Virtual Gourmet

  JULY 19,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


"À La Père Lathuille" by Eduoard Manet (1879)



By John Mariani

The Hilton Paris Opéra
by John Mariani


By John Mariani

By Mort Hochstein



By John Mariani


    It is never really out of place to ask whether a person should spend hundreds of dollars for a single meal at a single restaurant.  It is certainly not a moral question, for people easily spend as much or more on sporting events, Broadway theater and rock concerts.  The better question is, why exactly does such a meal cost so much?
    Should the number of courses determine the cost? Should the rent on the restaurant?  Should the celebrity of the chef?  Those do count, though I think the extravagance of 20-plus-course meals is more about a chef’s ego than it is about excellence and is usually more an ordeal than a pleasure. (The odd thing is that chefs themselves loathe it when other chefs force-feed them dozens of dishes.)
    The Michelin Guide has always been farcical in its contention that its inspectors give out stars only for what’s on the plate, as if they go blindfolded, but then give three stars only to the most expensive restaurants on the planet. And their over-the-top explanation of what constitutes a three-star rating--“worth a journey”--is just plain silly, as if you are going to Lourdes to be cured of an incurable disease.
    Still, the idea of a restaurant garnering the highest ratings from so many quarters gives me reason to discuss what exactly it is that you’re getting for your money, and, just as important, how such an experience differs from a lesser one where you spend a lot of money for only “what’s on the plate,” so often in a dining room with all the color, décor and sensual appeal of a cement bunker (think Alinea in Chicago, Catbird Seat in Nashville, Bianca in New York).
    Which brings me to the stunningly beautiful Paris restaurant L’Épicure at Le Bristol hotel, which is itself, recently renovated, one of the city’s finest and most elegant, from the reception at the front desk and the assistance of the concierge, under the eagle eyes of Sonia Papet, to the effusion of flowers everywhere and, never to be forgotten, two very spoiled cats who roam the public rooms. Along with L’Épicure, it’s all a seamless part of a grand design.
    L’Épicure, which has held three Michelin stars since 2009, has been re-located to a very sunny room overlooking the gardens (above) and from the moment you are greeted, you are made to feel quite special and in for surprises.  The room’s formality is softened by the lightness of colors, a shimmering gold chandelier, and the country tartan-patterned chairs set at round tables with exquisite linens, delicate china, heavy silver flatware and thin wine glasses. A small bouquet of flowers brightens the ambiance even more, echoed in the garden and fountain surrounded by trim hedges and flourishing  ivy.  This is not a hushed dining room, like some of its kind in Paris, although in its earlier, very formal interior setting, now used for banquets, it was.
  L’Épicure is now a place where a wide variety of people are clearly having a very good time without pomp or ceremony beyond the artful professionalism of the crew. You can see them marvel at the food they are eating as they bask in a cocoon of elegant comfort.
    The impeccably dressed waitstaff, from maître d’ Frédéric Kaiser to sommelier Marco Pelletier and his six assistants (this, for a 40-seat restaurant) maintain a remarkable balance of cordiality without intrusion, ever attentive to a guest who merely looks up for assistance, always refreshing wine glasses, setting down new silverware, crumbing the table, removing and replacing dishes. 
    Aside from breakfast, L’Épicure serves exactly 40 people twice a day, with 40 cooks in the kitchen working under Eric Fréchon (above), surely the least self-promoting master chef in Paris,  known more as a chef’s chef rather than as a celebrity.  He, along with chef de cuisine Franck Leroy, stays put in his kitchen, fretting about every drop of sauce and the temperature of every plate.
    I had lunch with my son at L’Épicure this spring and asked to have Fréchon do a tasting menu, along with wines, which delighted the captain who took our order.  As soon as that was done, with a glass of Champagne in hand, we were treated to Sologne Imperial caviar (all ingredients at L’Épicure are from France) atop ratte (fingerling) potatoes with a mousseline of smoked haddock and buckwheat crisp (left).  Several breads and wonderful butter, at just the right temperature, were offered.
    Next came Fréchon's signature stuffed macaroni (Paris is infatuated with Italian pasta these days) with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, then dusted with Parmigiano and set under the broiler--just about the most wonderful mac-and-cheese dish in the world!  Purple sea urchins were simmered in bouillon in their shells and mixed with an egg mousse, looking like a luscious, briny ice cream coupe (right).  With these we drank a brisk Domaine Raveneau “Butteaux” Chablis 2009.
    Wild turbot of unsurpassed tenderness absorbed the flavors of wild pink garlic and pine nuts, with simply sautéed baby spinach with a whipped brown butter zabaglione. Domaine Des Rémizire Croze-Hermitage “Cuvée Particulière”  2010 was poured.
    The next dish was extraordinary in so many ways, even as something wholly amusing. Fréchon takes a Bresse farm hen and poaches it in a pig’s bladder (below)--a very old technique called en vessie--and for service it is set on a magnificent sterling silver stand of chicken legs seemingly made for this dish alone.  The bubble was cut open and--voilà!!--the aroma  and steam filled the air, then the breast was cut tableside and served with a vin jaune sauce with giblets, meaty crayfish, spring’s loveliest asparagus and morels, as the dark meat was whisked away back to the kitchen to be seared and cooked further then brought out again to be plated with a simple herb salad.  Cave des Amandiers Valais “Petite Arvine” 2011 was perfect with this wondrous dish.
    An array of seasonal, regional French cheeses, all in the ripest condition, came on an antique silver cart (they have two), with Domaine J. Grivot Nuit-Saint-Georges “Les Charmes” 2009.
    At a timely interval several of pâtissier Laurent  Jennine' s desserts arrived, including “Priceless Nyangbo chocolate” with cocoa, thin tile wafers and gilded sorbet, served with a Galateo Coume del Mas Banyuls 2011, and lichees set in an iced meringue and perfumed with rose, pear and lemon, accompanied by a Trimbach Gewürztraminer VT 2007.
    But we were not quite finished. At this point they wheeled over an eye-popping silver chest (below, left) whose lid was opened to reveal petits-fours and a rainbow of macarons as light as Communion hosts and as decadent as venial sin.
    So, were I judging the meal solely on “what’s on the plate,” there was no question that this was one of the greatest of my career and my life, with every single dish conceptualized to maximize each perfect ingredient used--and there were not many in any dish--and to make them beautiful without burdening the plate with anything extraneous.  Sheer showmanship was on display only with that marvelous hen and the desserts; the rest centered around flavors I shall long remember.
    But L’Épicure is not just about the food. It is about all that surrounds it, the weaving of time and delivery of a dish, the deft spooning on of sauce, the addition of the right bread at the right moment.  It is about a master chef and 40 people in the kitchen trying twice a day to be as flawless as possible in an enterprise fraught with possible error, from a fish being cooked ten seconds too long to the temperature of the dining room ruining the texture of a sorbet.  But those errors didn’t occur that day and rarely do at a restaurant like this.
    Add in the beauty of the room, the sunny garden, the touch of a thick napkin and of a tinkling thin wine glass to one’s lips, the sound of civilized conversation, the well-dressed clientele, and you begin to understand the unique quality of haute dining, albeit at a very high price.  But at L’Épicure you get everything you paid for and no one leaves with buyer’s remorse.
    Finally, although similar meals can be had at similar restaurants in France and other countries, this is Paris, and while you sit spellbound by the cuisine and the service and the loveliness of the afternoon, you are partaking of the best this grandest of cities offers, day after day, night after night.

112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

011 +33 (0)1 53 43 43 40

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Prices: Six-course tasting menu at dinner €320  ($352), three courses €145  ($160), with tax and service included.

For gentlemen, a suit jacket is required but not a tie.


By John Mariani

    At some point in the past decade all the old dowager hotels of Paris decided it was time to enter the 21st century without destroying the charms that made them so appealing in the first place.  Goaded by the total renovation of hotels like the Georges V under The Four Seasons brand, Fouquet’s Barrière and the Lutétia  and by new arrivals like the Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, and Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, older hotels in the high-end category have gotten complete overhauls, including Le Crillon, Le Plaza-Athenée, Le Bristol, Le Meurice,  and The Ritz, several of them shut down completely during renovation.
    One of the landmark hotels just now finishing its rehabilitation is the 125-year-old Hilton Paris Opera (left) just across from the Gare Saint Lazare and a few blocks from the Opéra.  Hilton took it over last September from Concorde Hotels and poured $50 million into its restoration, not least the magnificent lobby and grand hall bar area
(below, left).
    The hotel was originally designed by architect Juste Lisch for the 1899 Universal Exposition in a Beaux Arts style; London-based firm Richmond International has done the restoration work. The hotel now has 268 guest rooms and 29 suites on five floors, and their modernity is as fresh as a brand new hotel in San Francisco, with light colors of gray and pastels, very spacious, well-laid out bathrooms, and all the finest amenities including free WiFi, and, for the suites, complimentary breakfast.  I cannot fail to mention that, unlike most hotels in Europe, this one has irons and ironing boards in the rooms.  Hilton, being an American brand, knows what American guests expect.
    My room (right) overlooked the plaza of the Gare Saint Lazare, from which I could watch the comings and goings of Parisians and tourists.
    The entry hall, up a few steps to check-in and the concierge desk, is the focal point of the hotel—a vast room of black and gold Corinthian columns, crystal chandeliers, wrought iron, and gorgeously restored mosaic floors and frescoes, all in contrast to abstract murals ringing the bar, “inspired” by
fashion designer Christian Lacroix.  The very charming General Manager Sofia Vandaele is the warm, welcoming presence of the hotel.
    I did not have a chance to dine at the hotel’s Terminus Nord restaurant but hope to report on it next time I visit.
    Also of note is that Hilton encourages families to stay here through packages, and by booking well in advance you can get a 20 percent discount.
    Not surprisingly North American hotel companies like Hilton, Hyatt and Four Seasons, in competition with Hong-based Shangri-La and Mandarin-Oriental, are driving this momentum to upgrade and improve services in the grand old hotels, which for a very long time rested on laurels whose luster had worn thin. 
    Now I await the re-opening of The Ritz later this year, which has been closed for two years and was badly in need of modernization (the last was done 35 years ago), which is being overseen by designer Thierry Déspont.  Management has promised The Ritz’s classic elegance has in no way been compromised, and I can’t wait to have a bloody Mary again with bartender Colin Field at the Hemingway Bar on premises.




By John Mariani


Hyatt Union Square
132 4th Avenue (at 13th Street)


    Brazilian restaurants outside of Brazil generally fall into two kinds: those that  serve a narrow range of Rio-based dishes that focus on the rich black bean and offal stew called feijoada, and those that feature churrascaria items, usually in a show of waiters carving sizzling meats from a long skewer and accompanied by ample salad bar items.  The best of the first type are found in New York's outer boroughs, the latter in Manhattan at vast churrascarias, where the cachaça flows freely.
    Botequim shares the best aspects of both of these kinds of Brazilian restaurants, but it brings to the table a wider range of regional dishes done with a good deal more care, flair and refinement than you find elsewhere. It is also much smaller than most Brazilian restaurants, set downstairs in a windowless space of 100 seats composed of two rooms, one set with three communal wooden farmhouse tables, the other with individual tables.  The open kitchen throws much-needed light into the rooms, which are painted mostly in black, ceiling included--not the most convivial color for a subterranean restaurant--and decorated with a graffiti-like mural by artist Marc Mazurkiewicz.  Aqua blue leather banquettes provide another splash of much-needed color. 
    Early on during my mid-week visit, the Brazilian music being piped in was of the bombastic Techno style that in a crowded room adds a great deal of sheer noise.  I asked a waitress if they played softer bossa nova and samba music, and she very kindly flipped the dial and out came the wondrous, lilting  sounds of Elis Regina, Antȏnio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz and Gilberto Gil, which was perfect for an evening’s meal.
    Botequim owner Marco Moreiro is a native of São Paolo, though, with his wife and patter Jo-Ann Makovitzky, he made his reputation at the fine dining New York restaurant called Toqueville. Their One Five Hospitality group also runs the very fine 15 East, The Fourth, and a Scotch lounge named SingL.
       The best way to appreciate Botequim is to share plates, especially the first snack courses called salgadinhos, which include assorted pastelzinhos, flaky small pies filled with ground beef, cheese or braised hearts of palm ($9).  The croquettes (above) filled with bacalhau (house-cured cod fish) with sliced hardboiled egg ($12) are terrific, and everyone at our table loved the grilled Brazilian sausages called calabresa acebolada served with sizzling onions ($11).
    The traditional cheesebread called pão de queijo ($7) is addictive, soft but pliable, rich with cheese and wonderful aromas.  “Grilled Shrimp on the Beach” ($14) were plump and sweet, and we found the salad of summer tomatoes and hearts of palm with red wine ($15) both refreshing and quite satisfying.
    The chicken with okra and polenta ($24) went beyond expectations because the bird itself, from Violet Hill Farm, packed real flavor all on its own, and the burnished roast suckling pig with red beans and farofa made from manioc flour ($26) was as glorious a rendering as I’ve had of this dish, perfectly seasoned, basted and kept succulent beneath a crackling skin.  There is, of course, feijoada ($26) and while I claim scant experience with the dish on its home soil, this hearty, long-braised stew was better at Botequim than any I remember in Rio de Janeiro, rich with collards, farofa, cashews, and a rice and orange salad (left).
    The beef options, not carried around on skewers, include picanha ($34), a prime cut of superb top sirloin (below) roasted on the hearth with garlic and oil, and costela ($28)--easily one of the most delicious short ribs dishes I’ve ever encountered in a city blanketed with them these days. The prices are exceptionally reasonable.  We took some home.
    Delicacy is not a word that leaps to mind when it comes to overly sweet Brazilian desserts, but at Botequim the emphasis is on the fruit flavors and the acid they provide, starting with the excellent sorbets and ice creams at just the right textures ($9);  rice pudding with coconut tapioca ($10); an irresistible coconut cake with pineapple cachaça sorbet ($12); and sonhos (“dreams”), a fried dough traditional at Christmas, here with doce de leite, chocolate and guava ($10).
    Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn oversees all the company’s wine lists, and the bottlings on Botequim’s list offer examples of some of the best reds coming out of South America right now.  He is also in charge of the cocktails program, and I urge you to try any of the caipirinhas, which go very well with the appetizers here.
    I hesitate to comment on the overall service at Botequim on the basis of one fairly slow night--restaurants almost always have better service on busy nights--but, although the staff was well meaning and friendly, they weren’t often in the dining room that evening, and some dishes were slow to come out of the kitchen.
    Botequim proves that while the flavors of gutsy Brazilian food have their obvious appeal, it is the re-thinking and improvement on traditional regional dishes that makes an extraordinary difference in the quality of the food here.  Botequim is a little treasure in Manhattan.

Open Tues.-Sat for dinner. Brunch on Saturday.




By Mort Hochstein

     Winston Churchill, speaking of France, once remarked:  “How can anyone govern a country that has 246 cheeses.” Greece raises more than 200 grape varieties and, although this has little to do with politics or that nation’s troubled finances, the unlikely comparison somehow arises. But Greek producers are doing their utmost to contribute to financial recovery.
     While they lay claim to being the birthplace of the European wine industry, the Greeks were never a match for the French or the Italians for selling wine outside of their Mediterranean trading region.  A number of years ago I attended a tasting of   wines at a Greek restaurant  in Manhattan.  The food was wonderful, but there were problems on the wine side. It seemed as if the exhibitors felt their only market was among fellow Greeks, and they made no attempt to bridge the language gap. It was definitely all Greek to me and there was no profit in that.
     The labels were all in the native language, as was the limited amount of literature available, and there were no friendly translators. If it hadn’t been for the baklava, spinach pie and moussaka and other assorted Hellenic goodies, the afternoon would have been a total loss.
    But that was long ago and now the Greeks have learned Marketing 2.0. Wines designated for English-speaking markets have proper labels, come with ample explanatory literature and tastings are conducted in English.  True, the wine names, such as Mavrotragano,  Assyrtiko and Xinomavro can be tongue twisters, but they are rapidly becoming more familiar.
    Assyrtiko, for one, could easily move into the category of world-class whites.   It is like Chardonnay, a widely grown workhorse grape that takes on many variations, depending on its place of origin and the aspirations of the winemaker.  It flourishes on Santorini, one of the most popular Greek islands for visitors. Indeed, the very popularity of that island threatens to cut into availability as more and more of the land is being given over to tourism.
   At Santorini (right), the Assyrtiko vines tremble atop wind-raked heights on a sleeping volcano. Assyrtiko wines are powerful and intense, exuding lemon and mineral scents. And they are blessed with the ability to remain  potent for a decade or more.       
In New York recently we enjoyed Assyrtiko whites from Sigalas, Hatzidakis and Gaia (below), three of the most highly regarded producers on that rugged island. They had great minerality, good acidity, and proper balance and were commendable examples of a grape I am learning to like.  Sigalas also produces a dry white from another native grape, Aidani, a much less assertive varietal, enjoyed for its soft blend of flowers and herbs on the palate and a lesser degree of minerality and acidity than its Assyrtiko siblings.
      I’ve often come away from Italian Vin Santo feeling I missed something in that dessert wine. But Gaia’s 2004 Vin Santo, based on Assyrtiko and two other native grapes, Athini and Aidani, was a revelation. The wine was minimally sweet, full bodied and hardly cloying. It did not disappoint.  It is a wine that adds power with time.  The Gaia Vin Santo stays a minimum of eight years in barrels before being released.
There’s a Greek red that bears an uncanny resemblance to the great wines of the Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco, and at a much lesser price.  The Xinomavro  grapes originate in Naoussa, neighboring on Macedonia, and the wine they yield is definitely worth seeking out. Brands I can recommend are Kir-Yianni, which produces Xinomavro, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Assyrtiko and assorted whites; Domaine Kaydas, which makes just one wine, an old school, robust Xinomavro; and Thymopoulos Urano, which takes the opposite tack to appeal to contemporary tastes, using more oak, and showing the vanilla and spice you might   find in a far more expensive Barolo.
     A bit to the west of the Naoussa (right) vineyard are Florina and Amyndeon, two regions also producing noteworthy Xinomavro. The latter vineyard extends over 1,700 acres  on a half-mile-high  plateau in the midst of three large mountains and two lakes; it is the smallest, coldest and driest vineyard in Greece. Xinomavro from Florina and Amyndeon arrives in several forms, from dry to sparkling, but primarily in big reds with protracted aging capacity.  Given one choice, I would go for Xinomavro Reserve Old Vines from Alpha Estate, its grapes blossoming on ungrafted vines a little under a century old. It is a full-bodied stunner, rich in blackberries and plums on the palate, strawberries, dark cherries and spices on the nose, and a long aftertaste.
     As they struggle to improve their product, bring production methods into the 21st century and learn from the experience of producers in other nations, the Greeks are developing their marketing chops.



“In the isolated Nuba Mountains on the southern border of Sudan, the air is unpolluted—there’s no electricity, and most people don’t have cars—but the atmosphere is always charged.  Since 2011, there has been fighting between the rebels in the region and the ruling regime in Khartoum, the nation’s capital.  People keep watchful eyes and ears turned towards the ski in anticipation of the next bombing (the Sudanese air force has dropped 3.500 bombs on civilian targets).  But amid this ugly conflict, I've found beauty: A woman named Sarah Juma has invited me to join her dukham, a traditional smoke bath that refreshes and revitalizes the skin.”—Amanda Sperber, “Some Signals,” Marie-Claire (July, 2015).



Kimura Inryou, a beverage company based in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, is producing an eel-flavored soda, “flavored with eel extract.”



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

   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  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. 


“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.


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:

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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