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  AUGUST 17, 2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


Part One
By John Mariani

         “Ant-hill in the sea,” Herman Melville called it.
        “A mere hillock, and elbow of sand ... Some gamesome wights will tell you that they have to plant weeds there ... That pieces of wood in Nantucket are carried about like bits of the true cross in Rome; that people there plant toadstools before their houses, to get under the shade in summer time; that one blade of grass makes an oasis, three blades in a day's walk a prairie.”            
      That was back in 1851. Times have certainly changed.  For, despite very strict landmark and preservation commissions that dictate the shape, colors and shingles of all structures and prohibit national chains from opening downtown (though somehow a Ralph Lauren boutique slipped in), Nantucket was planted and landscaped a long time ago.  In summer it can be as crowded as Disneyland; in winter, as dreary as Lapland.           
      The best time to go is from now until November (when many hotels and restaurants close). The tourist season is still high right now, but those one-time visitors and day-trippers have slackened off.
       Given the fact that Nantucket is both difficult and expensive to get to and because everything on the island is shipped in, this is a pricey destination, and as such, the entrepreneurs and restaurateurs have to make their money fast and in volume. As one told me, “During the season every night is Saturday night for us.”
    The most splendid resort outside of the congested downtown is The Wauwinet Inn, in its present form for 26 years, but with a history as an inn since 1875, named after a local Indian chief, this at a time when the steamship fare was 50 cents and a shore dinner 75 cents.  Today owned by the Karp family, The Wauwinet is, if preciously so, the epitome of New England island elegance. And the restaurant here, Toppers (right), claims a consistent spot on everyone’s list of favorites.
          Although they were serving a Sunday “Bubble Brunch” at Toppers, I was able to avoid the clichés of that in-between meal by going straight for the tart flambé  ($17) slathered with crème fraîche and piled with sweet onions, crisp lardons of bacon and a bubbly layer of Gruyère on a fine pastry crust.  Also delicious was the Wauwinet turkey hash ($19), an abundance of poultry meat with two eggs, mushrooms, peppers, red bliss potatoes, a rich chicken velouté and caramelized onions.
         I could hardly resist trying the lobster roll ($28) on a brioche bun with Boston Bibb lettuce, pickles and the delectable addition of a brown butter mayo (below) that made it just different enough from most others. Hand-cut French fries were crisp and greaseless beside the lobster roll.  Indeed, frying seems a bonafide virtue in this kitchen, for its fish and chips was so good I asked for the recipe.  Start with great fish, it’s tough to fail.
        With a glass of Corton Rognet 2005 and a breeze off the water,  life was very good that afternoon.  The Wauwinet, by the way, has one of the finest wine lists in the nation to go with Chef Kyle Zachary’s American menu.
          And for dessert--though they are part of the brunch starters--have the cinnamon sugared churros fritters ($10) with a dark chocolate sauce.  Then linger.

The Wauwinet  is located at 120 Wauwinet Rd; 508-228-8768. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Sunday brunch.




     Oddly enough, it’s tough to find really good restaurants on the Nantucket seaside, but Cru (below) is easily the best.  It’s always jammed and managing partner Jane Stoddard is always there to direct an amiable crew on how best to appeal to a casual, hungry crowd willing to splurge on a bottle of Champagne.
          You can dine inside or out, but the sea will always be within view and you’re surrounded by worn docks, bobbing boats and colored sails, so you get the quintessential Nantucket experience at Cru.  That is, except for the pounding music they play in the restaurant unnecessarily.
          I had an outstanding lunch here, via Chef Erin Zircher, beginning with devilishly good hush puppies ($7) with a tender pâte choux pastry.  There are also at least a half dozen species of oysters. Seafood salad ($20) was as fresh and sunny as the sea itself (below), a smoked fish dip comes with cucumber, radish and grilled focaccia ($14), and fried Ipswich clams ($24) with a Meyer lemon tartar sauce are kept creamy in texture and crisp on the outside.  Sea scallops and white anchovy ($26) with chickpeas and chickpea panissa logs with red peppers and green beans manifests a kitchen dedicated to pristine freshness.
          Cru serves its lobster roll ($28) cold, which is the way a lot of  New Englanders like it, so who am I to argue about such a huge amount of lobster packed into a good roll?  If I like mine warm, so be it.
          I finished off with a finely textured Key lime pie in a jar.

Cru  is located at 1 Straight Wharf; 508-228-9278; Open for lunch and dinner daily.

         Possibly the most evocative meal I had on a summer’s evening was at the renowned American Seasons, (left) whose dining rooms, both inside and out, pretty much nail down the word “cozy” to a tee.  But it’s a very well wrought coziness, via lighting at its most romantic, slatted ceiling, bare tables, candles in wind funnels, and nature murals of more than a little interest, as is the menu, which is definitely not traditional Nantucket.
          Chef Michael LaScola draws from many nations for recipes, but they are always very much his own ideas; his wife, Orla Murphy, oversees a 500-label wine list of small producers.
         I let myself be guided by Orla’s recommendations and ate widely across the menu, beginning with a fine chicken and carrot terrine with lovely zucchini fritters and tangy-sweet apricot slaw ($16.50).  Spicy but not too hot kimchi pancakes ( $16.50) made with succulent pork belly, smoked shrimp and sesame dressing might have come from the best Korean restaurant in Boston, while tilefish---a species often in need of help to bring it alive--got plenty of enhancement from smoked tomato grits, bacon succotash and buttered corn broth ($34).
         What distinguishes all of Chef Michael's food is an exceptional attention to contrasting flavors and, especially, textures, so you always get a taste of salty and savory, briny and tangy, along with crispiness and spark.  Portions are also very generous.
         The crowd, by the way, knows precisely what is meant by the owners’ request for “casual, proper attire -- No jackets or ties required.” This is not a place to play the beach bum.

American Seasons  is located at 80 Center St; 508-228-7111. Dinner nightly.

Part Two of this article will appear August 31.



By John Mariani

Is this a Bon Appetit food critic?

         The announcement of the 50 nominees for the best restaurants of 2014 in Bon Appétit magazine is, not for the first time, cause for gourmets, gastronomes, connoisseurs and foodies to scratch their heads in wondering what the magazine is trying to tell--or sell--us about the state of dining out in America. And what it tells us is that, unless yours is a restaurant that is very edgy, cheaply decorated in worn-out clichés, often highly uncomfortable, and largely ego driven, you haven’t a chance of getting onto such a list.
        Now, let me say straight away and loudly--and I will repeat this throughout this article: I am in no way criticizing the food in these restaurants, largely because I have not eaten in every one.  I have, however, dined in many of them, lavished praise on several, and put some of these same restos on my own list of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America.
        No one has more respect than I do for the hard work and creativity that goes into opening and maintaining a restaurant in America these days. Nor am I questioning the taste of the Bon Appétit writers who searched far and wide, at some expense, for their nominees.
        What I am questioning is what clearly appears to be an attitude problem here, one that glorifies novelty, youth, eccentricity and hipsterism for their own sake, while ignoring the excellence of those veteran restaurateurs who still believe in setting a good table, offering unique design and décor--often to the tune of millions of dollars--pouring significant capital into an enduring wine list of depth and breadth, hiring a chef who deserves to be paid top dollar for his experience and ability to run a professional kitchen, a service staff that sees to every aspect of their clientele’s comfort, then charges a fair price for the quality level of the entire dining experience.
        Walk into any of BA’s nominated restos and you won’t find any décor by Adam Tihany or David Rockwell.  In most you won’t find widely separated tables--forget entirely about now anathema tablecloths!--or fine china and silverware.  You won’t find a pleasingly dressed wait staff. Instead, you will find a banality of design clichés--exposed brick and duct work, hanging exposed light bulbs, antique tiles, salvaged wood, old counter stools--that were new-ish ideas a decade ago.  You’ll find cramped quarters, diner counters with backless stools that don't spin, ear-splitting noise, crappy music, hour-long waits, no-reservations policies, a wine stock made to last no more than a month, and a staff, however amiable, wearing whatever they felt like that morning.  And that's what you're paying top dollar  for.
        The argument goes that one shouldn’t care about any of  that if the food is "freaking" good.  And, again: I am in no way criticizing the food in these restaurants, although, perusing many of the menus from the list, I have to wonder if those with three items as main courses, one of them a salad, another a hamburger, really rise to the ideal of “best.” Maurice in Portland, OR, is a bakeshop and luncheonette; Thai-Kun  (right) in Austin is a food court;  Palace Diner (below) is, well, a diner; Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop (above) in Durham, NC, is a sandwich spot--“not actually a restaurant,” says BA--The London Plane in Seattle is a grocery with lunch items.  Do these really qualify as candidates for the best restaurants of 2014?
    Yet you’ll pay as much or only slightly less for the food at these places as you would at a restaurant that spent heavily on décor, staff, kitchen and amenities, often in very high-rent neighborhoods. For instance, BA’s choice of Coltivare Pizza & Garden in Houston (which takes no reservations) charges $30 for pork with creamer peas, corn, tomato broth and peaches.   Odd Duck in Austin charges $41 for lamb shoulder with chickpeas, yogurt and naan
At High Street Market in Philadelphia, with its coffee shop booths and backless stools,  you’ll pay $22 for tortelloni with asparagus, guanciale and vegetable ragôut.   The $10 dessert is now ubiquitous.
These prices are high,  and included in them may be cheap wine glasses or Mason jars, paper napkins, tin ware, mismatched china, Formica tabletops, dime store salt and pepper shakers, a single washroom for both sexes, and nothing to buffer the noise.  Quaint  and casual shouldn't cost so damn much.
    Yet the same people who rave over High Street Market's $22 tortelloni balk at paying $25 for the tortelloni with robiola, mascarpone, asparagus and basil at the very elegant Ristorante Morini in NYC, or the risotto with imported scallops, shrimp, lobster, clams, cuttlefish and octopus for $24 while lounging in a cabana at the very posh Bartolotta in Las Vegas (below).  These large restaurants, by the way, are as jammed as any on BA’s list of places with six stools.
         What BA is pushing is an agenda that insists fine dining is either dead, no fun or simply transformed into anything at all as long as it tastes "freaking" good. One has to wonder if the words “fine,” “refinement” and “exquisite” mean more to BA’s writers than their overuse of worn-out phrases like “really tasty,” “seriously delicious,” “outrageously delicious,” “heavy on indulgence, luxury, and--of course--deliciousness,” “the whole experience is a trip,” “beyond satisfying,” “as right now as it gets,” “couldn't feel more of the moment,” “awesome cocktails,” “watch the chefs do their thing” and “manages to marry sophisticated techniques with a dorm-room stoner's idea of flat-out deliciousness.”  They sound like what you might have read in The Village Voice back in 1968.
         Such hipster prose is hardly surprising since, as the director of one city’s tourist board told me, “The Bon Appetit writer who came to town told me he didn't want to eat anywhere the chef didn’t have tattoos.” I don't think he was kidding. Indeed, it appears that if a restaurant has any pretensions at all to elegance, subtlety, refined and beautiful design, an experienced staff and a great wine list, BA has next to no interest in it.  Where are superb new restaurants like NYC’s Bâtard, Rôtisserie Georgette and Beautique (below), where the staff is in designer outfits, the china is by Vera Wang and the seat fabrics by Jean-Paul Gaultier?  Fiola Mare in DC, which has a glass wall and verandah over the Potomac, gorgeous marble bar, roomy banquettes, and tufted, turning stools with backs?  Marti’s in New Orleans, with its historic murals, swag curtains and exquisite chandeliers? St. Cecilia in Atlanta, with soaring ceilings, gorgeous leather booths, and first-rate wine list? They likely were not considered because they don’t fit the funky cool mold.  Even "casual chic" has become a suspect term.  True, you can't eat the furniture but dining in such places is not an ordeal and you pay accordingly for the fine cuisine and decor, as you would for a Zegna suit or Ferragamo loafers.  The BA restaurants are more the equivalent of $300 blue jeans.
        Also surprising is that so many of Bon Appetit’s candidates for Best New Restaurants of 2014 actually opened way more than a year ago, including Serpico in Philadelphia, Trois Mec in L.A., Sir and Star in Olema, CA, Uncle Boons in NYC, Ribelle in Brookline, MA, Gunshow in Atlanta, and others. So, why they are being considered for 2014 is a puzzle?
         Once again: I am in no way criticizing the food in these restaurants.  I applaud them all and hope you try them out.  But the problem with BA’s list is that it is so lopsided. However seriously one wants to take the Michelin Guides or the controversial Restaurant magazine awards, the number of jam-packed, very high-end, highly creative, innovative and well designed dining rooms run by some of the great master chefs on the planet on those lists make it obvious that such restaurants are far from moribund and cannot be ignored, unless one’s purpose is to deny that they have anything to do with that empty phrase “the way we eat today,” which actually means, “the way our editors ate last month.”   Apparently "we" does not include those people who pack restaurants like The French Laundry in Yountville,  CA; Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, NY; Tony's in Houston; and Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.
         To consider for inclusion only restaurants--even those that are “not actually a restaurant”--with a hipster edge and to sniff at all else is like a theater critic reviewing only Off Broadway shows, a film critic only indie productions, a music critic only hip hop, or an automotive critic only compact cars.  There’s plenty to love among such enterprises, but they are not the whole story of what goes on in those worlds.
        Apparently,  BA editors think only their restaurant choices are.


By John Mariani

Loews Regency Hotel
540 Park Avenue (at 61st Street)

        The re-opening of the Loews Regency Bar & Grill is occasion to applaud, but not because it has now filled the void it left upon closing for the Power Breakfast crowd that used to fill it every weekday morning.
        Time being so valuable in an ever more hectic New York, the Business Breakfast is still a way for executives, media types and politicians to hobnob over eggs ($23 for two) and a bagel ($7) and exit quickly for the office (although some guys have two breakfasts, back to back!).  So, after fifty years, during the closing and refurbishing of the room, those regulars--some daily like Rev. Al Sharpton, whose religious denomination apparently requires no vow of poverty--had to find other venues, and the East 60’s is an early morning wasteland for breakfast.
        Now the Bar & Grill is open again bright and early at 7 a.m. and packed as usual, which is nice to know.  What I am happiest about, however, is that at lunch and dinner, Executive Chef Dan Silverman, formerly at The Standard, has been given the go-ahead to bring culinary luster to the room, whose previous reputation made the “hotel dining room” a slur term.
        The place looks better than ever, very sleek, with a vivacious bar up front and a long, two-level dining room done in soft executive dining room colors, with double tablecloths, an Op Art rug, bookshelves and abstract paintings.  The booths (above), up one slender step, are tough to squeak into but difficult to leave, for they are among the most comfortable in New York. The mirrored walls above them are hung with black-and-white photos of Upper East Side totems.
        I was so happy to see Wine Director André Compeyre, formerly of Alain Ducasse’s Benoit Bistro, overseeing a formidable list that’s been updated and better priced, even offering some excellent New York State wines usually ignored by New York City restaurants.
        Silverman (left) sets a menu in line with the restaurant’s name, an American grill seasonally focused.  So, if the soft shell crabs ($24), with a vegetable pistou, are still on the menu, by all means enjoy them.  I ordered a tomato soup ($18) as a good indicator whether this child’s lunch item could be transformed into an adult pleasure, and Silverman did himself proud.  The soup tasted as if he’d squeezed every drop of goodness from summer’s tomatoes and cooked them up to taste like their very essence, accompanying them--nice touch--with grilled cheese crostini.
        I tried an outstanding pasta--tagliatelle with a veal
ragù and large dose of Parmigiano ($28) that would rank with the best Italian restaurants’ in the city.
        Pan-roasted Dover sole ($65) is another telltale dish, and the Grill’s version, plump and meaty, with Meyer lemon, parsley and brown butter (a very, very generous pool of it) was so rich you could share it with another guest and be completely satisfied.
        When you’re talking about great ingredients like Dover sole (right), you are also talking about veal and lamb. Silverman (left) gets the former from Pennsylvania and his veal chop with wild mushrooms and creamed spinach ($48) is nonpareil.  So, too, are the Colorado lamb chops, served with Swiss chard and a crispy shank ($46), though the sauce with the dish was bland and a bit muddy in color and texture.  I think I’d go with them simply grilled next time.
        Pastry Chef Jeff Sytsma, most recently of The Elm, stays within the American crayon box with the signature Regency Chocolate Bar (below), composed of feuilletine crunch and dark chocolate ganache topped with cocoa nib sorbet; good old carrot cake is made new with a cream cheese mousse and walnut crumble, accompanied by rum raisin ice cream.  Bring extra forks. And order the cookie plate.  All desserts are $12.

        So, let the honchos claim their spot at breakfast.  I’ll go back for the food and wine at dinner.  One caveat, the major misfire at the restaurant when I visited two weeks ago was a slack staff that seemed far more interested in re-setting tables than paying attention to guests.  But then, I’m not Reverend Al.

Breakfast: 7-11:30 a.m. Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Afternoon tea: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Dinner: 5:30–11 p.m.




By John Mariani

Having had the most beautiful New York summer of my life, I have put away all thoughts about warm weather wines versus cold weather wines--in itself a rather useless pursuit--and just pluck wines from my cellar or at a restaurant to go with whatever I am eating. Here are several I have been enjoying immensely this month.

2005 Domaine Chevalier Père et Fils Corton Rognet ($110) - For those who cannot bring themselves to lay out exorbitant money for a first-rate red  Burgundy, this may be a more moderate option.  The vineyard, near Aloxe-Corton and Corton Charlemagne,  produces a wine with typical Burgundy finesse in a somewhat lighter style, and the 2005, if you can still find it, has evolved beautifully to a maturity that makes it a wonderful wine with poultry or game.

2011 Patrick Javillier ‘Les Tillets” Meursault  ($50) - Most of this domaine’s wines are Chardonnay and Javillier is one of the finest producers, a believer that longer time on the lees produces more character, and this beauty can only get better over the next five years.  But its honeyed hints and its superb aromatics make it well worth drinking right now with any seafood, not least one in a rich butter-based French sauce. Les Tillets, by the way, refers to a medieval lime tree.

2011 Benjamin Leroux Clos de la Cave des Ducs Volnay Premier Cru  ($100) -Volnays are iffy wines from the Côte de Beaune, so it’s important to know the producer.  Its reds are light in color, but this Premier Cru shows the wine at its best. The vineyard is managed biodynamically and the terroir of the small estate shows in its richness, power and mineral strength. It is still developing and should emerge in a couple of years as a grand expression of Volnay.

2012 Isole e Olena Collezione Privata Chardonnay  ($38) - Not all Italian chardonnays hit the high notes of Angelo Gaja’s masterpieces, but this far more modestly priced example gives a lot of pleasure for the money. The name refers to two estates owned by the De Marchi family in Tuscany, and, while better known for their Chiantis, they produce this fine, lush white wine whose grapes  receive a great deal of sun and are harvested fairly late.

2013 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($17-$20) - There are no more than a handful of California Sauvignon Blancs I care to drink because too many are cloyingly grassy and too floral.  This fresh entry is, however, much closer to a crisp Sancerre while still showing off its bold California grip on the palate.  No color to speak of, but the flavors are all arrayed in a charming balance of fruit and minerals. And the alcohol level at 13% is totally sensible for a white wine.

2010 Williamsburg Winery Adagio
($72) - This price tag for a wine made in
Virginia may put some people off, but it is a very good and very persuasive argument that the state’s wines now demand respect. This is a Bordeaux blend of 42% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 28% Petit Verdot--no Cabernet Sauvignon--yet it has enormous depth and complexity picked up from 18 months in oak, and the winery’s keeping the alcohol down to 13% is much to be applauded.




Physicist  Manuel Linares has created an ice cream that changes color as you eat it, made from "entirely natural ingredients."



Irishman Anto Wickham paid $5,000 to have a local coffinmaker build him a ten-foot tall coffin in the shape of a Jack Daniels bottle.    The designer says it was "very complicated" because "there are so many curves in a Jack Daniels bottle and it is almost cut like a diamond," but adds it's fine because "there was no rush" on the craftsmanship. Wickham also plans to be delivered to the gravesite in a Guinness van.


Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners

The Man in the Window
by Cristina Mariani-May    
co-CEO of Banfi Vintners                                                                                         
America's leading wine importer

Christian Scrinzi know where he stands.
    As head winemaker for the historic wine house of Bolla, Scrinzi knows the stakes.  Leading producer of Veronese wines and the ambassador for Italian wine around the world, Bolla has a century and a quarter’s worth of iconic imagery to uphold, and expectations to meet. 
    “A winemaker for such a producer is nothing more than a short window into that winery’s history,” Scrinzi admits.  “He must maintain and uphold the standards of that house, be aware of its past, and be conscious of its future. He must usher it responsibly into that future.”
Value is what Bolla is known for, but it is also known for innovation, quality, and making wines with a sense of place.
      Yes, there were years when Bolla seemed to have lost its way and followed the siren call of quantity over quality, but today Bolla is back to its roots, literally and figuratively.  It no longer chases fashion and trends, and has returned to the typicity of  its native soil and microclimate – a rich dichotomy of fresh young wines such as Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino, which speak of tradition and ‘terroir,’ alongside the ultimate sartorial wine, Amarone.

    To make the wonderful wines of Verona, Scrinzi has forged an alliance with Bolla’s agronomist GianAntonio Marconi.  Marconi is the direct professional heir to Franco Bolla, the man who forged strong relationships with the grape growing families that have conferred their fruit to Bolla for multiple generations.  Even a “volume” producer like Bolla must ensure quality from the ground up in order to produce wines with a sense of identity and integrity.  It all begins in the vineyards, after all.
    Historically, Scrinzi (left) looks to Bolla’s origins, literally, with a wine called “Le Origini,” an Amarone that harkens back to founder Abele Bolla’s preference for the wine that was a century ago unique and unusual as a “big” wine, made rich from fruit that dried naturally in ventilated attics called “fruttai.”  Amarone is by now a tradition that has succeeded and is a proving ground for all Veronese producers, and Bolla interprets it in its own inimitable way.
    But Scrinzi did not limit himself to the successes of the past; he chose to also examine the “failures” of the past, as it were.
In the 1980s, Verona had an inferiority complex.  Amarone was not very well known yet, and the “Super” wines of Tuscany ruled the roost.  Super Tuscans were wines that combined Tuscany’s native Sangiovese with the “international” (really French) varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  They met with great success, and the Veronese wondered, “why not me, too?”
    So Bolla created a wine called Creso.  They based it on Cabernet, with a small percentage of the local grape, Corvina, to give it needed acidity and a local touch.  It did well “back in the day,” but in fewer than ten vintages the novelty wore off, and Creso was pulled from production.
Years later, with his philosophy of learning from the past, Scrinzi tasted through every vintage of Creso, and sought to find the core value in what the wine had to say.  He didn’t mind the “international touch,” but decided to turn the blend on its head.  He made the wine predominantly from Corvina grapes, and for the international touch kept Cabernet but dried those grapes in the style of Amarone.
    The resulting wine is intense, deep, ample and complex; it is elegant, powerful and persistent, with distinctive flavors of ripe berries, cocoa and plum, wrapped in silky, velvet tannins.  Creso is the embodiment of Verona’s mastery of wine, combined with a diplomatic touch that brings the new world to its territory - but on local terms.

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


 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."  THIS WEEK: 5 MYTHS ABOUT AIR MARSHALLS

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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