
cuisine, including the henafa, a
baked ricotta cheese topped with bread crumbs, syrup and pistachio nuts.
Balade’s prices are a bargain for what you get,
service, delicious food, and the true feeling of what more ethnic
should strive to be.
MAN ABOUT TOWN
was in Fort Lauderdale checking out the brand new Allure of the Seas
cruise ship during a two-day preview sail, just days before the
sail. Driving up to the dock,
first impression of the ship was something like, “My God! This ship is
mammoth!” I had seen
pictures of the ship before my arrival, but nothing could have prepared
the ship’s colossal size.
its kind, grand in every sense of the word, filled with a
shopping mall, an actual boardwalk with rides, 26 dining options,
bars, miniature golf course courses, multiple pools, and a section of
that mirrors Central Park, with trees. From
the water as unique in design.
Now, considering I
only had two days to experience the entire ship, I knew I was in for a
long weekend. I began with lunch at Park Cafe, a charming restaurant
offering outdoor dining where one can sit and enjoy tasty panini while also
taking in the openness of the park. I
opted for the “Cubano” sandwich, a warm melt of ham and
cheese topped by sliced pickles and a hot mustard sauce.
I also ate two (small) Key lime pies, easily
the best dessert onboard the ship. Next it was
off to the pool to soak up some rays and relax
cocktail in hand in the adult section.
The pool set-up is pleasant,
sectioned off by standing hot tubs and filled with comfortable lounge
that are generously staggered. In
the midst of my unwinding, I caught a glimpse of the film crew shooting
Sandler’s new movie, not a clue what it was, but at least I got to see
sometimes-amusing Adam Sandler. One of
the best attributes of the ship is its service staff, especially by the
pool. Without their being intrusive, the
arch of an
eyebrow immediately catches the attention of a friendly staff member,
serving me just one round of drinks, knew exactly what to bring me.
evening, after a little pre-dinner gambling at the blackjack table, I
the Main Dining room, an impressive room with high ceilings and a very
décor. The food was a bit
lackluster, owing mainly to the food quality, but the actual
showed potential. After a
nice enough meal and wonderful company, it was off to experience the
ship’s enticing nightlife. My first
stop was to Boleros (below), a
Latin-themed nightclub with a live band that had many of the guests
loose and attempting to salsa, entertaining to say the least. The club is blanketed with shades of red and orange,
and focused around the bar, lighted by yellow flames that shoot from
the ceiling. The vibe was hot and the drinks plentiful. Although I didn’t
particularly want to leave, I only had two nights onboard, so it was
off to the Rising Tide, a
bar that moves slowly up and down between decks 5 and
8, offering a unique experience that awed everyone.
After one ride up and down, I had got my floating
fix, and it was off to Dazzles,
stayed at Dazzles for the remainder
of the night and left after the dancing and drinks finally caught up to
me. Many would head back to the room at
this late hour, but I had unfinished business at the blackjack table,
and so I
walked, barrel-chested and full of confidence to reclaim what was once
mine. The results of this vodka-induced
decision did not exactly end well, but at least I put up a fight.
The following morning
I shook out the cobwebs at the Vitality
fitness center, sweating out
some of my sins. I must say, the gym was
than I had expected, filled with tons free weights, brand new machines,
and a sea
of treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals. After my intense
workout and a quick shower, I
headed to the Windjammer
Marketplace for a delightful breakfast buffet, pretty
much negating everything I had accomplished in the gym earlier that
morning. The restaurant sits on the top deck and
offers a an extended view of the ocean no matter where you may sit. Coffee,
I was back at the pool evening out my
After a few hours of
sun and a few Heinekens, hunger beckoned, so I walked over to the
where I fought for a table at Rita’s
Cantina, one of the ship’s specialty
restaurants, only a $7.95 additional charge on top of the all-inclusive
cruise price. With a little help from a
newly acquired friend who worked
her good looks to get us a table, we finally sat down and ordered some
margaritas and a few Mexican appetizers to begin our feast. Rita's sits right at the end of the ship's Boardwalk
and is decorated in a Mexican theme, filled with many colors. The
showed no concern for toning down the heat and spice for the ship’s
beef and chicken fajitas were topped with chopped onions and peppers,
bean soup was as good as I've come to expect in Mexico, and
the deep-fried beef chimichanga was hearty and well
the calories. Although we had insisted
dessert would be just too much, our friendly server surprised us with a
chocolate and banana crêpe.
That evening, I dined
at my favorite restaurant on board, the Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse. The interior is elegant,
surrounded by glass walls, and the tables all focus around an appetizer
of seafood, very traditional to an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse. The meats came on skewers--lamb and beef,
both well-fatted and full of flavor, juicy chicken breasts wrapped in
bacon, pork belly, and much more. After
two rounds of meats, we finally clicked the table
light from green
to red, signaling we'd had enough. There
is a small surcharge of $25 at Samba Grill, well
The end of dinner
marked the beginning of my final night onboard, and I was determined to
up and party through the night. I
started at Boleros again, around 11 pm, then found my way down to Blaze around midnight.
hopping until around 1 am, so stay at Boleros a little longer than I
did. After a night full of dancing and
drinks, I presumed my night was coming to an end, until I was suddenly
up to deck 15 by a gorgeous girl who insisted we continue to
party at Club 20;
I agreed. The club was
gigantic, filled with a sea of young guests, a square bar staffed by
bartenders, and a DJ that had everyone going wild.
It was around the time that the sky was a faint baby blue
that I decided it was time to turn in, knowing I had to be off the ship
a few hours.
The following morning
I walked off the ship and was left with nothing but fun memories. For those who have some time to kill in
Fort Lauderdale before their flight, like I did, go to the Southport Raw Bar on
Cordova Road, a wonderful
little seafood joint that sits right on the water and allows for
seating where one can order fried shrimp, a pitcher of beer and watch
come in and out of the dock.
As I witnessed on the Norwegian Epic months prior, and
now on the Allure of the Seas,
ships are taking a much different
approach to dining than they did years ago, offering an array of
diverse dining venues, most of which are pretty good. It's safe
to say that one will eat well when onboard the Allure of the Seas, especially when
dining at one of the speciality restaurants.
Mariani send an email to email@example.com
IRISH WHISKEY CAN KEEP WINTER COLD AT
by John Mariani
only time people should think of
Irish whiskey (and then it's usually poured into Irish coffee), and it
seems to me the more wintry it becomes, the idea of a tot of Oy-rish is
a capital idea, not least with a good figgy pudding at the end of the
holiday meal. With so
many refined examples of Irish whiskey now available, it seems a shame
not to drink them year-round.
themselves consume about 6
million bottles, with France the next largest consumer.
“Irish” is a grain whiskey, mostly
blended, though there are also Single Malt, Single Grain, and Pure Pot
styles. Unlike Scotch, Irish does not use peat in its malting process
Peated Malt is the exception), so there is less smokiness in the bottle.
In the late
more than 150 distilleries turned out more than 400 different brands of
but the industry was crippled by the onset of Prohibition in the U.S. The spirit’s slow growth after World War
II had as much to do with ethnic snobbery as it did with weak grain
and lack of marketing money. The whiskey had a niche market among
while Americans drank other “brown goods” like bourbon, rum, rye,
Scotch. A big
boost came with the popularity
of Irish coffee--unknown in Ireland or anywhere else until 1942 when
created at the bar at Foynes Dock, where the flying boats (below) docked during World
War II, then promoted as a welcoming drink at Shannon Airport. In 1952
newsman Stan Delaplane introduced the beverage at San Francisco’s Buena
Bar, where it became famous. A plaque outside the bar tells the story.
Irish is made in just
three distilleries—Midleton (owned by Pernod-Ricard) in Cork, Bushmills
Antrim, and Cooley in Louth (the only one Irish owned). Consolidation
money and marketing clout to the global market, so that there are now
a dozen Irish whiskies widely available in the U.S., with prestigious
labels costing upwards of $200. Yet
the average price for a bottle of Irish is still below $25, making them
is the dominant brand in
the market, producing at least seven different whiskies. Its standard
Label” ($18-$20), is a fine introduction to Irish (Czar Peter the Great
the best spirit in Europe.) Its Black Bush ($25-$30), aged in old
sherry casks, has
been a big hit in the U.S., with a more pronounced maltiness and a near
Sherry-like, soft finish. Their
10-Year-Old Single Malt ($38-42) competes with the Scotch Single Malts.
100% malted barley, distilled three times, and matured in bourbon
at least 10 years, this has a lively smokiness in the bouquet, with
level of complex spices and fruit, finishing like velvet on the back of
throat. Bushmills also makes a 12-, 16-, 21- and 25- year old.
with 2 million cases sold in 2006. I find its basic label
quite as rich as Bushmills'; I prefer the 12-Year-Old ($35-$45), which
nutty, woody flavors, and a pleasant undertone of sweetness.
& Sons ($19-$21) begins
dry, almost severely, but mellows on the palate and takes on nice
notes, then comes up again with the right heat in the finish, though I
somewhat medicinal flavor in there too. Though the same 40 proof as
it has a powerful kick.
(big hill) and the letters of general manager
Daniel. E. Dew’s
name. The company motto is “Give every man his Dew.”
They make a good basic label ($19-$23) and a 12-Year-Old
while its Heritage ($30), blended from 20 casks laid down in 2000 to
commemorate the company’s Heritage Centre opening, is a fine mix of
citrus notes, and vanilla from wood aging. It comes only in 70
bottles, available at duty free shops.
is named after the beloved
Irish political leader, known as the “Big Fellow” (Liam Neeson played
him in a
1996 biopic). According to the back of the slender, pleated bottle,
spirit lives on in Michael Collins Whiskeys,” which, I suppose, has
marketing persuasion than a whiskey named after general manager. The
($22-$25) goes through a small copper still whose long neck delays the
the spirit, making it more refined, spending a minimum of 8-12 years in
bourbon barrels. The first sip has a real bite at the start, then a
elegant sweetness and maltiness on the palate, fading slowly without
Then there’s lovable Paddy Old
Whiskey ($28-$30), named, inauspiciously, after a company sales rep. It’s pleasant enough and mild, if lacking
in finesse, and is indeed ideal for Irish coffee.
Iowa, authorities say had to
clean up after a tipped-over semi-trailer spilled 52 pallets of Jell-O
and pudding cups across a county road. The
driver, Eric Young of Charleston, S.C., wasn't able
to make a turn and went into a ditch, suffering minor injuries.
FOOD WRITING 101: ALL
YOU NEED IS LOVE
(and maybe a
few Jell-O shots)
"I'm starting to
starting to love this place. . . . I love
a couple of other dishes,
particularly an arugula salad with slices of roasted golden beets, dabs
local Latte Da Dairy goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts. . . . . I love the tableside filleting of the
Dover sole."--Leslie Brenner, "The Oceanaire Room," Dallas Morning News.
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,
OWING TO THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR'S-RELATED
SUBMITTED TO THE VIRTUAL GOURMET, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO INCLUDE ANY BUT
THE MOST EXTRAORDORDINARY.
* From Jan.
9-Feb. 3, 2011, The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park, CA,
kitchen tours and meet the chef receptions, with a 5-course finale
the guest chef and Ahwahnee Executive Chef Percy Whatley in the Dining
Room. A few of this season’s incl. Chef Michael Tusk of Quince in
Francisco; Chef Andrew Kirschner of Wilshire in Los Angeles; Chef
of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ; Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los
and Chef Douglas Keane of Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA. Two- and three-night packages start
$695 for 2 people. Call 801-559-4903
or visit www.yosemitepark.com/chefs.
* On Jan. 13, at Restaurant Daniel
in NYC, Rajat Parr, Wine
Director for San Francisco chef
Michael Mina, shares the stories and wines that shaped his journey to
one of the country's great sommeliers. Each of the evenings features
courses by Chef Daniel Boulud paired with two world class selections by
Rajat. $305 pp. Click
reserve. . . . On Jan. 25 Maria
Jose Lopez de Heredia, owner and wine maker at her l
family estate in Haro, Spain, joins us to co-host an evening with
wines of Rioja. Each of the dinners five courses prepared
Bruel, paired with two
selections. $635 pp. Click
Sun is offering a “Get
Lucky” package features an overnight stay for two complete with a
intimacy kit, dinner and drinks for two at Lucky’s Lounge and a
free bet voucher. $96 pp. Call
or visit mohegansun.com/special-packages
* From Jan.
City Restaurant Week is back in 2011, providing foodies
opportunities to sample different menus across the Kansas City area.
annual epicurean event will take place January 21 – 30. Ten percent of
Restaurant Week menu purchased during the ten days will once again be
to Harvesters. Visit http://pitch.pe/108285.
FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up
with four excellent travel sites:
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
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
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.
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:PARK CITY, UTAH; LETTER FROM
The Family Travel
Forum - A community for those who
"Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family vacations more fun,
less work and better value. FTF's travel and parenting features,
reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions,
weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas
the first port of call for family vacation planners. http://www.familytravelforum.com/index.html
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: Christopher
Mariani, Robert Mariani,
John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort
Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and
Brian Freedman. Contributing
Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical
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