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  AUGUST 3, 2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By Andrew Chalk


LONDON, Part Two
By John Mariani

         Oscar Wilde once cautioned that one should never criticize society because only those who can’t get into it do that.  So it is with hotel dining rooms, whose critics have probably not eaten in one in the last twenty years and who are wholly unaware that some of the finest restaurants in every major city are in hotels.
         I need only list three or four to prove the point: Jean-Georges in  New York, Georges V in Paris, Anna Sacher in Vienna and De Pisis in Venice.  But London, more than any other city, seems blessed with an exceptional number of very fine restaurants located in very fine hotels, including Helene Darroze at The Connaught, Quilon at 51 Buckingham Gate, and Nobu at the Metropolitan.
         A recent visit to London confirmed my contention after dining at the restaurants in both the Mandarin-Oriental and the Intercontinental hotels.  Each has a restaurant that is not only of the highest quality but also had managed to win over both the very twee and usually bitchy London food critics and hungry public that translates to packed houses every night.
      The Mandarin-Oriental (right) chain has clearly upped the ante for luxury in the hotel industry, in the case of their London property by taking over a fanciful Victorian building whose 169 rooms overlook Knightsbridge and which is very convenient to the V&A Museum, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Green Park.  The rooms are, in a word, sumptuous. Every surface, chair, bedspread, towel, and carpet is extra thick with luxurious fabrics and the rooms, with miles of white marble, are all very quiet within a city whose noise can often try one’s nerves.
         There are two outstanding restaurants in the hotel, one Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which I reviewed last year.  The other is an offshoot of New York’s Bar Boulud, only larger and more convivial.  Instead of one long room as in NYC, the London version begins with a welcome at the commodious zinc-topped bar--they make excellent cocktails--and open kitchen (below); then there is a dining room and a counter where you may feast on charcuterie. 
    International chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud has brought in from NYC Chef Dean Yasharian, who maintains a well-established link to French charcuterie master Sylvain Gasdon to produce the quality of artisanal sausages, pâtés and terrines Boulud ate while growing up in Lyon--fromage de tête, joué de porc, compotée de lapin, pâté grand-mère, pâté de campagne aux foies de volaille, saucisson cuit à l’ail, pâté en croûte, saucissons Lyonnais, and much more. You'll find none better in London.
         So, ordering a charcuterie platter  (
16-32) is requisite here, accompanied by a sturdy French regional wine from a first-rate list. After finishing off our selection of cured meats (right), my guest and I ordered a fine sole limane  (28), roasted on the bone, with a rich brown butter sauce laced with lemon and capers.  Also, a rack of lamb with a kofta meatball of ground lamb with rhubarb confit, Israeli couscous and pomegranate jus (28); accompanying these main courses were sweet minted peas (4) and buttery pommes lyonnaise (4).
         I am always weak in the face of île flottante (
7), here steamed and served with blood orange and Grand Marnier anglaise.  I also enjoyed the rhubarb and green apple tart (8) with a ginger tuile and mascarpone-rhubarb ice cream.
         In keeping with the hotel’s sumptuousness, the food at BB has its own marvelous heft, characteristic of the best French bourgeois cooking, which means no one leaves hungry or unhappy.

Bar Boulud is open for lunch and dinner daily;
the restaurant will be closed for vacation Aug. 18-31.

         In an entirely different style, no hotel in London has a finer view of Hyde Park than the Intercontinental on Park Lane, so book a room on that side of the building (below). Unlike so many of its established competitors, the “IC” has gone very modern, very sleek, very, well, intercontinental.  So, if the lobby doesn’t reek Olde London, it impresses by spaciousness and efficiency, from the opening of the door to the amiable reception at the front desk and concierge’s post.  The commodious rooms are in the same mode and, as much as possible, take full advantage of London’s light.
         Off the lobby is the handsome and equally modern Theo Randall dining room (below), whose name does not suggest that this is one of London’s finest Italian restaurants (which London hasn’t as many of as you might expect).  The eponymous chef has good breeding: he worked for several years at the beloved River Café on the Thames, then spent a year at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, both totems representing the very best and the very simple.  Randall plates his food with a bit more lavish presentations, but essentially he’s out after the flavors of the main ingredients, whether in the unstintingly fresh carpaccio of branzino (
16) with a touch of marjoram and chili or pan-fried squid (14) with cannellini beans, a whiff of anchovy, and chopped arugula.
e fries zucchini lightly and crisp, and his focaccia comes puffy and warm to the table.  Excellent pan-fried scallops with lentils  (
19) carried too much freight from anchovies, the Italian spring vegetable agretto, capers and sage.
        The pasta lessons learned at the River Café have been applied here to delicate ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, arugula, borage and ricotta glossed with butter and sage (
13/19; half or full portion), and to simple fresh linguine with Dorset blue lobster with violet artichokes (23/34). Cappelletti are stuffed with slowly braised veal and pancetta for a salty edge, served with mousserons and porcini (14/21).
         Wood-roasting lends wonderful but subtle flavor to meaty turbot with roasted red peppers and Swiss chard simply glazed with olive oil at the end (
36).  I found the squab on bruschetta with peas, mint and pancetta (34) the epitome of good Italian cooking, with nothing to disguise the deep flavors of the ingredients.  A bit disappointing—at least to an American palate reared on American beef--was a too lean Aberdeen beef fillet with carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and fennel (36).
         Desserts are as admirably conceived, including a lemon tart made with lemons from Amalfi (
8); a warm almond tart with strawberries and crème fraȋche (8); and fabulous chocolate and roasted hazelnut ice cream (7) that I wish they packaged and sold by the gallon.
         Theo Randall shows himself a gentleman chef with an Italian soul, and his namesake restaurant is more civilized than most new entries in London right now.

Monday - Friday Lunch 12:00pm - 3:00pm; Dinner 6:00pm - 11:00pm; Saturday
Dinner 6:00pm - 11:00pm

       Quickly gentrifying East London has been getting a few restaurants enticing enough to bring Central Londoners out there, and one of the big draws is the casual but very serious Clove Club in the Shoreditch Town Hall.  Seasonally driven, chef-partner Isaac McHale, who began CC as a pop-up eatery atop a parking garage, offers two rooms and two options. In the restaurant and kitchen  (right) you are served a tasting menu at
55 (with paired wines 40); mine was eleven small courses. In the bar the menu is more à la carte.  The staff ranges from the extremely attractive and affable to the dreary and overbearing.
         I found most of what I was served exciting and delicious, and when it wasn’t, it was the result of an eccentric streak, as  evidenced by a combo of lamb with monk’s beard and wild seaweed sauce, a marriage made not in heaven but on a whim at the seashore.
  But that oddity was a rarity in my meal. Radishes with black sesame and kim chee-like gochuchang was revelatory, and, while messy to eat in one gulp, the “Black-headed Gull’s Egg” with buckwheat, celery and lovage seemed sensuously decadent, and there was much to like about Scottish blood pudding with “overripe” pear puree, and a “flamed” sashimi of mackerel with rhubarb, turnip and toasted oats for texture.  The only head-scratcher was a morsel of buttermilk-fried chicken with pine salt that was oddly not in the least (the way any home cook in Alabama would make it).
         Dessert was equally innovative, with black pepper ice cream and Amalfi lemonade.
        So, Clove Club is worth the trip, mainly because its food is not  the kind you’ll find closer to the city’s center. And the price is certainly right. McHale is not likely to tone things down in his cooking, but I hope he won’t go all modernist and molecular on us.

Dinner - Monday - Saturday; Restaurant - 6pm - 10 pm; Bar - 6 pm - 10.30 pm; Lunch - Tuesday - Saturday
12 Noon - 2:30 pm.

    I mentioned that London is not rich in first-rate Italian restaurants, although they keep popping up like daisies.  And most try in one way or another to imitate the immensely successful River Café on the Thames in Hammersmith.  Opened by Ruth Rogers and the late Rose  Gray in 1987 as a kind of canteen for the staff in the design building it occupies, The River Café was immediately recognized as something completely new in London—an Italian restaurant that tried hard to be wholly traditional via a cucina rustica that aimed at simplicity and flavor first and last.

    So popular is the Café that its guests are overwhelmingly  devoted regulars who all seem to know each other.  Whenever I’ve be fortunate enough to dine there, it’s been with one of those regulars who attends lunch every Sunday afternoon as if it were mandatory Mass,  year round, and throughout those meals half the people in the room are greeting the other half.   And they all seem to know the young, amiable staff, calling them by their first names, trusting them as to what’s special for the day.

    The food is, more or less, northern in style, with a lot of items from Liguria, without neglecting southern regions when the ingredients demand. The menu changes pretty much daily and very much seasonally, so that on my last trip in June, there was Devon crab with grilled, marinated and raw tomatoes,  with a light aïoli and  purslane (£20) and plump Scottish langoustines seared with capers and wild oregano and  served with bright yellow zucchini flowers.  No one resists the breads.

Pastas are all made in house, delicate and clearly produced only in daily quantities, which make the ravioli exceptionally light, with girolles, creamy ricotta, thyme, butter and parmigiano (£19), and tagliarini with sweet small vongole clams, yellow tomatoes, a shot of dried chili and fresh summer marjoram (£20).
Main courses are just as simple, from turbot tranche wood roasted with salted anchovy, rosemary and  red wine vinegar, accompanied by fresh borlotti beans (£39) to a whole wood-roasted Anjou pigeon with girolles, thyme and roast potatoes (₤37).
    The Café’s gelati and sorbetti (two for ₤8) are among the best in London, very close to the best I've had in Italy,  and the desserts (£10) look like pictures in an English nursery rhyme, including an almond tart with fresh strawberries or a fine English summer pudding.
    The dining room, despite a fire not too long ago, hasn’t changed much in all these years, still the long, bright convivial spot it’s always been, still sort of canteen-like, with a wide open kitchen and a window wall overlooking a backyard that at the moment is where everyone wants to sit.  Children run on the grass, dogs romp, and the river Thames flows beyond.
    It might be too much to say The River Café is the best restaurant in London, but in its unassuming way and for its continued reliance on the most cherished principles of Italian cookery, it is surely the most treasured.


The River Café is open for lunch and dinner daily.








By John Mariani

239 West Broadway (between White and Walker Streets).
212 219 2777


        Were I to list the most important, as well as influential, restaurateurs of the past 30 years, Drew Nieporent’s name would be pretty close to the top.  The man is a born host, gregarious, scrappy, gossipy and very serious about his food and wine.
        I might as easily hail Nieporent for his charity work as for his restaurants--
raising $1 million for the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, benefit dinners for Citymeals-on-Wheels, and much more that earned him the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2000 from the James Beard Foundation.  But in the world of gastronomy, Nieporent--whom I’ll call Drew from here on--and his Myriad Restaurant Group are counted as one of the most innovative in the industry.
        It all began with a restaurant called Montrachet, which opened three decades ago 
in TriBeCa on an unlighted, cobblestone street with more cracks than surface, back then a no man’s land not so much because it was dangerous but because it was nowhere.  What Drew did with Montrachet, with a loan from his mother and the talents of his first chef, David Bouley, was to throw light on West Broadway by opening up a moderately priced French restaurant that won immediate media acclaim and became one of the must-go places that influenced so many to follow.
        Myriad went on to open the first Nobu, then more of them, and its TriBeCa Grill is still counted among New York’s most iconic restaurants.  There were some missteps along the way: overexpansion in obscure locations like Telluride, and some catty feuds with his chefs.
        As crowds waned at Montrachet, Drew re-invented it as Corton, also much praised for chef Paul Liebrandt’s highly creative cuisine, but too cerebral for too many people.  So Drew closed it again, and, with partner John Winterman, re-opened as Bâtard (all the restaurant’s names have referred to Burgundy), with Austrian
-born Markus Glocker, formerly chef de cuisine at NYC’s Gordon Ramsay at The London, as well as Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and Restaurant Steirereck in Vienna. The crowds are again building.  The more things change the better they now are at Batârd.
John Winterman, Drew Nieporent, Markus Glocker

    Not too much has been done to the premises, although several tables--and all the tablecloths--have been removed. The minimalist, unadorned bas-relief walls have a golden shimmer and the lighting is excellent. I’d only love to have a small pot of highly colorful flowers on the naked tables.  And it is loud (that is under current consideration).
        What's also changed, to everyone’s delight, are the prices, now a very reasonable $55 for
two courses, $65 for three and $75 for four.  (By comparison with restaurants in Bâtard’s league, the main courses alone at Gotham Bar & Grill run $36-$52; at Gramercy Tavern the three-course menu is $92; at Dovetail, four courses run $88.)  And while the wine list has been whittled down a bit, it’s still formidable and very well priced, especially for some Burgundies they’ve had a for a long while that you won’t find easily at these prices.
       With my party of four, I ranged over a menu of just the right size--eight starters, seven main courses, plus a couple of specials--from a lovely chilled pea soup with unexpected and delicious slivers of fluke, braised shallots and salsify crumble to Octopus pastrami with braised 
ham hock, Pommery mustard and new potatoes, which shows off a bit of Glocker’s Austrian heritage.  Lobster was perfectly cooked, served with green asparagus, zucchini blossom, and citrus rind, while Parmesan-drenched risotto was properly tender, perked up with pickled sunchokes, garbanzo beans and lovage.
        Apparently a big hit, and for good reason, “rabbit flavors of bouillabaisse” with saffron ravioli, turnips, carrots and a sauce rouille is just novel enough to applaud and classic enough to acknowledge.  Viennese tradition comes into charming play with Glocker’s crisp and buttery baby chicken schnitzel with potato salad, the tubers cooked in lovage-infused veal stock.
        Lamb for two is indeed generous enough for a couple ($15 supplement), plated as a generous roasted rack, shoulder confit, crispy lamb bacon, fava beans and tangy lemon, arriving in a Creuset ramekin.
        For your third course you must decide between a superb selection of perfectly ripe cheeses or four desserts, all of them very good, from Key lime pie with a buckwheat crust, cilantro and herbal ice cream to a caramelized milk bread with fennel yogurt, strawberries and brown butter ice cream. The banality of all those dense Black Forest cakes of the past is here redeemed with a rich, moist chocolate sablée, kirsch chantilly, Bing cherries.
        If the restaurant at 239 West Broadway needed redemption, Drew Nieporent certainly hasn’t.  He remains not just vital to New York’s restaurant scene but at this point has achieved the station of an elder who still has much to tell those flailing about in mere novelty about the true excellence in maturity.

Bâtard is open Tuesday through Saturday.




PROSECCO--The Pursuit of More Individualistic Wines

By Andrew Chalk

    Twenty years ago the entire sales of Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine, in the United States market amounted to less than 500 cases a year. Last year sales exceeded two million cases and that was up 27% from the previous year. This is a category that we love, but why? What is it that makes Prosecco so popular?
    I tried to throw some light on that recently when Prosecco producer Mionetto sent me samples of five of their wines, from simple and inexpensive to pricier examples near the top of their line. It is fitting that Mionetto should do this as they were the producer that first shipped Prosecco in volume to the USA (in 2000).
    For most of its existence here, Prosecco has been popular for two things: its competitive price versus the best known sparkling wine, Champagne (from the homonymous region in France), and as a mixer to make the Bellini cocktail. While giving the wine publicity, neither role promoted the wine as a first-class style of sparkling wine in its own right.
    Prosecco has also changed over time, making it harder to pin down hallmarks as easily as one can do for Champagne. United States troops marching up Italy during the second world war and postwar travelers in the area prior to 1960 would have found Prosecco to be a sweet wine (like modern day Asti Spumante from Piedmont). How it came to take on the modern-day dry character is somewhat hard to fathom, but better production techniques are considered an important part of the transition.
    In the process, Prosecco began to spring up from areas of Italy outside the original production area of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. In fact, some of it came from outside Italy. The original producers decided to protect the Prosecco name as a designated production area and to phase out the use of the word to describe the predominant grape used to make the wine. That became standardized as Glera and the classical production areas obtained DOCG status with tighter yield standards. There was a renewed focus on quality. The range of wines that Mionetto produces is a product of that, and the fact that they sent out the range to the media indicative of their desire to publicize that fact.
    I gathered five private collectors, all of a skeptical cast of mind, at Momo’s Italian Kitchen (a good Italian restaurant that is also BYOB), to taste through the Mionetto wines on their own and accompanying a variety of food. We tasted the wines in order of (what I thought would be) increasing quality.   

“Il” Prosecco, DOC Prosecco

Two points up front: First, Prosecco is usually not made the same way as Champagne. The latter becomes sparkling through a second fermentation in the bottle in which the final wine is sold (the so-called méthode traditionelle). Prosecco can legally be made this way but most of it is made in a tank using the Charmat process. It undergoes a secondary fermentation in the tank and is then injected into bottles. This is a less expensive production technique.
    Second, almost all Prosecco is not vintage-dated. This allows producers to blend wine from multiple years to make the final product, helping to maintain a ‘house style’. Vintage wine (a millesimato) is legal and will, I predict, become more common in the next few years as Prosecco producers strive to distinguish themselves from a host of lookalike sparkling wines.
    We started at the budget end of the range with “Il” Prosecco, DOC Prosecco ($11), Mionetto’s budget offering. This actually comes with a crown cap which, far from being a marketer’s abomination, is the traditional closure in Italy. It is a simple, low-alcohol (10.5%), slightly sweet (it is too sweet to be labelled ‘Brut’, for dry, in Europe), fruity and spritzy wine made from Glera. It is ideal for poolside drinking or with food such as dessert tarts or fruit.

Prosecco, Brut, DOC Treviso

Next the Prosecco, Brut, DOC Treviso ($12) was a step up the quality ladder into Mionetto’s mid-range collection. Yellow straw in color. It is dry, but not bone dry (the sugar is 12g/litre, on the boundary between brut and ‘extra dry’) and made from 100% Glera grapes. The pleasant palate has hints of golden apples and peach and a lively acidity. This can be quaffed or served with salad, gnocchi in cheese sauce, or with fruity pastries and desserts.

Prosecco, Organic, DOC Treviso

A sideways step to the Prosecco, Organic, DOC Treviso ($16) which is made from organically grown grapes and vinified with 18g/litre of sugar, enough to push it out of brut and extra dry status and into the ‘dry’ category. Yellow color. Lime flavor from the fruit. More yeasty flavor, and heavier mouthfeel. Less sweet to the tongue than the residual sugar level would lead you to believe.

Cuvée Luxury Valdobbiadene Superiore, DOCG Valdobbiadene Extra Dry

The Cuvée Luxury Valdobbiadene Superiore, DOCG Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ($19) was the first example from Mionetto’s top-end line and the first example from the DOCG area for Prosecco. The terrain in Valdobbiadene is characterised by steep hillsides that have to be hand-harvested and which is owned by hundreds of small growers with average plots of between 2.5 and 10 acres.
    This wine is crisper than its predecessors. It has more mineral components to the flavors. It is complex and less defined by primary fruit flavors. The color is straw. This is the first wine that I would serve someone who wanted evidence of Prosecco’s quest for quality. A very refined example.

Cuvée Luxury Cartizze, DOCG

The Cuvée Luxury Cartizze, DOCG ($35) is from the closest thing to a Grand Cru in Prosecco, the Cartizze vineyard is 260 acres on a steep hillside. The vineyard land here apparently sells for over a million euros per hectare (2.5 acres).
    This wine is similar in character to the last in eschewing forward fruit for a more complex balance of mineral and fruit. The color is yellow straw. The nose is very faint, it is very much a palate wine.
    As with Champagne, I found the range of food that Prosecco, particularly the last two, could be successfully paired with was very broad. We tasted them throughout the meal and, with the exception of heavy red meats, which overwhelmed them, they were an impressive match.
    Add me to the list of those who are persuaded of the Prosecco region’s improvements. I look forward to seeing how far non-vintage, Charmat method wines can go. The levels achieved thus far easily exceed what I would have expected.
    Mionetto wines are available in the Dallas area at HEB, Kroger, Central Market, Whole Foods, Total Wine & More, Spec’s Liquor, United Market Street, Trader Joe’s and Target (only IL Prosecco).


Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners

New Moon on the Rise

by Cristina Mariani-May                                                                                                    
co-CEO of Banfi Vintners                                                                                         
America's leading wine importer

    Mauro Merz is a man on a mission. 
    As head winemaker for Fontana Candida, the leading name in wines from Italy’s Frascati region, Merz is the driving force behind a movement dedicated to ushering in a return to the high-quality, small-production wines of the region’s past. 
    Those “heritage wines” reflect millennia of winemaking experience and beloved by multiple generations of Romans.  They were the reason Lazio’s Frascati region was among the first to receive the DOC recognition in the mid-1960s – it is a classic. However, worldwide demand for Frascati in the 1970s was followed by a period of over-production and an overall decline in quality, leading to a gradual loss of respect over the next couple of decades. 
    At the dawn of the 21st century, the latest generation of growers in the area faced the likelihood that their land was more valuable to real estate developers tugging at the urban sprawl of Rome than it was for grape growing.
Merz, born and educated in northern Italy but having spent most of his professional career in Frascati, was determined to turn that around.  In 2005 he enacted a plan designed to bring Frascati back to its historic glory and rightful destiny, and today is reaping – and sipping – the results.  Mauro’s mission is twofold: start from the ground up to give growers an incentive to restore quality and typicity in their fruit, and then use that quality to combat standardization and create a wine that evokes  the area’s greatest winemaking traditions in a contemporary voice.
    First the fruit: Merz gave incentives to the farmers who would bring him quality fruit, and worked with him to gradually replant their vineyards using old clones of Malvasia di Lazio and others that offer more quality than quantity. He instituted a bonus program based on the health of the fruit conferred to the winery, offers the growers the daily technical support of a professional vineyard manager hired by Fontana Candida, and supports the base market price of grapes in the area – sometimes exceeding it by as much as 40%.  Urban developers could offer cash too, but Mauro offered something better – a future filled with pride, sustainability and an improved quality of life – not to mention better wine!
    With good fruit in the winery, Merz began to orchestrate his masterpiece.  Rather than one single fermentation, he combines three: that typical of ‘modern’ white wines with clean must fermented at controlled temperatures; fermentation of ripe - and in some cases slightly dried – fruit in contact with the skins of crushed grapes; and, last but not least, whole berry fermentation of perfectly healthy grapes, de-stemmed by hand and floating in the must of grapes from the same vineyard picked days earlier. 
    Each of those wines could not tell the complete story on its own; it is the blend of these three techniques that yields Luna Mater, a wine or remarkable character. To take it one step further, after bottling the wine is aged in a traditional cellar beneath the winery, hand carved from the tufaceous rock generations ago, naturally cool and humid.  Talk about a wine with a sense of place!
    Luna Mater has an intense bouquet of exotic fruit aromas, honeysuckle, and acacia flowers.  It is full flavored and savory, with a lingering finish reminiscent of ripe pear and almonds.  It is a great pairing to a wide range of foods, from simple pasta dishes to the roast lamb that is so typical of the Roman countryside. 
    The label of Luna Mater was designed by Roman Artist Domenico Bianchi; it depicts the reflection of the moon in the waters of the fontana candida or generous fountain that springs from the middle of the vineyards.  The moon and its influence on agricultural cycles has always played a role in grape growing and winemaking; that role is as poignant today as it was centuries ago. So too is a delicious wine!


Cristina Mariani is not related by family or through business with John Mariani, publisher of this newsletter





Shiloh Brew & Chew, a "family-style" steakhouse in Tennessee, posted a sign in its window declaring "Guns Are Welcome. " Owner Sharma Floyd contends, "I lost a whole group of motorcyclists because they thought I didn't allow weapons."


Peter's Place Cafe restaurant in  Waterville, Ireland, 
has banned "loud' Americans." 




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

The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe,  The Modern, and Maialino.



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

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

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

Eating Las Vegas 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. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,   John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Andrew Chalk,  and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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