Virtual Gourmet

  April 17, 2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


Olivia de Havilland and Erroll Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood"  (1938)


By Robert Mariani


By John Mariani

by Mort Hochstein


By Robert Mariani

Seafood Stew at The Boathouse, Tiverton, RI


101 North Main Street
Providence, RI

    Back in the 1970s, before Rhode Island’s capital of Providence began its Renaissance, the Mills building was just another mis-used old brownstone retail space on North Main St. But, as the city began its re-birth, with a diverted river that brought vitality downtown, Mills was among the earliest landmark buildings to shed its dusty past and advance into a new life.
    Today, the building’s large two-story front windows offer a welcoming look into a spacious dining place with the feel of a traditional tavern. The soft sepia lighting, the large dining area and comfortable bar create the kind of atmosphere where people like to linger.
    Chef Edward Bolus, trained at Providence’s Johnson & Wales culinary school, has put together a menu that encourages local foodies to bring their out-of-state friends to the Mills Tavern for a special taste of Providence. The menu is seasonal, with many ingredients drawn from local sources.  You might begin with Bolus’s duo of rabbit roulade and corned duck breast with roasted and chopped cacao beans, some pickled mustard seeds, garden-sweet carrot strips and marinated “drunken” cherries.
    For a second course, the game flavors continue with a confit of wild boar risotto accompanied by butter-braised pearl onions, rosemary/scallion pesto and a delicate spinach puree. Take a few breaths before digging into one of Mills Tavern’s generous entrees, like the wild Alaskan King Salmon glazed with honey mustard and covered with a pumpernickel crust that melds perfectly with the well-cooked fish, accompanied by a lemon/dill spaetzle with fried capers and Sauce Albert.
Not in the mood for fish? How about a hefty hunter-like venison loin encrusted with pistachio and roasted cacao beans that add a slightly chocolat-ey taste, all wrapped in some smoky bacon?  Add to this some truffled/wild mushroom farrotto, green beans,  a caramelized sweet huckleberry gastrique sauce, and you’ve got a signature dish that succeeds on every culinary level of taste and texture.
    Mills Tavern’s ever-changing dessert list, by another J&A alum, Samantha del Arroyo,  offers treats like a white chocolate mousse; a wonderfully textured buckwheat crumble topped with coconut cream; and passion fruit curd served with raspberry-hibiscus sorbet.

Mill’s Tavern is open Tues.-Sun. for dinner. Appetizers $9-$22, main courses $24-$46.


227 Schooner Drive
Tiverton, RI

    Rhode Island is the smallest state, but when it comes to dining venues with spectacular views of busy harbors, sailboat races, beaches, summer mansions and lighthouses, the Ocean State can hold its own on the national level. The panorama seen from the Boat House restaurant in the small, rural town of Tiverton (about a 45-minute drive from Providence) has been recognized as “one of the Top Ten Scenic Views in the United States” by Open Table Diners in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
     But, as special as the restaurant's view of the waterfront is, the food is what keeps natives and tourists coming back.  Through the summer months, many devotees arrive on their boats, and there are indoor and outdoor tables. A perusal of the menu tells you that a good deal of thought and creativity have gone into each and every dish. The appetizer lists offers a lobster fritter with sweet corn and chipotle aïoli; Littleneck clams are steamed “Portuguese-style” with chouriço, onions, garlic and tomato in a Viñho Verde broth. The braised beef sort ribs are embellished with root vegetables, mustard greens, celeriac puree and a red wine jus.
    One of the favorite starters at the Boat House is steamed mussels artfully paired with roasted peppers, scallions, garlic, parsley and pine nuts in a smooth white wine and butter broth, fresh as an ocean breeze.  Another favorite is the crispy Point Judith calamari served with house-pickled jalapeño peppers, cilantro, harissa and citrus rémoulade. The perfect texture of the breaded squid and the complementary dressings make you realize why calamari has been recently voted “Rhode Island's Official Appetizer.”
    The entrées are predominantly seafood, like a pan-roasted Atlantic salmon  with a rich Swiss-chard-mushroom risotto; or a “seafood scampi” of poached lobster meat, shrimp and squid drenched in a roasted garlic-herb butter and served with some perfectly al dente linguini. Of course, there are alternatives to seafood, including an eight-ounce grilled Certified Angus Beef filet paired with a goat’s cheese-potato cake, asparagus and creamed leeks. The perfectly grilled beef is doused with a Port wine-rosemary demi-glace.  For “Surf & Turf” fans, the Boat House offers sirloin with a choice of grilled scallops or shrimp. The baked lobster is lavishly stuffed with shrimp, scallops, crab, and herb bread soaked in lemon butter.
    Of course, if you're feeling like something a bit lighter, there's a soup and salad menu, and the requisite lobster roll and fish tacos on a corn tortilla.
    The dessert menu at the Boat House pretty much covers the waterfront (pun intended) with items like crème brûlée with a glassy burnt sugar crust, and a coconut spice cake made with Key lime cream, coconut crumbs and mango sorbet.

The Boat House Restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, and brunch on Sundays.  Dinner appetizers $7-$16 and main courses $19-$39.


448 Hope Street
Bristol, RI

    Located on the first floor of a stately old brick building that had once been the town’s post office, the Bristol Oyster Bar is a great addition to this small harbor town’s interesting culinary scene. The owner, Pete Sebring, has spent most of his adult life fishing in and around Rhode Island waters, which gives him the experience to seek out the very freshest seafood available from local providers.
    The Oyster Bar is not too small and not too big; with high ceilings and no padding on the walls and floors, the noise level is pretty high and not very conducive to intimate conversation. But it’s a fun place to people watch while you enjoy your meal.  You can dine at the bar and enjoy a varied selection of bourbons, Scotches and whiskies, along with inventive cocktails while ordering your choice of over a dozen different types of oysters ($2.50 each), shucked right there before your eyes. Get there any day between 4 and 6 p.m. and all raw oysters are just $1 each.
    Appetizers feature classic seafood fare like clams casino consisting of baked Little Necks with crispy pork belly, garlic herb butter, and Parmesan crumbs; bacon-wrapped shrimp with polenta, creamed leeks and balsamic syrup.  I’ve become increasingly fond of the smoked fish plate, with smoked lobster roe with crème fraîche, smoked tuna slices, a goat’s cheese crouton and smoked salmon.
    I’ve tasted my share of lobster bisque around the state, and the Bristol’s is one of the best, with hints of sherry and tidbits of lobster meat in a velvety cream broth. Another  wonderful crustacean entree is the plate of fried oysters dredged in cornmeal and served with a “honey Buffalo sauce” with blue cheese, crisp carrots and celery.One of the more substantial entrées is a version of what’s become a Rhode Island favorite, the “Patty Melt,” a substantial burger patty wrapped in bacon and caramelized onions and served between two thick slices of house-made white toast. Dishes I’ll go back for are the scallop corn broth, and the ten-ounce Dakota sirloin steak.
    Of the three desserts offered, you can’t go wrong with the bread pudding made with Portuguese sweet bread encrusted with caramel, chocolate and nuts.
    Although the Bristol Oyster Bar doesn’t have one of your typically Bristol-ian water views, like so many of the town’s other restaurants have, the ambiance and the energy in the place makes for a fun, casual evening with excellent food. 

Bristol Oyster Bar open Tues. –Thurs., 4 to 10:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sun. 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Appetizers $8-$13, main courses $19-$23.



By John Mariani
438 2nd Avenue (near 25th Street)

    “Curry Hill” is the name given to Manhattan’s Indian neighborhood (among several in other boroughs) where you’ll find a slew of good Indian restaurants, groceries and sweet shops catering mainly to a local clientele.  So when Arum Mirchandani and his partners decided to open a different kind of Indian restaurant, they did so far from Curry Hill. The Drunken Munkey is way up on East 92nd Street, and now there is a branch called The Royal Munkey in Kips Bay, both featuring a menu derived from the colonial days when the food cultures of Europe and India melded.
    “The Royal Munkey strives to recreate, and pay tribute to, the legendary flavours, style and the ambiance reminiscent of the famous cafes, bistros and supper clubs of ‘Old Bombay,’ while showcasing a touch of the old Raj,” reads the restaurant’s announcement of intent, all of which you will observe in the fascinating collection of Anglo-Indian artifacts and monkey-related imagery in the lamps, coat hooks, telephones, sculptures, chandelier and wallpaper.  Bollywood movies play above the bar.  Bartenders wear Nehru jackets, the servers wear Indian chudidaar kurtas, the dangling earrings called jhumkaas, and sport red bindi dots on their foreheads.
      The two-level dining room does have the look of a bar where British diplomats and Indian royalty might hob-nob to drink “panch,” a Hindi word for “five,” referring to the five original ingredients used—lime, sugar, spices, water and a sap called arrack, which was later transformed to the alcohol-based punch concocted by British soldiers in the early 17th century.  At The Royal Munkey there is a “panch of the day,” as well as an array of other cocktails, including one called the Patiala Peg (from Punjab), along with rums, single malts and whiskies.
     Both of the Munkey restaurants have Derik Alfaro as
Executive Chef  (formerly of Fatty Crab) and Royal Munkey has Chef de Cuisine Chetan Patil (from Tulsi), while the final say is left to Arum Mirchanani’s mother.  So, while you can order the usual Indian dishes like butter chicken tikka masala ($18) and lamb rogan josh ($19), I urge you instead to go for the many specialties of the kitchen, which in addition to having a tandoor oven also has a smoker that adds luster to many dishes.
    “Chilie cheese toast” evokes the kind of fare served in the military mess halls, in this case Pullman toast and melted cheddar spiked with green chilies, cilantro and red onion, kind of a turn on Welsh rarebit. “Street snacks” include crisp “Dahl (yogurt) Puri and Paani (water) Puri” of flour puffs filled with potato and chickpea chaat with spiced yogurt and tamarind mint water, coming to the table looking like snails or broken duck eggs.  Crispy okra ($5) is to be popped in the mouth as a palate stimulant. Deliciously creamy paneer tikka (right) is suffused with herbs and spices, Bell peppers and onions, colored with turmeric.
   “Railway Chicken Curry” ($19) is an echo of the kinds of dishes the British made a part of their own gastronomy, adding tomato, onion, mustard seed and curry leaf.   It seems everybody’s favorite at Royal Munkey—and it was mine, too—are the tandoor-grilled Bombay lamb chops ($27), marinated in five spices, served with lightly sautéed green beans, and mint-spiced potatoes (aloo) with apple-butter chutney.  Bagara Baigan ($14) was superb—a lush preparation of colorful roasted eggplant in a peanut and sesame curry and rich ghee buttered rice with naan bread.
       As is so often the case in Indian restaurants, the steamy, smoky breads exceed their humble place on the table as simple accompaniments. They are irresistible here.
       The desserts here go a bit beyond the usual, and are all made on premises, including gajar halwa, a pudding of sliced, long-cooked carrots whose own sweetness mingles with the flavor and texture of crushed pistachios; the too-heavy “Cricket Rum-Ball” is a dark rum-soaked chocolate cake, while the warm and comforting seviyaan vermicelli noodles are caramelized with coconut milk and brown sugar and spiced with cardamom.
    Royal Munkey would be a destination for its unique take on Indian food alone, but adding in the raffish look of a Bombay club replete with its namesake simians makes it doubly appealing for an entertaining night out.  

The Royal Munkey is open for lunch and dinner daily 11a.m.-2 a.m., with brunch on weekends.  There is a dinner prix-fixe is $34 and includes a choice of cocktail or wine.



by Mort Hochstein

                                                 Painting by Franz Gertsch at Hess Collection

    You may pay to sip wine and dine throughout Napa, but savoring art is often a delightful and free experience. Many wineries have become showcases for art in all its forms and worth visiting for their cultural aspect.
The leading gallery in my estimation is at the Hess Collection winery high atop Mount Veeder, where there’s no charge for viewing museum-quality work in near perfect surroundings.

     Visitors get the benefit of owner Donald Hess’s passion for contemporary art. It’s an appetite he has been indulging for well over a half century and his enthusiasm is on display at wineries on three continents.  At Napa,  his museum rambles over several floors, sharing space with a modern winery in an imposing structure which once housed the legendary Christian Brothers monastery and winery. 
Hess, born to an entrepreneurial Swiss father who had little regard for fine art, purchased his first painting in 1960,  a portrait of Ambroise Vollard, a Parisian art dealer, and only later did he learn that it was an original by Picasso. He opened the Napa exhibit in 1989 and followed with  installations at Glen Carlou Vineyards in Paarl, South Africa, in 2006 and in 2009 at the James Turrell Museum at Bodega & Estancia Colome in northwest Argentina He has since amassed more than 1,000 pieces, and those three galleries and a Swiss storehouse are barely able to hold all his acquisitions.  Many are often on loan to other museums. 
I was fortunate to attend the opening at Napa. One piece that struck me then remains in my memory, and it was the first work I sought out when I visited recently.  It is an ancient Underwood typewriter with flames flaring from its frame.  Those flames shock visitors at an upper floor entrance. The jolting work by Leopoldo Maier honors his uncle, a fiery editor who was assassinated for his criticism of the Argentine government. 
Familiar names like Robert Motherwell, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter and Franz Gertsch stand out in the collection of more than 150 pieces, all hung with ample space and literate wall plaques far superior to those often found in museums. Hess acquires pieces that touch him personally and is primarily interested in work by living artists, often at the start of their careers. By following them over the years, he has amassed one of the most important private art collections in the world.  
The museum emphasizes an exceptional outreach program that attracts grade school students from nearby schools as well as high school and college art class groups.  The younger children are invited to a private tour, ending with a tasting of cookies and milk served in a wine glass.       The museum is open daily, without charge, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and self-guided iPod audio tours are available.  Visitors can also join a docent in a Tour of the Palate, ending their viewing with a pairing of wine and food in a private dining room ($40).

    The art at Hall Winery in St. Helena is more limited, about half the number on view at Hess, but pieces are displayed in more dramatic fashion in a strikingly modern visitors’ center. Floor to ceiling windows looking out on green vineyards provide an airy feel to the tasting room, while also allowing visitors natural light exposure to the art as well as another view of giant stand-alone pieces which greeted them on arrival (left).
     Like Donald Hess, Kathryn and Craig Hall are collectors and patrons, and the art is a showcase for their personal tastes.  The museum reflects a liking for modern, colorful, eye-popping designs, an attitude manifested in the attention-grabbing “Garden Plot,” a giant circular piece known as a tondo by Nick Cave at the tasting room entrance. Other works by artists such as Lawrence Argent, John Baldessari, Graham Caldwell and Jaume Piensa are mounted in public spaces, between stacked barrels in the wine cellar and alongside processing gear.
      It is an informal form of art display, one that excites the imagination by its proximity to the facilities it neighbors.
      The winery is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, with no charge for individual roaming. A  45 -minute tour of the winery, its grounds, art and architecture is conducted periodically each day, ($40), including a private, seated tasting. Each Sunday at 11 a.m., Hall offers a wine and art tour for $40, and has waived that fee in April to celebrate Art Month. Visitors may take an advance look by visiting the website:  

    Artesa Winery in the Carneros district of Napa is an outpost of Codorniu Cellars, the Spanish sparkling wine giant whose original facility is a landmarked artistic  and historical monument.  That heritage continues at Artesa, which proudly boasts an artist in residence.   Gordon Heuther’s glass and sculpture installations can be found in airports, universities and corporate environments as well as in private homes. At Artesa, Heuther creates works in glass, metal and canvas, periodically introducing new pieces and conducting showings.

     Cliff Lede, founder of the eponymous winery in Yountville, is a rock music devotee, so the art here includes six signed guitars and 30 paintings by Jerry Garcia, part of an exhibit which changes periodically. Two giant sculptures greet visitors and other contemporary paintings are scattered throughout the winery and in private tasting rooms in the state of the art facility.

     Mumm Napa, which was the first sparkling wine producer to be founded in Napa by a French champagne company, pays homage to the great American photographer Ansel Adams. Mumm’s art gallery features 27 silver prints of scenes at Yosemite, the Western desert and national parks and lakes (right).

    Turnbull Wine Cellars in Oakville is also home to dramatic photography by Adams. His breathtaking nature pictures are mounted throughout the winery, many of them in spaces between barrels.   

    Del Dotto Venetian Estate Winery at St. Helena lives up to its name as an Italian castle in wine country. It celebrates the family’s roots, traced back to 1150 Venice.  The rooms and caves are lined with Italian marble and ancient tiles depicting the history of wine. 



A study by Yale and U. Connecticut in Pediatric Obesity
followed 600 middle-school students for two years with regard to their  eating patterns and weight, if they had zero breakfast, breakfast either at home or at school, or breakfast in both places. They found that weight gain among second-breakfast eaters (one in ten children) was no different from the average gain seen among all students. Kids who didn't eat breakfast, or ate it only sometimes, were twice as likely to be overweight or obese as double-breakfasters.



You also write about consuming your daughter’s placenta in dried, powdered form. You characterize that as a difficult decision to make. Was there some cultural taboo that was holding you back?
"No! I was just grossed out. I mean, look, you’re talking to a girl who grew up as a Brahmin Hindu and was a vegetarian for her formative years, so the idea of eating any meat, let alone your own, took some time for me to get used to. I think making that final leap to eating my own flesh, in whatever form, was a little difficult. I wanted to write about it because I never had the chance to talk about that sort of thing on `Top Chef.'’’—
"Padma Lakshmi Won’t Date Men Who Aren’t Feminists" interview with Ana Marie Cox, NY Times (3/17/16).


This article is sponsored by Banfi Wines.

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month with Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
By April Preisler, FoodnFocus

    If you were to ask me about my favorite cuisine I would hands down say Italian. All things Italian. Pasta, pesto, delicious cheese, you name it and I love it. Perhaps the fact that I’m half-Italian plays into this love. I was also born and raised in Wisconsin which means that I’m also a lover of cheese so the fact that April is National Grilled Cheese Month has me swooning over deliciously cheesy sandwiches.
    Combining my two loves I decided to create a delicious grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate the occasion. And of course, I’ve paired it with a classic Italian wine: Chianti. The sandwich is comprised of a hearty Italian bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, pesto and tomatoes. This sandwich is best in the summer when the tomatoes are in season and you can prepare fresh pesto but there is certainly jarred pesto available that work well too.
    I paired this grilled cheese sandwich with the Banfi Tuscany Chianti Classico DOCG, a wine that features big flavors of cherries, plums and violet. This wine is rich enough to compliment the flavors of the fresh mozzarella and pesto but not overpower them.
    This sandwich is hearty enough to eat for dinner with a glass of chianti or light enough to enjoy for lunch. If you’re looking for a reason to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month, this sandwich and wine pairing are certainly the way to do it!

Recipe: Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Serves 2


4 slices hearty Italian bread

1/3 cup pesto

1 medium tomato, sliced

1 8-ounce mozzarella ball, sliced

2 tablespoons butter



Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Butter 1 side of each of the 4 slices of bread.

Place two slices of bread, butter side down, in the heated pan. Divide the pesto between the two slices and spread evenly. Top the pesto with cheese, tomatoes and cheese again and place the second slice of bread on top, butter side up.

Cook the sandwich until it is golden brown on each side and serve immediately.


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

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) 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 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:

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (the fourth edition of which will be published in early 2016), as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


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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