Virtual Gourmet

  September 19, 2021                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 



"Apples" by Vincent Van Gogh (1887)


An Interview with Piero Selvaggio

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Chapter 25
By John Mariani

By Geoff Kalish


On this week's episode of my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. Sept. 22  at 11AM EDT I will be interviewing film historian Manny Pacheco on the Ten Best Hollywood Movies of the 1950s. Prepare for fireworks!Go to: The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.



An Interview with Piero Selvaggio


By John Mariani

Lana Turner at Schwab's

       Back in the 1970s Los Angeles and San Francisco led a revolution in American cuisine at restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Spago in L.A. New access to ingredients, an import of great chefs and restaurateurs and an increasingly sophisticated dining public that fed as much on the food and wine as the glamor made the state a beacon of great restaurants and innovative style. There at the start was Piero Selvaggio (below), a Sicilian immigrant, who transformed Italian restaurants from the mundane to the sublime at his Valentino in Santa Monica, whose influence was worldwide on the image of Italian cuisine and wine. Then, after decades of culinary fads and fancies and the onslaught of Covid, Valentino closed its doors, and now Selvaggio works at the fine Drago restaurant. I interviewed him about all the changes he’s seen since Covid hit the state.

 How has the pandemic affected dining out in Southern California?

   The pandemic has had a big impact in the world’s business and on people’s habits   So, California, like New York, has been more affected than other states and big cities, mostly,  because of the restrictions of the lawmakers and their leadership.  Business overall is good at dinner.  People are Covid-fatigued and want to go out, repeat the old habits, entertain friends, celebrate outside of home confinement. So, the good restaurants, based on locations, are doing good business, and some more than before, due to more limited choices for the consumer.   The ones who are suffering are restaurants in business districts, where buildings are almost empty,  and lunch business has disappeared.   


Have there been many closures?

Yes, many places closed for good, many are heavily indebted and have downscaled, leaning more on to-go and deliveries.


What innovations have restaurateurs been making to keep going?

For many, the P P Loans and the various state protections weren’t enough to help stay afloat and busy,  So Zoom, as in other businesses, became their forum: Regional dinners, buy the ingredients and we'll guide you cooking them, virtual wine tasting with food matching, themes for regional or eclectic cooking.  And then chefs cooking for groups at private homes, discounts,  Social communications. The changes are based on age groups: The older either stay home and have deliveries, or must dine outside, on patio or sidewalks, for fear.    Most instead, can't wait to take off masks and dive into old dining habits. Once seated, it is forgotten, masks and all. 

Are people coming back to fine dining?

Dining has never been more casual than now. Yes, to jewelry, expensive watches and shoes, but flip flops are now accepted, dogs are sometimes part of the group, and it is hard to judge people’s taste and wealth from their dress code. Besides, the music and film industry, just as do the rich millennials, have never taken dressing up seriously.  Today dining doesn't include the word "fine."  The proliferation of  Mexican and ethnic restaurants, little support of the press, confusion of what to expect, have all been factors in driving a lot of drinking—mezcal, tequila, shots—more hard liquor than wine with food. All reasons to accept this new form of eating in restaurants. 

                                                        Valentino, Santa Monica


 Have prices risen?

Prices are generically accepted. Cost of living, labor, fixed cost are so high overall, and it is a given, that a Prime steak or meat is now above $60, and for the few snobs it can go to a  thousand as at Salt Bae, where you are made aware that it is another period of temporary fads for the ultra-rich, who seem to love gold in their food.


How is Italian food doing in the U.S.?

Italian food at the top is extremely popular, but mostly there are no high-end Italian restaurants any more.  Today, every restaurant in America has products like burrata, buffalo mozzarella, truffles, homemade pasta, designer pizza and Brunellos on the wine list.  It was our contribution—Mauro Vincenti, Tony May, Lidia Bastianich, Marcella Hazan—who brought Italian food to where it is in America today.  We paved the road for the success of Eataly today and for all of the fine products that you find in good markets.


How are things going in Italy itself?

The emerging chefs also in Italy are adopting, influenced by techniques of other cuisines, a lot of inspiration from the Japanese discipline of process and presentation.  Otherwise, there is a revisiting of old Italian and regional dishes reinterpreted or adapted to today’s diets and fantasy, like the cooking of Massimo Bottura (right), Max Alajmo and Pino Cuttaia, as well as steady traditionals like Nadia Santini at Dal Pescatore,.  Artisans are still relevant and now more appreciated along with the collaboration of purveyors, farmers and chefs.  

Has there been a loss of sophistication among diners?

The down sliding level of sophistication in America is a fact of the times.  Technology has had a great impact and the last year has hit reality: People have adjusted to eating on sidewalks, re-warmed food delivered after one hour, popularization of practical food and finger food. Fine dining restaurants and business entertainment and special occasions are not as popular at the top. Today, the word “restaurant”  could mean  anything.   

What do see happening in the future?

The future will mean adaptations: to prices for quality, less expectation of service (one of the biggest problem of today!) and  experiences with various  food.  I don't think that Italian food will go farther than it has because there is now a lack of talents, lack of labor force, too many imitations of  inferior products (oil, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, cheeses, salumi), and these are all consumer issues for  people that have discovered Italy and its treasures among those who know the difference. So, today restaurants will be more continental than before, incorporating the traveling inspirations, staging and  culinary learnings and interpretations of  the cooking gurus.    Besides, I see a pure talent like my former chef Luciano Pellegrini opening a pizzeria in Las Vegas and accepting the commercial aspect  and the name: Heavenly Pies. But we represent a rich cultural depth of what Italian food is, and as long as the products are genuine and well explained and tasted, there will be other young talents in the kitchen and in the press.




954 Amsterdam Avenue

By John Mariani


     Pekárna is a Serbo-Croatian word for “bakery,” so it’s a little puzzling as to why Dean O’Neill (an avionics expert by trade) gave his delightful new restaurant on the Upper West Side the name when he describes the place as a “New American” restaurant, cocktail and event venue. There’s no longer a bakery on the premises, but there are several Slovenian dishes to make Pekarna New York unique from most any restaurant in the neighborhood. Which is even odder since O’Neill (right) is from Australia and Chef Kamal Hoyte (right) formerly at Ocean and Daniel, from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. For some reason, it also clicks.
     The enterprise reminds me, then, of the episode in Seinfeld when Jerry undertakes to advise Pakistani restaurateur Babhu Bhat (left) to stop serving everything from lasagna to roast turkey on his menu and to concentrate on Pakistani food. Of course, it turns out to be a disaster because back in 1991 no one was interested in Pakistani food. I suspect it would very be different today, so I urge O’Neill to add more and more dishes from Slovenia, with whose food he fell in love. Indeed, he had hoped for an acclaimed Slovenian chef to come aboard at the beginning, but Covid put the kibosh on that idea for the present.
       That said, I was as happy with the non-Slovenian dishes as with those that are, not least a really excellent pumped-up burger of wagyu
beef, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, house-brined cucumber, pickled onions and BBQ sauce on a toasted Kaiser bun topped with a fried onion ring. The appetizer portion of French fries with various dipping sauces is irresistible and definitely worth ordering for the table.
        The two rooms are composed of a bar with tables and a dining section, set with Bosnian furniture and vintage glass chandeliers. There are four different event spaces downstairs, with the Dragon room featuring a Perrier-Jouët Champagne Bar.
       I asked Chef Hoyte to focus on the Slovenian dishes, so we began with chicken croquettes (left) with onion in a rich, flavorful chicken broth ($8). Others included lamb meatballs with a red sauce of tomato and spices ($16) and crispy wild boar with rice, mustard and sweet chili sauce ($16), and the spices and seasoning evoke their Slovenian provenance.  Žepki are fat Slovenian pastries ($7-$8) like pierogi, typical of Eastern European pastries and always heartwarming. There are four slider options of wagyu beef, chicken, mushrooms and salmon ($6-$7), and colorful linguine with cracked pepper, artichoke, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, honey, Parmesan cheese and a spritz of lemon juice tossed at the table  ($22), a light dish with both tang and the sweetness of early autumn. 
Among several delectable entrees, the best is the Slovenian-style herb crusted rack of lamb with a light potato soufflé, roasted Brussels sprouts, a carrot cream and a rich, dark reduction of  Slovenian red wine ($32).
     Many cultures have their version of fried chicken, and here it’s done “Island style,” with a dash of Kamal’s spicy Cajun breading, milk, more hot sauce, chicken and garlic potato mash and served as a thigh ($5) or  breast ($7).
     Desserts run expensive ($12-$16) but large enough to share, so, for sure, order the Slovenian apple pie with vanilla gelato, or the Kremšnita custard cake with a passion fruit glaze.
      Kudos for Pekarna in listing several impressive Slovenian wines now in the market, including Sauvignon Blanc 2018;  Brutus 2016, Primorje Brda; and Marjan Simčic ̌“Selecija” Pinot Noir Goriska Brda.
      So, while Pekarna is a good balance of American, Caribbean and Slovenian food cultures, I suspect that a lot of prospective clientele will be most interested in the last. But by all means order the French fries.


Open daily for dinner; Sat. & Sun. for brunch.



By John Mariani

To read all chapters of Capone's Gold beginning April 4, 2021 go to the archive



       David did not think he should make it a habit of staying at Katie’s apartment, so he decided to drive home that night and told her to come up to his place, where he had his old files stored.
      “You’re looking particularly pretty today,” David said when Katie arrived the next morning, wearing jeans and a yellow turtleneck.
       “I got one-and-a-half night’s sleep,” she said, “on the train and at home. I feel . . . great.  Actually, odd as it seems, I feel re-energized for our project. Just narrowing things down, rather than expanding them.”
       “I know how you feel,” he replied, laughing. “Even though we’ve got bubkis, we’ve kind of cleared away some dead leaves.  Everything is still somehow disconnected, but the heart of the matter is coming into better focus. And now that we’ve eliminated Germany as possible hiding places, I think we should focus on Italy. I have some material on the mobs’ activities over there in the 1930s and ‘40s.”
       “So,” Katie said, rubbing her hands together. “What’ve you got? I hope we have to go there.”
       “What I have and what I remember is mainly about the Gambino and Genovese crime families, not about Capone.  But maybe we can—what do they call it?—‘triangulate’ to get to Big Al.”
       “Sounds like fun.”
       “Okay, so here’s what I know.”
        The three main mobs in Italy, all of them in the South, kept largely separate from each other in the early part of the 20th century. The least known outside of Italy was ‘Ndrangheta, which controlled crime in Calabria, south of Campania, where the Camorra ruled, and north of Sicily, where it was all Mafia. 
‘Ndrangheta was just as powerful as the others but stayed almost entirely within Calabria, where its various branches waged occasional battles with each other. It wasn’t until the mid-seventies that ‘Ndrangheta started to expand into northern Italy, Mexico, and a little bit in upstate New York. They were even responsible for the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973; they cut his ear off as proof of life.
       “Anyway,” said David, “I don’t think we have to pay any attention to them within the time frame we’re studying.”
       “So what about the Camorra, out of Naples?”

                                                Initiation rite to join the Camorra.
Well, it certainly makes sense that, if Capone was going to get in business with anyone in Italy in the 1930s, it should have been the Camorra.  They were paisans; Capone’s family was from the region.  So, even though Capone made a big deal about his being American, not Italian—you know, all his aliases were WASP names, like ‘Al Brown’—if it meant he needed an ally in Italy, it should have been the Camorra.”
         The problem, however, with the Camorra, as David perceived it, was that, unlike the Mafia and ‘Ndrangheta, it had no single capo at the top; it was more like a terrorist group, with many clans, so you had to know which one to deal with.  Also, the Camorra didn’t have much of a presence in the U.S. in the ’30s, a few members here, a guy there who, like Capone, just melded in with the reigning Italian mob of a city.
       “So you don’t think Al got in bed with the Camorra?” asked Katie.
       “I’ll put them on the sidelines for now,” he said. “Let’s focus in on the Mafia for the time being, because they, of course, had the biggest imprint on American crime during Prohibition and afterwards. Most of the guys I investigated in New York were Mafia, and two of the biggest—Carlo Gambino and Joe Bonanno (left)—fled to the U.S. after Mussolini started cracking down on the Mafia.”
         In the ’20s Bonanno worked for a while as a Capone stooge, but moved out of Chicago in the ‘30s.  During the war Gambino stole ration tickets and sold them on the Black Market. He also invented the so-called “cement overcoat.”
       “Do tell,” said Katie, wincing.
       “Yeah,” said David, “he once buried a hood named Mimi Scialo in the cement floor of a Brooklyn social club.”
        Katie shook her head, thinking that David’s work had been far more dangerous than he’d made it out to be, even if the gangsters steered clear of killing cops.
      “Let’s get back to Il Duce for a moment,” she said. “I’ve read that Mussolini felt the Italian crime families to be a direct threat, so he tried hard to wipe them out, first and foremost the Mafia.” 
She’d learned that his main weapon was the Minister of the Interior, Cesare Mori, who got the nickname the “Iron Prefect.”  Mori was so earnestly honest that before Mussolini even got into power, Mori (below) was cracking the heads of the Fascist gangs. It was said he rounded up 300 Mafia suspects in one night in Sicily.
       “I like this guy,” David said.
       “Mussolini knew Mori was his go-to guy,” said Katie, “giving him carte blanche to do what he had to do. Supposedly Il Duce told him that if the current laws didn’t work, he’d write new ones to allow Mori to get the job done. And Mori used his power.  He apparently wasn’t against fighting fire with fire, even if it meant torture and taking hostages.”
       “Ha! Sounds like the Irish cop Sean Connery played in The Untouchables.”  David did his best impersonation from the movie: “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”
       “Not a bad impression of Connery,” laughed Katie.
       “So what happened?”
       “Mori was very successful, arrested more than a thousand Mafia members, and Mussolini announced to the people that the Mafia was dead.”
       “Gee, he got that one wrong,” said David.
       “Pure propaganda.  But the Mafia did lie low in the 1930s. So I don’t think Capone could have worked any kind of deal with them.  He also probably didn’t trust them. He hated Sicilians.”
      “Okay,” said David, “what about Mussolini’s need for gold?  I assume he was as desperate as Hitler to get his hands on as much gold as possible.”
      “Absolutely! Mussolini rejoined the gold standard, which helped plunge Italy into a recession, so he came up with a program called ‘Gold for the Fatherland,’ which called on all good Italians to send him their gold.”
      “Jesus,” said David, wide-eyed, “you just reminded me that my grandmother sent her wedding ring to Mussolini at that time!”
      “Yes, he specifically asked for them to do so. He told the people his wife had donated hers. Then he had it all melted down and distributed to the state banks, which by then were all under national control.  I guess he collected a lot of gold, because my History professor said that at the end of the war the Germans looted $100 million from the Italian banks.”
      “Do you think some of that could have been Capone’s gold?” asked David.
      “Only if Al thought Mussolini would take care of it for him.  I can imagine it happening: Since Capone never intended to use the gold himself, he could have given it to Mussolini, bought a lot of influence with Il Duce, then told the feds where they could find it and collect the reward—knowing the feds would never get the gold back.”
      “Beautiful,” said David, “just beautiful.  Now all we have to do is prove it.”
      “I was afraid you’d say that.”

John Mariani, 2015




By Geoff Kalish



      While not on most consumers’ lists as “must drink” wines, Alsatian whites and sparklers provide many enjoyable, food friendly bottles at very sensible prices. However, because of low demand, some retail outlets have stopped carrying these wines, making finding them not always that easy—but certainly worth the effort. And for those interested in at least trying some of these wines, the following provides a listing and comments on the best that I have sampled over the past few months.


2017 FE Trimbach Pinot Blanc ($17)—Located in Ribeauvillé, the Trimbach family has been producing wine since the 17th century, with this blend of Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel and concrete containers. It shows a bouquet resembling that of a California Chardonnay, with ripe apples and hints of lemon, and a fresh taste leaning more to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with notes of grapefruit, almonds and spice in its crisp finish. It mates well with scallops, shrimp and lobster. 


13th generation, Hubert Trimbach, nephews Jean and Pierre, and daughter Anne


2019 FE Trimbach Riesling ($19)—This 100% Riesling exhibits an aromatic bouquet and fruity taste of ripe pears. Pineapples and apples with strong notes of lime in its vibrant finish. Try it with oysters, mussels or even pork chops.


2016 Domaine Trapet Riquewihr Riesling ($23)—Made from hand-harvested, biodynamically farmed grapes, this wine has an aromatic bouquet and dry taste of apples and pears with a crisp lemony finish that mates well with grilled brook trout, arctic char or grilled tuna steaks.


2016 Wilm Gewürztraminer Reserve ($16)—Founded in 1896, Wilm was the first Alsatian wine producer to export to the US following Prohibition, with its wines said to be a favorite of Al Capone. Gewürztraminer grapes (right) show an aromatic bouquet and taste of ripe apples and lychees with a bit of spice in its fruity finish. It mates well with mild, meaty fish like orata and branzino as well as shellfish.


2018 Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer ($19)—A pioneer of “estate bottling” in Alsace, this winery dates back to the 1600s. This wine has a floral bouquet of honeysuckle and roses and a light, elegant taste of spice and minerals with notes of lychee and a crisp finish. It marries well with grilled trout or chicken.


2016 Meyer-Fonne “Kaefferkopf” Grand Cru Gewürztraminer ($42)—Made from organic grapes from 40-year-old vines planted in clay-limestone soil, this exceptionally floral, flavorful yet delicate wine, with a bouquet and dry taste of lychees and honey, marries well with sushi, as well as duck and turkey.


     By law, Crémant d’Alsace must be made from hand-harvested grapes pressed as whole bunches, and. like Champagne, with the second fermentation (that produces the bubbles) taking place in the bottle in which the wine will be sold. As a category, these non-vintage wines are the second most popular sparklers in France, after Champagne, and the four discussed below are perfect for sipping with a range of hors d’oeuvres like toasts with smoked salmon, smoked trout spread or olive tapenade as well as with bruschetta. 

     Made of 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Pinot Auxerrois, the Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve ($22) showed a bouquet of ripe apples and mango and notes of ginger in its zesty finish. The Lucien-Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace ($20) is fashioned from a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Auxerrois, primarily grown around the village of Oschwihr. It has a delicate bouquet taste of apples, apricots and melons with a smooth, pleasant finish. The Wilm ($19) and the Dopff & Iron ($21) brut rosés were both fashioned from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and exhibit a bouquet and taste of wild strawberries and raspberries, with the Wilm showing a bit more acidity in its finish.







"11 Common Foods That Can Be Toxic.
Don’t worry, they’re still safe to eat!"

When it comes to food poisoning, we’re aware of the usual suspects, like chicken not cooked thoroughly or bad salmon from a cheap sushi restaurant. Believe it or not, some foods you never even think twice about contain naturally occurring toxins that can be potentially harmful when consumed in large quantities. That doesn’t mean you need to raid your fridge and pantry to throw away any of the following foods; it simply means you should be careful when ingesting and preparing them.”—By Madeline Buiano, Daily Meal (9/9/21)



 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." 

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,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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