Virtual Gourmet

  JULY 12,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


"Huîtres" by Augustin Theodule Rébot (1823-91)


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

    There are three things to know about dining out in Paris right now.
    First, anyone who says Parisian cuisine has fallen behind that of cities like Barcelona, Copenhagen and Lima have clearly not been to France in this century.  There is currently more excitement and innovation in Paris restaurants than at any time in its history. Second, prices have never been more reasonable for better food and service. As mentioned in last week’s Virtual Gourmet, scores of very good restaurants offer three-course meals--some with wine and all including tax and service--for under $40. Third, Parisian service, even at the three-star level, has never been friendlier and more helpful, and any traveler showing a sincere interest in what makes a restaurant special will be treated with the utmost hospitality.  Speaking French is not a requisite for fine service. 
    Of course, what Parisians don’t care for is the American tourist who books a table then proceeds to order a salad as a main course, asks for ice in the red wine, and shows no interest whatsoever in the specialties of the house.  They figure, rightly, that you might as well have stayed home.  In France, the customer is not always right, not by a long shot.
     As for dress codes, almost none exist, even in the three-star restaurants, where most gentlemen will wear a jacket but a necktie has become something of a rarity, even in Paris, tant pis.  Even Jules Verne, the stellar ultra-fancy restaurant within the Eiffel Tower, only requests "Appropriate dress. . . T shirts, shorts and sports clothes will be refused."
    On my latest trip to Paris a few weeks ago, along with my older son, who is in the restaurant business, I went from bistro to three-star dining, always being enchanted at how good the food was, how superb the ingredients, how impeccable the service, and how just plain enjoyable it was to dine out. Joie de vivre never tasted so good. 
   Our first meal, under the gloom of jet lag, was at a favorite old spot, Le Grand Colbert, on a side street near the Palais Royal Gardens, La Place des Victoires and the Stock Exchange.  Named after Louis XIV’s principal minister, who bought the space in 1637--his bust looks out on all that goes on in the dining room---it has been a restaurant since
    Closed in the 1980s, Le Grand Colbert has been managed since 1992 by Joël Fleury and has grown in popularity by attracting people from the Exchange and the nearby theaters, and you may recognize it from the scene in the 2000 film “Something’s Gotta Give” (right) when Jack Nicholson surprises Diane Keaton on her birthday at the restaurant.  (There’s a poster on the front door.)
    When you walk in you’ll be well greeted, and, if you arrive on the early side, have your pick of tables. Impeccably renovated, the room retains its buoyant fin de siècle décor, with sculpted pilasters, Pompeian-style paintings (a rarity in Paris restaurants), mosaic floor, brass railings, blackboard menu and etched glass, all of which qualifies it as a Grande Brasserie and Historic Monument.
    Of course, La Grand Colbert offers all the classics, from frogs’ legs rich in garlic butter (€19) to a generous slab of duck foie gras terrine en gelée (€24), and a bubbly onion soup in white ceramic pot (€11).  They serve eight icy pink shrimp (left) from the Indian Ocean (20 €) that are sweet and very pretty, and there are variously priced seafood trays mounted with crab, oysters, whelks, and much more.
    My son had an enormous portion of calf’s liver with caramelized small white onions and steaming hot potatoes gratin (€26), while I had an old favorite, blanquette de veau with morels (€24), which was all right, but whose cream sauce was a bit thin.  For dessert we had delightfully rummy baba cake  (€9.60) and the always irresistible profiteroles drenched in hot dark chocolate (€12.70).
    The wine list could use updating.
    Le Grand Colbert offers
three courses at a remarkable €37 at lunch and after 10:30 p.m., making it a good spot for after theater.

    That night we took the Métro over to the 11th Arrondissement of the Left Bank to dine at Aux Prés, a year-old spot run by chef-restaurateur Cyril Lignac, who also owns the posh but unpretentious Le Quinzieme.  At Aux Prés, on the Rue de Dragon, formerly a hot spot called Claude Sainlouis, Lignac clearly wants to have some fun within the small space with its fuchsia-colored awning, a tiny back room with red banquettes (the front is not as loud), pretty flowered wallpaper, and a sleek white marble bar overseen by an extremely affable, English-speaking fellow whom you should trust to choose your wine. The black sandstone flatware is by Les Guimards.
    There are two prix fixe menus here: three courses at €39 or two at €29. They also serve brunch on weekends.
    Aux Prés gets a neighborhood crowd, and it tilts young, but the music in the background never blasts out at you as you’d find in a similar spot in the U.S., so conversation fills the ambiance with a cheeriness you get when people are finding their food deliciously different.
    There is, in fact, a hamburger with frites on the menu--increasingly popular all over town--but you may want to start with a salad of soft egg, kale (even Paris has kale on its brain these days), orange slices and carrots scented with cumin.  You don’t expect tacos in a Parisian bistro, but Aux Prés’s, filled with tasty roasted chicken in a satay sauce, leaps at least three continents in culture, and they’re very good. So, too, are the empanadas of beef with eggplant and a spicy tomato sauce. For a novel turn on  the classics, sweetbreads come with bittersweet condiments and carrots are recommended. 
    Charmingly plated desserts include a rich pain perdú with summer cherries, pears and caramel vanilla ice cream (left); strawberry Melba; and a salted butter caramel éclair.

    I returned to one of my old favorites that looks brand new, the charming Les Bouquinistes, set on the Seine near Notre Dame.  Although more than a decade old, this modern bistro by master chef Guy Savoy (who has a 3-star namesake restaurant in Paris and a restaurant in Las Vegas) has shiny black surfaces that never look drab, helped by tall windows that let in the Paris sunlight, twilight and night lights along the Seine and its beautiful bridges. There’s a spectacular glass wine wall above a dining counter,  and, since a “bouquiniste” commemorates the used book sellers located along the river, books hang every which way in the room. There are table mats on white tabletops, which bespeak the nouvelle décor of Paris's casual restaurants. Les Bouqinistes’s manager, Cedric Jossot, wait staff and sommelier are all in black and white, young and good looking. 
The wine list is excellent but fairly expensive.

    The best way to go here is with the fixed price menus, which include a glass of wine.

 The chef here is Stéphane Perraud, and his cooking shares the lightness of Savoy’s rendering of classic French cuisine in thoroughly modern ways. Every dish we tried was not just beautifully presented and executed but suffused with essential flavors, starting with a tartare of salmon and crevettes atop a pretty round of crushed cucumbers (left). Soups are gossamer, slightly foamy and include wild mushrooms or foie gras.  Translucent ravioli are packed with prawns and vegetables in a verbena emulsion.  Marvelously juicy and flavorful lamb chops come with spring onions and peas, and gaufrette potatoes (€36), and suckling pig is braised slowly, the meat becoming velvety, served with mashed potatoes (€35).  This is hearty food--no in Paris thinks eating meats like duck is too heavy for summer--and here it is sliced into pink slabs and accompanied by confit potatoes, broccoli and a vinaigrette that cuts the fattiness of the fowl (€34).
    For dessert he'll make meringue from tea and place them with tea sorbet and strawberries (€15), and perfect peaches are marinated in verbena syrup and sided with cherry-basil sorbet and red currant cake (€14).

    Yet all of this splendor is served up with an attitude that you are there to have fun, marvel a little at the food, and enjoy yourself in the surroundings of refined but casual chic--one that has remained so for well over a decade.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Set menus include six courses at €89, lunch €32, €36 and €45 (with a glass of wine), as well as a la carte, with starters at €19-€25 and mains €34-€36, all including VAT and service.


        In recent years I have championed dining in the world’s best hotels, because, rather than merely offering a dining room as an amenity, hotel restaurants are now expected to draw guests and profits, which can be done only with superior food and service.
   I shall be  spending an entire column next week on the three-star L’Èpicure at Le Bristol Hotel, because there is so much to say. But here are three others where I would as soon dine in Paris as anywhere, not least for the atmosphere each possesses and the commitment to high quality, difficult to achieve in a free-standing restaurant.
    Alain Ducasse has a three-star restaurant at the glorious Hôtel Plaza Athenée, whose renovation has given it a high polish without losing any of its classic luxury, but I instead dined at Le Relais (which Ducasse also oversees) on the same premises.  This is one of Paris’s most glamorous dining venues, sleek and swank from the glossy lighted bar to the main dining area (left), another three steps up.
    There’s a distinct worldliness in the air here, with an international crowd that enjoys the pampering  it receives from a fast-paced waitstaff. The bar is a place any man should consider for first meeting a beautiful woman.
    The white asparagus had just come into the market, so we gobbled them up with their rich sauce (€32).  I’ve always loved the rosy slab of foie gras mi-cuit here, served with cherry chutney and warm brioche (€34).  As everywhere in Paris now, Le Relais offers Italian dishes à la française, like risotto with Périgord truffles (€72) and rigatoni with morels and fava beans in a sauce of vin jaune and cream (€32).  Even the bouillon of artichokes has green ravioli bobbing about (€24).
    There are six seafood main courses and nine meats on the menu, including the plats du jour.  Dover sole meunière with very buttery potatoes mousseline and sautéed spinach (€72) is always listed and one of the richest seafood dishes in the city, perfect with a glass of Champagne. Brittany turbot (€64) is a splendid example of a fish that never seems to travel well across the Atlantic.  Here it comes with green cabbage and red wine matelote sauce.  The lamb at Le Relais  is milk-fed and very tender, served with eggplant caviar, crushed potatoes and a drizzle of olive oil (€46).
    One must have the signature “religieuse caramel au beurre sale” (€18), an éclair-like pastry with ganache and crème patîssière (I’ll let you wonder why it’s named after a nun) and the liquid-centered moelleux of dark chocolate (€20) is highly recommended. There are fixed price dinners at €46 for two courses, €58 for three, and a Menu Jazz at €78 for three.

    Certainly one of the loveliest of locations on the Champs Elysée is Hôtel Barrières Le Fouquet, whose silvery awning and blue carpet lead to a chic check-in desk and lobby whose walls are decked with scores of  black-and-white photos of the great movie stars who have stayed here.  With just 81 rooms with butler service, the hotel is discreet and seems removed from the bustle just outside. The rooms are a marvel of modern Parisian design and comfort, full of light, with bathrooms one could get lost in.
    The hotel offers several dining options, including a café along Rue Georges Cinq; the Provençal-inflected La Maison de Nicole (named after owner Nicole Rubi); an interior Fouquet’s restaurant with its lovely terrace dining area on the Champs Elysé
e; and a superb gastronomique restaurant, Le Diane, with an outdoor garden.
    The fine interior dining room, called Fouquet's (left) that leads to the terrace,   is done in rich red fabrics and polished wooden décor, with white roses on the hefty linen tablecloths, along with fine old silverware and wineglasses.  Here, too, the walls are hung with movie star photos from Charles Boyer to Carole Bouquet.
    We began with asparagus lavished with watercress cream, set with a quivering poached egg whose yolk was as golden as the Parisian sunshine. Tomatoes with basil and burrata cheese was an unexpected surprise on a menu so thoroughly French. A nicely seared filet of beef was finely grained and very toothsome,  accompanied by a creamy Béarnaise, buttered and firm but tender green beans,  and fat fried potaoes.   Merlan Colbert--a very classic dish--was perfect: crisply fried and buttery whiting with boiled potatoes, a raft of chopped parsley and sauce tartare.  For dessert I recommend the luscious caramel chocolate croustillant and the brightly colored meringues with fresh berries (right).
Fouquet’s wine list is buoyed by its long history, and there are a dozen wines by the glass.
    Simply to stay and dine at Hotel Barrieres Le Fouquet is to join in the experience of its very long history, but to do so now is also to partake of what is a high degree of modern refinement.

À la carte, a three-course meal will run about €95, with a Menu of the Season at €90.



By John Mariani

151 East 50th Street (near Lexington Avenue)
Nothing quite prepares you for entrance into Ibis, a new Turkish restaurant on the site of what was once a 1920s East Side opera house, then a famous and lavish nightclub called Versailles.
    The new bar is spacious and well-lighted but beyond it is a room of daunting size with tall tufted booths, a winding staircase, cathedral dome, a railed mezzanine, a splendid wall of back-lighted wines, and a main floor that was once clearly meant for dancing the night away.  There is, too, a mural depicting chanteuse Edith Piaf, who performed here in the late 1940s when this was Versailles, which also played host to the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and many other top bananas of the 1950s.  Back then you could even have your fortune read by Doris the Palmist.   The continental food had names like Chicken Maison.
    I’m not old enough to remember any of that history, but upon entering, I took in a good sense off what the room must have been like back then, and I’m glad the current owners have maintained some of that art deco swank, right down to the patterned carpets.  White tablecloths would help complete the nostalgic ambiance but they are nowhere to be seen.

    Without ever having eaten at Versailles, I can still guarantee its stultified cuisine would be no match for Chef
Ferhat Aydin’s wonderful Turkish cuisine featured at Ibis.  Raised in Istanbul, Aydin (below) learned to cook from his grandfather, at whose restaurant he began working at the age of 28, then moving in 2000 to NYC, where he opened Taksim, then to West Palm Beach to open Agora Mediterranean Kitchen in 2012.  I am happy to have him back in New York, doing some of the finest food of its type in the city.
    Turkish cuisine is not very different from others around the Eastern Mediterranean, though it can be delightfully spicier--as anyone who has been to the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul will recognize.  Our group of four asked our superb and congenial waiter named Kaya to choose an assortment of mezes ($21), and the result was a lavish spread of sun-dried stuffed b
aby eggplant, rice and tomatoes, aromatically scented with fresh mint ($13 à la carte) ; lightly pan-fried, nice and crispy phyllo rolls of cured beef tenderloin, kashkaval cheese, tomatoes ($12); a traditional hummus and more--all of it accompanied by some terrific hot lavash bread of just the right texture and pull.
    Lamb figures large in Turkish cuisine, and much cooking is done on skewers, so I was very happy with the juicy lamb brochette ($32), as well as with the doner kebab ($28), sliced generously from a rotisserie round of grilled, seasoned lamb, with pita bread, tomato sauce and yogurt.   Spicier still was grilled lamb with harissa chile pepper sauce ($27), whose fiery heat was cooled down by creamy yogurt.

Simply grilled succulent lamb chops (below) were set over aromatic rice pilaf dotted with sweet currants and pine nuts ($38).   And just to see how the kitchen does beef, I ordered a fine grilled Prime beef tenderloin with lemony potatoes and a whiff of thyme ($38).  A fillet of branzino with baby arugula ($28) was as good as many at Italian restaurants around town.
    The desserts ($9-$11) stay traditional, with almond pudding, halva with ice cream, and lovely stuffed apricots with clotted cream and pistachio dust. And while the baklava was good, its layers might have been crispier.

    Ibis’s wine list, if not extensive, is notable for having several Turkish wines of top quality on it--this at a time when in Turkey itself being able to buy alcohol of any kind can be difficult.

    I doubt many people would expect a Turkish restaurant of these dimensions and refinement would be found in a former nightclub where Desi Arnaz led the band, but with or without the musical ghosts of NYC’s cabaret history, Ibis would stand out anywhere in Manhattan.

 Open for dinner  Mon.-Sat.





By John Mariani

       One of my fondest memories from my salad days is of lounging under a wild oak tree with my wife in the National Park of Italy’s Apennine region of Abruzzo, eating country bread and smoky scamorza cheese with a full liter of montepulciano d’abruzzo wine.
      After a well deserved nap, we woke up, pointed to each other and said in unison, “Your teeth are purple!”
      That was pretty much the way it was with montepulciano d’abruzzo back then, when this workhorse grape (which is not the same varietal as the Tuscan vino nobile de montepulciano) had little or no reputation for quality beyond its ability to quench thirst and induce sleep.
      Indeed, for most of the past two decades the only montepulciano d’abruzzo you could find in wide distribution in the U.S. was the deservedly cheap Casal Thaulero, available in big screwtop bottles. The most you could say about about it was that it was an inexpensive, sturdy red wine that was okay for a casual meal.
      Since then, with the amazing rise in quality throughout Italy of its regional wines, montepulciano d’abruzzo and its white wine sister, trebbiano d’abruzzo, have improved dramatically among a handful of producers who make wines of complexity, distinctive character and a certain refinement.
      Abruzzo is a very diverse region east of Rome and extending to the Adriatic. It has impressive mountains, a great plain, a tourist-rich coastline, and a history of fine cooks.
      Twenty years ago the only Abruzzese vintner of note was the legendary late Edoardo Valentini, whose long-lived trebbiano d’abruzzo is considered one of the great white wines of Italy and his montepulciano d’abruzzo every bit as good. But his wines are not easy to find, and, if you can find them, they cost a small fortune--with some vintages going for $700 and more.
      Next to Valentini, the most respected Abruzzese vintner right now is Masciarelli Tenute Agricole, founded in 1978 by the late Gianni Masciarelli  and now headed by Belgrade-born Marina Cvetic Masciarelli (below), who married him in 1989.
     I met Ms. Masciarelli--whom I soon was calling Marina--for dinner in New York and found her ebullience (and impeccable English) is not just part of her charm but of her intent to make montepulciano d’abruzzo as famous as Italy’s finest, including the so-called Super Tuscans and the Piedmontese wines of Angelo Gaja.  She is convinced this once workhorse grape of Abruzzo can rival the illustrious sangioveses and nebbiolos of those regions.
     Marina grew up in the wine estate of her grandfather, who produced wines in Croatia. After marrying Gianni Masciarelli, she became involved in every aspect of the business, including production and marketing, and she has helped to expand the company’s holdings to 350 hectares of vineyards in all four provinces of Abruzzo--Chieti, Teramo, Pescara and L’Aquila.  The company’s headquarters are in San Martino.   
Marina knew immediately upon taking full control in 2008 after her husband’s death that modernization of the estate, vineyards and winery was needed to extract the best from the grapes.  She also has been a big promoter of wine tourism in Abruzzo, inviting visitors to stay at the estate’s baronial but rustic Castle of Semivicoli (above).  Her motto is  “Land, sky and vineyards are a life therapy.”
    Over a dinner that ranged from pizza to sausages and roast chicken, I sampled several of Masciarelli’s current releases, including a very impressive Villa Gemma Bianco Colline Teatine 2013 ($15), a blend of trebbiano d’abruzzo, cococciola and chardonnay that, despite its youth, had remarkable richness, intense bouquet, and a creaminess not too distant from Angelo Gaja’s much-praised chardonnays.
      Masciarelli also makes its standard-bearer 100% trebbiano d’abruzzo 2011 ($43), fermented in new oak. The alcohol in this bottling reaches an amazing 14.5%--not a level I find appealing in most white wines--but I could tell this had tremendous potential for aging, and with its acidity and honeyed fruit, it’s a wine I want to taste again in five years.
       I also sipped a delightfully rosy Villa Gemma Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2013 ($15), an easy-drinking deep rosato with plenty of cherry flavor and color; it is ideal as a summer aperitif as well as with grilled poultry, pizza and salmon.
    Turning to the montepulcianos, I found the Marina Cvetic San Martino 2010 ($28) an excellent way to introduce wine lovers to the varietal and the brand.  It’s not likely you’ll mistake this for a chianti or vino nobile di montepulciano, for the intensity of bouquet and big fruit and spice is forceful right at the first sip, expressive of the Abruzzese terroir.  This wine has been made for many years at the estates and is its most available, with 400,000 bottles produced annually.
      If that wine converts you to the varietal, you may pay your deepest respects to Villa Gemma
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006 ($86) now in the market, which is made from grapes from 30-year-old vines that have been stressed to find water deep in the soil, resulting in smaller grapes richer in sugar, which explains its 14.5% alcohol.  It is a massive wine, best for continued aging, and I would certainly rank it with Valentini examples at five times the price.  Masciarelli makes about 19,000 bottles each year.
       And, since Masciarelli makes a certain number of magnums of Villa Gemma,  that is certainly something I want to let age for at least a decade, when it will prove the longevity of a varietal that once was famous for turning one’s teeth purple.  Ten years from now montepulciano d’abruzzo and trebbiano d’abruzzo should enter with dignity the pantheon of Italy’s most respected wines.
       “You have to accept what the gods give you in the vineyard,” said Marina, “then you work hard to make the best wines you can.”




A "gourmet food truck for dogs"  named Wonderboo opened in Stureplan, Sweden, created by Magnus Rosengren, who says,  “I want to help dog owners give their dogs the best conditions for a long and healthy life while making it convenient.”  Dishes include  Swedish Ox, which is made with oxblood, and a “light” version for smaller pets.


"If you're looking for a little unce-unce in your Hampton's dining experience,  Beaumarchais'
Jonathan Rapillo recently opened Sienna, which is a collaboration with Pink Elephant."--Grub Street, New York Magazine.




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

   I'm proud and happy to announce that my new book, The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books), has just been published through Amazon and Kindle. 
     It is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring back his master back from the edge of despair. 


“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.


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: SWISS TRAINS AND THE ITALIAN LAKE DISTRICT

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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