Virtual Gourmet

  March 18, 2012                                                                                                NEWSLETTER

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German Café Poster, circa 1935


ANNOUNCEMENT: John Mariani will be part of two events at the Tennessee Williams Festival, to be held Wed. March 21 through Sunday March 25. On Friday, at
5:30 P.M.: "RESTAURANT SCOOP FROM THE VIRTUAL GOURMET," wine, wit, and hors d’oeuvres. Mariani, a food columnist for Esquire, will give the scoop on the latest national restaurant trends. Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier Street, limited seating, $40. Sponsored by the Windsor Court Hotel. Sunday March 25: 11:30 A.M. "NEW ORLEANS FOOD MEMORIES ": Join WYES-TV producer and co-author of Lost Restaurants of New Orleans Peggy Scott Laborde as she discusses local food reminiscences with Tom Fitzmorris, host of The Food Show radio program and co-author of Lost Restaurants of New Orleans; and national food & wine expert and author John Mariani. Whet your appetite with a sensory feast of New Orleans’ famous culinary scene. The Pelican Club Restaurant, 312 Exchange Alley, $25 limited seating. Sponsored by The Pelican Club Restaurant. For Festival tickets, click here.




by John Mariani



by John Mariani

Mezcal Primer
by John Mariani




"Mexican Market" (2012) by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery

    Yes, you could eat Mexican food in Mexico City throughout your stay, but in modern-day Ciudad, that would constitute a narrow gastronomy in a metropolis with increasing breadth and depth of restaurants. Here are some of the most notable right now.



    There has never been much debate about Chef-food writer Patricia Quintana's eminence among the great Mexican food authorities of the last three decades. Her books, including Cuisine of the Water Gods and Mexico’s Feasts of Life, have never been out of print, and her appearances on TV, in magazines, and consultancies are legion.
But her heart and soul have always been at her beautiful Mexico City restaurante Izote, set on two stories and frequented by those who know just how sophisticated, yet, casual, dining out in the capital city can be, from the serene décor to the flawlessly amiable service.  Quintana herself is on premises as much as possible, and her overseeing of every detail—not least the choice of every ingredient—is legendary.

On my recent trip I enjoyed an extensive tasting men that showed Quintana’s range, beginning with a glass of sangrita--a kind of Mexican Bloody Mary, with tequila--to sip (or knock back) with little quesadillas filled with the corn fungus known as huitlacoche and a sopacito of refrito beans and four distinct salsas. Zucchini flowers drifted in a light broth, with rice and avocado, accompanied by a fine Mexican wine, a chardonnay 2010 from Piedra del Sol.

Next came a roast snapper with pumpkin seeds and strips of mild poblano chilies, served with a light-bodied viognier. My favorite dish was a deep dark mole called Chamorro Revolucionario barbecue, which is succulent, deeply flavored pork cooked in a banana leaf, eaten with tortillas and enjoyed that evening with a Casa Grande Shiraz. Another specialty was fida sec, dry, crispy noodles enlivened with chilies and chorizo.  We ate on, still hungry, with the celebratory chile nogada, stuffed with nuts and pomegranate seeds;  a rich duck mole with Oaxacan tacos (Quintana says moles are the most difficult dishes in the Mexican repertoire to master), and chicken steamed in a banana leaf.  The flavors of all these dishes, unlike those in so many Mexican restaurants both in Mexico itself and north of the Border, were complex, diverse, never repetitive, always with textures and underpinnings of spice, and very personalized.

         For dessert there was a refreshing mousse of Mandarin oranges and some wonderful nopales (cactus) cookies with essence of fig leaves.

If you had only one night in Mexico City, there’s no question that it should be spent at Izote. Ask Patricia a question about Mexican food and that evening can become long and fascinating.  She is a walking encyclopedia who speaks and cooks from her heart.


Plaza Jardin Centenario 12
55 5554 2896

    Los Danzantes is a more traditional restaurant in Coyocàn (with two branches), featuring many of the favorite Mexican classics and a good deal more throughout its menu, not least a fine array of mezcals (including their own), the spirit now having its big moment in the international market (see the story below). The restaurant, with its outdoor patio, looks out on the pretty Plaza of the Coyotes and the Church of St. John the Baptist. Inside, the restaurant rambles, is colorfully tiled. Coming here with a group, as I did, is the most fun, sharing platters of good food, sipping those mezcals.

         We ordered all over the menu, starting with a flattened hoja santa leaf stuffed with goat’s and Oaxacan white cheeses, with a green chile salsa (left). Fried breaded shrimp followed, then corn cakes with a crumbly dry white cheese, salsas verde and roja, and wild mushrooms. Lovely medium-rare tuna was next, served with pretty green rice tinted with habanero chilies, and then a snapper glazed with soy, accompanied by a julienne of vegetables—impeccably juicy and beautifully cooked throughout.

         The most interesting dish that day was Mexican ravioli stuffed with huitlacoche in a rich, tangy hot chile poblano sauce and zucchini flowers.
     At twilight, Los Danzantes comes alive with strolling musicians and families in the plaza, young people hand in hand. The children play around the coyotes sculpture fountain.  It's a good place to nurse some mezcal and let the world go wonderfully blurry in the cool of the evening.



    It would not immediately occur to me to go to an Italian restaurant in Mexico City--although I do crave other cuisines after a few days of Mexican food--but, upon hearing of a Mexican chef named Elena Reygades who had fallen in love with Italian food and was translating her knowledge through her own Mexican sensibilities at a place called Rosetta, had me heading over to see what was going on.  There I met the charming Señora Reygades (below), who in her enthusiasm and energy reminds me a good deal of a younger Patricia Quintana. Having trained in Italian kitchens in Italy and London, Elena learned as much about every aspect of the cuisine as she could and might have well made her mark in Europe. But, loving her own country as much as she loved Italian cuisine, she brought it all back to Mexico City, to a fine old mansion (once an art gallery), whose tall ceilings, white-washed and pale gray walls, country  furniture, bleached wood tables and floors. ferns, a glass skylight, and refined tablesettings have made this an extremely popular new restaurante in the Roma district.
    She works hard to come by the same ingredients so readily available in Italy, not least good beef, but the food I was served most certainly had the flavors of some of the best Italian restaurants we have in the U.S., and there is always a pleasing hint of Elena's Mexican background in the food. The wine list is admirably global, with an emphasis on Italian bottlings. She also makes her own bread and pastas.

    For starters here are appetite-stirrers like bone marrow with parsley and capers on toast, and a lovely carpaccio of octopus in good olive oil. There is a green bean, fava and potato salad that is light and delicious, and excellent burrata cheese with tomato and basil.There are about nine pastas, including a goat's cheese ravioli with simple plum tomato and basil sauce; nettle pappardelle with a rich rabbit ragù; the same kind of pasta ribbons come with juicy chicken livers, while black truffles are dashed on a third rendering;  a lovely butternut squash ravioli with sweet amaretti cookie crumbs, sage, and butter; and a risotto with nicely fatted duck confit.
    From there you might move on to robalo (snook fish) baked in a shell of sea salt and herbs, with briny samphire herbs, or a steamed extraviado (a white flesh fish of Mexican waters) with parsley and garlic, both very much in the true Italian style of keeping main courses simple. 
    Having dined well, I still had room for a fruit crumble with ice cream and some crisp, just-filled cannolis with chocolate sauce.
    I love what Elena has done and is continuing to do, with respect for all she learned from others and a well-honed creativity to lend a cuisine that is always open to regional interpretation.     

ACQUARELLO Cucina del Sole

298 Presidente Masaryk



Acquarello has made quite a splash on the Avenida Presidente Masaryk, which has more than occasionally been called Mexico City’s Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.  So the ebullient chef-owner of Acquarello, Bergamo-born Mario Gamba, with long stints in top restaurants in Switzerland, France (with Alain Chapel), and Munich (with Heinz Winkler),  made sure that the restaurant should be a design statement you cannot miss driving down the avenue—a huge block of gold-lighted, slatted walls and glass, which from the outside you see little and from the inside a great deal.

         It’s on two levels, beautifully arrayed with more glass and tile, hanging lights, all in seaside colors of aqua blue, sand, white and yellow, with walls of wine and well-set tables of good linens and stemware, and an impeccable waitstaff and sommelier to serve you.  The idea behind Acquarello can get pretty windy—“una cocina que refleja alegria de vida y esta inspirada en el gozo y el gusto por la comida. . .” (hands anyone?)—but this is indeed stylish cuisine, light, with a global sensibility that borrows as much from French classicism as from modern renditions of Italian cuisine.

         There are also a number of Mexican wines here that, if not yet world class, show remarkable progress for a young industry with very old missionary roots.  I enjoyed a clean, light Casa Madero Semillon 2009 and the same estate’s shiraz from the same year. A tempranillo called Vino de Piedra 2008 was admirably true to the varietal.

         There are a few options for dining at Acquarello, including four-, five- and seven-course tasting menus, offered for complete tables. Our table of many guests ranged over the à la carte offerings, and I liked the first course of vitello tonnato in its signature creamy sauce very much.  A sweet-savory rendering of fig tortelli pasta came with grilled fresh foie gras in a sweet reduction of cassis liqueur, followed by a robalo fish with a reduction of a Tuscan cacciucco broth made with five items of seafood.  Foie gras also comes with a pea risotto in a balsamic reduction.  For meats, there are a ribeye of lamb in a bread crust with a praline of eggplant, and a poached tenderloin of beef with grilled artichokes and reduction of Mandarin oranges.

         For dessert you might opt for a flourless pear tart or a luscious ricotta soufflé with cool pear sauce.

         Acquarello is a special occasion place and not cheap, but it stands out as one of the city’s most creative new restaurants. Also a good place to sport the new fashions bought along the Avenida.


Alejandro Dumas 81
+52 55 5280 4111

There are six Pendulo Bookstores dotted around Mexico City, and they take the basic idea many bookstores elsewhere have of serving muffins and coffee to a terrific height, with big, bountiful breakfasts, which I enjoyed perched on the second level of the store overlooking the myriad shelves of books.  The menu is large, the portions more than ample, and you begin with a big basket of good Mexican breads, rolls and donuts. There are chilaquiles, of course, and huevos come in all manner of preparations, served with good strong coffee.  But a friend of mine wise in such things said, "Have the pancakes.  Mexicans make great pancakes." And he was absolutely right--these were among the best pancakes I've ever had--just the right size and weight, fluffy, not too sweet, perfectly browned in equal measure on both side, a stack to remember, and a breakfast that precluded my appetite to have lunch and to put dinner off to a late hour, as do the Mexicans.




Ritz-Carlton Hotel

1 Renaissance Square

White Plains, NY


      The evolution of the restaurant on the 42nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton in White Plains (about an hour's drive from midtown Manhattan), under chef-partner Anthony Goncalves (left), is nothing short of amazing.  The place always had its aerie beauty, wrapping around the building from lounge to dining room to banquet rooms, with its own elevator that takes you up to a hallway past the kitchen where Anthony Goncalves and his brigade turn out beautiful global cuisine.

Self-taught, Goncalves has over the last decade proven himself a receptive sponge, always absorbing the most contemporary ideas in food and adapting them to his own tastes and talents.  Upon opening three years ago, he tried too hard to impress by style and complexity, but since then he has mastered the difficulty of true simplicity in cooking, making every ingredient count in a whole, finished dish.

    Recently, for a small group of old friends, I let Goncalves cook whatever he wished, and the results were stunning, beginning with a deeply flavorful lobster bisque with a milk foam. The wooden board of charcuterie (below) alone showed that Goncavles is unstinting in his choice of ingredients, which includes the finest Iberian ham it is possible to obtain.  The board also included pork terrine, duck prosciutto, pork sausage, pickled vegetables, and warm country bread.

    Big fat tiger shrimp from Madagascar were enhanced with crunchy breadcrumbs, the meat of the crustacean perfectly cooked just to a tender turn, accompanied by Spanish ham, bitter-salty broccoli di rabe, and a good dose of garlic.  Goncalves is, by the way, of Portuguese heritage, and he proudly shows it off in his cooking.

    Next came seppia, wonderful morsels of cuttlefish in an herb-citrus sauce with rice colored and flavored with the seafood’s own ink, and dusted with crumbs of Iberian ham.

    Touchino was a splendid rendering of fried rice, studded with fat pork belly nubbins, nicely seasoned with herbs, and topped with a runny poached egg that seeped into the rice.  The last of the savory courses was a Peking-style duck he called arroz de pato, with a crisp, juicy duck breast and the bird’s confit, barley, the scent of lemon and the bite of chouriço, a touch of sweetness in a cranberry mostarda, and lightly steamed Brussels sprouts.

We did not have a cheese course, but as you enter, you’ll see an impressive selection of cheeses aging in a temperature- and humidy-controlled glass case. Incidentally, in the lounge area called Bellota (below), 42 offers an array of contemporary tapas from a blackboard menu.

    For dessert we had a whimsical version of Rocky Road, made from marshmallow, chocolate cheesecake, dusted with a walnut-toffee powder and ice cream.

          The winelist at 42 is one of the best in the TriState area, with big name bottlings among better priced offerings in every category.

         The Michelin Guide has long retained its highest rating for restaurants “worth a journey.”  Since that guide began in the 1920s as an aid to French chauffeurs, that meant a jaunt, perhaps, from Paris to Lyon or Nice.  So, anyone living within driving distance of White Plains should well consider paying a visit to 42. It’s really that good.  Oh, and there is an airport in White Plains, too. 

42 is open Mon.-Sat. for dinner; Lunch, Mon.-Fri.  Appetizers run $13-$47, main courses $26-$47.



Mezcals Ditch the Worm and
 Pitch Their Artisanal Roots

by John Mariani

    What I used to know about mezcal—tequila’s brawnier brother—could have fit into a shot glass.  But after an in-depth tasting in Mexico City with Cornelio Perez (below), president of a group called Tradicionales de los Pueblos de Mexico, and Ricardo Pandal, owner of a year-old mezcal cantina and restaurante named Patrona,  I now know that most of what I knew was wrong anyway. Indeed, the two experts pretty much demolished the hype about mezcal that importers have been pushing in the spirit’s expanding market here and in China--not least the assertion that mezcal’s identifying mark is its smokiness, acquired by cooking the maguey plant (a form of agave, shown below) in earth-covered pit ovens.
    “Those smoky mezcals they sell in the U.S. are not very good,” said Pandal. “They are made that way just to create a market different from tequila’s.  They want people to think that mezcal is a rougher, more macho drink than tequila, which is made only from the blue agave plant.” Mr. Perez, who was busy estimating the alcohol level by an ancient method of blowing into a straw pipe to create bubbles in cups of mezcal, chimed in: “Ha! There are hundreds of species of agave, and the blue agave is one of the worst! Blue agave has been cloned so much it is genetically weak, so the plants are given chemicals and pesticides to keep them healthy, which helps to hurry along their maturation.” He explained that up until the 19th century there was no difference between tequila and mezcal, but the former acquired its name from being made around the town of Tequila.  Pre-Columbian Mexicans made a fermented, milky maguey juice they called pulque, but the Spanish taught them the distillation process to make mezcal.
    “Tequila’s success,” said Mr. Perez “is all due to all those Hollywood western movies. Mezcal used to be made in nearly every state in Mexico, and 21 states still do, mostly around Oaxaca. We now have very strict regulations for the artisanal mezcals, which number in the hundreds, in order to keep that historic taste. Some are made by a single farmer on a little plot of land. To be artisanal, mezcal must be 100 percent agave, although the government allows other sugars to be added to both mezcal and tequila.” In fact, some msezcals are triple distilled with fruit and nuts, even infused with chicken. Many examples have about 45 percent alcohol, but several I sampled that day ran well over 50 percent.
    Of the half dozen artisanal mezcals I tasted, only one, made by Rogello Martinez from a wild maguey called tobala, was smoky in aroma and taste, somewhat like a single malt Scotch from Islay.  Another, Yojana Ejuttla (55 percent alcohol) made by Jose Garcia, used two types of maguey and was very powerful but not smoky at all, more like grappa.  Mezcal Jalisco Zapotitlan (50.7 percent alcohol) was said to be 100 percent organic, distilled twice, from a farm that grows 14 different magueys and produces only 80 liters a year. A bottle of Alipus was very smooth, with just a touch of sweetness. I also tasted a Mexican moonshine called Nichoacan, often made illegally in seven states, with a little natural pulque added that gave it a very fruity, slightly soapy flavor.
    Back in the States, I spoke with Richard Betts, a Master Sommelier, who with entrepreneur-art collector Dennis School and New York wine seller Charles Biehler, import Sombra mezcal ($30-$35), made from green espadin agave grown in the Oaxacan hills at an 8,000-foot elevation. “We’re fanatical about every step in the process, and smoke is but one part of that,” Betts told me in a phone interview from Boulder, Colorado. “It’s like the bass in an orchestra, and if it’s played too loud it runs over all the other music. We also found oak wood on the hillsides we use in the roasting, which it imparts a much milder degree of smoke than widely used mesquite, which burns very hot and smoky.” Betts said there are not about 50 mezcals imported into the U.S., but only a half dozen are of artisanal quality.
    Another premium import, Zignum Mezcal, introduced last December at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, is also made from the green espadin agave, in silver ($26), reposado ($29) and añejo ($55) styles. Steam cooking rather than roasting eliminates the smoky flavor; instead these mezcals are silky, not harsh, and the anejo is a revelation of complexity.
    And what about the worm—actually a weevil larva--found in about 50 percent of mezcal bottles? “If it’s a brand with a bug in it,
it’s purely a gimmick,” said Betts. In fact, there is no ancient history of mezcals containing the larva beyond its promotional effect, and the Mexican government is trying to rid of “the worm” in an effort to upgrade mezcal’s image.
    Still, a new entry, Wild Shot ($55), complete with worm and a touch of smoke, is “supported and released” by country music star Toby Keith, whose redneck hits include “Big Ol’ Truck” and “Get Drunk and Be Somebody.”
"It's not there for the looks,” says Keith.  “It is there to be eaten. It is believed that the worm will bring wondrous experiences and every individual’s will be different."
    Shucks, and just one worm to a bottle!  

John Mariani's spirits and 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.



According to the Madison Record, Ronald Ball of Wisconsin claimed that he purchased a can of Mountain Dew only to discover mid-sip that there was a dead rodent inside.  He sent the mouse in a Mason jar to PepsiCo and was seeking $50,000 in damages. PepsiCo answered his charges with testimony from a scientist who said that a mouse could not possibly have made it through the bottling process intact because its body would have dissolved into a “jelly-like substance.”


"My first visit to Olive Garden was during midafternoon, so I could be sure to get in. After a late breakfast, I figured a late lunch would be fashionable. The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. It had been a few years since I ate at the older Olive Garden in Fargo, so I studied the two manageable menus offering appetizers, soups and salads, grilled sandwiches, pizza, classic dishes, chicken and seafood and filled pastas. At length, I asked my server what she would recommend. She suggested chicken Alfredo, and I went with that. Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water. . . .The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese. On a hot summer day, I will try the raspberry lemonade that was recommended. . . .All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks. It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here."--Marilyn Hegarty, "The EATBEAT: Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome," Grand Forks Herald.


 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 coffee 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: BEYOND CHINA'S BIG CITIES; STEAMBOAT SPRINGS.

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