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  September 28,  2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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    By Christopher Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



  By Christopher Mariani

Jolley Harbor   

    I’ve spent a number of months on a number of islands and would happily spend many, many more. I’m a fool for clear blue water and white sand beaches; not to mention the calm way of life that is the Caribbean.
    I recently spent five uninterrupted days in Antigua lying on the beach--there are 365 of them--catching up on sleep and drinking plenty of dark rum with Jenna, a woman of uncommon beauty. We left and forgot New York on a Sunday (it's a two hour and 15 minute flight from Miami). Our flight landed at VC Bird International Airport just before noon and by one o'clock we were sipping a deceivingly strong rum cocktail known as an “island time.”
    For many who have not yet stayed at a Sandals resort, there is a bit of mystery surrounding the “Sandals’ Experience,” considering that the resorts are clearly branded around romance; children are forbidden, and all vacation packages are intended exclusively for “two people in love.” Beverages flow generously, flowers are in abundance, and every couple you meet along the way is celebrating a relationship milestone. 
Located alongside one of Antigua’s most impressive beaches, Dickenson Bay, Sandals Grande Antigua occupies some of the island’s most coveted real estate. Revered for its absolute seclusion and overall beauty, Dickenson Bay is in a class of its own, with a gorgeous beach and pristine blue green water.  Do expect some peddlers, but fortunately the trade is tame and the locals kind. English is the official language among the 70,000 residents.
    The resort itself is split into two connecting sides, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean; both worthy of a visit, but the latter side is more to my liking because of its modernity, having been built in 2007. The entire property is well groomed and full of lush green plants and bright blooming flowers, many of which Jenna tucked behind her left ear.
    After a seamless check-in, we entered our suite, dropped our bags and stepped out onto our balcony. We spent almost every morning on this balcony drinking coffee, eating freshly baked croissants and gazing out onto the peaceful horizon. Our suite was well dressed in tan tones with a simple, elegant design and a deliberate sense of privacy. On the wall rested a huge flat-screen television that we never turned on. We were lost in each other and happily separated from the rest of the world.
    Antigua, the largest of the Leeward islands, was discovered by Britain's Admiral Nelson in 1784. The capital is St. John's, dominated by the cathedral of the same name (right), built in 1845--though earthquakes leveled it twice, in 1683 and 1745--can be seen far off shore from the cruise ships. Colonial and archaeological artifacts can be found at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, housed in the colonial Court House.  On Friday and Saturday mornings, there is always a farmers market in the city.  Sea View Farm Village features the Antiguan folk pottery, once fashioned by slaves as cooking vessels from local clay, while  Harmony Hall, in Brown's Bay at Nonsuch Bay, is the center of the Antiguan arts community.  It is also likely you will run into locals somewhere playing cricket, which is an island obsession, with official matches on weekends at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

    One of the most pleasant aspects of our stay was never being asked to sign for anything. Sandals means it when they say, “Love is all you need. Everything else is included.” We were never once asked to provide a room number or last name in exchange for a drink or a meal. The staff was simply there to assist our every need without hesitation or additional cost. Gratuities are built into the initial price and absolutely never again are hinted at or suggested. The price you pay upon booking is all you pay, excluding the obvious: massages, excursions and trips to the gift store for Aloe Vera and other forgotten necessities. Mini bars are replenished for free and none of the menus for restaurants or room service include prices. This is a completely refined concept of the all-inclusive. Did I mention that all liquor is top shelf and all wines by the glass are from Beringer?
    Our vacation had officially begun and we headed straight to the beach for a dip in the ocean. Jenna and I spent many afternoons lounging on this beach, soaking in the sun and occasionally walking the length of the bay, enjoying its powdery sand beneath our feet (below). As we relaxed, drinks were delivered to our umbrella by smiling faces. We didn’t have to so much as move if we chose not to. The service was genuine and the staff extremely friendly, a quality not always found in some of the other highly visited Caribbean islands.
    For our first meal, we dined right on the beach at one of the resort’s more casual restaurants, Barefoot. Wooden tables and chairs sit directly on the sand under a straw thatched roof. We started off with two Rum and Gingers and a plate of seared Wahoo and Blue Marlin served in a creamy coconut curry broth with a side of sliced papaya. We ate slowly and began to relax as the rum erased our New York idiosyncrasies.
     For our main course we enjoyed a platter of spicy jerk chicken, as good as any I’ve had in Jamaica, and a rack of smoked pork ribs glazed with sweet barbeque sauce. I was introduced to Susie’s Hot Sauce for the first time, one of the best I’ve ever tasted, and quickly discovered the incredible power of the scorpion pepper. Its bottle does not have a plastic dispense regulator, so pour with extreme caution or learn the hard way, as I did, that a little goes a long way.
    That evening we visited Eleanor’s, one of the few restaurants on property requiring a reservation and formal attire (not too formal). The restaurant is partially outdoors with a great view of the moonlit ocean. Service is a bit more sophisticated than at some of the other restaurants, as is the food. The conch chowder was full of flavor as was the shrimp ceviche, served with ripe pineapple, cucumber, diced tomato and a fresh lemon-basil dressing.
    In between courses we had a few pictures taken of us by the resort’s full-time photographer. Do anticipate the resort photographers intruding on your time together, but their warm smiles and flattering praises make it more than all right. Before checking out, these pictures are available to view and purchase at the photo shop. The packages were not cheap but how could I say no after seeing Jenna’s face light up when viewing each snapshot?
    After transitioning to a bottle of Pinot Noir, we split a grilled lobster and blackened shrimp, which was bathed in a shallow pool of warm butter. Mahi Mahi was seared and served with rice and fried okra. It was charming to witness so many couples holding hands, drinking wine and occasionally reaching across to one another for a romantic kiss. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many young couples staying at the resort. One seasoned couple informed us they visit every few years, attributing this habit to their 23 successful years of marriage. That evening we retired to our suite for the remainder of the evening with a bottle of Champagne.
    The next morning we slept in, took our time, ordered room service and ate out on the balcony, where we enjoyed a cheddar cheese omelet, French toast, sliced fruit and sipped coffee while planning a long day of doing little. An hour or so later we took to the oasis pool, where we spent most of the day lounging on rubber pool floats, occasionally treading our way to the swim-up bar for a cocktail. Easy listening reggae played softly in the background as our tans began to resemble caramel. That afternoon, we mustered enough energy to go jet skiing along the shoreline, an activity offered by the locals for the bargaining price of $50.
    That evening we dined at one of the resort’s more ambitious concepts, Kimonos, a Teppanyaki-style restaurant serving your standard filet mignon, chicken and shrimp options cooked directly in front of you, served with mountains of pork fried rice and tasty starters. The execution was off and the food only average but the experience was still fun, even if only for the amount of sake poured.The resort also offers a very pleasant Italian-inspired restaurant called Mario’s, a French bakery, a daytime grab-and-go, a terrific pub serving burgers and wings named Drunk Duck, and one of my favorites, OK Corral, dishing out big slabs of Texas beef and slow cooked pork belly.
    The nightlife is subdued and ideal for those seeking a few glasses of wine and casual entertainment. I would highly recommend a stay of at least five days, bearing in mind the property is designed for a longer vacation if desired.
    On our last night in Antigua, Jenna and I took to the beach with a bottle of chilled white wine, two glasses and blanket to lie on.  After that, love is all you need.

Sandals Resort Antigua is on Saint John's Dickinson Bay; 1 + 268-484-0100;  All-inclusive packages run at different rates during and out of season.


By John Mariani

928 Broadway (at 21st Street

    When the first of this chain of mozzarella bars opened a decade ago on Rome’s Piazza Firenze, its name was—and still is—Obikà, with a k. But with the opening of its New York flagship in the Flat Iron district, that k has become a c—Obicà—because most Americans could hardly be expected to know that the word is Neapolitan slang for “Here it is!”  That k made it seem more like a Scandinavian furniture store than a restaurant.
    But, whatever consonant they use, the owners deserve a big round of bravos for the new place (there’s already an Obicà Café in the IBM Building on Madison Avenue), which is big, sleek, sexy and, with 120 seats and a counter, very convivial, whether you’re there to sip a negroni or Campari at the bar or to share a platter of mozzarellas, salami, bresaola, prosciutto, mortadella, and lardo, or just have an early or late-night pizza or indulge in some luscious pastas.
    I almost never write about chain restaurants, but I’ve waited a long while for an Obicà to come to New York; there are already branches in Italian cities, London, L.A., Tokyo and Dubai.  The mozzarella itself, which has a legally Protected Designation of Origin, is flown in twice a week from Campania, where it is made from water buffalo (bufala) milk. American-made mozzarella, which at its best is excellent, is made from cow’s milk, and in a good salumeria like  Di Paolo’s in Little Italy, or   Mike’s Deli and Casa di Mozzarella in the Bronx, is made throughout the day.
          Imported mozzarella di bufala is not unique in NYC or elsewhere, but you really have no way of knowing just how fresh it is, for it can be packed in brine to preserve it for weeks but loses flavor very quickly.  (The other NYC restaurant you can depend on for first-rate product is Mozzarella & Vino across from the Museum of Modern Art.)
    Obicà offers four different kinds of mozzarella: bufala classica, bufala affumicata (smoked with hay), burrata and burrata al tartufo (with black truffle). You can also have it fried in carozza ($10) or spread it on toasted bruschetta ($10) with anchovies or roasted peppers. The “Obicà Experience” ($38 per person) is composed of mozzarella di bufala, a selection of cured meats and grilled vegetables, caponata alla siciliana (eggplant stew) and warm rosemary-scented focaccia, followed by a tomato pizza, then dessert—it’s a great bargain.
    The pizzas are in fact some of the best in Manhattan, ranging from $14 to $26; one, verdure grigliate, comes with smoky grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow peppers.
    So far, that’s a lot of food, and you can easily nosh to your heart’s content, especially with a table of three or four friends, and the bill can be kept to a moderate level.  But if you want to sample all that Obicà can do and do very well, avail yourself of one of the pastas, like the rustic pappardelle al ragù ($20 for a full portion), the basil pesto-dressed trofie ($18), the lavish schiaffoni macaroni with tomato and mozzarella ($16), or the ravioli with ricotta and spinach glistening with sage butter ($19).
    This is a big menu but the main courses are worth trying, particularly a well-rendered black cod with a chickpea puree and grilled radicchio ($27).  The veal cutlet alla milanese ($39), however, needs work: it is so thinly pounded you taste more crust than veal.
    There are also some worthwhile desserts here, including a good tiramisù, a carpaccio of pineapple marinated in mint syrup with pink peppercorns and lemon sorbetto, and a pudding-like cream of ricotta di bufala with candied orange peel.   
    Obicà’s wine list is formidable and offers good value in many price categories, with plenty of wines by the glass, which is a good way to go if you’re sitting at the bar.    
    You might think that Obicà is another of those brutally loud new places with scatterbrain service—“Who gets what?”—but, although it is far from quiet, with some corners louder than others, the wait staff is friendly and knows every item on the menu, so that the happy sound of people thoroughly enjoying themselves is another of the appealing aspects of this very Italian experience.  Managing partner and CEO Raimondo Boggia is often on the premises of the new restaurant to make everything click and Chef Enzo Beri is in the kitchen making sure everything tastes the same as in the Roman original.     The company has also published a new Obikà Cookbook (right), with many of the dishes served at the restaurant. though it helps if you can fly over your mozzarella di bufala twice a week.

Obicà is located at 928 Broadway at 21st Street; 212- 777-2754. Open for lunch Mon.-Fri.; Brunch Sat. & Sun.; dinner nightly.



By John Mariani



             When Suntory Holdings Limited bought America’s Beam Inc. last April for about $16 billion, the Japanese corporation became the third largest premium spirits company on earth and adapted the slogan “Suntory is Crafting the Spirits that Stir the World.”
    With the Beam acquisition, Suntory, with about $4.6 billion in worldwide sales, added to its own Yamazaki Japanese whiskey brand some of America’s best known bourbons, including Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek, along with Japanese competitors Hakashu and Hibiki, Teacher’s, Laphroaig, and Bowmare Scotch whiskey, and several other spirits brands. The new company is called Beam Suntory, Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois.
    Still, even with such new clout in the marketplace, Suntory, which started making whiskey back in 1923, has stiff, growing competition, not least from rival Nikka Whiskey Distilling Co., which makes a Yoichi 15-year-old ($130) single malt, Taketsuru 12-Year Old pure malt ($70), 17 Year-old ($150), 21-Year-old ($180), and Miyagikyo 12-Year-old ($120).  Chichibu is another Japanese spirits producer, known for its Ichiro’s Malt ($240).
    Notice that none is labeled “Scotch Whiskey,” which is forbidden by law, but the prices are up there with some of the most expensive Scotches made, like Macallan 18 Year-old ($200) and Talisker 18-year-old ($109).  Yet these Japanese whiskeys are in short supply outside of Japan, with only about 8,000 cases total entering the U.S. market. For the time being, they are connoisseurs’ whiskeys, with sales largely in New York, Chicago, California and Hawaii.
    Almost all the Japanese whiskeys are blends of several years’ production. In Japan they are usually drunk fairly young and with three parts soda, called a “highball” that is even sold in cans at convenience stores.  Only recently have the distillers begun to lay away their spirits for aging. 

    Suntory—whose corporate mantra is “Yatte Minahare!” (Go for it!)—received a huge boost in visibility when its product appeared in the movie “Lost in Translation”  as the whiskey Bill Murray does a TV ad for—“It’s Suntory time!”--and drinks at Tokyo’s Park Hyatt Hotel’s New York Bar, where visitors ask to sit at the stool Murray perched on in the film.
    I have had occasion to taste many of the Japanese whiskeys and come away impressed.  And when I visited Taiwan last year, I found that the Chinese are coming apace fast in the spirits market, not least Kavalan, opened by the King Car Whiskey Distillery, in 2008 in a state-of-the-art distillery amidst some of the island’s most beautiful scenery in Yilan County.  Less than three years later, Kavalan won the International Wine and Spirits Competition’s trophy as Asia Pacific Spirit Producer of the Year.  (Suntory took a gold medal in the same competition for its Yamazaki 12-Year-old.)
         Though there a few of smoky, peaty Asian whiskeys, overall they tend to run on the sweeter side of the genre, with a good deal of caramelization from the charred barrels used for Sherry or bourbon, in the case of Hibiki, plum liqueur casks. 
    Suntory's Hakushu 12-Year-Old, has both fruit and citrus notes, with just a light smoky scent and flourishes when you add a dash of water (which is the way professional tasters drink whiskey).  It has a definite sweetness, so those interested in a premium Japanese whiskey will want to taste some lighter entries before going to the Hakushu.  Hibiki 12-Year-Old won top prize in its category at the 2010 World Whisky Awards and a Gold Medal in 2012 from Whisky Worldwide.
    Taiwan's Kavlan spirits also establish their identities through various barrel aging (below).  They are very cleanly made, most with that fruited sweet component. The Concertmaster label is first matured in American oak then aged in Portuguese Port barriques "as the main flavour."  A variation called ex-Bourbon Oak is diluted to 46 percent strength that softens the edge of the Solist whiskey; Solist Sherry is matured in Spanish Sherry oloroso casks, with no additional coloring, and results in the company's most complex whiskey.  The top of the line is its Solist Single Cask Strength, which comes in at 55-60 percent, matured in Fino Sherry butts.
    Not unlike premium Scotch single malts and small batch bourbon, these Asian whiskeys are aiming at a rarefied world market for first impressions.  But with the Asian market for such spirits expanding rapidly, production goals might well turn inward in the years to come, and sooner than later.



Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners

An Amore for Amarone

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

    Amarone is liquid proof that wine, like nature itself, is far from static; it is constantly evolving, offering surprises, adapting to change, always seeking to please and, more often than not, succeeding.
    I am pretty sure those were the thoughts of Abele Bolla when he firmly decided that of all the wines his family cellars produced – renowned Soave, lovely Valpolicella, charming Bardolino, a seductive Recioto and more – the Amarone was his favorite.
    As parents and grandparents tend to have a soft spot for the baby of the family, maybe the one with some perceived weakness, Abele had a soft spot for the ‘accident’ that was Amarone.  You see, during Abele’s 19th century and for generations before – perhaps millennia, as we know the ancient Romans made wine in Verona this way – the pride of Verona’s regional farmer-winemakers was Recioto.Recioto della Valpolicella was (and still is) made from the same grapes as the lighter bodied Valpolicella, but those grapes were carefully left to dry into plump raisins and the winemaking took place in the cold of early winter.
    As a result, in the days before temperature control, the fermentation process of converting sugars into alcohol did not fully run its course, impeded by the lower ambient temperatures.  While the wine remained with a solid alcohol content, it was still rich and sweet.  It was considered a nectar, a treat, and a downright necessity in the day when hard-working, hungry, cash-strapped farmers looked at wine as an important source of calories in their diet.  But if the weather was fickle and unseasonably warm, or if the winemaker was a little preoccupied and did not get to that one barrel hidden in the corner, the wine continued fermenting as the ambient temperatures rose, consuming the sugars, and becoming completely dry.
    If we logically and linguistically consider the opposite of sweet to be bitter, an alternate term for dry in Italian wine terminology, then we understand the meaning of the word amarone – from the word amaro, or bitter, with the suffix indicating bigness – the big bitter one, or the big dry wine.  To some it was an expression of frustration for the sweet wine they lost, but for Abele it was a term of endearment for his new favorite wine.
    As my own children know just how to push their own grandfather’s buttons, Abele’s grandchildren knew well his favorites.  On his 80th birthday in 1954 they dedicated a bottling for “Nonno.” Bolla became, controversially, the first winery to release an Amarone commercially for sale.
    Pietro Sartori had an affection for Amarone as well. His descendants have been producing Amarone since at least the early 1960s, but you would be hard-pressed today to find any of those older vintages, at least in the Sartori family cellars in Negrar, outside of Verona.  “Our philosophy is that wine is for drinking, not for saving,” says Pietro’s grandson, my dear friend Andrea Sartori, the current head of Sartori di Verona winery.  “The only wines grandfather ever saved were the dessert wines that he stashed in his home’s bomb shelter at the onset of World War II.  Fortunately, the German troops who occupied the house for the last couple of years of the war never found them, though they did manage to drink everything else in the cellars!”
    As if to make up for the missing Amarone of past vintages, Andrea puts his mind each year to making no fewer than three Amarones.  The first is his classic ‘house’ version, labeled, simply enough, as “Sartori Amarone della Valpolicella.”  It bears a shimmering ruby red color, with a bouquet of dried fruits, raisins, and cherry compote with cocoa notes.  Round and full bodied, it has deep fruit flavors and supple tannins with a note of cinnamon spice on the finish.  Andrea uses the traditional, classic varietals of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella with just a touch of Cabernet to round out the wine.
    Taking it up a notch, Sartori’s Corte Bra cru of Amarone replaces the Cabernet with a very old grape varietal, one that almost went extinct because of the challenges in growing it – Oseleta. The grapes come from a single vineyard in the heart of the Valpolicella region, and the Oseleta gives the wine more depth, complexity and austerity. Andrea responds to this by giving the wine more time in wooden barrels, resulting in a wine with instensely vivid garnet color, a bouquet of dried fruits, ripe berry and plum; it is rich, velvety and full bodied, with a lingering finish.
    Seeking further diversity, in 2006 Andrea Sartori introduced a new premium Amarone from his newly purchased I Saltari winery in the Mezzane Valley, east of Verona.  The winery is named for mercenary vineyard guardians, “Saltari,” hired by vineyard owners from the 16th through 18th centuries to protect their grapes from thieves and bandits.  With legal authority to shoot thieves on sight, the Saltari were ready defenders of the vineyards.  The choice of the name reflects Andrea Sartori’s own dedication to defending tradition and expressing the unique terroir of these vineyards (without any shooting, Andrea assures me!).
    I Saltari Amarone is a deep ruby red with intense violet reflections.  It offers a spicy aroma with hints of dried figs, cherry and aromatic herbs.  It is well balanced with good persistence on the palate, thanks to elegant and delicate tannins.
    Our friends at Bolla also produce two Amarones. Their classic Bolla Amarone della Valpolicella, fortunately for us widely available, is a deep garnet, velvety red with aromas of wild-cherry jam, spice, and hints of cedar.  It is rich and dry, with black cherry flavors and a round long finish with cacao and spice.
    The Bolla Le Origini Amarone is a wine dedicated to the traditions of Nonno Abele’s day and Bolla’s roots in making classic styled Amarone.  It offers up a bouquet redolent of wild cherries, black fruit, vanilla and licorice with hints of cedar.  It is full bodied and velvety, with ripe tannins and notes of plums, cocoa and spices.
    The Bolla, Sartori and I Saltari wines are wonderful examples of loyalty to Amarone’s true nature as food wine, in contrast to many other jammy, super-concentrated wines that seem more appropriate for the dessert course.  You can enjoy Bolla, Sartori and I Saltari amarones with roasts, game and aged cheeses, all about to make their appearance on our autumnal tables.  Or you also can enjoy them in the ultimate Italian and Veronese tradition as wines of “meditation” – to sip while contemplating life, fondly remembering your own grandfather, as do I, or, if you are lucky enough to still have him, enjoying it with him in mutual admiration.

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



The photo department of the Oregonian  ran a photo of the wrong mushroom in  its Sunday paper,  The photo was supposed to depict the matsutake mushroom but instead showed  Amanita muscaria (right), a  muscimol-containing specimen the paper says causes "wild behavior."


Tsao Ya-sin, owner of the Italian restaurant Rock Hill in Taiwan's capital Taipei, says she  "knows little about World War II," so she didn't expect the protests against her Third Reich–themed "Long Live Nazi Spaghetti" for her pasta special, which contains German sausage in it. She then changed the name to
"World Champion Spaghetti," to honor the Germany's World Cup victory.


 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: 20 BEST COUNTRIES FOR SOLO TRAVELERS

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,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Andrew Chalk,  Dotty Griffith and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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