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  December 7,  2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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David Niven and Loretta Young in "The Bishop's Wife" (1947)



Christmas in Canada
By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By John Mariani


Christmas in Canada
By John Mariani

Manoir Hovey, North Hatley, Quebec

     About an hour east of Montréal, around Granby, the flat land  and power lines give way to slopes of trees—pines and red oak, yellow birch and spruce. Mallards and grackles, chickadees and gannets, peregrine falcons and golden eagles spot the skies.  Lakes lie within rich reedy valleys. Pious French names like Saint-Benôit-du-lac and Saint-Étienne-de-Bolton vie with those of English and Indian townships, like Georgeville, Ogden, Magog and North Hatley.
This last, on the northern tip of Lake Massawippi, has been a tourist draw since the late 19th century, after a railway line was put through the region.  North Hatley (left) and its neighbor Hatley drew immigrants a century earlier, and many grew rich from agriculture, wood harvesting, and potash (used to make soap).  One curiosity of seasonal emigration was the influx of Americans from the South, who bypassed New England in preference to Canada in search of grand summer residences.

    Some of their mansions were later transformed into deluxe inns, while in the little town of North Hatley, bed-and-breakfasts popped up like wildflowers among art galleries and cafés. Since 1982, the Festival du Lac Massawippi has centered around music recitals held in the  Sainte-Élizabeth Church and in the springtime al fresco on grounds of Dreamland Park. For the more daring visitor,  try the Velo Volant, a suspended recumbent bike on a zip line on which you can peddle above a forest canopy, 100 feet high.
    Of course, much of the region’s attractiveness is in spring, summer and fall, when hiking in Les Gorges de Coaticook park, fishing and hunting are most popular. But in winter these are replaced by skiing (there are five ski resorts in the Eastern Townships), snowmobiling, skating, and ice fishing on the lakes, whose ice thickness can grow to several meters.
    Year-round, the Abbey of Saint-Benôit-du-Lac is a Benedictine monastery—you can still listen to their Gregorian chants in the evening—and there are a dozen wineries in the region.

    There is still a good deal of agriculture in the area, and one of the genial pleasures is to visit one or two of the many cheese makers, like the 163-hectare  organic La Station de Compton (right), which has four generations of family experience maintaining a herd of 50 Holstein dairy cows.  They make an array of five excellent cheeses with names like Alfred, Hatley and Comtomme, all sold in the little boutique here, along with their own maple syrup.
    On a recent visit to the region, I stayed at the magnificent Manoir Hovey, sequestered in timberland outside of North Hatley. The structure was originally a summer home built in 1899 by Henry Atkinson, owner of Georgia Power.  The design was inspired by George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. After changing hands several times, it became an inn in 1950, then, in 1979, Kathryn and Stephen Stafford bought and renovated it. Their son, Jason, is now managing director of this Relais & Châteaux property of 30 rooms with seven suites, five individual cottages and one chalet for up to eight people, all surrounded by gardens and set on the shore of the lakefront. (All prices in this article are in Canadian dollars.)
    The greeting by the entire staff is as warm as the roaring fireplace in a Library Room (left) that for me would be the perfect “Man Cave,” a space with hundreds of books, cushy sofas, thick blankets, and access to good spirits from the bar next door, which leads to Le Hatley restaurant.  The dining room (below) is very beautiful, done with the local environment in mind, with birch-like wall coverings, French windows overlooking the lake, a big fireplace with its black logs crackling. Tables are luxuriously set, chandeliers glow, and candles light the tables, but there is no sense of enforced formality here.  The wine list is exceptional, not just for its breadth and depth but for the number of increasingly fine Canadian wines offered. (There is also a Tap Room Pub a few steps away for more casual fare.)
        The kitchen at Manoir Hovey is overseen by Executive Chef Roland Menard, here for three decades now, and Chef de Cuisine Francis Wolf, who has worked at Alain Déclassé, Daniel and Aureole in New York. As much as possible, Canadian ingredients are used, not least dozens of unusual herbs, spices, flowers and foraged mushrooms incorporated into the cuisine, which has strong French underpinnings.
       Although I found several dishes very fussy in presentation, with a daunting number of ingredients arrayed around the plate to little effect, the heartiness of the autumn menu was manifest in dishes like an acorn squash soup with Canadian foie gras flan, kohlrabi, parsnip, beans and leeks.  Canadian beef of full flavor came pan-seared, with potatoes Anna, sautéed mushrooms with shallots, and a red wine sauce, and I was delighted to see grilled guinea fowl with parsnip puree, barley and a dried grape sauce. One of the justifiably popular items at Le Hatley is the sweetbreads with artichoke foam, kohlrabi, heirloom squash and a hazelnut emulsion (though I don’t see why there should be a $5 supplement on a $70  table d'hôte menu for inexpensive offal).
    I recommend you try a sampling of local cheeses (another  $8 supplement), wonderfully displayed on a cart and explained by the captain.  For dessert, I liked the dark chocolate custard cream meringue with bitter orange puree ($5 supplement).
    After a glass of Canadian Ice Wine, picking a book from the shelves of The Library, climbing the stairs to my bedroom and getting under the covers, with embers hissing in the fireplace and a silvery half moon over the reflecting lake, I had a feeling of true, quiet contentment and a sense of being much farther from Montréal than I was. 
Time seemed to lengthen out, a weak sunrise came on slowly, the lake glistened with glass-like ice, and the cold cutting air cleared my head.  Actually, the only thought I had in my head was to go down for a good breakfast of eggs and bacon, coffee and croissants, and to let the day roll through me.  I was on Canadian time.

Manoir Hovey is at
575 Rue Hovey, North Hatley, Quebec, one hour’s drive from Montreal, 20 minutes from the Vermont border, 4 hours from Boston, 6 hours from NYC;  800-661-2421 or 819-842-2421.  Le Hatley Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; table d’hôte $70.  Rooms start at $95 (lodging only) or $160 (MAP breakfast, dinner, gratuities); Suites start at $230 (lodging only) or $295 (MAP - breakfast, dinner, gratuities). 



By John Mariani

124 West 57th Street (between 6th  & 7th Avenues)

    Thirty years ago when the term “New American Cuisine” was coined in imitation of  France’s la nouvelle cuisine, it was soon extrapolated into New Southern Cuisine, New South Western, New Pacific Northwest Cuisine, and so forth across the map. (California spitefully split into Southern and Northern camps.)  The distinctions among them pretty much petered out in the ‘90s, when global influences, the Mediterranean Diet, and other fads blurred any reasonable definition of what New American Cuisine had become. 

       The contemporary, wholly fatuous definition often given these days is that American Cuisine is “whatever Americans eat,” which, if true, would be mostly frozen, boxed and canned food like Spam,  Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese, and Frito-Lay corn chips.

      My idea of what American food has become is pretty close to what’s being served at the year-old Kingside, whose chef-partner Marc Murphy (with Scott Gerber of the Gerber Group, below) has been focusing in on the kind of dishes that Americans who dine out are always happy to see, from a Kingside burger with giardiniera relish, soppressata and white cheddar ($21) to pan-roasted scallops with butternut squash, bacon caponata and brown butter ($34), ending off with caramel pudding with bourbon whipped cream and slivered almonds ($10).  (I’m stifling the urge to use the word “yum.”)

      Murphy, whose background took inspiration from his mother's and grandmother’s kitchens, from French master chef Jean-Louis Palladin, and from extensive worldwide travel, opened Landmarc in TriBeCa ten years ago, then another in the Time Warner Center, and a surf shack called Ditch Plains.  He still takes global ideas and ingredients and adapts them all to an American sensibility that bespeaks generosity, regional culinary tradition, a love of good salads, and a Yankee sweet tooth.  There is no fuss about his food, but it takes the kind of experience Murphy has to bring it all off with such grace.           

        Kingside is located in the Viceroy Hotel (near Carnegie Hall and the Theater District), with 115 seats,  38 at a very lively bar (above) whose high noise level fortunately does not intrude too much into the good-looking dining room, with its tile work walls and a convivial chef’s counter backed by quilted stainless steel.  Nicely lighted, with wooden tables and booths, the room manages to balance the feel of a swank midtown New York restaurant with that of a fast-paced, streamlined middle-American diner.  Service is amiable, knowledgeable, and attentive. The wine list of about 70 bottlings offers several by the quartino and half-bottle, with the majority of the list under $50 for whites and $60 for reds. (Now I’m stifling a “Yay!”)

        You could easily enjoy a good nosh at Kingside before heading for a concert or play: there are three raw items ($19-$21) of tuna, scallop and fluke, and charcuterie and cheeses ($10-$12).

Then there are a dozen small plates, with plenty of vegetable options.  Hay-aged, assertive pecorino graces baguette toast made sweet and milder with truffle honey and ricotta ($16), while lobster is diced with mustard seed, tarragon and fennel on toast to very delectable effect ($20).   Perfectly roasted foie gras takes a sweet balm from grapes and a splash of rich Sauternes.  A mushroom-flecked  burrata arancini ball was enhanced with truffle fondue ($15), though the fried arancini were a bit bland. 

    You don’t see snails on menus that often anymore, but anyone who likes them and wants to cook them should taste the way Mr. Murphy renders them, with bone marrow and garlic butter ($17).  Few snails ever had a better bed to curl into.

    The special that evening was house-made pasta lavished with white truffles—at $45 something of a modest price these days in New York.  My favorite entrée was the thick braised pork shank ($32), coming off the bone and oozing all the flavors it had absorbed, with roasted shallots, escarole and a pork jus. Also applauded at our table was a brick-roasted baby chicken (left) with fall vegetables, panzanella salad, and black garlic ($30).  The scallops I mentioned were as good as most in New York, if not outstanding, and the same might be said for the burger (I recall the outrage years ago when `21’ Club charged $21 for its burger. Times have changed.)

       Salt-and-pepper fried potatoes were gilded with a sweet onion aïoli ($10),  and buttery pommes fondant ($10) had enchanting, velvety texture and flavor,  while seasonal vegetables ($10) were packed with enlivening spices.

         When I see caramel pudding on a menu—rare, indeed—I order it and allow myself to slip into a nostalgia reverie for this childhood dessert. Mr. Murphy brought it all back to me, with the addition of grown-up whipped cream and pretzel crumble ($10).  

        So, although there are some French and Italian preparations on the menu at Kingside, they become very much part of the fabric of this very American menu.  Mr. Murphy has never tried to be trendy, only to be very, very good.

Kingside is  open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on Sunday.




By John Mariani


    This is a new Golden Age for whiskies, spirits whose popularity was long ago eclipsed by tasteless vodkas and white rums. The emergence of single malt Scotches, small batch bourbons, even a resurgence of new ryes, has made it a hot category again--and not a cheap one.  Indeed, the price of a lot of what’s now out there is not based on anything extraordinary about the whiskey, and some, like rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, have become such a cult spirit that people are paying whatever it takes--$250 and up--to get hold of a bottle that retails (if you could find it) at $80-$108.  Now that the holidays are upon us, so-called “brown spirits” are always a good gift idea, so here are some that I’ve been impressed by, not because they are so rare or come in a really nifty bottle, but because they are really quite distinctive.


Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritian Rum ($75-$80)--“XO” (extra old) is not a label term you see outside of Cognac, although its distributor, Anchor Distilling, says the small batch (5,946 numbered bottles for the whole world this year) is matured in French oak Cognac casks.  The name Penny Blue alludes to one of the world’s rarest stamps, with twelve in existence, and it’s made by Doug McIwor of Berry Bros. & Rudd of London  and the Master Distiller Jean Francois Koenig on the island of Mauritius.  Rums from that African island don’t leave it often, so the complex, spicy Penny Blue is not going to be in everyone’s Christmas stocking this year.


The Macallan Rare Cask ($300)--Available in a stunning gift box, this Scotch is made from carefully selected oak sherry casks, and Macallan has never shied away from an oaky flavor in its Scotch. Master Whisky Maker Bob Delgamo balances this with vanilla and chocolate notes along with some citrus, with a fine lingering finish that  remains chewy on the palate. 


Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Bourbon ($48)--The novelty here is that this bourbon is aged in two different barrels—one for maturation, one for finishing in a cask never charred, as is otherwise typical.  At 45.7 percent alcohol, it’s not tame. Michter’s made its rep on the basis of its aggressive 10-year-old ryes, which sell around $70, and it wants its bourbons to show innovation rather than just small production.


Crown Royal XO Blended Canadian Whiskey ($50)—Just as rye has created its own niche market, there is renewed interest in Canadian whiskey—the thing you used to drink with 7-Up in college—and the old distillers are falling over themselves to come up with a new edge.  Also using that “XO” word, Crown Royal’s new whiskey also matures in old Cognac barrels, and it joins others in the brand’s portfolio like Crown Royal XR (its “rarest” whiskey), Maple Finished, Crown Royal Deluxe, and Crown Royal Black. The XO is culled from 50 whiskies and is smoother than most Canadian spirits, with far more charm and elegance.


Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve ($41)—You can tell how thinly spirits makers are slicing the onion when you see a label that boasts of being a “single barrel” bourbon then adding “Reserve,” promising it is the only single barrel, 120 proof example aged for nine years.  That’s a long time to keep a bottle in the barn, and the aging has the effect of mellowing the texture and bringing out more nuance in a bourbon that comes from just a single barrel, which means each one varies in flavor.


Springbank Cask Strength Single Malt ($70-$85)—The come-on here is that this Campbeltown Scotch comes straight from the barrel without any dilution, so it’s a powerhouse.  It’s also got the characteristic smokiness of Campbeltown with a good dose of peatiness.  It’s really quite distinctive and a true Scotch lover will want it in his cache.  At 12 years old, it’s two yers older than their usual 10-year-old.  It’s also nice to know that Springbank is one of only two (the other is Kilcoman) of the region’s distilleries in Scotland to malt their own barley and go through every step of production on premises. Still best enjoyed splashed with a little water or seltzer in a crystal glass. 


Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whiskey ($32)—Cutty Sark was founded during Prohibition in America and when that idiocy ended, the company was well positioned to capitalize on the thirst of Americans for good, cheap blended Scotch, which grew lighter in body after the war. This “Edition” hearkens back to a fuller-bodied style favored in the 1920s, and there is certainly more complexity to it than ever, made mostly from a blend of Speyside whiskies, bottled at 100 proof.  It’s got a bite, and there’s no apology for that. Still at its best on the rocks.


Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve ($85)--Welcome back, Johnnie Gold! Well, sort of.  Gold, originally a limited edition mainly for the Asian market, was discontinued, but now it has been introduced in a one-of-a-kind format bottle, without the prior “18 Year Old” statement on the bottle. It has the characteristic creamy texture, peatiness, lots of oak, and sweet notes of all the JW issues—24 of them--including the basic Red Label, the smoky Double Black, and top-of-the-line Blue Label, at $225.  The Gold is generally available in a regular bottle, but a gift edition is gold-colored in a gold box guaranteed to impress the recipient.


Laphroaig Islay Single Malt 10 Years Original Cask Strength ($66)--Now, if you really like briar and peat and smoke in your whisky, Islay is the place to find it, and one of the finer, more complex versions is from Laphroaig.  You either like such eyebrow-raising Scotches or don’t, but you get what you pay for here. The whisky is aged in seasoned, charred oak barrels and slightly barrier-filtered  just to remove the small char particles present, so the Scotch may even appear a tad cloudy.


GlenDronach Distillery 15 Year Old Tawny Port Wood Finish ($80) and The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch  ($150)--These are two new Scotches from The GlenDronach distillery (founded 1826), which foundered for a while but is now back in good hands. The Old Tawny Port Wood Finish takes on some of the sweet character of Port, mellowing the whisky and adding caramel notes. The Cask Strength Batch is matured in Sherry casks, which impart their own flavors of nuttiness and orange.


The BenRiach Horizons 12 Year Old Triple Distilled ($80) --This sophisticated expression of Scotch is distilled three times, rather than the usual two, which takes away the rough edges and burn and replaces them with creamy, honeyed flavors.  BenRiach also makes a Solstice 2nd Edition 17 Year Old ($100) that uses both heavily peated and unpeated malted barley, which means it’s got plenty of snarky ballast under the first layers of fruit and spice notes.


1800 Tequila Milenio
($225)—Tequila is rarely thought of as a brown spirit, but the aged versions take on a definite color. 1800 Tequila’s second release of Milenio (the first produced in 2000), made from 100 percent blue agave,  is double distilled and  aged in Cognac barrels for five years, making this a tequila to be sipped like any fine brown spirits, not to be sloshed into a blender to make a margarita. Excellent also with Mexican-style tapas and Serrano ham. I suspect this is one of the priciest tequilas ever made.


The Glenlivet (owned by Chivas Regal), which was one of the first Single Malt Scotches to start the  bandwagon rolling back in the 1980s, now has sales of 11 million bottles each year, so it  is trying something new in its small batch, chill filtered Nàdurra (“natural”) line from Speyside with an Oloroso ($79) matured exclusively in ex-sherry casks from Jerez, which adds a lovely touch of creaminess and sweetness, with 48 percent alcohol.   (They also will release The Glenlivet Nàdurra First Fill Selection [$79] drawn from casks made from American White Oak next spring.) 

Merlet Sélection St. Sauvant  “Assemblage N°1” Blend N°1 Cognac ($90-$100)—Just as Single Malts saved Scotch from further decline, limited edition Cognacs have proven themselves the gateways to fire interest in what are among the world’s finest brandies. This Assemblage, bottled last year, is a blend of eaux-de-vie from the Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne regions, aged over 10 years, along with brandies from the Fins Bois 1992 and 2001 and Petite Champagne 1993.  Fifth generation distillers Pierre and Luc Merlet are trying to show different profiles of Cognac, and production of Assemblage totals only 800 bottles for the entire world.


Tariquet XO Armagnac
  ($50-$65)—Moreso than Cognac, Armagnac is made in small production, in the region of Gascony, so the distillers have been very active in finding ways to bring attention, including vintage dating, to these marvelous, robust brandies, made  in column stills rather than in pot stills, as in Cognac.  Armagnacs tend to be a little more rugged than Cognacs, and prices for the best of them  are usually lower. Now overseen by Yves Grassa, Tariquet, which  dates to 1912,  is an Armagnac made to be drunk younger than tradition has dictated--though the XO, made from Baco Blanc and Ugni Blanc, is aged 15 years--meaning the spirits have slightly lower alcohol level and a burst of spicy aromas and flavors. 

Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix ($55)--The roaring double digit growth over the last decade of Irish whiskies has forced established labels have to find new ways to compete.  Tullamore, founded in 1829, goes neck and neck with Jamesons and Bushmills in sales and recognition, so the brand has come up with this limited edition, which commemorates the day in 1785  when Tullamore witnessed a devastating hot-air balloon accident that destroyed much of the town.  Rising from its ashes, the town put a  phoenix on its coat of arms, hence the name of the whiskey, a triple distilled blend of all grain, malt and pure pot still whiskey,  finished in old oloroso sherry casks and released at 55% alcohol.   Still, it's not a massive Irish whiskey, so that the sweet notes of vanilla, nuts, and oak reveal themselves in layers, best appreciated with a good splash of water.



"The crust at first-rank Roman pizzerias like Da Remo in Testaccio is often compared to a cracker, but crackers crumble. This doesn’t. It is more like the crust on a loaf of peasant bread from which all the soft crumbs have been stripped. It is durably crisp, unbendingly flat, and when you hold a slice by the edge, the rest of it juts out above the table like a cliff. Because everything I know about cliffs was learned from Wile E. Coyote, I kept waiting for the tip on each Marta slice to give way, but it never did."--Pete Welles, "Marta," New York Times (12/3/14)

Dogfish Head brewery has come out with a new product called Beer for Breakfast, which founder Sam Calagione says has "everything-but-the-breakfast-nook stout" and   "a beer that has the most diverse group of ingredients" tied to the day's most important meal, which includes maple syrup, applewood-smoked barley, lactose (or milk sugar), cold-brew coffee, and  25 pounds of scrapple ("a cross between bacon, a sausage patty, and a corn muffin") The offering (right) will be served exclusively on draft at the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, brewpub.



Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


by Cristina Mariani-May         
co-CEO of Banfi Vintners America's leading wine importer

Since starting this column, I have prided myself in discussing a broad selection of wines based on the theme of our monthly discussion.  But with the holiday season in full swing, I have to say there is one wine that is top of mind and deserves its own “top ten” reasons to have plenty of it on hand for the holidays: Rosa Regale.  It has become America’s fastest growing sparkling wine, and with good reason – it tastes heavenly! 

Here’s the Letterman-inspired list:

10. A “Naughty” Way to Get on the “Nice” List

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; when Santa sees Rosa Regale’s bright red color trimmed with a foamy white froth, how could he not feel honored… and leave a little something extra in your stocking?

9. Rosa for a Crowd

The pretty “Princess Decanter” inspired bottle also comes in a party-size 1.5 Liter, the equivalent of two bottles – great for when friends come over, and a lot more conservative if anybody starts counting corks.

8. Romantic Rosa

The 375ml half bottle is perfect for that romantic encounter…

7. Rosa & You

The 187ml single serving is just the right indulgence for the deserving you…

6. Holiday Decorating Hint

Think about the possibilities with that pretty bottle and all those different sizes – filled with colored water, pebbles, sand, jelly beans or whatever.  A classy candle holder or centerpiece; the wire hood could even be manipulated to hang the smaller bottles from the tree like ornaments or festively decorate the house!

  5. Versatility

Savory appetizers?  What could be more festive and welcoming than Rosa Regale.  Roast holiday ham or turkey with all the trimmings?  Nothing will compliment it better than Rosa Regale.  Holiday chocolates?  Let me put it this way: some wines hold hands with chocolates, other wines embrace chocolate; Rosa Regale and chocolate become… intimate.

4. Prudence

At a low 7% alcohol content, a few Rosa Regales won’t get Santa’s sled swerving.  Put away the eggnog and don’t worry about the lampshades.

3. Holiday Cheer

Festive color, happy sparkle, deliciously fruity taste… what better way to break the ice and set the mood?

2. The Gift that Keeps on Giving

The ultimate hostess gift and better than cash for the letter carrier, doorman, and so many other special people on your list!

And the top reason for having plenty of Rosa Regale on hand for the holidays:

1.  Mistletoe

 If Cleopatra used the Rosa-Regale base of Brachetto as an aphrodisiac charm on the likes of Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony, who are we to argue with the ways of old?

No matter the reason you choose, may all your holiday celebrations be festive, happy and memorable!

 Rosa Regale - Aromatic with a hint of rose petals and raspberries, a unique sparkling ruby-red wine.  A charming, delightful and festive icebreaker, great with savories and especially well suited to desserts, particularly chocolate.  Available in 750ml, 375ml half bottles, 187ml single serving or the 1.5L magnum for more generous sharing.


Cristina Mariani is not related by family or through business with John Mariani, publisher of this newsletter



I'm proud and happy to announce that my new book, The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books), has just been published through Amazon and Kindle.  It is a Christmas novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring back his master back from the edge of despair.  WATCH THE VIDEO

“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.

 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,  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: Gifts for Travelers.

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. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Andrew Chalk,  Dotty Griffith and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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© copyright John Mariani 2014