Virtual Gourmet

  AUGUST 7,  2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


La Framboisette Poster by Francisco Tamagno, circa 1900


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By Geoff Kalish


By John Mariani


  Espresso at Caffé Gambrinus, Naples (Photo by John Mariani)

    Back in the 19th century Naples had the distinction of being compared only with Paris for its grandeur by Goethe, Dumas, Flaubert, and the Marquis de Sade, even if Mark Twain—grumpy to be quarantined for ten days in its harbor—found that grandeur jumbled together with the most dire poverty: “Naked boys of nine years and the fancy-dressed children of luxury; shreds and tatters, and brilliant uniforms; jack-ass cards and state carriages; beggars, princes and bishops, jostle each other in every street.”
    Current-day Naples falls somewhere in between those opinions, for its magnificent piazzas and villas keep close company with crumbling structures propped up by nothing more than prayer. The vast city swirls with activity and there is hardly a moment between eight in the morning and two a.m. when the streets are not teeming with people, many of whom seem always to be strolling arm-in-arm toward a caffé or along the waterfront.
    Not too many years ago Naples was an affront to contemporary civilization, with its most famous street, Spaccanapoli (below), cutting through the center with sinister intent, dark, bereft of sunlight because of so much hanging laundry, its broken cobblestones washed only by the rain that pours into it like a rivulet. Hustlers, beggars and men giving tourists the mal’occhio leaned against graffiti-scrawled walls.  Piles of garbage were as inevitable as death and non-payment of taxes.
    Nevertheless, and despite its chronic underground control by the Camorra crime mob, Naples has in recent years roused itself to something like buoyancy, despite debilitating unemployment and waste disposal that is still a major issue.  But the glorious Piazza del Plebescito (above) and Royal Palace have been restored, and the city still has some of the finest art museums in Europe, including the vast Museo di Capodimonte, dating to 1738, with masterpieces by Masaccio, Mantegna, Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian.
    Even Spaccanapoli has been spruced up: the laundry is largely gone, the street is cleaner, the low-life moved out.  Ironically, I almost miss the way it was, for now Spaccanapoli is just another long, narrow street in Naples, without even the distinction of being forbidding.
     Thus, there is an often sour splendor throughout Naples, not least its sweeping bay, causing so many Neapolitan immigrants to weep at their last sight of it as they sailed to America at the end of the 19th century.      One of spots easiest to find the romantic soul of the city is at Caffé Gambrinus (left), which, though overrun with tourists during the season, is a uniquely beautiful coffee and pastry purveyor, set on the piazza in 1860.  Its architect worked in the extravagant Beaux Art style, using the city’s finest artists and decorators, and it soon acquired the sobriquet of “literary coffeehouse” for the generations of writers, artists and composers who came here for a dazzling array of pastries, aperitifs, and its incomparable coffee, made by master barristi at a battery of ancient machines that hiss and sputter like a steam train. You may also sit outside and have cocktails  while watching the passing parade.
    Just around the corner is Pizzeria Brandi (below), opened in 1760, site where the pizza alla margherita was truly born, the creation of Chef Raffaele Esposito in 1889 for the visit of the Queen Consort Margherita, using the three colors of the new Italian flag—red tomato, white mozzarella and green basil.  Today Brandi straddles both sides of a narrow street, and if you go without reservations on just about any night, you will wait an hour or so for a table.  Once inside the brightly lighted rooms with their commedia dell’arte murals, you’ll find everyone from everywhere.  Service is fast paced, the menu lists a lot more than just pizzas, but I saw no tables without them.
    You must accept that this, the original pizza, which is the style found throughout Naples and the region, is soft-centered, rather floppy, not crisp in the crust. Preferences in pizza vary widely, so have your own Brandi pizza experience and decide.
    The best meal I had in Naples was in a popular family-run Trattoria San Ferdinando (left) near the Royal Palace and opera house. Led by paterfamilias Aldo Bruno, this simple trattoria is mightily committed to traditional Neapolitan fare and you can tell from the first bite that everything on the menu has been refined over many years to show the family’s enduring expertise.  Everybody who works here is related and you’ll feel it in the warmth of service and the suggestions made at your table for a wine or special of the day.
    Naples claims to make the best buffalo milk mozzarella in the South, and it’s hard to argue with the luscious, pliable version at San Ferdinando, served with tomatoes and sprigs of basil. You might begin with a sauté of seafood or a delicate carpaccio of sea bass with citrus fruits. There’s a wonderfully hearty pasta e fagioli here. I loved the linguine with crab and the fresh fettuccine with mussels and pecorino.
      All the pastas hit their mark: Rigatoni comes with eggplant, green peppers and provola cheese; risotto with meaty morsels of merluzzo (hake) and herbs; bucatini is spiked with a black pepper sauce; the specialty here is pasta and potatoes with provola cheese made into a marvelously chewy crisp  (right).  Ziti alla Genovese with crumbled meat and soft,  caramelized onions shouldn’t be missed.
      Actually these dishes are not common in Naples, but they all taste of the regional cucina di Campania and its rich food culture.  After all, this is where the tomato was first imported from the Americas in the 17th century, and it took nearly three hundred years for the rest of Italy to catch on to how delicious it was.
       So, too, are San Ferdinando’s stuffed cuttlefish, and the beef meatballs Neapolitan style, which you may compare with all those meatball-and-spaghetti dishes standard in Italian-America restaurants.
       The Brunos are justifiably proud of their extensive wine list, riddled with the wines of the region, all at very good prices, as is their menu, with pastas around 8€, meat and seafood 9-14€.  

        For la cucina more experimental, I dined at La Terrazza dei Barbanti in the hillside Hotel San Francisco al Monte (left), a comfortable, serviceable place to stay well above the noise and traffic of the center of the city and several blocks from a funicular that takes you right down to the Piazza del Plebiscito. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Chef Enzo Spingone serves up some of the city’s most inventive cuisine, in a modern glassed-in room overlooking the bay. Here you may begin simply, with a carpaccio of boiled pig’s trotters and snout dressed with salt and lemon juice, served with marinated celery, arugula and pink grapefruit (13€). Paccheri with clams and bright zucchini flowers zesty with lemon (16€) or linguinette pasta with langoustine, a subtle dose of garlic, and broccoli (18€). Bonito is marinated in cider and served with a corn salad (18€), while old fashioned eggplant parmigiana is rendered new with chutney and basil (14€).
     Desserts are lavish and lovely to look at, like the ricotta and pear cream with chocolate ice cream (9€); green apple sorbet soaked in an amaro liqueur (7€); and a Neapolitan baba spongecake with crème anglaise and black cherry ice cream (8€). The wine list is quite good, though pricey for Naples.




By John Mariani 

         Even if you met Ted Brennan for the first time at Brennan’s restaurant on Royal Street in the French Quarter, he’d always have a look of mild surprise on his face when he’d say, ‘Well, how y’all doin’ tonight?” as if he hadn’t seen you in a while and was relieved and happy you came back.
          Tall, bespectacled, always in a dark suit, crisp white shirt, silk tie, and shined brogues, Ted was the upfront face of Brennan’s, the schmoozer, the one who asked if your Martini was dry enough, if you’d tried the gumbo, and if the fish was cooked to your liking.
Photo by Matt Rose      
While his brother Jimmy (below, right, with portrait of their father Owen Brennan) tended Brennan’s extraordinary wine cellar with over-the-top passion and his brother Pip (below, left) kept the back of the house working smoothly, Ted was the one who knew everyone in town, the names of all the concierges at all the hotels, where to buy a Panama hat, and made you feel that you were getting the best table and the best waiter that night. Make a minor complaint and he’d take it as if the roof had fallen in, then fix it. I always assumed his middle name was Lagniappe.  He was what used to be called a hail fellow, well met.
         Ted Brennan died August 3 week at the age of 68, just a month shy of opening a namesake restaurant in Decatur.  I won’t go through the well-hashed history of how the various sides of the extended Brennan family fought their proprietary battles over the last fifty years or how the three brothers finally lost control of Brennan’s three years back.  You’ll hear a hundred stories.
         All I want to remember abut Ted was his consummate knack for New Orleans-style hospitality, for knowing when to turn up the drawl, sensing just how much flattery he could use on a guest’s wife, and cruising the many dining rooms each night trying to see if there was anything more he could do to make his friends happy.
         “Lemme send you something from the chef.” “Where’d y’all have lunch?” “Y’know who’s playing the best jazz in the city tonight?” “The crawfish are as fat as I’ve ever seen them this year.” The one thing he never brought up was politics.
         When he spoke there was usually a pause between the first part of a sentence and the last, as if setting you up for a punch line: “You want great Cajun food? . . . Then you’re in the wrong town.”
“You tried to get into Galatoire’s on a Friday? . . . Might as well as beg for Superdome seats on the fifty yard line.”  “I promise you the Saints’ll go all the way this season. . .  because they all eat here and  told me so.”
         Though I never considered myself a Brennan’s insider, I got to know Ted well enough to banter with him, not least telling him year after year that his wineglasses were cheap, and year after year he’d always respond, “If you knew how many we break. . . you wouldn’t say that.” 
He’d give me a slap on the back but never buttered me up.  He’d always avoid saying anything unkind about the other members of the family.  And he always told me he would personally take me to eat at Mosca’s.
         Mosca’s is a no-frill New Orleans-style Italian restaurant way the hell out in Waggaman, Louisiana, that I once ate at and came away  not getting what all the fuss was about the food or the place.  Ted would shake his head and say, “John”—which sounded like “Jawn”—“You just gotta go with me.  Next time you’re in town we’ll make a date.  . . . I’ll show you Mosca’s the way it really is.”
         Somehow Ted never got around to taking me to Mosca’s, and now, well, there won’t be a next time.  But I know I will never think of my good times in New Orleans without thinking of Ted and how he’d always give me that look when I came through the door, as if to say, “Well, where y’all been. . . and what took you so long.”


By John Mariani
Photos by Sal D'Aglia

60 Greenwich Avenue (near Perry Street)

    As I’ve had several occasions to learn recently, Indian cuisine is changing rapidly for the better, both in the preparation of traditional dishes and in the creation of new ones that show global influences of the vast sub-continent’s food culture.
    Of this evolution Delhi-born Suvir Saran (below) is well aware, for he has been in the vanguard of the movement, having been chef of Devi (
the first Indian restaurant to be granted a Michelin star), published three cookbooks, and is now chairman of the Asian Culinary Studies Department of the Culinary Institute of America.   All his worldwide experience is at play at the new Tapestry restaurant in the West Village, which he co-owns with Roni Mazumdar.
    It’s a good-looking long room made up of white brick walls, charcoal ceiling with hanging exposed bulbs, oak wood floors and tables, some latticework, the now requisite subway tiles, and a snazzy marble bar backed by a mirror—hard surfaces all, which means that Tapestry can get very loud after eight o’clock.  (Some actual tapestries on the walls would help a great deal.)
    Saran says he’s “not trying to be particularly avant garde,” referring instead to his cooking as "comfort food from around the world,” based on his own favorite taste memories. "Comfort changes based on the national border that you're in,” he says. “Food brings us together." And much of the food he serves comes from his own farm in Hebron, N.Y., whence he gets his eggs and, soon, his pigs.  His chef de cuisine is Joel Corona, a Mexican from California, his executive sous chef is Aarti Mehta, from Mumbai; and the pastry chef is Crystal Hanks.

    You might well expect that Tapestry would feature small plates for the table, each of them distinctive for flavors that are never muddied, like Brussels sprouts chaat with tamarind and mint chutneys, yogurt, and a black salt called kaala namak ($14).  Here bruschetta gets the addition of pomegranate, cilantro, onions, mustard oil, and Parmesan cheese ($13), while tamarind-glazed chicken wings with a basil-mint yogurt sauce wonderfully evoke India ($18).  More unexpected is the chicken and goose liver pâté (below) with kumquats, grapefruit, thyme and Sauternes on buttered toast ($15).  So, too, smooth Rabbit terrine with fennel, pistachios, Pernod, brioche toast points and garden greens and flowers called “rabbit grazings” ($23) was much closer to the east than the west.
    The one dish not to be missed is the crisp Masala fried chicken (below) with a crunchy peanut slaw, well-seasoned potato aloo bharta, and tangy tomato chutney ($26). The honey-glazed pork chop with roasted cauliflower, onions, and caramelized apples ($32) is another good choice, and with well-fatted,  sweet-sour-spicy Japanese wagyu skirt steak come spiced greens, kumquats, nuts and falooda noodles  ($45).  Every dish has its specific aroma, tenderness and complexity without ever getting overpowered by chile heat.  Salt, sweet, bitter, and sour spin ripples of flavor in every dish.
    I love seeing Pavlova meringue cake on a dessert menu, here with mango,
summer berries and ginger cream ($14), and I am incapable of pushing away Tapestry’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with salted caramel ice cream and brandy snap basket.
Tapestry has a gregarious drinks director who has put together an  exotic cocktail list and a modest wine list suited to this kind of difficult-to-match cuisine, with all bottlings offered by the glass or bottle.  Mark-ups are not what I’d call easy on the wallet—Manifesto Sauvignon Blanc goes for $38, about $13 in a wine shop, though Alphonse Mellot La Moussiére 2014 at $66 is not unreasonable—but so many are under $50 that they are affordable.
    Suvir Saran seems to have hit a delicious balance of the old, the new, the savory and the sweet throughout his menu, both elevating Indian cuisine without losing the soulfulness of it and showing how its flavors deserve a larger role in international gastronomy.

Open nightly for dinner.




By Geoff Kalish 

    With the summertime rosé craze in full mid-summer swing, a number of excellent, well-priced whites and reds perfect to accompany the fare of the season seem to have been lost in the ongoing, seemingly mindless parade of fruity pink quaffs. That’s not to say that rosés are without merit. In fact, they’re perfect alone as aperitifs or when mated with hors d’oeuvres showing mellow flavors like hummus with pita crisps, mild cheeses and chips and with bland dip. However, in my experience, the fruity bouquet and taste of even some of the most highly touted rosés are often overwhelmed by the zesty flavors of classic warm weather cuisine, like gazpacho, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, and grilled chicken with barbecue sauce.


2015 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier (Chile) ($10)
Made from hand-harvested grapes grown in the Colchagua Valley (noted for cool nights and foggy mornings), this wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months following fermentation. It shows a fruity bouquet and taste of peaches and ripe apricots, with a lively acidity in its finish – perfect to pair with grilled shrimp, spicy chicken wings and even salsa with chips.


2013 Doca delle Chauvale Vermentina (Italy) ($10)
Grapes for this easy-drinking wine hailed from vineyards located only 6 miles from the Tuscan seaside. Following 15 days of temperature-controlled fermentation, the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for 5 months. It has a floral bouquet with an uncomplicated taste of pears and earthy spice. Try it with grilled fish, especially tuna and swordfish, and soft-shelled crabs.


2014 Jordan Chardonnay (Alexander Valley, California) ($32)
For this wine night-harvested Russian River Valley grapes were fermented, then aged in French oak barrels. Reminiscent of a French Corton-Charlemagne, the wine exhibits an elegant bouquet and taste of vanilla, citrus and exotic spice, with a long, smooth memorable finish. Mate it with delicate seafare like grilled branzino or brook trout as well as lobster.



2015 Borsao Garnacha (Spain) ($9)
One of the best red wine bargains around—especially for warm weather enjoyment—this wine was produced from hand-harvested grapes (85% Grenache. 15% Tempranillo) grown at altitudes over 1,000 feet above sea level in northern Spain (Moncayo Mountains and terraces above the Erbo River). Following temperature-controlled fermentation, the wine was aged in a combination of new and used oak before bottling. It shows a bouquet and taste of ripe cherries and blueberries, with hints of vanilla and toast in its finish and mates harmoniously with a wide range of fare, from grilled vegetables to hamburgers and skirt steak, to pizza and pasta with red sauce.

2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Merlot (Chile) ($10)
This 85% Merlot wine is another bargain Chilean red, more than a cut above the many one-dimensional, inexpensively priced Cabernets from this country making their way north. (Of interest, the designation “bicicleta” originates from the bicycles used to navigate the vineyards, and pays homage to the efforts of the workers.) Grapes for this wine hailed from vineyards that experience warm days and cool nights, with aging of the wine for 8 months in stainless steel tanks following fermentation. It has a bouquet and easy-drinking taste of cherries and ripe raspberries with hints of chocolate in its finish. Enjoy it with grilled veal and pork chops as well as blue-veined cheeses.


2014 Turley Juvenile Zinfandel (California) ($30)
With Zinfandel grapes culled from young vines (6-25 years old) across California, its intense cherry and mint bouquet and flavors are perfectly tamed by the protein in much of the more robust fare of the season, like barbecued ribs, grilled rosemary-garlic infused lamb and black pepper encrusted grilled tuna. It also mates well with grilled porterhouse and flank steaks.







Lines from Bon Appetit's "50 Best New Restaurants" Candidates (August, 2016).

“Toto, we’re not at Peter Luger anymore.”

“You’ve never truly understood a sweet potato or a mushroom or a leek until you’ve seen it through the Bleases’ eyes.”

“The red 1972 Citroën parked outside is the same make of car as the one in which Charles de Gaulle's assassination was attempted. Just, you know, FYI.” 

“For the least brunchy brunch ever, hit Staplehouse for Sunday `lunch.’”

“The hotel's mini bars are stocked with the best peanuts on the planet, from the First United Methodist Church in Mount Olive, North Carolina.”

“Why does it feel like every chef we know is moving to Charleston, South Carolina?”

“If it’s a nice night, head upstairs for sweeping views of the city and a hickory-smoked ‘carrot dog.’"

“There's plenty of merch to take home with you to remember the experience by; our favorite tee bears the restaurant's slogan, `Smoked While You Sleep.’” 

“We know, we know: You were going to Fishtown before Fishtown was cool. You saw Kurt Vile play at Johnny Brenda’s—we got it.”

“Before long you have a taco in your left hand and spoon in your right, and you can’t think of a single place you’d rather be.”

“Order a foamy glass of Trabanco cider, dispensed from a two-foot-tall custom tap shaped like an arm.

“The menu at Benjamin Sukle's seafood-centric, Italian-American restaurant checks every one of our `foods we want to eat right now’ boxes.”

“From the minute we walked into this West Village gem, we were as starry-eyed as Amélie.”

“Juliet is what you make of it. Live in Somerville? It’s your (way more indie) Starbucks, a place you pop into every morning for an iced matcha and two breakfast tacos to go. (Breakfast tacos in Boston?! This is the magic that happens when the co-owner, Katrina Jazayeri, grew up in Austin.)


“Summer as a verb? Vom. It’s the same thing every September. I want to get T-shirts made that say, `Mine was fine, how was yours?’ Enough with the torturous, default, travel-flaunting small talk; I already saw on your Insta that you flew privately to Capri, then hopped onto Valentino’s yacht. So shut up about it. When people smarmily ask me where I summered, I blithely respond, `Durito!’ They follow up with wonder, assuming it must be the new `it' island floating in some far-flung time zone, asking, `Oh, yes... isn’t there’s a new Aman there?’ I correct them: `Nope. Durito is where I live in New York City: Down Under Roosevelt Island Tram Overpass. That’s where I summer.’ That shuts them up. They bite their lower lip and give me a look of pity, like I spent Julaugust opening fire hydrants with a wrench and dancing in the stream of water, or joining in a rat-conga line down Madison, kicking tumbleweeds out of my way with my not-Louboutins.”—Jill Kargman, “Where Did  YOU Summer?”--Beach Modern Luxury Magazine.


 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:

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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