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  October 9, 2011                                                                                               NEWSLETTER

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Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) in "Better Living Through TV," The Honeymooners (Nov. 12, 1955)


by Carey Sweet

by John Mariani

by Christopher Mariani


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.
 THIS WEEK: The Michelin Man Yawns into NYC


by Carey Sweet

    I almost expected to peer into the horse stall and see a room service tray (baby carrots, apple du jour) and a bed of straw with a pillow topped by a mint flavored sugar cube. The amenities offered at The Grand Del Mar are luxurious enough to periodically feel almost absurd, and so, too, is the posh pleasure found with the northern San Diego County resort’s newest attraction: a 20,000-square-foot equestrian center that debuted in March.
    Since opening in 2007, "The Grand" has striven to live up to its name. Nestled on the edge of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the privately-owned Mediterranean estate features a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, six restaurants, its own nightclub, a Forbes Five-Star spa with crystal glass tiles, a beauty salon, a helipad, a world class wine cellar and library, four pools, two tennis courts, its own chapel, and fantastic gardens accented with statues and a 75-foot long, 22-nozzle marble fountain.
    The $270 million property debuted right at the start of the recession, but by then it was already complete with elaborate gold wall flocking and 22-carat gold door trim, acres of marble and mahogany, hand-stenciled ceilings, twisting grand staircases, and private cars sitting at the ready to whisk guests the from the front lobby to the signature Addison restaurant tucked in a 50,000 square foot Spanish-style clubhouse down the hill.
    I’ll be honest. Given my near Puritanical upbringing, such places can make me feel a little prickly. It can be difficult to relax when the resort staff is sometimes better dressed than I am, when politely uttered “m’am” and “monsieur” follow guests everywhere they go, and old elegance threatens to mesh so awkwardly with new money. Really, the artwork in the spa’s ladies lounge includes framed Hermés scarves.
    But then I climbed aboard Showman, a gorgeous, meticulously manicured bay gelding, and headed out on the trail with stable owner and professional show jumper Jessica Odom. She leases the barn from the resort, and offers rides on a half-dozen or so pedigreed animals ranging from a personality-plus stocky black pony to a tall, sleek gray thoroughbred rescued from a racetrack. How to ride was my choice: western or English, and as we meandered through desert brush spanning 37 miles of colorful hills and valleys, she confided that when the adjacent golf course is empty, she brings her horses out to graze on some fringe stretches of grass and simply soaks up the beauty around her.   
    Prickly, be damned. It’s impossible to not be smitten here.
    Another “oh yeah” moment came later, as I dozed off in what can best be described as a waterbed cocoon during my Renaissance treatment at the spa. I’d been slathered in mineral-rich mud mixed with warmed aromatic oils, mummified in a warm body wrap, and now bobbed quietly in a free-floating bed that enveloped me like a loving hug. 
    My therapist gently guided a detox process, releasing what felt like decades of cramped shoulder muscles from hunkering over a computer keyboard. The goal, he softly explained as he set up the rosemary-infused Swiss shower in my spa suite, is to decompress on a daily basis. The final touch was a long, stretching massage, and he gently flexed my joints that had tightened a touch from my trail ride.
    Not surprisingly, such relaxation can be pricey. Fall rates start at $395 per night for the 249 guestrooms and suites; the Renaissance treatment is $320. Yet as I left the spa and wobbled my way toward dinner, I felt like I’d been on vacation for a month, even though I had just arrived that morning.
    While the rest of America is seemingly racing towards casual comfort food – yes, I do lament the loss of white tablecloths as we embrace fried chicken - The Grand Del Mar’s flagship restaurant, Addison, remains firmly rooted in opulence, down to the cushioned stools offered as purse rests and the more than $15 million tab it took to put it all together. The look is old Europe meets Taj Mahal, with Venetian plastered walls, black marble columns and stone flooring, Moorish arches, limestone fireplaces and a dramatic, inlaid ceiling.
    In such a setting, chef William Bradley (below), here since Addison opened, takes on the challenge of creating cuisine that is as showstopping as the extravagant chandeliers and the gold leaf capped foyer. He succeeds by taking an opposite approach, crafting a seasonal Cal-French menu that is complex, careful, and often surprising with its flavors, yet refreshingly simple. 
    In a multi-course menu tasting, we began with a dainty bowl of calamari and mussels in a subtle basil bouillabaisse. Then, it was on to delicate nubbins of Alaskan King crab basking in tarragon, lemon and vanilla Beurre d'Isigny from Normandy, expertly balanced so that the fresh seafood was the star of the plate.
    The presentation for Australian hiramasa lightly moistens the yellowtail kingfish with miso, adds the crunch of cucumbers and radish, then finishes with a wonderful jolt of pickled pears. Butter-baked broccoli is an inventive bite, anointed with whipped white cauliflower, rich uni, and a note of curry. Flavors are clean and distinct but unite wonderfully on the palate.
    For a prix fixe meal, diners choose a starter, an entrée and a dessert ($90), adding another second course if they choose ($98). The après-appetizer might be a creamy, impossibly rich foie gras pot de crème harmonizing with fennel pollen, a bracing bit of orange and pain d’épices, or a graceful slab of Atlantic sablefish dotted with black olive agnolotti and garden pistou, or silky coddled farm egg washed in green asparagus velouté and a smattering of morels. 
    Servers glide to the table, unobtrusively removing plates and resetting silverware, and for each course, sommelier Jesse Rodriguez unveils another wine, including vintages made exclusively for the resort plus private bottlings like a Weingut Leitz Magdalenenkreuz Riesling that is deeply fragrant with citrus, green pear and apple.
    He works with a myriad of flavors and some 60 wines by the glass, for entrees like slightly sweet, meaty licorice-glazed squab atop candied red cabbage, plums and sauce albufera, or earthy sweetbreads brightened with caramelized onions, sharp Parmesan and morels.
    Artisan breads are presented as if we’re being offered jewelry, servers whisper “would madam care for anything,” and tables are set so far apart if feels nearly like private dining. Yet for its pomp, there is little pretension.     As I commented on the art of my dessert, a portrait-worthy cake of caramelized banana bread glistening with rum-raisin crème glaçage, my server smiled.
    “Would madam like to see the kitchen?” he asked.
    It’s another highlight of an Addison visit. Chef Bradley is a drill sergeant for a clean, efficient operation – even as the kitchen is large and the staff is busy, hand-plucking herbs, tending long-simmered stocks, making and hand-wrapping the caramels offered at meals’ end – the counters gleam, the stovetops sparkle, and there isn’t a knife out of place.
    Settled back in my thousand-square foot suite (right) later that evening, sipping a nightcap of sparkling wine on my secluded patio, I realized that yes, I could quickly grow used to the swanky life. The sun had set over the Carmel Valley hills, and the lights of far-away homes glittered, vainly competing with the glitter of stars in the sky. The cut crystal lamps in my reading salon glowed softly, the European soaking tub beckoned, and the plush pillow top bed with its goose down pillows and Italian linens wooed me.
     The Grand Del Mar is a showcase of largesse. It speaks – no, it practically screams – of privilege. And with its idyllic lure, it’s calling my name to come back again and again.


by John Mariani
Photos by Noah Feck

la mar cebicheria peruana

11 Madison Avenue (at 25th Street)

  Unless you speak Spanish, you probably don't want to try pronouncing the whole name of La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, which the staff at this two-week-old Peruvian restaurant shortens to an easy to remember La Mar.  It's a terrific-looking place, on the premises of what had been the Indian fusion restaurant Tabla, set on two floors, one casual, the other no moreso except for its sleeker look. The décor, by Stephanie Goto, who also did Morimoto, Corton, and Aldea, includes a "rain chandelier" within the huge oculus, with shimmering colored glass beads that look very much like gentle rain. A texture "corn wall" is made of 8,000 corn kernels on pins. It's all quite something.
    La Mar is the latest of 29 global restaurants run by Chef Gastón Acurio, with Victoriano Lopez serving in NYC as exec chef, and  N.A. Nadir, formerly at Japonais, as general manager. Two weeks open, La Mar's well-versed service staff is rushing to be amiable but has not yet got timing in synch, leading to some delays in getting drinks and wine, but I'm sure that will change with time.
The downstairs room is very loud, as can the upstairs room turn if they punch up the house music. Ask them to turn it down, and you'll be able to converse easily.
    Do check out the cocktail menu,  built around  the Peruvian spirit pisco, which goes into a delicious pisco sour. The wine list, under sommelier Emmanuel Kemjii, is extensive with New World (and Spanish) bottlings, and mark-ups are not unreasonable.
    The full name of La Mar tells you this is a place that focuses on cebiches (ceviches), along with tiraditos (the Peruvian version of sashimi), causas (traditional Peruvian whipped potato dishes), platos criollos (Peruvian entrées including fish, chicken, steak, lamb and duck), and anticuchos (grilled skewers). We left ourselves in the hands of the chef to send out an array of dishes, which included two cebiches: "Elegance," made of warm water fluke  with red onions, Peruvian corn and yam in a leche de tigre ("tiger's milk," made of  lime juice, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, and yellow peppers), and "Popular," a combo of salmon, shrimp and tender octopus in a green leche de tigre topped with crispy calamari. The quality and tastiness, not to mention the beauty of the dish, are enough to make you want to rip through the whole cebiche menu, but there's much more to go.
    The tiradito we tried was hamachi, with  Peruvian corn and scallions with creamy ají amarillo leche de tigre, which unfortunately that night was fairly fishy tasting.
    Peruvian potatoes, which have been propagated for more than 5,000 years and were the first potatoes sent by the Spanish explorers back to Europe, are done in myriad ways. We had limeña, whipped potatoes with a
fishermen escabeche, heirloom cherry tomatoes, avocado, ocopa sauce and quail egg, a delightful dish. For our main courses--and everything is served more or less in small plate fashion with nothing costing more than $16--was a velvety salmon belly with purple potatoes and vinegar, and pastel de choclo, a Peruvian corn cake with hon shimeji mushrooms and choclo saltado, a light yellow corn)--this went fast at our table, and, had we not already eaten so much, and so well, I would have ordered another round. We also enjoyed seco de cordero, lamb shoulder and chop in a cilantro-squash sauce with stewed white canary beans and a salad of radishes; it's requisite to have some beef on an American menu, so La Mar serves lomo saltado (right), nice, chewy hanger steak with plenty of onions, tomatoes, scallions, quail's egg, and French fries and a side of corn.
     La Mar does not flinch when it comes to desserts, which included lúcuma (a subtropical Peruvian fruit often used in Incan art) y cacao on top of crushed alfajores (honeyed nuts) and queso helado (white cheese ice cream); the Peruvian fritters called picarones, spiced with chancaca honey; and an array of very good passionfruit, tamarind and raspberry sorbets.   
    Afterwards you might even want to go downstairs to the bar and sample some piscos.
    La Mar is a very welcome addition to NYC's ethnic dining scene, for although there are storefront Peruvian restaurants dotting the outer boroughs, La Mar is serving what Señor Acurio calls "Peruvian haute cuisine" in a glamorous setting, and doing so all at good prices. If there is a strong whiff of it being a corporate enterprise, La Mar is, at least for now, unique in NYC and well worth going to for a one-night education in this food culture.    

La Mar is open for lunch and dinner daily.




by Christopher Mariani



    I dine in NYC often and have to say, it is the best city in the United States for Italian food. There is an endless list of terrific restaurants – Hearth, SD26, Lincoln, Donatella, San Pietro, Fiorini, Marea, Caravaggio and so many more, all offering great Italian wines from different regions of Italy, which is not surprising considering they are Italian restaurants. What I have noticed over the past five years is the increase of Italian wines, especially from Piedmont, on wine lists of non-Italian restaurants. Lusty Barolos and Barbarescos, along with gentler Barberas, Dolcettos and the booming Moscato d’Astis are now appearing in great numbers on wine lists across the city and country. Some even say Italian wines are conquering the world. So I decided to check out Piedmont for myself.
         It had been way too long--six weeks--since I had last visited Italy,  so I headed for Milan. During my flight I drank some wine, read some Hemingway, drifted off to sleep and tried to imagine what Piedmont would look like. Spending much time in Tuscany, I assumed the landscape would be somewhat similar. I could not have been more wrong about that assumption. Tuscany is as gorgeous as Italy gets but is exactly what comes to mind when you think of Italian wine country. Piedmont is like stepping onto a different planet. The terrain is particularly steep, the hills are covered by the brightest green imaginable, the type you see when you open a National Geographic, and besides the vines, there is not much else. I can assure you the region now, looks exactly as it did  200 years ago. Outside of Turin and its other cities, Piedmont is untouched. Here is a place you can go to appreciate the natural beauty God gave Piedmont after practicing on the rest of it, bolstered by the addition of hundreds of vineyards blanketing the landscape as far as the eye can see. On a clear day, you can even see the Alps peeking up in the distance, almost grazing the clouds. This is what makes Piedmont one of, if not the most beautiful regions in all of Italy.
    Once in Milan (which is in Lombardy), I got into a car and headed straight for the hills, where I would be staying at the Il Boscareto Resort and Spa (above). When we arrived, a two-hour drive from Milan, I noticed the vineyards, even though lush green and abundant with grape clusters, were unoccupied by a single human being. The driver informed me the DOC and the DOCG Italian wine laws have such strict regulations on growing grapes that the growers just let nature take its course. Unlike most other wine producing countries in the world, Italy’s DOC and DOCG does not allow for irrigation once the vines have matured. The driver went on to say, “We wait for the rain and see what happens. Too much rain, our wine is lousy but our white truffles are plentiful. Less rain yields better wine but fewer truffles.” He then went on to say, “Either way, we eat and drink well year round.” That put a smile on face.
    After winding through the hills on a two-way road that barely allowed for one car, we arrived at Il Boscareto. Parked in the driveway was a charcoal grey Ferrari 599, a red DBS Volante Aston Martin convertible, a white Lamborghini Gallardo, and a the new 525-horsepower Audi R8, and yet, for the first time in my life I wasn’t impressed. I was too busy gazing out at the stunning view of the Langhe, an area of Piedmont known for growing the Nebbiolo grape. Il Boscareto sits on one of the highest elevations in the region and looks down into the valley below and across the way to neighboring vineyards, small villas and the occasional stone castle. The air is the crisp, the only sound was the gentle wind, and the smell of fresh air was everywhere. Immediately, I walked inside and was greeted with a glass of Barbera d’Alba, which I quickly found out to be the region’s everyday drinking wine, especially with lunch, after a few glasses of white Gavi and Arneis.
    Il Boscareto is the one and only five-star luxury resort in the area and hopes to spark increased tourism to Piedmonte. They are the pioneers of the region and have taken a huge gamble on what they predict to be something amazing. Unlike Tuscany, where thousands of tourists flood, Piedmont receives minimal travelers from Northern Italy, most of whom drive out for a day trip of wine tasting. The problem is, there really isn’t anywhere to stay. Of course you can rent out a room in an Italian villa, similar to a bed and breakfast, which I think is absolutely charming, but prior to Il Boscareto there were no luxurious hotels. And yes, Il Boscareto is getting a lot of resentment from the region because they are first to do so, but their intentions are to build awareness to Piedmont and make it more of a destination than just a section of Italy that is known for making great wine.
    The resort itself is magnificent and offers every lavish amenity one could wish for – an indoor/outdoor pool (above), a modern fitness center, a deluxe spa, two of the finest restaurants in the region, elegantly designed rooms with gorgeous views, and best of all, a grass lounge where I spent most of my time sipping on a glass of Barbera while sprawled out on a B&B Italia canasta circular sofa looking through scattered cypress trees out onto miles of picturesque wine vineyards.
    That evening I dined at the hotel’s premiere restaurant, La Rei, run by Gianpiero Vivaldo. The restaurant sits on the second floor of the property and has tables set outside underneath umbrellas where the sun sets around 7 pm, right before the night sky fills with bright stars. After a little antipasti and a bottle of Gavi I had my first taste of vitello tonnato (right), a dish native to Piedmont and served at every single restaurant in the region. Vitello tonnato is braised veal, sliced thin like American roast beef and topped with a tuna sauce, with a similar consistency to mayonnaise. The night continued with roasted rabbit loin, followed by two orders of homemade pasta. I finished off the evening with the company of a few new friends at the Sunsi Bar inside the hotel for good conversation and a glass of 1985 grappa.
    The following morning, I walked downstairs and had a cappuccino and two fried eggs (left). I’ve never seen such intense orange yolks in my entire life. They didn’t even look real. The eggs alone are worth a trip to Italy.
    For the remainder of the week, I toured the region, tasted some terrific Dolcetto wine, ate lots of risotto with chopped pancetta and parmesan cheese, homemade ravioli filled with pork and veal, and lots more vitello tonnato.
Piedmont remains, for the moment, a section of Italy that many people have heard about but few have visited unless they've been to Turin on business. But the wines, the natural beauty and the food of Piedmont are among the best in all of Italy. The Piedmontese know it and until recently have kept it pretty much to themselves. But I'm happy to spread the news of its beauty and of Il Boscaretto, which can easily spoil you right at the start.

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to



by John Mariani

     Quick: name a good white wine from Chile. Stumped? I’m not surprised.
    For while the wine industry and media—myself included--have poured tremendous attention and praise on the red wines of Chile over the last decade, the country’s white wines go relatively unnoticed. Overwhelmingly the whites are made from either sauvignon blanc, with 12,159 hectares planted, or chardonnay, with 13,082, along with few thousand hectares of semillon, viognier, riesling and gewürztraminer.  Sauvignon blanc is, after cabernet sauvignon, Chile’s second strongest varietal, with sales of $9,140,725 this year, an 8.6 percent increase from last year.

San Antonio Valley Vineyards

 Still, quality wines from such white varietals are of very recent origins, since prior Socialist government land restrictions and the sheer isolation of the vineyards in the western mountains made for high-volume mediocrity, mostly from the pais grape planted by Spanish missionaries.
     Only in the 1980s did Chile develop a modern wine industry and did so fast, with access to the best new technologies of viticulture, in one important instance led by Spanish wine producer Miguel Torres, who planted grapes in the Curico Valley in 1979.
      Over the last few weeks I have tasted a wide range of Chilean whites—on their own and then with food—and, overall, found a quality level I’d rank at or above the same varietals from New Zealand and California. While some of the Chilean sauvignon blancs mimicked the overly grassy, vegetal smell and taste of New Zealand and California examples, many others showed a remarkable breeding for an industry so young.  All were cleanly made, with few trying to impress by high alcohol and overripened fruit flavors.
    Many, as is common in Chile, have screwcaps, for while some winemakers may debate the merits of cork stoppers over screwcaps for red wines, the latter are clearly better--and easier to open--when it comes to white wines to be drunk within a year or two of release. Here are some of those I most enjoyed.

        Vision Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($12-$14)—From the Casablanca Valley, with rich mineral clay soil, this exhibits a true sauvignon blanc nose with minerals and new grass, still pretty vegetal on the finish. It flourishes with foods like chicken and corn.

    Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($15)—From this family-owned estate in the Casablanca Valley comes a green-yellow wine with lots of body, the fragrance of litchi, and the pronounced tang of lemony fruit and good acid, which was perfect with a lunch I had of just-picked tomatoes, mozzarella, bread, and olive oil.

            Palo Alto Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2009 ($13)—Very pale green-gold color, with both nose and flavors more herbaceous and mineral than grassy, very close in style to a Loire Valley Sancerre and therefore ideal with simple seafood, especially shrimp and lobster.

        EQ Sauvignon Blanc Matetic Vineyards 2010 ($20)—Made according to principles of biodynamic in Valle de Rosario vineyards, this is a sauvignon blanc with plenty of vigor, not least a delightful minty finish. Of more than a dozen sauvignon blancs I tasted, this to me seemed to have something distinctive that might indicate the future expression of the Chilean terroir.                                                             Colchagua Valley Vineyards

    Sol de Sol Chardonnay 2008 ($10)—Indeed, this is a sunny wine from the Malleco Valley, and a little age has bolstered its lovely bouquet and chardonnay flavor that I associate with some of the lighter examples from Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, which is hardly surprising since three of its four owners are French winemakers—Paul Potaillier,  Bruno Prats, and Ghislain de Montgolfier; the fourth is Chilean enologist Felipe de Solminihac. I enjoyed this with Chinese noodles whose soy sauce, ginger, and pepper were fully complemented by this splendid wine.

Leyda Lot 5 Wild Yeasts Chardonnay 2008
($20)—Only 500 cases are made of this Leyda Valley wine, and it’s not very convincing as a chardonnay, but its brisk acid and tang made it a capital choice with a beef frankfurter layered with sauerkraut, mustard, and horseradish.

Marques Casa Concha Chardonnay 2009 ($20)—Made by the huge Concha y Toro wine company, this is a chardonnay for those that like them gutsy, with lots of vanilla, a decent amount of oak, and 14 percent alcohol.  It’s quite a mouthful, excellent with spicy food.

Eco Balance Chardonnay Emiliana Vineyards 2010 ($9)—It sounds like a jogging sure, but this is a very good buy for a wine from organic, sustainable vineyards whose acronymic name stands both for Ecology and for “Enjoy Life to the Fullest, Care for the World Around You, and Open and Share with Family and Friends,” lovely sentiments for a big, 14 percent alcohol charmer that seems an honest marriage of California boldness and French earthiness.

Aconcagua Valley Vineyards

John Mariani's wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.



Domino's Pizza's  Japanese arm has plans to build
a restaurant on the moon at a cost of more than $21 billion.


"`RedFarm'— what does that even imply, a collectivist farm in Mao’s China? It’s certainly ironic enough, considering how RedFarm wallows with such relish in the rectal expulsions of capitalism. . . .Everyone forgets about “The Chinese Probrem” though once the cops arrest Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for raping Indiana Jones. The episode satirizes paranoid sterilizations of Chinese cultures and the Hollywood impulse to squeeze profit from absurd gimmicks. It’s easy to substitute RedFarm for Cartman’s P.F. Chang’s. Wherever RedFarm winks at stereotype and `multiculturalism,' it propagates colonial power structures. Wherever RedFarm juxtaposes incongruent culinary tropes or draws on popular culture, it participates in the limitless homogenization of `Asian' culture.  RedFarm’s brazen absorption of “Oriental” cooking techniques into a dim sum mythology validates our fixation on conspicuous, colonial consumption. In effect, RedFarm is reeducating New Yorkers to ignore the complex externalities of transnationalism; to reduce the world outside Manhattan to a flickering cosmorama; to diminish those still colonized to an artifact of gustatory entertainment; to gleefully anal probe the margins of the colonial map. Such is the agenda of many Manhattan restaurants. RedFarm merely has the misfortune of being a particularly obvious offender."--Jason Bell, "Redfarm," Columbia Daily Spectator.


My latest book, written with Jim Heimann and Steven Heller,  Menu Design in America,  1850-1985 (Taschen Books), has just appeared, with nearly 1,000 beautiful, historic, hilarious, sometimes shocking menus dating back to before the Civil War and going through the Gilded Age, the Jazz Age, the Depression, the nightclub era of the 1930s and 1940s, the Space Age era, and the age when menus were a form of advertising in innovative explosions of color and modern design.  The book is a chronicle of changing tastes and mores and says as much about America as about its food and drink.


“Luxuriating vicariously in the pleasures of this book. . . you can’t help but become hungry. . .for the food of course, but also for something more: the bygone days of our country’s splendidly rich and complex past.  Epicureans of both good food and artful design will do well to make it their cofee table’s main course.”—Chip Kidd, Wall Street Journal.


“[The menus] reflect the amazing craftsmanship that many restaurants applied to their bills of fare, and suggest that today’s restaurateurs could learn a lot from their predecessors.”—Rebecca Marx, The Village Voice.


“Restaurateurs, take note: A resurgence in thoughtful, artistic menus is past due.”—Bon Appetit Magazine

 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

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, 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 impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, 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: THE ULTIMATE NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE DRIVE.

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.

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,;;

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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