Virtual Gourmet

  May 29, 2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


American G.I. in Sicily, 1943



By John Mariani



By John Mariani



By John Mariani


Part Two
By John Mariani

     Comfort food with a real regional style is rife in Annapolis, and the competition among restaurants to give people no reason ever to complain about portions is evident on just about every plate.  Here are three more places I really enjoyed on a recent trip to the Chesapeake.


The Blackwall Hitch
400 Sixth Street

    I tend to shy away from chain restaurants, however few the links may be, but in the case of The Blackwall Hitch, I would be remiss if I didn’t say it really is one of the best, most ambitious restaurants in Annapolis, with branches in Rehoboth Beach and Alexandria.  The odd name comes from a special mariner’s knot used to hitch ships quickly and securely upon arriving from London’s Blackwall Port at docks in Maryland and Virginia.  Thus, there are maritime echoes in the décor of the Annapolis unit (the first, opened two years ago, owned by local James King), along with Colonial-style high-backed chairs, tufted black booths, and hanging Edison lights, with a large, well-lighted bar to the rear of the very comfortable main dining room.  There’s also rooftop dining and live music Wednesday through Sunday, and a Sunday jazz brunch.
    Executive Chef Zachary Pope has a long résumé with the awards to prove his rep as a chef adept in a wide range of cuisines, with stints in Washington restaurants like Vidalia, Vintage Wine Bistro and Red Sage.  The menu, therefore, offers fine Chesapeake fare like lump meat crab cakes with sweet-tangy roasted corn salsa, cherry pepper rémoulade and rosemary-scented French fries ($35) and wonderful shrimp and cheddar-laced grits with andouille sausage, tomatoes and a white wine sauce ($27), along with seared ahi tuna dusted with sesame seeds, served with seaweed salad, hot wasabi, Sriracha and avocado cream as an appetizer ($16) and six really exceptional fire-roasted flatbreads ($13-$16) that can be shared at the table.
      Then there are a slew of salads—the one with steak and blue cheese is delicious—burgers and sandwiches, and main courses like succulent pork osso buco ($28).  Right now the soft-shell crab season is in full swing.
      Like many restaurants around town, they serve the dense, mile-high Smith Island chocolate cake ($9), along with Key lime panna cotta with strawberry sauce ($9), and a warm pineapple upside down skillet cake with brown butter and caramel ($9), along with housemade chocolate truffles ($2.50 each).
    The wine list is pretty extensive and includes many bottles under $50, though they should have more Maryland and Virginia wines on the list. Wines by the glass are priced way too high: a Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut 2013 that sells for about $15 in the wine store costs the same here for a single glass.
    The Blackwall Hitch is, as I said, ambitious, but I found the quality of everything I tasted consistent and made from very fine ingredients.  That, and a lively bar crowd and music, are what keeps the place packed with people willing to pay good money for very good food. 

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


12 Market Space

    Iron Rooster proudly boast that it serves “Breakfast All Day,” and many loyal patrons take advantage of that.  I would most certainly join them any time over a big plate of fried chicken breast and waffles with cream gravy and very good stone-ground grits ($9.95), and the omelets make for a hearty meal from 7 a.m. onward.  The eggs Benedict are sensationally good—there are five variants—and I, of course, went for the “Benny,” with that sweet Maryland blue crab meat, a poached egg, tomatoes and micro greens atop an English muffin (a steal at $17.95). The breakfast taco ($13.95) includes scrambled eggs, fat pork belly, green chili salsa, pico de gallo, queso fresco and home fries ($13.95).
    There’s a great deal more, all of it made fresh to order, including fine flaky biscuits, and the signature, much-too-sweet Navy pop-tarts ($5.95).  For supper you can have the smoked brisket chili ($4.95-$7.95), chicken pot pie ($22.95) that will feed two people, and a meatloaf of daunting proportions, with black pepper pan gravy and poached egg, fried leeks and broccoli ($21.95).
    The colorful two-tiered eatery, with a lot of farmhouse décor and Mason jars on the wooden tables, is set right on the City Dock, so it’s a swell place to take your time and watch the boats come and go along with the people. 

Open Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 7 a.m.-8 p.m.



VIN 909
909 Bay Ridge Avenue

    Set in a pillared, clapboard Sears Roebuck house in Annapolis’ Eastport residential neighborhood, Vin 909 gives off the feeling that you’re dropping in for a nice meal at a friend’s home, in this case your new friends, owner Alex Manfredonia and chef Justin Moore, who opened this very popular restaurant five years ago.  In cool weather there’s a nice fireplace you can warm yourself at; in hot weather, a patio.  Meals, as at home, are meant to be shared.
    Vin 909 is a very green restaurant—they even recycle their oyster shells—earning the
Annapolis Environmental Stewardship Certification and a Certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership Program.  Ingredients are as organic and sustainable as possible, and they list their providers on the menu. The seafood just arrived that morning from the local boats. It’s just a really nice, nice place, and big-hearted Alex couldn’t be more amiable or happy to see you.
    We dined out on the patio on a brilliant sea-blue afternoon, and we might have lingered for hours among people who were doing just that, sipping the last of a bottle of rosé wine, splitting a dessert, wondering when they can get back again.  Of course, wine plays a big part of the philosophy and the appeal here, with 90 well-priced labels on the list, and all beers are from either craft or micro breweries.
    Do not fail to order the lovely, warm, fresh-pulled mozzarella ($14), served in an almond-ricotta pesto with fried basil and “pearl” dots of balsamic vinegar (above right).  The pizzas (left), eight of them, are more like flatbreads and are addictive; we ordered two for three at our table: the simple Margherita ($12) and the “Fun Guy” ($16) with wild mushrooms, ramps, Taleggio cheese, arugula and a sprinkling of freshly picked thyme.
      Although it’s all too easy to order way too much, the food is light, intensely flavorful, and seems to lead naturally to having a dessert like chocolate pot de crème ($7) or butterscotch pudding ($7).  The cooking seems simple, so it has to be perfect to impress guests the way it does.

Open for lunch Wed.-Fri., for dinner Tues.-Sun.



    The ominous news about the increasingly wait times to get through security has bewildered travelers as to how best to make the best out of a horrible situation—one that should not have happened.  The Virtual Gourmet asked Tom Spagnola, SVP of Supplier Relations (left) for CheapOair to answer a few questions.

 VG:  How will the anticipated 220 million passengers who are expected to fly during the peak travel months of July and August impact TSA lines at the airports?

TS:   There will be a heavy strain on TSA this summer as the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is stating that long lines will be inevitable. This is going to make travelers prepare in advance with the long wait lines and also have to have a lot more patience. TSA is looking to hire 768 more TSA agents by mid-June but will not nearly be enough to handle the record-breaking travelers. Wait times could be up to three hours in major airports.

VG:    Why is arriving two-hours prior to departure the new norm for all domestic flights?

TS:  With the 220 million  travelers this summer, the percentage of TSA lines as compared to the number of travelers is clearly a small percentage of what is needed to accommodate the travelers. Because of the cost of checked luggage is expensive, more people are trying to bring on as much carry-on as possible, which makes for the perfect storm of slower lines through TSA as there are more items to check. There are a lot of “new” travelers this summer because of lower prices so more families are traveling together with children, which typically takes longer for the parents to get the kid’s items through TSA.  There are also adults who haven’t traveled in years so, believe it or not, there are still several people that do not understand the restrictions of what is allowed and not allowed to make it through security.

VG:  How far in advance should travelers who are flying international plan to arrive at the airport? 

TS:   Three hours minimum. Security is much more at a heightened level with the recent terrorists attacks and threats. Travelers are being screened with much more scrutiny, so this is causing huge delays in getting through security. The capacity growth for international travel globally is adding to the success of the travel industry, but this is definitely causing delays. Most international travelers are going on longer trips, so there is more luggage being checked at the counter, which can easily add five minutes to every person checking-in.

VG:  How can travelers best plan for airport security?

TS:   The best information is on the TSA website . All of the terms and restrictions are listed on the site; however, many travelers do not check the website, which will add to travel time. Even the ticket agents at the check-in counters are now advising the travelers of what will not be allowed through TSA, so you will see a lot of travelers scrambling at the ticket counter trying to pull items from their carry-on bags and putting them into their checked luggage.  Joining TSA Pre-Check allows you to have a priority line that allows you to not have as many restrictions of items needed to get through the TSA line! Cost is approx. $100 for five years so it will be the best investment if you are a frequent traveler this summer and for future travel!

VG:   What should travelers do if they miss their flights, due to delays and overcrowded security checkpoints?

TS:   It is always recommended to know your airline’s schedule for flights that depart after your scheduled flight. The biggest risk is flying on the red-eye flights or being the last flight out that day/night, as you will have to spend many hours and even overnight in some cases waiting until the next morning to try and get on a flight. With the technology of mobile apps, travelers can look at several different websites and apps that will provide more flight options to the traveler’s destination.  That said, it could be a very stressful experience if you miss your scheduled flight because with most flights being sold out this summer, it could hours/days to get on a flight.

VG: Why are there so often several security ramps and detectors unattended, making hundreds of people go through so few lanes?

TS: This is an urgent issue for DHS now trying to hire as many TSA agents as possible across the USA. Only 768 agents are trying to be added by mid-June but there will actually need thousands of TSA agents to help keep up with the demand of the number of passengers. TSA is working on an overtime program as soon as possible. It simply comes down to not enough agents to manage more lanes to help speed up the process.

VG: I’ve been told that even after paying the $100 fee to the TSA Pre-Check, it is still a system of random selection.  Is this true?

TS: There is a very detailed application that needs to be completed by a person registering to be approved for Pre-Check. The questions are quite extensive that relates to family history as well as previously traveled countries and explanations of other past history.  The registrant will then have a personal appointment with a DHS officer to go through the application. The process can take up to thirty minutes and fingerprints are then required during the interview as well. There is a waiting period of 15-30 days to get confirmation of approval or denial. There is a thorough background check made by DHS before making their decision.  I have not heard about Pre-Check being a random selection.

VG:  If you already joined Global Entry does that guarantee TSA  Pre-Check?

TS: Yes. GOES covers TSA Pre-Check

 VG:  How have the airlines been coping with so many passengers missing their flights because of the security lines?

TS: Most of the airlines are offering assistance to the passengers prior to getting into the TSA lines by reminding passengers of their luggage/carry-on restrictions before getting in line. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on the Operations Team at the airports for each airline to do their best to make sure all of their passengers can make their flights. Most airlines are sending text or email confirmations offering travelers to check-in online prior to departure as well as reminding their customers about the time allowed for check-in prior to a flight and the necessary time needed to make sure their travelers minimize missing their flights.


By John Mariani

ATRIO Wine Bar & Restaurant
Conrad Hotel
 102 North End Avenue (near Murray Street)

    Despite the fact that so many of the world’s finest restaurants, both in the U.S. and abroad, are in hotels, some people still place an onus on dining at one, in the supposition that such restaurants are on premises merely as an amenity for those staying there.  Knowing this, many hoteliers in the U.S. hire big name chefs to open restaurants said to be “free standing” or “attached” to the hotel, like Jean-Georges at Trump International Hotel in NYC. 
    Oddly enough, in Las Vegas restaurants in hotel-casinos are the norm, though the celeb chefs are rarely ever in them, while exquisite dining rooms like La Pergola at the Cavalieri Waldorf-Astoria and Imago at The Hassler, both in Rome, are set on high floors that present a magical panorama along with superb cuisine and wine.
    Which brings me to Atrio in the Conrad Hotel, which sits adjacent to the 15-story second atrium that is itself a work of monumental art, with an oddly named monumental work called "Loopy Doopy" by Sol LeWuitt, and the restaurant itself is a sleek, handsome, glass-walled room that serves as a very popular wine bar up front and as a smart-casual dining venue further on. There the sofas are deep and wide, the wooden tables well set, and the lighting as romantic as you might wish, but this is also a fine spot for a business meal in the Wall Street area, just blocks from the Freedom Tower.  Indeed, the area is now home to several notable restaurants, with Atrio one of the first in the aftermath of 9/11 to turn the lights onto the barren streets.
    Chef Antonio Cardoso (right), 34, was born in Lisbon, where his grandmother inspired him to cook, and he has never forgotten the smoky flavors of Portugal and Iberia, which lend marvelous personality to his cuisine.  This was evident from the start of our meal upon the presentation of truffled arancini rice balls with a red pepper conserva and the chorizo-flecked batata bravas with romesco sauce and saffron aïoli.  His background gives ballast to his extremely tender grilled Portuguese octopus with shaved fennel, spiced garbanzo salad and a reduction of Pedro Ximenex Sherry ($19). (That night, though, the octopus was extremely salty.)
    There are many Mediterranean flavors throughout his menu, including spring’s  colorful ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers with a lovely Green Goddess dressing ($14).  Excellent cream-centered burrata is anchored by richly flavorful heirloom cherry tomatoes ($18), though the La Quercia prosciutto on the dish should be replaced with a finer ham imported from Italy or, even better, Iberian ham, available at Atrio, which is some of the best in the world.  There is also a creditable array of pizzas that are particularly popular at the bar (below).
A special appetizer of real note was a duet of silky scallop and tuna crudo with orange and yuzu soy. Among the main courses I tried, there was a fine, sweet and creamy corn risotto riddled with chunks of Maine lobster and a benediction of light parmesan foam ($32);  Cardoso’s wild branzino, pan-roasted and served with a farro and quinoa salad, pimiento conserva and delightful lemon chips ($34) was a canny marriage of tastes and textures, while the perfectly grilled, nicely chewy hanger steak ($38) came with charred shishito peppers, patatas bravas and onions caramelized with balsamic vinegar—a terrific dish.  A half of an excellent roast chicken ($26) had a hard-to-achieve crisp skin (which stayed that way even the next day as my lunch) with black kale, Moroccan couscous, tangy preserved lemon and a shot of heat from harissa.
My favorite dessert was the pistachio-infused crème brûlée, but the ricotta cheesecake with tart lemon curd and blueberry compote, and warm, crispy apple crostata lavished with caramel sauce and slowly melting vanilla ice cream were certainly of the same quality.
    This being a wine bar, Atrio’s list is solid and, as you might expect, many of the best prices are for Portuguese and Spanish wines, some available by the cruet or glass.  Mark-ups on much else on the list can go 250 to 300 percent above those at the wine store.
    Atrio has managed to deflect any thought of its being a mere appendage to the hotel around it by appealing to the after-work crowd from the area, its own guests, wine aficionados, and, increasingly, those who know that Cardoso is the best chef working way way downtown.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner 



By John Mariani

    I’ve always believed that Americans tend to like wines whose name they can easily pronounce, like Bolla Soave and Cloudy Bay, and shy away from those they cannot, like Chassagne-Montrachet and Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken.  But that may only begin to describe the allure of the wines of La Crema, whose aficionados have a wide range of wines to choose from under that mellifluous name, including nearly 20 different Pinot Noirs and 10 Chardonnays, along with Pinot Gris and Viognier.
    It’s become a matter of trust, of course. If a person finds both the La Crema Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to his liking, he is likely to find others in the line intriguing, although prices range from $23 to $90.  At dinner at Sea Grill restaurant in New York, I asked La Crema’s winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas (left), why the winery makes so many iterations (that’s the wine geek word for different bottlings of the same varietal) of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
    “La Crema has built a broad reputation for its most popular wines, so people have come to trust the label,” she said, “and my job is to maintain a La Crema style in all our wines—not too buttery, not too much oak, letting the fruit shine through—while discovering how our different vineyards can produce nuances.” 
Thus, a Green Valley Pinot Noir 2013 ($65), which comes from the coolest region of Sonoma, has “firm structure and natural balance;” Shell Ridge Pinot Noir 2012 ($50) is “brilliant, rugged, rich,” deriving flavor from the “ancient sea shells in the soils of Shell Ridge;” Chardonnay Nine Barrel 2012 ($70) is “an exceptional expression of a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, made from nine of the highest quality barrels.”  La Crema also has holdings in other parts of California as well as in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
    Grant-Douglas, who grew up in Niagara Falls, Canada, and graduated from Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program, is expert in dealing with the vagaries of cold terroirs, even making so-called ice wine, whose grapes literally freeze on the vine.   She joined La Crema as an enologist in 2001, was named Winemaker in 2010, and since 2013 has been Director of Wine making for the company.  “They wanted someone who understood cold climates,” she said, “and when I got to La Crema I worked the nigh shift during the harvest as the lowest man on the totem pole.  They didn’t hire me for my name; I think it was more for my strong back and boundless enthusiasm.”
    Nor was she hired to make wines that were expressions of her own style. “They didn’t hire me to make an `Elizabeth wine’ and I wouldn’t want to,” she said. “Matter of fact, I believe that, if a winemaker makes a Pinot Noir or Chardonnay that shows his hand in it, that’s not a good thing.  Sometimes you have to wonder how much Pinot Noir is actually in some of those bottles, because they don’t taste much like Pinot Noir.  They taste more like Zinfandel or Syrah.”
    One of the ways Grant-Douglas “finalizes” a wine is to take a sample bottle home with her to have with dinner, insisting, “If the wine doesn’t go well with food, it’s not a good wine.”
    The winery, which has moved around a bit over four decades, is this summer opening The La Crema Russian River Estate, spread over 260 acres of Saralee’s Vineyard. Founded in 1979, later purchased by the Jess Jackson family.   Despite the amount of wine La Crema produces, most are made in small-batch appellations of between 2,000 and 6,000 cases.
    The treatment of the newly harvested grapes is crucial to achieving a certain delicacy and the creamy texture of La Crema’s wines.  In the case of Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, the grapes “are hand harvested and 100% whole cluster pressed. After one night of cold settling, they are racked in French Open barrels for fermentation, then inoculated with the house strain of malolactic culture and stirred once every three weeks to enhance richness of mouth feel. The juices are racked only once before bottling.”
    With the Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, “seventy percent whole berries go into open top tank of fermentation, with juice cold-soaked for 3 to 5 days and carefully hand punched three times each day” to achieve the best extraction.  The free run wine is then transferred to 100% French oak barrels, where it is aged for 10 months. 

    The whole aim, as Grant-Douglas says, is to produce a range of wines that are not only exemplary of the varietals in the bottle but that also are definitively La Crema, vintage after vintage, vineyard after vineyard.  The less done back at the winery the more likely that is to be achieved.   




"Just Back From…Lake Como, Italy

Trip Duration: 4 Days, 4 Nights

Flight Plan: I flew direct from New York to Milan and then we took a car service to Lake Como, which is about a two hour drive. For the plane, my Marc Jacobs knit pants and White and Warren cashmere travel wrap are essential, along with Avene Thermal Water, Pixi Rose face wipes to feel refreshed and Chanel face moisturizer and saline spray for my nose to keep me from getting sick. I flew Economy this trip, but lucked out with a three seater to myself and an iPad with Closer and The Way We Were downloaded."-- Kerry Pieri, Harper's Bazaar (May 2016)




An 18-wheeler on North Carolina's I-77 collided with a center divider causing a spill of 50,000 pounds of runaway taters, tying up traffic for hours until clean-up crews carted them away.


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

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) 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 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: MAINE'S MIGIS LODGE

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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