Virtual Gourmet

  January 1,   2012                                                                                               NEWSLETTER

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Humphrey Bogart in "Angels with Dirty Faces" (1938)


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.



by Carey Sweet

La Promenade des anglais
by John Mariani

by Brian Freedman



by Carey Sweet

   The concert manager had warned me my boyfriend would not want to be interrupted as he warmed up for that evening’s performance at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater (below).  

    So as our small group toured the intimate, 2,750-seat venue, when we entered the top balcony mere feet away from where my beau strummed his guitar, we were not to attempt eye contact.  Silly manager. Because of course, Jackson Browne, my heart throb since I first heard his crooning when I was in elementary school (the year was 1972, the album was Jackson Browne) looked up, saw the half dozen of us trying to be invisible, and gave a wave and a hearty, “Hey there.” Well. If only the manager had allowed me close enough to tell Browne, now 63, that he had been my true love all these years. As it was, thanks to the remarkable set-up of the auditorium, with nearly every seat within personal-message screaming distance, I finally got to see him up-close. From the gray in his sexy brown hair, to the wrinkles that make this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer so distinguished, he still made me swoon.
    Austin has always been a music town. Its heart beats with the rhythmic thumps of the downtown/warehouse/Sixth Street entertainment districts crowded with notable clubs like Continental, Antone’s, and until this month, Emo’s (now Emo’s East). And since ACL theater debuted in February 2011 at Willie Nelson Boulevard between Lavaca and Guadalupe streets, the venue has become a glittering centerpiece, attracting performers such as Diana Ross, Devo, and of course, mi amor Browne.
    ACL Live is the dream of Freddy Fletcher, nephew of Texas icon Willie Nelson, and it celebrates rock-n-roll, country, jazz and all music in all its glory. The theater is the set for the KLRU-TV produced PBS series “Austin City Limits,” the longest running music show in American television history.  No seat is more than 75 feet from the stage, and there are 12 bars, five luxury suites, a full recording studio and a custom Meyer sound system.
    With the opening of the W Hotel on Lavaca Street in December 2010, the music bar has risen even higher, for what is essentially a state-of-the-art concert venue connected to a posh hotel. After the last strains of Browne’s second encore trailed away, I simply walked across a mezzanine to get back to my room. There were no detours save an invitation-only party playing on the patio to promote the new Cinco Five Star Vodka from San Antonio.  So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I had checked in to the W earlier that day, with its neon blue lit registration desks, retro-chic rotary telephones, and techno music throbbing through every open space, that much of the clientele seemed to be party animals barely celebrating drinking age. There were pretty young things – both boys and girls – sipping cocktails in the multiple lobbies, and in the elevator as I rode up to my room. When I came back down to get a cocktail of my own in the bar that isn’t a “bar” but “The Living Room” and so dark and pulsing with red lighting that it would make a lovely home for a vampire, there was Chelsea Clinton wandering through an adjacent lounge looking for a friend’s bachelorette party.
    The hotel is so high energy that its amenities are verbs, typed in capital letters: the gym is called SWEAT; the pool is called WET; the spa offers the AWAY massage; t
he restaurant is called TRACE (right),  for its commitment to seasonal, local goods sourced by an on-staff forager.
    The hotel has its own cultural concierge, Caleb Campaigne, who knows the ins and outs of what's cool in this dynamic college town. Rather than handing guests a tired guidebook, he asks, “Darling, what’s your scene?” Once he determines your profile, he will steer you properly: it might be an upscale, prix fixe Natural American dinner from chef David Bull at Congress (below)  around the block (named one of Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2011), or it could be a midnight cocktail at the very hot, yuppie-artsy Star Bar in the Warehouse District, where $11 will get you a tasty little Southern Cross of pomegranate liqueur, vodka, St.-Germain elderflower liqueur and champagne in a martini glass.
    Certainly one can do some damage right in the hotel, where that Living Room is plush with couches and upholstered walls in a cozy den with a bar framed by silver gray glass striped with mercury. A McIntosh stereo from the 1960’s plays tunes, and the bartender confides as he stirs Crown Royal whisky with cooked-down Dr Pepper syrup, “A good stereo sells a lot of cocktails.”
    TRACE, too, is easily a destination restaurant, reflecting the national fad for locavorism that’s alive and well in Austin. The mood is swank, with walls of French style doors sliding open to the patio, tufted gray velvet banquettes, dark wood floor, Moroccan rugs and sparkling mirrored walls. If it feels a little night clubby, the food focuses a serious Central Texas-theme menu that chef Paul Hargrove sources from regional farms.  That can mean grilled Texas quail moistened in smoked tomato glaze with hard-boiled quail eggs and fried pickled jalapeño; roasted beet salad in Kinloch Plantation pecan vinaigrette with Full Quiver cottage cheese, fried pecans, and red veined sorrel; or Gulf redfish baked in banana leaf with organic peppers, oregano and grilled green onions over coconut black bean tamales.   (The locavore here idea is little strained: Kinloch Plantations is in Winnsboro, Louisiana, and Full Quiver in Suffolk, Virginia.)
    W executive chef Nadine Thomas shops at The Austin Farmers' Market (below) hosted since 2003 at nearby Republic Square Park on Saturdays, paying with wooden $5 tokens for Texas French bread and Sweetish Hill bread, raw milk cheeses, duck eggs from Harvest Time Farm Stand in Canyon Lake, and wild Texas guajillo honey. This is a gathering spot for most of the city’s food community, it seems, browsing Asian opo squash, amaranth, purslane, pea tendrils, lambs quarters, and turnips, kohlrabi and fiesta beets from Tecolote Farm of Manor, Texas.
    People bring their dogs – Afghan hounds, mountain dogs, beagles, a three-legged doberman – and chat with vendors like Patrick Fitzsimons, co-owner of Thunderheart Bison from Shape Ranch in Carrizo Springs. He runs 250 head and doesn’t stress his animals by taking them to slaughter. “I harvest with my rifle in the field,” he explains. “They spend their lives happy, in the pasture, doing their bison thing.” The ranch is certified by the Animal Welfare Institute.
    Yet for all the high-end experiences available, one of the most innovative developments in Austin’s creative style is a new dining subculture called "trailer park cuisine." As the name implies, packs of food trucks occupy pockets up and down and around SoCo, a vibrant, colorful stretch of Congress Avenue between Oltorf and Town Lake that is also lined with funky shops, art galleries and restored motels that just a few years ago catered to transients but now draw well-heeled hipsters. The stretch of road between Milton and Monroe streets has its trendy restaurants, but there’s just as much activity at the main park, where regional favorites are prepared in and served from bohemian trailers including Airstreams, vintage Winnebagos and old school buses. Diners sit at gaily decorated picnic tables, feasting on chili, ribs, Tex-Mex, seafood, Cajun-Creole, and deli. When they’re done, they deposit their rubbish in bins cutely titled “trailer trash.”
    Proposed hotel development is looming now to push the SoCo stylish encampment out, but for the time being, the food court is populated by such fun spots as Hey Cupcake (the rotating pink cupcake on top of the silver Airstream promises vegan treats), Austin Frigid Frog (for shaved ice, but also bacon-chicken doggie cones sold for $2, with half the proceeds to benefit animal shelters), Mighty Cones (avocado crusted in almonds, sesame seeds, chile flakes, corn flakes in a tortilla cone topped with mango-jalapeño slaw), and Coat & Thai (pad see-ew stir-fried flat noodles with egg, broccoli and brown sauce).
    If the park is forced to move, things will still be fine, since other truck teams thrive all over the city. Downtown, there is Lucky Pucia’s Wood Fired Italian Sandwiches with a real wood fired oven, on First Street sits Azafrán for Texas-style tapas, Wasota African Cuisine, and Sushi A-Go-Go, plus dozens of others like the you-gotta-love-it Biscuits & Groovy. Torchy’s Tacos is hugely popular in multiple locations, serving a signature Trailer Park taco stuffed with fried chicken and cheese.
    The grandeur of ACL Live aside, no trip to Austin is complete without a visit to Continental Club, the famous dive and enclave of fabulous music since 1957. Dark and a bit grungy and always insanely packed, it hosts the who’s who of alternative and progressive country, alternative rock, and a whole lot of blues.  There was a blues band playing the night I was there, though I forget who, since I was more distracted by the bizarre dancing of ex-Silver Spoon child star/"NYPD Blue" actor Ricky Schroeder with celebrity hair stylist José Eber. They cut the rug, then roared off into the night in a shiny Bentley.
    Readying for bed back at the W at two a.m., I pulled the curtains closed against the still-bright city lights and saw the drapes’ edges were trimmed in guitar strap fabric. There was an invitation on the desk to explore the photo gallery inside ACL Live, chronicling the many legends who have helped make Austin famous. Next to that: a room service menu for pets, featuring a $16 grilled Niman Ranch doggie burger.

    What fantasy of food and music would come next in this crazy fun Austin, I wondered? In-room breakfast served by Elvis?   

Award-winning writer Carey Sweet lives in Sonoma County, CA, splitting her time between Scottsdale and the North Bay, where she isa regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle944 San Francisco magazine, a Dining News column for the Arizona Republic, a monthly food feature column in Phoenix Magazine.






LA PROMENADE des Anglais
461 West 23rd Street (near Tenth Avenue)

    La Promenade des Anglais--nicknamed "La Prom"--is Nice's broad seaside boulevard, so often painted by Raoul Dufy. Chef Alain Allegretti grew up in Nice, his father was from Palermo.  So it all made sense for him to open a restaurant with such a nostalgic name;  after tasting a broad sampling of his new restaurant's menu, I can see how much he longs for those sunny days and mix of French, Italian, and North African cuisines.
    Open just three months and located in Chelsea's London Terrace Buildings, La Promenade (LPA, we'll call it) has a décor that somewhat evokes Nice through a  charming pa
per collage inspired by the pebble beaches there and brass lighting fixtures vaguely like the street lights that line the Boulevard. There are also  antique mirrors, Mediterranean blue velour banquettes, dark wood, and black and white marble floors.
    Allegretti (below) wants people to feel comfortable here and the cheery service staff sets the mood by wearing jeans and sneakers. At peak periods the dining room can be very, very loud, not least because of the intrusion of booming music, which I am told includes Edith Piaf but sounds more like Lil' Kim Piaf.
    It's a place you should share with friends, starting with the "For the Table" items, including  salt cod brandade crostini (below) with prosciutto and a spicy tomato concassée; golden crisp zucchini flower beignet puffs; roasted baby artichokes with an anchovy sauce and tomato confit; and irresistible, tender fried gnocchi. (Some day I'm going to ask Allegretti if he can make that weird Niçoise specialty called gnocchi merda de can.)
    Then there is the appetizer section, with a hearty green lentil soup, nicely seasoned and set with a poached egg and baby spinach to provide additional textural interest, and a good garlicky Provençale soupe des poissons, with the classic Gruyère and rouille.  I was so happy to see frogs' legs Provençale on the menu--once a staple of French restaurants, from which the nickname "frogs" was given to the French, as "spaghetti eaters" was to Italians--and Allegretti and chef de cuisine Michael Lucente's version comes in a rich garlic cream.  An autumn (now winter) vegetable casserole contained both white and green asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, salsify and a black truffle jus, while freshly chopped veal tartare came with whole grain mustard, salsa verde, and crisp flatbread. Veal also figured in vitello tonnato, the Piedmontese twist of thinly sliced veal with creamy tuna sauce.
     Next up are the pastas, all of them lusty, like the trofie (below) with tomatoes, capers, olives, lemon, and ventresca (tuna belly), straight from Mediterranean sea culture.  You rarely see farotto, the nubby grain cooked like risotto that once sustained the Roman legions while they ripped through Gaul; here it's made with abundant morsels of braised veal cheeks no centurion ever got in his mess kit.  The flat wide noodles called paccheri took on braised rabbit, toasted butternut squash and toasted hazelnuts.
    Swordfish leads the seafood section, here marinated with hot harissa pepper, eggplant caviar, chickpeas, Cerignola olives, lemon verbena, and crustacean jus, as Sicilian a dish as can be found in NYC. Sea scallops had a sweet-briny balance and a saline touch from a pancetta-paella risotto cake, and asparagus and tomato diable sauce.
    For meats, the veal medallions, with cauliflower puree, Brussels sprouts, and lemon-caper sauce were a little tame but took on a slight bite from tomato marmalade, while the lamb osso buco with braised citrus, creamy polenta, and vegetable gratin was an ideal dish for a cold wintry night.

    Desserts feature chestnut doughnuts, a baba au rhum, a pot de creme, and other traditional and beloved items from the French bistro repertoire.
    By the way, throughout the day, guests may drop in for a glass of wine and nosh on snacks like whipped ricotta with thyme and honey on grilled country bread or merguez sausage sliders with harissa olive tapenade and creamy cucumber, or those heavenly fried gnocchi.
LPA's winelist is pretty solid across the board, with plenty of bottles under $60, which is not only right for this menu and this neighborhood but for these times.
     There are times when you sense a restaurant is a corporate enterprise and others when it is just a safe copy of others.  LPA is one of those rare restaurants where the personality of the chef shines through and where you know he personally loves the food he cooks. As Paul Bocuse once told me, "If more chefs ate their own food, you'd have better cuisine."


La Promenade des Anglais is open for Lunch Mon. Fri. and for dinner nightly. Brunch Sat. & Sun. Little bites for the table run $8-$24, appetizers and pastas $12-$21, main courses $24-$30.



by Brian Freedman

    A few weeks ago,  I had the very good fortune to attend a meeting of the tasting group to which I belong, the Dead Guys Wine Society, which featured some of the top wines produced in Bordeaux in the past 50 years. It was one of those nights that not only tastes seriously great, but that also allows you to contextualize so many other bottlings you’ve tasted before and will taste afterward.
    What stood out to me above all else was just how brilliantly several of the less-highly-regarded vintages showed that night: Proof, once again, that the obsessive focus on only the so-called marquee years--the ones that Wine Spectator and Parker rank 95 points and above--is a myopic approach to Bordeaux. There’s a reason this part of the world is so renowned for its grape juice, and its reputation wouldn't be what it is today--what it has been for hundreds of years--if its only worthy wines were the famous vintages.

    That said, the bottlings from the classic years showed as brilliantly as they’re supposed to. The moral seems clear: Drink more Bordeaux, don’t be afraid to cellar it, and buy even in the less-than-stellar vintages. Chances are you’ll be rewarded many times over when you finally pop that cork. Just don’t wait too long.

    We started with a magnum of Pichon-Baron 1992, a smoky, earth-driven, rubber-scented red that still had some time on it: An auspicious beginning. From here, we moved on to a regular bottle of  La Mission Haut-Brion 2001,  a feminine, concentrated beauty with notes of bright berry fruit and seamlessly integrated acid and tannins. Château La Lagune 2000 showed all the expected perfume of that vintage, as well as more lovely red fruit. Pichon-Lalande from the same legendary year exploded with concentrated toasted Indian spices and roasted fennel seeds. Lynch Bages 2002 was another smoker, with added aromas of roast beef and flowers and a mineral- and raspberry-driven palate. The Pichon-Lalande 2004 reminded me of nothing so much as tucking into a blueberry pie by a bonfire: Masculine and delicious.

    We then popped the cork on one of the most controversial wines of the past decade: Château Pavie 2003, which was at the center of a serious debate between Parker and Jancis Robinson of the Financial Times back in 2004. Its ultra-modern, super-extracted style earned 98 points from the Man from Monkton, and a painful 12 / 20 from Robinson. It was, and remains, a wine that divides people and stirs up much conversation whenever it’s opened. Personally, I loved it, and while it wasn’t anywhere near traditional Bordeaux in style, it was still identifiably Right Bank, and oozed character and flat-out sex appeal: Spicy blueberry compote, hot bricks, sage, particularly aromatic cigar flavors,  and tannins that still promise another decade or two of evolution.

    Back on less-fraught ground, we moved the the Château Leoville-Barton 1999, whose birch-bark and blueberry nose led to a palate of still-dusty tannins and earth that will continue to mature for another 12 to 20  years. Château Montrose 1996 was perfumed, intense, and spoke of smoky maple syrup, menthol, and eucalyptus. On the opposite end of that vintage’s spectrum was the Pichon-Lalande 1996, which smelled like the most evocative horse barn perfumed with sage, eucalyptus, and more blueberry.  Lynch-Bages 1996 found itself at a far earlier stage in its evolution, the nose more giving than the remarkably tight palate, the black raspberry, scorched earth, and bonfire still holding back a bit: This will be amazing in a few years.

    Four years ago, I tasted the Château Cos d’Estournel 1995 from the same friend’s cellar, and last week it showed itself to have evolved excellently. And while it easily has another five to seven+ years on it, its smoke, charred Indian spice, and blood notes were framed by easier-going sappy black cherry flavors that made it go down almost dangerously easily. Unexpectedly, the Château Léoville-Poyferré from the same vintage was one of the wines of the night, its luscious, exuberant strawberry and rhubarb character made it impossible not to drink way too quickly.
    Among a line-up of 1993s, the Cos d’Éstournel was the smokier, creamier, plummier of the two, with the Ducru-Beaucaillou evoking early-autumn pine cones, high-cocoa chocolate, mint, and red cherry. Rounding out that excellent decade was a Pichon-Lalande 1990, a savory, almost briny bottling with a seam of scorched earth running down the middle.
Moving back to the 1980s, the Chateau Gruaud-Larose 1989 was a winner with its pretty notes of tea, spice, bricks, and black raspberries, all of these given good posture by tannins that were still remarkably young and persistent. A perfumed Pichon-Lalande 1988 spoke of purple berries, plums, and clay, and the Leoville-Poyferre 1982 was silky, elegant, and put the lie to the claim that all 1982s are on their downslide. I’d drink them sooner rather than later, but this beauty was still vigorous and elegant, with hints of rubber, cedar, vanilla, caramel, and lovely dried currants.
    Moving on to a couple of First Growths, the Château Margaux 1993 was still a bit high-strung, with taut notes of raspberry and bonfire carried on a silky palate. Château Haut-Brion 1988, as expected, was a standout, its telltale stone character coming through with clarity and framed by bright acid and and a roasted character to the fruit. Château Brane-Cantenac 1978 sang with menthol and cherry, as well as smoked figs and a deeply savory note. Pichon-Lalande 1970 tasted of spearmint, rosemary, and minerals, its spice still hanging on but not destined for much more life past where it is now. Still, it was a great, fully mature bottle. Château Lafite Rothschild 1987, if a bit on the light-bodied side, was still a spiced-cranberry charmer. Château Latour 1990 (a Wine Spectator 100-point wine), lived up to its reputation, exuding perfectly balanced, supremely well-integrated flavors of smoky mint, sappy cherry fruit, minerality, and a balance as perfectly calibrated as any wine I’ve ever been privileged to drink. This was as profound as wine gets.

    The only place to go from there was to Château d’Yquem: The 1986, an ambrosial wine that oozed apricot, nuts, and frangipane, as well as a finish of the best rice you’ve ever tasted, and the 1975, a nutty, mushroom-rich sticky with savory apricot notes woven throughout. Brilliant way to end and remarkable night.

    Thanks to Scot “Zippy” Ziskind, of ZipCo Environmental Services and My Cellar wine storage, Anthony Maffei, and the rest of the “Dead Guys” for a fantastic, educational, damn fun night. And for digging so deep into their cellars for this amazing tasting.

Brian Freedman is a food, wine, spirits, and travel writer, wine consultant, and event host and speaker. In addition to contributing to the Virtual Gourmet, he is contributing food and drinks writer for Philadelphia Style Magazine, wine columnist for Affluent Magazine, and wine specialist and resident blogger, at He can be reached at
This column originally appeared in the Food, Drink & Travel Report:



TV Food entertainer Guy Fieri is now selling jewelry on OpenSky Airlines, including a chain bracelet, dog tag with chain, or a cuff link set, for $69 each. Exclaims Fieri, "This stuff is off-da-hook. It's some killer bling. It'll make for a kewl gift for the holidays."



According to the Herald Sun, Madonna and her boyfriend Brahim Zaibat brought their own wine and wine glasses in  bag for a dinner at New York's Osteria Cotta. They ordered arugula salad, pizza margherita, bruschetta and roasted cauliflower. 
At the end, they took the empty wine bottle and the glasses with them.



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

My latest book, which just won the prize for best book from International Gourmand, 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.

My new book, How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan) 
has just won top prize 2011 from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It 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:

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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© copyright John Mariani 2012