Virtual Gourmet

  DECEMBER   27,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER




By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani


NEW ORLEANS, Part Three 
By John Mariani

"Mademoiselles Dansant" (1978) by Owen Murphy, Jr.

    As has been noted everywhere, there are now more restaurants in New Orleans than before Hurricane Katrina hit the city a decade ago, although not all are of a stellar stripe.  Two new ones that have distinguished themselves show not only the resilience of the restaurant sector but of a continual evolution within it. 



4213 Magazine Street


   I think I’m on safe ground in asserting that New Orleans is not a hotbed of modern Israeli cuisine, so the opening of Shaya by Israeli Chef Alon Shaya (with partner John Besh) marks a singular moment in the city’s post-Katrina history, showing the kind of fresh new thinking and flavors the city needs. Shaya describes his food as “a grand mosaic, drawing influence from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece,” which is very true of contemporary cuisine in Israel, which bears no resemblance to the largely eastern European food  of New York Jewish culture. 
At the same time Shaya draws happily on the bounty of ingredients indigenous to Louisiana and the Gulf, working closely with the Crescent City Farmer’s Market, as he had at Domenica and Pizza Domenica.  So he knows his way around a pizza oven, put to good use at Shaya to make wonderful, smoky pita bread that comes to the table quickly, all the better to scoop up eggplant baba ganoush, a tabouleh of barley and parsley with red onion, toasted almond and preserved lemon. Lutenitsa is a Bulgarian purée of roasted peppers, eggplant, garlic and tomato, while roasted okra comes with red onions, very creamy tahini, and a sesame spice. Three of these items go for a modest $15, five for $23.
    Among the small plates to be shared is halloumi with chanterelle mushrooms and blueberry vinaigrette ($20), as well as a juicy grilled lamb kebab with more tahini, more tomatoes and fragrant cilantro ($16).
   And, if the soul ever actually needs warming in New Orleans, there is a golden matzoh ball soup with slowly cooked duck, greens and a variety of herbs ($11). There is also a section just for hummus, including an unusual one of lamb ragù with pinenuts and peas ($14). Also there is a section of sandwiches, and we really enjoyed the chicken schnitzel with sesame-enriched challah bread and harissa-spiked mayonnaise and shaved pickles ($16).
    Most every item I tasted had an amazing depth of flavor, buoyed by various creamy and chewy textures in vibrant colors.  This carried over into desserts ($9) like malabi, a vanilla custard with cherry, rose, and coconut macaroons. Milk and honey is a very creamy cheesecake with mixed nuts granola, burnt honey ice cream.
    The long, very sunny room, well lighted in tones of beige, with white brick and bleached wood, is just made for guests to share everything, so fortunately the food comes out fairly quickly, because, I promise you, your appetite will only build as the plates hit the table. 


Open daily for lunch and dinner.


Compère Lapin
Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas Street

    The new Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery was once an 1854 warehouse, so the developers, Provenance Hotels, have kept its rustic charms of hard wood floors and exposed brick walls throughout, including inside Compère Lapin, where the inventive chef Nina Compton (formerly of Scarpetta in Miami) has been at work since June.
    St. Lucia-born Compton (below) had fallen in love with the city while competing on that endless TV series “Top Chef,” where she was runner-up, so she was delighted to be offered the job at a place that allows her to flex her talents for French, Mediterranean and Caribbean Creole flavors.
    It’s a big room, and when I visited the management admitted it had misjudged the crushing noise level of the brick-walled room with cement floors and wooden tables. I have since been told that some of the noise has been reduced by baffling.
    The menu begins with “small bites” that on my visit included a rich, hot cheese fonduta with surprisingly tasty Australian truffles.  Spiced smoked pig ($5) was way too smoky, but the crispy dirty rice with the sour orange mojo ($5) was pretty darn delicious.
    Among the first courses was an amberjack crudo with anise-like fennel and tangy oranges ($13) that was welcome and very refreshing on a warm night, and marinated shrimp with roasted jalapeño jus ($13) also showed how well Compton knows how to prepare seafood at just the right moment.
    Next came the “second” courses, of which the curry goat with plantains gnocchi and toasty cashews was absolutely outstanding ($23), and so was pici pasta with lobster and summer squash ($25), although the pasta itself was overcooked that evening, a condition that also marred some otherwise fine semolina gnocchi with sweet corn ($7).  There was a delectable duo of beef with chickpeas ($33) that had some cold foie gras shaved over it, which made for an oddly generous garniture indeed, especially since there was no foie gras elsewhere on the menu. 
    I was very impressed by pastry chef Danny Alas’s coconut tres leche with whipped cream and coconut tuile ($8); roasted banana with hot zeppolo fritter, rum caramel ($9), and horchata-flavored panna cotta with a melon salad and melon sorbet ($9).  Among New Orleans’s chocolate cakes, the doberge cake with lemon curd and chocolate ice cream ($10) needs some refining.
    Compère Lapin—named after a mischievous rabbit of Caribbean folklore—has, like Shaya, been a big hit since it opened, as much talked about for Compton’s TV celebrity as for the restaurant’s hip, youthful ambiance.  But Compton has already proven herself a break-out chef in town, someone every other chef is keeping a curious eye on.

Open for lunch Mon.-Fri.; brunch Sat, & Sun., dinner nightly.






By John Mariani

"Broadway Danny Rose" (1984)


    I wouldn’t say the ground shook, but when my friend and colleague, long-time Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema, recently declared Portland, Oregon, to be America's best food city among ten ranked, Facebook and the food media’s collective eyebrows shot through the roof, followed by a good deal of sputtering derision.

    Sietsema says he ate, drank and shopped at 271 “restaurants, bars, food stores and farmers markets” in 60 days--that works out to a dyspeptic 4.5 per day and suggests an expense account overload that perhaps only the Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, could float (although Amazon’s founding city, Seattle, didn’t even make the cut).  In Portland Sietsema “relish[ed] the abundant quirks: lines for (stellar) breakfasts, even midweek, and strip clubs inclusive enough to offer vegan fare,” along with raspberry milkshakes and Walla Walla onion rings, while admitting that fine dining in Portland is as rare there as Maine lobsters.

    To each his own, but for Sietsema to rank New York at number 8 on his list is nothing short of an astonishment, as if he’d said Marseilles was France’s best fashion city, or Pisa was the center for Italy’s auto industry. Of NYC he writes, New York just has more, not better. I found some egregious examples of what was called 'fine dining' there that were a huge rip off," though his three-dollar hot dog at Gray’s Papaya made “a lasting impression.”  

    Let me count the ways in which NYC reigns supreme as America’s greatest food city, where:


There have been more master chefs whose influence has been greater than anywhere else, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the late Gilbert Lecoze, André Soltner, Wiley DuFresne, Larry Forgione, Daniel Boulud, Michael White, David Bouley, Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Alfred Portale, David Chang, et al.


There have been more restaurateurs whose influence has been greater than anywhere else, including John Delmonico, Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi, Joe Baum, George Lang, Nick Valenti, Sirio Maccioni, Warner Leroy (left), Keith McNally, Charles Palmer, Tony May, Danny Meyer, Buzzy O’Keefe, Alex von Bidder, and Drew Nieporent.


The first restaurant opened in America (1831)—Delmonico’s (below)—and it’s still thriving. The Delmonico steak, Eggs Benedict, Lobster Newberg and many other dishes were created here. Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first cablegram across the Atlantic from a table at "Del's," and in 1868 the restaurant gave the stamp of approval to the idea of women dining unaccompanied  by men, which created the "ladies lunch."


The first pizzeria in America—G. Lombardi’s in the Village, still going strong on Spring Street.


There are, for what they’re worth, more Michelin stars than any other American city--77, with six awarded three-stars; Chicago has 22 total, San Francisco 50, including wine country restaurants--and eight of the San Pellegrino  "100 Best Restaurants in the World." (The Michelin Guides do not cover Portland, OR.)


More promising cooks studied and staged before gaining national reputations as eminent chefs elsewhere—not least as graduates from the kitchen of Le Cirque, whose alumni include Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Terrance Brennan, Alain Sailhac, Rick Moonen, Jacques Torres, Sottha Khun, Sylvain Portay, Michael Lomonaco, Alain Allegretti, Pierre Schaedelin, Bill Telepan, Alex Stratta, Geoffrey Zakarian,  et al.


There are more notable woman chefs, including Zarela Martinez, April Bloomingfield, Gabrielle Hamilton (left), Daniela Soto-Innes, Lauren DeSteno, Melissa Weller, Angela Dimayuga, Ann Redding, Anita Lo, et al.


Not just one Little Italy, in Manhattan, but another in Brooklyn, and—the best of all—Arthur Avenue, in the Belmont section of the Bronx.


Italian-American cuisine was born in the kitchens of the millions of southern Italians who immigrated to NYC from 1880 to1920; so-called “Northern Italian Cuisine” was pioneered at places like Romeo Salta, Il Nido, Parioli Romanissimo, Il Monello, Orsini's, Gianmarino, and Il Menestrello.  White truffles were first introduced at Barbetta.  The first upscale Italian groceries were in NYC, including Balducci’s and the Arthur Avenue Food Market. The first EATaly outpost was also here. Dishes like melon and prosciutto, penne alla vodka, spaghetti alla Caruso, shrimp scampi, steak pizzaiolo, veal parmigiana, spumoni, Italian ices, and lobster fra diavolo became Italian-American standards for menus both in the U.S. and Europe.


Not just one Indian food neighborhood—“Curry Hill” in Manhattan—but many flourish, especially in Queens, along with America's largest Chinatown, Korean grocers everywhere, Russians in Little Odessa, Ukrainians and Uzbeks in Brooklyn, Haitians in Flushing, Dominicans in Washington Heights, Chino-Latino in Cuban neighborhoods, and every other kind of food culture imaginable.


Many of the most legendary saloons in America reside in New York, including P.J. Clarke’s, McSorley’s Old Ale House (right), the White Horse, the King Cole Bar, ‘21’ Club Bar, the Blue Bar, the Oak Bar, the Landmark Tavern and Pete’s Tavern.


Hunt’s Point Terminal Market in the Bronx stretches across 113 acres  and is the largest food exchange in the world, with 50+ merchants,  10,000 employees, sales of more than $2.4 billion a year, catering to more than 22 million people worldwide.


Citymeals-on-Wheels began in NYC in 1981, last year delivering 2 million nutritious meals to more than 18,000 frail, aged citizens in every borough of New York. In addition, nearly 19,000 volunteers collectively spent 67,397 hours visiting and delivering meals to their neighbors.


More notable New York eateries are in movies and TV shows than anywhere else, including Hollywood.  To name a very few:  P.J. Clarke’s, `21’ Club, Luigi’s, The Russian Tea Room (left), Minetta Tavern, Carnegie Deli, Katz’s, Elaine’s, The Modern, The Rainbow Room, The Stage Deli, Delmonico’s, Café des Artistes, Capsouto Frères, Chumley’s, Il Cantinori, Tavern on the Green, Market Diner, Café Carlyle, the Oak Bar, Raoul’s, Serendipity 3and many more.


The most fine dining restaurants—every one packed every night, despite the foodie media saying fine dining is dying—are in NYC, including Gotham Bar & Grill, Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, Masa, Per Se, Del Posto, Marea, Daniel, Aureole, Lincoln Ristorante, Gramercy Tavern, La Grénouille, Gabriel Kreuther, Bouley, Jean-Georges,  more than all other major USA cities combined.


The first delis, where Jewish-American food was born, and bagels, knishes, the Reuben sandwich, blintzes, pastrami, bialys, and other dishes became NYC standards. (To this day, it is impossible to get a good bagel outside of NYC, with the exception of one or two spots in L.A.)

Both Jewish and Italian cheesecakes were perfected in NYC.


The Manhattan, the Cosmopolitan (right), Long Island Iced Tea, the Bloody Mary,  the Rob Roy, and the Daiquiri were introduced to America in New York.


Where, as in Napa and Sonoma Valleys north of San Francisco, there are 25 wineries in the Hudson Valley and 50 on Long Island within two hours’ drive north of the city.


  Hot dogs were, if not created in NYC, first promoted in Coney Island at Nathan's.


Chocolate fondue was created at Chalet Suisse.


  Pasta primavera was created at Le Cirque, which also made crème brûlée an international staple dessert.

• France's la nouvelle cuisine landed in NYC restaurants like Dodin Bouffant, La Tulipe, The Palace, Le Plaisir,  The Quilted Giraffe, and others.


The Power Lunch was established at The Four Seasons Grill Room (left)  and The Power Breakfast at the Loews Regency Hotel.


  The singles’ bar was born at places like Maxwell’s Plum, Yellowfingers, O’Neal’s Balloon, The Ginger Man, and T.G.I. Friday.


Although invented in Philadelphia, the Automat had its greatest success and influence in NYC.


Japanese negimaki was created at Nippon, and Rocky Aioki opened the first Benihana of Tokyo teppanyaki concept here.

• Szechwan and Hunan cuisine were introduced at places like Shun Lee Palace, Uncle Tai's, and Peng's, which introduced Gen. Tsao's chicken to America. 


The template for the New York-style steakhouse was created at Palm, Christ Cella, Pietro’s, Peter Luger, Bruno’s Pen & Pencil, and Spark’s.  Every steakhouse in America now copies them. 


The template for French restaurants was set at the 1939 New York World’s Fair at Le Pavillon, copied and carried further at places like La Caravelle, Le Lavandou, La Côte Basque, La Grénouille, Le Chambertin, Georges Rey, Les Pyrenées, Le Quercy, Le Lavandou, and Le Périgord. 


Le Bernardin (below) introduced seafood “carpaccio,” which became the basis of all crudi and raw fish dishes outside of sushi on menus. Vichyssoise was created by Chef Louis Diat at the Ritz-Carlton.


Food and restaurants critics began in NYC newspapers and magazines, including Clementine Paddleford of the Herald-Tribune in the 1950s, Craig Claiborne in the 1960s, and Mimi Sheraton of The Times and Gael Greene of New York Magazine in the 1970s.


  Though born in Portland, OR (!), James Beard, the “dean of American food writers” made his career and reputation in NYC as of 1947.


The first molecular/modernist chef in America was Wyle Dufresne of WD-50 restaurant (now closed).







By John Mariani


    As difficult as it is to believe but the illustrious house of Charles Heidsieck Champagne had been allowed to flounder over the last two decades.  Indeed, despite its reputation as one of France’s finest, sales had dropped 90 percent from 1990-2011, a fall due more to neglect than to any decline in quality.

    It was fortuitous, then, that a new owner,  Christopher Descours, Chairman of EPI (Europeenne de Participations Industrielles SAS), known for investing in long-term growth of prestigious properties, brought the Champagne company in 2011 and brought in Chef des Caves Cyril Brun this past year, formerly enologist for Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, to guarantee that the heritage of the Heidsieck family’s style of Champagne be maintained.  He also appointed a new Executive Director, Stephen Leroux (in 2013), most recently Director of Sales and Marketing at Bollinger, to oversee a long-term strategy to increase Charles Heidsieck’s market share without compromising quality.  The new ownership and appointments are already showing significant upward mobility in sales for the Grand Marque.

    The House traces its history to 1851 when Charles Heidsieck (left), at the age of 29, founded the brand and was the first to see a larger market for Champagne in the U.S.—he earned the nickname “Champagne Charlie.” For 125 years, through all the wars that raged in France, his family carried on his legacy before selling the brand to Remy Cointreau in the 1980s, which led to a fallow period for the Grand Marque.  Now, EPI has already reversed the effects of that neglect.

    (Piper-Heidsieck is a wholly different Champagne company, founded by Charles’ uncle Florens-Louis Heidsieck, so there has long been confusion in many consumers’ minds about the two names, especially now that EPI owns both labels.)

    I had dinner in NYC at Café Boulud with Stephen Leroux earlier this month, and I sensed that whatever heavy lifting he has to do, EPI has given him the carte blanche and resources to do it.  Leroux is committed to the amount of travel to restore old and make new connections necessary to bring the name of the brand back to prominence. Eminence has never been the problem.

     I tasted several of Charles Heidsieck's current releases over a three-course meal, where everyone at the table choose different dishes, so the point Champagne producers love to make—that bubbly goes well with everything over the course of a meal—was well taken, even if I was dying for a glass of good red wine with a main course of roast breast of pheasant.  Still with an array of other dishes that ranged from a coddled egg with white truffle shavings to a cardamom-scented kulfi pistachio cake with pomegranate coulis, the Champagnes showed to be beautify; match-ups.

    Remarkably, the non-vintage Brut Réserve (right) retails for just $65, which is a bargain for a Champagne of such enchanting complexity and sophistication.  The marque’s style has long been to blend reserve wines (which can be 15 years old, with an average of ten); the current non-vintage is 40 percent each of pinot noir and percent chardonnay, and 20 percent pinot meunier, with one-third of each new harvest representing 60 percent of the total blend, so that there is both a heritage and a stylistic consistency in each non-vintage bottle.  

     Charles Heidsieck 2006 Rosé Millèsime (left; $150),  just released, comes from a vintage of very ripe fruit and lower acidity, and again the three-wine blend of 63 percent pinot noir, 37 percent chardonnay, and 8 percent addition of red wines was aged for more than seven years. It has marvelous body, creamy, with just the right amount of sweet undertones and ripe fruit.

       The company’s promotional tasting notes for Charles Heidsieck 1995 Blanc des Millenaires  (below; $250) runs to purple prose—“A unique emotion, the impression of eternity” and so on—does nothing to detract from the serious refinement of this superb vintage, which has spent 20 years maturing at the marque’s Gallo-Roman chalk cellars in Reims that generate delicate bubbles.  The wine is then disgorged and spends an additional year of aging, as it acquires the finesse and dimensions that distinguish a great vintage. All these wines were made by the late Thierry Roset, before Cyril Brun’s arrival, so it will be interesting to see if there are any changes afoot. 
Anything different at all, however, would be a betrayal of the label’s claim to consistency, which is what Brun and Leroux are promising those who have always loved Charles Heidsieck, those who have not tasted a bottle in years, and those for whom its excellence will be a revelation.



Pastry arts instructor Joe Humm at the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts has crafted the chocolate outfit for The Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair in Orlando, Florida, including a patterned short skirt, corset, jewelry, and a hat made entirely from chocolate, at least 60% edible and the model can wear it for
four hours before the chocolate melts.


“Much of the menu lassos the grayest of old gray mares and drags them out for one last trot around the paddock. Some of the mares are revived by the exercise. Others, like the chocolate mousse that has been repeatedly violated by bits of baked cocoa meringue and buried under chocolate ice cream, seem as if they would rather be left alone to live out their retirements in peace.”—Pete Wells, “
At Vaucluse, Michael White Takes a Step Toward France on the Upper East Side,” NY Times (12/2/15)




 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: NECKER ISLAND

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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