Virtual Gourmet

  October 16,  2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Cafeteria, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1932



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


: On Oct 27th I will be hosting "Italian Heritage Month" at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in my hometown of Tuckahoe NY, at a four-course sit-down dinner, presented by San Gennaro Trattoria and Ristorante from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
    Dinner will be preceded by a presentation by Umberto Mucci of his latest book We the Italians, 100 Interviews with representatives of the Italian community in the United States.  $120 pp.  For info and tickets call 914-771-8700.



By John Mariani

    Let me rip right past all assumptions that Orlando is so dominated by Disneyworld, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and so many more family parks that there is little else about the spread-out city to draw those not particularly interested in “Character Breakfasts” or the flagellation post of Christ at the Holy Land Experience.
     The fact is that the city has been ranked by the Pew Research Center as
the fourth most popular American city based on where people want to live. There is certainly a downtown Orlando with its share of skyscrapers and wealthy neighborhoods like Winter Park, Lake Eola Heights and Thornton Park. Central Florida’s Research Park is the seventh largest in the U.S., and Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Hewlett-Packard have long been hi-tech giants here.  So, beyond the resort parks’ themed restaurants and the enormous number of chain eateries around the area, Orlando also has some of the best restaurants in Florida. 

at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando

4012 Central Florida Parkway

    Norman van Aken’s reputation as one of the founders of what was called “New Floridian” or “New Floribbean” cuisine in the 1980s has endured far longer than many of his contemporaries’—chronicled in his autobiography No Experience Necessary… The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken—and he has written five cookbooks based on his evolving style.  So it is wonderful to know that he is going full tilt at a namesake restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, with its beautiful rotunda-shaped dining room overlooking the resort’s gardens,  lake and the Greg Norman Signature Golf Course. 
    Norman’s is a restaurant whose balance of true elegance and casual chic proves the evergreen charm of fine dining in the American style, with genteel service to match, and a fine veteran g-m/sommelier in Yusuf Yildiz, formerly at Victoria and Albert’s at Walt Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
    When I dined at Norman’s I was offered a long tasting menu that exhibited the kitchen’s range under chef de cuisine Andres Mendoza. (Van Aken was in the throes of opening another restaurant, so he divides his time.)  All the elements of what made New Floridian cuisine so exciting three decades ago are in full flourish at Norman’s, from the diced octopus salpiçon with aji panka and squid ink aïoli to the Florida cobia with a huitlacoche mushroom sponge cake with truffled butter sauce and zucchini (dishes without prices are from the $110 tasting menu).  Sweet, fleshy Key West shrimp ceviche was “cooked” in tequila, with avocado ($14), while a dish called “my down-home French toast” ($30 or $15) is luscious foie gras scented with Curaçao atop griddled brioche and a savory passionfruit caramel. 
    Van Aken (right) is not restricting himself to the Caribbean, however. His lamb is from Oregon, a rack done with mole verde, patty pan squash, guava and tamarind gastrique ($42), and his scallops come from Massachusetts, tinted with annato and served with Anson Mills white grits, morel mushrooms and an orange beurre blanc ($18).  The smoked bison fillet never roamed in the Panhandle, but it took on all kinds of savory notes from celeriac, Brussels sprouts and a tangy-sweet black fig jus.
Rare in Florida restaurants, there is a cheese course available; otherwise a dessert like milk chocolate pudding with a passionfruit curd, peanut butter powder and vanilla ice cream ($12) ends the meal as impressively as it began.
    Be aware that van Aken’s food is very rich, but it is all intended to be sumptuous and, by that descriptor, shows how far he has come while maintaining his unique culinary character.


4899 New Broad Street

    Although you’ll find very similar casual, upscale restaurants around Florida these days, The Osprey Tavern sets its own signature standard in the Orlando area at Baldwin Park.  Executive chef Joseph Barnett, pastry chef Christie Carlucci and sommelier Josh Nagel work under the direction of owners Jason and Sue Chin, who have married the look of a streamlined tavern with an open kitchen, coffee shop-style booths and counter to an eclectic menu of charcuterie and pizzas ($16-$18), raw bar offerings ($18-$32), very good fish and chips ($23) and beef deckle sliders ($12) that make the very best of an underappreciated juicy cut of meat.
    Forgiving their use of the pointless cliché “farm to table,” I’m delighted to see that their excellent Colorado lamb ribs with za’atar, smoked honey and caramelized yogurt have some Eastern Mediterranean flavors, while the peas and carrots agnolotti with homemade ricotta, sweet peas, Parmesan cheese and carrots ($18) was among the better pastas I’ve had in town. But porchetta ($26) came with an overwrought and confusing assemblage of sherry pomegranate glaze, chorizo braised kale, tomatoes, and herb bacon breadcrumbs that couldn’t boost the basic blandness of the pork. 
    Helpless was I in the face of “bee sting” honey cake with pastry cream, honeycomb candy, lemonade gel and Earl Grey tea ice cream ($8), and a blueberry buckle with caramel, lemon curd, shortbread, pickled blueberries and cinnamon toast ice cream ($8)—desserts that match the apps and entrees in suggesting that you shouldn’t think too much about our food, just enjoy it to the hilt.  

Open for lunch Tues.-Sat., dinner nightly, brunch Sun.



1234 N. Orange Avenue, Winter Park

    For a decade now, The Ravenous Pig, under chef-owners James and Julie Petrakis (right), has proved itself among the area’s most popular gastro-pubs—and, yes, it can get very loud—known for its changing array of microbrews.
    The name would have you believe it’s a BBQ joint, but RP is much more. As James explains it, his menu is full of comfort food given a professional chef’s sense of refinement, so that you’re not likely to replicate the depth of his flavors at home with items like shrimp and grits ($15) or a pub burger made with Angus beef, caramelized onions, buttermilk blue cheese and truffled fries ($16).
    But, fact is, there’s little on the menu most home cooks would ever attempt, like the excellent homemade charcuterie—everything is made in house—of rabbit sausage, pork terrene, duck ham, chicken liver mousse and brown sugar fennel.  (Many dishes are served “for the table.”) Beef tartare is impeccably ground and seasoned with beets, burnt orange curd, kohlrabi, sourdough croutons and a fried egg.
    Two of the truly outstanding dishes I tried were the sunburst trout with Carolina gold rice, Jonah crab, snow peas, fava beans, soffrito-braised soy beans, shishito peppers, croutons and fried egg; and the grilled quail with duck morçilla, farro verde, English peas, ramps, charred cabbage and blackberries jus.  As in way too many American restaurants doing Italian food, tagliatelle with shrimp, snow peas, fennel, mushrooms and lobster broth ($21) was far too complicated a dish.
    As often as I dine out I am always amazed by the sheer variety of desserts in American kitchens, like The Ravenous Pig’s berry plum crisp with buttery streusel, Grand Marnier ice cream and candied orange, and a riot of chocolate in a jar, with dark chocolate cake, mousse, brownie crumble, toffee crunch and spiced crème fraîche.
    The one-page wine list is admirable for being well adapted to the cooking here and for so many unfamiliar labels under $50, and mark-ups are fairly reasonable.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner





7972 Via Dellagio Way

    One of three locations in Florida, Dragonfly is part of a carefully maintained chain with a commitment to first-rate ingredients obtainable both inside and outside the U.S., which means their sushi and sashimi ranks with the best in the state.
    The restaurant follows the lead of huge Japanese feeding halls like Morimoto where the larger the menu the more people will be impressed, or at least find something good to eat, which includes varied sushi rolls with flighty names like Big Boss, with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, scallions and spicy sauce ($14), and The Bomb, with tuna, tempura shrimp, snowcrab, avocado, tempura flakes, spicy sauce and eel sauce ($13). There is a seven-piece omakase nigiri ($28), and, of course, the now ubiquitous wagyu beef ($12-$24).
    Now, turn the menu over and there are another 44 dishes, including the robata grilled selections you probably came for ($4-$60, the latter for wagyu steak), along with salads and vegetables, soups and noodles, seafood and meats and extras. Most of what I tasted in a family-style meal with many people at the table was well prepared and unstintingly fresh.  It was a fun night out to enjoy the familiar.



    Funny how highly successful entrepreneurs are so often drawn to the restaurant biz, although in the case of John Rivers (right), who made his fortune in pharmaceutical distribution, he’s clearly pouring his professional know-how and intention to be the best into a (thus far) small Florida chain of barbecue eateries called 4 Rivers, as well as into an American café called The Coop.  In both places I found a real commitment to researching each and every dish so as to perfect it and make it suitable for large-scale production.
    4 Rivers, currently with 13 units, proves that when it comes to barbecue, the only thing that really matters is careful tending to the product. You need not be some backwoods old-timer wheezing with black lung to make great ‘cue—and I’ve had plenty at highly publicized places where quality varied—but you do have to know how to build the right oven and the right fire and order consistently well-marbled meat.  4 Rivers, at least in the one unit I went to, the original in Winter Park, succeeded on all these counts. 
    The story goes that Rivers got the idea after hosting a cookout fundraiser in 2004; within five years, his first store opened. (The four Rivers are himself, his wife, Monica, his son Jared and daughter Cameron.)
    The menu is pretty much the same at all the units, from the juicy brisket and pulled pork to the burnt-ends signature brisket twice–smoked.  He also hedges his bets with vegetarian salads and dishes, BBQ street tacos and quesadillas, even PB&J for the kids.  But his heart and soul is in the ‘cue, and I haven’t found better anywhere else in Florida.
     I’m not a big breakfast person, but I, like scores of others, would wait (a little while) on line to start my day at The Coop (right), assuming I wasn’t going anywhere else for the rest of the morning. Here in this cheery, well-staffed, bright dining room I went all in, tasting a tamale pancake topped with pulled pork ($8.49), cinnamon roll French toast ($8.99), terrific fried chicken (below) with sausage gravy and fried egg ($6.99) and The Coop Scramble ($8.49), composed of diced fried chicken tenders scrambled with sharp cheddar and sided with potatoes and really good buttered grits.
    And, as someone who only rarely indulges a passion for waffles, I found those at The Coop superlative in their precise size, thickness, crispiness, yeasty flavor and their ability to stay hot ($6.49).  Good strong coffee, too. Frankly, I don’t know how Rivers does all this at these prices, when you think that fast food joints charge as much or more for many items. But he’s obviously got it down to a very savory science.


By John Mariani


Waldorf Astoria Hotel
540 Lexington Avenue (at 49th Street)


   The bad news is that, yes, the Waldorf-Astoria, which opened during the Depression in 1931, will close next year for a three-year conversion of three-quarters of its rooms into luxury condos—just what NYC needs!—thanks to its owner, Chinese holding company Anbang Insurance Group Co., which purchased the hotel from Hilton's parent group in 2015 for a record $1.95 billion. The rest of the rooms will be upgraded to luxury suites.
    The good news is that the storied Bull and Bear restaurant will remain open until the closing next year, especially since the food has never been better, with a menu geared to steaks and chops but with a good deal more to choose from, including the Waldorf salad ($19), created for the hotel’s opening by imperious maître d’ Oscar Tschirky, made with candied walnuts, sweet and sour apples, celeriac, and, now, truffles.
    The restaurant itself, adjacent to the very popular four-sided bar, is in high polish, a far cry from so many of the raffish East Side steakhouses whose dated décor looks purchased from a 1930s catalog.  The B&B’s design evokes the Gilded Age with a 1960s swank: tartan plaid carpets, draped tablecloths, small glowing lamps on the tables, fine paintings and extremely comfortable armchairs and banquettes.  General manager Damien Collins is running what was not always a tight ship, so that the staff is now more attentive than in the past.
    If you stay truly traditional, you might order the jumbo shrimp cocktail with horseradish cocktail sauce ($24), a dish that proves that doing the minimum to a great ingredient will make for a finer result.  That goes for the meaty crabcake, also with jumbo lump meat ($25), which now comes with a red chili aïoli, remoulade and shaved Brussels sprouts.  The hearty French onion soup ($18) is layered with just the right amount of golden Gruyère to seal a well-caramelized amalgam of onions and deeply flavorful broth (right).
    Among the beef offerings there is the now requisite wagyu—five ounces for $140—which I assiduously avoided in favor of a superb USDA Prime NewYork strip steak (left)with head of roasted garlic ($57) and Colorado lamb chops (below), beautifully trimmed just enough without losing all the good fat ($59).  You may add to these superlative meats on the plate a crabcake ($13), foie gras ($18), lobster ($16), or blue cheese ($5), which add measurably to the kind of meal Diamond Jim Brady once would down a couple of times a day.
    There is a two-pound lobster, steamed or broiled ($65), that comes from Atlantic waters, so it is mystifying why the B&B would ship in inferior farm-raised salmon all the way from New Zealand and charge $38 for it.  A much better seafood choice is chef Peter Betz’s red snapper ($46), carefully seared and served with a confit of tomatoes and a rich, wonderful Sauvignon Blanc sauce with a little garlic and thyme.

    Side dishes like the perfect-sized beer batter onion rings ($12), the cheese-glazed potatoes au gratin ($14), creamed spinach ($14) and lobster mac-and-cheese ($16) are easy to share for a table of four people.

There is of course a good cheesecake with cherry compote, and I highly recomend the bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, or the pecan salted caramel tart. or a chocolate black-out cake (below). But wow! $16-$18 is as high as dessert prices get in NYC!
    Given the elegance of B&B—which gets some appropriately dressed business people among the slovenly dressed t-shirted tourists—you expect a great wine list, and with the Waldorf’s history, it’s a given that the list will hold a lot of trophy wines, like 2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at $1,300 and 1998 Château Latour at $2,200. The irony is that if you could find the Romanée-Conti in a wine store it could cost you $10,000, though the Latour runs about $400 retail.  Among the American bottlings are a lot of very high-end California cabs, like a fairly priced 2010 Far Niente at $275 and 2008 Bryant Family at $1,375, which, while difficult to find, goes for about $400 in stores. Otherwise, there is a good number of bottles under $75 on the list, while by the glass the average is $17.
    You could throw a bread roll out the window of the B&B and hit half a dozen high-end steakhouses serving much the same menu at the same prices, but none has the historic cast, the romantic lighting, or the civilized ambiance of the B&B, where you get a good deal more than you pay for, even though it comes at a high price.

Open for breakfast and dinner nightly, for lunch Sat. & Sun.





By John Mariani


    If you mention the words “Lazio” and “wine” in the same breath to the average oenophile, chances are the response will be a shrug, even an admission of ignorance about a region that has never enjoyed a reputation for its wine. Which is all the more surprising because the capital of the region, also known as Latium, is Rome, which gathers to it all that is best in Italy. 
    Yet, despite Lazio having 27 DOC zones, the only ones wine lovers are likely to know are Frascati, Castelli Romani and Est! Est!! Est!!!—the latter because of its embroidered story of how a 12th century German bishop on his way to Rome instructed a servant to go before him to find inns with good wines and to write the Latin word “Est” (“it is”) on the door of the best.  The legend goes on to say the servant found the wines of Montefiascone in Lazio so good that he wrote the word three times, with additional exclamation points.
    Still, despite such stories, and even with 3 DOCG-rated wines (Cesanese del Piglio, Cannellino di Frascati and Frascati Superiore), the region’s wines are not taken very seriously, despite a production of 19 million cases annually, with the majority of varietals being Malvasia (30%) and Trebbiano (28%).
    Well aware of Lazio’s viticultural reputation, the relatively new Falesco estate, founded by brothers Renzo and Riccardo Cotarella (right) in Montefiascone in 1979, dedicated itself to bring the region’s wines into the 20th century and beyond.  Ten years later they had produced a well-regarded Est! Est!! Est!!! called Poggio del Gelsi, made from Malvasia and Trebbiano, and adding Roscetto grapes, followed by a slew of other wines—Sagrantino, Syrah, Aleatico—that would eventually include varietals from Umbria, where they built a new winery.
    The brothers were convinced that dismissed varietals like Trebbiano had a real future, which had already been proven by a handful of producers in the eastern province of Abruzzo.  Joining their efforts were their daughters,
Marta, Dominga and Enrica (below), along with their husbands, and the estate’s reputation rose rapidly for making solid, very fresh white wines that enhanced all the Lazio varietals’ reputation, and they set out to make their winery a place for wine tourism via professionally guided visits.  The company was also aggressive in supplying wines to prestigious events like the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. And by the first decade of the current century, Falesco’s wines were winning top ratings from guides like Veronelli, Bibenda  and Gambero Rosso, even garnering the Sakura Women’s Wine Award in Japan.
    Perhaps Falesco’s canniest decision has been to send Dominga Cotarella, marketing manager, (center in the photo) to premier wine markets around the world, for she is possessed of great beauty and a fierce commitment to her family’s wines, both virtues I found irresistible over dinner with her at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park, where she was showing off Falesco’s flagship Montiano, an IGP red wine made from 100% Merlot.  The very fact that Falesco would try to make a red wine to compete with the great estates of Tuscany and Piedmont showed a formidable Italian spunk, but, as Dominga explained, “We wanted to be compared not just with the best in Italy but the best anywhere.”
    To that end—in the spirit of the famous Paris blind tasting of French crus against California wines in 1976, where the latter bested several of the former—Falesco held a blind tasting of two Montiano vintages, 2007 and 2013, in Milan this year, its 20th anniversary, alongside one of the most prestigious wines in the world, Pétrus 2007, also made from 100% Merlot from Saint-Émilion. 
    “The results surprised everyone but ourselves,” said Dominga. “Many at the tasting thought the Montiano surpassed Pétrus.”
    If the results did not cause quite the international thunderclap the Paris tasting did forty years ago, it became clear that Montiano, of which 50,000 bottles are produced annually (Pétrus makes 30,000), was deserving of high applause, and the wine has become much sought after.  At our dinner, which was highly eclectic, with a menu that didn’t match up easily with any wine, the Montiano showed its remarkable depth with dishes like foie gras marinated with strawberry and black pepper, ribeye of beef with eggplant, and a Hudson Valley Camembert.  There were several layers of flavors in balance with one another in the wine, which was very clearly a soft Merlot, a varietal that gives off lovely, subtle spices.
    “Our Merlot is grown in
an old, low-yielding vineyard,” said Dominga, “and the soil is volcanic, so the minerality is in the forefront. The grapes were selected very rigorously for their health, intensity and flavor. The juice was fermented in stainless steel vats after a long maceration time—18 days—then transferred to French barriques, where the malolactic was carried out, then aged for 18 months.”
    It is the softness of Merlot that prevents Montiano’s 14.5% alcohol level from being too hot on the palate, or too plummy in the finish.  It is certainly a wine that will grow in stature over the next five years. And at $50 a bottle—especially when a current vintage of Pétrus will run you between $600 and $900—the 2013 Montiano’s value comes into to even clearer focus.
    As for the future of Falesco, Dominga said, "
We would like to continue to produce great red wines that are truly an expression of the terroir. We are working with Syrah and our plan is to create wines that are in the Falesco style: elegant, fruity, fragrant and full of personality with really, soft harmonic tannins."



According to the Times of London, the government has a new plan in which restaurants, pubs, and cafés that don’t shrink desserts, or at least cut the amount of sugar in them, will be publicly “named and shamed” before the whole country. The warning includes big chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s as well as individual eateries, asking them to  “step up” their efforts to tackle the U.K.’s obesity crisis.


“I always tell my family — and they laugh about it — but someday I will write a vegetarian book."--Guy Fieri



Why I Have a Wine Cellar
By John Fodera

    Why do I have a wine cellar? 
People ask me this all the time.  It has come up more times than I can recollect and yet I never get weary of answering the question.  Wine lovers, wine geeks, wine  aficionados, are surely special, if not unique, creatures.  I would suspect most of us have roots in "collecting" somewhere down our personal lineage.    Whether it be comic books, models, baseball cards, Barbie dolls or something else (read: philately) I think the seeds of collecting and retaining something for future enjoyment begin in our youth.
    Wine is a unique beverage.  It's an agricultural product.  Its very success depends upon the vagaries of nature and the whim of the winemaker who carefully acts as a devoted custodian. Each year is different. This is not Coca-Cola, or beer, or even homogeneous White Zinfandel.  This is a crafted, artisan product that can remind you of place, people, and time -- history.  And wine evolves.  Like no other beverage, wine is a living, breathing product that changes as it matures.  Like an immature child, so full of rambunctious, almost careless energy that slowly sheds its nature to become a young man – and later, with luck, a stately, suave gentleman.
    The confluence of these two characteristics is what makes wine special, and there's no way to experience any of it without a wine cellar.  So as I reached to pull out the subject of today's article from the depths of my cache,  I couldn't help but smile as I wiped the mold from the label.  It may seem gross to some, but to me, it was a tiptoe through tulips.  And besides, it’s what's IN the bottle that counts.
    And in the bottle was 2009 Castello Banfi SummuS -- 40% Sangiovese Grosso, 35% Cabernet, 25%  Syrah, and 100% impressive.  SummuS ’09 poured deep purple in the glass, and, despite its increasing age, looks as dark as the first time I enjoyed it.  The always-enticing aromas lift from the glass.  Crushed berries, new leather, tobacco, smoke, and mint are gorgeous.  The aromas are sharp and laser-focused, yet retain a sense of seamlessness that makes the entire experience harmonic.
    On the palate, the wine is full bodied, mouth wateringly juicy and ripe, with refreshing acidity that provides lift and depth to the fruit flavors. There's cocoa dust, stones, and earth on the back palate and a smoky/meaty aspect to the wine that is very enjoyable - clearly this is the increased Syrah percentage asserting itself. This is a cellared gem and an experience you do not get opening a wine the day you bring it home from the wine shop; you just don't.  And although it takes patience that I admittedly don't always have, I am more often than not rewarded when I exercise the virtue.  95 points and a relative bargain around $55. 


If you love Italian wines as much as I do, stop by and join the conversation.


 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: PARIS'S LA TOUR D'ARGENT BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE WITH ANEW CHEF.

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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