Virtual Gourmet

  March 27, 2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Easter Eggs in Salzburg, Austria


  Dining Out with Confidence
By John Mariani

What All the Hipster Food Media Are Missing 

By John Mariani



By John Mariani


AN ANNOUNCEMENT: On April 13 at 7 PM at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, NY, John Mariani will give a convivial talk on "The Enduring Presence of Mamma in the Italian Kitchen." A light reception is offered prior to the beginning of the presentation from 6:30-7 PM. Members: $25, non-members $25. For details click here:


Dining Out with Confidence
By John Mariani

    The above photo of Cary Grant shows him in full, confident stride—as he always looked—a man for whom the world is his oyster, a gentleman in excelsis, brightening every room he enters.
    There’s a story of a couple who had been at a dinner party where Grant showed up, and later, when they got home, the woman asked her husband, “Did you see how beautifully Cary Grant was dressed?”
    Her husband responded, “No, what was he wearing?”
   The woman answered, “Oh, I don’t know what he was wearing.”

    One last Grant anecdote, from Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”: In the opening scene we see Grant exiting a taxi, walking up the steps of the Plaza Hotel in New York, striding along the hallway to the Oak Room Bar, where he calls the maître d’ by name and where everyone knows him as a regular, which one can imagine he is all over town, the epitome of savoir-faire, pre-Mad Men’s Don Draper (below).
    I won’t go on about Grant’s signature kind of cool, which was acquired along the way after he left Bristol, England, and his birth name, Archibald Leach, behind. Hollywood groomed him to become a fellow named Cary Grant so successfully that the actor once said, “Even I’d like to be Cary Grant,” suggesting no one could quite rise to his persona’s level of gregarious sophistication.
    Nevertheless, in Grant’s hey-day—let’s say 1940-1960—men of my father’s generation seemed to have a lot more confidence in themselves and in their favorite place, a confidence based on manners taught and manners mastered, with the attendant gallantries of holding a door for a woman, getting up from a table when she entered a room and taking her arm while walking out.  None of these niceties were felt to be any big deal; a man just knew them and did them, the same way he addressed a maître d’ or bartender or coat check girl at a restaurant, with respect and a genteel familiarity that never, ever meant throwing one’s weight around.  In return, a reciprocal respect was given, favorite tables and cocktails remembered, discretion applied at all times.  
Special treatment might be doled out to VIPs, but a gentleman who had confidence in himself was always treated as he wished to be. Certainly James “007” Bond knew that and even used it to his advantage with both women and villains, who were often the same.  In “Dr. No” (below) Bond even told his demented captor—in a slyly gracious way—that the choice of No’s Champagne vintage at dinner was not to Bond’s liking.
    I bring all this up because, while it is generally acknowledged that a lot of young men, whether they be Gen-X or Millennials, lack manners and push their way around to get noticed, it has also become more or less the rule that such men are genuinely so insecure about how to handle themselves in a fine restaurant that they stay clear of them.  Or worse, they try to force their own idiosyncrasies and taste upon the restaurant owners and staff.  As a result, the current food media insist that “people”—read, “men”—don’t like “fussy dining rooms” where they “have to dress up.” That is true for many, but largely because they are incapable of handling themselves in such restaurants with even one-tenth of one percent of the confidence their fathers possessed.
    Their fathers never made a big deal about putting on a jacket and tie to dine out, nor did they have to pay a maître d’ to get a decent table.  Their fathers would not wait on a two-hour line to eat at a hole-in-the-wall serving Asian noodles or banh mi sandwiches.  But the current generation of men bristle at the thought of being “requested” to wear “appropriate dress”—largely because they haven’t a clue what that means.  The most delusional are those who flaunt their $300 designer jeans and $1,000 leather jackets, while others less expensively attired repeat the idiotic mantra, “Clothes don’t make the food taste any better.” 
    That last assertion is debatable, in the same way that romantic lighting, flowers, soft music, starched linens, thin stemware and heavy silverware don’t literally make the food taste better but can definitely enhance the dining experience by stimulating all the other senses in the loveliest possible way. 
    I once had a young editor at Esquire magazine who was very smart, very well-educated and up on everything to do with pop culture.  But he still felt himself a total nebbish when it came to fine dining.  “I just wouldn’t feel comfortable going to one of those ...  kinds of restaurants,” he told me, as if not knowing menu French or whom to ask for a napkin would be an embarrassment.  He held on to an archaic myth that fine dining restaurant staffs and their guests are in an adversarial position, with the former ready to laugh behind closed doors at the latter’s cheap shirt or the way he holds his knife and fork.  A long time ago, there was indeed a loathsome snobbery at old line French restaurants among service staff in frayed tuxedos who themselves had barely graduated from lycée and who left the hair growing out of their ears untrimmed.
    But that kind of pretension is a thing of the past, and today’s service staffs are better educated, more knowledgeable about food and wine, and really go out of their way to help their guests enjoy the evening.  And they actually get a certain joy out of seeing a well-dressed gentleman enter the dining room, hold a chair for a woman, address the staff courteously, perhaps ask the captain his name if he doesn’t already know it, not make a big deal over the wine tasting and order without fussing over every detail.
    Acting in such a way, with glowing confidence, should be effortless on both sides of the dining table.  It just takes a little practice.  And any man of this younger generation who feels he cannot possibly achieve such poise just wasn’t paying attention to his father. Or never saw Cary Grant in action.



What All the Hipster Food Media Have Missed
By John Mariani

    It is tempting to call the hipster food media that now occupy desks at the NY Times, New York Magazine, Bon Appetit, and pathetic when they go ga-ga over what they proclaim to be unique restaurants of a kind that NYC has never before seen.

    Of course, so many of those media are at a number of severe disadvantages: 1. Their experience usually averages less than five years of dining out around NYC. 2. They have little idea of and have read nothing about NYC restaurant history. (May I suggest my book America Eats Out: An Illustrated History of Restaurants, Taverns, Coffee Shops, Speakeasies, and Other Establishments that Have Fed us for 350 Years?). 3. Those employed by most newspapers, magazines or on-line food sites are rarely given expense accounts to allow them to dine out above a certain level of eatery. 4 They have an adolescent view that whatever is refined and elegant is therefore to be avoided. 5. They ignore any restaurants not frequented by their imagined demographic. 

    Last November a group of Providence artists decided to do a send-up of hipster media and foodies by announcing on social media--complete with reviews--the opening of a hip new restaurant named Lura (Swedish for "trick") located in a long-closed coffee shop, eliciting media queries from Eatglobe, Eater, CityLab, and Washington Post. According to one of the participants in the hoax, "On opening day, we had sat across the street from Lura for about an hour just to people-watch. We were actually able to predict who would stop to look at the installation—young people in flannel, dudes with mustaches and tattoos, women with loose top buns. Everyone else not completely fitting the millennial description hardly noticed Lura at all."

    The hipster media might be shocked to find out that Ferdinand’s Focacceria opened in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in 1904; that back in 1939, according to Dining Out in New York by G. Selmer Fougner, NYC had a slew of Scandinavian—now referred to as “Nordic”—restaurants that included Gripsolm on East 37th Street, Kungsolm on East 55th and Stockholm on West 51st.      Those in high praise of new places like Ed’s Lobster Bar and The John Dory Oyster Bar may know about the Grand Central Oyster Bar (above), opened 1912, but not about Billy the Oysterman (right; East 20th) or Libby’s Oyster House (Fulton St.) of the same period.  In 1939 there were plenty of German restaurants, especially in Yorkville, and down in Greenwich Village a Basque place called Jai-Ali  served bacalao à la Vizcaina.  There were a dozen Austrian restaurants like Huber’s (East 82nd) and Sacher’s (Madison Ave.) and Hungarian places like Zimmerman’s (West 6th Street).  Teresa’s (1st Ave.) was where you’d go for Polish cooking.

    Ten years later Knife and Fork in New York by Lawton Mackall (1949) listed Lottie’s Dogwood Room (East 58th) and Francis Bell (West 55th) for made-to-order fried chicken and other Southern fare.  For Indian there was the East India Curry Shop (East 55th); for Czech, Sokol (East 71st) and many others; for Mexican, Xochitl (West 46th); for Brazilian, Semon’s (East 58th); several Armenian places like Izmir (Lexington Ave.), and Asian, like Singapore (on Broadway).

    When I first began compiling restaurant guides in the mid-1980s, I could recommend Wong Kee  and Noodletown for Chinese noodles in Chinatown; Texarcana (West 10th) for Gulf Coast cooking; Smokey’s Pit Barbecue (9th Ave.) and Austrian cuisine at Vienna 79 (East 79th).

    The food hipsters rarely venture north of 14th Street in Manhattan,  preferring to discover tamale shops and sushi bars on the Lower East Side, tacquerias in the East Village, and ramen storefronts in Brooklyn.  But had they been around as of 1990, they might have discovered some of the most innovative restaurants in NYC were in fact downtown.  The Odeon (West Bway), which opened up TriBeCa as a restaurant destination; Le Pescadou (King St.), Jour et Nuit (West Bway), Felix (West Bway), Jean-Claude (Sullivan St.), and Provence (MacDougal St.) for authentic French bistro fare, as well as Chanterelle (Spring Street) and Montrachet (West Bway), which brought contemporary French to NYC; Soho Charcuterie (Spring St.), Alison on Dominick (Dominick St.) and Union Square Café (East 16th) established  templates for modern American cuisine and service;  Can (West Bway) and Indochine (Lafayette St.) for Vietnamese; Po (Cornelia St.) was Mario Batali’s first trattoria venture; and Benny’s Burritos (Greenwich Avenue) is still as popular as ever.

    In the 1990s Soho Kitchen and Bar (Green St.) was serving more than 100 wines by the glass--the Cruvinet wine dispenser and preserver appeared in 1978--along with thin-crusted pizzas and house-made pastas, while Da Silvano (6th Ave.) clued New Yorkers into what Tuscan food was.  Florent (Gansevoort St.)—one of the hipster  eateries of its day—kick-started the food scene in the Meat Packing District as of 1985; the area has now become a street of fashion boutiques and frequently changing restaurants.

    So forgive me if I take the pronouncements of the hipster food media as ill-informed when they suggest that all the culinary excitement is now south of Union Square and that places in Brooklyn like Gran Eléctrica, serving “California-style Mexican” food, or the Michelin one-star La Vara (where “hip urbanites get down to business around the sleek marble bar”) are the first of their kind.

    I will admit that, given the quality of ingredients now available to chefs and the evolution of cooking over the last half century in NYC and elsewhere, food everywhere is better than ever.  But the concocted phrase “farm-to-table” used by hipster restaurants and their p.r. machines would mystify a cook in any other country in the world, where such a claim would be meaningless.

    Once, when asked his opinion of old-timer Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington (who was actually older than Satchmo by two years) paid him the highest compliment, saying, “No he, no me.”  It’s a humble homage the hipster media should learn before they extol the next big thing out there. 



By John Mariani

    Beloved but so often neglected, Sauternes are among the world’s most respected wines that few people drink with any degree of frequency.  Best known as the accompaniment with foie gras (a match I think is overrated), Sauternes, owing to their sweetness, are otherwise relegated to the dessert part of the meal, sometimes sipped all on their own.  Still, there are interesting match-ups with savory dishes where Sauternes show remarkably well.
    This notion was in full play at a lovely spring day luncheon at Blue Hills at Stone Barns restaurant in Pocantico Hills, NY, hosted by Bérénice Lurton (below), owner of the esteemed Château Climens, classified in 1855 as a First Growth.  The Lurtons are the fourth family to own the estate, whose name means “unfertile, poor land,” dating back to 1547, with the château itself built by the Roborel family in the 17th century.  Three centuries later, Lucien Lurton, already owner of several fine Bordeaux estates, acquired the 75-acre Climens in 1971, and since 1992 his daughter, Bérénice, working alongside wine maker and viticulturist Frédéric Nivelle since 1998, has been in charge of bringing to bear all modern viticultural techniques, including biodynamic farming since 2010, to improve the health of the vines and the signature style of Climens wines of freshness, medium body and delectable sweetness.
    To this day that infertile, poor red clay soil, though rich in iron and limestone, is stingy in producing Sémillon grapes. Climens is the only winery in Barsac to make its Sauternes with 100% of the varietal, which must be attacked by the botrytis fungus (below)—known as “the Noble Rot”—in order to shrivel the grapes and develops the number of actual aromatic molecules, and concentrate the sugars,  most of which turn into alcohol while maintaining delicate sweetness that must be bolstered by good acid to achieve balance and refinement.                                                 

    At the luncheon, Lurton said that, unlike most dry white and red wines, Sauternes is difficult to make. “One vine will only produce a single glass of wine, and it is not easy to extract great vines from the terroir’s soil.  Grape yields are low and irregular from year to year. If summer is too dry, botrytis will not appear; too wet and it turns to horrid gray rot. If things go well, we still never know until a few days before when we can pick the grapes, and we have to be very selective in picking the grapes that will work to make a quality Sauternes.” Speaking in the language of biodynamics, she explained, “It is the sandiness that guarantees Climens’s brightness and taut tension, and the limestone adds structure and depth.”
     Thus, the climate and the vines interact to become either beauty or beast in the fall harvest, and under the rules of biodynamic winemaking, all chemical sprays have been banned, vines are now knitted instead of trimmed, even the phases of the moon are taken into consideration.  Just as acupuncture operates on the body without drugs to produce a balance of elements, so, too, the biodynamic method avoids as much as possible unnatural systemic interference in the vineyards.
    Once the grapes are pressed, fermentation using natural yeasts is achieved in small, separate barrels.  Only in the rigorous final blend is it determined if Climens will even release a vintage, as they did not in 1984, 1987, 1992 and 1993, because the quality was not good. The attempt by the kitchen at Stone Barns to pair a four-course lunch with various Climens wines was convincing, largely because a wine like the estate’s second label, Cyprès de Climens 2013 ($25), made from grapes left after the primary selection is done, has such a delightfully light floral nose and structure. Served with an amuse of pork liver terrine sandwiched in bitter chocolate wafers, Cyprès was easy to drink as an aperitif, especially now that spring is here.
          The 2012 ($70) and 2011 ($114) vintages were sipped with a winter squash salad whose golden raisins evoked the moderate sweetness of the wines, while a yogurt dressing’s acidity counterbalanced it. An Indian summer provided the 2011 vintage with an excellent degree of Noble Rot along with good quantity—at 43,000 bottles nearly three times the size of 2012’s, whose  harvest was a tough one but resulted in producing a stunningly elegant Sauternes, feminine and vibrant with youthfulness.
    The saltiness of a slice of succulent pork (from pigs raised on the farm there), served with rutabaga, sweet dates and spinach, was able to contend well with the rich sweetness of the 2005 ($124) and 2009 ($135) vintages. 
    Lurton called 2005 the “big one,” an abundant crop ideal for its concentration in tandem with good acids.  I enjoyed its faint whiff of the farmland itself in the bouquet.  Pure apple and pear flavors were shot through the somewhat lighter 2009, whose citrus notes were refreshing and bright.

    Dessert was a honey parfait with beeswax ice cream, a far more traditional kind of match-up for Sauternes like the 2002 ($81), made from a difficult harvest that produced a small crop; it had great depth but not enough acid to cut through its sweetness, resulting in flavors more like maple syrup but not cloying like caramel.
    Our reward for cleaning our plates that afternoon was a taste of a 1976 ($228), made only five years into the Lurtons’ ownership of the estate.  It was remarkably bright for its age—although many Sauternes can age well for decades—a tour de force, really, with that characteristic lightness that  identifies Climens’ style.

    Lurton and Stone Barns proved that such sweet wines can happily be paired with savory dishes, though as such it seemed more of a rewarding novelty than a great idea for increasing Sauternes consumption. 
     In the end, Climens and other great Sauternes are to be enjoyed largely for themselves and with foods that are amenable to their lush sweetness.  But there’s no question that these unusual wines, literally plucked from the edge of disastrous rot, are fit to be more than an occasional indulgence.



When Renato Bialetti, whose father invented the Moka coffee pot, which has sold more than 300 million units, died last month at the age of 93, his children, in accordance with his wishes, had his ashes interred in a giant Moka pot displayed and prayed over by a priest during Bialetti's funeral mass.



“`I grew those sunchokes,’ our waiter said, referring to the puree under my son’s grass-fed, espresso-cured hanger steak.  Then he  grabbed his phone to show my daughter pictures of a mushroom he had foraged. `There it is now,’ he said, pointing to a frilly orb resting on her black gnocchi. `See, that’s love, right there.’”—Ceil Miller Bouchet, “Foraging Fuels the Kitchen,” NY Times (Jan. 24, 2016).


Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners

Reliable Old Friends
by Cristina Mariani-May

co-CEO of Banfi Vintners America's leading wine importer

April Showers of Red and White Goodness      

    As Spring finally kicks into gear, we are reminded of the fragility of Mother Earth and her bounty.  As an importer representing several family wine makers from around the globe, I often like to point out that all the wines that we represent are green, some of them greener than others.  The greenest of all are classified as Biodynamic or certified Organic.  One of the most interesting selections of eco-balanced, organic and biodynamic wines comes to us from Chile and the vineyards of Emiliana. 
        Emiliana was founded by our friends, the Guilisasti family, who have a long and proud history of winemaking with their Concha y Toro brand.  Three decades ago, well ahead of the curve that has made organic wines all the rage today, they set up dedicated and, most important for organic farming, isolated vineyards for this type of agriculture.  Many may picture the small farmer as being the most “organic,” but in the reality of our wine world, sometimes it takes the “big guys” to act as a locomotive to get a movement such as this on track.
    Organic farming is a form of agriculture which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. 
       Organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures--including llamas (below)--and mechanical cultivation to maintain soils productivity and health, to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests.  To call a wine organic in the US, government regulation says that it must be produced from 95% organically grown ingredients with no added sulfites.  If you add sulfites in the relatively minimal amount of 100 parts per million, you can only say that the wine is “made from organically grown grapes.”  Now, not to go into a chemistry lesson, but it is virtually impossible to make a wine without that modest dose of sulfites, at least if you want to drink it beyond ten feet of the cellar it was made in and wish it to survive any moderate amount of aging.
         Biodynamic farming adheres to the same principles, but takes it one step further by relying on the cycles of the moon and the sun to dictate much of what is done in the field, and uses animal treatments such as compost teas, horns buried with fertilizer, deer bladders, etc., to treat the soil.  It may sound a little hocus pocus, but in reality it is very comparable to homeopathic medicine, using the body’s (in this case, the earth’s) own energy to heal itself.
    Emiliana has four distinct collections of lovingly crafted organic wine now available in the US – the base line of Natura, the next step up in Novas, a stand-alone wine in Coyam, and the ne-plus-ultra of bio-dynamic wines, Ge.  One taste of any of these and you too may find yourself turning green – not with envy, but for a newfound love of organic winemaking!

Recommended – green wines for Spring:

Natura Chardonnay In the cool coastal Pacific climate of the Casablanca Valley, organically grown grapes are hand picked during the last week of March, and vinified in stainless steel tanks, free of the domineering influence of oak.  On the nose, tantalizing citrus aromas of grapefruit and lime blend with notes of pineapple, all of which reappear on the palate and finish with balance thanks to the wine’s freshness and natural acidity.  Delicious with spring salads and seafood dishes.

Natura Carmenere –  From the rustic isolation of the Colchagua Valley, this intense and voluptuous offers aromas of cherries, chocolate and spice, coming together in ramped up volume on the palate with soft, round tannins and firm, well-balanced structure.  Great balance between fruit and oak, with a long, juicy finish.

Novas Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva – Hailing from the San Antonio Valley’s thin rocky and clay soils, the organic grapes for this wine are harvested by hand in March and undergo fermentation in stainless steel to preserve their bright fruit character.  Herbal notes mixed with citrus and soft floral hints fill the bouquet; the taste is medium bodied with grapefruit flavors joined by a delicate acidity and a touch of minerality. 

Novas Pinot Noir Gran Reserva – The grapes for this wine are grown in the cool, coastal Casablanca Valley’s permeable sandy loam soils, and harvested by hand.  After a cold soak on the skins, the wine is aged for 8 months in French oak barrels to add character, depth and roundness.  Bright ruby red in color with attractive aromas of berries, strawberries and notes of spice and cocoa, this wine bursts with fruit flavor, layered with earthiness. Delicious with white meats, light sauces, full flavored fish and shellfish, cured ham and sushi.

Coyam – A blend dominated by Syrah with nearly equal parts of Carmenere and Merlot balanced by “soupcons” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Petit Verdot, from the Colchagua Valley estate called Los Robles – Spanish  for the oaks, called “Coyam” by the native Mapuche people in their own language. Hand harvested certified biodynamic grapes are naturally fermented in French oak barrels.  Coyam is largely unfiltered and aged for 13 months in barrels.  Aromas of ripe red and black fruits integrate with notes of spice, earth and a hint of vanilla bean.  Elegant expressions of fruit are delicately interwoven with oak, mineral and toffee. 

Ge – Chile’s first certified biodynamic wine, the name Ge is a nod to Geos, the earthly environment pulling together all the elements that surround us.  Ge is a blend of nearly equal parts of Syrah, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the deep soils of colluvial origin in the coastal range, which lends mineral complexity. Naturally fermented in oak barrels, Ge is deep plum red with violet tones; it offers intense aromas of black fruits and berries alongside mineral notes and a soft touch of tobacco leaf.  Generously fruity with cedar notes, Ge is well balanced with tremendous volume, well rounded tannins and a long finish.

For more information please visit

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


 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: Five Myths about the Galapagos Islands.

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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