Virtual Gourmet

  September 13,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day" (1993)


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By Brian Freedman


Part Three
By John Mariani

    I long ago accepted that I would never visit every country in the world, but I’ve come to the point where I take enormous pleasure in returning to my favorite hotels and dining at restaurants that stay in my memory as among the happiest moments of my maverick life as a writer.  Here are two I find hard to resist whenever I go to London. 


    Few restaurants anywhere can claim the success of The River Café, which, since opening
in 1987 in Hammersmith on the Thames, a good 30 minutes from the center of London, has rarely had an empty seat at lunch or dinner, seven days a week.  What’s more, everyone seems to know one another, guests and staff.  When people carp that it’s like an exclusive club, that’s only because its regulars are legion. 
    Opened by Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray (both untaught cooks, now with six best-selling cookbooks to their credit) as a kind of canteen for the staff in the design building it occupies, The River Café was immediately recognized as something completely different and new in London--a restaurant that diverged from the Italian restaurants of the time (which were really more Italian-American in style) to be more traditional and regional, alla cucina rustica with a Ligurian slant that prized simplicity and flavor first and last.

    Despite a fire not too long ago, the place retains the same breezy, open, pastel colors and light it’s always had, with a wide open kitchen and a window wall overlooking a backyard lawn that is very popular in good weather, which is always iffy in London.
    Rogers, who is still very much on the kitchen line, and Executive Chefs Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli work small wonders with very few ingredients, exemplified on my last visit by a dish of summer peas and cuttlefish (£20) so deftly mixed as to be at a level of flavor and texture no other cuttlefish dish (below) I’ve ever had has achieved. Carne cruda of veal--a classic Piemontese dish--was finely chopped raw rump meat with squashed tomato on bruschetta and aged pecorino (£20).
    Oddly enough, pasta dishes here are few in number--the pasta itself is made in daily batches only enough for lunch and dinner--but every one maintains the Rogers-Gray mantra that the food taste like what they’d enjoyed in homes in Italy according to the seasons, typified by ravioli stuffed with buffalo ricotta, garden herbs and lemon zest with marjoram butter and pecorino (£19) and the strozzapretti with basil pesto and green beans alla genovese (£19). One of the signature dishes here is the linguine with crab (£20), dressed with olive oil and a shot of chopped chile peppers.
    Seafood is always dependable here, especially wood-roasted turbot (below), this summer with anchovy, capers and flowering oregano with summer beets and garden rocket (£42).  If it’s on the menu I always order the squab, wood-roasted to a rosy turn with Tuscan red wine and roast potatoes.  The enormous char-grilled beef sirloin with borlotti beans, mustard, Sorrento tomatoes, and basil (£40) can usually be seen on a sizable number of tables each day, and it’s more than enough to share.
    For dessert the excellent gelati are recommended (two for £8) or the dense and decadent Chocolate Nemesis (£10), which they dare not take off the menu.  There is also a selection of fine cheeses (three for £13, five for £23).
    The River Café’s wine list has always been resolutely Italian, largely culled from small producers in every region of the country, and mark-ups are not too bad.
    First-time visitors to the restaurant may balk at the prices--this is only Italian food!--but you really cannot serve first-quality crab in a pasta dish for less than £20, and that massive £40 sirloin of beef is as good as any in London. (The sirloin, without any vegetables, at Smith & Wollensky is £52.) 
Just as important is the notion that you are dining not only in one of London’s best restaurants but one of its most pioneering and innovative, consistently delivering a kind of food others have been copying for two decades now.  And on a summer’s day on the gently flowing Thames, there are few places many people would rather be.

The River Café is open for lunch and dinner daily.



Mandarin Oriental Hotel
66 Knightsbridge
+44 (0)20 7235 2000

    Having dined here two years ago with a friend, I couldn’t wait to come back again, this time with my wife, whose palate brooks no imperfections in a dish, no matter how illustrious the name of the chef.  In this case the name is very illustrious indeed: Heston Blumenthal, who has, for more than a decade, held three Michelin stars for his wildly modernist restaurant the Fat Duck in Bray (also home to the very traditional three-star Waterside Inn).
    Blumenthal’s entry into the center of London, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, caused a flurry of speculation at what kind of mad molecular experiments he would undertake for a larger clientele.  Instead, Blumenthal went head over heels retro, bringing back dishes London hasn’t seen for centuries; still, he landed back on his feet in an effort to show how very antiquated dishes could be brought winningly into the 21st century, and they manifest his showmanship, not just show-off tricks.
    There’s a very reasonable three-course lunch menu at £38, as well as à la carte; a six-person “Chef’s Table” is situated directly opposite the show kitchen where Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts (with Blumenthal since 1999) serves eight tasting courses in season, at £150 per person for lunch and £200 for dinner (with a minimum of four guests required).  VAT tax and service are included.
    The oddly configured dining room provides a floor-to-ceiling view of the leafy outside, and you won’t find a better service staff in the city to attend to any request.  The open kitchen was designed as in a royal house, with a pulley roasting system, and porcelain wall sconces in the shape of antique jelly molds.

      The menu names, some dating to as early as 1390, don’t tell you much: “Meat fruit,” “Salamagundy,” “Rice & Flesh,” and underneath each is a mere mention of ingredients.  But once this food has been seen and tasted, you understand something of the fun that invests the old nursery rhyme’s “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”  No black birds on Dinner’s menu as yet, but you will find that lovely Meat Fruit (£17.50) crafted by putting chicken liver parfait inside what looks like a perfect orange, served with grilled bread (left).
    Salamagundy (circa 1720) derives from a French word for hodgepodge; here it comes as chicken oysters, salsify, bone marrow and assertive horseradish cream (£17.50), while Spiced Pigeon is cooked in ale and served simply with artichokes.  Iberian pork chop (circa 1820) is the star of a dish of great succulence (right), with “pointy cabbage,” onions and a classic sauce Robert of a demi-glace laced with brown mustard (£36).
    Desserts can be as deceptively simple as brown bread ice cream (circa 1830) with salted caramel and a pear-and-malted yeast syrup (£12) or a tipsy cake (circa 1810) of sweet brioche soaked with spit-roasted pineapple, Sauternes, brandy and vanilla (£14).  They also make ice cream right before your eyes, if you wish.
    The wine list is expertly put together, and your cordial sommelier will be helpful in every category and budget.
    If you turn over the menu, you’ll find the source of Blumenthal’s historic dishes, such as the 1670 recipe book titled The Queen Like Closet or Rich Cabinet by Hannah Wooley.  It is nearly impossible to know precisely what such ancient dishes tasted like at the time, but in Blumenthal’s hands they become as modern--though not modernistic--as any in Britain today.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is open for lunch and dinner daily.


By John Mariani


41 West 42nd Street (near Avenue of the Americas)

    As I surveyed the large, bustling dining room at the beautiful new restaurant Gabriel Kreuther across from Bryant Park, I was yet again reminded that fine dining at the highest level has never been more vibrant in Manhattan.  Just as the tables are full tonight at Le Bernardin, Aureole, Daniel, Jean-Georges, The Modern, La Grenouille, Per Se, Le Cirque, Picholine, Lincoln Ristorante, Marea,  Eleven Madison Park, and The Four Seasons, so, too, are the 100 seats at this stunning new restaurant named for Chef Gabriel Kreuther, congenially occupied six nights a week by well-dressed people who expect a civilized evening to unfold without blasting music, bare tables, and t-shirted waiters who never seem to know who gets what.
    True, finding a location, designing the space, hiring the best staff, and stocking a great wine list make the idea of opening such a restaurant in a city of rents beyond exorbitant quite an iffy proposition.  But the owners and investors are willing to bet on Kreuther’s reputation, a buoyant midtown economy, and a clientele in search of the very best.
    Kreuther earned his ranking among NYC’s great French masters while at The Modern for ten years, and his return to the stoves has been eagerly awaited by his fans and the food media.  So the opening of his restaurant (I’ll call it “GK”) is easily the big restaurant news item of 2015.  All the more remarkable, the fixed-price menu at GK for four courses, plus amuses, three bread services, pre-dessert, cookies, chocolates, and a coffee cake to take home, is only $98 (tasting menu $185)--quite a bit below Le Bernardin’s $140 (four courses), Daniel’s $145 (four) and Jean-Georges’ $128 (three).
    GK’s angled, flowing dining spaces, including a chef’s table near the kitchen, are inspired by the town squares in Alsace, where Kreuther comes from,  with light fixtures in the bar that evoke street lamps, wooden beams, green tiles, an etched-glass wall adorned with stork imagery, and a stainless-steel bar top resembling pewter. Kreuther must feel right at home.
    The retro-style chairs are extremely comfortable, the tables are set with thick white linens and napkins, with a charming table lamp that gives a further glow to the room.  The elongated forks, knives and spoons seem to me more apt for a fondue set, and I was surprised the rimmed wine glasses are not of the quality of all else on the table.
    GK’s service staff has now gotten to the point of seeming effortless in their moves, and the wine list is presented on an iPad that allows you to zero in on region, grape, and price, with the help of  ever-ebullient beverage director Emilie Perrier and the very helpful Brady Gorsuch. 
    I am going to try very hard not to pile on superlatives about the cuisine, but it will be difficult.  Kreuther’s vision of food is based on the principle that, by using the finest ingredients, very little has to be done to any of them beyond pairing them up, so that their flavors remain pure and distinct, while wholly complementary.  He is also well aware of the importance of an acidic spark--a touch of lemon juice, a lime leaf, and tangy seasoning--always to brighten and bring out all the flavors.  This is immediately evident in a starter like 10 days cured beef tenderloin tartare with a briny razor clam vinaigrette and the bite of horseradish. A raw marinated scallop gets a mild kick from a jalapeño coulis, with soothing  black radish and the tingle of Meyer lemon confit. Kreuther’s use of foie gras in a terrine has always been a paragon of the form, here served with woodsy porcini preserve, duck prosciutto and sweet cantaloupe.  A langoustine tartare (left) comes with flying fish roe, cauliflower, and a lush macadamia puree.
    Also showing Alsatian roots is Kreuther’s second course of sturgeon and sauerkraut tart with a creamy American caviar mousseline, which arrives under a glass cloche (below) that adds just a hint of applewood smoke is a masterpiece.  His sweetbread and black truffle dumplings with a puree of corn and red currants is a beautiful amalgam of Northern Italian and American flavors, as is his Munster cheese and egg raviolo with spinach, the light crunch of pistachio and black truffle sauce.
    The third course is either seafood or meat, and I split the difference with my party of five. Buckwheat breaded Montauk fluke in a light barley-mushroom broth with nettle foam wholly respected the taste and texture of the fish, while a lusty dish of skirt steak with crispy black trumpet mushrooms, green leek purée and green peppercorn jus proved the versatility of this lowly cut of beef.

        I don’t know what Kreuther does with the rest of the pig, but his spice- rubbed Mangalitsa pork collar (a bit chewy that evening) and cheek with morcilla blood sausage, apricot, and fennel--pork’s perfect foil--was drizzled with the kind of careful, syrupy reduction only a veteran Frenchman like Kreuther can pass on to his brigade.
    It was all I could do to wave away a splendid cheese cart, so that I would have ample room for dessert. Patîssier Marc Aumont has crafted the kind of refined desserts you really find only at this level of cuisine, like his “Fantasy” of chocolate Kirsch Amarena with Guanaja Chantilly cream, an olive-oil flavored chocolate sponge cake and Kirsch sorbet (left); his aptly named  “Ethereal” pineapple and green apple sphere with herbs sorbet; a lovely and
simple form of peach Melba as bright as August, with vanilla mousse sphere and almond cake center, raspberry sauce and caramelized almonds,  raspberry gelée and peach sorbet; and his “Comfort” dessert of apricot pistachio passion fruit with roasted apricot, pistachio mousseline and ten flavor sorbet. (And here I need note that GK’s pastry sous-chef, Priscilla Scaff Mariani, who had worked with him at The Modern, is my daughter-in-law, so accept that for what it’s worth.)
    The promise of GK was that Kreuther’s cuisine would be at least as good as when he was at The Modern.  But, by bringing to bear his Alsatian background and rigorous training,  he has added an amiable touch of his shy personality in all he does in dishes unlike what anyone else is now doing in NYC’s highly competitive food scene.  
    And to enjoy it all in such an enchanting atmosphere--at such an exemplary price--is a reminder of that rare quality of the sublime within reach of anyone receptive enough truly to appreciate all that goes into it.


Gabriel Kreuther is open Mon.-Fri. for lunch, and Mon.-Sat. for dinner.




By Brian Freedman

    When I was six years old, my father sat me down at the living room coffee table, opened up three bottles—a red, a white, and a Champagne—and told me that, starting that evening, I would begin to learn about wine with him. During nearly every dinner thereafter, I’d have a microscopic splash in my glass, the wine specifically chosen to pair with whatever magic my mother was whipping up in the kitchen that evening. Mine was a childhood awash in Napa Cabernet, Left Bank Bordeaux, and plenty of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
    Yet like most Americans in the 1980s, we never--not once--paired German Riesling with dinner, despite the range of my mother’s cooking and the infinite opportunities that we clearly had (in hindsight) to enjoy food alongside the great whites of Germany.  I don’t know the reasoning for sure, but my hunch is that, even in a wine-focused home like the one in which I grew up, German wine was just misunderstood. By the time I was into my teens, the entirety of my German-wine knowledge could be summed up in two concise bullet points: (a) They were sweet, the sort of thing that I heard was guzzled at the illicit high school parties I never got invited to; and (b) their labels were often indecipherable, printed out in overly ornate Gothic script like some sort of Grimms’ fairytale illustration.
    It wasn’t until years later that I tasted my first great one: A J.J. Christoffel Erben Riesling Spätlese Urziger Wurzgarten. It changed my wine life forever.
    Since then I have been on a quest to wrap my head around the astounding diversity of German bottlings, a national wine culture as vibrant, fascinating, and wide-ranging as any in the world right now. Frustratingly, among too many consumers at least, German wines are still pigeonholed in ways that they absolutely should not be. Sommeliers and beverage directors are putting their weight behind them, and having some significant success selling them tableside at their restaurants, but among too large a swath of the wine-drinking public, the whole category of German wine remains a mystery. Yet I have a strong suspicion that all of that is about to change.
    Last month, I spent nearly a week in Germany at the invitation of the German Wine Board, with the explicit purpose of exploring (and therefore increasing my understanding of) the world-class wine regions of Pfalz, Rheingau, and Rheinhessen. I came away from the experience not just with an increased respect for the wines, but, more importantly, a deep sense of excitement for their future. The German wine industry is infinitely more exciting than it is given credit for, and beyond its marquis grape variety Riesling, the breadth of expressions is nothing less than stunning.
    Much of this has to do with what might be called the inherent terroir-specificity of Riesling, a variety that has an uncanny ability to allow the land in which it grows to shimmer through with crystalline clarity. The place-name on the label of great German Riesling is more than an indication of origins; it’s also often an indication of character. (This is true of so many other grape varieties there, too, not just Riesling.)  This was made beautifully visible during a tasting of wines grown on the red slate slopes of Nierstein’s Roten Hang (right). Over the course of the evening, we spoke with, and enjoyed the wines of, three producers whose vision, energy and passion embody all of the excitement of the new German winemaking culture. Highlights of the evening--in addition to the amazing beef and pork from Metzgerei David in Worms cooked up by the remarkable Kai Schätzel--included the 2012 and 2013 Pettenthal Rieslings from both Schätzel and Weingut St. Anthony, the 2014 Pettenthal Sauvignon Blanc from Weingut Sebastian Strub, and the 2013 and 2014 Nierstein Silvaners from Schätzel, which benefited from a week’s maceration on the skins. I also loved the 2014 Hipping Riesling from Weingut Lisa Bunn.
    Silvaner, I suspect, is poised to see its stock climb to the levels it so richly deserves. Long an afterthought on the American market, the Silvaners I tasted were stunning in their clarity and beyond exciting in the range of styles in which they are being crafted, from the crisp and refreshing to the unexpectedly age-worthy.
    Weissburgunder is also on the rise. More familiarly known as Pinot Blanc, it’s a variety that I kept going back to while in Germany. The spicy, bright 2014 Weissburgunder Trocken from Weingut Heinrich Spindler was a food-pairing dream, and the Weingut Odinstal Weissburgunder “Basalt” 2014 was among the top wines I tasted all week, its spice and honeyed notes framing peach, yellow apple and a smoky minerality with grace, balance and phenomenal depth. (Their 2014 Silvaner Nature, which is partially crafted in buried amphorae, was deeply memorable, too.)
    That balance is one of the great calling cards of German wine right now, a trait that makes them excellent to sip on their own yet tremendously versatile at the table. This is true for the still wines as much as the sparkling ones, like Odinstal’s Brut Nature (only bottled in magnum) and Weingut Joachim Flick’s 2013 Wickerer Nonnberg Riesling Sekt Brut. And I was bowled over by the quality and range of bottlings on offer at Strauch Sektmanufaktur, which was more than worthy of being named Gault-Millau’s German wine discovery of the year last year, a distinction that has required them to double production and, for the first time, not to sell any of their estate-grown grapes, but instead to use them all in their own bottlings. If you see these sparklers in the market or on a wine list, buy them immediately.
    Sauvignon Blanc is also finding a voice and an audience for itself--producers are experimenting with harvest times and winemaking techniques to coax from the grape variety a unique sense of expressiveness. Weingut am Nil is doing a nice job with a more classical expression of it, whereas Weingut Mussler is working with a more tropical style in their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Fransheim; its honeyed and floral notes are immediately appealing. Weingut von Winning is also a source for excellent Sauvignon Blanc that I’d recommend seeking out.
    Weingut Schneider won me over with two tasty ones--the 2014 Kaitui and the 2014 Kaitui Fumé, the latter based on two clones from Northern Italy and boasting more smoky aromatics than the former--but I was just as impressed with their reds. The 2012 Syrah “Holy Moly” was a dead-ringer for Northern Rhône on the nose, and the 2009 bottling of the same wine was more California in character, its 15% alcohol balanced and pulsing through a wine of serious exuberance. Their Tailor Reserve, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, also showed brilliantly in both its 2007 and 2004 vintages. (Their 2003 Riesling Saumagen, with its lanolin, nectarine, mint, and petrol notes, was both exciting and wholly unique at the same time.)
    There is, indeed, a new generation that seems to be pushing both German wine itself, and the perception of it around the world, in new directions by both respecting the past and blazing their own path to the future. Jochen Dreissigacker, for example, is, at his eponymous winery, crafting wines of notable purity and finesse. His impossibly complex, deeply pleasurable 2010 Riesling Geyserberg, for instance, embodies so much of what makes the new German wine so exciting. I got the same feeling throughout my time in Germany the other week. This sort of exuberance and energy is contagious, and I suspect that more and more consumers on this side of the ocean will continue to discover and appreciate it. I certainly have.




“During the summer of 2012, I had perhaps the most glorious run of swine dining in my pig-laden life. Over a 24-hour period in the Winston-Salem metropolitan area, I hit up Snooks, Tarheel Q and the legendary Lexington Barbecue.”—Alex Hochman, “Rusty’s Barbecue,” SF Examiner (7/26/15)


In an article on, freelance writer Nicole Rupersburg wrote of  "America's 12 most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities," not one of whom was black.  


 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: KANSAS CITY; SWEDISH SUMMER.

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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