Virtual Gourmet

  FEBRUARY 23, 2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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                                  Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon in "Sex in the City 2" (2010)


ANNOUNCEMENT: The annual Charleston Food + Wine Festival will be held March 6-9, with more than 80 events and a stellar line-up of chefs and food writers including Frank Lee, Jeremiah Bacon, Anthony Lamas, Chris Shepherd, Frank Stitt, John T. Edge, Andy Ricker, Anne Quatrano, Natalie Dupree, Nancy Silverton, and dozens more. John Mariani will again host a Wine Cruise of Charleston Harbor on Saturday at noon.  For info go to:


by Marcy MacDonald

NYY Steak
by John Mariani

True Tales from Dallas Sommeliers
by Andrew Chalk



                                                                                            by Marcy MacDonald
                                                                                                                    Photos from Riotour: Raphael David and Fernando Maia

                                                                            Carmen Miranda

    "When my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio ... de Janeiro." --Peter Allen.                                                                       

    Dress down and drink up: it's Carnival season in Brazil!
    "Lent is more like a brief pause during a year-long party," says Brazillionaire architect Rodolfo Doubek-Filho, who designed the ultra-modern city of Curitiba. "The entrudos (pre-parties) begin in October, and just get bigger until five Fridays before Lent when the samba schools erupt and take to the streets."  Unlike most riots: a very pretty sight.
       Incidentally, Doubek-Filho and other veterans of the annual madness do what the late Peter Allen did: they go to Rio.
     Cariocas--the residents of Rio--are among the most gorgeous specimens on the planet, a product of their Portuguese, French, African and pre-Columbian diversity. Clearly, God mixed the human formula perfectly here: Cariocas work hard and play hard; the female of the species almost elevates thong-wearing to an art form on the nation's beaches, from Ipanema to Uba Tuba.
     This national 'un'dress continues to inspire the costumes not quite worn by Carnival revelers. "Which makes it all the more amazing that a straight, single man-about-town, Candido Claudio Vasse, would cover up these perfect bodies by inventing Rio's first Fashion University," adds fashionista Anna Maria Tornaghi, reigning Queen of the Carnival's Masque Ball, one of Rio's hottest tickets. Tornaghi seemingly chairs nearly everything in Rio and heads the committee for the city's 400th birthday party.
     Imitations of the attire worn by the country's first export to Hollywood, "Brazilian bombshell" Carmen Miranda (aka: Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunh) who wasn't even Brazilian, are sometimes available in the shops and stalls downtown called "Saara," but the Carmen Miranda Museum is being relocated to Copacabana Beach where it will continue to attract film addicts and drag queens of every nationality.
      Some of the best (and briefest) costumes are still designed at Casa Turuna, Carnival central since 1920.  Others can be purchased or rented through the Samba Schools.  Incidentally, the average cost to perform inside the Sambadromo is between 5 to 7 million reais  (USD$3 to 5 million) for each of the big samba schools, which amounts to Big Business.
     "The late Peter Allen was Carmen Miranda in drag," asserts carnavalista and author Angela Bowie, whose ex-husband, David, credits Allen with shaping his career. "Peter and his then-wife, Liza Minnelli, loved Carnival: its influence on his performance could be seen in every flamboyant rustle of his frilly samba shirts.  But the entire population of Rio is further out than either Peter Allen or David Bowie."  Amen, sambasister.
     "Keeping up with the cariocas isn't for the feint of heart," she added. There is a kind of Carnaval endurance course to complete before Rio's banks, government buildings and various businesses around Rua da Alfandega, Rua Buenos Aires and Rua Uruguaina pull in their Welcome mats and lock their doors for the annual celebration.  Downtown closes down everything but its saloons; even Paulo Mamede's performance space in the historic section, downtown closes everything but its saloons.
    People who want to see the early parades will stay up from the night before.  For others, it goes something like this: unless you're headed for a job, rise at the crack of noon and proceed directly to Marius (left), barbecue joint extraordinaire. Bring a thirst for a late lunchtime caipirinha, caipiroska (relatively harmless, made with vodka) or choppa (beer) as you pick your salad from Marius' rooftop garden. Graze and talent spot: the place is always packed with famous faces, a few redesigned by the famous, now-retired plastic surgeon, Dr. Ivo Pitanguy, who received the Legion d'Honeur for his invisible seams, His gorgeous and talented kids are now in the family business.
     Treat a hangover to acai in any beach bar (or train by drinking Sambazon before you leave home) or guarana, the Amazonian energy bean available in everything from chewing gum to cigarettes and sodas.
     You'll need a reliable taxi driver (like ours, Tony, the driver who never met a red light he didn't run).  It takes nerves of steel to ride in one of the many altered VWs that dart through the city, but if you survive the ride, roll to Arcos da Lapa and eat your way from one end of the menu to the other Fundição Progresso is now responsible for the organization of the open-air Carnival event "Rio Marchinha," in the area near Arcos da Lapa. The national dish, feijoada (below), is a long-running hit at the Casa de Feijoada, Caesar Park, the hipper-than-ever Hippopotamus or the very cool (and very pricey) Colombo Coffee Shop. Be seen at the Palm and El Turf in the Jockey Club on Tuesdays, the best night for the racetrack.  There are also gafiera dance halls where you can hear cavaquinho (guitar) and pandeiro (banjo) music. Most feature Batucada -- song and dance that requires foot-stomping, hand-clapping and enormous quantities of alcohol.   Weekly gay and lesbian parties happen all over town, as Rio is very gay-centric. 
     On Saturdays, head to Lapa's nightlife district. And on Sundays, Bracarense in Leblon is so jammed you can only get in with a whip-and-a-chair. Consolation prize: The Hippy Fair in Ipanema, and impromptu food fairs from beach to beach, all over town.    Try the ramps. Since the French catered to their Napoleonic Royals in Brazil, Cariocas developed a taste for escargots. Now, the University of Brazil has developed a method for harvesting snails in only two months, rather than France's two years. Add garlic and drawn butter to taste and samba.
     "Think of the movie 'Orfeo Negro' ('Black Orpheus') as a kind of training film for Carnival," affirms the supreme sambanista, Mary Wilson. "Antonio Carlos Jobim's score for the film put samba's bossa nova beat on the international music map,” which is why Rio's most famous saloon may be the Bar Garota de Ipanema where Jobim and Vinicius de Morais composed “The Girl From Ipanema.”  Samba along the undulating, sea-wave roadway from Copacabana Beach uphill to the sidewalk outside famous late samba-music man, Noel Rosa's home, where it turns into musical notes that comprise his compositions.  The 93-year-old icon Bibi Ferrirea still has perfect pitch, still has her own troupe, still keeps this generation of the Jobim family gainfully employed, and still tours: if you can get a coveted ticket, she plays New York after Lent.
     From the perspective of any of Rio's lofty viewpoints -- take a long look at the Tijuca rain forest (planted by a princess, a general and five slaves over a century ago at the behest of Emperor Pedro II), the “lungs” of the city. Of course, Sugar Loaf Mountain dominates the entrance to the harbor, its huge art deco Christ the Redeemer statue on the 'hunchback' Corcovado mountain, reigning high above the skyline.
     Every structure in Rio seems to be occupied, pulsating at every hour, the perfect backdrop for the phalanx of hang gliders who follow the air currents to the ocean where a 24-mile beach party begins each New Year’s Eve and runs until Bibi sings.   The Terreira o do Samba's concerts are surrounded by food and drink, singers, dancers, acrobats on every beach. Appearances of various bands -- including the Ipanema Band, Carmen Miranda's Band (comprised of fabulous drag queens), as well as the popular Simpatia e Quase Amor, Corda o do Bola Preta, and Survaco de Cristo -- are announced in the local papers (and, now, websites).
     When the Cidade Marvilhosa's 19th century elite held formal bailes (masquerade balls) and processions, they excluded the poor of the favelas slums. And yet it was there that the most famous escolas de samba (samba schools) would be born; there the local jongo music would evolve into the tympanic Ze Pereira bands that give Carnival it's urgent, irrepressible beat.
     Many of the important Masque Balls samba in Copacabana, the most famous at the Orient Express Copacabana Palace Hotel, and along Ipanema Beach. This year, there will be a revival of the famous celebration at the Port, alongside several Carnival Balls sponsored by Devassa Beer. They are being called Devassa Balls and all of them will be held at the renovated warehouses at the Port of Rio. The City of Rio’s official opening Gala Ball will be the first one in the city, and the last--but certainly not least--is the Great Gala Gay Ball, on the eve of Lent, the last day before Cariocas get religion.
     Book a samba class to get your Carnival muscles in shape.  The most expensive occur on weekends when tourists feel obliged to appear en masse in Rio's poorest neighborhoods.  Whether to observe or participate, take a week-night class at Beija-Flor, Imperio Serrano, Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Mangueira, Mocidadle Independente and Portela schools in the Zona Sul (southern Rio), which often create the richest and most colorful high-energy performances with flawless spontaneity. Classes cost an average of R20 in the beginning to R$50,00  (USD $12-$30) in the last days before Carnival in the main samba schools like Mangueira, Salgueiro, Unidos da Tijuca, Beija Flor and others. Each samba school has a different weekday for its 'undress' rehearsal, so check their own websites, radio and television stations and local newspapers--if you read Portuguese.  Samba if you don't.
     Samba school ranchos and desfilars are parades that may require tickets, which are available from September, on, but the only parade that requires a ticket is the main one.  It's expensive to participate in a parade, but the schools' parade ticket price often includes costumes and a seat in the stands. Check the fine print. The smaller samba schools of the bairros organize Blocos, informal street processions. You don't need a costume or a ticket for the Blocos and their performance schedules are very, very flexible.  Many of the schools samba all the way from the favelas to Ave. President Vargas to show their stuff at the massive, sculptural Sambadromo (designed by the late Oscar Niemeyer), the real location of the parade as samba schools don't do any formal parading before that.
      Just take the metro to Largo do Carioca or Cinelandia. Many streets are closed to traffic as the participants are inside the Sambadromo, at the "concentracao area", so you may want to experience Rio's famous subway to get there-and-back in time to celebrate.
     Inside the enormous structure, performances begin before an audience of about 90,000 every single night, foul weather or fair: great deal of alcohol is available from the VIP section to the nosebleed seats, in the not-so-cheap seats up with the Gods.
     On Carnival Sunday, be at Avenida Rio Branco and Boulevard 28 de Setembro for amazing displays that begin at about 7:30 in the evening. On Sunday and Monday nights, the top 12 samba schools compete for the grand prize.  The jury announces the top three winners on Ash Wednesday, and on the Saturday after Carnival, a Champions' Parade is held, starring the best samba schools of the year.   If you're still alive, don't miss it: these are the people to watch for next year.
      If you've had too much fun, and wish to repent: Catholicism is the official national faith, but true believers have made Soccer, Samba and Santoria--not necessarily in that order--a religious experience. The downtown Benedictine monastery with its eye-test disco floor is presided over by St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, imported to the Southern Hemisphere by the Jesuits whose monasteries flourished wherever there were indigenous souls to convert.
     Some terreiros (traditional houses of worship) are as open to the public as cathedrals. Book Tenda Espirita or Palacia de Iansa -- or arrive unannounced at Jeronimo. As for entering a futbol stadium: Pele is a national treasure. Samba accordingly until the first entrudo begins in the stands.

How to get there:

Book American Airlines for direct service in and out of Rio, or fly Delta via Atlanta or sail in to Rio's enormous harbor on one of the small Azamara or large Celebrity or Princess ships.  Sign away your life (for $150) for a Visa at your local Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.







by John Mariani

7 W 51st Street (near Fifth Avenue)

    Not for the first or last time will I wonder when NYC will achieve a surfeit of upscale steakhouses. Actually, I think NYC--as well as most U.S. cities--already has a surfeit, yet the genre keeps expanding almost month by month.  In just the past year, we've seen the opening of Delmonico's Kitchen, Morton's on Wall Street, Bobby Van's Broad Street, Del Frisco's Grill, Davio's, Costata, S Prime, Polo, Gallagher’s, and Quality Italian, all more or less derivatives of the original NYC steakhouses of the post-speakeasy era, especially Palm on Second Avenue.
      Some don't even try to break the ancient mold, while others have distinctly enhanced menus with more pastas and sushi-style dishes and many of the new ones have tried out extravagant new décors designed to attract as many women as male customers.  Wine lists have grown exponentially since the first Smith & Wollensky on Third Avenue upped the ante back in the 1990s.
    Now comes NYY Steak, actually the third in a mini-chain owned half by the New York Yankees (there's a unit in Yankee Stadium) and half by--ready for this?--the Seminole Indians of Florida, who have apparently done so well with their casino and steakhouse in Coconut Creek, that they bought out the hotel chain in which the casino resides--the Hard Rock Cafe empire.
    The brand new Manhattan branch is rife with Yankees' memorabilia, blown-up photos of the Bombers' great players, even dishware shaped like baseball diamonds.  Steak knives are etched with players' and guests' names and displayed on the walls. The restaurant's vast two-story structure, all 16,000 square feet of it, has plenty of space for private dining and parties, including one room built into a former bank vault, and, of course, the requisite long bar and huge TV screens.
    Its location right across from Rockefeller Center makes it a draw for office workers, pre-theatergoers and tourists coming to the area.   Del Frisco's and Del Frisco’s Grill are a stone's throw away, so NYY Steak's management is bending over backwards to pull clientele from the area, counting on their association with the Yankees but also providing a level of service and hospitality not so easily found in the old-line East Side steakhouses where arriving unknowns are likely to be treated with a shrug.  CEO Fred Thimm, formerly of the Palm chain, has been canny enough to poach a cadre of veterans like himself from other NYC steakhouses.
    At NYYS, pretty hostesses greet you by your name on the rez book, and the rest of the staff, from captains and sommeliers to waiters and busboys, are ever trying to impress you with their dexterity in serving and removing dishes, crumbing tables and placing new napery on them.
    The wine cache holds 200 labels, with
27 wines by the glass—many way overpriced, like J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet, which sells for  $12 in the store, here $13 for a single glass! The bar specializes in signature cocktails like the Yankeetini and the Bronx Bomber.   From 4 PM to 6PM and 9 PM to 11 PM weeknights, the restaurant offers “Pinstripe Power Hour” offering bites from the bar menu.
        Exec chef Elliot Lopez is not trying to re-invent the steakhouse genre but he is being very careful to invigorate it.  So you begin with a generous ahi tuna tartare with guacamole,
Mandarin orange sesame dressing, and a chile aïoli.  The lump crab cake is hefty and good on its own, enhanced with roasted chipotle corn salsa, and caper rémoulade, while the “colossal” shrimp cocktail lives up to its name in size and flavor, with punchy horseradish cocktail sauce.
         A 16-ounce chunk of bacon (above) is not unique in steakhouses, but NYYS’s is one of the best and juiciest I’ve had, with an equal ratio of fat to lean, made even tastier by a maple glaze and wilted spinach.
There are all the usual side dishes here—garlic mashed potatoes, big fat steamed asparagus, steak fries, creamed spinach with plenty of cream, and onion rings the size of hockey pucks, though they had far too much breading and not enough onion inside.
         And so, how was the beef?  Well, it’s all USDA Prime and dry-aged 21 days in their own lockers, which are visible in the restaurant.  (Frankly, any aging longer than 21 days becomes more a conceit than an improvement.)  The NY strip was excellent, well-trimmed and beautifully charred, as was a 27-ounce bone-in ribeye of terrific succulence.  There was some difference of opinion on the provenance of the lamb chops: the manager said they were from New Zealand, the chef from Colorado. In either case, they weren’t the best or most flavorful I’ve had in NYC.
         Nothing to quibble about, however, with the three-pound lobster I ordered:  the tail was sweet and tender, the claws completely full of meat, not shrunken from the shell, and the clarified butter and lemon all that was needed to achieve perfection.
         In the manner of some but not all steakhouses, NYYS offers various sauces like Béarnaise, au poivre, and blue cheese as additives, but charging seven bucks for each is not playing nice.
         You really won’t need dessert but at least one should be tried—the
NYY Steak 151 Volcano, vanilla bean ice cream covered with HeatH Bar crunch and expertly flambéed tableside using a shot of 151 Rum. Or maybe the gargantuan wedge of chocolate layer cake with berries, mousse and warm fudge.
         There is clearly a conspiracy afoot at NYY Steak to overwhelm you with portions, service and the kind of food few people can resist.  Tossing in a whole lot of glitz, bar action, roominess, and a truly affable spirit makes for a good backdrop, especially if, at any moment, Alfonso Soriano or Derek Jeter might come through the door. 


Hours: Lunch and dinner daily. Dinner starters $11-$19, main courses $32-$62.




True Tales from Dallas Sommeliers

by Andrew Chalk

    If you work in the hospitality industry you serve humanity. You are bound to come across all types of people and accumulate some funny anecdotes over the years, so recently I surveyed Dallas sommeliers about the soft underbelly of wine service.
Anthony Martinez at The Gaylord Texan handles thousands of wine orders a week. He still remembers the time that a table asked for straws and drank their wine from a straw. Another time, a guest tasted the wine straight from the bottle.

Jennifer Jaco recalls an episode when she was at Del Frisco’s: “I once had a guest ask me to take his bottle of wine, decant half and put the other in a blender for five seconds, then asked me to pour the wine into two glasses to see if I could tell the difference.  It was a really nice bottle so I couldn't bring myself to oblige, so I asked the bartender to do it.  Besides the fact that the blended wine looked like a raspberry smoothie, all it did was make the wine smell like mint because they had been making mojitos in the blender all night.”

Russell Burkett at Sēr once had a regular customer order Cabernet by the glass, accompanied by Sweet & Low, and a glass of ice cubes.

Jeremy King of the Gaylord Texan reports, “I've had a guest ask me to put two different wines in the same glass because he liked different things about each wine Once we had a lady come in and tell her friends and the sommelier on duty that she could take the sulfites out of a glass of wine.  She then asked the sommelier for the cork but said, `It can be anything you pull out of your purse.’  She moved the cork in a circular fashion inside the glass seven times, noting to her fellow guests to `make sure you don't touch the sides of the glass.’  She then repeated the procedure for each person's glass of wine and announced that their wines were now sulfite-free.”

Some problems arise due to misunderstandings about wine. Anthony Martinez says, “I find it humorous when the cork is passed around a table of four to six guests for everyone to smell. It’s even more humorous when they smell the side that has had no contact with wine. And at least a half dozen times a guest has ordered a $60 Zinfandel expecting a Blush, and said they were willing to pay over $60.”

Chris Morgan recalls one time at Oceanaire, “I had some guests order a Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon--with two seafood dishes, if I remember correctly--to be served between their first and main courses. I pulled a bottle out of our temperature-controlled cabinet and decanted it at the table for them. The process was seamless and the entrees were delivered just as I finished the wine service. The server alerted me that the table wished to speak with me not long after the entrees had been delivered. `Is everything prepared perfectly?’ I asked. `This wine is cold,’ the gentlemen replied, `much colder than we like it. We thought we could get used to it and tried to like it, but we just don’t want to wait for it to warm up while our food gets cold.  Could you bring us a bottle that isn’t so cold?’ I replied,  `We do keep certain selections at cellar temperature; 55 degrees is the best temperature to store and serve fine red wines.  I’m sure it wouldn’t take long at all for the wine to come up to a more agreeable temperature for you.’
“`Well, this is much colder than we like or are used to,’ he said.  `Could you bring us a bottle that is closer to room temperature?’  Grudgingly, I removed the decanter, the bottle and their glasses, then repeated the process with a bottle from storage that was at room temp or above.  I returned to the table near the end of their meal, and they both expressed sincere gratitude for exchanging their `cold’ wine for a bottle that was `a more proper temperature.’ That experience reinforced the adage that the guest isn’t always right, but they are the guest, and have the right to be wrong.”




In Brooklyn, NY,  Isa restaurant invites guests to sit at long communal tables and learn about subjects like the "mindful feast," with author Lodro Rinzler explaining how to "be present" while drinking wine.  A post-meditation dance party was cancelled because, said the owner of the restaurant, "Everyone was so Zenned out."


According a poll conducted by travel dating site,, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and New Delhi, India, have poor conditions comparable to Sochi in this list of the “Top 8 Most Unpleasant Cities Rivaling Sochi”:
Top 8 Most Unpleasant Cities Rivaling Sochi:
1. Dhaka, Bangladesh
2. New Delhi, India
3. Algiers, Algeria
4. Detroit, Michigan
5. Youngstown, Ohio
6. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
7. Guadalajara, México
8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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

The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  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: 12 Great Restaurants in Las Vegas; Day Tripping in Amsterdam

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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