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This Week


by John Mariani

by John Mariani

East 12th Osteria
by John Mariani

by John Mariani


by John Mariani

DANIEL: MY FRENCH CUISINE by Daniel Boulud (Grand Central, $60)--Master chef has written several fine cookbooks and one memoir, but this is easily his best and most revealing, with an essay by Bill Buford. The home cook may not want to attempt many of the dishes without the help of a brigade of staff, but the recipes are more fascinating for their rigor and how they are distinguished from so much that passes for sleight-of-hand cookery these days.  Most fascinating of all are those ancienne recipes that Boulud attempts to recreate, only to find that his predecessors were extraordinarily adept at turning out dishes like coulibiac, canard à la presse, and turbot soufflé for which Boulud had to puzzle out the secrets of success with such dishes.  And he did have the help of an entire brigade.

THE NEW CALIFORNIA WINE by Jon Bonné ( Tenspeed, $35)--The unsmiling face of author Jon Bonné of the cover of this splendidly researched "guide to the producers and wines behind a revolution in taste" lets you know this is not just another paean to the mutual admiration society that so often causes marketing to trump the truth.  It's hard work out there in the vineyards, if only to keep all the players straight. Bonné's enormous respect for pioneering figures in California is not without pointed criticisms and he is very good at separating fact from myth and hype from a good story. He differentiates between the old timers and new money, the effects of the global market on decisions made in the winery rather than the vineyard.  Bonné knows his terroir and the people who work within it.  His remarks on styles of wines are critical to understanding what is happening in California at a transitional time.

INSIDE THE CALIFORNIA FOOD REVOLUTION by Joyce Goldstein with Dore Brown (U. of California, $34.95)--Lively history told by someone who was part of it always makes for the most engaging books, and award-winning restaurateur and author Joyce Goldstein certainly qualifies as one in the vanguard of a culinary revolution no one saw coming in America--and certainly not in California--that transformed the way  Americans eat.  This is a story of eccentrics, hard-nosed business people, manic egos, and the open-mindedness of young people willing to go against established traditions--if only to annoy their parents--and to come up with something new, fresh, and healthful. The book is full of personalities that include Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, Caroline Bates, Darrell Corti, Thomas Keller, and so many others who have enriched our lives with good taste and a boundless youthful energy that made everything possible.

SAN FRANCISCO: A Food Biography by Erica J. Peters (Altamira, $38)--
One might read Eric Peters' book right alongside Joyce Goldstein's and compare notes, but Peters' study focuses in on America's most dynamic food city from its earliest days, when the Spanish settled missions in the territory through the great migration of Asian immigrants to the port city.  San Francisco's energetic self-promotion in the 19th century was stopped short by the 1906 earthquake only for a heartbeat before its neighborhoods developed mini-food cultures enriched by the bounty of the Pacific and the provender of an exploding agriculture that was to fee America.  Russians, Italians, Vietnamese are all a part of the story, as well as many dishes, like sourdough bread, crab Louis, turkey Tetrazzini, and cioppino that were part of the ethnic diversity in the Bay City.

MY FAVORITE BURGUNDIES by Clive Coates (U. of California, $60)--Clive Coates, a Master of Wine, does not turn out breezy memoirs; neither does he treat his subjects in the base vernacular that passes for wine commentary these days.  His acumen is unchallenged, not least on the subject of Burgundy, his thoughtfulness provocative, and his opinions on individual wines as close to definitive as subjectivity can ever be. You can skip the reams of wine notes--the usual piling on of adjectives like "concentrated," "profound," "clumsy," "closed"--and read with far more pleasure his in-depth essays on regions and the commentaries of vintners he has known for many, many years.  Coates trods those vineyards, sniffs the air, tastes the grapes, and does much more than just blow through barrel samples at the wineries.  If you want to understand the issues whirling through Burgundy right now, Coates is the man to alert you first and foremost.

IN MEAT WE TRUST by Maureen Ogle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28)-- I'm not sure what the cover line "An unexpected history of Carnivore America" is supposed to mean, but no book on the subject has been more thorough or up to date in its assemblage of data set within a narrative that shows how American became so happily a nation of meat eaters.  It is a story of vast territories in the west tamed by individuals and of the conglomerates that later took them over, not always with any degree of fairness.  American technological genius is demonstrated throughout, explaining the movement, slaughter and distribution of American meat to market has been so amazingly streamlined for maximum economy and low prices. The battles between agronomists, farmers, academics, and politicians makes, if not engrossing reading, highly informative history.  The book is a bit of a grind, but then so is the U.S. meat industry.

by Fred Minnick (Potomac Books, $26.95)--Ask even the most committed spirits aficionado about the contributions of women to the bourbon, Scotch and Irish whiskey industry, and you'll probably draw a blank.  Minnick, an elegant writer and fastidious scholar, not only fills in those blanks but shows how women at Bushmills, Maker's Mark, and Johnnie Walker owe much of their success, even salvation, to women like Bessie Williamson, who became the head of Laphroiag Distillery and spokesman for the troubled Scotch industry. Minnick takes the reader back to the earliest days of distilling history to show women's involvement, which continued in a pretty rough-and-tumble way straight through Prohibition, like Cleo Lythgoe, known as the Queen of  the Bootleggers, who retired a millionaire.  The battle among women on opposite sides of the temperance movement is duly covered as both a sociological and theological struggle for a national identity and brings everything up to the present when many women sit at the head of spirits companies and direct their policies.

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY by Norman van Aken (Taylor, $24.95)--In a more personalized way, Norman van Aken has told the story of American cuisine's evolution as a chef's "culinary odyssey," charting how so many of the most innovative chefs of the past forty years started out as short order cooks who fell into the profession by accident and stayed on to create a revolution, in this case the so-called "New Floridian Cuisine," with colleagues like Robin Haas, Doug Rodriguez, and Mark Militello, utilizing the best so-often neglected ingredients of the South to craft dishes that were unlike any others from around the U.S.  It is a rollicking story, full of near-misses and worthwhile achievements, and van Aken tells it with gusto.

THE SARDINIAN COOKBOOK by Viktorija Todorovska (Agate, $22.95)--Sardinia is a large Mediterranean island largely forgotten in the discussion of Italy's food culture, so this cookbook is long overdue.  To a great extent Sardinian food is of peasant origins without as many cross-cultural influences as had Italy's mainland, and, being an island, Sardinia maintained an independent streak that has maintained the traditions of its food, not least in the dialectical names for it, like pane carasau, malloreddus, seadas and lampazu, with lavish use of bottarga.  The island's use of couscous is widespread and its breads emblematic.  The recipes here, with excellent headnotes, are easy to work with. The author runs a cooking school and has followed up her widely praised The Puglian Cookbook with this well-illustrated volume.

by Colman Andrews (Phaidon, $29.95)--A nicely packaged, silver-coated big book of engaging one-page essays on beloved American foods by one of America's finest food chroniclers.  Colman Andrews not only knows his stuff, he writes about it with wit and charm, as he warns about eating beignets dusted with powdered sugar: "Do not visit Cafe du Monde, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, wearing black--not, that is, if you're planning on eating something."  The selection  of 250 items seems random, including yellowfin tuna and alligator along with candy corn and chocolate mice. But it's a lot of fun and you'll learn here some culinary oddities well worth knowing, like the fact that cheese crackers were first produced at the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation in San Felipe, Texas.

GLUTEN-FREE BREAD by Ellen Brown (Running Press, $23)--"No one eating my recipes should ever say, `Not bad for gluten-free," writes the ever ebullient Ellen Brown, who, as far as I know does not maintain a gluten-free diet, nor do I. So my interest in the book was as much about how she could pull it off as it was about how broad and deep the subject really is and, for many people, how serious. So many of the recipes here are mouthwatering whatever your lifestyle--millet buckwheat bread, muesli bread, sourdough boule, parmesan shallot rounds, lavash, and so many more.  The breads look just as good in photographs as they sound, right down to the last page on maple walnut breakfast rolls. What's not to love?

A SWEET TASTE OF HISTORY by Walter Staib ( Lyons, $29.95)--The irrepressible, hard-working Walter Staib, host of the PBS series "A Taste of History," here gives us  a companion volume that demonstrates the amazing array of desserts that originated in the old colony days of America, when even a newly arrived settler could enjoy sweets unavailable back in Europe. Staib doesn't keep strictly to the time period--macadamia nuts and ricotta were not to be found in Thomas Jefferson's larder--but the spirit is all here in recipes like Johnny Appleseed's pie, Indian pudding, charlotte russe, spritz cookies, plum fool,  and sweet potato biscuits. The photos are evocative, and the historical anecdotes fun throughout.

COOKING FROM THE HEART by John Besh (Andrews McNeel, $40)--The subtitle here is "My Favorite Lessons Leaned Along the Way," and charts how his cuisine has been formed by attending to those epiphany moments culled from his mentors, many of them from the South of France, whose influences you can see and taste in the 140 recipes here, like fava bean and tomato ragôut tartines; mussel and Swiss chard soup; a "proper bouillabaisse"; and sea bass Provençal, any of which might fit into his New Orleans repertoire at his restaurants there.  The evocative illustrations and photos are exceptional, so much so that you may want to Xerox the recipes and keep the book free of sauce stains.

. . . And lest I forget. . .

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 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. a

And the Dumbest Cookbook of the Year is . . .

Eat & Ink: Recipes, Stories, Tattoos by Birk O'Halloran and Daniel Luke Holton (Adams, $30)--One might think this is a parody of contemporary foodie hipsterism but in fact this nonsensical paean to chefs who have lotsa tattoos will cost you thirty bucks to read about the zen of tattooism as related, in some weird way, to cooking good food.  Except that none of the inked chefs have anything interesting to say about the subject, like Franco Palmieri who says, "I'm just in love with the squirrel lifestyle."  There are some good recipes here, but seeing chubby chefs pulling back their sleeves to show off their  arms covered with skulls and astrological signs is not the most delectable way to sell food.



Remembering Jean Banchet
by John Mariani


The passing away of Jean Banchet this week at the age of 72 was the loss of an master chef  whose eminence in the 1970s and 1980s was of such brightness that his restaurant, Le Français—30 miles from Chicago in Wheeling, Illinois—was more than once called the finest in America.

        I knew Jean pretty well, having often been astounded by the lavish excellence of his cooking and presentations at a time when French restaurants in the USA had become stultified in both cuisine and service. His cooking was among my first introductions to the glory of haute cuisine, no matter what the cost. And you got what you paid for, which back then was about $75 per person, with wine from a dauntingly rich list, among which were some of the new impressive bottlings then coming out of California .

Banchet, born in Roanne, worked alongside many of the masters of the burgeoning “la nouvelle cuisine” in the late 1960s, including Paul Bocuse, but he saw that America had an immensely enticing culinary future and so relocated in 1968 to become chef of a Playboy resort in Wisconsin, then to open Le Français in 1973, bringing an extravagant style of cooking and service rooted in the innovative ideas of chefs like Bocuse, Roger Vergé, the Troisgros brothers, Alain Chapel, and other young men who had graduated from older kitchens where no one ever knew the name of the chef, who, working within an environment of strict class structures, maintained French classicism and ignored any thought of  changing them in any way.

    La nouvelle cuisine was heralded as breaking away from all that, but in fact, it only updated the basics of French haute cuisine, which always began with the sauces.  The new chefs added to the repertoire by incorporating new ingredients, shortening cooking times and making plate presentations—usually on exquisite Villeroy & Boch china—colorful and dramatic, with swirls and patterns of sauce drawn and dripped on the plates.  La nouvelle cuisine was often credited with lightening French cuisine, which was principally an alternative menu at Michel Guérard’s spa Les Prés d’Eugènie, but in fact most nouvelle recipes were awash in very rich beurre blanc, foie gras, and pastry cream.

    Banchet took to this style with gusto, and, with his impressive Van Dyke beard and uncommonly tanned face, he strode the dining room with a charismatic bonhomie, urging patrons—many of whom flew into Chicago just to dine at Le Français—to try something they’d never tasted before.
    I’ll never forget his lobster sausage, his array of pâtés with eight spreads, Dover sole and lobster mousse en crôute, salmon and avocado in aspic with vinaigrette and tomato coulis, and strawberry sablé.

    Everything at Le Français was over-the-top—the décor, the heavy silverware, the silver carts, and the swooping wait staff in tuxedos. Banchet loved the limelight and sharing his good fortune with his French colleagues. I remember a gargantuan meal he held in honor of Paul Bocuse and his chefs, who had flown to the U.S. for the dinner, arriving from Paris with no time to unwind before getting on a bus to Wheeling, arriving an hour later to flutes of Champagne and a recording of “La Marsellaise.”

    The printed menu had 12 courses on it, one seemingly richer than the last, and each table was set with a molded chocolate figure of Bocuse.  Things got underway late, and by the third course the French were drooping, Bocuse was rubbing his eyes to stay awake, and the evening threatened to collapse into a drowsy mistake.  Banchet, seeing the tilt of things, immediately cancelled four or five courses and, to great applause, brought the evening to a close around midnight.

Photo of Gale Gand, Paul Bocuse, Rick Tramonto, unknown chef, Jean Banchet.

    Banchet went on to open and close restaurants in Atlanta and one in Florida, but none had the cachet of Le Français, which closed, under different ownership, in 2007. But even if still around, its cuisine and style would be considered hopelessly out of synch with the gimmicks of molecular cuisine that now get the hype in Chicago.  Yet if Le Français were still around and the ebullient Jean Banchet there to lend his indomitable spirit to it, many might still consider it one of the greatest and certainly grandest restaurants in America.



by John Mariani

197 First Avenue

         The traditional lines between an Italian trattoria, osteria and ristorante have become blurred over the past decade.  A trattoria used to mean a casual, family-owned, home-style place to eat regional food; an osteria was originally a wine tavern, and a ristorante was a more upscale dining place.
    So in its handsome look, inventive cooking and highly regarded chef-owner East 12th Osteria seems too humble a name, trattoria closer, and ristorante too stiff.   It is by no means a formal Italian restaurant:  it sits comfortably on a corner of First Avenue in New York’s East Village and the décor and good lighting makes it as much a place to drop into for a glass of wine and a pasta as it is to sit down to a lavish meal, all without spending a fortune.  Just noshing on the housemade bread and grissini sticks is reason enough to come by.
         The floor is hardwood reclaimed from a 250-year-old Maine home; the brick walls and red banquettes provide warmth and color, the tilted mirrors give an illusion of spaciousness, the glass wall and sheer curtains a romantic cast, and the Gascon Stua armchairs will put you in mind of a chic new spot in Rome’s Trastevere or Milan’s Naviglia neighborhoods.
         Back in the cramped kitchen, working at a feverish pace, Chef/owner Roberto Deiaco, formerly of Armani Ristorante uptown, is breaking past all the clichés of contemporary New York Italian cooking—no thin-crust pizzas or $50 veal parm--starting with a bright antipasto of beets, broiled tomino cheese, frisée and a tangy sweet quince dressing.  The crudi here—well priced at $24—include the freshest in the market, perhaps blue fin tuna, white sturgeon or langoustines.  The big fatted sea scallop is eared and then given a benediction of white truffle shavings (below).
      Italian restaurants are, of course, defined by the quality of their pasta, and Deiaco’s are quite obviously rendered with exacting care. Pumpkin gnocchi—just right for the holidays—are lavished with a rich Gorgonzola sauce and given unexpected texture and bite from bacon and almonds.  His risotto is perfectly cooked till just tender enough to give some chew, along with radicchio and grape must, and his ricotta ravioli, delicately rolled out, is stuffed with quail’s egg with a bright green zucchini pesto sauce and truffles.
         After the pastas, a lot of Italian chefs coast, but Deiaco’s olive oil poached lobster with chick peas and escarole soars right along with what precedes it, and I loved his duck, richly flavorful, with a Champagne grape essence and a potato cake. The only disappointment of a recent evening was a veal fillet in an almond crust with apple puree and a dark beer reduction that just didn’t jibe or taste particularly Italian.
         The kitchen is putting considerable effort into its desserts—rarely a strong point in Italian restaurants—including the housemade ice creams and sorbetti and a chocolate fondant with hazelnut cream and ripe raspberries.
     At a time when so many chefs have abandoned their own kitchens in favor of self-promotion, it is wholly refreshing to see a chef working so hard on every dish for every guest throughout the night.  Whatever name East 12th Osteria goes by, it will soon be known as the place Roberto Deiaco and his wife Giselle have made entirely their own.  

East 12th Osteria is open nightly for dinner and on Sunday for brunch. Antipasti $11-$24, pastas $19-$27, main courses $22-$39.        






Pioneer of Pinot Grigio Takes a New Tack
 by John Mariani

    You can thank Livio Felluga of Friuli for two things: one, for bringing pinot grigio to the attention of the American public, and, two, for unleashing a tsunami of bad pinot grigio on the American public.
    I remember very clearly the first time I tasted Livio Felluga’s pinot grigio back in 1978 in New York. Prior to that there wasn’t a single Italian white wine I would have rated as anything more than pleasant.  Not that there was much to judge by: soave (often sold in a green bottle shaped like a fish) and verdicchio were about the only examples available.
    So I was amazed by the richness, complexity, and aromatics of the Felluga pinot grigio I tasted, as well as by its coppery color—called ramato—that made many potential buyers think the wine had gone bad.
    But Felluga’s wine was widely praised by the critics, though its production and distribution was narrow. It took American importers to capitalize on the novelty of pinot grigio—David Taub, who brought in Cavit wines and Tony Terlato who brought in Santa Margherita—both enormously successful, so much so that today pinot grigio is the top-selling Italian wine in the U.S. and U.K., with more than 600 producers making about 9 million litre cases, with 90 percent exported, principally to
the United States, Germany and UK.
    Most of them made plonk from any region of Italy the grape would grow. Thus, while Livio Felluga is still the high standard for pinot grigio, the company has focused more on its own proprietary wines, Terre Alta and Abbazia di Rozassa.
    Livio Felluga, now in his nineties, founded his winery in 1955 on the northern region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, bottling his wines at a time when most others made and sold wine in bulk. By the 1960s he was using the most advanced vinicultural techniques to prevent oxidation and to keep his wines fresh and longlived, which came to be called the “Friulian method.”
    Today the family, which includes
his children, Maurizio, Elda, Andrea and Filippo, oversees 395 acres in the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli regions (left), producing 800,000 bottles yearly, for sale in 70 countries.
    Felluga still produces a great deal of pinot grigio—and I still think it’s the best in Italy—but has broadened the vineyards with many other varietals like  pinot bianco, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc,
picolit, refosco, sauvignon blanc and friulano, as well as making red wines from refosco dal peduncolo rosso, merlot, and pignolo.
    The family is most proud of two current wines: the  single vineyard “Super Friulano” called
Terre Alte (“Highlands”, made since 1981 from a blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco, and Sauvignon Blanc, but only in excellent vintages.  It now carries the Italian wine law designation of IGT (indicazione geografia tipica.
    The other is Felluga's’s newest project, Abbazia di Rosazzo, made on the estate of an historic abbey (below) with roses, leased to the family since the 1970s. First produced in 2009, within two years the wine was awarded the prestigious designation of DOCG Rosazzo (denominazione di controllata e guarantita). The wine is a blend of historic strains of pignolo, picolit and ribolla gialla.
    After the grapes go through a cold soaking and pressing, the
must is fermented in steel tanks with Friulian yeasts, then racked into oak casks to complete the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations.
    I had occasion to sampling an array of Felluga’s wines with Andrea, 50 (right), who is in charge of the winemaking, over pizza and pasta. Upon tasting the first wine, I was brought back to that moment in 1978 when I was introduced to Felluga’s wines. These had the same degree of finesse and specific terroir that distinguished that first pinot grigio 35 years ago. What's more, I found that unlike 99 percent of all Italian white wines—and 90 percent of all white wines—the potential for aging in the Felluga wines was remarkable, with older bottlings taking on added nuance with no compromise of freshness and fruit.

Terre Alte 2011—Pale green gold, very distinctive nose, aromas of roses,  that is very identifiable as Felluga, clean with fine acid balance.

    Terre Alte 2009—More velvety, smoother, with a synergy of terroir elements.  Bottle with a screwcap for USA and UK.

Terre Alte 2008—Not as much complexity as 2009, a little pepper, quite dry, but the fruit is bright and makes this ideal with seafood and cheeses. 

Terre Alte 2007
—Very big mouthful, with grapes harvested early. A remarkable long lasting wine.

Terre Alte 2006—Very round, voluptuous showing remarkable longevity, suggesting all Felluga whites should be saved for a year or two for true maturity. 

Abbazia di Rosazzo 2011—Unusual, unique flavor unlike any other Italian white wine, with  lots of spice from malvasia, ribolla gialla, more fruit, a blend of friulano, sauvignon blanc, pinot bianco.






“The Mongolian beef is tender with a subtle kick, nestled in a pile of plump and juicy veggies, and the lemon chicken belongs nowhere near a mall food court. It’s as if the menu graduated with a double major in Chinese and International studies.”—Justin Williams, “The Melting Pot,” Cincinnati Magazine (Nov. 2013).



he WineRack is a sports bra that lets you sport up to 750ml (25 oz.) of your favorite beverage. Wear it to the movies, concerts, ball games — anywhere you can imagine. Includes a polyurethane bladder and a drinking tube long enough to route as you wish, along with an easy-to-use on/off valve to control the flow. Fits sizes 34C-D, 36A-D and 38A-C; In Black."



In last week's Virtual Gourmet I recalled that a scene (left) from the film "Kramer Vs Kramer" was filmed at Yellow Fingers in NYC.  I am informed by an eagle-eyed reader that the scene was actually shot at JG Melon (right), where a photo from the movie still hangs.

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

My latest book, which just won the prize for best book from International Gourmand, written with Jim Heimann and Steven Heller,  Menu Design in America,  1850-1985 (Taschen Books), has just appeared, with nearly 1,000 beautiful, historic, hilarious, sometimes shocking menus dating back to before the Civil War and going through the Gilded Age, the Jazz Age, the Depression, the nightclub era of the 1930s and 1940s, the Space Age era, and the age when menus were a form of advertising in innovative explosions of color and modern design.  The book is a chronicle of changing tastes and mores and says as much about America as about its food and drink.


“Luxuriating vicariously in the pleasures of this book. . . you can’t help but become hungry. . .for the food of course, but also for something more: the bygone days of our country’s splendidly rich and complex past.  Epicureans of both good food and artful design will do well to make it their coffee table’s main course.”—Chip Kidd, Wall Street Journal.


“[The menus] reflect the amazing craftsmanship that many restaurants applied to their bills of fare, and suggest that today’s restaurateurs could learn a lot from their predecessors.”—Rebecca Marx, The Village Voice.

My new book--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, 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).

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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© copyright John Mariani 2013