Virtual Gourmet

  September 25, 2011                                                                                               NEWSLETTER

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Banquet Menu from Last Chance Cafe, depicting Temperance advocate Carrie Nation, circa 1910


by Christopher Mariani

by John Mariani

by Christopher Mariani

by John Mariani


by Christopher Mariani

    I’ve traveled to just about every single island in the Caribbean for work and pleasure over the past few years and, as most of you who read my column know, I have very mixed feelings towards the entire experience. Travel is never easy -- flights are long and dealing with immigration can be a nightmare. The Caribbean islands are typically coastline paradises with little to see just less than one-mile inland. And not to say that these islands do not have amazing culture and history, but few tourists ever get a chance to embrace them while staying at resorts purposely designed to keep guests on property. And sadly, when guests do make their way off property, they tend to march into a downtown area filled with tourist shops and bars serving neon drinks and dine at American chain restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, Hooters and TGI Fridays.

This summer I had the chance to visit Bermuda for the first time in my life, and wow, was I thoroughly impressed. Before I get into the details of my stay, let me explain exactly where Bermuda is on the map. And don’t take offense this explanation, according to the Bermuda Tourism Board, most Americans have not a clue where Bermuda is. Many even believe it is part of the Caribbean.
    Bermuda lies just about 700 miles east of the Carolinas in the North Atlantic Ocean. The climate, although tropical, can become chilly in the winter months because of its high latitude. Bermuda is slightly under two hours from NYC by way of plane. Airfare is reasonable and, even during peak season, should cost you less than that to the islands of the Caribbean. A large majority of tourism comes from New York, along with massive cruise ships that spill thousands of visitors onto the island. There is also a huge influx of English tourists who make there way to Bermuda via British Airways on direct flights from London.
    Upon arrival, I exited the airport, located on the St. George side of the island and headed straight for the Beau Rivage restaurant inside the Newstead Belmont Hills Resort for a light lunch and my first taste of Bermuda’s legendary fish chowder.
    There is not a restaurant in all of Bermuda that does not serve this traditional chowder, yet each prepares it slightly differently. There is a definite competition among local restaurants for the best fish chowder in town. My favorite was served to me at Frog and Onion Pub in the Royal Naval Dockyard. Fish chowder can be made with different types of fish and shellfish, but typically consists of a flaky white fish that has been shredded and stewed within spices and fish carcasses for hours, showing some similarities to a thick bouillabaisse and a resemblance to New Orleans’ famous turtle soup. When served, the chowder is topped with a splash of sherry and best washed down with a cold beer.
    The other big rivalry in Bermuda is over who makes the best rum swizzle. The rum swizzle is dark rum mixed with some type of fruit punch -- some sweeter than others; some frozen -- all deceivingly strong and meant to increase one’s desire to dance. I couldn’t tell you how many rum swizzles I drank while in Bermuda, but I can tell you I do prefer Bermuda’s other staple cocktail, the dark and stormy, made with Gosling’s dark rum and Barritts Ginger Beer. The dark and stormy, when made correctly, might easily be one of the most perfect drinks ever created. This mixture often gets a bad reputation in the States because bartenders (or should I say “mixologists”…what a joke!) use low-grade rum and poor ginger beer (not to mention the proportions are usually off).
    Back to the story, after lunch it was off to the Fairmont Hamilton Princess for check-in where I got my first glimpse of Bermuda’s ever popular knee high socks and khaki shorts combination. The fashion style took a bit getting used to but added a nice island charm to the overall experience. I was staying on the Gold Lounge floor where complimentary snacks and breakfast are served daily as part of the upfront cost for the room. The resort is stunning and showcases British refinement rarely found in island resorts. The rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished.           That evening I dined at one of the Hamilton’s restaurants, Harley’s, set outdoors, where I enjoyed lots of good wine, ate great seafood and gazed out onto the water as the sky turned from light blue to pink and finally black with speckles of bright stars that splattered the night sky. After dinner I walked down the road and finished off the evening with a cocktail or two at a well-known hangout called Flanigans.
    The following morning I woke up early and jumped into a cab heading towards the Royal Naval Dockyard where we toured the Maritime Museum, filled with tons of old canons and naval gear perched high above the sea cliffs pointing out towards the sea. It was a beautiful day and although the museum was wonderful, I needed some time in the sun. I stopped for a quick bite at Frog and Onion Pub where I was served the best fish chowder during my visit to Bermuda.  I also ordered the Thursday lunch special, “Pig and Whistle,” oven roasted baby pork ribs smothered in a sweet and tangy barbeque sauce, sided by a tall mound of thick cut fries. Every last morsel of swine was washed down with a tart margarita before heading to Bermuda’s notorious Horseshoe Bay BeachFest.
    Horseshoe Bay, one of many scenic beaches on the island, is a gorgeous strip of beach surrounded by giant rock formations that some of the brave locals and even courageous drunk tourists jump off from into the shallow water below. The beach party is full if music, food and an endless supply of rum swizzle. Performances from local bands set the party off as most attendees settle in with chairs and umbrellas, only to rise for an occasional dip into the cool water. We left in the afternoon but heard the party lasted long into the night, maybe even the morning.                 After a brief siesta at the Fairmont Hamilton, it was off to dinner at Coconuts, inside The Reefs hotel. The food could use a bit of refinement but the view was one of the best I’d seen all weekend. Coconuts sits about twenty-five feet above the private hotel beach and looks out onto the glistening blue ocean. They also offer a handful of tables for couples to eat directly on the sand. Notable dishes include the pan-fried scallops served with pulled pork and a side of warm homemade corn bread; and the tandoori-dusted coconut shrimp skewers. If you like ice cream sandwiches, do not miss chef Nuni’s, made with double chocolate chip-overstuffed cookies, a chocolate glaze, vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce. It is big and it is good. 
    The following morning was Bermuda’s annual cricket Cup Match, the real reason I was in town. Upon showing up, the stadium was booming with noise as music played while the crowd cheered and the air horns blared with every point scored. Partygoers were everywhere, representing their team by wearing either red, blue or some combination of both colors. Bermuda’s Cup Match showcases the biggest rivalry on the island, St. George versus Somerset. All businesses shut down because everyone is at the game. The stadium was packed, the drinks flowed freely and there was every type of seafood imaginable being sold, as long as it has been deep-fried and topped with hot sauce. I spent most of the afternoon walking around, meeting people, trying new drinks and occasionally watching the game, simply because I have no idea how cricket is played.
    In the far corner, there is a giant white tent set up where Hook and Anchor is played for the entire Holiday weekend. Hook and Anchor is the only legal gambling allowed on the island, so trust me, people splurge and take advantage. There is no real thought or technique to the game; it is simply a game of luck. After a few rolls of the dice I called it quits and headed back towards the party tent to say farewell to some friends. I didn’t last all afternoon but I heard the party did not end until late into the evening.
    That night I checked into the Fairmont Southampton and had the best meal of my weekend at the Waterlot Inn, the only true steakhouse on the entire island. Waterlot offers three different USDA Prime cuts of steak along with a selection of other top quality meats. I was surprised to see such excellent cuts at an island restaurant. Waterlot Inn’s food was of the quality found at some of NYC’s finest steakhouses. I was impressed and happy to find that the locals and tourists were educated about such products and that they were willing to pay such high prices for them. If you are looking for an upscale restaurant to dine at, a huge step up from the typical Bermudian seafood hangouts, you must try the Waterlot Inn.
    The next day I was heading back to NY on early flight. Getting through airport security was a breeze and my flight took off on time. Just two hours later I was back in NY, before noon, with a great tan and most of the day to do as I pleased. After visiting Bermuda, I doubt I will ever take the time to fly father south to the Caribbean again. There really is no comparison. The Bermudians are friendly, their island is gorgeous, their beaches are clean and, best of all, the travel to Bermuda is quick and easy.  



by John Mariani

  17 West 19th Street (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)                                                                               


    The Flatiron District is quickly becoming a mini-Little Italy for the number of Italian restaurants opening around it--A Voce, Eataly, Ciano, and others--and Zio is one of the newest, here on 19th Street since June.  Entrepreneur Darren Berman, Chef Massimiliano Convertini, and Roberto Manfe have long and disparate experience in running good restaurants in Manhattan, and Chef "Max," from Ostuni in Southern Italy, brings in flavors and dishes not found everywhere else in town, best appreciated with his "Tavolo di Max" tasting menus.
    It's a big place--175 seats in all, with 100 in the dining room and 35 in the private party Vineyard Room, all of them obviously convivial by the looks of guests having a very good time and eating so well. The bay windows open onto the open kitchen, and the whole place is done in warm tones of brown and terra cotta, maize and off white colorings, with soft spotlights in the ceiling and a lovely mural of the Italian countryside.  Messrs. Berman and Manfe do their best to visit all the tables and make sure you're having a good time, although the service staff, especially the busboys, can be intrusive or ill informed.
    The pizzas here are grilled--just three varieties, which is ideal as far as I'm concerned, and I very much enjoyed the "al crudo" version with prosciutto, stracchino cheese and arugula. Zio is a place where you could easily just feast on the unusual antipasti and be full and happy.  On my visit I tasted lightly seared lamb carpaccio (right)--quite unusual--with poached ripe pears, arugula, truffled pecorino, and the soft crunch of pistachios. Riso al salto--a dish you almost never find on NYC Italian tables--was terrific, a crsip rice pancake scented with saffron, lavished with rich bone marrow and a gremolata sauce, a dish I will always order here in the future. Just as delicious was a baked eggplant torta with smoked mozzarella, lusciously compact and intense in all its flavors.
    There are nine pastas on the menu, ranging from very good pappardelle, also with saffron, in a well-braised lamb ragù; the fat tubes called paccheri with baby shrimp, roasted eggplant and fresh mint puree, a dish that shows off Che Max's Southern background. Lobster ravioli (below), so often elsewhere a mushy mess, here had the real character and texture of lobster in a tender pasta wrapping, luxuriating in butter and lemon zest sauce--a lovely, sumptuous dish.
    For entrees I recommend  beautifully cooked black hake wrapped with sheets of potato and accompanied by roasted caulflower, clams and a lobster reduction. If you're up for meat, you can't do better than an almond-crusted rack of lamb with Swiss chard ravioli in a goat's cheese and sage fondue.
    Very little on Zio's menu is to be found on any Italian restaurant menus nearby or elsewhere in Manhattan. The same goes for the desserts, which include tiramisù that gets a Kahlua sauce, Italian donuts filled with apple compote and a vanilla sauce; and a caramelized fennel tart with Sambuca gelato and caramel sauce, for which you'll need something of a tolerance for anise flavors. And if you ask Mr. Manfe for the kind of espresso he'd make for himself, you'll get a good one.
    Zio--which means "uncle"--is quite a cool hot spot but its familial feeling of taking good care of you and feeding you dishes you'll recall as specific to the restaurant make this unique right now in the Flat Iron neighborhood.

Zio is open for  Brunch:  11:30 am – 4:00 pm (Weekends), Lunch: 11:30-4:00pm (Weekdays), Dinner: 4:00pm- 11:00pm (Daily); PRICE RANGE: Brunch: $11 - $23; Lunch: $12 - $36; Dinner: $18 - $40.


by Christopher Mariani

Friday Night Cooking

    Two nights ago, I cooked a very special, seafood-inspired dinner for my girlfriend. It was a three-course meal, starting with mussels served in a pool of coconut and saffron broth, followed by linguine with white clam sauce, and finally, two steamed 3-pound lobsters sided by hot, melted, sweet butter.
    If you live in Westchester County, there is nowhere else to go for fresh seafood than Cosenza’s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Cosenza’s sits just down the street from the famous Mike’s Deli and is the only place I will go for seafood. If you like Italian food and enjoy cooking, visit Arthur Avenue for the best ingredients possible. Depending on what you are looking for, here is where to go: Mike’s Deli is the place to go for fresh mozzarella, sliced prosciutto and any and all cured meats. Biancardi’s is the last real butcher I know of in the area and offers the best cuts possible; entire lambs and carcasses hang in the display window. Biancardi’s is the last of a dying breed. Just next-door is the Madonia Brothers bakery, where you will find everything from Italian bread to pastries. The aroma of freshly baked goods permeates the entire street and is impossible to avoid. And then there is Cosenza’s. Ask for Joe or John to help you out.
    I picked up two pounds of Canadian-cultivated mussels, a pound of clams and two 3-pound lobsters that Joe yanked out of the tank for me just before placing in a thick, sturdy plastic bag. After paying and saying “ciao” to Joe, I was off to the Modonia Brothers bakery for a nice loaf of Italian bread, which I would later slice, and then sauté in olive oil and butter. My final stop was to Mike’s Deli for a ball of warm mozzarella cheese just to have around the house.

    When I returned home, I placed all the seafood in the fridge and cleaned off the table before setting up plates, silverware, two wine glasses and a few candles. No plastic is allowed on this table! If you are going to serve great food, do it right and do it with class.
    Then I put on my apron, made myself a tall Negroni and started my prep work. I chopped up tons of garlic, shallots, pre-measured the coconut milk and placed all my pots and pans on the stove. And so our seafood extravaganza began.
    After putting on some Diana Krall, I tossed the garlic and shallots into a pot of oil while heating up the water for the pasta course. The kitchen was instantly filled with the tantalizing perfume of sizzling garlic. After sautéing the Italian bread in olive oil and butter, I dusted the bread with a sprinkle of sea salt and placed them in the oven to stay warm. Next, I added a little coconut milk and a touch of saffron to the pot, and then tossed in the mussels and threw a lid on top, steaming them for a few minutes. Our first course was served as I popped a bottle of pinot noir and poured out two glasses. Every last drop of the broth was lapped up with the sautéed bread and things were going well based on Katrina’s smile.
    Next course was the linguine with white clam sauce.  I started sautéing more garlic (you can never use enough garlic when making this dish) and then added some extra virgin olive oil and white wine. Once the alcohol had burned off, I mixed in the clams and cooked them for about five minutes before adding the linguine. Some recipes recommend you chop the clams, but when you have great clams, leave them whole. Once served, I poured a little more wine and enjoyed the garlicky linguine. The leftovers were eaten for lunch just before writing this article.
    For the grand finale, I opened the fridge and pulled out two live lobsters with their tails flapping wildly. I placed them in the sink as the water came to a boil. Granted, lobsters are not cheap (approximately $13 a pound), but if you ever want to splurge, live Maine lobsters are the way to go. Don’t waste your time or money with those mushy frozen lobster tails from the supermarket that generally are of the lowest grade lobster. Once the water was boiling, I tossed in the lobsters and steamed them for about eighteen minutes. Two to three pound lobsters should be cooked for 15-20 minutes, never more. Once cooked, I pulled those beautiful lobsters out and placed them on my wooden cutting board where I cracked open their claws and cut open their tails to pull out the tender white meat. We ate every section of both lobsters and dipped each bite into a yellow pool of melted butter. Life can be very good at times.
    After a lengthy clean up and another glass of wine, I opened the freezer and pulled out a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Mint Chip ice cream. We even indulged in a little chocolate syrup. It was Friday, and we had all the reason in the world to celebrate.
    I cook often because I enjoy it. There is absolutely no greater pleasure than cooking and eating with the one you love over a nice bottle of wine. The following morning I made popovers and French style eggs, but that’s for another article.

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Esoteric Grapes Make Roussillon Wines a Puzzle

by John Mariani

Roussillon Paysages Terrassous

    Variety may well be the spice of life, but when a tiny wine region in France produces nine different white varietals and six red from 15 different grape varietals, it’s easy to see why the wines of Roussillon are both unfamiliar and confusing to wine lovers outside the region itself.  You really have to ask directions: If you’ve traveled in northeastern Spain and Andorra and crossed the Pyrenées-Orientales, you may have visited Roussillon, set in an arc on the Mediterranean, a region battled over for centuries by Spain and France, the latter finally gaining control of the area in 1659.
Grape vines here date back to the ancient Greeks, and legend has it that in 217 B.C. deserters from Hannibal’s army stayed behind in the region to become farmers and vignerons.  By the late Middle Ages Roussillon’s sweet Vin Doux Naturel liqueur was much admired.
As elsewhere in the French countryside, most of the wines of Roussillon rarely rose above the level of mediocrity and were often blended with bolder, higher alcohol North African wines. Few vintners knew exactly what vines were growing in which vineyard after a millennium of cross-pollination.
Back in 1977 the then authoritative Alex Lichine’s New Encyclopedia of Wines  & Spirits declared that the only Roussillon wines “of outstanding character” were sweet and fortified with brandy.
Only in the 1930s were the better wines classified. In 1977 Cotes du Roussillon and Cote des Roussillon Villages were given A.O.C.s (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), though under EU rules, the wines are being labeled AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegée). Today the region’s 4,500 growers, many part-timers, produce two percent of French wine by volume, with 75 percent made by cooperatives.
Adding to the difficulty of pinning down Roussillon’s wines are its wide range of soils of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, with various regions rich in granite, limestone, iron, sand, salt, and clay. The climate is dry in summer, rainy in autumn and spring.
   Aside from the more esoteric varietals like macabeu, lladoner pelut, and tourbat, Roussillon produces wine from more widely propagated grapes like grenache, marsanne, muscat d’Alexandrie, cinsault, syrah, and mourvèdre. These are those most likely to be found in wine stores outside of the region. U.S. importers seeking inexpensive French wines have shown increased interest in Roussillon.
A sampling of a range of Roussillon wines showed that they are at their most attractive with food, not least summer dishes from the grill.  You would not be criticized if you thought some of the reds were Spanish, for there is bright fruit and depth in the bottlings, and what they lack in complexity, they make up for in body.

A 2008 Domaine Cabirau Côtes du Roussillon Malgre les fonctionnaires (“in spite of the civil servants”) was inky in its color, and, at 14.5 percent alcohol, a very big red wine indeed, based on a blend of 70 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah, and 10 percent carignan.

Walden Côtes du Roussillon has won acclaim as one of the newcomers to the region, stressing the most modern winemaking techniques and committed to keeping its prices low. Indeed, the 2007, at $15, is a real bargain, with a solidly knit combination of rich fruit and acid, with a big 14.5 percent alcohol. It is a cliché to call any wine a “food wine,” but this one really comes alive next to a slab of beef.  By the way, the name Walden was inspired by Walden Pond in Massachusetts, where nature philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived and worked.

    Lower in alcohol at 13 percent, Château de Jau 2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages ($12) was more velvety, deep and dark and with the full flavor of four varietals—45 percent syrah, 30 mourvedre, 15 carignan, and 10 grenache. The estate dates to the 12th century, since 1974 owned by the Daure family, and there is a restaurant here, Le Grill, that would make an ideal place to drink the family’s wines. They recommend this wine with a pot au feu or blanquette de veau.

    I also enjoyed two whites in my sampling, a grenache blanc-based 2009 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon ($11), which had a very perfumed, floral nose and a grassiness similar to a sauvignon blanc. Gerard Bertrand Muscat O 2010 ($11) shows why this varietal—actually two: muscat of Alexandria and muscat petit--has long been the most favored in the region. Made from low grape yields, the juice stays on the lees for a while to develop body and intensity. At 10 percent alcohol, it is an extremely easy to drink white wine as an aperitif or with shellfish.

    By the way, if you’ve ever dreamed of owning a wine estate in France, Roussillon may be a good bet. According to the owners of Walden, land is “dirt cheap, one of the least expensive in the world” and has the “highest percentage of old vine stock than any wine region in France,” where “bad vintages are rare.”


John Mariani's 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.


After visiting NYC's Hustler Club, customer W.A. Ilg brought suit, saying he was "wrongfully served plaintiff excess alcoholic beverages such that plaintiff was no longer capable of conducting financial transactions. . . Thereafter, defendant wrongfully charged $28,109.60 to plaintiff's credit card" just for alcohol. This is the second time the club was sued: Last year, a Delaware man, Gerard Wall, said he suffered a 90-minute memory  gap and found a $21,000 charge on his credit card after having two drinks, and was then  "was approached by a dancer, who invited him to have a private lap dance in a separate room" for $300.  The next thing he knew we woke up in a car that hired by the club to drive home.  The Hustler Club denied any wrongdoing in the Wall case, citing his "culpable conduct."


A NYC inspector for the Michelin Guides tweeted, "What an incredible dinner
at Le Bernardin last night. The best in years," despite the restaurant's
being closed for vacation. 

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

My new book, How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan) 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, Gotham Bar & Grill, 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."  THIS WEEK:

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

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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.

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