DECEMBER   13,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Christmas Dinner at Bob Cratchitt's in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.



By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By John Mariani

By John Mariani



Part One 

By John Mariani

    No matter what anyone tells you, New Orleans is a very tough place to love in summer. When I was there this August, the heat and humidity kept me from the pleasures of merely strolling the streets of this nobly revived city. Not every district has bounced back yet from Hurricane Katrina, and some may never do so, but the vibrancy of the reclaimed city is most palpable in the restaurants, where, incidentally, the air conditioning is always on.  So in a city where the cold tap water runs warm in summer, staying inside is to be recommended as a survival strategy. 
Fortunately, on my latest stay, I was happy to spend a good deal of my time in the new Le Meridien New Orleans on Poydras Street, which recently went through a  $29 million  transformation, making it one of the most attractive and most modern hotels in the city. Just across from Harrah’s Casino.The hotel’s lobby anchors everything as a hub of activity, with a counter and bar section just beyond the check-in desk where you can have breakfast or light food throughout the day.  My suite (right), done in pastel shades of gray and white, overlooked the city and the Mississippi, and  had a well-stocked in-room bar area, and fine amenities throughout, especially the work space area and electric outlets and WiFi accessible units.
    In this three-part article, I'll focus this week on two renewed classic restaurants that are better than ever.

209 Bourbon Street

    As I have for years, I make my first lunch in town at  Galatoire’s, still venerable but not in the way some restaurants in New Orleans rest on their faded laurels.  Galatoire’s is better than ever, wholly refurbished, and Chef Michael Sichel maintains a kitchen of remarkable consistency.
    Galatoire’s is a mystical place in the hearts of many New Orleanians whose families have been coming here since French immigrant Jean Galatoire opened up on Bourbon Street in 1905.  Since then, Friday lunch has been as requisite for New Orleanians as Mass on Sunday and every bit as restorative; the line to get in still straddles the block, and even in the sauna-like heat of summer, women dress to the nines and men wear seersucker suits and white Panama hats.
      Some people even hire stand-ins to get in line early in the morning just after Bourbon Street has been washed down. But on other days and nights of the week, it’s not nearly so tough to get a table.
    The veteran waiters have been joined by a cadre of affable young ones—the torch passes on—so you sit down and get ice water, hot French bread and a generous slab of butter; the wine list is better than ever.
    You can’t go wrong ordering anywhere on the menu (though I’ve still yet to see the point of dusting fried eggplant with powdered sugar and Tabasco). The ruddy red turtle soup laced with sherry ($7.50) and the fish, whether it’s trout, sole, grouper or pompano, is going to be enhanced with a mound of jumbo lump crabmeat.  Andouille gumbo ($7.50) is superlative, and redfish with almonds is something I never fail to order if it’s on the menu. I love the hefty sweetbreads appetizer with lemon caper butter ($11).  There’s even a first-rate USDA Prime ribeye weighing in at a solid pound ($42). The creamed spinach ($6) is as rich as any dish in New Orleans and the garlicky Brabant potatoes ($5) is a dish you rarely see anymore and wish you did.
    For dessert the bread pudding is not fancy but it’s good, as is the Key lime pie ($6).
    Forget what you've heard about not being able to get into Galatoire's (they take reservations for the upstairs dining room) and waiting in a long line.  Let the locals have Friday and Saturday lunch to themselves. Galatoire's welcomes everyone at all times.

Right now, though December 24, Galatoire’s is offering a Reveillon 4-course menu at $45.




1403 Washington Avenue

    There seems little debate that Commander’s Palace ranks at the very top of New Orleans fine dining restaurants, and there is no question it has been one of the most influential restaurants in America, both for its promotion of modern Creole cuisine and for a commitment to service emulated but rarely reached by restaurateurs around America.
      Over two generations now, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan (below), with their mother Ella Brennan, have maintained the excellence of Commander’s even after Hurricane Katrina shuttered it for thirteen months, during which a $6.5 million restoration by David Rockwell took place. Oldtimers will be in no way disappointed by the improvements, which include a New Orleans-style wrought iron gate separating the foyer and main dining room and embroidered three-dimensional Audubon birds.
    Executive Chef Tory McPhail hits the ideal balance between the rich culinary and cultural heritage of Louisiana food and the need to bring everything into brighter modern focus.  So you begin with big fresh shrimp and tasso Henican with pickled okra and five-pepper jelly ($11.50), or a most unusual “Pig & a Peach” of a roasted Ruston peach galette with tasso pork belly, St. André cheese and sticky trotter jus ($12), about as decadent a dish as you’ll find in the Crescent City.  Or, maybe not; the foie gras with chicory coffee cake (below), pecan streusel, candied oranges and a frosty foie gras frappe ($18) might top it.
    The best way to appreciate Commander’s (the name comes from the original owner of the building in 1880), is to go with McPhail’s Tasting Menu at a very reasonable $65 ($40.50 more with wines, from one of the great wine lists in the world).
    Very contemporary indeed was the summer rock shrimp ceviche with a watermelon gelée, compressed tomatoes, cucumber caviar and brioche tuiles.  Smoky beef fat is injected into Broken Arrow Ranch antelope and served as a tamale, with smashed chipotles, tomatillos and queso fresco.
    Commander’s wine director, Guy Dan Davis, oversees a 10,000-bottle  inventory, with 1,800 labels, and 24 wines by the glass; and there’s a section on the wine menu of  “Great Wines, Great Prices” that range from just $20 to $30.
    Despite the richness of the food at Commander’s, no on leaves without having dessert, perhaps the pecan pie ($8.50) or the Creole cream cheese cake ($9.50), or Lally’s marvelous praline parfait ($8.50).    Commander’s Palace is back in business, seemingly without a hiccup,  and the future looks brighter than ever. 

Dinner: daily; Lunch Mon.-Fri.; Jazz Brunch:  Sat. & Sun.




By John Mariani


113 West 46th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)


        NYC’s Indian restaurants are of three kinds: those that service the Indian communities, serving regional food of a vast sub-continent; those serving a Pan-Indian menu of standard Anglo-curries and vindaloo dishes; and those that aim to show both the variety and the distinctiveness of modern Indian cuisine.
        Utsav, from a Sanskrit word meaning “festival,” is clearly in the last category, for, while you can enjoy the standard dishes you might at any number of Indian restaurants, 
Nandita Khanna (right), whose grandmother, Emiko Kothari, ran Utsav for fifteen years, has recently given it a new look and hired an exciting young consulting chef named Hari Nayak, who has truly rejuvenated Utsav, which can easily go head to head with the well regarded upscale Indian restaurant Junoon.
    The setting, with its wall of glass, is within a bridge-like space connecting two buildings near Rockefeller Center, and the interior now has a great deal of color, crystal chandeliers, banquettes in rich gold fabrics, and carved wooden screens.  The dark wooden tables do nothing to brighten the room at night, however; I’d hope that Khanna would bring more color right to the tables.  Downstairs is a bar-lounge with plush ottomans and couches.
    Chef Nayak, who is often but not always on premises at Utsav,  has done a good deal of writing about and consulting on Indian cuisine, including several award-winning books, and his expertise shows in the evening’s specials, so we left ourselves in his hands to choose whatever he wished to serve our party of four.
    A shooter of winter squash soup with crisp vegetable fritter started things off on a high note, followed by shakarkandi chaat, a salad of crispy sweet potatoes, raw mango and arugula dressed with kaffir lime ($8).  The role of the tandoori oven was manifested right from the start with charred baby vegetables as seekh kabobs including buttery fingerling potatoes, paneer cheese and aromatic spices ($10), along with spiced minced lamb kabobs ($12).
    Crab is a popular item in southern Indian cooking, and at Utsav it comes as “Bombay butter garlic crab,” a sensational dish sprinkled with cracked black pepper and sided with a cumin cracker (left). Plump, chili-laced Cornish hen came with a crispy okra salad ($20), making evident the textural contrasts in all of Nayak’s cooking. Everyone’s favorite Indian dish (I suspect) is butter chicken, first seared in the tandoor oven then incorporated with a creamy tomato sauce and fenugreek ($20).
    Too often in Indian cooking in America, “slow-braising” means woefully overcooked, but at Utsav the lamb shank with saffron korma sauce ($26) had true succulence without losing its meaty texture, and the “Farmers Market Korma” with almond ($17) showed the same attention to keeping the essential flavor of the vegetables. 
    Overcooking often mars seafood in Indian kitchens, but here the sea bass rasa with Kerala coconut, herbs and kaffir lime ($28) was superbly tender and juicy.  Duck Pondicherry ($26) was seared and accompanied by roasted onion, sweet orange and a spark of chili, and lamb biryani ($22) was melded with saffron-suffused basmati rice. Dal mahhni was a beautiful dish of black lentils simmered with tomatoes and aromatic spices.
     One doesn’t expect to find a chili relleno (below) on an Indian menu, but it makes perfect gustatory sense: the chili pepper came to Indian via the New World, so stuffing a poblano pepper with ground meat and herbs in a tomato sauce ($18) shows how cuisines cross entire continents successfully.
    There were, of course, those marvelous smoky Indian breads; a basket of three different varieties is $12.
    Desserts ($7) included lemon chili, red quinoa pulao, luscious Malai pista kulfi made with vermicelli, tapioca pearls and raspberry. And one of my favorite Indian sweets, rarely seen on menus now, is  warm carrot pudding called gaajar halwa, subtly scented with cardamom and other spices, and at Utsav made into a sundae with vanilla ice cream.  One of my guests implored Nayak for gulab jamon milk dumplings, which he happily brought with a rosewater crème brûlée. 
    Rajat Paar has added measurably to Utsav’s wine list.
   There are dishes similar to many of Utsav’s at Indian restaurants around town, but Nayak gives them a modern spin, with more personal touches and a good deal more finesse, beauty of presentation, and not a little whimsy.  So, go if you like the traditional and lavish lunch buffet ($21.95), but come back for dinner to be amazed.


Utsav is open daily for lunch and dinner; À la carte and a fixed-price dinner at $38.





GABRIEL KREUTHER (41 W. 42nd Street) Will have a New Year's Eve "Night of Style and Glamour" with first seating at $175 second seating $450; bar lounge opens at 9 PM with passed canapés and Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne. Call  212-257-5826

SIRIO RISTORANTE at the Pierre Hotel will hold a $325 four-course dinner & dancing La Festa menu by Chef Massimo Bebber. It will commence at 9:00 PM and go until the wee hours, whereas a $115 three-course menu will be served from 5:30PM – 7:00PM;  Call 212-940-8195

OSTERIA DEL CIRCO (120 W. 55th Street) will offer a four-course Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes at $78 per person, with panettone and bûche de Nöel. Call 212-265-3636. 


STELLA 34 (Macy’s, Herald Square) will hold “Breakfast with Santa,” an  Italian breakfast feast complete with take-home treats for children and Prosecco bellinis for adults, a visit from Santa and his elves, photograph with Santa Claus, carolers singing holiday favorites; Sessions are available at 8:30am and 10:00am Dec.  19, 20, 23, & 24;  Pricing begins at $40 for children and $55 for adults.


RESTAURANT DANIEL (60 E 65th Street) will offer a Six Course Tasting Menu at  $625 (Wine Pairings,  $250) and a Four Course Prix Fixe – $215 (Wines $110). Call 212-288-0033.

GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR & RESTAURANT will celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, including holiday desserts. The four menus will be available for both lunch and dinner, beginning at 11:30 AM, with the final reservation for dinner at 10:00 PM. Call 212-490-6650. 

AUREOLE NEW YORK (145 W. 42nd Street) will be offering a three-course dinner menu with festive menu items On Christmas Eve, with Three Courses | $125 per person | $55 children under 12.  New Year’s Eve first seating,  $125. Call 212-319-1660. 

21 CLUB (21 West 52nd Street) will celebrate this festive season with the Salvation Army Band singing your favorite Christmas carols and Holiday tunes while guests savor a menu of ‘21’ classics and seasonal fare.  2015 Performance Schedule: Lunch Seatings: 11:30 A.M. and 2:15 P.M. December 5, 12, 16-24. $95 three-course prix fixe menu; Dinner Seatings: 5:30 P.M. and 8:30 P.M. December 18-23; $145 three-course prix fixe menu. For reservations, please call 212- 582-7200.

WALLSÉ (344 W 11th Street) celebrates its own 15 anniversary with an Austrian Christmas on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Chef Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner will be serving his legendary Christmas Goose as part of a four-course meal at $150 per person with an optional wine pairing for $120 per person. Call 212-352-2300.


KOA Restaurant (12 West 21st Street) will offer a Christmas Menu at $75, with vegetable wrapped in thinly-sliced pork belly with spicy, sweet soy sauce, Dragon fruit and shrimp ceviche, yuzu pepper sauce; salt-crusted filet mignon with spicy Chinese miso sauce; ramen, and Strawberry Romanoff.  Call 212-388-5736.


(163 Duane Street) will offer tasting menus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: a six-course Lunch Tasting Menu ($135, plus $130 for wine pairings) on Christmas Eve as well as a six-course Dinner Tasting Menu on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ($255, plus $145 for wine pairings). Call 212-964-2525.

TAVERN ON THE GREEN (67th Street & Central Park West) will be offering a Special Christmas a la carte and three-course prix fixe menu Christmas Eve for $95/person, $55/children. There will also be a three-course prix fixe menu available for Christmas Day for $125/person, $75/children.  212-877-TOTG (8684)

TOQUEVILLE (1 East 15th Street) offers a three-course menu ($95/person, $55/children 10 and under) with a variety of seasonal appetizers, entrees, holiday cocktails and desserts. Holiday cocktails include the Pear Bellini and the Tocqueville Toddy. Call 212-647-1515)



By John Mariani

    With both Christmas and New Year's Eve coming up, the gift of a fine spirit is one always appreciated and never re-gifted.  Here are some I would love someone to put under my own tree this year.

OBAN LITTLE BAY  ($75)—One's preference for Scotch whisky, whether it’s a blend or a premium or a single malt, is largely built upon familiarity, occasionally upset by the discovery of one new to one’s palate.  People not inclined to smoky, peaty Scotches will never care for those from Islay, while others may find single malts too well-bred for everyday drinking.  I have settled on my favorite (at least for now) with the newly released Little Bay, a single malt distilled in small copper pots and selected from various batches.  It is made in the West Highlands and has a characteristic fruitiness along with all the other notes of sea spray and briar.  For me it is impeccably balanced for both an aperitif with a splash of water or after dinner for a night cap.

CHIVAS REGAL EXTRA ($44.99)—Long before single malts began to wedge into the Scotch market, Chivas Regal reigned at the top rank of blended whiskies, and this new release is a blend from spirits matured in Oloroso sherry casks, which intensifies the traditional flavors that Chivas drinkers love, and it’s being released at a very good price for 2016. It makes a terrific Rob Roy cocktail.

LAPHROAIG CAIRDEAS 2015 ($275)—For those who do like their Scotch brawny, smokey, and very peaty, Laphroaig has always been the go-to label, and this special edition, released during Fèis Ìle 2015 and marking the distillery's 200th anniversary, uses floor-malted barley from the distillery's own small malting floor, and is matured in ex-bourbon casks for around a dozen years. It is bottled at 55% alcohol.


THE GLENROTHES VINTAGE RESERVE SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT ($55)—Speyside single malts, being lighter and distinctly sweeter, are easy to love for those beginning to explore beyond blended whiskies. Glenrothes’ is a combination of different vintages aged in a variety of casks. The oldest constituent goes back to 1989. It’s very fragrant, has a softness on the palate, and a honeycomb sweetness, makes for a creamy long finish at 40% alcohol.


THE BEN RAICH SPEYSIDE 17 YEAR OLD SOLSTICE SECOND EDITION ($74)—While it has the sweet mellowness of Speyside malt whiskies, this is “heavily peated”  and has a fine briney finish. It is aged first in bourbon barrels, then in tawny Port barrels, bottled in 2011 at 50% alcohol.


CHAZZ PALMINTERI BiVi SICILIAN VODKA ($29)—I long ago gave up any allegiance to Russian vodka, but Sicilian vodka, under the name of Italian-American actor Chazz Palminteri and made by Master Distiller Giovanni La Fauci, is new to me, and I’m impressed.  There’s a distinct bouquet and there are lovely flowery notes to balance a desirable heat that reminds you that vodka is not just a fairly bland neutral spirit. The base is Sicilian semolina wheat, distilled four times and filtered ten. I’d as soon drink it straight as in a vodka martini, but mixing it with other ingredients will compromise its refinement.

LHERAUD COGNAC  V.S.O.P. AOC Petite Champagne ($92)—It has become a rare thing to find a Cognac blended from the three grapes that by tradition made the brandy special—Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard—after the last two suffered from vine diseases.  Lheraud’s is still made from all three varietals, aged for five years in Limousin and Tronçais oak barrels, first young ones, then older, and the nuances are significant.  Lheraud also makes a V.S. aged for three years ($56) and a Cuvée 10 that spends a decade in wood ($135).

CITADELLE GIN ($25)--I'm not a big gin drinker because I find it is so often made with little discrimination beyond its suitablilty in a classic martini--this at a time when martinis seem to be made with anything but gin--but this new French gin by Pierre Ferrand, made in the Cognac region,  has a definite juniper component and a remarkably fresh touch of heat. Triple distilled in small Cognac pots from French wheat, the botanicals, which include coriander from Morocco, orange peel from Mexico; cardamom and nutmeg from India; licorice from China; cubeb pepper from Java; juniper, savory, violet and star anise from France; fennel from the Mediterranean; iris from Italy; cinnamon from Sri Lanka; almonds and lemon rind from Spain; cassia from Indochina; angelica from Germany; grains of paradise from West Africa; and cumin from Holland-- do not fight each other but blend seamlessly into a richly flavorful--not flavored--gin as good on the rocks as in a Martini.  There is also a Barrel-Aged variety at $35.

PIERRE FERRAND DRY CURAÇAO ($30)--The fact is, most of the orange liqueurs out of the Caribbean, even Curacao, are cloyingly sweet and whatever they use to give it the vague flavor of orange is dubious.  Which is why I have always sworn by Cointreau, very expensive but whose use of various orange peels gives it a seductive, bittersweet edge. Now, with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, there is a very worty competitor that shows that the liqueur need not be a treacly sweet additive.  This new curaçao is not bone dry by any means but its sweetness makes it delicious both as an aperitif (especially on cracked ice) or as an after dinner cordial, and when used as the sweet component in a margarita, it really makes a big difference in taste.




"Americano--Head to the Joule's newest restaurant to feast on housemade pastas, crisp and airy crusted pizzas, and some seriously badass artichoke risotto. Cocktails are excellent, including Negronis on tap. Don't sleep on the creamy butternut squash ravioli garnished with crispy prosciutto."--Amy McCarthy, "Hottest Restaurants in Dallas Right Now, 2015," (Dec. 7, 2015).


Sam Bompas and Harry Parr of London   have come up with the idea of bottled distilled tears, extracted, pasteurized, and then tinctured into bottles of bitters, suggesting they'd make great holiday gifts. 


 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 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: 5 MYTHS ABOUT RIVER CRUISES

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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