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April 24, 2011                                                                                               NEWSLETTER

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"Christ at Emmaus" (1601)  by Caravaggio

This Week

Las Vegas Ups the Ante, Part Two
by Christopher Mariani

New York Corner: David Burke Kitchen
  by John Mariani

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.
America's Best Restaurants More than 100 Years Old


Las Vegas Ups the Ante, Part Two
by Christopher Mariani

Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort of Las Vegas

     Las Vegas continues to impress and better its image as one of America’s top food cities with entries like master chef José  Andrés’ China Poblano, located inside the extravagant, new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. I dined at China Poblano twice over the hotel and casino’s grand opening weekend and was initially surprised to see the marriage of Mexican and Chinese cuisine. I thought to myself, is it possible these two distinctive cuisines can amiably coincide with one another? On my first visit, after a cold Tecate beer, a freshly made bowl of spicy guacamole and a plate of delicious, steaming hot Chinese barbeque pork dim sum, my answer was quickly answered. Oh, yes!
       Andrés has already made his mark as one of the world’s finest chefs, introducing America to Spain’s tapas-style dining experience, along with blanketing Washington D.C. with innovative, long-standing restaurants, including Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel and Café Atlantico, and opening the excellent Bazaar in Los Angeles.  Here in Sin City, Andrés has come up with an original concept to bring together the tastes and ingredients of China and Mexico. Some dishes literally showcase flavors and concepts from both fares, like the "
Viva China taco," filled with soft beef tendon, Kumamoto oyster, and scallions, all drizzled with a Sichuan peppercorn sauce, whereas most other dishes on the menu are purely Chinese or Mexican-influenced.
         The restaurant is a riot of color and full of energy. You begin your experience by walking up to the hostess stand, located right in front of the entrance, decorated by neon red and green signs that glow “Chinese Food Open” and “Mexican Food Open,” where two young beautiful girls wearing black dresses happily walk you to your table. Off to the left sits a small, colorful dim sum bar where guests sit on high stools, and straight ahead, the main dining room, lavishly garnished with Chinese and Mexican murals, bright red lights, bicycle rims hanging from the ceiling and many unique sculptures, some free standing, others popping right out of the walls. The servers are well-versed and have obviously tasted a large majority of the menu items, an important practice many restaurants tend to miss. The ambiance is casual and so is the attire. Music plays softly in the background as tables quickly become hidden underneath plates of tasty tacos (two per order) and bowls of noodles and soups.
         From the dim sum section, all great for sharing, order the lamb potstickers or the north-meets-south jiaozi, filled with tender pork, crunchy water chestnuts, dried shrimp and fresh peanuts. Also try the “when pigs fly” appetizer, shredded Chinese barbeque pork served inside thick, steamed dim sum buns. The "unruly monk" is a spicy noodle dish filled with bok choy, wild wood ear mushrooms and a poached egg.
        Tacos trump all on the Mexican section of the menu and come filled with savory cuts of slow-cooked meats and/or fried white fish. Duck tongue and rambutan fruit are generously packed into the "silencio taco," while Yucatan-style pit barbeque pork and marinated onions load the "cochinita taco." My favorite is the pancita al pastor, a wonderful balance of sweet and salty, full of succulent pork belly and small cubes of ripe pineapple. Desserts include a
"tres lychees" cake (a play on the traditional tres leches cake), cajeta cheese flan made with goat’s milk and caramel, and a chocolate terra cotta surrounded by caramelized bananas and sesame seeds.
         Andrés also runs a second restaurant in the Cosmo named Jaleo, that offers a more serious and complex menu, yet I can easily say the food at China Poblano was far more satisfying. I must admit, my comparison of the two Andrés restaurants is a bit skewed, since the one night I dined at Jaleo, I only had the option to eat from a multiple course tasting menu, not the standard one. Yet, the food and flavor combinations at China Poblano clearly seemed to be the better of the two.

Open seven days a week. Dim sum range $9.88-$11.88, noodles and soup $8-$22, tacos $7-$16, and dishes $8-$16.88.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

     After a long night of carousing at the Cosmopolitan’s new club, Marquee, I woke up and headed down to rejuvenate at Holstein’s, a recommendation I received numerous times from almost every hotel employee I saw that morning. Maybe they knew I was out all night? Holstein’s is claimed to serve the best hangover meal in all of Vegas, so I walked over there immediately.
    I’m not sure if it was the juicy Longhorn burger topped with smoked beef brisket sided by a thick Oreo milk shake, or the sight of Holstein’s stunning, dark-haired cocktail waitresses wrapped in tight hot pink dresses, or even possibly that I was sitting just two tables over from Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin, lead singer of the alternative/rock band Coldplay, but I suddenly felt a lot better than I did just 20 minutes earlier.
    Holstein’s is another casual dining option within the grand Cosmo hotel and is one of the best in that class of restaurants. There is an openness, complemented by high-ceilings, spacious wooden tables, wrap-around leather banquettes and a main dining room that can easily seat upwards of 100 plus guests. There is also an enormous bar and lounge where you can eat the whole menu.

    Beyond the instant allure and enjoyable, lively atmosphere, Holstein’s does produce some terrific food, all of it pretty heavy but worth every sit-up to follow. For starters, the chicken wings are tossed in a spicy, buttery sauce and served with blue cheese dressing; crispy spring rolls are packed with thin slices of beef and cheese, a play on the traditional Philly cheese; truffled lobster "mac 'n cheese" comes with equal portions of hunks of lobster tail and macaroni in a rich, creamy sauce; and the famous “bull’s balls,” fried braised veal stuffed risotto rice balls placed in a bowl of tomato fondue and
lardo. Do be prepared to eat when dining at Holstein’s. This is not the type of place you order a salad.
    After “bull’s balls” and buffalo wings comes Holstein’s meaty selection of luscious burgers. Always in the mood for some good old-fashioned Texas fare, I order the longhorn burger topped with smoked beef brisket, a whiskey bbq sauce, and dill pickles. I also had a taste of my good friend Michael’s "rising sun burger," a thick Kobe beef patty smothered in a sweet teriyaki glaze, covered by nori furikake (a sesame, seaweed flakes and salt seasoning, usually sprinkled over rice), crispy yam, tempura avocado, and dressed with a spicy mayo. There is even a “duck, duck, goose burger" that stuffs duck confit and foie gras into a tall beef patty, surrounded by pickled Anjou pears, duck cracklings and a mustard-plum sauce. And what would a good burger be without a thick milkshake? There are 14 different options, one more abstract than the next. I stuck to a simple Oreo milk shake and couldn’t be happier, even though I was contemplating the strawberry cheesecake shake made with chunks of actual cheesecake, graham crumble and a touch of Absolut Vanilla.
    There are tons of funky cocktails, including a Bloody Mary with shrimp (the type of drinks I personally stay away from), and an impressive list of draft and bottled beers. The service is friendly and the food comes out quickly. A meal at Holstein’s may require an afternoon nap, but that could be a good thing considering the blackjack tables are open for gaming 24 hours a day, I’m often unlucky.

Open seven days a week. Appetizers range $6-$16 and burgers $13-$19.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

    Owners, chefs and brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg started their careers in Paris attending culinary school at the Cordon Bleu, followed by years of cooking at some of France’s best restaurants, then finally returning to the States to open their very own line of restaurants and eateries. After becoming a dominant presence in NYC, with six different locations, starting in SoHo with the original Blue Ribbon in 1992, and then opening a sushi bar on Sullivan Street in 1995, followed by a bakery, a market and even a street bar, the Blue Ribbon franchise has finally made its way out west to the energetic city of Las Vegas.
    Blue Ribbon is the Japanese dining venue inside the new Cosmopolitan hotel. As one of the hotel’s premiere restaurants, Blue Ribbon is a true Vegas restaurant, barrel-chested and brazen in spirit, commodious in design, filled with chic lounges and multiple dining rooms, and a carefully chosen oak wood décor found throughout every single inch of the space.
    I had the pleasure of dining with a few close friends inside one of Blue Ribbon’s private booths dressed with comfortable leather banquettes. After a quick glance at a lengthy menu, we decided to start with the Blue Ribbon Special platter ($200), described on the menu in great detail as  “very special,” and an order of cold and hot sake. There were no fireworks or folkloric eight-headed dragons on this platter, but there were beautiful cuts of fatty tuna laid on top of bed of warm, moist rice, meticulous slices of Japanese blue fin tuna, barracuda, eel, and rolls filled with shrimp tempura, yellowtail and wild mackerel. The fish was of the finest quality and artfully presented. Not one piece of sushi was left behind.
    The service was a bit stiff that evening yet extremely competent. The drink menu is endless and the sake selection is one of the best I’ve seen. Dedicate a good two hours when dining at Blue Ribbon and stick to the sushi, beef and lobster. Sharing everything, we proceeded to order the surf and turf platter, a 40 oz. bone-in rib steak and two-pound steamed lobster ($195). The ribeye was well-fatted, full of flavor and came straight from The Brandt Family in Brawley, California. The platters may appear steep in price, but when sharing with four or more guests the amount of food is well worth the cost. Dessert was skipped that night because we were beckoned by the Cosmo’s Chandelier Bar, so we finally headed out with our hunger tamed.

Open seven days a week. Appetizers range $7.50-$22, assorted roll combos $21-$76, sushi platters $35-$200, from the grill $27-$68 and steaks, chops and lobster range $28-$52.


by John Mariani

The James New York Hotel
23 Grand Street (at Sixth

    New York is the kind of city--maybe the only city--where you can be walking down a street you've been on many times before, even recently, and wham, out of nowhere a new building appears.  This was the eye-popping case while searching for David Burke's new restaurant on Grand Street in SoHo.  We're looking down the block, seeing nothing that vaguely resembles a hotel, and then there it was--the strikingly modern new James New York, whose patio and rooftop we soon discovered to have some of the most breathtaking views of the city, south, west, and east.  As twilight comes on, the colors change minute by minute, the skyscrapers take on deep colors, the sunset strikes the glass towers, and the shadows stretch quickly down the narrow streets of SoHo and TriBeCa.
    Oddly enough, while Burke handles the food and cocktails for those floors, his dining room and kitchen are subterranean.  Nevertheless, it's a very happy place, jammed from six-thirty on, discovered by the downtown crowd and the Wall Streeters, along with those who stay in the hotel itself.

     David Burke has for some time now been among New York's most highly regarded chefs, first distinguishing himself at River Café, then at Park Avenue Café, owned by the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group for which he became VP of Culinary Development. In 2003, Burke teamed  up (for a while) with Donatella Arpaia to open davidburke & donatella--now called David Burke Townhouse--then went on to open David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Burke in the Box and David Burke Prime at Foxwoods Resort & Casino,  David Burke’s Primehouse in The James Chicago Hotel,  Fromagerie in Rumson, NJ, David Burke Las Vegas, at Foxwoods Casino & Resort, and, last year,  Fishtail by David Burke in NYC.

    The interior of the newest link in his small empire has a staircase that leads up to the glass-enclosed Treehouse Bar on that patio, and, like so many new restos these days, signature cocktails rule.  The dining room, with 130-seats, is done up with denim banquettes, a reclaimed barn roof and a blackened steel bar top. The walls are hung with color photos of the restaurant’s "beloved purveyors" and smack in  the middle of it all is the carving station, where meats and fish are finished, including pressed duck from a gleaming duck press.  A skylight brightens and lightens everything.
    Burke's executive chef is Jedd Adair, whose rep is built on stints at Town, Corton, and Tocqueville in NYC,  La Broche in Madrid, Pied à Terre in Paris, Neal’s Yard Dairy in London and at Hervé Mons Fromager-Affineur. And he happily toes the Burke line for big, hearty, gutsy, rich, no-holds-barred, flat-out American fare, like the maple bacon and dates with peanut butter snacks or the terrific salmon pastrami with pretzel and mustard.
    In many ways David Burke Kitchen  seems a summation of the kinds of foods New Yorkers, and by extension Americans, really love to eat these days. So there is a delectable duck meatball lasagna with striped pasta and an egg plopped on top.  Creamy lobster soup has bobbing lobster dumplings and is laced with a coconut fennel creme and red watercress for color. (left).  "Ants on a log," which I think is a Burke signature dish uptown, is a big bone with abundant marrow topped with snails, parsley and plenty of garlic (below).  Over the top by a country mile is the plate of Camembert ravioli with lobster sausage and almond milk--just too, too much richness.
     For entrees go with the fabulous pressed head-on prawns on truly spicy spaghetti with zucchini and fresh basil--one of the best seafood pastas I've ever had--or the lamb cross bone--split--with lamb bacon, smoked barley and a red pepper vinaigrette, or for something straightforward, a superb dry-aged Prime ribeye with crispy potatoes and herbs.  We were lucky enough to visit on Tuesday, when the nightly special was a terrific buttermilk fried chicken that everyone at our table fought over.  Soy honey duck came way too rare to my liking; indeed, duck has much more flavor when it's cooked medium. This comes with a foie gras corn cake and black trumpet mushrooms. And if you must--and you must!--order a side of smoked beef fat-and-jalapeno fried potatoes, though make sure they are crisply cooked.
    At this point you might holler "Uncle!" after so much rich food, but if you still want dessert, the gianduja napoleon with hazelnut mousse, orange chocolate cream and ginger Rice Krispies or the cassis panna cotta with marinated berries and lemon anglaise are a tad lighter than the very heavy monkey bread (for two) with banana, pecan, caramel, and vanilla ice cream.
    The wine list fits snugly into this kind of cuisine, though it's top heavy in very high end wines, when it could use a lot more under $50.
   Burke's restaurant is a fine departure, both in design and menu, from the gastropub mania that has rolled through downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Nothing Burke ever does follows a trend.  His food is his and his alone, and when you're hungry, DBK is a place to fill that ache.

Breakfast,  daily; Lunch, Mon.- Fri.; Brunch, Sat. & Sun.; Dinner, nightly; Treehouse Bar, 5 pm - 1 am, daily; Late night menu, 11 pm-1 am, daily. Starters at dinner run $$10-$17, main courses $24-$45.




by Christopher Mariani


Aria Resort and Casino


    The Aria Hotel, located in Vegas’ booming City Center, is setting the stakes high with the presence of Julian Serrano’s Juliano Serrano, Shawn McClain’s Sage, Michael Mina’s American Fish and the Maccioni family’s Sirio Ristorante, run by Mario Maccioni and executive chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia. The Maccioni’s also operate Le Cirque and Osteria del Circo inside The Bellagio.
    The night I dined at Sirio, Mario was walking the dining room and even grabbed a quick bite with me at the café’s bar before his red-eye back to NYC. Mario lives and spends most of his time stationed in Vegas managing all three properties and flies back to NYC often to see his family and also to check in on the other Maccioni restaurants. He personally oversees Sirio, a rare quality in Vegas where quite often big name chefs or famous restaurateurs will be contracted to open in a major hotel but may never actually show face. The Maccionis have never stretched themselves too thin and have always had full control of anything with their named attached to. Their restaurants have all showcased a consistent element of class, sophistication and most of all authentic cucina all'italiana with a Tuscan touch. (The family hails from Montecatini.)
         Sirio has a long rectangular bar that separates a casual café for guests passing by for a quick bite and an elegant dining room that serves  a more formal,  traditional Italian menu and dining experience. The main room focuses on a giant wine rack seen through a broad glass casement  and a circular glassware shelf placed in the middle of the space, centered by a magnificent display of flowers. There are crisp lines and a graceful stature throughout the entire restaurant, with deep, rich colors, and very comfortable chairs.
         Executive chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia (left) began his cooking career in Italy before coming to Vegas in 1999 to help with the opening of Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino. Six years later he ventured over to the Wynn as an assistant chef at Bartolotta, followed by a partnership at Cortina in Reno, NV,  before finally getting scooped up by the Maccionis. As executive chef of Circo, Scarmiglia was then asked in December of 2010 to relocate down the street to Sirio, where he seems to be comfortably in place, finding an immediate groove and style all his own, which he showed off to me in an extensive tasting menu.
         Smoked swordfish carpaccio comes served with a drizzle of lemon olive oil, tangy citrus segments and Italian osietra caviar while seared
foie gras is dressed with caramelized kumquats, demi-glace and toasted Marcona almonds. Scarmiglia’s pastas are a true reflection of his time spent in Italy. Handmade square spaghetti is topped with white prawns, in the shell, sweet peas and a delicate pink sauce. Black truffles are piled high on a plate of al dente risotto mixed with well-aged parmigiano cheese. The main courses include a simple veal ossobucco sided by a saffron risotto; a juicy rack of Colorado lamb dusted with a pistachio crust; and pan-seared Mediterranean sea bass and langoustino, served only when in season. Scarmiglia’s entrees focus solely on the quality of the meat or fish he finds in Las Vegas's increasingly impressive market offerings. The seasoning is always subtle and serves only to enhance the dish, never overpowering the main flavor. Desserts include a light zabaglione al moscato and berries.
         The wine list weighs heavily on Italian wines with terrific labels from Piemonte and Campania. The service is of the highest caliber, found in all the Maccioni’s restaurants, an attribute Sirio Maccioni set forth over 40 years ago when he opened the original Le Cirque in NYC.


            To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to

To read Part One of this article, click here.





by Brian Freedman        

With all due respect to the people at Riedel, I really didn’t need a better glass. In fact, I didn’t need a glass at all for the best food-and-wine pairing I experienced this past week. And while I’m not quite sure how the folks at Bollinger Champagne would react either, the house’s rosé, enjoyed from a thick ceramic mug more suited to tea than anything else, sang beautifully alongside Shanghai-style soup dumplings at Philadelphia’s Dim Sum Garden (59 N 11th Street; 215-627-0218).
With every sip of bubbly and slurp of soup-filled dumpling, the age-old truth about food and wine matching was brought to life: Most people obsess over it way too much, and in doing so, in focusing just on the so-called classic matches, they end up missing out on the sort of serendipity that can result when you let loose a bit and try something new and unexpected.
The main issue here is the perception that has dogged Champagne since Dom Pérignon first “discovered” it (which we all know he didn’t, but it’s a nice story nonetheless): that it’s best suited to celebrations and cocktail hours, Grammy Award victories and sports championships, and should be considered wholly separate from the kind of wines we typically pair with food.

    Of course, that’s wrong.  Fans of this miraculously versatile juice know that the truth is actually found on the other side of that coin: Champagne, more than perhaps any other wine aside from German riesling, is among the most food-friendly in the world, and pairs well with a wider range of dishes than almost anything else you can buy.

         Which brings us back to this particular pairing.  Everything about this match is logical, except, perhaps, the high-low perception of it. Pork and pinot are reliably accommodating bedfellows. And Champagne and dense, rich, or fatty dishes work wonders alongside one another. Really then, there’s no reason that, in theory at least, this combination wouldn’t be a winner.  And, in fact, it was--with gusto. But what surprised me most was not the benefit the Champagne brought to the food but, rather, the many ways in which the food changed the Champagne.
         Alongside the traditional steamed soup dumplings (right) the Champagne took on a fruitier personality, its cherry and farmers’ market strawberry flavors coming to the fore. Next to the pan-fried dumplings, their skin thicker and more glutinous, their bottoms crisped-up and nutty, the wine showed a more masculine character, its bass notes of yeast and pie crust amplified.
         As for the wine’s impact, it worked equally well with both styles of soup dumpling, the bubbles slicing through the richness of the broth, the pinot in the blend making quick work of the pork, the minerality of the wine cleansing everything away before the next bite.
         Of course, a Champagne as detailed and complex as the Bollinger Rosé is infinitely better when tasted from the proper stemware. And personally, I love my Riedel flutes and white wine glasses for just that purpose. But in this particular instance, in this specific role as partner for the excellent Shanghai soup dumplings at the Garden--Greyhound station just outside, Chinese-language music videos on the TV inside--it was perfect from a tea mug in the middle of a Monday afternoon.                                                                                               Photo by Ryan Strand, Philadelphia Weekly
         Sometimes, the best pairings are the ones you least expect. And typically, they’re that much more exciting for sneaking up on you.

Brian Freedman is a food, wine, and travel writer, wine consultant, and speaker. He writes the blog for Wine Chateau, is  restaurant critic for Philadelphia Weekly, South Jersey Magazine, and Suburban Life Magazine, wine columnist for Affluent Magazine, and contributes to a number of other publications, including Philadelphia Style Magazine. This article original appeared in Food Republic.



Scientists from several German university psychiatric departments and primary-care centers reported  that daily consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of dementia by nearly 30 percent compared to nondrinkers, and that the risk is another 30 percent lower for people who drink between one or two servings per day.  Also, the beneficial effects of alcohol increased markedly in those who drank wine.

"You're under arrest for stinkin' up the place."

The site lists a ridiculous laws they claim to be (or have been) on the books, including:  It is supposedly illegal in Lee County, Alabama,  to sell peanuts after sundown on Wednesdays. In California, it is illegal to bring a fish into a bar. In Georgia, you cannot carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket on Sunday. In Chicago you cannot eat in a place that is on fire. According to Connecticut law,  a pickle must bounce to be considered a pickle.


Quick Bytes

Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public. 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

Plein Sud
On April 25- May 1 in New York, NY, Plein Sud will offer a 3-course menu created by Executive Chef, Ed Cotton in celebration of the Tribeca eatery’s one-year anniversary. Dishes inspired from the South of France. $26 pp. Call 212-204-5555 or visit
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar
On April 25 - 28 in Bellevue, WA, Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar presents Seastar Washington WIne Week. Each evening wines will be poured by the glass by the artisans who crafted them, offering guests a rare opportunity for conversation with the winemaker or a top winery representative.  April 25th-Va Piano and winemaker Justin Wiley; 26th-Hestia and GM Cole Sisson; 27th-Quilceda Creek and GM John SMith; 28th-Long Shadows and company president Dane Narbaitz.  Call 425-456-0010
Cecconi's at Soho Beach House
On April 25 – 29, Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House in Miami Beach, FL will highlight menu items to be presented at the James Beard House dinner April 30.  Chef Sergio Sigala will offer favorites including Ahi Tuna Tartare with Lemon, Chile, and Mint and Roasted Branzino with Clams, Tomato, and Taggiasca Olives.  For reservations at Cecconi’s Miami Beach call 786-507-7902.  Guests can buy tickets for the Beard House dinner by visiting the website
Gemini Bistro
On April 27, Gemini Bistro in Chicago, IL will host a Boisset Family Estates wine dinner. Dan Kehoe of Boisset will present the portfolio of wines and Executive Chef Jason Paskewitz will pair a five course menu. $95pp. Call 773-525-2522 or
Morgan’s in the desert
On May 6 in Palm Springs, CA, La Quinta Resort & Club’s signature restaurant Morgan’s in the desert will host the Chappellet Winery Dinner – a winery perched 1,200 feet above the Napa Valley floor with a winemaking program focused on extraordinary age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon. Price is $95pp Call 760-564-7600 or visit
Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto
On April 28 in Berkeley, CA, Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto will honor National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day by offering a free lunch to all children. Call 510-845-777 or visit 
Tattered Cover on Colfax
On May 31 at Tattered Cover on Colfax in Denver, CO, Melissa Coleman will read from This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone, a memoir that takes place during the early days of the natural living and organic food movements. Tattered Cover 303-322-7727, or visit
Bon Appetit
On May 7, in Las Vegas, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit will present Toques Off to Paul Bocuse at MGM Grand. This lavish dinner honoring the icon of modern French gastronomy will feature fine wines paired with course preparations by Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Roland Passot, Michael Mina, Hubert Keller, Shawn McClain, Jacques Torres, André Renard and others.$395 per person. Call 877-884-8993 or purchase online at


 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

My new book, How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan) is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

" A fact-filled, entertaining history [that] substantiates its title with hundreds of facts in this meaty history of the rise of Italian food culture around the globe. From Charles Dickens's journey through Italy in 1844 to 20th-century immigrants to America selling ice cream on the streets of New Orleans, Mariani constantly surprises the reader with little-known culinary anecdotes about Italy and its people, who have made pasta and pizza household dishes in the U.S. and beyond."--Publishers Weekly

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastornomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the imnpact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone iunterested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Espositio, hosty of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, min ds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe, Gotham Bar & Grill, The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to 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: Iceland; Lucca in Tuscany; White Water Rafting in Idaho.

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).

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, including reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas should be the first port of call for family vacation planners.THIS WEEK: Rome Hotels 

Family Travel Forum

                                                                    ALL YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GO

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;  THIS WEEK: Alsatian Pinot Gris.

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.

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