Virtual Gourmet

  June 26, 2022                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

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Part Two

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By John Mariani


On this week's episode of my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. June 29 at 11AM EDT,I will be interviewing Ian Macallan, author of a history of Italian American Food entitled RED SAUCE. Go to: The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.



By John Mariani



      The diversity of Dublin’s dining scene now takes in as many ethnic restaurants as any city in Europe—plenty of Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian ramen, Indian and so on. But it’s at its best when the food reflects the bounty of Ireland’s provender and seas. Here are four current standouts.
         The city’s hotels have put a good deal of money and thought into their restaurants, based on the tradition that dining in a hotel in many European cities may constitute the very best they have to offer—a fact even the snooty Michelin Guides have been forced to admit. For me, there is nothing nicer than to end a long day of visiting a city’s attractions by resting up then going down to dinner in a fine room like WILDE (Harry Street) on the second floor of the elegantly appointed Westbury Hotel.
      Bound within French windows, with wide tile floors, hanging greenery and big globe lamps, WILDE sets a balance of modernity and freshness with casual art deco chic. The bentwood chairs have pretty blankets slung over them, the white marble tables are handsomely set, and the silver and glassware are of excellent quality. The less loud section, and the prettier one, is in the long hallway overlooking Harry Street.
     The menu, which quaintly announces that “All our meat and poultry is 100% Irish and traceable from farm to fork,” begins with a selection of oysters (six for €21, with a glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve €39), and beef carpaccio with rocket, parmesan and olive oil (€20). The wild prawn cocktail with Bere Island crab (€26) is sweet and briny, while the squash soup (€10) is a restorative.
     The excellent scallops (€22) are from Kilkeel, served with crispy puri bread, shiso leaves and a dotting of sesame, while organic salmon (€32) takes on Asian notes from a miso glaze and is sided with edamame, sesame aubergine and soy dashi. Risotto with wild mushrooms was, one evening, lackluster and too soupy (€26).  It was good to find a curry on the menu, Masala style (€28) with fragrant basmati rice, papadums and mango chutney.
Desserts (€9.50) are all sumptuous, from a warm Bramley apple and rhubarb pie, with the lagniappe of vanilla custard and rich clotted cream, to a Bolivian wild chocolate fondant, golden honeycomb and blood orange.
      The wine list teems with options from all over Europe and the Americas, with sections entitled “Island Wines,” “Gastronomic Wines,” “Young and Talented Winemakers” and “The Wild Geese” and a more than ample selection of wines by the glass.

         The chef at Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden (128 St. Stephen’s Green) puts his own name on the line, and he has every reason to. This is one of Dublin’s finest and most serious dining experiences, set on the second floor of the Fitzwilliam Hotel, with the awards to prove it. There is an à la carte menu, but the better option is to accept the €90 three-course menu, with four courses at €105 and a seven-course dinner of “Glovers Alley Classics” at €150. There are also supplements, as well as vegetarian and vegan menus. 
The art deco room is very sleek and rather brown, not unlike an ocean liner of the 1930s, with nicely separated tables and perfect lighting and decibel level. Service is as affable as you’d expect in Ireland.
       I could eat the wonderful freshly baked bread by the basket every morning, noon and night, served with fine Irish butter. An amuse of tender macarons and creamy foie gras put me on notice for the kind of creative cuisine to come, which included another amuse of small onion tarts (left) to eat in two bites. A classic marriage of springtime asparagus with rich hollandaise came next, and for my main course the suckling pig was nonpareil in its texture, juiciness, fattiness, jus and color. Lamb was every bit as good, in a sauce verte and truffle cream.
      Other dishes I did not try but have the ring of tasteful imagination include a beetroot tartare; Dublin Bay Prawns with a tomato hollandaise and melting lardo; and a "ratatouille” of wild turbot, cabbage vegetables, hot chorizo and briny seaweed.
Desserts are all at the same level, from a lovely ïle flôttante to various chocolate or citrus soufflés. The wine list is one of the best in the city.


      Peploe’s (16 St. Stephen’s Green) has the look and feel of a timeless restaurant, though with a 1990s ambience, serving French and continental cuisine via owner Harry Canny. There are three rooms, all of them quite cozy and comfortable, with maroon banquettes, small table lamps, flowers and linens. A smart bar draws a crowd for their well-made signature cocktails, and the dining room to the left features a mural of what appears to be the restaurant’s own clientele. Further on is a smaller room that sits a single table, which is the coziest of all, surrounded by books and bottles and the least loud. Lighting flatters everyone, and women do like to dress well, sitting against beautiful murals or a wall of books.
      Peploe’s draw a posh crowd and celebrities in town tend to drop in, so the staff runs as smooth as it needs to be when demands can be idiosyncratic. The wine list is excellent, with a good house Bordeaux. The food, while competently prepared, does not pretend to novelty, geared instead to a something-for-everyone menu like a hearty onion soup gratinée (right) with sourdough crouton and piping hot Gruyère (€9.50) and a cream of cauliflower soup (€8.50). Pudgy prawns are treated to a tempura batter and delicately fried (€18.95).
      The chicken Milanese with a garlic-herb butter and capers comes crisp under a layer of Parmesan cheese (€27.50), and with it you get a generous bowl of duck fat-roasted potatoes to feed the table. The seared halibut comes with a cauliflower puree, braised leeks in Sherry and a roasted scallop with hazelnuts (€36.50), while there is a delectable breast of roast duck with a North African pastilla of leg confit, red cabbage and bitter orange (€34.50).
      You may well want to order the selection of Irish cheeses afterwards (€13.50), unless you opt for a blackberry soufflé with pistachio ice cream (13.50) or a vanilla crème brûleé with peanut butter sable.
      Peploe’s is the kind of place that puts you in mind to have an after dinner drink from an estimable list that, logically, is rich in Irish whiskies.



Ryleigh’s Rooftop Steakhouse
(82 North Wall Quay) is in the new red brick boutique Mayson Hotel on the north shore of the Liffey and has all the hallmarks of a just un-packed gastro-pub, from its splendid bar section and its comfortable booths overlooking the water and the business buildings across the way. Downstairs is a more traditional pub with island bar called Elephant & Castle. Neither room needs the intrusive music played à l’Americaine.
     The focus is on grilling on a grill that can be raised and lowered for precise searing and temperature, and it makes a difference with a terrific, braised flatiron steak in a very deep, thickly reduced sauce (€34). There’s also a spatchcock chicken with hefty bean stew, buttered mashed potatoes and romesco sauce (€30). Some of the best scallops I had in town were here, which come with the added pleasure of pork belly and a pea purée (€13.50).
      For dessert I could hardly be expected to resist a caramel sundae (€8.50).
      The restaurant is open for breakfast through dinner.
      The wine list at Ryleigh’s is okay, though its red house wine “brought in by cask” is dreadful stuff. Better to consider one of the 13 beers offered. There are also a few sweet dessert cocktails, if you’re so inclined.




                                                                                   411 Park Avenue South


By John Mariani

Food photos by Teddy Wolff

      The re-opening last year of the space that had been Les Halles Boucherie Rotisserie as of 1991 in the architecturally historic Foltis-Fischer building is a welcome addition to the Park Avenue South neighborhood in need of good restaurants. In the 1990s this is where the late Anthony Bourdain was once chef, though, despite his eventual celeb status, the food and service never rose above the mediocre (given his own description in his book Kitchen Confidential of a drug-fueled staff, such was to be expected).
      The space was bought by Alsace-born Francis Staub, who began the immensely successful cookware line emblazoned with the image of a stork, and those who remember the old premises will be happy that Staub retained much of the configuration, with the millwork of the original entrance doors, zinc bar, terrazzo floor, egg-and-dart details on the coffered ceilings and burnished brass trim throughout. Now the place looks better than ever, and a staff overseen by the engaging Mouhamadou Diop (right), is solid, professional and wholly appealing.
      Lacking soft surfaces beyond admirable white tablecloths, the dining room can get very loud, and piped-in music that is clearly not French doesn’t help. The night I visited, they turned it off at nine o’clock and the decibel level dropped ten digits.
      I’m delighted that Executive Chef Jaime Loja (right) , previously at the now shuttered Brasserie Ruhlmann, has alighted here. His menu does not stray far from French brasserie traditions, though there are items not to be found at other similar restaurants around town.
There is, of course, an oyster selection (six for $25), as well as hamachi ($24), and the appetizer segment is based on long tradition. Two items I wish more New York bistros carried are here at La Brasserie: A luscious soufflé au Comté “Rétourne” ($16), which can be had with caviar ($36). Once a staple of the French table, cheese soufflés slipped off menus decades ago (one remains on La Grenouille’s menu for a seriously inflated $46!), and I hope they make a comeback.  So, too, oeuf mollet with a salad of mâche and frisée, bacon and Sherry dressing ($18) is on the menu, but Loja ups the ante by giving the poached egg a crumb coating and frying it crisp, which adds texture and dimension to the dish.
     The onion tart is also a happy revival, with buttery pastry beneath sweetly caramelized onions ($24), as well as a similar mushroom duxelles tart ($18). A torchon of creamy foie gras (left) comes with date-lemon chutney, a balsamic reduction and toast ($17), and there is an escargot casserole ($22), terrine de canard ($17) and both steak and tuna tartare ($24). For all this scrumptious tradition, then, it is odd to find burrata with Campari tomato, passion fruit and arugula ($21) make an appearance.
      Not incidentally, the house-made baguette served at La Brasserie is as perfect as any you’d find at Balthazar or any other boulangerie around town. If they sold it by the sack, I’d make a detour whenever I’m in the neighborhood.
       Main courses number a judicious eight, including a finely wrought breast of juicy duck that has been spiced and served with buttery pomme purée “Francis Staub,” asparagus and a sweet-tangy reduction ($42). There are dozens of excellent roast chickens around town,
and La Brasserie’s ranks with the best of them in crisp skin, succulence, temperature throughout and the impeccably seasoned pan juices with a  hint of tarragon ($36).
      A pleasant version of bouillabaisse ($42) was ample enough with daurade, scallops, shrimp, mussels, saffron potatoes, Brussels sprouts and fennel, along with a slice of toast with creamy garlic rouille, though it lacked the intensity in its broth that one hopes for, which is usually enhanced by the seared shells of lobster and other crustaceans as its base. The other seafood options might be more selective: The ubiquitous salmon and Chilean sea bass are the only choices, when there are so many other fish in the New York market.
      La Brasserie serves a côte de boeuf for two (or more) that is ceremoniously brought out on a shiny guéridon whose silver lid is dramatically lifted by Mr. Diop, shooting flames into the air ($169). No brasserie worth its salt can fail to carry steak frites, and the one here is cited as a homage to Bourdain; using a bavette cut ($43), with a choice of sauces, it was relatively well seared and medium rare inside, but instead of having the characteristic chewiness that gives bavette its appeal, this was mushy and lacked flavor. The hot frites, however, went fast at our table for all the right reasons.
     There should be a law against failure to order dessert in a brasserie, with a double fine for missing those made here, including my favorite—ïle flôttante, that lovely white blob of airy meringue floating in an ivory crème anglaise and topped with crushed nuts ($13)—along with a banana soufflé with brandy and chocolate sauce ($13) and a log of Black Forest cake with a grillotinne of macerated cherries, vanilla Chantilly, and whipped ganache ($14). An apple tart with vanilla ice cream ($14) was, one evening, a tad soggy.
An evening at La Brasserie begins with certain expectations of a meal and ambience that will be as comforting as the first you ever had in Paris—or Alsace—and Staub has seen to every detail to make it so. Such an evening should end on a note of satiety and joie de vivre knowing that such places not only still exist but thrive wherever people love good French fare and flair.


Dinner nightly; lunch Mon.-Fri.; brunch Sat. & Sun. 





By John Mariani

To read previous chapters of ANOTHER VERMEER, go to the archive




         Prof. Alexandra Janson agreed to see Katie on Monday at her apartment on Riverside Drive, near the Columbia campus. As Katie expected, the apartment was completely covered wall to wall with books, as was Prof. Mundt’s on the occasion she visited him. In the living room the coffee table had more books piled on it, and there were stacks on either side of the sofa Katie was invited to sit on. There was no offer of tea or coffee.
         “So,” the professor began without a moment of small talk. “The so-called ‘new’ Vermeer,” she said, lifting her chin up. “I’m finding it hard to keep an open mind.”
         Janson was in her late sixties, slender and tall, with skin remarkably free of wrinkles; her gray hair was pulled back, exposing pearl earrings.  She wore a long cotton skirt in a flowered pattern and a crisp white blouse, with more pearls. Katie assumed she’d come from a wealthy, high class Dutch family.
         “Why do you say that, Professor?”
        “Mainly because it just popped up out of thin air.” She snapped her fingers. “Where has it been all these centuries? People do find masterpieces in their attic, but in a Chinese attic? There is simply no historic rationale for a Vermeer that has never been in the CR to have a Chinese provenance.”
         Katie knew that “CR” was the abbreviation of “Catalogue Raisonné,” an authoritative list of all the known works of an artist, often compiled over decades by various experts in the field. If a work of art was not in the CR, it was considered suspicious until proven to be authentic, which could take years, as was the case with the Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, the work that had been in dispute since 1904.   
“You must understand, Ms. Cavuto, that it’s been estimated that between five and ten million paintings were created in the Netherlands during the 17th century. The upper- and middle-class patrons were ravenous for things to hang on their walls. And, if it were any other painter than Vermeer, there are many, many prospects that would show up over the centuries, some real, some fake, most of them dreadful. But there are only 34 Vermeers and not a single rumor of any more, except of course that dreadful Young Woman Seated at a Virginal.”  She shook her head in mild disgust.
         “So, if you were asked to examine the painting, what would you look for?”
         “First of all, I have seen all the extant Vermeers in the world. I talk about that in my book, which took me more than a decade to write. I even have my doubts about one or two of the paintings in Vermeer’s CR. I know his brushwork, the way he mixed his colors, the props he used again and again in his work. Signatures are always helpful in Vermeer’s case, because he didn’t always sign his pieces or signed them differently every time.”
         Katie remembered the different signature names used in The Geographer and The Astronomer.
         “I also look at the way he used the camera obscura (below) to achieve such fidelity to nature, which he, like all great artists, altered radically.”
         Janson was referring to an optical phenomenon by which an image is projected through a small hole in a darkened room to produce an upside-down image on the wall, from which the artist could then trace a copy.  Though the principle had been  known for more than a thousand years, the term camera obscura  (“darkened room” in Latin) was only first used in Vermeer’s day, as of 1604. Vermeer was among many artists of the Renaissance who used the device.
         Janson went on.  “I’d also look for little pin holes that appear in some of Vermeer’s work, which helped him to create a vanishing point and to maintain perspective and depth. Sometimes they’ve only appeared after a painting has been carefully cleaned of old varnish that closed the holes up.
         “Of course, I have no idea if this new painting has been restored or cleaned at all, which makes it much more difficult to be definitive. One has to, so to speak, get under the painting’s skin to see what is not visible.”
         “But isn’t that what X-rays would show?”
         “X-rays will show the layers of paint and varnish on a canvas, some of which might have been added later. Indeed, in the 19th century a seller or gallery might deliberately brush on a brownish varnish, even use a darker paint, just to make the work look antique. They called it ‘Rembrandt lighting.’ It was considered perfectly legitimate to do so. Later on, restorers removed it and showed the real colors (below).
         “Which is one reason so much of what is written by scholars about masterworks is nonsense, because they have not seen the original colors and brushwork in hundreds of years. Not to mention the effects of soot, candle wax and smoke, acid rain, even insects. Unless you have a painting in as pristine a condition as you can make it, it is almost useless to try to authenticate a work. Especially by masters, because theirs are the ones that are forged. No one fakes a third-rate Dutch painter. It would be worth next to nothing.”
         “Have you asked the Chinese government to be one of the experts to see the painting?” asked Katie.
         Janson sniffed. “No, and they’d never invite me. I’m considered too much of an iconoclast when it comes to authenticating work. I do know the experts from the Kunstmuseum and the Historiches who are going.  They are very, very good. I’d trust their opinion.”
         Clearly, the professor had said about all she chose to say to Katie, though it was equally clear she wanted to be on the record in the story, even deliberately spelling her last name out—“son, not sen.”  Katie thanked her and gathered her notes and recorder.  A few minutes later, walking to her car, she called Elizabeth Horner at Fordham, just to get her take on what Janson had said.


John Mariani, 2016



By John Mariani

Donna Reed and Montgomery Clift in "From Here to Eternity" (1953)


Liquor used to be so easy  to buy when there wasn’t all that much to choose from. In my father’s liquor cabinet there was a bottle each of Dewar’s and Cutty Sark Scotch, Gilbey’s gin, Bacardi rum, Canadian Club rye and maybe Smirnoff vodka. Options were more than sufficient at the liquor store but he, like most people in those days, found a favorite label and stuck to it.
    Nevertheless it is my job, and pleasure, to sample the new spirits in the market and, aside from those that are obviously made to a flavor profile for a niche audience, I am truly impressed by the “iterations” available. That said, here are some of those I’ve been impressed with for various reasons, none of them owing to New Suede, so I shall refrain from struggling to come up with some specious silliness as to what they taste like beyond descriptions of what makes them distinctive.
      What used to be an easy choice has become a bewildering one, and marketing and advertising have a great deal to do with it. The spirits industry caught on to the way wines marketed their labels—including dazzling new graphics—and the media joined right in. Recently I read a report on a new rum described as smelling and tasting like "Bananas Foster. Over-baked almond shortbread. Chicle. New Suede." Little of which I want to taste when I drink rum.
This was before distillers discovered they could make single malts, barrel strength, uncut, reserves, vintage and legions of whiskies aged in various wooden barrels and before vodkas (defined by the U.S. Standards of Identity as a neutral, odorless, colorless, tasteless spirit) were being filtered over diamonds or made in the Czar’s own kettle from water that came from 10,000 feet underground.

Rhum J.M, Martinique’s largest distillery, now owned by Group Bernard Hayot and dating to 1845 Macuba at the foot of Mount Pelée, has launched its EDDEN Project aimed to maximize its rhum’s sustainability movement by innovative sugarcane harvesting and volcanic soil cultivation; water waste treatment techniques and reduction of emissions by more than 90%. . They produce a range of rhums from 40% to 55% alcohol, including being aged in re-charred bourbon barrels and a 15 Year Old ($280) at 41.7%.


Old Elk Double Wheat Straight Whiskey out of Fort Collins, Colorado,  is a combination of two of their other products: Old Elk Straight Wheat Whiskey ($70) and Old Elk Wheat Bourbon ($55), which yields a higher proof (107.1), emphasizing its fruity character after aging for six to eight years, with a mashbill of 71.5% Wheat, 25% Corn, and 3.5%, released at 53.55%.


France’s Mirabeau now makes a Dry Rose Gin ($43) of a very pretty color and flavors from botanicals growing wild near Saint Tropez. It uses a 100% grape-based neutral spirit with botanicals that include lemon, coriander as well as orris and angelica roots, rose petals, lavender, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. It would make what in the 19th century was a favorite cocktail called pink gin that got its color from bitters.


Keeper’s Heart ($54) is an unusual marriage of Master Distiller Brian Kinsman in collaboration with David Perkins, founder of High West Whiskey, to combine Irish Grain, Irish Pot Still and the Peppery American Bourbon. The former two give it an earthier quality while the bourbon’s corn provides sweetness.


Speyburn, which has been around since 1897,  has gone pretty far in coming up with a range of  “expressions,” from its 10 Year Old Speyside Single Malt ($35) and 15 Year Old Speyside Single Malt ($70) to a smoky Hopkins Reserve ($51) to Arranta Single Malt ($45) aged in bourbon casks and the sweeter Companion Cask, the last two sold exclusively in the U.S.


Master Brian Kinsman of Glenfiddich this spring released a 26 Year Old Grande Couronne Single Malt Scotch for a whopping $600, finished in Cognac casks and released at 43.8% alcohol. A tad downscale is its  Grand Cru 23 Year old at $300 and a Grand Reserva 21 Year Old at $180. For a peatier style, Glenfiddich also makes Fire & Cane, finished in Latin rum casks with 43% alcohol ($50).


The Balvenie is made in Dufftown in the region of Speyside, and its range runs from a Doublewood 12 Year Old ($60), aged in a traditional oak whiskey barrel and European sherry casks, to Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old ($75), which uses Caribbean rum casks. There is also one aged in Port wood ($225). 


Zacapa is a Guatemalan Highlands rum, now made by Master Blender Lorena Vásquez at a high altitude of 7,500 feet, which prevents temperature swings.  They are designed to be sipped, not as mixers. Zacapa No. 23 ($45) uses rums aged between 6 and 23 years, while its Rum XO ($99) contains some 25 year-old spirits, aged in Cognac barrels.


OUR JAWS DROP's Jaya Saxena reviewed the new ELEVEN MADISON PARK HOME BOX, whose contents change all the time, at $300 a pop, writing, "What you get is an uneven, mostly fine, single day’s worth of eating, at the cost of what most people spend on groceries over the course of a few weeks." The menu for that one day: breakfast of coconut chia yogurt and a granola bar; vegetable minestrone soup and a gem lettuce salad for lunch; root vegetable chips for a snack; and for dinner, wild mushroom rice with a dessert of double-chocolate espresso cookies that should be made in a convection oven. that's it: For $300.


 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 scene since 1995. He is the author of EATING LAS VEGAS - The 52 Essential Restaurants, and his website can be found at You can find him on Instagram: @johncurtas and Twitter: @eatinglasvegas. 


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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