Virtual Gourmet

  May 20, 2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


"Seafood Still Life" by William Merritt Chase (circa 1900).


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani



By John Mariani



    When I arrived in Sardinia after a Transatlantic flight to Rome and a connection to Alghero, my first stop was at the fish market for a late morning jetlagged lunch. It was eleven o’clock, yet the simple stark cement structure was nearly empty, the floors washed down and still wet, the fish stalls cleaned out, leaving only a faint briny smell of the sea.

    I turned to one of the locals and, feeling like I was in a Monty Python cheese shop with no cheese, asked where all the seafood had gone. The man shrugged and said, “It was all sold this morning.” The boats had pulled in under the fading stars and their catch was sold soon after daybreak.

    An hour before those stalls were full of flapping fins and tails, crawling crabs and claw-waving lobsters, every one now gone. Nothing could better illustrate the kind of fresh bounty that Sardinians have access to six days a week, both in restaurants and at home.

    There was a little trattoria called La Boqueria in the corner of the barren market, with signs ticking off the seafood offerings of the day.  We ordered, sat down at a crude table, and feasted on some of the finest fish and crustaceans I’ve ever had—platters of grilled mullet, fried calamari and moray eel, gamberoni, orata, scungilli, swordfish, and much more, all washed down with a Sardinian white wine called Nasco.  There were no pastas at all listed. 

    This was my first trip to Sardinia, the large amoeba-shaped island in the dark blue Tyrrhenian Sea, a land known for its rugged, craggy perimeter and its international playground, Costa Smeralda, developed in the ‘60s on the east coast by Prince Karim Aga Khan and now home to some of the most expensive real estate on the globe.  Which was reason enough for me to avoid it and visit instead the city of Alghero, which is a far less trafficked but quite beautiful location on the west coast.  It is also closer to the true soul of Sardinia.

    Alghero has always had a raucous history, having been occupied in the 14th century by Spanish troops whom the locals cut to pieces in an uprising, which in turn caused King Peter IV to expel most of the natives and, as did the British with Australia, re-populated the town with Catalan convicts and prostitutes. 

    In 1720 the House of Savoy out of Turin took over Sardinia, and it became part of Italy with the Unification in the next century.

    Nevertheless, the Catalonian history and influence abides. Catalan had long been the official language, and a quarter of today’s citizens still speak it; the rest speak a local dialect. You see the Catalan influence, too, in the city’s architecture and walled fortifications. Some of its people like to refer to their city as Little Barcelona.

    Walking around the city, at a leisurely place, will bring you back where you began in little more than an hour, along the way visiting the newly cleaned and restored Cathedral of Santa Maria Immaculata di Alghero in a Catalan Gothic style and along the thick limestone ramparts above the lapping seashore, which, as in most of Europe, is largely rocky, although the beautifully named La Speranza beach is long and wide, with  golden sand and wonderful sunsets.

    I highly recommend a drive out of town to explore the prehistoric Nuraghe Palmavera stone towers (left) built over centuries during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Spread out over a hillside like squat Stonehenge monuments, the structures give one an idea of just how primitive lodgings were 3,400 years ago—basic areas for cooking, sleeping and worshiping, set far from other tribes and all other civilizations. The land above the sea drops down in massive gorges (above) and great primordial rock formations stand offshore like sentinels.

    Sardinian winemaking has come very far, very fast, so a visit to the modern cooperative of 326 growers who comprise Cantina Santa Maria La Palma,  just outside Alghero, is a good way to get a quick education. The winery makes a wide variety of labels, from sparkling to red and white wines, based on indigenous grapes like Cannonau, Vermentino di Sardegna and Monica di Sardegna. The company’s red wines share the notion that youth, not long aging, has its own charms, depending on the grape. Sardinia, south of France and west of Italy, has a very hot, very dry land, so irrigation of the vineyards is allowed; you taste the flintiness of the soil and the brininess of the surrounding Tyrrhenian Sea. One of the winery’s bottlings, Akènta Sub, is actually lowered into the sea for a while to age (right).

    Founded in 1959, at a time when Sardinian wines had no reputation and little availability outside the island, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma’s vintners realized that by central control of cooperative growers, the wines could be made better and with more consistency, fresher, less prone to oxidation, and at prices that have made them appealing in a global market flooded with bland varietals. 

    In addition, Sardinian food is a mix of Mediterranean, Italian and indigenous flavors, and I’ll be writing about them soon in Part Two of this article.



By John Mariani



 (212) 966-0904



  Despite my eagerness to find good new Italian restaurants in New York, some very good ones inevitably escape my notice, so that when I do get to visit them, I wonder how I could have missed hearing about such a wonderful place as the 13-year-old Epistrophy in NoLita.

    Husband and wife Giorgia and Luca Fadda, together with partner Nico Paganelli, are proudly Sardinian, and their little trattoria is named after the breakthrough bebop composition by Thelonius Monk and Kenny Clarke.

    The restaurant is clearly designed to fit snugly into its neighborhood—they offer breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner—and cocktails based on Italian models are a big part of the draw. There is a community table, and the rest of the décor depends on soft cushioned benches, distressed brick walls, a sofa to sink into near the window and racks of Italian magazines to get you in the mood. Live jazz is played on Saturday nights; other nights the piped-in music can get a little loud, though a request to turn it down was immediately and amiably addressed.

    Of the three owners, I only got to meet Giorgia, and you’ll know her when you see her. Slender, lithe, with a smile for everyone, she is the spark plug of Epistrophy and it is worth your while to take her advice on ordering.  The rest of the staff is just as cordial, which is particularly admirable since they have to go up and down a circular staircase fifty times a night.  They must all have great leg muscles.

    Among the starters I liked were some creamy, juicy polpettine di vitello ($11), veal meatballs all on their own in a tomato sauce—no spaghetti. Zucchini and ricotta croquettes ($11) were a delight, flavored with mint, basil and a spicy tartar sauce.

    We tried four pastas, one better than the next, from the spring-perfect fava bean and ricotta tortelli dressed with pecorino and parmigiano, with a sprightly lemon and thyme sauce ($19) and a finely melded cacio e pepe ($16) to excellent potato gnocchi with mixed mushrooms and a dash of truffle oil ($18) and—best of all—ear-shaped Puglian orecchiette pasta with radicchio and pancetta in a light cream sauce ($15).

    One of the Sardinian classics at Epistrophy is a hefty portion of shortribs braised in Cannonau wine with sweet onions and stone-ground polenta ($25). A properly crisp Milanese chicken cutlet came with braised kale and the charming addition of pear mostarda ($19). A nicely chewy Black Angus grass-fed hanger steak came with rosemary-scented fingerling potatoes and pearl onion agrodolce ($19), which carried through the sweet-sour flavors of other dishes. A tuna steak with truffle pea sauce lacked the flavor of superior tuna ($25), when so many other fish species would have been preferable from the daily market.  Prices for these main courses are very, very reasonable.

    Epistrophy’s desserts include a very creamy tiramisù ($7.50), a light pannacotta ($7) and a dark chocolate mousse ($7.50).

    The wine list is about 20 labels strong with only a couple of Sardinian bottlings, and I would definitely encourage the owners to add more specifically Sardinian dishes like malloreddus and culurzones pastas and a dessert like seadas.  of a kind I mention in my article about on Alghero.

    Now that I know about Epistrophy and what an effusively friendly place it is, I could imagine living in the neighborhood, dropping by several times week—maybe for breakfast, or cocktails with friends, or a good dinner on a summer’s night. And I can’t wait to meet Giorgia's husband and partner to shake their hands for maintaining such a loveable and true-to-form trattoria for more than a decade. It took me long enough to get there, now I can’t wait to go back. 





By John Mariani


    I gleefully remember a skit in a British TV comedy in which a fellow in a pub recommends a particular wine by saying, “Why, it’ll make yer nipples stand up like the Mountains o’ Mourne!”  To which his friend replies, “Well, I’m not sure I want my nipples to stand up like the Mountains o’ Mourne.”

    It was a smart retort to the kind of extravagant and absurd recommendations made by overheated wine geeks who have moved well beyond the usual banalities of Winespeak like “fruit-forward,” “hint of chocolate” and “subdued tannins.”

    One hyperactive sommelier promised me that “This Cab will blow your doors off!” And in the silly 2013 documentary movie SOMM (right), which follows four candidates studying to pass the Master Sommelier exams, one of them swirls and sniffs his wine, then pronounces, “I’m getting a whiff of ... freshly cut garden hose.” One has to wonder if freshly cut garden hose is something a wine should or should not smell like.

    I can hardly blame such zealots; people madly in love with inanimate objects like a bottle of wine feel the need to exaggerate to make a point of their irrational obsessions. And as a wine writer who labors arduously not to repeat himself with inane adjectives in describing half a dozen of the same varietals, I feel their pain. As humorist Art Buchwald, who knew his wines, once said, “When it came to writing about wine, I did what almost everybody does—I faked it.”

    The most hilarious mockery of effusive wine talk is, of course, James Thurber’s New Yorker cartoon of a man at dinner with friends saying, “It’s a naïve domestic little Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.”

    A more extended satire of such pseudo-poetical descriptions is in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, when his two louche heroes try to top one another in their assessment of a Château Lafite-Rothschild 1895 (below):


“It is a little, shy wine, like a gazelle.”

“Like a leprechaun.”

“Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.”

“Like a flute by still water.”

“And this is a wise old wine.”

“A prophet in a cave.”

“And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.”

“Like a swan.”

“Like a unicorn.”


    There used to be a wine magazine in which each bottling was compared to a rock-and-roll performer, album or song—a big zinfandel to Muddy Waters’s “Hoochie Koochie Man,” a red Burgundy to Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and a California Chardonnay to the Eagles’s “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” The magazine lasted about four issues.

    Currently on the Turner Classic Movies channel they run a wine club whose resident “curator,” Justin Howard-Sneyd, Master of Wine, explains, “With our movie and wine pairings, our intention is to choose wines diverse in their flavors with very good quality and value, but specifically, to think about those wines, who made them, where they are from and to draw together a movie connection — suggesting the kind of film you might want to watch when you're drinking that bottle.”

    Thus, a red California wine called Marx Brothers 2015 is compared to the zany comedians’ film A Night at the Opera: “All three remaining brothers are represented in this wine’s mix of grapes . . . and this is one of their most essential films.  Both [film and wine] are sure to be richly enjoyed.”  Of a Ridgerider Cellars Chardonnay 2014, Howard-Sneyd writes, “Like the inviting flavors in this eminently drinkable Central Coast Chardonnay, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (left) has it all. Cary Grant’s wrong man story is the perfect blend of action comedy and romance capped by thrilling finale on mount Rushmore. It’s best accompanied by this enticing wine that has a little something for everyone—apple, pear, warm vanilla and a hint of oak.”
    Many fine authors and celebrities—none of them wine writers—have said some wonderful things about wine, not least in odes and paeans to their favorite beverage, almost always linked to wine’s giddy pleasures.  The best were succinct, like Bette Davis (right), who once said, “Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine. It means they’re phonies.” Some were blunt, like D. H. Lawrence, who said, “The Spanish wine, My God, it is foul, catpiss is champagne compared, this is the sulphurous urination of some aged horse.” And Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to have nailed it when he said, “Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.”

    And the best put-down of a wine snob ever spoken was an exceptionally informed observation by James “007” Bond when he spurned his boss M’s service of a particular disappointing brandy in the film Goldfinger (left). “Well, sir,” says Bond, sniffing a big balloon glass, “I’d say it was a thirty-year old fine, indifferently blended, with an overdose of . . . Bon Bois.”

    And no scent of freshly cut garden hose.



Whole Foods opened a new  location in Long Beach, CA, that includes a restaurant called Yellow Fever.


Windy Brow Farms in Fredon Township, NJ, is now selling ice cream that contains bits of its processed pork product known as  “pork roll” in southern New Jersey and “Taylor ham” in the northern section. Maple syrup and French toast are also in the mix because Windy Brow’s managing partner Jake Hunt said  an all-pork roll ice cream would be “gross” without the undercurrent of sweetness.


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, benefitted 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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