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  July 22, 2012                                                                                                NEWSLETTER

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"Devil's Food" by Galina S Dargery (2011)



The Resort at Pelican Hill:
Festa Dell’Autunno

By Carey Sweet

Noise Levels Reach Dangerous Highs
by John Mariani


The World’s Most Endangered Wine Region:
Portugal’s Colares Appellation

by David Lincoln Ross


Slide 1

The Resort at Pelican Hill
Festa Dell’Autunno

By Carey Sweet


    One of the challenges of growing olives is that they are an alternate bearing fruit, meaning that one year a tree may produce a plentiful harvest, but the next year, the branches may be nearly naked, which can make planning an annual olive festival a bit tricky, as the organizers of the first ever Festa Dell’Autunno at The Resort at Pelican Hill (below)  in Newport Beach, CA,  discovered last fall. As the day of the headliner celebration grew near last October 29, there were few olives to be had. The 504-acre property’s 750-plus trees, imported as mature specimens up to 100 years old when they were planted for the resort’s opening in 2008, hid just handfuls of the tangy orbs amid their gray-green leaves.

    Yet no matter, for what might have been viewed as a test-run of the salute to fruit was embraced by guests anyway. Dozens made reservations at the resort to take in a full day of olive-y celebrations, drawn by attractions including demonstrations on olive pressing from a local olive master using southern California olives, food, wine, and music. Through November, special olive oil tasting menus were offered at the resort restaurants, tempting with dishes ranging from olive oil poached Alaskan king salmon to baked apple tart with olive oil gelato, while olive oil could also be applied directly to the skin, in specialized treatments at the resort spa.

    While it’s summer now,  the next olive festival is  not far off, and its popularity means you might think of planning ahead.  Pelican Hill’s olive curator is already working amid the trees for Festa Dell’Autunno MMXII, surely whispering sweet nothings to the trees to encourage the fruit to emerge. Tickets are on sale for the 2012 party, which will take place November 2 through 4.  Already, the menus have been set by Pelican Hill’s chefs, who will feature rustic olive oil in special meals throughout the festival. 

    If sales of Pelican Hill’s olive products are any indication of consumer interest, this year’s Festival might play to capacity crowds. The resort has bottled a private label extra virgin oil, and for the first time this year, batches are being sold in Resort’s boutique. Harvests being what they are, the new oil is actually in partnership with the nearby Temecula Olive Oil Company, along with new olive oil soaps in orange blossom, lavender and lemon verbena varieties.

    Seeing the pressing action at the festival last year gave oil lovers like me a taste of how demanding the process can be and how much fruit can be required to extract the silky stuff. Olive master Thom Curry (left), owner of Temecula Olive Oil Company, put on a live pressing, filtering the golden-green liquid from bushels of green fruit via a complicated machine that looked like a giant metal wheel in a box stuck with hoses. We could taste oil right from the press and in different stages of aging (it’s meant to be consumed young), and to cleanse our palates, we sipped wines, ate cheeses, pizzas, pastas and gelato, then relaxed with espressos as accordion players and live opera singers performed on a private, olive tree-lined street fronting Pelican’s Tuscan style guest bungalows.

    If there is a Goddess of Olive Oil (right), she was there, though she did not speak, parading silently through the crowds in head-to-toe royal blue, from her face paint to her elaborate empire dress with its train trailing regally behind her, her flowing cape and towering feather headdress above her gold trimmed eye mask.

    I don’t know if Italians – or olive growers – spend much time drawing with chalk on sidewalks either (below), but the Southern California street painting artists showcasing their works added a distinct festival charm, working on their creations throughout the daylong event, until the works appeared in full dusty splendor: a lovely young peasant woman plucking olives, another beauty posing proudly with a full basket of fruit, and more.  And for that bit of extra something, we could sit inside a shiny new Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari and several kicky little Fiats on display.

    Certainly the proper way to take in such an olive festival is to spend the entire weekend at Pelican Hill. Just 15 minutes from Orange County’s John Wayne airport, the property is a true showpiece even in a part of California well known for its opulence. It might be worth a visit simply to see the swimming pool, called The Coliseum for its immense size of 136 feet spanning a perfect circle with tiered decks and luxury cabanas atop a hillside peeking down to the ocean. Somehow, the resort’s owners, the Irvine Company, found craftsmen willing to hand cut and lay more than a million 1.5-inch square glass tiles to line the pool; the effect is dazzling, like a bejeweled Roman amphitheater sparkling in the sun and glittering against the evening lights. There are two championship golf courses designed by Tom Fazio (right), with ocean views from nearly every hole, and when I wanted to get to that ocean itself, a private shuttle was dispatched to my bungalow doorstep, to deposit me at Crystal Cove State Park for surfing, boating, fishing and whatever other water wonders I craved.

    Everyone, meanwhile, can appreciate the sumptuous flavors of an olive-themed meal at the Northern Italian Andrea, which is so-named in honor of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, whose work inspired the design of Pelican Hill. Festival dinners are open to the general public, and a preview menu for this fall promises delights like monkfish carpaccio, lobster panzrotti (left), and olive oil poached walu.

    For a Festa spa treatment (below), I chose the grape seed and olive oil scrub, but not until I had relaxed in the meditation room for a good hour beforehand, enjoying a spa lunch of crispy flatbread painted with white bean puree and scattered-in wild mushroom, roasted piquillo peppers and baby arugula. For an extra nod to health, I sipped an herbal tonic sparkling with mint leaves, rosemary, cucumber, lemon, tonic and soda, then followed with a “dessert” of a cherry tofu smoothie, swayed by my spa therapist's insistence that cherries are high in antioxidants, minerals and potassium, while tofu is high in protein, calcium and vitamin E. If I had any doubts about all this fuss about olives, the spa made me a believer. First, I luxuriated in a warm, gentle scrub of ground olive skins, grape seeds and olive oil. Then, I melted into a deep massage, the therapist slathering me with grape seed and olive oil lotions. Through the evening and well into the next day, my skin glowed and felt like satin. Inside and out, I felt extravagantly nourished, and, yes, grateful that it had still turned out to be a good year for olives.


If you go:

Festa Dell’Autunno Weekend Package 2012:  Various packages are available, including one night in a bungalow over the Festa Dell’Autunno Weekend and admission for two guests to the Nov. 3 Italian Street Festa, starting from $445 double occupancy.




Noise Levels Reach Dangerous Highs
by John Mariani  

BOOM-BADDA-BOOM  The trouble with having music BOOM-BADDA-BOOM in restaurants these days BOOM-BADDA-BOOM is that you can’t even BOOM-BADDA-BOOM  hear the music if you wanted to BOOM-BADDA-BOOM. Hold on, lemme turn it off.  BADDA-BOOM!!!    
O.K. That’s better.  As I was saying, the trouble with music in restaurants is that they play the stuff so damn loud that it creates two stultifying and nullifying phenomena: First, it causes people to talk louder and louder to be heard, which in turn blocks out any possibility of hearing anything but the bass-and-drum line of the music--BOOM-BADDA-BOOM BOOM-BADDA-BOOM BOOM-BADDA-BOOM BOOM-BADDA-BOOM !!!!!
    "Mood music" in restaurants used to be of three kinds:  New Age guitar crap with titles like “Aspen at Twilight,” Techno music with names like “Eine kleine Schmetterlings-Hommage,”  or classical strings, more often than not Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” For a couple of years there you couldn’t eat dinner without having to listen to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman belting out "Time to Say Goodbye."  Ottmar Libert, Kenny G, The Gypsy Kings, and Nora Jonesall had their day.  But that's changed in favor of restaurant owners and chefs' playlists, boomed in out of sheer ego.
    The agony of sitting near a $50,000 speaker system and trying to enjoy one's monkfish with fennel sauce can be unbearable at times, ruining an otherwise delightful evening.  One can hardly be a sophisticated gastronome while the drums-and-bass of a 50 Cent Jackson rap pounds in your ears.  What's worse, many restaurateurs pump up the sound as their customers elevate their own voices in order to be heard.  They call this "maintaining the energy," terrified that there might be a millisecond of silence
 in a room full of 150 guests shouting across the table from each other. 
   Now comes a NY Times article entitled "Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face and Unabated Roar," which proves how dangerously loud these places can be, showing that decibel levels of 95 and above, found at several restaurants, are equivalent to the L train passing by and citing a doctor from the deafness institute saying, "[Hearing damage] is a lifetime accumulation that never goes away. When you have damage, it's permanent."
    The Times also quotes restaurateurs, nightclub owners, and music programmers who contend that the intensity of the noise is wholly by design. "It gets louder and faster and causes people to eat and leave," said Wyatt Magnum, a music designer; restaurant consultant Jon Taffer is quoted as saying, "Are we manipulating you? Of course we are.  My job is to put my hand as deeply into your pocket as I can for as long as you like.  It's a manipulative business." It's also damaging to people's hearing.
       Restaurateur Jeremiah Tower once said that the only thing worse than a loud restaurant is a quiet one, but  somewhere in between is the norm for most restaurants anyway, unless it's one of those funereal three-star restaurants  in Europe where you can hear a soufflé fall and where diners whisper, "Could you please pass the salt?"  I recently asked a staff member at the new L.A. hotspot about the loudness of the music in an already loud dining room, and he replied (shouting in my ear), "Chef says if he can't hear the music in the kitchen, then it's not loud enough." So when American
 restaurateurs insist that they must have loud music because "people expect it," they are out-and-out lying. They say such noise attracts young people, which makes sense in a bar or disco but not in a restaurant, where people go to converse over a good dinner.  And why believe a designer, who gets a cut from the sound system installation bill?
     When I ask a restaurant owner or chef about his decibel levels, I pose the questions this way:  What are your five favorite restaurants in the world.  Invariably they answer by citing something like a three-star restaurant in Paris,  a favorite Provençal bistro, a sushi bar in Tokyo, a trattoria in Umbria, or a dim sum parlor  in Beijing.  Then I ask them, "Do any of them have music?"  There is a pause.  The fellow thinks and thinks hard, then  shrugs, and, with the look of a man who has no intention of changing his mind on the subject anyway, says, "Uh, no. They don't."
    Music in NYC restaurants and elsewhere has become not just intrusive but bombastic to the edge of cacophony and physically damaging.   By and large music is wholly unnecessary in a restaurant where the natural gregariousness of the clientele buoys the spirit far better than a mix of disco favorites and hip hop, which is all right in a disco but why would you play it in a restaurant?  
     For the record, when I dine at home outside in summer, I do play music I personally like at a level at which I can either ignore it or listen to it.  And when dinner's over and I'm having coffee, then I can truly appreciate the gorgeously romantic hush of Diana Krall's voice and piano (left).  But in a restaurant, put a lid on it and let me enjoy the company of those people I've come to dine with and engage in conversation.




The World’s Most Endangered Wine Region:

Portugal’s Colares Appellation

by David Lincoln Ross

    The deep roots of the Ramisco grape almost literally reach right back to the very establishment of Portugal as an independent kingdom on the Iberian peninsula.  Noted in documents written more than five centuries ago, the wines of Colares (pronounced ko-larsh) have been long intertwined with Portugal’s royal family, with some references dating to the 12th century.
    But before we delve into this grape’s fascinating history, or try to describe the remarkable wine made from this rare and noble variety, or the reasons behind the appellation’s astonishing heyday in the late 19th century on up to World War I, or the curious story about its close connection to Portugal’s earliest rulers in the 11th and 12th centuries, let me first offer a bit of geographical background
   Next, we should take a small, but worthwhile detour into seeking out Ramisco’s possible ampelographic origins;

Sand Worshiper: The Ramisco grape thrives in sandy soils, hence its rapid growth and popularity across late 19th century Europe, when the most of the continent’s vineyards were devastated by the phylloxera pest, but not in Colares, where the pest cannot abide sand.  It was then that Colares wines were known as the “Bordeaux of Portugal,” owing to their finesse and delicacy.

Nestled just behind a line of narrow sandy bluffs between the Atlantic and the foothills of the Sierra Sintra mountains, and located some 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Lisbon, Portugal, massive 50-to-100 year-old Ramisco grapevines snake amid apple orchards planted nearby, which along with sturdy cane fencing, shelter these earth-bound vines from ever-present gusts of wind sweeping in from the ocean.  Without these fences, including some assembled from stone boulders, gail-force blasts can literally rip ripening Ramisco grapes right off the vines, says Francisco Homem de Figueiredo, Winemaker, Adega Regional de Colares (the Colares Regional Cooperative), and your correspondent’s gracious and knowledgeable host during my recent trip this past spring to a singularly fascinating appellation.Welcome to Portugal’s tiniest, oldest, and, today, a largely forgotten wine growing region: Colares. It also holds another, less auspicious vinous distinction. In 2012, Colares could very well be the most-endangered wine appellation in the world.

 Colares Comrades: Francisco Homem de Figueiredo, Winemaker, Adega do Colares, Colares, Portugal, left, and Antonio Bernardino Paulo da Silva, Owner, Colares Chitas, Azenhas do Mar, Portugal, are the two most active producers of the famed and long-lived red wines of the country’s tiniest appellation. Photo: David Lincoln Ross  

     Hemmed in by still expanding residential and commercial developments, Colares’s once expansive rural landscape of farms, orchards and seaside vineyards has gradually given way to ultra-modern weekend retreats, luxury hotels, and plush gated-communities.  Adding to the coastal transformation of these once sleepy fishing ports and nearby hamlets, vineyard owners of a certain age in Colares are “cutting back”, pun intended: That is, these 60- and 70-year-olds are selling their holdings, which nowadays are more valuable as ocean-side residential lots than as cherished backyard vineyards. (Indeed, Colares, and neighboring Azenhas do Mar, have undergone a startling evolution much like the East End of New York’s Long Island, where former potato fields have gradually given way to more and more gaudy “McMansions” from Westhampton to Montauk.
    With some owners literally as old as the vines they have lovingly tended and grown up with, such sales to aggressive developers further accelerate the appellation’s diminishing acreage, according to Figueiredo.  During our tour of some of these family-owned holdings, whose dwindling group of 55 owners sell  their grapes directly to the Colares Wine Cooperative, Francesco estimated that compared to a century ago when Colares vineyards attained almost 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres), today the shrinking appellation –which was formally established in 1908 — totals a mere 19 hectares, barely 50 acres! (In addition to Ramisco wines, there are 15,000 bottles of white Malvasia wine produced annually in the Colares appellation,  according to Figueiredo.)
    But, owing to the appellation’s sandy soil that makes it uninhabitable to the phylloxera pest, Colares wines in the late 19th century emerged as the toast of enophiles and epicures across Europe.  This turn of events came about not only because of the wine’s unique availability — recall, most of the rest of Europe’s vineyards had been nearly completely destroyed by the phylloxera pest — but also because the wines of Colares were, and remain today, delicious, refined and eminently age-worthy.
    For all these reasons, Colares wines became known as the “Bordeaux of Portugal.” Although as we shall see, in fact, Colares wines more likely bring forth associations with France’s other equally renowned red wine appellation, Burgundy. Indeed, the great 19th century Portuguese novelist Jose Maria de Eça de Queiroz, said of Colares: “Os vinhos mais franceses de Portugal!”, “the most French wines of Portugal.” (This quotation is taken from an excellent account about Colares wines by Wiremu Andrews, a noted New Zealand-born sommelier.

Along with Colares’s sole remaining private bottler, Antonio Bernardino Paulo da Silva, of Azenhas do Mar, Portugal, who, at the age 84, still comes to the da Silva winery every day, overseeing his company top brand, Colares Chitas, Francisco soldiers on. All told, between Figueiredo’s Colares cooperative and da Silva’s Chitas sales, only 50,000 bottles of Colares are produced annually.
    As we tasted a number of Francesco’s Arenae vintaged-dated Ramisco wines at the Adega, I asked Francisco what wines most people might be familiar with most nearly resemble a classic Colares wine? 

Very Cherry: The Arenae Colares, vintage 2005, from the Adega Regional do Colares, is a medium-bodied red wine packed with fresh-picked red berry aromas and black cherry and flavors.                               Photograph: David Lincoln Ross

    Francicsco offered the most remarkable, and enlightening, reply: a Pinot Noir Burgundy from a Premier Cru Cotes de Nuits, or a fine Nebbiolo bottling from Barolo in Italy. In fact, if you poll sommeliers as well as expert Portuguese and Spanish wine importers, they might well tell you a Colares wine exhibits the following characteristics: Ramisco-based wines are light-to-medium bodied; they feature distinct, some say relatively high, levels of acidity; and thanks to the Ramisco’s thick skin, Colares wines also possess ample levels of tannin; and most would note their alcohol level rarely exceeds 12% or 12.5%. At their best, these wines are enormously long-lived, well-structured, balanced and display great finesse, all capped by a long, lingering finish of red berry fruit and black cherry jam. In their youth, they can be a bit astringent, but with age, they blossom!
    These same sommeliers and importers will also tell you that Colares wines, even if they are known to the taster (and most likely you’ll receive a blank stare from even the most dedicated wine geek on hearing the appellation or the name of the grape, that is how obscure this appellation and its wines are), they will be variously described as “light”, or perhaps “out of fashion”, and most assuredly, “not big, forward or powerful enough” to suit the palates of most of today’s wine drinkers, aficionados who truly favor far more robust bottlings of  New World Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Bordeaux blends, Zinfandels or Rhone-style Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache blends.

In fact, notwithstanding Colares’s reputation as the “Bordeaux of Portugal”, Francisco’s taste association, coupling Pinot Noir and Ramisco, actually carries some strong historical/circumstantial weight. And it’s all in keeping with a central theme of the establishment of Portugal as an independent nation, free from the orbit of Castile and León, in the 12th century, then one of the most powerful ruling clans of the Iberian peninsula. Here is a quick historical sketch that offers some suggestive context to the possible Burgundian connection for the Colares wine appellation. It’s a little involved, but a good tale!
    As the Moors were gradually eased out of  the Iberian peninsula by Christian crusaders during the so-called Reconquista, or Reconquest, from the 8th to 12 centuries, inter-marriage among leading Catholic noble families occurred frequently. While much of present-day Portugal during this period up to the 11th century was increasingly controlled by Castile’s ruling family, ultimately a related branch of the Castilian clan ultimately broke off in a series of battles; their aim was to achieve complete Portuguese sovereignty.  Following a successful final battle against the Castilian overlords, Portugal’s first monarch was recognized by the ultimate religious and dynastic referee back then, the Pope in Rome.
    The new realm’s first king (left) was christened Afonso Henriques I (1109-1185), who is also known as o Fundador, as in “the Founder” of Portugal.  The Moors, who Afonso I (below) pursued ruthlessly and without mercy during his long reign, called him ibn-Arrik in Arabic, which translates to “son of Henry.” Now stay with me here! Just a little more history!
    Who was Afonso Henriques I’s father? Henry of Burgundy; in Portuguese and Spanish history books, he is known as Conde Henrique, or Count Henry of Portugal. How did a Burgundian come to be a Count of Portugal? Well, in 1093, Henry had married Theresa, who was the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon. For Theresa’s dowry, Alfonso VI conveyed the “County of Portugal”, then a fief, or possession, of the House of Castile to Henry. So, it is speculated that Count Henry, along a number of other Burgundian knights and their servants who all came into Iberian territory determined to push out the Moors once and for all, might also have brought vine cuttings from home. This was not unprecedented; Roman consuls and their retinues, a thousand years earlier, brought indigenous grape cuttings from Italy, and elsewhere, to plant in the far outposts of the Roman empire.
    So, as some wine historians posit, it is quite possible that the Ramisco grape could be — and, by looks alone, it does unerringly resemble the Pinot Noir grape in shape, size and color — a long lost “cousin” of this renowned French noble grape.  Most important, Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henrique I, who was the son of Count Henry and Theresa,  and Afonso’s royal descendents, can certainly trace an important part of their genealogical roots back to Burgundy.  Who knows then,  perhaps Ramisco’s ampelographic roots go back to this time as well?  But whatever the source of the Ramisco grape, Afonso III, the grandson of o Fundador, did much to commercialize, regulate, tax and demarcate the wine growing regions in and around Sintra, where the royal family summered to avoid the awful heat of Lisbon, as well as the seaside vineyards of Colares,  which are only six miles from Sintra.
    By the 15th and 16th centuries, there is abundant documentation showing that the wines of Colares were not only gracing the royal tables in both Sintra and Lisbon, but were also being busily exported around the world, including to Portugal’s many Brazilian and Indian colonial outposts in the New World and the Far East.
    Now, to bring us back to the all-important present, whether with a grilled steak or smoky pork ribs, some succulent lamb chops or a hearty stew, fresh, pan-seared trout or slow-roasted sword fish or sea bass, try a Colares wine and you won’t be disappointed!

To locate and sample the Colares wines in the U.S., visit:

David Lincoln Ross is a food, wine and travel writer based in NYC. For more blogposts, please visit:



“I had one day to see Slovenia. Ten hours, to be exact. Eight, if you count the driving time from Trieste, Italy—the port where my cruise ship was stopping—to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, and back. I had to make the most of this one day. . . . I had never been to Slovenia, had always wanted to visit it, and might never get back. And we had to return to Trieste by 7 p.m., before our ship set sail for the next port of call.”—Wendy Perrin, “Slovenia,” Conde Nast Traveler (3/12).


STK restaurant in Las Vegas now has a steak knife covered with  300 pink sapphires, worth $30,000, intended to be offered to VIPs and high rollers  It is a companion to another knife, of which, reported the Las Vegas Sun,  "when STK had only one knife, celebrity couples, including LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, had to share."

. . . Meanwhile in NYC, the Guinness Book of World Records declared The Le Burger Extravagant, sold at New York's Serendipity 3 for $295 the world's most expensive burger (left),  containing Japanese Waygu beef, 10-herb white truffle butter, smoked Pacific sea salt, 18-month cheddar, shaved black truffles, a quail egg, and a white truffle-buttered roll, all held together by a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick holding the whole thing together.





 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--Now in Paperback, too--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).

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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