Founded in 1996
"The Storming of the Sazerac Bar" by Women of New Orleans, 1949
IN THIS ISSUE
EATING AROUND THE BAHAMAS
By Geoff Kalish
NEW YORK CORNER
THE PANDERING PIG
By John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
By John Mariani
By GEOFF KALISH
Less than a four-hour flight from Chicago and three from New York, the Bahamas have primarily drawn vacationers looking to escape harsh winter weather. But, until about two years ago, accommodations were primarily relegated to the Disneyesque resort Atlantis, which some complain has become “tired,” or the very upscale Ocean Club, now run by The Four Seasons group, both on Paradise Island. Now, with the opening of the Baha Mar area, less than a 15-minute cab ride from Lynden Pinding International Airport, there’s a range of lodging options, as well as expanded possibilities for great dining, sporting activities (especially golf) and a sprawling casino. The following reports on our dining and golf experiences over a 10-day visit to the Baha Mar and the rest of Nassau and Paradise Island.
Although a few other options exist, the three main hotels (all connected on the ground floor) are the Grand Hyatt, the SLS and Rosewood hotels. Families seem to gravitate to the Grand Hyatt, with upscale couples and “high rollers” preferring the luxurious Rosewood, with the SLS somewhere in between. All offer a wide range of lodging options, particularly the Grand Hyatt, with its sleek modern rooms, many overlooking Nassau Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, multiple swimming pools, bars, a plush spa, a white sand beach rimmed by a number of permanent “food trucks” that are perfect for lunchtime dining, and, of course, numerous other dining options, including: Regatta, a very upscale buffet eatery; Stix, a busy lobby spot for Ramen and other noodle dishes; The Palms, an outdoor casual breakfast and lunch site; and 3 Tides, a seafood spot.
restaurant is a very popular spot for sustainable
seafood served in a casual setting with a central
open kitchen and walls lined with large
modernistic depictions of the seaside. Servers are
pleasant and quite knowledgeable, offering
suggestions from a large choice of menu items.
restaurant features fare from around the British
Commonwealth countries, particularly Canada and
India, in a contemporary setting with well-spaced
wood-topped tables, comfortable banquettes and
chairs, and walls showing scenes from the six
commonwealth nations. There is also an outdoor
Open daily for dinner: Expect dinner for two to cost $150- $160, not including wine, tax or tip.
Open nightly for dinner. Expect dinner for two to cost $130-140, not including wine, tax or tip.
Open nightly for dinner. Expect dinner for two to cost $120-$130, not including wine, tax or tip.
NEW YORK CORNER❖❖❖
By John Mariani
THE PANDERING PIG
209 Pinehurst Avenue (at West 187th Street)
though I’ve lived in or around New York my
entire life, I had never heard of Hudson
Heights, a neighborhood located at the
northern edge of Manhattan, high above the
Hudson, where many of the pre-war Art Deco
and Tudor apartments have a spectacular view
of the river.
Both Fort Tryon Park and the stunning
Cloisters are just north of it.
Open Wed.-Sun. for dinner only.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
I’M DRINKING NOW
The variety of wines in the market increases measurably each season so that well-established favorites like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay get well-deserved competition from lesser known varietals. All of them make wine drinking in 2019 more engaging than ever.
Masseria Le Veli Passamante
Salentino 2016 ($14)— Believe if you wish the
that the vineyards of Le Veli are next to a
forest named Passamante, which very roughly
translates to “pass [the]
lover” and refers to romantic trysts among the
pines. In any case this
Negroamaro-based wine from Puglia spends six
months in barrel, so it’s meant to
be drunk young, and its cherry fruit notes
make it very
versatile for a range
of foods, including cheeses. It’s quite robust
for only 13.5% alcohol.
Domaine Weinbach Famille Faller
2017 ($35)— The misapprehension that
wines are too flowery, even unctuous, and
sweet is belied by this superb
example from one of Alsace’s finest producers.
Not that much Muscat is grown in
the region, and it is vinified drier than
others, making it a delightful
aperitif. The label says it goes with
asparagus, so if you must drink wine with
that troublesome vegetable, this might be your
best option. The blend is of two
Muscat grapes and results in 13% alcohol.
En Mémoire du Malbec 2016
($17)—This fancifully named Bordeaux red wine
by Château de Lagarde in
Entre-deux-Mers is certified organic (and
vegan), which is of small note, but
it is worth saying that 30% of the wine spends
time in oak, and the rest only
in stainless steel. Argentina is currently the
leader in Malbec production, but
Bordeaux was its birthplace, and this is a
sturdy, deep purple wine excellent
with baby lamb or pork. At this price you can
hardly go wrong.
Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé 2017
($45)—Few Pouilly-Fumé producers can get this
kind of money for their
bottlings, but for a very long time de
Ladoucette has been the pinnacle of
excellence in the Loire region. It
always has a roundness and softness backed by
lovely aromatics that distinguish
it from lesser examples. At 12.5% alcohol it
is easy to drink throughout a meal
of seafood straight into cheese.
Rodney Strong Knights Valley
Sauvignon 2015 ($35)—Rodney Strong has long
go-to label when I want high quality and
absolute consistency in a range of
varietals. For 55 years it has set standards
not often met by pricier
competitors in the Sonoma Valley. Within that
appellation, Knights Valley is
the farthest east from the Pacific Ocean,
making it the warmest in the region,
with a lot of volcanic soil. This
it body and heart, at 14.5% alcohol, making it
ideal for red meats of all
Don Melchor Puente Alto
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($105)—Like Rodney Strong,
located in the Maipo Valley of Chile, is a
leader in its own country. Under the
broad Concha y Toro umbrella, Don Melchor is
one of the most expensive wines in
South America but has earned a large following
who love its complexity and its
likability at an early age. Don Melchor
planted his vineyards with French
vinifera as early as 1833, so they’ve had
plenty of time to find the best
terroir, the best clones and the best ways to
handle this rich, always enticing
DEPT. OF BAD TASTE, No. 5,669
Australian eatery Kaili's is now serving a fish and chip gelato.
There’s always a moment when it hits me. It’s usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurante’s always a moment when it hits me. It’s usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurant
DAN DAN NOODLES
WILL DO THAT TO A MAN
DAN DAN NOODLES
WILL DO THAT TO A MAN
"There's always a moment when it hits me. It's usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurant. This time it was a forkful of homemade dan dan noodles."--Andrew Knowlton, "America's Best New Restaurant," Bon Appetit.
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.
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.
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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.
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“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.
❖❖❖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, ForbesTraveler.com 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
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
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