Virtual Gourmet

  June 17,  2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


Magazine Coffee ad (1940s)  by J.C. Leyedecker



By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani



By John Mariani

Trattoria Marco Polo, Alghero


    The circumference of the volcanic island of Sardinia, all 1,149 miles of it, is a series of scooped out scallops, with bays, shoals and inlets, crab-like claws of land and offshore juttings of massive rock structures pushed up from the Western Mediterranean. To the north is Corsica, to the east the Tyrrhenian Sea and Sicily, to the south the edge of Africa. Such a location would seem to make Sardinia central to the export of Mediterranean seafood, yet there is no large-scale seafood industry on the island, whose economy is devoted overwhelmingly to livestock and agriculture.

    This all has the effect of allowing the Sardinians to enjoy a constant supply of local seafood along with excellent meats, cheeses and, now, a thriving wine sector that has adapted to modern viniculture. Sardinian pecorino, made from sheep’s milk, is the finest in Italy, and its suckling pig, porceddu, is succulent and sweet. Wild boar is available in season and seasonal seafood year-round, including the revered bottarga mullet roe.  Its most famous bread, called pane carasau or carta di musica (music paper) is exceptionally thin and wafer-like (left), set on every table when you sit down. The wines to drink include Cannonau, Vernaccia, Malvasia and Vermentino, though the Sardinians drink a lot more local beer than wine.

    As everywhere in Italy, the trattorias are maintaining the old traditions while new ristoranti are refining those same traditions in respectful ways.  Three weeks ago I wrote about my visiting the western city of Alghero’s La Boqueria, the trattoria in the fish market where it would be impossible to find fresher seafood, all of it brought in that day, all of it sold by eleven a.m. I feasted on half a dozen platters of it—fried, broiled, grilled, steamed. including glorious langoustines (right). It was my introduction to Sardinian cuisine, and over the next week I learned and loved a great deal about the variety of the food and the gusto of the Sardinians at both traditional and modern restaurants there.




Via Filli Kennedy 20

39 079 982772

    Located on a street named in honor of the Kennedy Brothers, Il Corallo is a white-walled barebones trattoria that nevertheless has draped tables and abstract artwork on the walls. Chef Tonino del Rio is the maestro in the kitchen, and, at a long table of local winemakers and food writers, I was astounded at what he sent out—a panoply of a dozen wonderful dishes, all with cadenced dispatch, set down family style.

    We began with a marvelous carpaccio of pesce spada (swordfish) of briny freshness and rose red triglie (mullet) marinated in orange juice (left). Then came seppie (cuttlefish) of mild flavor (they so often can taste fishy if not unstintingly fresh) with ripe tomatoes (right).  There was a little salad of sweet peppers and sliced zucchini, then meaty monkfish with artichokes, and tender grilled octopus with a “caviar” made from highly reduced olive oil.

    Rasa (ray) was dressed simply with arugula and served with purple potato chips, while fat gambero (shrimp) shared the plate with a puree of porcini mushrooms on toast.  Mussels were fried with a light tempura crust and came lashed with a lemony cream sauce, then came a bowl of linguine tossed with buttery sea urchins and morsels of tomato. 

    Excellent softened pecorino and some warm, soft cookies ended off this splendid dinner, whose diversity would be difficult to find reproduced anywhere outside of the Mediterranean. You may hear that the sea is being over-fished, but you won’t see that in Alghero.

    I can’t really give you an idea of what all that would cost per person, but for a three- to four-course meal, without wine, figure on about €40.


Open Wed.-Mon. for lunch and dinner.




Via Cavour 46

39 079 973 8476


    Somewhat more creative, but still simply rendered, was the cooking at Trattoria Marco Polo, a new place in the historic center with a beautiful barrel vault brick ceiling, perfect lighting, a blackboard menu and a coziness that makes everyone joyous to be within its two small rooms.  If I ever owned a restaurant, this is what I’d want it to look and feel like.

    Stefania welcomes everyone at the front and makes sure your evening will be an enchantment, while Gianluca mans the stoves, sending out a first course of local charcuterie, a beef carpaccio with arugula and tomato, and sweet eggplant alla parmigiana.  I was swooning over a browned gratinata of Sardinian cheeses and zucchini (left).

    The pastas that evening were local favorites: culurzones, a large ravioli stuffed with potato, cheese, mint and saffron with a tomato ragù, and wide ribbon pappardelle with olives, batons of fennel and a rich wild boar ragù.

    Then came Sardinian porceddu (right), glistening roast suckling pig flavored with myrtle, the meat suffused with its melted fat and the skin crisp as parchment, which went very well with a local Cannonau Riserva 2012.

    For dessert there was fried cheese graced with honey; a chocolate torta made with a cream laced with Cannonau wine.


A meal will run you about €35-40, without wine, but tax and service included.

Open for lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun.




Via Fratelli Kennedy, 9

+39 079 978 172


    A very good lunch or dinner spot near the arc of Alghero’s stone barricade on the sea is this pleasant-looking trattoria favored by the locals, with a simple menu of Italian and Sardinian classics as dependable as sunrise and sunset.

    The walls are sea green, the linens white and corn yellow, and the windows are hung with wreaths of dried red peppers. The chairs are admirably sturdy and there is a wall of wines to peruse after ordering from the menu.

    A friend and I nibbled on the bread and carasau wafers, which went well with the various crudi served on the half shell as a selection of six species brought in that morning. The crisp, golden fried calamari made for a good nibble as an antipasto.

    Our appetites sparked, we then dug into one of the best renderings of spaghetti with clams and garlic I’ve ever had. (Spaghetti, by the way, is a far better pasta to use for this dish than the usual linguine.) Perfectly al dente, the pasta was coated with the olive oil and clam liquid, the clams—left in their shells, of course!—were sweet and sea-flavored.  You may also have this dish with olives and toasted breadcrumbs (left).

     Another pasta we tried was malloreddus (above), which are like ribbed cavatelli, with just enough spicy tomato sauce to coat each one. The grilled fish is just given a blessing of olive oil and lemon: that day pagro  (sea bream, known as porgy in America), was a special, grilled to have a faint smokiness.  You might also consider a mixed grill of fish, octopus and Mediterranean lobster. Or a mussel-based couscous.

    You’ll probably want to skip desserts here.

A meal will run you about €35-40, without wine, but tax and service included.


Open for lunch and dinner daily.


By John Mariani

219 East 44th Street (near Third Avenue)

    I could throw a stone off the terrace of Grand Central Terminal and hit at least ten first-rate steakhouses, all with more or less the same menu, all striving to serve first-rate USDA Prime beef. The distinctions, however, are not just in the decors but in the greeting and caretaking of guests. At places like Palm and Smith & Wollensky, do not expect much more than a grunt of acknowledgment if you’re not a regular. At national chains like Capitol Grille and Del Frisco’s it will be formally correct in a corporate way. And at a few, like Ben & Jack’s, the greeting will most likely be warm and even effusive. Owners Ben and Jack Sinanaj, with two siblings, Harry and Russ, really, really want you to come back as often as possible, and they work hard at making you a regular.

    The original B&J’s opened on these East 44th Street premises ten years ago and was recently re-opened—the building had been gutted and a hotel put in—and though it’s a brand new décor, it still abides by the old-fashioned look of dark wood, pale walls, and big, well-set tables. Chandeliers add a touch of elegance, but the lighting itself needs a lift: it is low and flat and should look more like it does in the appealing accompanying photograph.  The crowd—O tempores! O mores!—dresses down for the most part. It's now very casual.

    You’ll get a big basket of good breads to start with while you peruse the wine list, which hasn’t improved much in the past few years, with too many overly familiar labels, not in a league with their nearby competitors’ lists. The bar does make excellent, well-proportioned cocktails.

    The menu does not stray from the New York steakhouse template, and specials are few on a nightly basis.  The raw bar always has platters of both East Coast ($17) and West Coast oysters ($24) available, along with the usual shrimp and crabmeat cocktails (both $23).

    Yellowfin tuna tartare with avocado and seaweed salad ($21) could have used more spark in the seasoning, while perfectly good sea scallops ($21) came seared but steamy one evening. A lobster bisque had an admirable component of lobster morsels but the bisque itself was one-dimensional ($14).  I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned Iceberg lettuce wedge when its appealing crisp texture is added to with a rich Roquefort cheese dressing, amazingly good tomatoes for June and nice chunks of bacon ($16), as it is at J&B's..

    Last time I reported on Ben & Jack’s a few years ago, I was critical of crabcakes that were very little crab and too much breading. The ones I had as an entrée last week were a 180-degree different turn for the better—just enough breading to bind big sweet jumbo lump pieces of crab (two for $42; one for $22).

    With its steaks B&J is buying very good beef with a light mineral flavor and good char on the outside. The options range from porterhouse cuts for two ($104), three ($156) or four ($208), along with filet mignon ($51) and others. Frankly, even four of us took some of the very generous steak for two home. An order of veal chop brought two hefty ones on a plate ($52).

    The service of the steaks follows the tradition set at Peter Luger’s decades ago of bringing the beef out on red-hot plates set at an angle on a another plate on the table. It’s only a small bit of showmanship, but to tell the truth, a perfectly cooked steak is going to go on cooking on such a hot surface.  Ask your waiter for your steak to be served on a warm, not scorchingly hot, plate.

    The buttermilk onions rings (11) are as good as ever, and the French fries ($11) are just about perfect—no need for dried truffles or sprinklings of herbs. A side order of broccoli ($11) was, however, overcooked, perhaps too long in advance. 

    B&J’s brings in New York’s vaunted S&S Cheesecake (left)—always worth ordering—as well as a creditable crème brûlée and a pecan pie made on the premises.

    As I said, attentive, cordial service is a distinguishing mark at B&J’s, whether or not you’re a regular. If they turn up the lights a little, it’ll be even more of a convivial option in the area.


Open daily for lunch and dinner.



By John Mariani


    For Mother’s Day mothers get flowers and scarves and crayon drawings. Fathers inevitably get Duluth underwear or Lands’ End Comfort Waist shorts. If they’re lucky they get booze, and most dads are happy with whatever their favorite Scotch has been for decades, like Dewar’s or Chivas. Those who wish to go outside that comfort zone might consider these spirits—or some very good wines—to give the old man. Here are some I intend to enjoy.



MICHTER’S SINGLE BARREL 10 YRS. OLD KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON  ($175-$200)—Michter’s has been growing its reputation on the basis of new releases of bourbon and rye. Some, like this single barrel offering, are sold as collector’s items with only 24 barrels produced.  Master Distiller Willie Pratt ages this one for ten years—considerably longer than most bourbons—and its price reflects not just its rarity but its refinement. A bourbon-loving dad will probably just ogle the bottle for hours before opening it to share with with close relatives and friends.


KOPKE COLHEITA 1999 PORTO ($50)—Don’t get me started on how Port producers continue to shoot themselves in the foot by offering so many kinds and grades of their products—white, ruby, tawny, colheita, vintage, crusted, late bottled, and on and on. Suffice it to say this delicious colheita (a single vintage dated tawny) has a real vibrancy and, if shy of a true vintage Port you’d have to wait another decade to mature, this nine-year-old has come around beautifully.  I’ve enjoyed it immensely recently with very ripe pears and Gorgonzola cheese.


RON BARCELÓ IMPERIAL ONYX DOMINICAN RUM ($40)—Just released this spring, this Dominican rum from a firm founded by Julian Barceló in 1930 is a dark añejo blended from 10-year-old rums made not with molasses but from their own farmed sugar cane. It is aged in ex-bourbon barrels that are, uncharacteristically, heavily charred, then filtered through onyx stones, which sounds gimmicky. Whatever, it is a very rich, very distinctive rum with the oak balanced out by dark fruit flavors. Not intended to be mixed with lemons or limes but to be sipped after dinner wearing a white straw hat.


SAN PEDRO 1865 SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 ($15-$17)—Chile now makes and exports a tremendous amount of wine, and, while quality is rising, too much bulk wine still gets shipped out. Viña San Pedro dates back 153 years and is now part of the VSPT Wine Group, the third largest vitivinicultural group in Chile and the second largest exporter of Chilean wine. But this Chardonnay, produced in cool climate Molina by a young enologist named Matías Cruzat, is part of Viña San Pedro’s fine 1865 portfolio. Well priced, this three-year old with 14% alcohol has enough age on it to reveal its layers of settled flavors, fruits and acids. Excellent all summer long with seafood of every kind.


2016  ($18)—Located on the site of a former Benedictine monastery in Italy’s Sud-Tirol-Alto Adige region, many vines date back to the 1930s.  The indigenous Lagrein grape, allied genetically with Teroldego, Pinot Noir and Syrah, is far from a well-known varietal (it has a DOC), but good examples like Mui-Gries are spreading its popularity.  Very few are available in the U.S. market, so a connoisseur dad will be happy you brought a bottle like this to his attention. With 13.5% alcohol it has medium body and goes well with simple meat dishes and risottos.


($20)—Twenty-five years ago Terry Peabody and his wife, Mary, bought up untouched land in the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing district in Hawke’s Bay, intent on making a variety of wines but focusing on Bordeaux-style blends not then in fashion in New Zealand. One result has been Te Kahu—“the cloak,” referring to the shroud of mist that covers the vineyards in the evenings. At just 14% alcohol, it is a robust but restrained blend of 76% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Carbernet Franc and 2% Malbec, making for a very satisfying ready-to-drink red with already softened tannins.



“Michael Ruhlman Finds Love in Oaxacan Mole” By Chris Crowley, New York Magazine (June 1, 2018)



"Cheetos may be the saltiest food known to mankind, so it makes sense that the only wine that stands a chance against these cheesy salt blasts would be as acidic as possible. White wine from Sancerre — an appellation in central France is made from Sauvignon Blanc. While it may seem odd to pair wine produced a few hours south of Paris with a bright-orange cheese snack invented in Dallas, the rip-roaring acidity of white Sancerre has a natural symbiosis with the corn, cheese, and salt of Cheetos. White Sancerre also tends to be super textured, which means that when you swish it around as you drink it, it will coat all of the fleshy parts and give the inside of your mouth a fighting chance against all that Cheetos buildup. Think of the subtle briny salinity of an oyster as an example. Sancerre’s own minerality will keep the intensity of the Cheetos in check.”--Vanessa Price, "How to Pair Wine With Cheetos,"  New York Magazine. 




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 hillsidein 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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