Virtual Gourmet

  September 3, 2017                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


Gil Elvgren (1967)



Part Two
by John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


Part Two

by John Mariani

                                                         FLYING FISH at Disney's Board Walk                                                                             

suspect many visitors to Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort—either as children or with their own children—learned to eat what would have been exotic there, and that also goes for guests in the branches in France, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.

    Disney has long been canny about surveying guests’ likes and dislikes about its food service—more healthy options than burgers and fries, more seafood, more vegetables, and, for the upscale market, restaurants comparable to those found in major U.S. cities.  As mentioned last week, better international-style food was introduced when Epcot Centre (now just Epcot) and the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) opened.
    Every Disney food service outlet is constantly monitored, updated, renovated and sometimes removed for the installation of a newer concept.  Every detail goes through a state-of-the-art Flavor Lab, where concepts years away from opening are developed by “Imagineers.”  The newly conceived Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie (left) at the World Showcase must walk a line between Gallic authenticity and American appetites; hence, larger-than-usual croissants.  Vivoli Il Gelato at Disney Springs is an offshoot of the famous original in Florence, Italy.
    One of the most significant renovations at the Resorts has been the fine dining room called Flying Fish at Disney's Board Walk (right).  The restaurant, which has been around for since 1996, is enormously popular—though not cheap—and there are some wonderful new decorous touches: chandeliers that look like bubbles floating to the surface of the sea and clear glass flying fish on nearly invisible strings. The place is darker than it used to be, perhaps aiming at a more sophisticated look, but dark it is.  I’m not sure why some tables have linens and others do not, but settings are of very fine quality and the wine list is excellent, as has become the rule at the resort’s upscale restaurants. There is also an old-style Victorian saloon attached to the main dining room.
    At this point the ratio of seafood to meat dishes at Flying Fish is about equal, but on my latest visit I stayed closer to the sea than the land, beginning with wonderfully plump, crispy shell crab with a saffron aïoli, pickled red onion, herb puree and pomegranate ($21).  I did allow myself to indulge in excellent Kurobuta pork belly with a shank croquette, apple slaw, Bing cherry gastrique and shirred quail egg ($13).
    Among the main courses I most liked was a lavish dish of lobster nestled in squid ink pasta with golden tomato sauce, baby artichokes, and fennel pollen that was as delicious as it was pretty. It does cost $64 but is easy to share for two people.  Spanish octopus comes hot from a wood-fired grill, sharing the plate with Chilean sea bass and Key West pink shrimp graced with Spanish bomba rice (usually used for paella), sweet peppers and housemade chorizo ($49).
    I didn’t order the salmon flown in all the way from New Zealand ($39), when better Pacific Northwest salmon might have been purchased.  But I don’t often see Hawaiian abalone on a menu, so I went for it, accompanied by Skull Island prawns, a Gulf shrimp salad, charred potatoes, corn salad and Syrian (really?) pumpkinseed oil ($79).
    There are niceties like chilled silverware with dessert , and wine suggestions are given with every dish.
     The food prices here are among the highest at Walt Disney World, but the portions of several dishes are exceedingly generous and can feed two people.  It is not a restaurant designed with kids in mind, though they are not made to feel unwelcome.
    At Epcot’s Italian Pavilion, there is now a trio of restaurants—the fine dining Tutto Italia Ristorante (right) and Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, and in the same piazza (a copy of San Marco in Venice) a casual family spot named Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (below)—the latter packed from the moment it opens each day until the park closes.
           Previously the space had been a sadly mediocre Italian restaurant, but now Tutto Italia is as authentic an Italian experience as you’ll get anywhere this side of Rome, in large part owing to veteran manager Benito Sevarin overseeing every detail from preparation of the food to the service staff.
    You may certainly linger in this lavish dining room if you wish, although you can be in and out at lunch in under an hour.  I do wish they had even a minimal dress code in such a charming room, but such things are tough to enforce at Disney. (Only at the posh Victoria & Albert's are men instructed to wear jackets, but no tie.)
    Just about everything I tasted at Tutto Italia Ristorante showed real care in both selection of ingredients and service, from the first-rate Prosciutto di Parma and ultra-crisp schiacciata crackers ($20) to the bright beef carpaccio with porcini essence ($18).  Malfadine pasta was cooked impeccably, with a robust lamb ragù and feta cheese, while capunti pasta (all housemade) was abundant with mussels, cranberry beans and olive oil.  Since the kitchen must serve spaghetti and meatballs, they might as well be the best around, made with veal in a deeply flavorful tomato sauce.
    I’m a stickler about lasagne alla Bolognese, so I was very happy the version here had all the right elements, including a lush besciamella and more vegetables than tomato ($27). So, too, fettuccine with arugula basil pesto was true to its Ligurian roots ($27) and the risotto of squash and shrimp was light and lovely ($31).  Tortellini alla panna in butter and cream ($27) accompanied a scallopine of chicken cooked in Marsala wine ($26).
    I had a fine sampling of desserts  (right) that included mocha tiramisù ($12), a Gianduja chocolate profiterole ($14), a torrone semifreddo ($13) and a plate of hot cookies.
    Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has long been one of my favorites, a stylish, very colorful Mediterranean-style dining room with vine-like wrought-iron gates and railings echoed in the carpets, mosaic tiles, a swank bar, soft chandeliers and white tablecloths, with a grand view of the lagoon.
         Chef Dominic Filoni, whose food has impressed me since I first had it in Philadelphia more than a decade ago, now has all the resources possible to produce a superb cuisine, as you will taste in an amuse bouche of green-gold zucchini blossom stuffed with housemade ricotta with a lemony tomato-saffron compote. Tuna carpaccio (below) comes in a Niçoise style with French mustard, green peas, red and yellow peppers, and to gild the palate, tuna confit with crostini toast and egg.  Filoni is a classicist, so he knows very well how to make a traditional  country pâté with onion confit, cornichons, mustard seeds and focaccia bread.
    Among the entrees I enjoyed were tortelloni pumped with short ribs meat in a mushroom ragôut and red wine sauce, and well-wrought risotto with scallops, fava beans, English peas and asparagus.  Braised short ribs turned up again, this time on their own and sided with polenta, wild mushrooms, spinach and a tangy gremolata.
    As everywhere in upscale Disney, desserts are a dramatic tour de force, like the warm chocolate and banana torte with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate crown fit for any Disney princess.  Tropical fruit crème brûlée comes with mango and berries, while cheesecake is encrusted with almond and served with a cherry sauce.




By John Mariani


    Photo by Francesco Tonelli

    By a wide margin, when out-of-town friends ask me where to dine in NYC—which is like asking what animals one should see in Kenya—they mean either an Italian restaurant or a steakhouse.  (Oddly enough, the latter grew from Italian-American roots back in the 1930s, when midtown saw the emergence of steakhouses whose owners always included Italian food on the menu.)
    It would be easy enough to bring up iconic places like Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, but it’s almost impossible to get a table at a decent hour there and, aside from the quality of the beef, there’s nothing else about the place to recommend it.  There’s Spark’s, but the management has an attitude problem towards newcomers, as can be the case at the original Smith & Wollensky.  And I’m certainly not going to recommend a chain steakhouse out of New Orleans or Dallas, however good they might be, to a visitor to NYC.
    Thus, for a whole lot more reasons, I recommend Porter House Bar & Grill, which overall has the same high quality of food as the best of them, cordial hospitality overseen by g-m Alex Kurland, wine and cocktail service under Brad Nugent, and an ambiance that is unique, even in Manhattan.  PHBG is set above Columbus Circle and Central Park, with a view all the way across the skyscrapers on Central Park South and those that line Fifth Avenue.   Four flights up in the vast Time-Warner Center (which also houses Per Se, A Voce, Masa, Bouchon, and Landmarc), Porter House is celebrating ten years in business with a dining room packed for lunch and dinner daily. 
      After all those years, the owners, who include chef-and-managing partner Michael Lomonaco (right), decided the place needed a facelift, without destroying all that was quite beautiful about the place.  A year ago Jeffrey Beers International, its original designers, re-did the lounge in a somewhat more sophisticated style, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wine cabinet and leather panel. The broad and deep main dining room was done up with polished nickel finishes, bronze tinted mirrors, and pearlescent wall coverings with dark blue accents throughout. They also tacked on "Bar & Grill" to the name.                                                                                                                           Photo by Noak Fecks

    Lomonaco has fiddled a little with the menu—clams Casino are gone, so is the hamburger, but the marrow bones are still there and now a poached two-pound lobster—but most of its classic steakhouse items are intact, perfected over the last decade by a chef who has never been interested in simply flipping beefsteaks and frying onion rings.  Indeed, contrary to most NYC steakhouses, where chefs are rarely known to the public or only have their names on the door, at Porter House Lomonaco is on premises and has been for all the restaurant’s existence.  Prices have of course risen but not by that much at a time when beef prices are through the roof.
    The chilled seafood platter ($97 to $125) teems with lobster, oysters, clams, shrimp and King crab, and the jumbo lump crab cake with a horseradish-mustard sauce ($25) is as good as any in a competitive market.  If you really can’t do without facsimile caviar, there is American ossetra with blini and accompaniments ($125).
    There are three pastas listed, and I’m very happy I ordered the excellent spaghetti alla ghitarra ($24), whose spicy tomato and basil coated every strand of the perfectly cooked pasta.
    With a name like Porter House, the stakes (no pun intended) are high, especially since Peter Luger built its rep on that cut of strip and filet mignon.  The meat is USDA Prime, of course, and its true flavor shows in the impeccable searing and maintaining an interior medium-rare warmth in the porterhouse for two ($124).  The same goes for the on-the-bone strip ($63) and the delicious veal chop ($59), which comes with sage-glazed gnocchi, baby onions and thyme.  The lamb chops are from Colorado ($57), the porterhouse pork chop from Niman Ranch ($43).
    PHBG also offers Japanese wagyu (12 ounces $185) and American wagyu-style ($96), but I, among many beef lovers, have no appetite for such absurdities.
    On the side go for either the nonpareil onion rings or the creamed spinach enhanced with bacon.
    PHBG’s wine list is very well chosen. It’s got its trophy bottlings, but doesn’t go in for ten vintages of hyped California cult wines (although someone sometime bought a helluva lot of Williams Selyem). There are plenty of wines by the glass ($12-$95), and four pages of half-bottles.  Mark-ups overall are steakhouse high, but you can find some good buys, like Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru 2013 for $85.
    It’s true, aching temptation to decide among Porter House’s warm cookie plate ($12), an ice cream fudge sundae with maple walnuts ($12) or seven-layer South Carolina coconut cake ($14), all meant to be shared.
    If you live in or nearby NYC, PHBG is a terrific choice to take someone who is not, and for those coming in on their own, you won’t find a better New York state of mind than dining here.

Porter House Bar & Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner,

PORTER HOUSE BAR & GRILL, 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9500.




By John Mariani


LE VOLTE DELL’ORNELLAIA 2013 ($28)—Ornellaia, owned by Frescobaldi, is one of the most illustrious names in Tuscany, and Le Volte is the estate’s far more affordable Tuscan I.G.T. as a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Winemaker Axel Heinz is known for his wines’ equilibrium with never any sharp notes, even while young, so Le Volte is easy to drink right off the shelf, and, at 13.5% alcohol, the 2013 doesn’t really need much more age.


CHÂTEAU FAIZEAU MONTAGNE-SAINT-ÉMILION 2012  ($22)—In the tradition of Saint-Émilion, this is predominantly Merlot, with just 6% Cabernet Franc for a little more grip.  When the label says “vieilles vignes” (old vines), it means it: The estate’s locale, spread over 30 acres, dates to an abbey of the 12th century, rich in limestone soil, which gives it a lot of structure. The wine has loosened up and the Merlot is showing its creaminess, but you can keep this around for the next five years.  

DON MELCHOR PUENTE ALTO VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013  ($75-$95)—Always intended as a showpiece wine by Chile’s Concha y Toro, Don Melchor has the power of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc, whose grapes have enjoyed a cooler hilly climate than they would on a valley floor. Fifteen months in oak tame it down, too.  Award-winning winemaker Enrique Tirado has earned his reputation as a master beyond Chile as a world-class player without imitating Bordeaux or California.  

LES DAUPHINS PUYMÉRAS 2014  ($19)—For its very pretty bottle alone and price, this would make a nice gift wine, but it is also a fine example of a traditional big southern Rhȏne Valley red, made with 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Carignane—but no Mourvèdre—wholly unfined and matured entirely in concrete tanks, so the texture is bonus to the richness of the fruit, and the 13.5% alcohol keeps it from becoming a cloying Rhône.  

JUAN GIL JUMILLA 2014  ($12)—Made from the Monastrell  grape grown in chalky soils of  the Jumilla region of the Lavante, it has the smokiness associated with the varietal, and the Crianza aging  of one year in French oak and one in bottle smooths everything out to make it a very versatile wine with a wide range of meat dishes. Remarkable price, too.  

LYNDENHURST CABERNET SAUVIGNON SPOTTSWOODE ESTATE VINEYARD WINERY 2013  ($85)—At a reasonable 13.5% alcohol, this California Cabernet from a first-rate vintage is made from grapes on the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard in St. Helena as well as from grapes bought from other select growers. It’s got good spice, smells a bit of cedar and pine, and is made from 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, all of which add subtly to the complexity of the finished wine.  Only a thick slab of steak will do for a big red wine of this stature. 

PRESQ-UILLE CHARDONNAY  SANTA MARIA VALLEY 2015 ($35)—The name means “almost an island,” a spot on the Gulf Coast favored by the Murphy Family, which owns this vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, California. (That favored spot was wiped out by Hurricane  Katrina.)  The generational owners aim for complexity in cool climate wines, and they make their Chardonnay in the Old World tradition of using native yeast fermentation, native malolactic conversion, sur lies aging and 13.5% alcohol, all of which promote the fruit while keeping an acidic brightness on the palate.   The price is about what I think Chardonnays of this caliber should cost.

MARCO FELLUGA RUSSIZ SUPERIORE COLLIO CABERNET FRANC  ($28)—The wines of Friuli certainly have respect, though perhaps not so much for the reds, but Marco Felluga—the fourth of five generations of the family involved—is among the pioneers and someone who knows that making a mid-bodied red of real refinement is a better bet than trying to make a blockbuster.  The region is known more for its Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon, and this is a fine example, with a delightful peppery flavor and vivid fruit with only 13% alcohol.  With poultry, game or lamb, this makes a magnificent match. 

ALFRED GRATIEN BRUT ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE non-vintage  ($37-$40)—Alfred Gratien’s website goes a bit overboard in its description of this lovely Champagne—“The initial aroma is fruity (strawberries and red currants) and floral (peonies). Wheat, biscuit and crème fraiche notes are detectable, as are hints of more roasted flavours”—but it does have many notes and a charming bouquet in a pretty salmon pink color.  The wine is made in the Grand Crus  and Premier Crus districts in the heart of the Cȏte des Blancs region of Épernay, with each cru vinified separately. The house is known for the voluptuous quality of its Champagnes, and that certainly shines through in the fruit of this rosé. 

HILLROCK ESTATE DISTILLERY DOUBLE CASK RYE  ($80)—Master spirits blender Dave Pickerell left Maker’s Mark Bourbon in Kentucky to come to the Hudson Valley in 2010 to make rye whisky from small batches of organically grown grain distilled in a 250-gallon copper pot still built to his exact specifications.  As much care was put into the choice of used Port barrels to be charred and aged, so that there is just enough caramel flavor and dark winter fruits to make it distinctive.  Not as sweet as bourbon nor as intense as Scotch, it is bottled at 90 proof.



In an effort to calm their after midnight customers who may be a tad inebriated, McDonald's is experimenting with playing Mozart's “Magic Flute” and “Ode to Joy” to set a more civilized mood in certain stores.



“I am obsessed with carrots.”—Mark Bittman, “I Am Obsessed with these charred-carrot tacos,” NEW YORK Magazine (7/6/2017)


Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


    As autumn kicks into low 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 (left)--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!

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: LAKE COUNTY, CA.

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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