Virtual Gourmet

  November 18, 2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


"Thanksgiving" (1945) by Norman Rockwell


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

    It might be enough to restore an ascetic 12th century Romanesque abbey two hours drive from Madrid into a 30-room, five-star hotel with a Michelin-star restaurant, but add to it a winery set on 1,730 wooded acres in the heart of the Duero wine region and it becomes evident why the cars parked at the hotel’s entrance may well include a Maserati GT, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and a top-of-the-line Land Rover.
    Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine hotel, owned by Swiss multinational pharmaceutical giant Novartis, opened in 2012 after a massive reclamation that won the EU’s Europa Nostra Award for conserving the cultural heritage of a decayed monastery. Today it would be remarkable enough for the quiet beauty of the buildings and landscape.  What were once monks’ small, somber cells have been expanded to 27 rooms and three suites that include every amenity those monks could never have dreamed of, including a pillow menu, soundproof rooms with oak floors, walnut furniture, well-stocked minibars, luxuriously appointed bathrooms and 24-hour butler service. The hallways are hung with 18th and 19th century Spanish paintings and tapestries. This past year about 50% of the guests have been Spanish; 15% American.
The 10,000-square-foot Sanctuario LeDomaine Wellness & Spa (below), set within a former stable, offers a biotherapy program of holistic healing and wellness reflecting the abbey’s location within a surrounding vineyard and using decalcified well water stored for use in the facilities. It’s a good place to Zen out.
    My wife and I visited the hotel in September as the harvest was ending, and guests are invited to tour the vineyards with a guide, on a mountain bike, a horse, even a helicopter.  One of our favorite moments was to enjoy a warm, breeze-blown picnic (below) under an ancient oak tree, eating cheese, bread and sausages and drinking the vineyard’s wines. We declined an opportunity to crush new grapes with our feet, which is merely a frivolity at the state-of-the-art winery.  There is also an enclosed sculpture garden of carved rocks within green hedges.
    The irony of Abadia’s winery is that, while located on what is called “the Golden Mile” of the Ribera del Duero region, it has never been permitted an official Ribera del Duero appellation because its 500 acres lie just outside the official zone—despite its vineyard being adjacent to those of the  illustrious Vega Sicilia. (I write  more about the wines in another article this week.)

    We had a chance to dine at both of the property’s restaurants. The more casual Vinoteca (right), which is located above the wine vault and whose walls are lined with wine bottles, serves a lighter, highly seasonal fare, with innovative takes on tapas, like Ibérico pastrami with piparra pepper, mushrooms and hazelnuts (€22); a beet soup with sardines and hazelnuts (€18); sweet and sour ratatouille with chicken wings and poached quail eggs (€18); and foie gras with red fruit in spiced wine (€22). Main courses include baby lamb stew with a mushroom duxelle (€26) and cod baked in cellophane (€30). For dessert there’s a basil-scented custard with biscuit and apple (€10).
    The Refectorio (below), with its vaulted Gothic ceiling and restored fresco of The Last Supper,  where the monks once ate their meager meals in silence, is now a softly lighted dining room with a young Spanish chef, Marc Segarra, who won his first Michelin star serving tasting menus using Iberian ingredients done with personal flair, color and a respect for culinary traditions.
     There are two fixed-price menus: seven courses for €140, with wines an added €75, and eleven courses for €160 + €75 for wines (VAT and service included). We chose the latter and were amazed at the range of Segarra’s cuisine, from small plates of garlic soup, rice-filled blood sausage, and a beet cone with steak tartare to courses that showed a strong vegetable interest, like autumn’s mushrooms with pine bud bread, then a main course of luscious sea bream with a sauce made from its own bones, and a gloriously composed suckling pig with pumpkin and cardomon. Then came local cheeses, lavish desserts and chocolates. 

    After leaving the horn-blaring intensity of Madrid, I felt the urban stress drop away as we reached the untouched land around Abadia Retuerta. Indeed, the monastery-like quiet of LeDomaine is one of its most endearing virtues. Only in the lobby, lounge and dining areas do you hear conversations. You might sit alone in the garden or among the pillared cloisters or in the vaulted chapel where the sunlight beams through arched windows into a contemplative, holy space lit only with candles.   We had a full moon that night, set against a dark starry sky uncompromised by light pollution.  The air smelled of pine and the vineyards, their grapes picked and crushed, seemed fast asleep.




By John Mariani


271 5TH AVENUE (near 29TH Street)

    About twenty years ago, when the term “Asian fusion” began showing up on restaurant manifests, it all seemed a little too pat: Take a chicken, give it a dash of Asian spices, roast it and serve it with mashed potatoes and mango on the side. The trouble was that outside of a two-week tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, the American chefs had very little experience working with Asian ingredients and techniques and few options for obtaining the kind of indigenous ingredients actually used in those countries.
    Nevertheless, from New York to London to Paris, elements of Asian cuisine—especially Japanese—became part of the western way of cooking, so that today it’s difficult not to find some form of sushi, kefir lime, kimchee and Sriracha on American menus. Sakes are now more numerous than cognacs. In effect, evolution has turned “Asian fusion” into a far more harmonious style than it was when the availability of good ingredients was next to zero.
    Hortus NYC is a very good case in point. Open just three months now, close to Madison Square Garden and the Garment District, it is set on two floors, the first centered around an open kitchen with a pink marble counter and a Chef’s Table; the second is the main dining room, a handsome, well-lighted space arranged with cushy deep green leather banquettes, sconces hung on wood-framed deep green walls and bare wooden tables with candles on them. A wall of glass lets in the city’s lights. In spring a garden area will open.
    Partner and general manager Suhum Jang (formerly at Per Se, Daniel and Jung Sik) is a fine host and you sense that he’s really intent on wanting to please you, as much with the overall tenor of the restaurant as with the imaginative, beautifully presented cuisine of Chef Seungjoon Choi, formerly of Blanca, Marea, Lowlife and Gammeok. The Eastern-Western crossover is clear on the menu, but I can’t quite figure why there’s a whole section of cheeses and charcuterie, which, while varied, seems out of place. The wine list is adequate for the cuisine, and there’s a list of specialty cocktails ($11-$13), Japanese beers and 14 sakes. Plates are of rustic ceramics fitted to the colors of the dishes.
    You might want to begin with “raw” dishes, which is a combination of traditional raw shellfish American style that includes a remarkably good King crab ($8), a species that generally lacks luster and tastes watery, but here the addition of crème fraiche, an Asian pear and red sorrel makes it a novelty in the best sense. A scallop ceviche gained interest from orange, Calabrian chili and cilantro ($), but jalapeño, cucumber and avocado did nothing to enhance shrimp cocktail ($8). Sea urchin comes on rice paper with lardo. ($13; below).
    There is another appetizer section, and here’s where things get exciting, from a perfectly crisp calamari tempura, whose center remained creamy, with Korean shiso and a spicy mayo ($14) to Ssamjang hummus of roasted chickpeas and seasonal vegetables ($12).  Wonderfully and subtly smoky was grilled eggplant with minced pork, mozzarella, pine nuts and breadcrumbs ($15)—a dish that seemed to sum up the best that Chef Choi is striving for, as does his simply named but complex mushroom  stew chock full of Oregon matsutakes, golden enoki, shemeji and king trumpets with puffed rice and tender bamboo shoots ($17).
    “To share” items are generous, like the braised pork belly with shiitakes and bok choy ($30) and a superb grilled ribeye of beef with romaine, mushrooms and galbi sauce ($42) that made me think of Benihana without the pyrotechnics and juggling. A big bowl of steamed cod, scallops, mussels and shrimp in fragrant Thai basil and bright kaffir lime ($25) had levels of deep flavors that just kept revealing themselves spoonful by spoonful.
    Desserts so rarely succeed in living up to what precedes them in Asian restaurants, but Hortus’s mango rice pudding made with condensed milk and black lime ($7) is rich and delicious, while Thai tea crème brûlée with berries ($6) was pleasing if nothing more.  

Open Tues.-Sun. for dinner.  


By John Mariani


    The wines of Abadia Ruerta in Spain’s Rioja region have received justifiable praise from the wine media, but Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origin still won’t grant the winery, established in 1996, an official appellation as Ribera del Duero, this despite the fact that the Duero River runs for almost three miles straight through the winery’s 1,700-acre estate located in the so-called “Golden Mile.”
    It wasn’t until Spain entered the EU in 1986 that the country’s Instituto actually classified vineyards into 17 autonomous appellations, which included Ribera del Douro.
   “It was a little bit frustrating at the very beginning, because we did not have an appellation to facilitate our international distribution," says General Manager Enrique Valero (below). "Vega Sicilia is five miles away from us and belongs to the Ribera del Duero appellation, yet we are labeled only Vino de la Tierra [wine of the land]. But we have developed our own Pagos [single vineyard] wines and are very proud of the personality they have and the international recognition. In 2005 our Selección Especial 2001 won the International Wine Challenge in London as the world’s best red wine. Time has demonstrated we were right."

    Valero brought in consulting enologist Pascal Delbeck, proprietor of the illustrious Premier Grand Cru Bordeaux Château Ausone, while Ángel Anocíbar is the on-premises winemaker. The vineyards are planted with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, and the wines are aged in combinations of stainless steel, French and American oak. The winery uses a state-of-the-art gravity flow irrigation system.   In fact, enormous resources have been put into action to fight global climate change, installing anti-frost towers, studying biological cycles on vines grown on dry-crop land, and establishing an Eco-workshop to teach children about enoculture in the region.
     “Every effort to reduce our carbon footprint is being made,” says Valero. They are also growing grapes on pre-phylloxera vines, intended to go into their future flagship wine.  The winery uses only gravity presses to crush the grapes, which arrive at the winery in small 26-pound batches just a half hour after leaving the vineyards.  And they spend $1.70 per cork to decrease the possibility of tainted wines. “You’ll be able to enjoy our wines in ten or twenty years,” he insists.
    The real advantages of not having to go by EU rules for appellations are that Abadia can use drip irrigation, if needed, and they can experiment with growing any varietals they choose.
    What I found remarkable on tasting Abadia’s wines was the modest price charged for many of them—about $26-$30 for their current Selección Especial 2014 vintage, a Bordeaux-like blend of fruit flavors and soft tannins, made from 75% Tempranillo, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot usually added. (I’ve also found that wine even cheaper in U.S. wine stores.)
    The estate’s small production, single vineyard reds (tintos de pago) cost more, around  $68, like the Pago Negralada and Pago Valdebellón. Pago Garduña 2006, which I had over dinner, is a superbly rich blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot, a rarity of only about a thousand bottles that can cost $113. I was also intrigued over lunch by Le Domaine, a unique blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Verdejo.

      Given such freedom to produce what its wants, Abadia has, at least for the moment, stopped trying to convince the Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origin to give it Ribera del Douro status.
    “We’ve been so successful that they can’t ignore us,” said Valero. “So who knows? They may well give us our own appellation based on our location of
Sardón de Duero.  We certainly have no plans to change.”




"And what’s so good about those robust food cultures anyway? They tend to be inward-looking and small-minded. Two weeks in Tuscany sounds like a fabulous idea. Then the reality slides in, like ink seeping slowly across blotting paper: day after day of the same bloody pasta dishes, the same rustic salads and anything for dessert as long as it’s tira-sodding-misu or something `inventive' involving pears and almonds. . . .  We eat more widely and thrillingly in Britain specifically because of the weakness of our indigenous food culture.”—Jay Raynor, "The cliché is French food is better than ours. The trouble is, it's true," The Guardian (9/13/18)



The world’s largest gin and tonic was mixed in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 in a 300-gallon glass, required more than 400 bottles of gin, 165 gallons of tonic water and approximately 5.5 gallons of lime juice.





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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