Virtual Gourmet

  May 7,   2017                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


Still Life by Paolo Antonio Barbieri (c. 1640)


By Joanna Pruess

TAVERN 62  By David Burke

By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By Joanna Pruess

     A trip to Oaxaca had been on my bucket list for so long that my kids refused to let me mention the Mexican destination ever again. “Just do it,” they implored. When I recently got there—no surprise—this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s archeological treasures, colorful arts and crafts, and celebrated cuisine far exceeded my expectations.
     As the co-author of three Mexican cookbooks with chef Ivy Stark, I already loved certain Oaxacan specialties, especially moles, the labor-intensive mixtures of roasted and ground chiles, nuts, spices, seeds and dried fruits that are the foundation of many local dishes. In Mexican Spanish, mole comes from the Nahuatl word mōlli and means “sauce,” as well as the dishes based on them. Technically there are seven Oaxacan moles. In reality, however, every cook, family and region makes unique variations.
     Americans are most familiar with the spicy chocolate chile-based mole negro. In Oaxaca, that smooth, dark sauce is reserved for turkey or chicken. Traditionally, each mole is used with specific proteins, says Edgardo Aguilar, an owner and general manager of the elegant Restaurante Catedral (right), where his mother has prepared classic Oaxacan food for 40 years. He offered me several mole dishes to illustrate.
     One of my favorites, the lesser-known manchamanteles, is usually served with pork. The name means “tablecloth stainer” (left) for the red spots the mixture inevitably leaves wherever it falls. Ingredients for the spicy-sweet sauce usually include tomatoes, ancho chiles and cinnamon, plus roasted pineapple and plantains. The succulent pork fillet I ate also included sweet potato and apple. Aguilar added that it’s considered essential to serve plenty of warm tortillas with mole dishes.
     To learn about making moles and other regional specialties, I visited Susana Trilling’s Seasons of My Heart Cooking School . Trilling owned restaurants in New York and New Zealand before opening her school outside Oaxaca in 1988. The hands-on classes are taught in a colorful open kitchen apart from her home on a gorgeous hilltop setting. She also takes students to local markets where the well-known TV personality and author has a personal relationship with the vendors.
     For a good sample of Oaxacan food and culture, wander around the Zócalo, the town’s central square, with its bustling sidewalk cafés fronting two-story Colonial buildings. While wandering the city, admire monuments like the baroque Temple of Santo Domingo, with its gold leaf-encrusted altar, and explore the lively pedestrian streets crammed with eateries and boutiques.
     Be sure to check out the nearby el Mercado de 20 de Noviembre, where among the piles of colorful produce and chiles are basketsful of chapulines (fried grasshoppers), a local delicacy best downed with a shot of mescal.  Carnivores should visit el Pasillo de las Carnes Asadas, the smoky aisle where dozens of meat stands offer chile-coated pork, beef and sausages to be grilled over hot coals. It’s a no-frills affair: choose your meat and grab a seat. Once the meat is cooked, it’s brought to you on paper plates. Buy tortillas and condiments like pickled onions, guacamole, or salsa, along with a soft drink or water, and you’re in for an earthy feast.
     While Oaxacans respect tradition, some chefs are creating modern interpretations based on time-honored fundamentals. At the casually refined Restaurant Origen, as the name implies, chef Rodolfo Castellanos’s food is inspired by the culture, customs and traditions of his family, especially those of his mother, Evelia Reyes.
      While growing up, Castellanos (left) worked in his parents’ take-out food business before attending culinary school, then returned to Oaxaca to open Origen to explore a universe of flavors. The kitchen’s seasonal and local ingredients are sourced from the central Oaxacan valleys of his youth and from regions around the state like Sierra Sur, Mixteca and Istmo.
      His background is reflected in the colors and in the bold, delicious flavors of a roasted butternut squash filled with bell peppers, almonds and arugula, served with a bright red pepper sauce (right). Two notable main courses showcased traditional ingredients. A butterflied grilled fish was painted with chintextle, a stoneground paste made with smoked pasilla de Oaxaca chilies, herbs and garlic. The condiment, milled by indigenous people in southern Mexico for generations, added a rich taste to the dish, which was served with chickpeas and amaranth greens. Confit of suckling pig with manchamantel mole were perfect partners. Only later did I learn that the garnish was powdered chicatana, ant eggs.
     Origen’s five-course pairing menu included a shot glass of the ubiquitous mezcal, followed by an original cocktail, a craft beer and wines, all of which worked in concert with the food. 
Another chef, the renowned Alejandro Ruíz, has served sophisticated interpretations of local specialties for about 20 years. I met him by chance when a friend and I stopped in at one of his two Casa Oaxaca restaurants, among the most popular places to eat in town. Ruíz’s cooking style is called “criollo,” a term that refers to food made with traditional ingredients and techniques from across the region.
     In spite of his fame, the chef (below) was gracious and humble, in keeping with his childhood on the dairy farm where he was raised. He suggested we eat at his just-opened Oaxacalifornia (left), a fish-centric restaurant that fuses Oaxacan and Baja California specialties. Our reward was Ensenada-style fish tacos; shrimp with tempura of pitiona, a local herb, and passion fruit salsa; and an incredibly tender octopus that was first braised then grilled, perhaps the best I’d ever eaten. As a finale, we swooned over his plate of ice cream and sauce in which the flavor of Oaxaca’s celebrated chocolate was front and center.
     Beyond food, the crafts and folk art were equally extraordinary and similarly based on traditions. Linda Hanna, who organizes the Oaxacan contingent of artists for the annual Mexican folk art show, Féria Maestro del Arte, in Chapala, served as my guide to the crafts produced in the area. A transplanted Californian, Linda came to visit Oaxaca 20 years ago and never left. Her enchanting B&B, Casa Linda (left), five miles outside of town, is a low-slung floor-to-ceiling showcase for a variety of local artisans, including weavers, woodworkers, ceramists, tin workers and painters.
     There are three comfortable double bedrooms: two in the house and a third in a private casita on the property, each with a private bathroom. She usually offers a fairly ample breakfast of eggs and sometimes tamales before starting a tour. Walking through the house, Linda asked what kinds of crafts I liked to better guide my tour. My first choices were ceramics, weavers, and wood carvers.
     As we drove up and down the bumpy roads to explore some craft-focused towns, Linda shared her extensive knowledge of the traditions and arts that are the hallmarks of each form. She explained that every village specialized in a particular craft. For example, both utilitarian and decorative ceramic work is done in at least three different pueblos: San Bartolo Coyotepec, Ocotlan de Morelos, and Atzompa.
    In Santa María Atzompa we visited Irma Blanco (right),  daughter of the famous Teodora Blanco Núñez, both known for muñecas, or female figures, nativity scenes, fanciful tree of life sculptures, angels and mermaids. I watched as her nimble fingers created charming figurines in about 15 minutes. Larger projects can take over a week.
     We visited weavers in Santa Tomás Jalieza, where a dark rose-hued striped purse caught my eye, and Mitla, where my beautiful rebozo, or shawl, had been woven of special cotton from Chiapas. My next craft acquisition will hopefully be a hand-carved alebrije figure, the brightly painted animals with bold Zapotec-inspired designs, like those made by Jacobo and Maria Angeles in San Martin Tilcajete.
     To get a perspective of the region’s rich history, Linda drove me to the ruins of Monte Alban (left), one of Oaxaca’s must-see sights, a 45-minute drive from the city. The expansive Zapotec capital, dating from 500 BC to 800 AD, sits atop a flat mountain with broad panoramas of the valleys below. Among the wonders to be found at the vast early Mesoamerican urban center were the remarkably vibrant and contemporary-looking depictions of people in animated positions, called “Los Danzantes,” etched onto stele-like stones, and the astronomical observatory, where ancient people made scientific discoveries that hold true today.
     For more historic insights, I visited the Museo de la Culturas de Oaxaca, attached to the Temple of Santo Domingo, a restored Dominican monastery that houses collections of important archeological and historical relics, especially Mixtec treasures from tomb seven at Monte Albán. Other museums I was able to visit included the Ruffino Tamayo Pre-Hispanic Art Museum, Museo Textil de Oaxaca for textiles, and MUFI: the stamp museum. After achieving my dream of visiting Oaxaca, I left feeling sad that my short trip didn’t allow me to more fully discover this glorious place and its friendly people.


Hotel Azul is  a quiet, well-placed, stylish boutique hotel set around a courtyard that is within easy walking distances of Oaxaca’s sites and restaurants. The staff is extremely attentive. Breakfast is included with the room.


By John Mariani
Photos by Mikey Pozarik
and courtesy of Tavern 62

135 E 62nd Street (near Lexington Avenue)
212- 988-9021

    For 25 years now David Burke has been a highly respected fixture of NYC’s restaurant scene, sometimes riding high, sometimes scrambling. Born and raised in New Jersey, Burke (below) worked with some of the best chefs in France, where he won the coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplôme d’Honneur at the International Culinary Competition, the only American to achieve that honor. 
    In the U.S., he distinguished himself at the age of 26 upon taking over at Brooklyn’s River Café  through 1992. He then capitalized on his rising rep by putting his name on many restaurants, including david burke townhouse, David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Fishtail by David Burke and David Burke Kitchen, all in NYC, and David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago. Cookbooks were written,  and he appeared on TV’s “Top Chef Masters” and “Iron Chef.”  For various reasons several of the restaurants with his name on them closed, and last year he became branded under the  restaurant group ESquared, best known for its BLT chain.
                                                                   Photo by Susan Mazzullo
    Tavern 62 is the newest iteration of this lovely townhouse space on East 62nd Street (previously Fishtail by David Burke), and there’s good reason to think this one will have a long run. It’s a smart-looking place, keeping the handsome downstairs bar (left) and reconfiguring the main upstairs dining room (above) in vivid colors, with red banquettes, dark brown walls, sconces and fine striped carpeting; sadly, tablecloths are absent, so the current noise level (which Burke told me they’re working on) blunts civilized conversation, requiring instead that guests add to the din by raising their voices several notches.
    The menu shows the solidity of the Burke repertoire, with several dishes that long had a place in other venues, not least the clothesline of candied bacon (below) with maple, black pepper and sour pickle ($18), which tastes every bit as good as it looks.  I suppose the easiest moniker I can apply to Burke’s current cooking would be Contemporary American, meaning the menu has a global reach, from excellent dishes like wheatgrass noodles with ten vegetables, Parmesan and black pepper ($16/$28) to a fabulous dish of huge flavors—Peking pork shank with plum sauce, crȇpes, shrimp and lap chong fried rice ($36), although the crȇpes were brittle when they should have been moist (below).
    As a starter Burke’s salmon pastrami is a winning, signature item, placed atop gaufrette potato chips.  Pretzel-crusted crab cakes ($18) look little like the crabcake most people would expect, but the inclusion of greens within the crust is pretty and tasty as well. “Angry lobster dumplings” with spicy tomato, lemon confit and basil ($21) missed by being wrapped in gummy steamed dough.
    Among the meat entrees, “Duck, Duck, Duck” ($38) is a hearty masterpiece of fat breast, duck foie gras dumpling and a juicy meat loaf on the platter, and, knowing Burke's’ long-time devotion to the best meat money can buy—he once had his own breed of steer working for him—the Prime NY sirloin ($45) was first-rate and perfectly cooked.
    There are five seafood dishes. The sea scallops with grilled zucchini, baby leeks and sweet-and-sour rhubarb ($39) was the stand-out, owing largely to the quality of the scallops and the balance of the other ingredients in seasoning and texture. Everything at a Burke restaurant is going to be generous, and you’ll likely take some food home with you.
    “David Burke’s Lollipop tree” ($18)—most certainly a dessert suited for a table of two to four—comes with raspberry bubblegum whipped cream. The coconut banana cream pie with a rich dulce de leche sauce ($12) needs an upgrade; it’s ... O.K.
    The one-page wine list is more than adequate and the offerings very well selected, though mark-ups are high: a Ponzi Pinot Gris 2014 you can buy at the store for $15 runs $65, and a $55 Nicolas Jay Pinot Noir 2014 at retail will cost you $155.
    David Burke is a chef who’s seen it all, the comings and goings of fads and trends, the flash-in-the-pan cooks and the overhyped shabby eateries in distant zip codes.  Burke’s restaurants have always had heart, the money shows in the décor and on the plate, and the staff is never less than professional in every respect.  This, his newest, is one of his best efforts, honed in on what people really want to eat rather than simply try.

Open for lunch and dinner daily.




By John Mariani

    It happens far more than it should. I am at a wine tasting or dinner with a winemaker, I taste a wine and it is clearly off.  Smells funky. Doesn’t smell like much of anything. Hasn’t any semblance to the varietal on the label. A white wine the color of bourbon.  A red wine both murky and brown.  Bad wines.
    The odd thing is, while I don’t think my olfactory receptors are superior to others’, the obvious nastiness of some of these wines had seemingly gone unnoticed by the people pouring them.  Just weeks ago a wine poured by a prominent California winemaker was clearly corked (more on what that means later), and I, trying to be diplomatic, said, “It has an odd bouquet.”  Only after being so informed did the fellow who made the wine say, “Oh, yes, it is corked.”
    On another occasion, while dining with an editor-in-chief of a major food and wine magazine, I could see from its color and from a stench coming from the glass that the Burgundy had been wholly oxidized.  Yet the editor took a slug and pronounced it marvelous.  Again, trying to be discreet, I noted the wine’s smell of rotten eggs and the color of a rusted can (left). “Ah, yes,” said the editor, “Now that I taste it, the thing is a bit over the hill.”
    Worst incident of all was many years ago when Sicilian winemakers brought an array of their wines to New York for the wine media to taste, and every single one was oxidized. When their host—himself a Sicilian—told them that obvious fact, the winemakers bristled, contending, “This is how we’ve been making our wines for a thousand years.” Which is exactly what they tasted like. (Fortunately, the Sicilians have caught up with the rest of the world of viniculture and now make excellent modern wines.)
    Such incidents have always baffled me, although I’m aware that picking up the smell and taste of cork or oxidation is always a matter of degree.  My wife has a much better nose for detecting corkiness, and everyone has a different level of recognition.  But when you smell it, you will always know it.  A corked wine smells, well, like cork, sometimes rotted cork, and is found in at least 5% of wines—some winemakers say up to 15%—even if the stopper was not cork. The taint can also come from storage of the wines, sanitation, or even the cardboard boxes in the winery.

    The chief cause of cork taint is the presence of the chemical compounds 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA), usually transferred from a cork stopper that has been treated with chlorinated phenolic compounds as an antimicrobe agent. TCA is measured in parts per trillion but can still be detected by the human nose.
    Cork producers, usually from Portugal, insist new processes have cut down on taint, but the jury is still out among winemakers and scientists. (At another time I’ll consider alternatives to corks and why they are still used at all.)
    More obvious to our sense of smell is oxidation or maderization.  The former is caused by the interaction of the wine with oxygen, which is always present during fermentation, but aging in casks can produce the smell of something burnt or rubbery. Maderization is similar, but may be caused by heat or poor storage, making the wine taste like bad Sherry or Madeira, from which the word derives.  Deliberate maderization is, however, part of the charm of Sherry, Madeira and Marsala, but, when there is too much, the wine is unappealing or worse.
    Ironically, as with those Sicilians who insisted their wines should taste oxidized, the wine producers of Burgundy used to praise their wines for smelling like cat urine, which we now recognize as a very unappealing flaw.
    Sediment in older red wines is mostly dead yeast cells that settle to the bottom of the bottle. Filtration and clarification can help alleviate the condition, but the sediment does not harm the wine’s flavor, unless it is shaken up throughout the wine.  Which is why, with older vintages, sommeliers decant the bottles (left).  Decanting a red wine from a two-year-old vintage is unnecessary and mere showiness.
    What about those white crystals in white wine?  Those are tartrates (right), formed during fermentation and aging.  They are almost always harmless and tasteless, just not very attractive.
    Last, there is what is called a “dumb period,” when a wine that is perfectly sound and tasted just great six months ago suddenly tastes flat, lacking any complexity or fruit.  The science behind why this happens—sometimes called “bottle shock”—is not conclusive but seems to suggest that transporting wine can sometimes cause the condition.  Others suggest that just-bottled wines need to adjust to being agitated during bottling, packaging and shipping.  Usually the wines come back into focus and reveal more complexity, and the dumb period does not happen to every wine.  If it does, you just have to wait it out.
    For the occasional wine drinker, all these maladies may go unnoticed, and simply not liking the taste of a wine is not the same as its being flawed. But I guarantee, once such taints are pointed out to a wine drinker, it is likely to be recognized henceforth, even by the winemakers themselves.



A man was stopped at the Nanjing Airport on his way back from visiting his parents for Chinese New Year, when told his luggage was 33 pounds over the limit. When opened, the contents of the luggage was stacks of jianbing pancakes his mother had made for him to take back.  He removed the pancakes and brought them onboard as carry-on.


“French fare can sound intimidating to order or seem overly fancy with dishes such as escargot or foie gras, but fear not. French food also consists of recognizable dishes like pan-seared salmon, French onion soup and freshly baked pastries including croissants.”—Agnes Poliquin, “Las Vegas Dining Agenda,” (2/14/17)



Sponsored by Banfi Vintners



    As Spring finally kicks into gear, we are reminded of the fragility of Mother Earth and her bounty.  As an importer representing several family wine makers from around the globe, I often like to point out that all the wines that we represent are green, some of them greener than others.  The greenest of all are classified as Biodynamic or certified Organic.  One of the most interesting selections of eco-balanced, organic and biodynamic wines comes to us from Chile and the vineyards of Emiliana.

     Emiliana was founded by our friends, the Guilisasti family, who have a long and proud history of winemaking with their Concha y Toro brand.  Three decades ago, well ahead of the curve that has made organic wines all the rage today, they set up dedicated and, most important for organic farming, isolated vineyards for this type of agriculture.  Many may picture the small farmer as being the most “organic,” but in the reality of our wine world, sometimes it takes the “big guys” to act as a locomotive to get a movement such as this on track.
    Organic farming is a form of agriculture which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.

       Organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures--including llamas--and mechanical cultivation to maintain soils productivity and health, to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests.  To call a wine organic in the US, government regulation says that it must be produced from 95% organically grown ingredients with no added sulfites.  If you add sulfites in the relatively minimal amount of 100 parts per million, you can only say that the wine is “made from organically grown grapes.”  Now, not to go into a chemistry lesson, but it is virtually impossible to make a wine without that modest dose of sulfites, at least if you want to drink it beyond ten feet of the cellar it was made in and wish it to survive any moderate amount of aging.

       Biodynamic farming adheres to the same principles, but takes it one step further by relying on the cycles of the moon and the sun to dictate much of what is done in the field, and uses animal treatments such as compost teas, horns buried with fertilizer, deer bladders, etc., to treat the soil.  It may sound a little hocus pocus, but in reality it is very comparable to homeopathic medicine, using the body’s (in this case, the earth’s) own energy to heal itself.
    Emiliana has four distinct collections of lovingly crafted organic wine now available in the US – the base line of Natura, the next step up in Novas, a stand-alone wine in Coyam, and the ne-plus-ultra of bio-dynamic wines, Ge.  One taste of any of these and you too may find yourself turning green – not with envy, but for a newfound love of organic winemaking!

Recommended – green wines for Spring:

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

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

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

Novas Pinot Noir Gran Reserva – The grapes for this wine are grown in the cool, coastal Casablanca Valley’s permeable sandy loam soils, and harvested by hand.  After a cold soak on the skins, the wine is aged for 8 months in French oak barrels to add character, depth and roundness. 

Bright ruby red in color with attractive aromas of berries, strawberries and notes of spice and cocoa, this wine bursts with fruit flavor, layered with earthiness. Delicious with white meats, light sauces, full flavored fish and shellfish, cured ham and sushi.

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

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

For more information please visit



 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: Camp Cecil; Delmonico's Ladies Lunch.

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 (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, Geoff Kalish, Mort Hochstein, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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