Virtual Gourmet

September 23,  2007                                                       NEWSLETTER


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In This Issue


NEW YORK CORNER: Le Bernardin by John Mariani




by John Mariani

     Philadelphia, like Boston, is such an easy city to visit in a fairly short time, for its manageable size, the condensed historic sites, and the easy access by plane, train, and automobile make for a wonderful weekend trip.
      And you will eat very well, from high-end classics like Le Bec Fin to splashy efforts like Buddakan and Morimoto, these last two among Über-restaurateur Steven Starr's local, now expanding, empire.  Chinatown is pretty dreary, though Susanna Foo (see below), not in Chinatown, is one of the finest Chinese restaurants in America.  There is good, old-fashioned Italian food, but the city is not rich in the more modern Italian restaurants that have opened up all across the country in the last five years.  Fortunately the city's restaurant sector has not been inundated with chain restaurants as so many other cities have, so there is a lot of breadth and depth of homegrown talent.  Here are some of my current favorites.

2929 Arch Street

     My first encounter with Chef Daniel Stern was when he was exec chef at the highly posh Le Bec Fin, where he followed the owner's decrees in a big ticket restaurant, so his first solo venture, Gayle, was nearly a 180 degree turn--a 35-seat restaurant in Queens Village where he was doing a kind of personalized bistro fare.  This year he did a real double Axel and opened Rae, a 220-seat extravaganza with a mezzanine seating 40, an glass-enclosed atrium seating 200 (right). and plenty of additional private dining space, all set within Philadelphia's finest 21st century skyscraper, the Cira Centre, just across from the train station.
      This is a lot to chew on, and I trust Stern doesn't burn out:  Rae is open seven days a week and even serves a
family-style Sunday Supper, quite a bargain at $45.  The place itself is huge and expansive, gleaming with burnished steel, gauzy draperies, and a kind of high-toned diner booths.  In fact, it is not dissing to say that Stern's menu straddles both the menus of a great diner with that of a wonderfully, homey bistro in France.  You might wish to begin, dtherefore, with a rich, cheese-gooey French onion soup, or the delectable rabbit nachos, or a bright gazpacho. This being Pennsylvania, he has taken an old favorite, chicken-and-dumplings, and made it his own, and from his ethnic heritage he's plucked Jewish-American ideas like calf’s liver with melting sweet onions and veal kreplach with artichokes.
      The large menu also offers contemporary takes on braised short ribs with pancetta dressing and wild striped bass with favas in a red wine sauce. A thick, succulent NY sirloin steak comes with scallion pancake and ramps. I was not much in love with the truffled pizza (if you can't make great pizza, why bother with the trendy?), and skate with fettuccine and clams didn't show much flavor.   
     For dessert go for pastry chef Elizabeth Brozoski's four chocolate variations, one better than the next. or the very fine cheesecake.  There's even good old apple pie.
       If Rae is trying to offer something for everyone, I believe anyone will have a terrific time here and find just what he or she wants to eat. Rae is a testament to American food, with all its antecedents and history behind it, and in the hands of a great chef like Stern, it all seems brand new.
      The winelist, overseen by Ryan Davis, is also first-rate, though with the typical Pennsylvania mark-ups.
      Rae is open daily. At dinner appetizers run $9-$18, main courses $22-$45.


707 Chestnut Street
(215) 922-7770

    Somewhat in the same culinary style as Rae, 707, near Independence National Historic Park serves a hip version of American comfort food via Chef Dan Soley that even includes hot dogs, with nothing on the menu over $20. Nevertheless, the action goes on within a space that looks more like a swank dining club than a family eatery.  Grazing is encouraged, sharing is the way to go, and the menu breaks into "Small Plates," "Bites," and "Main Courses."  The winelist carries some of the best bargains for good regional bottlings you'll find in Philadelphia--notoriously expensive for wine--with 13 wines by the glass.
The front of the restaurant is a bar-café designed for maximum interaction among people seeking to meet other people. Beyond is the  deep chocolate brown dining room (right), with roomy booths, and nicely set tables, each with a pin light above that brings brightness into the room and spotlights the food, all of which is very colorful on its own.
     3333Where to begin on a menu that opens with very tasty Reuben spring rolls, stuffed with pastrami, corned beef, and Swiss cheese with Russian dressing.  and those hot dogs (left) served as a trio of small sausages--with chili and cheese, Alsatian sauerkraut, and a Dijon relish? They do a good California Cobb Salad, chopped with plenty of greens that could easily make for a main course, and cast-iron skillet eggs with potatoes, bacon, and cheddar are as satisfying as any brunch dish anywhere.  The pizza is O.K. but they may want to ditch the mozzarella pinwheels unless they get better than what you'd get from a deli catering delivery. Maryland crab cakes came off meaty and juicy, and the  French fries are really, really good, with skins on, adding more flavor. Dip them into the tartar sauce with that comes with the crabcakes and you've got the purest prole food. The grilled meatloaf was good, not special, but the potato skins accompanying it were addictive.
      For dessert give in to temptation and share, if you must, a classic banana split or toasted pound cake with vanilla ice cream--two simple items I'd forgotten could be so very good. They even do funnel cake, which is simply a guilty pleasure.

707 is open for continuous service 7 days a week from 11:30a.m. to 10:00 PM with a Late Night Menu until 12:30 AM, Fri. & Sat. Sun.  Brunch; Dinner appetizers run $5-$10, main courses $12-$20.


114 South Street

    José Garces, just 34 (right),  is one of Philly's favorite chefs, for he's proven time and again he knows what people really love to eat when they go out, and it's never the same old thing. He was formerly at the funky Mexican place El Vez, then at Alma de Cuba. In neither did I think he was spreading his own wings as widely as he could, so egghgI applauded when he opened his own place, Amada, in 2005, which focused on tapas and dishes cooked à la plancha, with 40 wines and sangria available by the glass.
     Tinto isn't a radical departure from Amada, though it brings the menu closer to Spain's Basque country, which includes San Sebastián, the capital of tapas, although there they are called pinxtos.  Garces  expands his menu with a broad range of charcuterie, cheese, brochettes, bocadillo-style sandwiches, and shellfish, with about 100+ wines with which to wash them down, many stacked in a wall of bottles (left).
     The main dining room is a shadowy delight, with a 22-foot bar made from reclaimed orange-stained lumber,  Spanish tiles, and high-top tables where you sit at counter chairs--not the most comfortable way to dine, but they seem appropriate here. Downstairs is a deluxe lounge (left).
     With three friends--you should bring at least that many--I ate all over the menu, starting with charcuterie that included a torchon of velvety foie gras with membrillo fruit jelly and a coarser country-style pâté.  Among the pintxos were marinated anchovies with the sweetness of melon, along with cured duck with membrillo, frisée lettuces, and a walnut-mustard vinaigrette.  There is, of course, Serrano ham, some wrapped around sweet figs. The brochette pintxos make for a good first course or even a main--lamb loin with eggplant, bacon, and sherry reduction, even Kobe beef with a romesco sauce.  Among the mariscos I enjoyed baby squid with its own ink dying rice and crabmeat, and a turbot cooked à la plancha with a sauce laced with anise-flavored Pastis and citrus. I was particularly happy to taste pil pil, the classic Basque dish of cod in a creamy olive oil mayonnaise.  Of the meat courses I tried and like the black beans studded with pork belly and chorizo and braised cabbage, a really hearty and delicious dish.
     Desserts include a Basque cake with black cherries and pastry cream, a goat's milk mousse with orange blossom gel and olive oil caramel, and "Scent of a Woman," which tastes better than it sounds--vanilla cake with cava jelly and rose essence.

     Tinto is open for lunch Mon.-Fri., and dinner nightly. Appetizers and pintxos run $6-$14, main courses $11-$24.

555 East Lancaster Avenue
Radnor, PA


     mmmmIf José Garces is well known to Philly's foodies, Susanna Foo is an icon.
     Back in the 1980s she had a fine Hunan restaurant that broke from the usual pack (Philadelphia's Chinatown is pretty weak), then opened a fine dining room on Walnit Street named after herself that has for two decades been rightly credited with bringing modern Chinese food into focus in America, even as it languishes elsewhere.  Three years ago she opened a similar restaurant, named Suilan, in Atlantic City's Borgata but she tired of the trek out there and returned closer to Philadelphia, opening the new Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in nearby Radnor,
and it's an easy drive from downtown (at least after rush hour).
     It's a very smart-looking restaurant on two levels, with an open kitchen and good  sexy bar and lounge.  The Chinoiserie is of high caliber throughout, and Ms. Foo has expanded her horizons here, balancing, as she always has, Chinese and French techniques, though now there is somewhat more of the latter than is the case downtown. I began a lovely meal with some tuna and fluke sashimi, then "popcorn" pork ravioli made with roasted corn.  Excellent and tender Littleneck clams sautéed in a wok had the good bite of jalapeño and garlic with an assertive, but not at all salty, black bean sauce.  Lamb "pillows' were indeed tender and light, with grilled eggplant and sun-dried tomato sauce--not particularly Chinese perhaps but really delicious.qq
     A very fine slice of silky salmon was marinated with a citrus-ginger cure and served with an heirloom salad and citrus vinaigrette, while scallops were seared and served with rich pork belly and sweet potato puree.  Asian flavors came back to the fore as a grilled black sea bass with tempura-fried zucchini blossoms, roasted shrimp, and Thai green curry--my favorite dish of the day--but not by much: a sensationally good Mongolian lamb came with Chinese risotto and grilled abalone mushrooms.  The meal ended with  a tasting of chocolate--hazelnut wonton, molten cake, crunch, and opera torte--which just goes to prove chocolate knows no ethnic or geographic boundaries when it comes to satisfaction.
      Susanna Foo is a treasure, and Radnor should treasure having her in its midst.

Lunch, and dinner daily. Dinner starters run $5-$13, entrees $15-$28.

By John Mariani

4gLe Bernardin
155 West 51st Street

     I am often asked what my favorite restaurant in NYC is, and I hem and haw, then answer that it's an impossible question. But then (I've got this down pat by now) I say, "Well, if a bomb were to drop on Manhattans, and I could save only one restaurant, that restaurant would be Le Bernardin."
     Since 1986 when it opened, I've never thought otherwise. To me Le Bernardin represents a rare, even unique, confluence of the highest standards of cuisine and service in America, buoyed by partner Maguy Lecoze (below), who, with her brother Gilbert founded the original Le Bernardin in Paris, then brought it to NYC, eventually closing the original. New York took to the brother and sister LeCoze with both open arms and awe of the refined glamor they brought the city, defining what modern taste should be at the end of the 20th century.  Gilbert not only refined but revolutionized the preparation of seafood, which effected a complete re-thinking of the way fish is cooked throughout the U.S. and Europe.kl
        Sadly, Gilbert passed away at a young age some years ago, putting Le Bernardin’s future in doubt only among those who did not know Maguy’s resiliency and dedication to her brother’s memory.  Together with chef de cuisine Eric Ripert (below), now a partner in the restaurant, Le Bernardin kept going and kept thriving, winning every major culinary award in America, including James Beard Foundation honors as Outstanding Restaurant and Ripert as Best New York Chef.  The beauty of the place has always been magnificent, soft, formal without stiffness, elegant without frou-frou, now, with some new art work, it looks as fresh and beautiful as any room in the city. And the  service staff, with many, many changes over the decades, is still nonpareil. The winelist, now under the direction of Aldo Sohm, is one of the finest in the NYC.
        2Le Bernardin's menu has always evolved, yet it is still devotedly in a style that preserves  Gilbert's original precepts of seafood cookery—the best, freshest American species cooked tenderly and with very little enhancement beyond a few intense flavors.  The subtlety of Ripert’s cooking, backed by a superb kitchen brigade, takes extraordinary exactitude, like the creation of a perfect haiku. He and Maguy wrote the Le Bernardin Cookbook in 1998.
      And so it was that, on being asked by my family where I wanted to dine on my birthday, I chose Le Bernardin, which looks as good or better than the day it opened. I asked chef de cuisine Chris Muller (Ripert was on vacation) to do a tasting menu and wine director
Sohm to choose our wines to match the food. We began with an amuse of  buttery lobster with a simple citrus vinaigrette and a glass of ice-cold  Louis Roederer Brut Premier.  Our first course was  thinly sliced conch "Marinated Peruvian Style" (an homage to Nobu Matsuhisa), with dried sweet corn; the conch was amazingly tender, owing as much to the marinade as to the deft slicing. We also had sautéed calamari filled with sweet prawns and wood ear mushroom in a calamari consommé, which was similar in texture to the conch but distinctive in its own flavorful essence.  With these we drank a fine Meursault Limozin Germain 2004.
     Next came wild Alaskan salmon just barely cooked--a  Le Bernardin signature technique--with
daikon, snow peas and enoki salad with sweet pea-wasabi sauce with just enough bite but not heat. Pan-roasted striped bass came on creamy jasmine-coriander perfumed rice, with lemongrass and ginger-scented “pot au feu” broth with which we sipped a red wine, the big,  bold Flowers Pinot Noir 2001.eeeeeeeeeeeee
     Seared Japanese Kobe beef and truffled herb salad followed, then pan-roasted monkfish with yummy truffled potato emulsion and a red wine-brandy sauce that made this a very sumptuous dish to go with a very sumptuous wine, Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts, Daniel Rion 2001.
        Le Bernardin has always had a superb selection of cheeses, and we indulged in several, with a glass of Côte Rotie Tardieu-Laurent 2000. Then came desserts too many to describe, including a lemon-vanilla parfait, citrus biscuit, crisp Meringue, lemon cream and sorbet, and soft chocolate ganache with a crunchy corn and hazelnut base, corn sorbet and tuile, served with the chilled Hungarian sweet wine  Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Disznoko, Hungary 1999.
      Can one eat just as well elsewhere in NYC?  Yes, and outside of NYC too.  But when you combine the flair and the service, the civilized buzz of people having a wonderful evening, and food that has never imitated any momentary trend, Le Bernardin is unique and as fine a restaurant as any in the world.

Le Bernardin is open for lunch, Mon.-Fri. and for dinner Mon.-Sat. Lunch is fixed price at $64, dinner at  $107, with a tasting menu at  $180, with wines $320.  There is a private Salon dining room (above) upstairs.


Chile’s Montes Winery Makes its Move on Napa Valleyeeeer
John Mariani

When Montes winery (right) was founded in Chile in 1988, it put a cattle prod to that country’s languishing wine industry.
    Since World War II more than half the country’s vineyards had been ripped out owing to over-taxation and low wine consumption. A badly managed economy under the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who was not replaced until 1988, didn’t help either.

      Back in 1980 Chile exported only 100,000 cases to the U.S. Only in 1995 did Chile adopt a Designation of Origin system for its vineyards, largely because wineries like Montes, Concha y Toro, and Los Vascos drew foreign investment money that enabled them to take advantage of cheap land and labor in areas like the Maipo Valley untouched by pestilences like phylloxera and Pierce’s disease that have ravaged U.S. and European vineyards. In the past twelve months Chilean wineries have shipped 36.8 million cases and this year will reach $1 billion in sales.
      Montes is wholly owned by Chileans--Aurelio Montes, Alfredo Vidaurre, Pedro Grand, and Douglas Murray, who have committed themselves to produce only premium wines that will compete internationally.  In that they have succeeded quickly, having built a prestigious reputation for its traditional Bordeaux-style blends of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and petit verdot called Montes Alpha “M.” In 2001 they invested heavily in a winery in Mendoza, Argentina, where they produce cabernet and malbec wines under the Kaiken label.
      After less than a decade in business Montes now exports 95 percent of its total production to more than 83 countries on five continents. The U.S is its largest market, with more than 170,000 cases shipped.
     Now Montes’s aim is to find a niche within the U.S. itself, investing $2 million so far to source cabernet sauvignon grapes in California’s Napa Valley. Their first harvest was in 2006, with 6,600 cases to be released in early 2008. One third of the production will be a cabernet-syrah blend called Icon, to sell for a hefty $70 a bottle. The rest will be a reserve blend of cabernet and other varietals, to sell for $45.iiiii
      At a seminar this month held in New York by Aurelio Montes, 58, and his son Aurelio, 33 (below), I tasted a barrel sample of 100 percent cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley Rutherford vineyards, aged nine months in new barrels.  At this point the wine is very fruity and a little flabby, almost like Port, and the tannins beneath the fruit are soft. At 14.9 percent alcohol it’s going to rank with the higher alcohol blockbusters of Napa, with another wine from Coombsville vineyards hitting 15.1 percent.
     A retrospective of Montes Alpha M wines from Chile showed that alcohol levels have been increasing there too. The 1997 was listed at 13.5 percent, the 1998 at 13.9, and recent vintages, like 2004 and 2005, a percentage point higher. My favorites came in somewhere in the middle, and showed that a few years of age truly balances out the wines’ elements. The bottle of 1998 at my tasting table was, unfortunately, brownish and badly oxidized, but the 1999 took on the qualities of a fine Bordeaux with more fruitedness—a wine I’d happily drink right now.
      The 2000 and 2001 were both well knit, very pretty wines, light in the bouquet but gaining fruit on the palate as the minutes passed and the wine opened up.  The 2003 was quite vegetal, like a still-tight Médoc, needing a year or two more to work through the tannins and reveal its complexity.
     [fThe 2004, with 14.9 percent alcohol, is out of balance right now, light in the nose but with opulent fruit and a hot tannic finish. I’d give this two to three years to come around.  Finally the 2005 showed itself still unyielding but with abundant fruit and almost a caramel finish, far more in the California than Bordeaux style.
      I also had a chance to taste 2006 barrel samples of the 100 percent carmenère, a varietal that grows very well in the dry altitudes of Chile.  One, from the warmer Apalta vineyards 40 miles from the coast, was well-developed with layers of fruit, acid, vegetal flavors, and softening tannins that promise it will be an excellent example of this varietal.  The sample from the Marchigue vineyards, only 15 miles from the coast, had more spice and tart tannins, making it more austere and, perhaps, better balanced in a year or so.
       If I brought any notion of the overriding concerns of the Montes wineries in Chile, it would be that they try very hard to be as gentle as possible with the handling of their fresh fruit, carefully selecting the healthiest grapes and keeping them cool through the pressing and blending processes. “We play Gregorian chants in our cellars as the wine is aging,” said the elder Aurelio Montes. “Somebody asked me if the grapes seem to enjoy it, and I answered, I really have no idea. But I love it--it keeps me calm in the cellar."

John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and some of its articles play of the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.


Australian microbiologist/artist Gary Cass has created a dress made of a cellulose slime skimmed from red wine vinegar, which is sprayed on and must be kept wet at all times or the dress will disintegrate. “This is art,” says Cass, “It is not meant to be practical.” For a look at the garments go to


Every day for the last 17 years now Lee and Mary Humphrey, both 84, of Sussex, England, have eaten two double hamburgers, fries, and coffee at 11 A.M. sharp at the local McDonald's. They recently even moved in order to be closer to the McDonald's and estimate they've spent $40,000 at the fast food restaurant. saying they intend to "feast on their fast food for their rest of their lives."


*  On Sept. 26 in Charlotte, NC, Upstream Restaurant is offering guests a new twist on its upcoming wine dinner--an old-fashioned, New England Clam Bake.  $55 pp. Call 704-556-7730.

* On Sept. 27  photographer Alan "Battman" Batt and Pernod Ricard will host The 3rd Annual Great Gathering of Chefs at The Atrium at Trump Tower, to benefit The Children's Storefront in Harlem. The event will also introduce the release of Batt's new book, Sandwiches of the World, and bring together  participating chefs from restaurants ranging from NYC to Las Vegas to autograph copies.  $250 pp.

* On  Oct. 9, 2007, Cafe Matou in Chicago will host a 6-course wine dinner by Chef Charlie Socher celebrating the cuisine and wines from France’s Burgundy region, with wines selected by wine director, James Rahn. Call 773-384-.8911.

* In Dixville Notch, NH, The Balsams resort hosts this  fall its annual Visiting Chef Series on weekends, priced from  $139 pp per night, with a welcome reception, cooking demos,  wine  tasting, 5-course dinner, and Sunday jazz breakfast with the Rick Erwin Band. ; The 2007 Visiting Chef weekends  are scheduled for Oct.  12-14, 19-21, 26-28,  Nov.  2-5, 9-11, &  16-18, and Nov. 30 – Dec.  2. Call 866-380-6798 or visit

* Starting Oct. 15 San Domenico NY will begin its “Daily White Truffle menu” thru  the first week of December. The charge will be $6 per gram. Call (212) 265-5959. . . . On Nov. 19 The Annual San Domenico NY White Truffle Gala & Auction will take place, in collaboration with the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreign Professionals,  Enoteca Regional del Barolo and Regione Piemonte.  $300 pp. Five white truffles ranging from 180 grams to 300 grams and custom diamond jewelry from Brilliant Stars will be auctioned off to benefit the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani Giacomo Bologna Scholarship fund.

* From Oct. 15-26 in NYC, to celebrate Portugal's  Presidency of the "European Union," the Portuguese Mission to the United Nations will host, at luncheons in the Delegates' Dining Room of the U.N.,a two-week Portuguese Food Festival, featuring Portuguese chefs, incl. Marco Moreira, from Foz Velha; Pedro Nunes, São Gião; Francisco Meirelles, Sessenta Setenta, and from Madeira Island, Francisco Quintal, Casa Velha do Palheiro; Albino Marques, Porto Bay Hotel; José da Silva, Porto Bay Hotel; Martinho Neto, Porto Bay Hotel.  Call 212-963-7626.

* The Chesterfield Palm Beach is featuring a “Taste of England: that incl.: 3 Days, 2 Nights in a Deluxe King Room; English Breakfast; 2 tix  to The Norton for The Treasures from the V&A Exhibit;  Dinner with a bottle of Champagne ; Private Lesson for Two at the nearby National Croquet Center ; Afternoon English Tea   for Two at The Chesterfield; From $859; offered from Oct. 24-Jan. 6. ·        Call 800-243-7871. Visit

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with two 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."  To go to his blog click on the logo below:


Tennis Resorts OnlineA Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored  two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to  Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). Click on the logo below to go to the site.



MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,  Naomi  Kooker, Kirsten Skogerson,  Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

 John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Wine Spectator, Bloomberg News and Radio, and Diversion.  He is author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press).

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from by clicking on the cover image.

6y6My newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our years growing up in the North Bronx. It's called Almost Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our lives when so many wonderful things seemed possible.
    For those of you who don't think of the Bronx as “idyllic,” this book will be a revelation. It’s about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful neighborhood filled with great friends and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives. It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this very personal look at our
Bronx childhood. It is not yet available in bookstores, so to purchase a copy, go to or click on  Almost Golden.
--John Mariani

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copyright John Mariani 2007