Virtual Gourmet

  November 25, 2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


"Afternoon Tea" By Charles Soulacroix


By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By Geoff Kalish


By John Mariani

Metropole Building across from Hotel Principal

      Paging through a ten-year old Michelin Guide to Spain, I found the hotel listings as predictable as they’d been twenty years earlier. The Westin Plaza was one of only four hotels given the Guide’s top rating, and The Ritz was not listed at all, presumably because it was under reconstruction (as it is in 2018, not due to re-open until a next year). Ten years ago, none of the best hotels in Madrid would make a top-four list in other major cities like London, Paris, Rome or Geneva.
    But the most recent edition of the Guide lists 30 hotels in its top category, many of them just opened in the past few years. On my trip to the city this fall I found three new ones that are outstanding in their modernity, comfort and design, easily competing with the best new smaller hotels elsewhere in Europe.

VP Plaza España Design, right on the Plaza de España, is brand new, with 214 rooms, Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, sauna, spa, business center, valet parking, airport and a spectacular 12th floor Gingko Restaurant and Sky Bar Lounge, which has become one of the most popular after-six venues in the city, with a grand panorama from which to view the Royal Palace. The main restaurant’s menu is a mix of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine that ranges from an octopus carpaccio and a Vietnamese salad with mango and cashews to a burger with Galician beef or Japanese-style fried chicken.
    There are nine different types and styles of rooms, some with a terrace, some even with a private gym. My Superior-class room (currently €215) was very spacious, with a superbly outfitted bathroom. The smartly decorated lobby is staffed with a young, English-speaking crew who were very helpful, including a doorman who saved me from taking an Uber to the airport for €65 by putting me in a taxi at a set price of  €30.
    The word “Design” in the name carries weight, especially since the hotel was built and is owned by VP Group, a leading European furniture manufacturer specializing in interior design for retail establishments. So the décor and artwork were done by some of Spain’s leading contemporary artists, including Pere Gifre’s eight-story waterfall; Nacho Zubelzu’s fanciful collages in the bar; Veronica Domingo’s calligraphy; and Héléne Bergaz’s dramatic photographic montages.
    There are interior and exterior gardens, and the indoor parking lot makes for easy entry and exit.


The Principal Madrid (Calle Marqués de Valdeiglesias, 1, +34 915 21 87 43), now four years old, with just 77 rooms is a boutique hotel right in the center of Madrid, across from the historic Metrópolis building and just a block from The Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. Rooms right now start at €226 per night. The Principal, too, has a wonderful rooftop to savor at night, and its restaurant, Ático, which I will be reviewing in an upcoming issue, is now one of the finest in the city and is also set on a high terrace. The complimentary buffet breakfast is first-rate, with a panoply of  Spanish hams and cheeses, eggs and pastries. There’s also a charming small lounge for cocktails. You can also take advantage of a free 4G pocket Wi-Fi device for touring the city.
    Because of its size, this is a quiet, intimate hotel—Madrid can be a loud city late into the night—and you can check out up until 2 p.m. You may even get a room upgrade free, if available.
    The most flamboyant of Madrid’s new hotels is the aptly named Only You (Calle Barquillo 21; +34 910 05 22 22), carved out of a 19th century mansion in the Salesas neighborhood. Its décor throughout, by designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán, seems to reference every tradition of Spanish art and culture with wit, like the El Padrino Bar and Bookstore (right), with a bull’s head on the wall, specials scrawled on a column at the bar, an art nouveau concierge and check-in desk, surrealist and cubist artwork, old maps of the city, and elevators lined with bookshelves. The Only You won the Best Boutique Hotel in the World in the Design category.
    There are six kinds of rooms: Deluxe, premium “Fabulofts,” Suitehearts, Blue Suites and the Only You Penthouse. The spa is a Thai Wellness center. Currently rooms start at €192 per night.
    There’s an ample complimentary breakfast that includes those wonderfully crisp fritters called churros with thick hot chocolate, with added a la carte specials that range from eggs Benedict to chicken and shrimp dim sum.


By John Mariani
Food photos by Evan Sung

85 Tenth Avenue

 Photo: Alex Staniloff

  The death of master chef-entrepreneur Joël Robuchon (left) three months ago threw into frantic question what would happen, both in image and quality, to his 28 restaurants around the world, from Hong Kong to London, from Macao to Las Vegas.  In particular, it was feared that Robuchon, as the recipient of 32 Michelin stars—more than any other chef—might lose those coveted stars, as used to be the policy of that draconian Guide when a chef died or left his restaurant.
    Publication dates made it too late for Michelin to change the star ratings of existing restaurants in editions coming out this fall, but in New York, where one of Robuchon’s many L’Atelier concepts debuted less than a year ago (thereby missing last year’s edition), everyone wondered if chef Christophe Bellanca (right) would “get the call” from Michelin to alert him that a star rating was imminent.  He got the call: Two stars, which in Michelinese means “worth a detour.” (Incidentally, an earlier New York incarnation of L’Atelier had a disappointing run at The Four Seasons Hotel in midtown and closed a few years ago.)
    Now, whatever one thinks of the Michelin Guide ratings and the tire company’s secretive processes, there is no doubt that a two- or three-star rating is given only to an outstanding restaurant.  And, by any measure, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon New York is well out of the ordinary and further evidence that fine dining at a very high level is alive and very well—even if it takes place at a swank counter in Chelsea. But, what a counter it is!
     All the L’Ateliers have them. Paris was the first, where I recall being dazzled by a menu that stretched from Spanish jamon and tapas to grilled langoustine and Robuchon’s decadent, heavily butter-whipped potatoes.
     In a restaurant like L’Atelier you can pretty quickly tell just how splendidly the night will go when the bread basket is filled with made-in-house baguettes, cheese-filled buns and rolls so delicious that, if you go the à la carte route, you might polish them all off in favor of another course. I am no fan of long tasting menus, but our $230 ten-course extravaganza came with dishes so well proportioned, and at such a sensible pace, that, although sated by the time we got to the meat courses, we did not want to miss anything that followed.
      We began with an item that made my wife swoon and me smile broadly—foie gras royale with parmesan foam and an emulsion of “old vines” Maury, a sweet wine from Roussillon (left). This was one of several dishes with the initial “JR” next
to them, meaning it’s a Robuchon classic. As chef Bellanca explained, since the master’s death he will always keep those dishes on his menus, while creating new ones definitively in the Robuchon style.
    The next dish was crab in a light cauliflower velouté, then hamachi with cilantro-flecked guacamole and yuzu dressing (à la carte, $26), reflecting  a French version of global cuisine (right).  There also was a sweet, lush puree of eggplant splashed with white balsamic vinegar and dots of vegetable curry ($26). A roasted sea scallop with a sunchoke puree, parsley and mushroom emulsion ($36) followed, then pumpkin-flavored Parisian gnocchi with white truffle shavings and mimolette tuile ($38)—a good dish, although the white truffles really hadn’t much flavor. (I’m glad that there was no supplement.) Much finer was lobster poached in lemongrass oil and served with romanesco cauliflower and potato ($38).
    The only dish that made little impression was Icelandic cod topped with caviar, baby leeks and a Champagne sauce ($42). Grilled wagyu beef with black garlic, plump matsutakes and eggplant compote ($89) was rich without being cloying, as wagyu so often is. There was a generous degree of lagniappe in duck breast as spiced and served with poached pear and celeriac ($32). Then came pink, fatted quail (left) that had been caramelized and stuffed with foie gras ($32) and accompanied by Robuchon’s famous, devastatingly good potato puree, which my wife calls “butter with potato added.”
    Not that we needed a cheese course after all this, but I might have expected it of a French menu. Instead, we enjoyed poached cranberries and green apple sorbet with kalamansi foam, and La Noire Fôret (right)—a take on black forest cake—that was a creamy chocolate mousse with Kirsch-marinated cherries and Chantilly cream.
    Beverage director John McKenna stocks what is one of the most exceptional wine lists in the city, pricey but with a number of more affordable bottles of good provenance.
    L’Atelier is proof, once again, that haute cuisine requires a creativity that always bolsters what the land and sea provide—-and what a great chef can add, so that there is no confusion on the plate, only amazement and pleasure. If its cost means it’s a special occasion place, I can think only that Le Bernardin, Günther Seeger and Gabriel Kreuther in New York are the match of L’Atelier. We’ll see what Michelin says next year.


 Open for dinner Mon.-Sat.



By Geoff Kalish

    When people ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” I generally answer that it depends on what I’m eating and where I am. If pressed further, I tell them that, if I died and went to  heaven, I’d want to go with a bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild (left) in one hand and a bottle of Château d’Yquem (below) in the other. So, when a recent opportunity to taste multiple vintages of these wines, as well as some other great Bordeaux, came up, I readily accepted. The event, held at Manhattan’s New Museum, was sponsored by the importer of the wines, Wine Book, a division of Maison Marques & Domaines.
  As expected, the Moutons and the Yquems were the stars of the show, but there were a number of bottles with less lofty prices that could hold their own with the best and are ready for drinking now.
    First a few words about the big name celebrity bottles, then some of my favorites among the lesser luminaries.
   Not surprisingly, the 2010 Mouton ($1,045),  made of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and only 6% Merlot, was a powerful wine with a strong bouquet and robust flavor of cassis and chocolate and notes of cedar with a slightly tannic finish. It’s meant to be consumed at least 10 years from now, and after a few hours of decanting. On the other hand, the 2014  ($515)—only 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc—seemed less powerful, but perhaps more elegant, than the 2010, with a fragrant bouquet and concentrated taste of ripe cherries and raspberries with notes of vanilla in its finish. Expect this wine to develop more layers of flavor over the next 10-20 years.
    Both Yquems sampled—the 2016 ($350) and the 2005 ($418)—showed honey and spice and undertones of gingerbread and marzipan with vibrant acidity in their finish. The 2005 was more viscous and showing more exotic spice than the 2016.  Either wine could be consumed now, especially with foie gras or blue-veined cheeses, but should continue to develop layer upon layer of flavor and viscosity and lose much sweetness over the next 10-20 years.
    Now for the “so called” lesser lights from Left Bank (on a map, the left side of the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers). The 2012 Château d’Armailhac ($52), from the producer of Mouton Rothschild, was made of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (29%), Cabernet Franc (14%) and Petite Verdot (3%). It has a bouquet and flavor of cassis and raspberries with hints of vanilla in its long, smooth finish. This is an elegant wine, perfect with prime rib, duck or turkey.  Also from the producer of Mouton, a less well-known 2009 Pastourelle de Clerc Milon ($52) is an excellent choice to mate with steak or prime rib. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (36%), Cabernet Franc (11%), Petit Verdot (2%) and Carmenere (1%), this wine has a distinctive bouquet and taste of black currants and anise with hints of mint in its finish. It requires about an hour or so of decanting, or some vigorous swirling in a large glass, to bring out its full flavors and add a bit of cherry to the finish.
    And while the 2010 Château Pichon Longueville ($230) will take at least another 10 years to reach its aesthetic peak, the 2011 Réserve de la Comtesse ($47), from the same producer—a blend of predominantly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot—is ready to drink now, with a bouquet and flavors of plums and chocolate and notes of herbs with a smooth long finish, perfect to marry with roasted chicken or even beef stew.  Similarly, while the 2015 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou ($200) will take years to reach maturity, the 2010 Croix de Beaucaillou ($68), from the same producer, is at its peak, with mellow flavors of cassis, blueberries and herbs, perfect to accompany roasted game birds, salmon and rather bland cheeses like Brie, Brillat Savarin and Münster.
    As to wines from the Right Bank, with a far longer history of winemaking than those on the Left, the 2009 Château de Sales ($42), from the largest estate in Pomerol, is a notable bargain. As is typical of the wines from the area, it contains predominantly Merlot (70%) and about 15% of Cabernet Franc, and an equal amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, showing ripe, easy-drinking flavors of black currants and cherries, with a long, smooth finish. And, while I usually prefer a white wine or Burgundy with seafare, I would readily mate this bottle with flavorful fish, like tuna or swordfish, as well as chicken and game birds.
    Also from Pomerol and containing about 80% Merlot grown in gravelly soil, a 2008 Château Lafleur-Gazin  ($42) shows a rich bouquet and taste of cassis and chocolate with notes of anise in its finish. A more complex wine than the de Sales, this bottle makes great accompaniment to grilled lamb or veal as well as heady cheeses like Stilton and Époisses du Bourgogne.
    Albeit a bit pricey, another wine worthy of seeking out is the 2014 Château Hosanna ($124), from a vineyard in Pomerol facing the illustrious Château Pétrus and planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. It has flavors of cassis, herbs and a bit of tannin in its finish. It’s fine to consume now with hearty fare like pork belly or short ribs as well as mild cheeses like Brie and Münster. Expect this wine to mature over the next 10-20 years, developing additional levels of flavor and a smoother finish.



TV Chef Ree Drummond
known as the Pioneer Woman, now has her own Barbie doll with a well-stocked kitchen full of accessories and appliances, available exclusively from Walmart at $44.88.



"Not long ago, I spent a week walking around Paris. Before you yawn jadedly, let me clarify: I walked all the way around Paris. I began each day by donning a pair of beat-up Sauconys, consuming a prodigious breakfast at my hotel near the Porte Dorée, tucking a notebook and pen into my pocket, and proceeding on foot in a counterclockwise direction along the perimeter of the oval-shaped metropolis."--David McAninch, "Paris on Foot: 35 Miles, 6 Days and One Blistered Toe," NY Times (10/22/18)


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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