Virtual Gourmet

  February 21, 2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Ad for British Railways (1948) by Norman Wilkinson


By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Tom & Serg restaurant 

    I am probably not the first to suggest that Dubai’s model for restaurants is Las Vegas, not least in the way they scoop up name chefs and fashion people in management contracts to give them immediate cachet.  Which doesn’t mean they are mere copies of the originals.  Indeed, when I visited Dubai I was struck by the quality of the ingredients as much as by the elegant design of the restaurants and variety of cuisine prepared. 
    Almost all ingredients need to be shipped in, for there is little farming in the small Emirate: one chef told me that when they first opened the restaurant, 75% of the ingredients were frozen.  But the hotel owners apparently spare nothing to allow chefs to order what they want and according to what kind of menus they have back home, including restaurants like Zuma and The Ivy, both out of London, Reflets by Paris’s Pierre Gagnaire, who’s also in Las Vegas,  and Nobu. (Wolfgang Puck had a CUT Steakhouse at The Address Hotel, but, as you must have read, that hotel had a major fire in December and has yet to re-open.)
    Before I describe some of the restaurants I dined at, one caveat should be stated right away: Under Islamic law, alcohol--not even beer--may not be served in any restaurant outside of a hotel, which is a major drawback for any free-standing restaurant, and there’s no B.Y.O.B.  And I swear, it is not a little off-putting to eat at a fine restaurant and have to drink fruit smoothies with your meal.
    This is nowhere more disappointing than in one of the best and most popular new restaurants to open downtown, Omnia by Silvena (left), which takes its name from the ever-ebullient chef-owner Silvena Rowe, well known for her restaurants, cookbooks and TV shows in London.  Located right on Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, the glass-fronted two-story restaurant is a dazzler, rife with color, mirrors and a wall of calligraphy-graffiti.
    Rowe, who is part Bulgarian and part Turkish, has been smart to feature her own versions of modern Middle Eastern cuisine, with ingredients sourced from outside the  country, even to farm-raised shark from the UAE, served with crispy golden gasheed croquettes and smoked shark cubes (59Dh; 3.67Dh = $1).  Gulf prawns come with a wonderfully creamy, well-seasoned hummus, topped with fragrant sumac and hot chili (49 Dh).
    Fresh foie gras from Hungary is served in a form of crème brûlée with caramelized dates (79Dh), while an Ottoman-style kofta is made from ground wagyu beef oozing kashkaval cheese.  There are also vegetarian and gluten-free items on the lavish menu, and with it all you have your choice of more than a dozen fruit smoothies or non-alcoholic cocktails.  Desserts are fanciful, like the chocolate sphere encased in edible 24k gold at a whopping 79Dh. 

  La Serre (left), in the Vida Downtown Dubai Hotel, is set on two stories, as both a bistro and boulangerie under Executive Chef Izu Ani (below), who is well schooled in classic French culinary traditions.  Many people come here for the extensive breakfasts—you can sit at the open kitchen counter--but La Serre is most fun for a sun-filled lunch overlooking the Boulevard. Starched tablecloths and a cream-and-white color scheme, with wraparound windows, give a palpable cheeriness to the ambiance, where you may begin with a lovely dish of Cornish crab (95Dh), or lobster salad with asparagus (145Dh), or a textbook-perfect onion tart (45Dh).
    Thinly sliced raw scallops are marinated in sumac and lime (110Dh),  and there is a lustrous yellowtail tuna carpaccio (75Dh). There are at least seven seafood dishes for main courses, including whole baked bream with Provençal spices (215Dh), but the lamb dishes are stand-outs here, like lamb chops marinated in Eastern spices (185Dh), or with apricots (195Dh).  For dessert, the apple tarte Tatin (for four) on a buttery, caramelized crust is as fine as I’ve had in Southern France (65Dh), and there’s nothing to criticize about the rich, crispy sugar-topped crème brûlée (60Dh).
    The wine selection is quite good, if expensive.

    My first meal in Dubai was as restorative as if I had just landed in Nice and went off to a favorite bistro. I dined with some new friends in an engaging spot with a well-dressed international clientele—La Petite Maison (left), which has branches in London, Istanbul and Mumbai.  The food here is from the French and Italian Rivieras, with ample use of aromatic olive oil in its dishes.  The wine list is very extensive, with two dozen Champagnes (several by the glass) and an admirable number of rosés from Provence. 
  The staff is multilingual, with a good number of French and Italian cooks and staff behind the stoves and in the dining room.
    I was duly impressed with tender snails Burgundy-style in garlic butter (95Dh) and a light crab and lobster salad (110Dh),  and all the classics are here, from sea bream baked en papillôte (195Dh) and creamy risotto with black truffles (280Dh) to grilled cutlets of lamb (right) with smoked eggplant (175Dh) and a confit of rabbit leg with grilled artichokes (185Dh).
    Desserts were truly outstanding, from a warm chocolate mousse with malt ice cream (60Dh) to a nicely egg-rich pain perdu with spice ice cream (50Dh).  The bar scene here is both swank and sexy when the desert sun goes down.

    Of course, Dubai has the requisite high-end Italian restaurants, including one of the branches of very popular Serafina, and Alta Badia e Mangia (left) on Jumeirah Emirates Towers' 50th floor, is justly considered one of the finest, under Chef Claudio Melis, who specializes in northern Italian cuisine like housemade tagliatelle with funghi porcini and Norcia black truffles (98Dh) and vitello tonnato (85Dh) from Piedmont.  Ravioli are packed with braised oxtail and Norcia truffles (110Dh) and lamb shoulder is slowly braised for succulence, served with a potato terrine and baby vegetable dusted with thyme (165Dh).  The restaurant has a superb list of Italian wines that go so well with this very authentic cooking. The dining room, stylishly decorated,  is very romantic at night in its soft colors and its view of the city.  There is a very good 310Dh tasting menu of five courses, with specialties from the Italian Dolomites.    

   If you seek out modern Dubai cuisine, Qbara (below) has a breadth and depth difficult to find elsewhere.  It’s a huge restaurant on two levels and the nightclub element looms large after nine p.m.  The extraordinary, shadowy décor is full of carved timber motifs bathed in a golden glow of light.  Best thing to do is to sit down at a big table with several friends and order family style, to be rewarded with tantalizing ceramic casseroles and plates piled with such offerings as aromatic spiced beef tartare with tomato and red salsa (80Dh), and crisp soft shell crab (in season) with garlic and red-hot harissa powder (85Dh).  Black cod, for two people or more, comes atop spiced rice with caramelized onions (190Dh), and fat quail are cooked in grape vines with pistachio labneh yogurt cheese (90Dh).  Of course, the steaming Arabic breads selection, with olive oil and a sesame-rich za’atar dip (35Dh), is wholly addictive with this kind of food; the potatoes are fried in duck fat (38Dh).The British chef here when I visited has moved on, but the menu remains pretty much the same under new head chef Mohannad.


    A very casual and much sought-out spot among young people in Dubai is Tom & Serg, opened five years ago in the Al Quoz industrial area (look for the Ace Hardware Store) by Tom Arnel, from Melbourne, and Sergio Lopez, from Madrid, who knew this was just the kind of big, open, no-frills spot with global food that the city needed, open for breakfast and through lunch, so you might sit down in the morning for salted caramel French toast (43Dh) or a Cubano sandwich (57Dh) or go later and scarf up Moroccan chicken with wild rice salad, feta, rueful and preserved lemon (55Dh).  Salads and vegetable are among the best dishes, and their ravioli is light, delicate and delicious, with shavings of Parmigiano. The hot chocolate is made with Valhrona chocolate and the coffee a house blend. For dessert go with the orange cheesecake (22Dh) or the Dubai version of cronuts (25Dh).  They call their place (now one of four) a café, first setting out to bring good coffee to the city, but it’s a whole lot more and Chef Arnel is making some of the most contemporary global food in Dubai right now. You can’t help but have a good time, and the people-watching is terrific.


Note: Tipping is uncommon in Dubai restaurants where service is included in the bill.




By John Mariani
Photos by van Sung

Baccarat Hotel
 30 W 53rd Street (
near Avenue of the Americas)

    There are fresh flowers on every table and a large spray to the rear of the long dining room.  The linens are soft, the lighting is too. The wait staff is impeccably dressed.  The noise level in the room is wholly civilized.  The butter is salted just enough and served at the right temperature. The complimentary hot gougères puff pastries ooze with a truffled Mornay cream.
    You are at Chevalier, the ten-month-old fine dining room in the Baccarat Hotel, just across from MOMA.  And from the first warm greeting by managers Alexandra Levy and Alessandra Lavey, you sense that the evening will take as long as you wish in order to enjoy all of Chevalier’s many pleasures, foremost Chef Shea Gallante’s cuisine, which epitomizes what fine dining, without pretension, means in NYC now.
   Chevalier is not a place where you’ll be presented with six sea salts or seven knives, nor is it a place where the clientele all look like they reluctantly drifted down from their hotel rooms.  Indeed, when I dined there after a rough snowfall the night before, everyone from tall, slinky Asian models to young businessmen and women occupied most of the room, comforted by the banquettes, the soft carpet and the pearly cast of the walls.  The ceiling is a little too high, perhaps, but the openness of the room and just the right number of seats, 70, preceded by an elegant bar, add in grandeur what it lacks in intimacy.
    As NYC’s gossipy food media sniffed last year, Chevalier was originally to be managed by Charles Masson, for decades a partner at La Grénouille, but that arrangement lasted only a few weeks over disagreements with management. The assumption was that, without the Masson name, Chevalier would just lapse into being a mediocre hotel dining room.  Clearly, it has not.
    One NYC restaurant critic called Chevalier “
both expensive and ambitious.”  Shea Gallante (right) is certainly guilty of the latter--his is some of the most exciting food in the city right now--but the charge of being expensive shouldn’t need explaining for the level of elegance, table settings, design, wine list and staff you find here. In fact, the prices at Chevalier are considerably below La Grénouille’s $138 for three courses, Daniel’s $142 for four, and Le Bernardin’s $147 for four, with Chevalier’s dinner appetizers $22-$29 and entrees $38-$44--this at a time when a dreary brick-walled Greenwich Village haunt like Carbone is selling baked clams for $21 and veal parm for $55.  At Chevalier you can  have a beautifully served three-course meal for about $72, which includes those gougères and an amuse (which on the night I visited was hamachi), and mignardises at evening’s end.
      The appetizers are among the most interesting I’ve seen in a while. Pork belly is  braised with baby spinach (all the way from New Zealand, for some reason), pickled mushrooms and a citrusy tom yum broth to cut the meat’s fattiness.  Raw Nantucket bay scallops  made a rare appearance this season with bergamot grapefruit, hot yuzu kosho aïoli and Japanese ash salt, each element with just enough flavor to buoy the delicacy of the scallops.    Hudson Valley foie gras ($29) was cooked perfectly, not mushy inside but resilient to the touch of a fork, with a Sauternes gelée, almonds, huckleberry, buckwheat and carob molasses, which added up to too much sweetness. 
    Wild mushrooms were pleasingly roasted for a salad with white sturgeon caviar (from a small producer in Austria), bok choy and Napa cabbage emulsion. Dungeness crab, black sea bass and bouchot mussels came with a classic, ruddy bouillabaisse sauce ($46). Very light, fluffy sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi took on the flavors of spicy tomato and fennel, with a sauce of octopus and Calabrian pepper made in the style of a Bolognese ($24), with the octopus working as the protein in the sauce.
    In restaurants of Chevalier’s caliber appetizers often outshine the main courses, but every one of the entrees I tasted was at the same high standard with what preceded them. Lobster was gently poached in fine butter and came with braised artichokes, ricotta gnudi pasta and a reduction of lobster jus ($42).  Gallante suggested a thick veal loin be cooked medium-rare, which I agreed with, though that night it was far closer to very rare, which is not ideal for veal, but there were woodsy enhancements like aligot, in which parsnips replace potato pureed and folded into Raclette cheese, with charred shallots and chanterelles ($36).
    I had no such reservations about the rareness of superb Colorado rack and loin  of lamb with Cantellucio lentils, sweet baby carrots and braised lamb belly ($44), which is as sumptuous a dish for a long winter’s night as you’ll find in town.  Both roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and potatoes gratin dauphinois ($12 each) were impossible to resist ordering.
    Chevalier has acquired one of NYC’s most respected patîssiers in David Carmichael, formerly at Gilt and Oceana, and his creativity is at its height here. His beignets  ($16) are filled with crab apple marmalade, rolled in cinnamon sugar, a ‘liquid’ pie crust—pastry blended with a simple syrup and tempered with white chocolate to make it into a spreadable form; it is then lavished with crème Chantilly and apple sorbet, a sweet masterpiece.  And even if it went over the top in richness ($16), the sticky toffee of date pudding cake, dulce crèmeaux, banana gelato and almond tuille was fantastic.
     Wine Director Jeff Taylor, formerly at Betony and awarded “Sommelier of the Year 2014” by Wine & Spirits, stocks a wine cellar with an appropriate number of labels—700—for a restaurant of Chevalier’s refinement. The whole team here is among the cream of the crop.
    As I’ve had reason to mention more than once, the NYC food media seem to delight in insisting that people no longer want to dine at Chevalier’s level of sophistication, but the continued entry of new restaurants like Gabriel Kreuther, Vaucluse, La Chine, Bâtard, Betony, Juni and others belies such ignorant pronouncements.
      At least in NYC. But that’s why NYC is NYC. 




By John Mariani

Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Vaudesir Chablis Grand Cru ($55-$60)—The name "Moulin de Vaudon" comes from the watermill nearby the property, whose limestone-rich Chablis vineyards were abandoned  after the phylloxera infestation of the 19th century. But Drouhin has restored them to Grand Cru status, using biodynamic farming methods.  I’ve come to feel you really have to get to Grand Cru level to appreciate the charms of Chablis—so much boring Chablis is made in Burgundy—and yields are kept low.  This example has richness while at the same time the flinty, lean backbone that makes Chablis so appealing with shellfish.



Le Volte dell’Ornellaia  2013 ($30-$32)—An IGT wine of Tuscany, this is the lesser label of the great Ornellaia estate but shares much of the DNA in a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Sangiovese, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The vintage started with shaky weather but a good warm summer followed that ultimately pushed the fruit to ripen well over an entire month in autumn.

The wine was aged for 10 months, partly in barrels used for Ornellaia and partly in cement tanks, so that the fruit was maintained and tannin muted.  It does not reach the heights of its illustrious big sister but neither does its price, and I would happily drink this any night of the week with roasted meats or risotto with wild mushrooms.



Donnachiara Irpinia Coda di Volpe 2013 ($9-$15)—This estate is in Montefalcone in Campania, so there’s plenty of sun and volcanic soil from Mount Vesuvius  to produce a good structure from the Coda di Volpe (tail of the wolf) white varietal, whose virtues are its balance of fruit and acidity, making it a very good choice for shellfish in particular, of a kind you’ll find in the restaurants of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.



Matanzas Creek Winery Merlot 2012 ($28)—Ever experimenting but never experimental for the sake of effect, Matanzas Creek always looks at the Sonoma vineyards producing the best grapes and the best clones of those grapes to bring elegance to their wines.  Following a near perfect 2012 summer and after several evaluations over a 14-month period, a blend (including just 2.3% Cabernet Sauvignon for tannin) was made and returned to oak for two more months so that the components could rest together.  It is a soft and satiny wine just skirting being too high in alcohol, at 14.5%



Tenuta Saint'Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2012 ($13-$17)--Valpolicella gets a bad rap for being a lightweight red produced in volume, but the ripasso style, which involves keeping the wine in longer contact with the pulp during maceration, really shows what a fine Valpolicella can be.  Made from  a blend of Corvina, rarely used Corvinone, Rondinella, Croatina, and Osleta varietals, it has unusual complexity because these are indigenous to the Veneto and spend 15 to 18 months in barrel, rounding them off and giving body to the final bottling.  What a great bargain this is for a wine of this caliber!



Presqui’le Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2013 ($60)—Presqui’le’s President Matt Murphy and winemaker Dieter Cronje show that California can make a solid, delicious Pinot Noir without burning alcohol levels—the 2013 bottling comes in at 13.1%--from this 200-acre winery founded in 2007.  The vineyards enjoy the cool Central Coast appellation, and all the family’s wines are made in small batches, carefully tended so that none takes on that cloying flavor that is the major flaw of so many made-by-the-book Pinot Noirs that seem  products of marketing than of good wine making.


Michter’s 10 Year Rye ($150)—Along with drinking good wines, I like a nightcap of Scotch, Irish or Bourbon, but I must say I’ve been impressed by the recent flurry of releases based on rye, which almost disappeared from the market in the ‘90s.  Leading the comeback is Michter’s (which had gone bankrupt in 1989), whose Master Distiller Willie Pratt is bringing back next month.  I got an advance tasting, and the maturity of the whiskey is essential to appreciate the delicate and not-so-delicate difference between rye and corn-based bourbon.  It has an edge and a fine dryness (93 proof) that make you forget all that cheap Canadian rye of the last century.  . . . Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye ($70) is less than  half the price of Michter’s and is a Bottled in Bond  blend of rye and malted barley, so, while light in color, at 100 proof,  it has an engaging briary cut to it and a slight sweetness that may remind you of a single malt Scotch with American breeding. . . . Acvording to spirits expert Fred Minnick, the main reason rye is having a renaissance is that "in 2000 Seagram folded their whiskey operations and sold its Lawrenceburg, Indiana, distillery to  Pernod Ricard, which announced it would close it in 2006. (CL Financial purchased it but sold it five years later.) But the distillery The distillery had a couple thousand barrels of rye whiskey leftover with nowhere to go so small brands started popping up, buying the Indiana juice." Willett 4 Year Old Single Barrel Rare Release ($45), at a whopping 110° proof rye, is an Indiana rye. Though the company opened its distillery in 1937 and took until 2012 to produce their first blended whiskey . This rye, which actually has some corn in the mash,   is a very smooth whiskey indeed, with a pleasant burn, and faint sweetnesshas a lush, sweet element to it.



 Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has argued that restaurants should be able to “opt out” of health department regulations  requiring  employees wash their hands after using the restroom. “I was having this discussion with someone," he said, "at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like maybe you should allow businesses to opt out. . . as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment, literature, whatever else.  . . .  I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as the post a sign that says ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restrooms.’ The market will take care of that. That’s probably one where every business that did that would go out of business, but  I think it’s good to illustrate the point that that’s the sort of mentality that we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country.”



"Consider it a web. Like a family name is a web, a linkage. This name, W-E-B-B--namesake of Webb's Market and Deli. . . .The web grows, spindle knots grow strong--webs the bridge workers in hardhats and bright vests; the 20-something YouthBuild worker who's here for a turkey sandwich; the man who needs a set of the plastic utensils behind Tim, for he will not dig in with his plaster-covered hands; the fancy lady in her white fur coat. . . . the Cars-reppin' cook who has worked a wide-eyed loooooooong time and whose kids visit the store (sometimes snagging grapes). . . . And then me--always indecisive, especially with so many options--finally ordering the smoked brisket with sides of shepherd's pie and mac and cheese. . . . The smoke lingers, rides my fingers as I drive back downtown.  One day it'll drive me back, for I am caught."--Arielle Christian, "Webb's Market and Deli," Louisville Magazine (Jan. 2016). 


 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: JACKSON HOLE

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (the fourth edition of which will be published in early 2016), as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


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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