Virtual Gourmet

February 20,  2011                                                                   NEWSLETTER

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This Week

Dining Out in Big D, Part Two
by Christopher Mariani
New York Corner: Pan America
by John Mariani

Man About Town: Boudin Odyssey
by Christopher Mariani

Notes From The Spirit Locker: Reposado Tequilas
by John Mariani

Quick Bytes

GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA:
   The Bad Girl of Bourbon


by Christopher Mariani

La Duni
4264 Oak Lawn Avenue

    La Duni, on Oak Lawn Avenue, is one of the three La Dunis in Dallas and has been a favorite among locals and city visitors since 2004 when the location opened following the success of the original on McKinney Avenue. Upon entering the restaurant, you will be instantly hit with a perfume of buttery pastries, a thick whiff of fresh ground coffee and strong hints of chocolate and cinnamon. I dined for breakfast during a busy day and watched as cars pulled into the parking lot, engines still running, while customers ran in for their usual pastries and coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and to go orders of chef Dunia’s famous migas wraps, filled with eggs, bacon, three different cheeses, and then topped with a queso fresco. Based on the prompt delivery of breakfast items from the counter staff, knowing what each customer is going to order, it’s safe to assume the servers and cashiers are catering to repeat customers.  For those who actually have time to sit and enjoy one of chef Dunia Broga's (below) delicious creations on the weekend, grab a table, pick from one of the many espresso and cappuccino selections, the vaca blanca being my favorite, and order a few pastries to start while reading over La Duni’s Argentinean and Brazilian inspired menu. The Nutella milk chocolate cupcakes are among the best, soft, moist and highly addictive.
         For hot dishes Chef Borga prepares the huevos finos, a giant popover, sliced in half, filled with two poached eggs, Gruyère cheese and a rich Hollandaise sauce; the huevos rancheros, two sunny side up eggs placed on top of a crisped corn tortilla and topped with melted asadero cheese, green salsa, sided by black beans and roasted potatoes.  Also worth a try, the chile relleño, a roasted poblano pepper filled with refried beans, two scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar, provolone, and Gruyère cheese, one of the heartier brunch dishes.  For late diners, the tortas section of the weekend brunch menu is filled with an array of carved meats and cheeses placed inside house baked bread. The cubano is one of the best, a grilled French baguette with honey ham, tender roasted pork loin, Gruyère, sliced tomatoes, pickles, mayo and mustard.
         Whether it be for a cup of coffee and a pastry or a sit down meal filled with eggs, sausage and cheese, chef Dunia is hitting on all cylinders, cutting no corners and serving up some of the best breakfast in Dallas.

Open daily, breakfast brunch Saturday and Sundays from 9am-3pm, lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner daily.  Eggs Buenos dias dishes range $5.95-$9.95, pastries and sweets $4.75-$8.95, and coffees $2.75-$5.95.


2100 Ross Avenue

    Located in Dallas’ Arts District is Stephan Pyles’ newest creation, Samar, an unfussy yet coolly sophisticated multi-cultural restaurant with a diverse menu and unique design. Immediately after opening, the Texas culinary legend  (he also owns his upscale namesake restaurant nearby) received very high praises for his food at Samar, and now, one year later, I am happy to report the food is better than ever, continuing to evolve and mature, with menu items that consistently change from week to week.  The menu is divided into three sections, “Inspirations from Spain,” “Inspirations from the Eastern Mediterranean” and “Inspirations from India,” all dishes served in small tapas-style portions meant for sharing.  Each section has approximately 10-12 dishes to choose from, the majority under $10, so order at will and enjoy.
    Upon entering Samar, you will walk past the outside patio filled with giant canvas tents that stand above brown wicker couches and chairs covered by cream-colored cushions where guests sit around a fire pit drinking specialty cocktails, eating beside candlelit lanterns and maybe finishing off the evening with a smoke out of the hookah.  The interior is even more lavish, Moroccan-inspired, decorated with multi-colored lanterns, jewel decorations, lots of deep red tones, tiles, textures, bright colors and light.  The main dining room, where I dined, has floor to ceiling windows that look out onto Ross Avenue,  and a small tandoori bar where one can eat at while watching the food being made through an open kitchen.
    Chef Pyles (left) packs his food with bold flavors, terrific textures and fine presentations. From the Spanish-inspired menu, the
patatas y chorizo is a lush dish, topped with a fried egg and a thick slice of Hudson Valley foie Gras, and there’s also the pimientos de padrone, a mound of spicy hot “blistered” green Spanish chiles mixed with a subtle hickory smoked sea salt, a very addictive appetizer. From the Eastern Mediterranean menu, two terrific dishes  of many are the kofte lateen, fried spiced pumpkin kofte with a peekytoe crab and paddlefish caviar; and the kibbeh maa tzatziki, little crispy bulgar croquettes served with a soft golden beet tzatziki mix.
    My favorite dishes were in the Indian section, where I felt chef Pyles really nails it, creating the most genuine ethnic flavors. There are different tandoori dishes, some with hints of saffron and cumin, some made with quail, even a chicken with butter
masala served with tomatoes and fenugreek.   The tiger prawn is served over a crispy okra salad with spiced pear chutney, called the Mumbai ka badi jhinga, one of the best dishes on the menu.
    The desserts, too, are specific to all of the three featured cuisines, including a saffron-coconut rice pudding with cardamon and the Turkish coffee pot de crème.
    It would be an accomplishment for any chef to achieve the authenticity of just one of the three cuisines presented at Samar, but chef Pyles has gone one step farther and achieved excellence in all three.

Open for lunch Monday-Friday, Dinner Mon.-Sat..  Dishes range $6-$12, desserts are all $4.


614 W. Davis Street


     Not in the center of Dallas but definitely worth the drive is Bolsa, located in the Bishop Arts District of Oak Cliff. Chef Graham Dodds (below) and owner Chris Zielke who is responsible for Bolsa’a affordable Spanish-inspired wine list have created a fun, laid-back restaurant with tasty food and a Bohemian-like atmosphere.  The space was originally an auto garage in the 1940’s and has since been transformed into a restaurant with an open feel, leaving the three massive garage doors in place to offer plenty of sunshine during the day and a chic look at night. The main dining room is centered by a lively bar where cocktail enthusiasts can try one of the many specialty drinks, my favorite, the “Passion Whiskey Fizz,” made with Maker’s Mark, ginger beer and habanero-infused passion fruit. Bolsa’s cocktail menu changes seasonally and is one of the few menus that diverted me from ordering my staple Manhattan before dinner.
    Beyond the bustling bar sits an outside patio placed on the sidewalk where guests dine underneath a small wooden cover to block Texas’ hot sun. The inside is small, blanketed by white and cream tones, fitted with an open kitchen and all tables are dressed with white table clothes.
     The dishes are filled with local cheeses that change throughout the year depending on availability, terrific bruschetta and flatbread selections, and a section of the menu called market specials, all light meat and fish dishes. Chef Dodds' flatbreads are the heart and soul of the menu, some topped with fresh sausage, banana peppers and mozzarella, others with braised short rib, artichoke, red onion and feta.  Prosciutto and sliced apple pair wonderfully with crumbles of blue cheese and a drizzle of red wine gastrique. The freshness of the ingredients is obvious and has much to do with the absence of any freezer in the restaurant, a decision that Dodds stands behind and one that has worked in his favor. The menu is ever changing, all depending on local market items, but do try the braised lamb shank if available. The lamb is nicely gamy, sided by a mascarpone polenta, a reduction sauce and beet greens.  There’s a Waygu burger topped with white cheddar, bacon and special sauce; pork tenderloin is plated with dinosaur kale and truffled parsnip butter. Bolsa goes on to offer Texas Bobwhite quail, orange glazed Peking duck, and Idaho trout.
      Dodds and cast have utilized terrific local markets and sourced meats and fish from the best purveyors in Texas, a trend that many restaurants call “farm-to-table” but rarely understand of the true meaning. Bolsa’s dishes are very simple, made with minimal preparation, purely using fresh ingredients and paring them with other excellent ingredients.

Bruschetta tasting $14, all salads $8, flatbreads $12-$13, and market specials $7-$25.

To read Part One of this article, go to click here.





202 Mott Street (near Spring St.)

    There seems no let-up in new storefront eateries south of 14th Street, and Pan-American, in NoLiTa, is a very amiable place with good vibes, great color, and solid cooking that draws from all the Americas--"from Patagonia to Nova Scotia, Havana to New Orleans, the Yukon to the Yucatán, and everywhere in between"--though those of Latino style carry the menu.
    It's small, all right, with a few bar stools and a few tables all done in bright, affable colors. The wall across from the bar has an interesting pattern and texture, like Braille, lighted from below and above, shimmering with bas-relief  bubbles. Into this happy little room they pump very loud, highly intrusive music, and when I asked if it could be turned down, our waiter, who was very cordial and efficient, asked half-bewildered, "You don't like Katy Perry?" I answered, through cupped hands, "I can't hear Katy Perry; all I hear are the pounding bass and drum lines." Anyway, it's not a place you're likely to spend a long evening at, even though it's open into the wee hours of the morning.
    Our party roamed pretty much all over Pan-Am's menu, as created by
veteran restaurateur Fernando Riquelme, formerly of Mesa Grill and Danube. Creamy guacamole is made fresh to order, so you can specify your liking for seasonings. Rabo Encendido are tasty spiced oxtail-stuffed turnovers, and everyone will clamor to order the minted lamb meatballs  served with chipotle-laced yogurt. Cheese-rich queso fundido shrimp and peppery chorizo on top of melted pepper Monterey jack cheese with fresh corn tortilla chips lasted about two minutes at our table, with great relish.
    Although just a tad overcooked that night, the spicy, marinated fried chicken came as arroz con pollo with saffron rice (left).  Pork tenderloin comes in a red wine reduction with a warm apple-fennel slaw on the side.
Stuffed poblano chilies came with quinoa and Swiss chard,  and a delicious roasted cherry tomato sauce. There's a juicy churrasco steak, too, with a yuca nest and spicy chimichurri sauce that is a steal at $18. Actually all the prices are modest here, and you get a lot of food on the plate.
     Don't miss ordering the yuca fries, and there is an array of sandwiches, which are particularly good for the late night munchies.
A cocktail list is a big part of the draw here, too.  The wine list, with about 30 selections is perfectly apt for such a place as Pan-American, whose aim is to please rather than surprise, though the cooking here has flair and the whole enterprise is exceedingly good-natured.
    Desserts seem an afterthought here, but try the tres leches cake.

Lunch, Mon-Fri; Dinner, nightly; Brunch, Sat-Sun. Dinner appetizers $10-$15, main courses $18-$24.



by Christopher Mariani

A Boudin Odyssey

    After spending a few days in the soulful city of New Orleans eating at two of the famous Brennan restaurants among many other terrific post-Katrina restaurants and spending some late nights on Frenchman Street listening to live jazz while drinking a Hurricane, I wanted to see what else Louisiana had to offer, so I headed north, over the Bayou, past Baton Rouge, to Lafayette. At first sight, I wasn’t too impressed with the spread-out town, comprised of a tiny downtown with a handful of restaurants, some antique shops and few gas stations. It wasn’t until I ventured out and stumbled across the village of River Ranch in Lafayette that I became intrigued. The development in this area is mind blowing, an entire community of gorgeous mansions, small yet expensive Creole cottages, townhouses, plantation home replicas, all beautifully designed with French, American Colonial, and Spanish architectural influences. The village is home to 2,500 people and is quickly expanding its retail and dining options, creating a chic little town with tons of money, boutique stores and a much different atmosphere generated by Lafayette previously.
         In the heart of Lafayette on St. John Street sits the new location for Johnson’s Boucaniere, since 1937 one of the best boudin and barbeque spots in Louisiana. Owners Greg (right) and Lori Wall have taken over all operations of the long-standing space and continue to produce hearty and savory smoked meats, boudin sausages, beef briskets and every side dish imaginable starting with potato salad and finishing with creamy cole slaw.
    The building is small, a little walk-in area for ordering and paying, no chairs inside for dining, a medium-sized kitchen for prep and cooking, with stainless steel ovens and massive grills, and in the back, three enormous smoking ovens filled with hanging sausage, trays of beef and pork on a rotisserie, cooking in their own juices. The smell of burning wood wafts through the air around Lafayette from early morning until closing.
    Lori and Greg are a husband and wife team running the shop from start to finish with the help of just a handful of employees. They are dedicated to their craft and take immense pride in their product and reputation, and, trust me, it shows. Johnson’s offers daily sandwiches like the pulled pork po’ boy, a slow cooked beef brisket sandwich topped with homemade bbq sauce, a brisket stuffed grilled cheese, and a mixture of pork and turkey sausages served on a po'boy style bread. Or one can also purchase an entire brisket, paid by the pound, perfect for Sunday barbeques, parties or family dinners. The meat comes out and shreds off with the graze of a fork.      
    The large chunk of meat comes right out of the oven inside a pan of its own juices, the sauce almost golden brown color, covered by a black crisp outside that traps in the succulent, rich flavor that immediately permeates the room. The brisket can literally be broken apart by hand as the inside is filled with moist pink meat and layers of juicy fat that add tons of flavor. Juice drips from each bite and there is a sweet flavor to the beef that is balanced with a salty smokiness  packed into the meat over a 12- hour duration in the smoker. The boudin sausage is also smoked in the oven and shrivels slightly on the outside crisping the sausage casing and sealing in the flavor and moisture. Greg and Lori then slice the sausage in half and sear the boudin on a hot griddle and serve the meat with some house bbq or hot sauce. The pulled pork is as lush as it gets, served with the skin on and the shredded meat smothered in que sauce.
    If you’ve heard about boudin but never tasted it, it’s worth a drive up to Lafayette to get the best there is.

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to


Aged Reposados in New Bottles Try to

Push the Tequila Market Back Up

by John Mariani

    Although tequila sales quadrupled over the past decade, sales have slowed in the last two years, especially among the cheaper brands.
    Margaritas still suck up most of the tequila stock and some achieved questionable cult status a few years back, with some, like Patron Gran Burdeous, selling for $600 a bottle. But with a leveling off of sales and more than 120 distilleries pumping out more than 900 brands, a major part of marketing tequila is in the quirky bottles used, from the Aztec pyramid of Sol Dios and the folkloric Day of the Dead skull of KAH to the heart-shaped Corazon Maya and the squatting bandito ceramic jug of Pancho Pistolas.
    Mexican regulations allow a spirit to be called tequila if it contains a minimum of 51 percent agave-derived sugar, but premium tequilas, made with 100 percent pure agave, are showing modest growth, with a 1.3 percent increase in 2009 to 11.2 million cases, according to industry watchdog StateWays. Eighty percent of the total production is shipped to the U.S., and California leads all states in consumption, making it the ideal test market for new products.
     I assembled a range of reposado types, that is, tequilas aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two months but less than a year. The entry level blancos are not aged at all, while the richly flavorful anejos are aged a minimum of one year and up to three.
     On their own, reposados make for a delightful aperitif and add considerably more flavor to a margarita than a blanco, though if you insist on drinking those diluted frozen margaritas, it won’t much matter what kind of tequilas you use.  And despite the fact that almost all tequilas, including añejos, are bottled at 80 proof (40 percent alcohol), añejos certainly add their distinctive flavors to a margarita but are best sipped on their own like cognac or single malt Scotch.
     Reposados can be sipped, too, at room temperature or on the rocks, and reveal layers of flavor, a little oakiness, and fruitiness. Some are, perhaps, a bit more expensive than I expected but certainly no more than a premium vodka or bourbon.  Here are some reposados, all made from 100 percent blue agave (right), I found particularly distinctive.

($43)—This one comes in an elegant, slender blue bottle, and I liked the subtle flavors and the perfume scent of its bouquet. There’s also a nice blast of heat I got on the tip of my tongue, followed by a warming sensation throughout.

Chinaco—($60)—Chinaco’s self-proclaimed “Legacy of the Warrior Spirit” is based on a bureaucratic story of how “Guillermo González, the great-grandson of General Manuel González . . . battled against the larger distillers and successfully lobbied the Mexican government for an amendment that would allow for tequila production outside of Jalisco.” Whatever. Chinaco is made in the region of Tamaulipas, and has garnered something of a cult status. It is a pale yellow, very fruity, with distinct black peppercorn flavor on the mid-palate and a sweetness on the edge of the tongue.

Pancho Pistolas—($60) This is the one in the bottle shaped like a squatting Mexican bandit, which I’ve actually seen offered, unopened, on e-auctions as objets d’art (go figure). I didn’t expect much from such gimmickry, but this is a very good tequila, with plenty of fruity flavors and an honest bite on the back of the palate.

1800 Reposado ($23)—I’ve always liked 1800’s añejo, and its reposado delivers a good amount of flavor for a very decent price. If you’ve never had a reposado, get this one and compare it with the lighter weight blancos.

4 Copas ($60)—The name supposedly derives from an old Mexican song with the line “we shall drink four cups,” although it’s also the number of cups traditionally drunk at the Jewish Seder. Labeled as “organic,” it is aged in charred American oak, which gives it a smokiness to go with its honey-like smoothness.  This is one of the most highly regarded reposados in competitions, and it deserves its medals.

Riazul ($55)—This company’s blanco and anejo came on the market at the end of 2008 and the reposado, aged nine months (left), a year later. It is a very tasty tequilas, fresh with citrus and pineapple notes and good perfume in the nose, making it a fine choice for a margarita straight up. The marketing plan is to position it for a young, hip crowd, thus sponsoring NYC’s recent Fashion Week.

John Mariani's wine and spirits 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.



Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum plans to put on display a replica of Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper” made entirely from lint by Laura Bell of Roscommon, Michigan, who took 800 hours to do enough laundry to obtain the lint  to  make the 14-foot mural. Ripley's says it will add it to their collection, which also includes “Last Suppers”  made from a grain of rice, a dime and burned toast.



“The Michelin guide has apparently been publishing in the UK for 100 years (though not consecutively). Well it's certainly behaving like a stereotypical centenarian: gripped by the need for routine, fixed to its bath chair, smelling faintly of ointment and bodily fluids.”--Jay Rayner, on the Great Britain and Ireland 2011 Michelin guide in  The Guardian.



Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani

* From Feb. 16-25, the Tour de France Restaurant Group in NYC will host their 4th annual Winter Stinky Cheese Festival.   This 10-day long, nine-restaurant festival will showcase inventive dishes inspired by stinky cheeses, incl restaurants Nice Matin, Marseille, Café D’Alsace, French Roast (Uptown & Downtown), Le Monde, L’Express, Maison and Pigalle.  Visit

*  In February, March & April, in Phoenix, AZ, the Arizona Biltmore will host a series of “Inside the Chef’s Studio” cooking classes conducted by noted cookbook authors and leading food magazine editors. Complementing the Saturday and Sunday classes will be gourmet dinners on Saturday night hosted and the menu created by the author or editor. Classes $50 pp including the author’s cookbook; dinners $75 pp. Call 800-950-0086 or visit

* On Feb 23, Restaurant Serenade in Chatham NJ will host a game dinner with D'Artagnan owner Ariane Daguin at 7 pm. Enjoy a six-course game tasting menu featuring partridge, wild boar and venison, paired with 6 wines. $125 pp all-inclusive. Call 973-701-0303.

* On Feb 26, The Tangled Vine in NYC hosts a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society from 3pm - 6pm. Take an afternoon tour of European wines from Frederick Wildman, David Bowler and Winebow along with Mediterranean-inspired food from Chef David Seigal. $50 donation pp with 100% of proceeds donated to LLS. Call 646-863-3896.

* On Feb.28, Quartino in Chicago, IL will host a Branko Wine dinner with winemaker Igor Erzetic featuring a reception and five-course menu created by Quartino Executive Chef John Coletta.  $49 pp; call 312-698-5000 or visit

* On Feb. 28 in Santa Monica, CA,  Wilshire Restaurant and Chef Andrew Kirschner host an evening with winemakers from esteemed Paso Robles wineries, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, Thacher Winery, Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery and Treana & Hope Family Wines. The five course menu with paired wines is $85 pp. Call 310-586-1707 to reserve. . . . On Mar. 16  Chef Kirschner hosts an evening with winemaker Jean Hoefliger of Alpha Omega Wines. The five course menu with paired wines is priced at $100 pp. Call 310-586-1707 to reserve;
* On Mar. 6 in Los Angeles, CA, Chef Suzanne Goin and her business partner and sommelier Caroline Styne present their 8th Annual Cassoulet Night on at Lucques, featuring the traditional slow cooked dish of beans and meats that’s become a classic of Southern French cooking. The three course menu is priced at $45, pp. Call 323-655-6277. . . .
On Mar. 14  Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne welcome Gabrielle Hamilton, Chef/Owner of Prune  in NYC, for a special dinner celebrating the publication of Hamilton’s new memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter, The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.  Goin’s three course lamb roast dinner is $95 pp and includes a copy of the book. Hamilton will be available throughout the evening to meet guests and sign books. Call 323-655-6277 to reserve.

* On March 2, the Great American Baking Contest  will kick off Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta  Guests are invited to sample all of the original dessert entries along with wine and cheese and a silent auction. $25 pp. Tix can be purchased at or by calling 770-436-5151. All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength.

* On March 8, in Atlanta, RA Sushi will celebrate Mardi Gras with a Mardi RA Masquerade Ball featuring a costume contest for guests, a live drag show performance by The Armorettes, food and drink specials and a DJ.  The first place costume contest winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for RA Sushi, and the second place winner will receive a $25 RA Sushi gift certificate.  Call 404-267-0114;

* On March 17, Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa   in Cary, N.C., hosts its inaugural event in a series of five wine pairing events with Pasta + Wine from 6 to 8 p.m. Executive chef Scott Crawford, chef de cuisine Steven Greene and sommelier Justin Tilley’s menu features four unique pastas dishes paired with complementing wines.  $45 pp.  Call  919-447-4000;

* On March 18 &19 The 7th Annual Savor Dallas, a celebration of wine, food, spirits and the arts returns to downtown Dallas and The Arts District.  Featuring over 60 of Dallas-Fort Worth’s top chefs serving samples of their cuisine and more than 400 premium wines, spirits and imported beers, new events this year incl. a cooking class with Chef Stephan Pyles, a wine and cheese pairing session with Mozzarella Company cheese czar Paula Lambert at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, and The Ultimate Friday Night pARTY featuring the work of area artists at Gables Park 17. Individual event ticket prices range from $35 to $125 and are available at   Call 888/728-6747.


FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  THIS WEEK: When Illness or Injury Strike, How Do You Get Home?

Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio.  He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.

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).

The Family Travel Forum  - A community for those who "Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family vacations more fun, less work and better value. FTF's travel and parenting features, including reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas should be the first port of call for family vacation planners.

Family Travel Forum

                                                                    ALL YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GO

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,   John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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

My 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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