Virtual Gourmet

  May 13, 2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


Joan Crawford in "Mildred Pierce" (1945)



By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani


    Few items in restaurants have been so ignominiously evicted as the white tablecloth, right along with little lamps, pots of flowers and salad forks. To the food media of the past decade nothing so reeks of being “fine dining” as a table set with cloth of any kind—linen, cotton, embossed, damask, checkered—as if to suggest, “Eat here and be prepared to pay a fortune, be served by pretentious waiters and be handed a menu all in French.”

    Of course, that is utter nonsense, since for the last two millennia tablecloths have been in use, both at home and in restaurants as modest as a pizzeria or Chinese eatery. Indeed, up until this century most people might have shied away from a restaurant because it did not have a tablecloth or at least, as in many bistros, a fresh paper covering, usually over a cloth.  (I know of a terrific roast chicken restaurant in Berlin named Henne where one tablecloth is used throughout the evening; they simply turn it over for the next guests.)

    The reasons tablecloths are so impeccably correct are many:

• They are spanking clean and sanitary. A barely wiped bare wooden or Formica table is a festering field for germs.

• They are soft and warm to the touch.

• They absorb spilled liquids that otherwise would spill onto your clothes.

• They reflect light, unless a restaurateur chooses a dumb color like black.

• They may provide color and add measurably to the dining room’s design, unless a restaurateur chooses a dumb color like black.

• They are easily crumbed.

• They absorb sound—not a small virtue in today’s crashingly loud restaurants.

    So what’s not to like?

    Ironically, the war on tablecloths began when some of the very finest of fine dining restaurants, like Jeans-Georges in New York, did away with them, insisting it was part of a “design statement,” when, in almost all cases, it was nothing more than a matter of trying to save money.  And I admit that such laundry bills can mount up—tens of thousands of dollars per annum. But not using tablecloths doesn’t seem in any way to reduce the price of a meal at such restaurants. Believe me, your dinner is never cheaper because the restaurant doesn't use tablecloths.

   One of the first to rip off tablecloths was the Judge Judy of TV food competitions, Tom Colicchio, who upon opening Craft in Manhattan announced it would deliberately not use tablecloths, or any kind of “formality,” because, he said, "I don't think people are interested in eating like that anymore."    

    Of course, colorful plastic cups, knives and forks and patterned paper napkins might well be a design statement too and would save them a lot more money, but we haven't descended that low yet, except on airplanes.  Paper napkins do, however, now seem to be far more in evidence than ever before at the new hipster restaurants with counters, open kitchens and excruciating house music.

    Antagonism towards napery has reached the point of banishment in most modern restaurants, however fine the dining or high the price. Consider some of the “hottest” new upscale restaurants to open in the past few months: David Chang’s new majordomo in L.A.; Chai Yo Modern Thai in Buckhead; Bellemore in Chicago; The Love in Philadelphia; and just about every hot spot in Las Vegas—all with denuded tables.   

    Fortunately, a happy number of both old and new restaurants—not all of them fine dining by a long shot—still put a proper cloth on their tables, like Oriole in Chicago, Mesa in Dallas, Le CouCou (right) in New York—all packed every night.

    Of course, I will always be in awe of a cordial ritual that was once done in many restaurants in America and Europe and still one of the things that draws me back to Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan (left).  After the main course is cleared, one waiter begins to roll up the soiled tablecloth while a second waiter rolls a clean one in its place. It’s such a pleasure to watch this graceful unfolding, so that it seems that there should be no other way to set a table. There it lies before being decked out with the colors of dessert—white, lightly starched, reflecting the light. What a damn good idea a fresh tablecloth makes.


By John Mariani

55 East 54th Street

Photo by Benjamin Chasteen

    When Nerai opened five years ago on the East Side, both in its décor and its cuisine rose above the city’s other high-end Greek restaurants like Milos Estiatorios and Molyvos. As I wrote at the time, “Nerai is not a taverna, no bazouki players, fish nets or faded posters of the Acropolis. Instead, Nerai is admirably at the level of a stylish Italian restaurant like Marea or a seafood restaurant like Oceana (whose premises these once were). Nerai delivers very high quality with a panache unique to Greek restaurants in NYC.”

    Now, under owners Spiro Menegatos, Costa Youssis and Dinos Gourmos and a terrific young chef, the restaurant has risen even higher by refining what it’s always done very well, making this the finest Greek food I’ve enjoyed in this country. 

    The glowing marine-like décor is exceptionally beautiful, with soft lighting playing off folds of white drapery-like fabric and fine table linens. The service staff, from the bar to the dining room, are trained in the generous spirit of what Greeks call filoxenia.

       The 500-label wine list is at least 20 percent Greek, with both the newest vintages from modern wineries and some impressive older vintages going back to the 1990s, all carefully overseen by sommelier Michael Coll.

I first tasted Israeli-born Chef Moshe Grundman’s food when he was at a restaurant in Nyack, N.Y., where he was doing exciting Mediterranean-style food. Before that he’d been sous-chef at Oceana, so his way with seafood is impeccable, including grilled octopus (below) served over fava beans with sweet caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and capers as an appetizer ($26).

    But the best way to begin is with a variety of spreads ($20) like revithada me hummus of braised chickpeas over tahini hummus ($14); spanakopita packets of spinach and artichokes ($15) flavored with dill and feta (the feta here is outstanding!); and kolokithakia tiganita of paper-thin piping hot zucchini chips fried to a perfect crispiness ($22).

    Horiatiki ($17) takes the standard Greek tomato salad with feta, cucumber, onions, olives and treats them to a rich tomato butter that makes a big difference in flavor.  The simple classic of quickly fried haloumi cheese is accompanied by sweet fresh figs and a shaved fennel salad ($16).

    The raw seafood dishes (left) at Nerai show the quality of the daily choice of a fish like dorade settled in lemon oil with a hint of thyme and a wonderful ouzo mint gelée ($18).

    Pasta is now, I suppose, just as popular in Greece as anywhere else, so it was good to see Grundman (above) giving a Hellenic twist to sweet squid ink linguine in a Metaxa bisque brimming with lobster meat ($26/$39). A very Italian wild mushrooms risotto ($18/$28) incorporates porcini, cremini, beech and shiitakes, while pastitsada is a plate of slowly braised veal cheek and smoked Metsovone cheese slathered over paccheri pasta tubes ($24/$36).

I really don’t think a Greek seafood menu of this quality needs to list Dover sole and salmon, so go instead with the poached kakavia (stone bass) in a black pepper and lemon consommé ($38), or the lavraki of whole grilled loup de mer dusted with fresh oregano, a lemon-olive oil called ladolemeno and capers ($38). Papia moussaka ($36) is a hearty plate of duck-laced layers with lentils, chanterelles and figs. Given Greeks’ passion for their own lamb, I was a little surprised that Nerai is serving Australian lamb shipped in from 10,000 miles away. It is served as chops with honey glazed carrots, dolma and an oregano jus ($42).

    Plan on having at least one of the fine desserts, like the karidopita walnut cake with milk and honey glaze and chocolate gelato ($14), or the saragli of freshly made baklava and tahini parfait with sesame brittle and a pistachio gelato ($15).

    Nerai has debuted a 3-course weekend pre- and post-theater menu for $49 per person, a 4-course Tasting Menu for $79 and a six-course option for $115, with a wine pairing for $55. There are several unnecessary surcharges for some dishes.

    I’ve said before that Greek restaurants in NYC have been largely underrated, but those like Nerai now show that they are easily in the same league as the city’s best French, Italian, Japanese and American entries. Add in a beautiful room, civilized noise level, innovative wine list and a good deal of that filoxenia, and Nerai enters the pantheon with grace.

Nerai is open for breakfast and lunch Mon.-Fri., for dinner Mon.-Sat. 


By John Mariani


                                        IN THE WINES OF PUGLIA

Gaetano Marangelli and family at Cantine Menhir Salento


    Read any commentary on the wines of Puglia, on the heel of Italy, and you’ll mostly find comments like “emerging wine region” and “still focused on bulk wine.” The most recent edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine sniffs that,  “what Puglia urgently needs is to ensure the survival of its centenarian bush vines and most interesting indigenous varieties, and, ideally, a viticultural in winemaking institute . . . to shape its future.”

    There is some truth to that statement, except it’s about ten years out of date. Young vintners and new plantings in this, the most southern of Italian wine regions, have quickly moved to improve both the wines and their image.  Since Puglia, Southern Italy’s wealthiest region, produces the largest amount of the country’s wines—17%—the impetus to produce better wines is now paramount, despite controversial Italian wine laws that deny producers a D.O.C. appellation if they want to try something innovative; instead those producers must label their wines under the I.G.T. tag, which basically means simple table wine.

    One of the leading innovators in Puglia today, along with wineries like Carvenea, Feudo di San Croce, Polvanera and others, is Gaetano Marangelli, owner and founder, in 2005, of Cantine Menhir Salento in the southeastern part of Salento.  There he works with traditional varietals like Primitivo (called Zinfandel in California), Negroamaro, a white grape called Minutolo, Ottavianello (Cinsault in France) and the unusual Susumaniello.

    Over dinner in New York with Marangelli, I was not just impressed by the quality of the four wines he brought but by their distinctive flavors of a kind I’ve rarely encountered among Puglian bottlings. His Pietra Rosato ($15-$18) had an enchanting flowery bouquet and more body than most rosé wines, made from 85% Negroamaro and 15% Susumaniello, at 12.5% alcohol.  His white wine, Pass-O ($15-$18) is 100 percent Fiano Bianco, at 14% alcohol, also expressing fragrance, a slight fruity sweetness and a refined amount of acid.  This last virtue is not that easy to achieve in a very hot climate like Puglia’s.

    “Our vineyards are very far east and I plant on north northeastern hillsides, which keeps the wines cooler, so that the acids develop along with the sugars,” he told me. The Sirocco winds from North Africa further help keep the intense heat at bay, and the rocky soil drains very well. Marangelli has also committed himself to being fully certified organic by 2019.

    “Fifty years ago all the wineries also produced their own olive oil, cheese, even chickens and eggs,” he said. “I and some of my colleagues are trying to restore that.”  To such end his property is also home to a 100-acre organic farm named “Anna” that supplies many of the provisions to the on-premises Origano Osteria & Store (left), which also has a small restaurant attached (below).  He is even in the process of building a 30-room modern hotel, which will take advantage of Puglia’s increasing agrotourism popularity.

    I tasted two of his red wines and they were outstanding. Pietra Salice Salentino (an amazing bargain at $15-$18) is made from 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera. Thick-skinned Negroamaro, which means “black bitter,” is a grape one wine writer has said “leads with bombastic fruit which makes it easy to chug, especially alongside meatballs or pizza.”  Nothing could be further from the truth with Marangelli’s stylish expression of the grape. Pietra Salice Salentino has delicious levels of flavor and only 14% alcohol. Fermented for 20 days, with 24 hours of maceration, it is aged in Slovenian oak barriques for two years and in bottle for four months.  What emerges is a lush red wine that tastes like little else outside of Puglia, not something you chug back with meatballs and pizza. Indeed, we enjoyed it with a steak and mushrooms and spicy chicken alla scarpariello with onions and chile peppers.

    But his flagship wine, with only 15,000 bottles produced, is the Pietra Primitivo Susumaniello ($20-$25), which I would rank with many of the finest red wines in Italy. If there were such a class as “Super Puglians,” this would be one of them. In this case, only the Primitivo is aged and only for six months in barrique. The Susumaniello does not spend time in oak at all and is only added to the final blend before bottling and aging four months.

    It is a very voluptuous wine, and that crucial acidity balances the richness of the tannins and the exuberance of the ripe fruit. By not allowing it to age in oak for an extended period, the wine maintains an elegance it might otherwise lose.  At 14%, it has an ideal level of alcohol.

    As do all winemakers, especially those in already hot climates, Marangelli is concerned about global warming, noting that he used to pick much of his crop in September but now picks in mid-August.

    “The increase in heat creates more sugar that would become overripe by the end of September,” he says, “fermenting into too much alcohol and becoming overwhelming.”

    I’m pretty sure you might enjoy Marangelli’s wines with a good pizza, but if food and wine should marry well, the food should be every bit as fine as Marangelli’s wines.





According to two studies by researchers at Loma Linda U.'s School of Allied Health Professions, eating dark chocolate can make people smarter, as measured by EEGs to measure brain activity after feeding five people 48 grams of 70 percent cacao.




"Executive chef Sean Gray, who’s also `a cold-pizza person,' notes that piping-hot or even moderately hot food inhibits flavor, though food scientists don’t really know why. Another reason cold fried chicken might be better than hot: no wait for it to cool off before you take a bite.
'"--Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite, "Momofuku Ko Bar Proves Cold Fried Chicken Can Be Just As Good As Hot," New York Magazine (4/29/18)




Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


   Wine is a joy year-round but in cooler weather one grape varietal has really taken center stage in my daily activities – that most Italian of grapes, Sangiovese, and its ultimate expression – Brunello di Montalcino.
    From mid-September through mid-October, the Sangiovese grown for our various styles of red wines are be harvested, culminating with the top selection for Brunello di Montalcino.
    Second, cooler weather here means it is time to start enjoying more red wines and especially Sangiovese based wines.  That includes Banfi’s cru of Brunello, Poggio alle Mura, literally the cream of the crop of our Sangiovese vineyards. Alongside our Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, this year we introduced two more wines from the cru Poggio alle Mura – a Rosso di Montalcino and a Riserva of Brunello.  Rosso is sort of like the younger brother of Brunello, also made from 100% Sangiovese grapes but usually a selection from younger vines and the wine is aged only two years compared to the four required for Brunello.  The Riserva, on the other hand, is an even more selective harvest of Sangiovese, and ages for an additional year before release.
    What is so special about this cru Poggio alle Mura?  Well, it is the result our over 30 years of ongoing research at my family’s vineyard estate, Castello Banfi.  When we first began planting our vines there in the late 1970s studies from the University of Bordeaux indicated which strains of many varietals we should plant, based on the soil type and microclimate of each vineyard.  But when it came to the region’s native Sangiovese, there was only local lore, no scientific research.  So we took it upon ourselves to figure out this vine, and set off on three decades of incredibly detailed research.
    We started with 600 apparent variations on Sangiovese, because it is so susceptible to variations in weather and soil, and narrowed that down to 160 truly genetically different clones.  We planted a vineyard with two rows of each type, made wine from each of them, and charted the differences – remember, you only get one chance a year to make wine, so this took time.
    It took about ten years to get some concrete results, though we continue to experiment today and always will – you never stop learning in science and nature!  Once we determined which were the best, complementary clones that could be planted together to make the best Brunello, we chose to plant them in what we determined to be the optimal vineyard sites.  Coincidentally, the best soils and climate conditions are in the slopes surrounding the medieval fortress today known as Castello Banfi, known since Etruscan times as Poggio alle Mura – the walled hilltop.  Hence the name of our most special “cru” of Brunello, representing a synthesis between tradition and innovation.
    Though the focus of this study was our Brunello, all of our Sangiovese-based wines, including the super Tuscans SummuS, Cum Laude, and Centine, benefited from this work.  And that’s the third reason for celebrating Sangiovese this month, for the range of wonderful reds that usher us into autumn!  One wine in particular was inspired by our research – the BelnerO, a Sangiovese dominant blend with what I like to call a kiss of Cabernet and a whisper of Merlot.  We grow the grapes a little differently for BelnerO than for Brunello, make the wine with less oak aging and released it earlier from the winery, providing a counterpoint to Brunello and a lovely terroir-driven wine in its own right.
     If you know Italians, you know that by nature we are multi-faceted, varying in mood, and always passionate.  As a nation, we span from the hot sunny beaches of Sicily near the African coast to the rugged mountains and Alpine ski slopes of Trentino-Alto Adige in the north.  Sangiovese is grown in almost all of Italy’s regions and reflects the unique nature of each; it is most famous (rightfully so) in Tuscany, yet even there it reflects the nuances of each hilltop, valley and subzone.  It has something a little different to say in Brunello than Chianti, Morellino than Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montalcino than Super Tuscan blends.
    Here is a smattering of Sangiovese-based wines that you may wish to get to know better, reflecting a spectrum that appeals to every occasion, every taste, and every budget.  We can assure you that the conversation will never become boring.

Recommendations for Celebrating Sangiovese 

BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese – A refined cuvée of noble red grapes perfected by our pioneering clonal research. This dark beauty, BelnerO, is produced at our innovative winery, chosen 11 consecutive years as Italy’s Premier Vineyard Estate. Fermented in our patented temperature controlled French oak and aged approximately 2 additional years. Unfiltered, and Nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites. 


Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino – Rich, round, velvety and intensely aromatic, with flavor hints of licorice, cherry, and spices. Brunello di Montalcino possesses an intense ruby-red color, and a depth, complexity and opulence that is softened by an elegant, lingering aftertaste. Unfiltered after 1998 vintage. 

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino – Brunello's "younger brother," produced from select Sangiovese grapes and aged in barrique for 10 to 12 months. Deep ruby-red, elegant, vibrant, well-balanced and stylish with a dry velvety finish. 

Poggio all’Oro Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – A single vineyard selection of our most historically outstanding Sangiovese, aged five years before release, the additional year more than that required of Brunello including 6 months in barrel and 6 months more in bottle to grant its “Riserva” designation.  Incredible elegance and harmony. Intense with lots of fruit and subtle wood influence. Round, complete, well balanced with hints of chocolate and berries. Unfiltered after 1998.

Poggio alle Mura – The first tangible result of years of intensive clonal research on Montalcino’s native Sangiovese grape.  Estate bottled from the splendidly sun drenched vineyards surrounding the medieval Castello from which it takes its name.  The Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, silky and smoky.  Deep ruby in color with an expressive bouquet of violets, fruits and berries as well as cigar box, cedar and exotic spices. The Rosso di Montalcino is also intense ruby red.  The bouquet is fresh and fruity with typical varietal notes of cherry and blackberry, enriched by more complex hints of licorice, tobacco and hazelnut.  It is full bodied, yet with a soft structure, and a surprisingly long finish. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is deep ruby red with garnet reflections and a rich, ample bouquet that hints of prune jam, coffee, cacao and a light balsamic note.  It is full and powerful, with ripe and gentle tannins that make it velvety and harmonious; this wine is supported by a pleasing minerality that to me speaks soundly of that special hillside in southern Montalcino.

SummuS – A wine of towering elegance, SummuS is an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon for fruit and structure; and Syrah for elegance, character and a fruity bouquet.  An elegant, complex and harmonious red wine. 

Cum Laude – A complex and elegant red which graduated “With Honors,” characterized by aromas of juicy berries and fresh spices.

Centine – A Cuvee that is more than half Sangiovese, the balanced consisting of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Vinified in a firm, round style that easily accompanies a wide range of dishes, this is a smooth and fragrantly satisfying wine with international character, and a perennial favorite at my own dinner table. 

Banfi Chianti Superiore – The “Superiore” designation signifies stricter government regulations regarding production and aging requirements, as compared to regular Chianti.  An intense ruby red wine with fruit forward aromas and floral notes.  This is a round wine with well-balanced acidity and fruit.

Banfi Chianti Classico – An enduring classic: alluring bouquet of black fruit and violets; rich flavors of cherry and leather; supple tannins and good acidity for dining. 

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – Produced from select grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Chianti, this dry, fruity and well-balanced red has a full bouquet reminiscent of violets.

Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico – This is our newest entry into the Chianti arena, coming from a 99 acre estate in Castellina, the heart of the Chianti Classico region.  The wine is a captivating mauve red that smells of cherry, plum and blackberry with hints of spice.  It is round, full and balanced with very good acidity.  

Col di Sasso – Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Luscious, complex and soft with persistent notes of fruit and great Italian style structure.



 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.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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