Virtual Gourmet

  August 19,  2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


The Beer Barrel Room, Mesa, AZ


By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By John Mariani


Part One
By John Mariani


    Antwerp is not the only city that makes me think of bicycles galore, but there seems to be a lot more charm watching people gliding through this beautiful Belgian city than within the frenzied streets of, say, Bangkok or New York.  It’s rather like watching one of those 1950s MGM travelogues, for if you stay in the center of Antwerp, you’ll have much the same sense of a populace not in a rush to get anywhere fast.
    Although occupied by the Germans and recaptured by the Allies in World War II—it has an important seaport—Antwerp suffered little battle damage, and its most historic monuments are both intact and very well maintained. Today it is very much an international city, with 176 nationalities living among the native Belgian populace.Many have arrived through the magnificent train station, one of the finest in post-war Europe (left).
      Antwerp's historic center and City Hall is Old Market Square, built around the famous Gothic and early Renaissance guild houses of merchants, artisans and city leaders who helped make Belgium exceedingly rich in their day. The buildings' stateliness may reflect the sober-sided business soul of the city, but it is softened by decorous touches, and in the center is the tall, curious statue of a legend about a terrible giant who repeatedly attacked the city, finally vanquished by an improbable Italian hero who tore off the giant's huge hands, which to this day he holds up for everyone to see. 
    The tallest spire in the city—404 feet high—atop the Roman Catholic Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady (below), is a focal point you can see, and get your bearings from, anywhere in the city. Begun in 1352, the edifice has never been wholly completed—there seems always a construction fence around it. But it is a triumph of Gothic architecture, which, its façade now cleaned, shows how light the style was intended to be in the Middle Ages. Inside are three of the greatest masterpieces by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens—The Raising of the Cross, The Assumption of the Virgin Mary and The Descent from the Cross.
    Outside the church is a beloved statue derived from the children’s story A Dog of Flanders (1872) by the English author Marie Louise de la Ramee, known as Ouija,  set in Antwerp.  Oddly enough, the story became far more popular in Japan and Korea than in Belgium, but Antwerp finally capitalized on its world renown by erecting this sad statue (left).
    For those who cannot get enough of Rubens’ flamboyantly fleshy style, there is also Rubenshuis, Rubens' house (below), which features a newly restored self-portrait and a renovated portico and garden. This is a particularly good time to assess Rubens as the city just debuted its Antwerp Baroque 2018, which celebrates the city’s baroque cultural heritage and baroque lifestyle. I also recommend a stop at the Plantin Moretus Museum, the beautifully secluded home of a 16th century bookbinder and printer named Christoffel Plantin, now dedicated to the history of printing but also a prime example of the architecture and décor of the period.   
    Brand new in the city is DIVA, an extraordinary paean to Antwerp’s distinction as the center of the world’s diamond industry (below).  Spread over three floors is a dazzling array of treasures and diamond lore, including The Wunderkammer, a chamber exhibiting a collection of curiosities, with objects from every corner of the globe brought together along with the history of city’s main industry.  The International Trading Room is centered with a gorgeous globe projecting the trade routes along which the diamonds traveled. The Dining Room is a surrealist arrangement of tables, decked out for the grandest of banquets imaginable, with voice recordings commenting on the extravagance of it all. The Vault features bank boxes full of diamond lore, including insight into diamond crime internationally and what is being done to tackle the problem. Last is The Boudoir, containing DIVA’s most precious treasures. Downstairs is a gift shop of daunting luxury.
    Since opening this spring DIVA has become one of the most popular destinations. Tickets for adults are €10, for those under 26, €7, and children under 12 enter free.
    Kammenstraat is a lovely street of historic, well-restored buildings housing local boutiques, along with American chain stores, while  Nationalestraat has more stylish, cutting edge fashion stores like Stay, run by the Coucke sisters as both a clothing store and a place to have lunch (right). Morrison is the city’s most modern men’s store. Rosier 41 (its address) is known for its high quality secondhand designers clothes.
    The best buy in town is to get the Antwerp City Card, available in 24-hour (€27), 48-hour (€35) or 72-hour (€40) options, giving you free access or a discount at all must-sees in the city and free pubic transport.



By John Mariani

Pierre Hotel
2 East 61st Street (at Fifth Avenue)


    Unless you stick a celebrity chef’s name on the door, giving an identity to a hotel dining room is far from easy at a time when personality beats individuality most of the time. More often than not, the celebrity chef simply puts ink on a contract, appends his name to the word “Steakhouse” and that’s that.
    Perrine is a case in point that demonstrates how a hotel dining room can rise on its own steam and conviviality to attract a daily, nightly and Sunday brunch crowd while being largely ignored by the food media.  Anywhere but New York, Perrine would be both outstanding and much talked about. In New York it must, for the time being, be content with being the former.
    A little context is in order. The hotel in question is the Pierre, one of the city’s most historic and elegant spots, opened in 1930 on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park. For decades its Café Pierre, with its trompe l’oeuil cloudy sky ceiling by Valerian Rybar, was a major watering hole for New York society and its tea service was famous. The tango scene in the film Scent of a Woman was shot in The Pierre's Cotillion Ballroom.
    But changes in taste and ownership (since 2005 under the control of the Taj Group) shifted the restaurant’s fortunes to a more casual tone, although at one point it was intent on being the snootiest restaurant in New York by importing London’s own snootiest eatery, Le Caprice, which New Yorkers quickly ignored into oblivion. This was followed by an Italian trattoria managed by the Maccioni family of Le Cirque, but its run, too, was brief.
    Now this long space beyond the revolving doors off Fifth Avenue has as much of a bar crowd as a dining room clientele, some from the rooms above, many neighborhood regulars.  The room is as sleek and shiny as an Aston-Martin showroom, with fine black-and-white colors and artwork, silvery accents, a dramatically striped carpet and soft white linens, all of it well lighted.

    Executive Chef Ashfer Biju (right) was raised in Kerala, India, in a family of restaurateurs, and his experiences cooking in London and Southeast Asia have allowed him cannily to introduce Eastern seasonings and spices into his dishes that make them considerably more delectable than they might otherwise be.  His food is very balanced, very colorful, joyfully composed. All breads and pastries, under Michael Mignano, are made on premises, including the Indian naan that accompanies a dish like crab imperial scented with fennel, herbs and a shot of jalapeño, along with creamy Gruyère cheese ($19). It also shows in the wonderful zucchini flatbread with chilies, Parmigiano and a touch of lemon juice ($19), big enough for the table to share (left).
    Tuna tartare has a fine texture and arrives with green beans, cucumber, summer’s most aromatic basil, olives and a Dijon mustard dressing ($19), while char-grilled octopus, so often presented with little garnish or flair, comes with golden tomatoes, sunflower shoots, kale and a vivid red pepper sauce ($18). You’ll not find a better vegetable dish in town right now than Biju’s baby eggplant salad with spiced yogurt, crunchy hazelnuts and a dressing of honey gremolata ($19).
    There are nightly specials, which include an old-fashioned chicken pot pie ($35) on Monday and beef Wellington ($46) on Wednesday.  I was at Perrine on Thursday, so I was able to enjoy scallops whose recipe dates back to a 1940 Princess Ball held at the hotel: the mollusks are first seared and given a gratin of Gruyere breadcrumbs, then cooked in butter and served with a mushrooms duxelle, turnips, lemon zest and chopped chives.
    Among the main courses is a plate of very lusty, richly spiced beef short ribs (right) with a sweet parsnip puree and roasted Romesco sauce ($42). The lamb chops ($45) come from a farm across the Hudson in New Jersey, and they are well-trimmed, leaving some of the sweet fat, succulent and well accompanied by summer squash, smoked tomato and peach, as if they’d just come off an outdoor grill. (Up to 50% of the products used at Perrine are from the Tri-State area.) A seafood broth is the savory base for gently simmered black sea bass with fava beans and fines herbes ($38).
    What a treat in August to find old fashioned cherry pie (for two) on the menu (left), with cheesecake ice cream to boot ($17). And Chef Mignano does an irresistible tres leches cake with honey-poached apricot and lemony verbena ice cream ($14), and an item called “The Candy Bar” ($12) of dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, caramel and a Graham cracker crust, which someone over at Mars candy company should steal.
    Perrine’s wine list is based on a cellar that’s been building for years, but nothing on it is much of a bargain.
    I’m pretty sure that if Perrine had a celebrity chef arrangement, the room would look not half so appealing and the food would be produced by rote according to that chef’s all-purpose notes.  With Biju in command—and he oversees the Rotunda and all other food units of the Pierre—Perrine is very much all of its own style and very close to what classic New York glamour should be about. 


Open for breakfast daily, lunch Mon.-Sat., Brunch Sun., dinner nightly.



By John Mariani

    Tasca d’Almerita is an eighth-generation Sicilian wine producer located east of Palermo, now with 1,360 acres under cultivation and a reputation for being in the vanguard of modern Sicilian viticulture.  Its Regaleali Reserva del Conte was the island’s first single vineyard bottling at a time when most Sicilian wines were produced in bulk.
    Today the estate is run by Alberto Tasca d’Almerita, and as of 2009 they expanded their property to include an established estate within the Monreale DOC called Tenuta Sallier de la Tour.  A year later the family made a commitment to what is called SOStain, “aimed at measuring and reducing the impact of all company activity on the territory’s resources.”
    And not a moment too soon. The effects of climate change and global warming are all too quickly being felt around the world, and Sicily, having a very hot, dry climate--with palm trees--cannot afford to wait until the scales have tipped against it.
    The name of the estate derives from the Sallier de La Tour Principi di Camporeale family, with roots in Piedmont, who owned it since the 19th century; the Sallier de la Tour label was first produced in 2000.  The soil, well drained and rich in limestone, clay and sand, is ideal for red wines, but the devotion to producing Syrah, a Rhone Valley varietal better known in Tuscany, is still trying to gain a global reputation in Sicily, where other varietals like Nero d’Avola, Grillo and Inzolia are better known.  In fact, according to Bill Nesto and Frances di Savino in their book The World of Sicilian Wine (2013), Syrah was only introduced on an experimental basis in 1984 and 1985, but today, after Nero d’Avola, Syrah has already become the second most planted varietal in Sicily, often used to blend into Nero d’Avola and other red wines.
    I had the pleasure of dining with Sallier’s brand manager, Costanza Chirivino, whose mother is from the Sallier de la Tour family, at New York’s Lincoln Ristorante, where we tasted several of Sallier's wines, including an Inzolia from the difficult 2017 vintage, with the characteristic aromatics of a white Sicilian wine. “I’m always surprised there are so few Sicilian wines imported into the United States,” said Chirivino. “We must change that!”
    Tasca’s Grillo 2017 might be the key to that. It has more body than most Sicilian biancos and a more volcanic mineral profile, which makes it a very good wine for cold antipasto or grilled Mediterranean fish like swordfish or branzino.
    We went on to sip a Nero d’Avola 2015, a red with lovely perfume and a mellowness on the palate, though it would benefit from more acid.
    Then came Sallier’s La Monaca, a 100% Syrah from the 2015 vintage, their flagship wine with a production of only 9,000 bottles.  It had a huge nose, as one expects from Syrah, and a fleshy body with a bracing edge and a long, herbal finish. The name comes from the historical winery where it was first planted in 1993, so now, 25 years later, the vines have achieved a maturity that results in complexity.  At 14.5% alcohol, it is a mouthful, but there is great elegance about it that will age well in the next five years. The 2008, currently available in short supply and few U.S. wine shops, goes for just under $40.
    So the battle is on to keep global warming from changing in significant ways the wines of Sicily, whose heat builds up the sugar and ultimately the alcohol in grapes. Sallier de la Tour is doing what it can to keep that from happening and from losing the very virtues their outstanding wines now possess.



According to Variety, Gordon Ramsay, whose previous TV shows included Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and 24 Hours to Hell & Back, will have a series in which he visits foreign food cultures to "show the locals he can cook their cuisines better than they can," in an attempt to  “discover the undiscovered,” and finally engage in a kitchen competition against the locals, “pitting his own interpretations of regional dishes against the tried-and-true classics.”



“A burger is a black dress; a kebab is a Met Gala gown.”
—Samin Nosrat, “A Burger, but Better,” NY Times (7/29/18).



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, 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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