Virtual Gourmet

  July 16, 2017                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


"All Work" (1943) by Thomas Hart Benton



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani

Monica's Pies, Naples, NY

    My recent reports on travel in New York State’s Finger Lakes—eleven glacial lakes and one Great Lake spread over 9,000 square miles—focused on winter and springtime, but now summer is in full flourish, and the hills and farms are bursting with fruit and wine grapes, and herbs and vegetables are fanning out in profusion. Wildflowers carpet the valleys—bee balm, red colombine, ragged robin, black knapweed, sweet William, fireweed and sand surrey.
    Wooden farm stands pop up along every route, and, with more than 100 wineries in the region, this is a great season to visit so many open to the public and taste their bottlings; indeed there are four established wine trails—Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail and Canandaigua Wine Trail.
    Central to such activity is the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, which holds classes, catered affairs, and cooking demos in its state-of-the-art kitchen (below). At its Upstairs Bistro at least 90% of the ingredients featured are from New York, so I thoroughly enjoyed a lunch that began with a pizza made with Speck bacon, snow peas, mint pesto and an egg fresh from the local farm ($12). The artisan cheeses and meats are the best produced in the area, from Black Mule Blue and McCadam Cheddar to salami, pork rillettes, and capicola. The producers are proudly listed on the menu—Bedient Farms beef, Bostrom Farms pork, Maplestone Farms chicken, and the glistening milk white scallops come straight from the waters off Montauk. Don’t miss the blue cheese potato croquettes with pickled onions and curried yogurt ($7). 

    Also in Canandaigua is Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park (below), once the summer home of financier Frederick Ferris Thompson. Set on 52 acres, the 40-room Queen Anne Mansion was built in 1887 and now encompasses a rose garden, rock garden, Japanese garden and a greenhouse designed by Lord and Burnham, all now teeming with carefully cultivated flowers, trees and shrubs. There is also a Finger Lakes Wine Center where you can sample bottlings from 40 wineries.
  The mansion’s interior is a somber place, heavy with dark timbers and stags’ heads, but a tour gives you a real sense of the kind of entrepreneurial wealth that was so much apart of the Gilded Age in America, when such people spent a relatively short time in such grand homes.
    Along Route 21 in the Bristol Hills near Naples is the beloved local shop Monica’s Pies, just as small as it should be, still a family operation.  Originally an honor system sign outside read, “Try before you buy,” and enough people obviously loved them to make the Concord grape pies famous, now with 25 other varieties available, along with jams, jellies and conserves, all made with local fruit. 

    Take the wares at Monica’s Pies and expand them exponentially to include all manner of fresh food from local sources and you have the Rochester-based, Wegmans Food Markets, now with more than 70 stores across the mid-Atlantic region. But the gargantuan flagship is a tourist attraction all on its own, with aisles and aisles of baked goods, cheeses, seafood, sushi and anything else you could crave. Name it and Wegmans sells it—and it is always of guaranteed top quality and sold at good prices. It also has one of the best restaurants in the area, Next Door, which is always packed at lunch and dinner. Many people come for the amazingly diverse sushi bar offerings, along with sandwiches at lunch and Wegmans organic lamb and chicken at dinner. 

    The last time I had been to Rochester was decades ago, when it was pretty much owned and ruled over by Eastman Kodak, whose fortunes soured with the arrival of digital cameras. Still, the corporation has a large footprint in town.  You’ll get a good idea of how well the company’s top officers lived by driving slowly down East Avenue, one of the loveliest leafy streets in America, lined on each side with impressive but unostentatious mansions in an array of architectural styles. 

    Elsewhere, Rochester is a city of neighborhoods (right) and the economy has started to come back via high tech entities like Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb along with the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Still, incomes and property values stay low while property taxes stay high.  There is a Rochester Philharmonic and a Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, while the annual Lilac Festival commemorates the town’s early history as the Flower City.

    In Geneva, on Seneca Lake, the main attraction is Belhurst Castle, where you may stay in any of the eleven period rooms and two cottages of the Chambers Hotel, itself adjacent to the Vinifera Inn, which is more contemporary in style and décor; its Turret Rooms are the most desirable. Two miles west, White Springs Manor is done in more of a Georgian Revival mansion pillared style. 

    One of the best restaurants in the area is Kindred Fare (left), “a spirited cookery,” which stocks a very good selection of the best Finger Lakes wines to go with the artisanal provender that makes up a menu of hearty dishes like grilled zucchini and summer squash with ricotta, duck, corn, broccoli and herb butter ($14), grilled flatbreads ($14), a very good Moroccan spiced meatball stew with chickpeas and yogurt served with warm pita bread ($24), and an Asian-style braised duck with stir-fried vegetables and soy sauce ginger glaze ($28). The summer’s fruit crumble for dessert shouldn’t be missed.
    In the three articles I have done about the Finger Lakes over the past few months, I have barely scratched the surface of a region so varied in its enchantments, from the broad blue lakes themselves with their evocative Indian names to the waterfalls that gush at full force in summer. History riddles the region, from the Harriet Tubman Home (right) and Willard Memorial Chapel designed by Louis C. Tiffany in Auburn to the Rural Life Museum in King Ferry and the New Hope gristmill, built in 1823.
    The myriad nature trails in the area include the Erie Canal Recreational Trail along the tow boat route and the highly esteemed 157-acre Dorothy McIlroy Bird Sanctuary in Summerhill. 

    The Finger Lakes are also home to traditional diners with people’s first names. Along the numbered routes farmers’ markets offer a bounty of local foods straight through to October. Soon the apples will be

picked—baskets of them by tourists—and pressed into cider. The grape harvest will begin to produce Rieslings that are among the finest in the world. 


In summer the aromas of rich soil and grasses and wildflowers are always there—wild basil and bergamot—intensified during the warm rain showers and rising mists at morning. And at breakfast there will be fresh bread, cured bacon, eggs plucked from the nest just hours earlier, and preserves of grapes and berries of every color.
    And if you’re just a little lucky, a rainbow may appear above the lake like a sweeping greeting, seeming to beckon you to the next place you’ll go to that day.


By John Mariani


265 Glenville Road

Greenwich, CT

  203-532- 9270

    When Rebeccas opened on a curve in the road outside of downtown Greenwich, Connecticut, there were no restaurants of its style and cast in the NYC suburbs and few in Manhattan itself. That was twenty years ago and the minimalist design of the dining room not only looks as fresh as it did then but has acquired the status of a classic design, from its clean, cool white and gray colors and Canadian yellow pine blinds and polished floor to its stainless steel accents, with counter seating for eight at the open kitchen.

    The well-lighted bar as you enter fills up by six o’clock and, in all those years, few of the 65 seats in the dining room have gone empty by eight.  Sustaining that kind of faithful crowd—and it’s largely a tony Westchester-Connecticut clientele who dress wholly appropriate in a non-stuffy way—is largely due to the unchanging stewardship of Rebecca Kirhoffer and her chef-partner husband, Reza Korshidi, not to mention a dedicated kitchen staff that has barely changed in two decades. The dining room staff seems to know most of the guests, who depend on the captains for advice and Kirhoffer for wine suggestions.
    Kirhoffer studied design at New York’s School of Visual Arts but moved into the restaurant world as a private chef for corporate dining at Smith Barney, where she met the Swiss-born Korshidi, then at the NYC bistro La Goulue. After marrying, they opened Rebeccas in 1997. Back then I wrote of the restaurant’s menu having “a mix of sharp flavors and brittle textures exemplary of modern American cuisine.” Amazingly, that style has not changed much over the years, while evolving through the use of better and better ingredients than ever before. It’s rather like the way their guests’ clothes have changed from Brooks Bros. to Ralph Lauren. 

    Certain dishes have never left the extensive à la carte menu, like the corn blini with sour cream and imported farm-raised osetra caviar ($26 or $52), the Dover sole (very decently priced at $56), and baked Alaska ($14). Others are brought back seasonally, with specials galore, from soft shell crabs on wild arugula and salsa verde ($26) to Dutch jumbo white asparagus with a morel mushroom ragôut ($32). This being New England, there are always lobster dishes, right now atop lemon risotto, asparagus and green peas ($56). 

    The duck foie gras, from the Hudson Valley, is made into a finely textured and delicious terrine ($36), served with a salad of artichoke hearts, green beans and mâche with a mustard vinaigrette. All these ingredients make all the difference in the taste of the food, which is never manipulated or overpowered. 

    The day-boat scallops are from Maine, served in a ragout of Provencal vegetables with saffron couscous ($48), so it seems out of character to haul in truffles from Australia and put them on housemade fettuccine ($100) because they simply don’t compare with European species. Better to wait for fall, when the black truffles come in from Périgord and white ones from Piedmont. 

    I am very happy to see that the rack of lamb is from Colorado (above), beautifully sliced and plated, with a decadently rich bowl of butter-lavished potatoes ($54). It’s a superb dish, as was a roasted saddle of rabbit (left), as meaty and flavorful as any I’ve ever eaten ($50), in a finely reduced mushroom sauce with grilled asparagus and tender spaetzle—a great summer evening’s dish with a glass of Riesling. 

    In a restaurant of this serious intent you expect and receive an excellent sampling of cheeses, which on any given night may include a Tomme de chèvre Aydius from the Pyrenées, a raw milk goat’s cheese from Consider Bardwell Farms on the New York/Connecticut border, and a Chantal-like Five Spoke Creamery Tumbleweed from New York. All are served with walnuts and a tangy-sweet apple compote ($22). 

    Go with friends so you can all taste a sampling of desserts (each $14) that include that delightfully old-fashioned signature baked Alaska; a classic tarte Tatin with pistachio ice cream (below); a crème brûlée that has been perfected over years; and a rum-soaked baba. 

    The wine list at Rebeccas has always been one of the best in the region—it has to be to compete with the first-rate cellars at nearby Thomas Henkelmann at the Homestead Inn in Greenwich, La Panetière in Rye and La Crémaillière in Banksville. Kirhoffer selects her wines with real discernment, not least the house wine of the moment, a very good Burgundy poured by the glass—Nuits Saint-Georges 2013 ($20). The list has its trophy bottlings, but Kirhoffer much prefers to keep a rolling stock of wines appropriate to the season, so let her be your guide and she will steer you to the perfect bottle. Prices range from reasonable to high mark-ups. 

    The spirits collection is also of note, including 18 bourbons, five Calvados, and a dozen single malt Scotches. 

    It’s no wonder that Rebeccas’ banquet business thrives, not just on the quality of the food served but on Kirhoffer’s handling everything from the flowers to the lighting, so that it all reflects that sense of decorous style she was trained to provide. 

    Connecticut’s Gold Coast residents took a while to break out of their country clubs to attain the culinary sophistication level that their affluence could readily sustain, and Rebeccas has been there to enlighten them with the singular refinement Kirhoffer and Khorshidi brought to the area more than two decades ago.


Rebeccas is open for lunch Tues.-Fri.; for dinner Tues.-Sat.





By John Mariani

    At a time when the United States is pulling out of the Paris Accords on climate change, the world’s vintners are already working hard both to counteract its effects already evident in the vineyards and to experiment with ways to cut their energy footprint and to  restore balance to their terroirs.

    This was brought into riveting focus at VINEXPO 2017, the bi-annual exposition in Bordeaux, France, that gathers thousands of industry professionals, from vintners to buyers.  There, last month, the seminar with the provocative title “Fire & Rain: Climate Change and the Wine Industry” was delivered to a packed room, including many journalists, who came to hear the warnings about, and the countermeasures to, global warming that may have a radical effect on how grapes are grown and how wines are made in the future.

    Hosted by Dana Nigro, senior editor of Wine Spectator, the panel consisted of John P. Holdren, Harvard University professor of environmental science and policy, who served as President Barack Obama’s science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Miguel A. Torres (left), President of Bodegas Torres, an internationally recognized leader in efforts to reduce winery carbon emissions and educate the wine industry about climate change; Gaia Gaja, a member of the fifth generation of her family to own and manage Barbaresco's renowned Gaja winery and the second generation to run Gaja Family Wine Estates, with Ca' Marcanda in Bolgheri and Pieve Santa Restituta in Montalcino; and Kathryn Hall, proprietor of Napa Valley’s HALL Wines, a leader in energy efficiency with one of the world’s only LEED Gold-certified wineries and Gold-certified tasting rooms.

    Holdren presented the most up-to-date scientific data on how global warming has begun to affect vineyards around the world, in many cases as something of a boon to regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy that always crave more heat and sunshine.  Indeed, on the day of the seminar the temperature in Bordeaux had soared close to 100 degrees and stayed there for the entire length of VINEXPO events.

    Holdren’s contentions were backed up by a June article in Forbes in which Denis Dubourdieu, winemaker and professor of oenology at the University of Bordeaux, reported that the French climate definitely warmed between 2000 and 2010 and, despite variations from year to year, France had produced a number of great vintages within that decade. He also said that even slight movements in temperature and rainfall have an effect on good vintages in such terroirs.  By the same token,  too dramatic effects of climate can be “unfriendly,” including increased sugar levels, cooked wines, toughened tannins and poor aging of wines already tired when bottled.

    In the same article  David Adelsheim of Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard was unequivocal in having deep concerns over extreme weather patterns, as does Frederick Frank of New York State’s Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, who said the Finger Lakes growing season has been extended, harvest dates are earlier, grape maturity has been altered and, more important, winters have become quite volatile.

    At the VINEXPO seminar, Miguel Torres said that in Chile “we have had fires of historic dimensions and frequency.  This is weather we have not seen in the last fifty years.” At the Torres wineries they are trying a myriad  of techniques to blunt the effects of CO2 emissions, including experiments to capture CO2 with algae and in greenhouses.

       “We are recovering CO2 from fermentation,” he said, “and in the building materials we use and the weight of the bottles for our wines.  Planting density has been cut back and we are experimenting with ancient varietals that can take the heat better, and, of course, we want to plant in higher altitudes when we can.”  He also noted that someday he hopes to own a Tesla electric car.

    Gaia Gaja (left with her father Angelo)said that her family has always been very sensitive to the long-term effects of what they do within their terroir. “Viticulture requires a long relationship with the land to know it, to modify, and when to leave it alone.  The challenge is in the vineyards, where you pay a high price for extreme temperatures.  For one thing, you get very ripe grapes and high alcohol. Warm weather attracts moths and insects. You can’t manipulate the grapes when they get to the winery.  It is why we only hire full-time workers who know our vineyards and how to work within them. Part-time amateurs take a long time to learn that.”

    Gaja is throwing everything into the battle against global warming: Growing grass higher so it doesn’t drink so much water; cutting the grass to make a blanket for the ground in cold months; planting many species of flowers and trees like cypress to attract beneficial birds and  insects.  “If you have abundant life in a vineyard,” she says, “you will have a thriving ecosystem.”

    One new frontier in the battle is to create “sexual confusion” within the insect community, whereby pheromones are used to disturb the males’ responses to females, preventing the next generation.  “The problem,” said Gaja, “is that if we do such experiments in our 700 hectares of vineyards, we have to convince our neighbors to do it too or else it doesn’t work.”

    Kathryn Hall (right), who does own a Tesla as well as a Prius, once served as U.S.  ambassador in agriculture, and admitted that in her vineyards in Napa Valley, “We do make wine from very ripe fruit and more structure, because, quite frankly, that’s what people like to drink.” 

Nevertheless, she has been working assiduously to reduce energy consumption as much as possible throughout the LEEDS-certified facilities, including using solar power, which now provides 50% of the winery’s energy, soon to be 65%.  “It is expensive to pour so many resources into fighting climate change,” she said, “but it is our personal commitment to do so.  This is our land and change is already here, so we have to protect the future of our wines and of Napa Valley.”




Nike has come out with a limited edition sneaker in league with Celeb Chef David Chang, who catered  many Nike events through the years, and its senior creative director was one of Noodle Bar's  first customers. The sneaker itself is a high top made with dark denim, as are the aprons at Momofuku — and an embroidered Lucky Peach logo. The numbers “163” and “207” are on the sock liners, signifying the addresses of the original Noodle Bar location and Ssam Bar, respectively. Noodle has since moved and the space is now a Fuku.  The shoes will retail for $110.



Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Public, ABCV and Louis; Cote steakhouse ; Emily; Nur; Park Life; Little Alley; Cecconi's; Satay Bar; Phil & Ann's; Empellon; Made Nice; Seawalk; Island Oyster; Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sushi by Bou; The Pool; Black Tap; Mondayoff; Fuku; Imli;Fatbird; DeKalb Market Hall; aRoka; Mr Wish : Casa Publica; Tramonti; Chalait; Pig Beach; Gilligans ; Oceana Poke, Butcher Bar, Miss Ida; Altesi; Raw Mkt; Icelandic Fish & Chips; Jane Brooklyn; Cervo's; MakiMaki, Ms Yoo, Omakase Room  and more.

"No one can afford to open a restaurant in NYC anymore."--Ruth Reichl, as quoted in the NYTimes (6/19).




Sponsored by Banfi Vintners



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

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

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

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

Recommended – green wines for Spring:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information please visit



 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 (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 Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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