Virtual Gourmet

  November 6,  2016                                                                                             NEWSLETTER


"The Oyster Eater" (1882) James Ensor



By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani


    As I wrote of Winston-Salem last week, the city is vibrant with the kind of industries—bio-tech, high-tech, medicine, higher education—that demand good restaurants of every stripe, and on my recent visit there I found a panoply of styles, from low to high. Plus, it’s the home of Krispy Kreme Donuts, which began there in 1937.  Here are places I wouldn’t want to miss.

Kimpton Cardinal Hotel
4th & Main Street

    Located within what had been the R.J. Reynolds headquarters building, with is impressive art deco style, The Katharine, named after Katharine Reynolds, is off the lobby of the admirably modern Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, part of a chain that wants to appeal to a Millennials crowd with big rooms, big beds with Frette linens, an evening wine hour, and in-room yoga mats.  (Too bad they offer free Wi-Fi only for their Karma Rewards members.)
    The Katharine styles itself as an American brasserie with French connections and Southern underpinning, via Executive Chef Ed Witt, who seems to have put as much effort into his extensive tattoos as into his cuisine.  His résumé is impressive, including jobs at 
Rubicon and Jardinière in San Francisco,  Daniel, Il Buco and The River Café in NYC, and Morso in Georgetown.

    The room, adjacent to the bar and with an open kitchen, is well lighted and the roomy booths are very comfortable, but the place can get exceedingly loud since there are no soft surfaces.
    One of the signature items here is Witt’s presentation of snails and garlic butter ($12), baked inside hush puppies with maître d’hôtel butter—as winning a marriage of French and Southern cooking as I’ve ever run across. The same applies to a French onion soup, here made with super-sweet Vidalia onions topped with bubbling Lissome cheese ($10).  A nod to the North Atlantic is to be found in the Tuesday special of hearty lobster pot pie ($34), while on other days of the week country fried duck breast, coq au vin or blanquette of veal are featured.
    Of course, there are platters of pristine shellfish ($75-$135), and, when in season meaty Jonah crab claws ($6 each). An impeccably cooked grouper (above) was well served on a bed of basil-laced light green mashed potatoes with a charred tomato snap pea relish ($26).  There are four steak offerings, including an 8-ounce bistro-style filet ($21) and a 14-ounce strip loin ($45), which, in the bistro spirit, you will want to lavish with Béarnaise or bourbon peppercorn sauce (a foie gras sauce is a $5 supplement).
    You won’t want to neglect the sides, from the creamed corn spiked with jalapeño ($8)  to the blue cheese-lavished roasted mushrooms ($8); string beans are glazed with sorghum and benne seeds ($8), yet another touch of culinary hands joined across the sea. A vegetarian would be quite happy with just such dishes.
    For dessert you may want to consider the cookie plate ($8) with a walnut brownie, coconut macaroon, and peanut butter cookies that any grown American child will savor, though the French madeleines were tasteless and limp when they should have been lemony and crisp.  A honey pecan tart with salted caramel ice cream made up for that lapse by being irresistible and not overly sweet ($8).
    House cocktails are $11, and the wine list is unquestionably one of the best and best selected in the state, with a large portion devoted to French bottlings, including a good number from Alsace, you don't often see on a restaurant menu. Mark-ups are all over the map, with some bottles hiked about 100%, but $300 for Château Batailley Cinquième Grand Cru 2005 is more like 400% and a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay that sells for $36 in a wine shop here goes for $115.  There is also a fine, extensive beer list.

Open for breakfast and dinner daily; lunch Mon.-Fri.; Brunch Sat. & Sun. 



878 West  4th Street

    Why owner Jennifer Smith should bother to add the word “Fresh” to her restaurant’s name is beyond me, for one bite of just about anything on Chef Matt Haithcock’s menu at Mozelle’s will tell you that they are buying the best ingredients they can and making everything from scratch.  The food is beautifully plated, care is taken with texture and temperature, and the eclecticism of the menu works in the restaurant’s favor as a casual but smart place, bright with colors of orange and avocado green against creamy walls and a congenial counter bar.
    This is a place where you’ll get excellent fried chicken, which is fried boneless, with peach, chutney, Mac-and-cheese and green beans—$19, quite a bargain at dinner, $11 as a hefty sandwich at lunch. There’s also good prole food like the “Gourmet Meatloaf” ($19), bacon wrapped with havarti cheese, tomato marmalade, spicy collard greens and cheese grits, which proudly epitomize contemporary Piedmont cookery.  Even more to the point is the marvelous tomato pie ($17), which is almost like a pizza within an American short crust, served with cheese-rich stone ground grits and lima beans (above).
    The Southern spring rolls ($11) might have come out of a good Vietnamese kitchen, here packed with pulled pork, shiitake mushrooms, Napa cabbage, collards and a nutty sesame ginger sauce, and you’ll see just how cannily Haithcock can play with Southern tradition when you taste his black-eyed pea fritters ($9) with bitter collard green pesto, crisp bacon, and an assertive sambal aïoli made with chive oil.
    Desserts revert to the American larder with bourbon pecan bread pudding oozing caramel sauce ($7) and a coconut cream pie ($7) that could have come straight from the most modern edition of The Joy of Cooking.
    It is difficult to imagine anyone wouldn’t enjoy dining on a sunny day at Mozelle’s—the service staff itself will lift your spirits—and it’s a fine indication of how very close Winston-Salem is to the culinary scene of much larger cities.

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



450 North Spring Street

    Located in the historic 1920s Bahnson House on “Millionaire’s Row” and once used as the city’s public library, Spring House enters its fifth year as one of Winston-Salem’s fine dining restaurants wholly free of pomp while remaining genteel in the most disarming sense.   Owners Lynn Murphy and his wife, Lynette Matthews-Murphy, have infused a congenial hospitality in every detail and corner, including the beautiful Library Bar, the sun room, and, in good weather, tables outside on the spacious lawn.  The place retains the look of a great house with broad staircases, French doors and fireplaces, white oak floors, and four upstairs bedrooms. Inside the kitchen there is a “Chef’s Table” where chef/co-owner Tim Grandinetti (left) displays his considerable showmanship in lavish multi-course dinners.
        Otherwise the regular menu is long and has something for everyone, each dish piled high with food and garnishes, from the house salad towering with juicy roast duck, caramelized onions, mushrooms, potato and goat’s cheese ($25), to the shrimp, crab, and roasted corn beignets with a red beet sauce and horseradish condiment ($11.95).  A dish called “The Colonel” is composed of crispy buttermilk fried chicken and “sawmill gravy” with smoked tomato and pimento cheese grits ($19.95), while the crusted pork chop ($23.95) comes with brown sugar whipped sweet potatoes, pickled shrimp and crab salad with smoked tomato rémoulade.  Chef Grandinetti is a generous and jolly fellow, and no one leaves Mozelle's hungry or unhappy.

Open Mon.-Sat. for dinner



736 South Main Street

    It really is requisite for anyone visiting Old Salem to eat at this utterly charming,  butter yellow 1784 tavern that will give you both an historic sense and a true taste of what Moravian food culture was like.  Of course, this being a big tourist destination, half its menu is composed of sandwiches and burgers of a kind no Moravian ever cooked, but if you stick to the front of the menu, you’ll eat heartily and well, starting off with impossible-to-resist snowflake biscuits and pumpkin muffins served with warm apple butter ($2.75).  A goat’s cheese salad manifests Moravian abundance with griddled pears, candied pecans, cranberries, zesty red onions, sweet tomatoes and a white peach vinaigrette ($8), all served by a staff in period costume, who, fortunately, do not try to mimic a Moravian accent.
    All the main courses I tried were delicious: Chef Jared Keiper boils bratwurst in beer then grills it and serves it with house-made sauerkraut, green beans and demi-glace ($9.75); the tavern chicken pie is quite literally a large slice of pie pumped up with abundant chunks of chicken and a rich creamy sauce suffused with the flavors of herbs and spices, served with Redskin mashed potatoes and green beans ($9.50); braised Angus beef pot roast comes with those same potatoes and beans and the beef is slowly cooked and swims in a brown ale gravy till it almost falls apart ($10.50).
      For dessert go with a very simple, traditional chess pie that is not as sweet as they too often are.
    The wine list is adequate to the menu and very decently priced, too.

 Open Tues.-Sat. for lunch and dinner.



723 Trade Street

  There’s not a little whimsy in attaching “Gourmet” to Mary’s Diner, now six years in business, for while all the traditional no frills chairs and tables and the “sit-down-and-eat” ambiance are what you might expect, they are enhanced beyond anything you might imagine by vast murals by local artists of justified reputation, including
Liz Simmons, Laura Lashley (below), Daniel VonSeggen, Jason Blevins and John Blackburn.  On one wall is stretched the “Garden of Eden.” On another “Culinary Warrior Women.”  Stars twinkle, colors pop, dinosaurs stroll with lions, and wit abounds.
    Mary’s began on a smaller scale but business bloomed so well that they were forced to get bigger and offer even better. Breakfast is served six days a week, out of an old bank building in the burgeoning Arts District.
    The Mary in question is Mary Haglund, and nothing goes in or out of that kitchen that she doesn’t deem the best she can buy and serve, and do it at very reasonable prices: a square deal for a square meal.

     “Over the years, many people have found it hard to believe the food isn’t rigged with some ‘special’ ingredient,” she says, “Perhaps it’s the LACK of strange ingredients that blows people’s minds and taste buds.” Whatever it is, I was enchanted with the place and the food, from the billowy “build your own” omelets to the plump breakfast burrito ($10.75) and the griddle-fried cornmeal cakes with thick-sliced bacon or sausage ($10.50).  The "cat's head biscuits" (right) at Mary’s are knock-outs—big as a baseball, fluffy, buttery, they’re light and airy but with just the right textural heft and that tangy hint of buttermilk.  Pour on some pork gravy and you have a breakfast as good as any in the South ($10.50), and one to hold you till dinner.  The grits, as you can guess, are simply cooked but taste of corn, topped with seasonal greens, tomatoes, two fried eggs and feta ($10.95). 
    Down the bottom of the long menu Mary lists her purveyors, all from North Carolina, like Homeland Creamery Dairy Products from Julian, Ward’s  Happy Chicken Eggs from McLeansville, Sanford Milling Company Flour in Henderson, Plum Granny Farm Produce from Greensboro, King and Kranies Coffee from Winston-Salem.  It would never occur to her to serve anything else, and her loyal clientele know that.


Open daily.



638 West 4th Street

    You can’t get fresher beer than at Foothills Downtown Pub (evoking the Piedmont) because right there is where it’s made—they give tours—and as a brew pub they are as serious about their food as they are about their beer.  In a big room flanked by the brewery and a good long counter behind which stand expert bartenders who pour dozens of their products with as much care as an Italian barrista makes a cappuccino.
    Each month Foothills features a different special beer, which includes Sexual Chocolate in February, Hopjob Session IPA in May, Oktoberfest in August and Frostbite Black IPA in November.  To go with such plenty, you sit down to a big table, with strangers if you care to, and chow down on fried pickle chips with Ranch dressing ($5.99), loaded-up Pub nachos ($8.99) with beer cheese, really delicious wings (right) with three sauces ($8.99) and larger platters of pork ribs roasted in Carolina Cream Ale ($17.99). The Reuben's   slow-cooked
(below) beef is very moist on beautifully toasted rye, with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing ($9.99). Bratwursts come with fresh sauerkraut ($14.99), and burgers taste the way burgers should—of first-rate, lightly compacted ground beef, with a choice of sensible toppings, which includes the Dirty South Burger with pimiento cheese, bacon, tomato and fried pickles ($12.99). Don’t forget the fat, crispy, greaseless onion ring stack either ($5.99).  With the prices here so low, I guess they must make it up in beer sales.  Yeah, they do.
By any stretch Foothills serves up  damn good food, and the beer adds a great deal more pleasure to the reason you come here.  I also applaud the fact that in a state that mindlessly allows citizens to carry guns into a bar, Foothills posts a sign saying they don’t want you in there if you’re packing heat.  Of course, they got some nasty letters and boneheaded phone calls, but it’s the protesters’  loss for missing out on food and beer this good.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.


By John Mariani
The Kimberly Hotel
145 East 50th Street (near Lexington Avenue)

    “Since 1988, Bistango has been one of the best kept secrets on Manhattan's East Side.”  So reads Bistango’s claim for its original location on East 29th Street, and it has the ring of truth as one of those neighborhood spots that hasn’t had much media attention but plays to a solid clientele of regulars.
    A few months ago Bistango branched out uptown to the Kimberly Hotel on East 50th Street, and Chef Humberto Corona is well on his way to building a similar base of satisfied guests just now finding out about his very good Italian food.  Originally from
Puebla, Mexico, and self-taught as a cook, he got his start in Italian cuisine ten years ago at Bar Stuzzichini in the Flatiron District, then was appointed Chef de Cuisine at the Spanish tapas bar Ten Bells.  He’s a chef with a deft touch that makes so many dishes so readily found elsewhere all his own.
    The dining room, headed by the wholly affable manager, Erin Fisher, is an oddly shaped spot past the lobby of the hotel, with a pleasant bar counter to the rear. The walls are a vibrant Carpaccio red, the splendid artwork exploding in a profusion of flowers. Sturdy, comfortable chairs are finely upholstered, but the tables are unfortunately bare of tablecloths, which doesn’t help the noise level here.  The service staff is fast on their feet and need to be, for the pacing of the food delivery from the kitchen can lag even when the room is not full.
    My party of four people began with some admirable creamy burrata with
prosciutto and roasted sweet red peppers ($12); expertly grilled octopus was graced with very fine olive oil and peppery greens ($16).  Don’t fail to order one or two of the flatbreads for the table, which come steaming and crackly hot.  We enjoyed the Margherita with quickly cooked marinara, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and leaves of basil ($14), and the Salsiccia, with hand-made sweet Italian sausage and hot cherry peppers ($15)—both flatbreads quite addictive.  It would be hard to resist a platter of the meatballs, once tasted (below).
    Pastas tried all had the right heft of homemade dough, and portions were very generous, so plan to share a plate of tender f
ettuccine with lobster, cherry tomato and a touch of sherry ($25). Cavatelli is one of my favorite pastas, best when slightly chewy, here served with Italian sausage, kale and a good dose of Calabrian chili to spark the flavors up ($21). A lusty green sauce enhanced the richness of short rib meat atop fat rigatoni ($22), and ravioli came plumply packed with prosciutto in a wonderful hazelnut-studded pesto and brown butter ($20).
    All around us it appeared people were enjoying a large plate of eggplant parmigiana ($20), highly recommended by our waiter, and one bite showed why: everything about this once humble dish was ennobled by perfect ingredients and impeccable cooking, so it did not fall or melt apart or show any separation of the hearty sauce.
    Veal alla Milanese followed the line of big proportions, topped with a radicchio, Parmigiano, endive and cherry tomato mélange ($32), while a very good dry-aged ribeye came with roasted Yukon potatoes, broiled herbed tomato and olive oil ($38).  Although a nice piece of meat, a pork chop with white beans ($32) was overcooked  to toughness.
    The desserts need an upgrade: I wrote “OK” next to a White chocolate mousse cake with roasted strawberries and rhubarb ($12) and a mascarpone cheesecake with blackberry lime salad ($12). The trendy olive oil cake ($12) tasted like, well, cake suffused with olive oil, which also ruined a lemon and caramel sundae ($10).
    Bistango’s wine list could easily be longer and better, but it serves well enough, and mark-ups are not all that high.
    This new uptown Bistango is garnering local attention and, I suspect, getting recommendations from hotel concierges nearby because it is friendly, reasonably priced and has the kind of  Italian food just about everyone loves.  But it also has a fine chef in Humberto Corona, whose dedication to putting his own mark on a meal is clearly evident.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday Brunch.   Pre-theater Prix Fixe $35.99




By John Mariani


    “I’m a contrarian,” insists Virginie Saverys, which she says with the same nonchalance she might use to say, “I’m wearing a blue blouse.”  When you meet the woman, you see that her declaration is self-evident.
    “When I started to make waves in Tuscany,” where she took over ownership of the 495-acre Avignonesi vineyard in 2009,  “the old-timers thought of me as a rich foreign woman poking her nose into their traditions.  But, while they were importing more and more foreign varietals and putting higher percentages of them in their wines, I wanted my traditional wines like Rosso di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to be made from 100% Sangiovese.” (Italian law allows up to 30% other grapes to be added to the latter.)
    The fact was, Avignonesi’s reputation had suffered for decades before Ettore and Alberto Falvio, with winemaker Paolo Trapolini, brought back much of the luster before selling the winery to Saverys seven years ago. Now, together with winemakers Matteo Giustiniani and Australian Ashleigh Seymour,  Saverys is committed to becoming certified 100 percent organic, following the concepts of biodynamics through which, she says, “we must let the vineyards imitate nature as far as possible,” eschewing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides she believes are harmful to a vineyard’s health. Saverys also disdains the wholly unofficial term “Super Tuscans,” which other wineries in the region use to market their non-traditional, highly priced bottlings.
    An admitted “rich foreign woman,” Saverys was born in Ghent, Belgium, the daughter of a shipping magnate; she graduated from law school in Paris and rose to the top ranks of a prestigious law firm but then resigned in 2006 because, “I didn’t want to be a policeman; I prefer deal making.”
       Her love of Tuscany gave her the idea to buy Avignonesi, which she has brought to a position of higher respect than at any time in its existence since 1974, first for its quality and second for its inclusionary hiring, with more than a hundred different nationalities working at the winery.
    Saverys is not likely to stop being a contrarian if she believes doing so will improve her wines, right down to experiments with novel or controversial trellising systems in different vineyards to take advantage of the best exposure and to control density of the vines.  One vineyard is even in the shape of a circle (right) —this in a region where vines are famously grown on rungs of hillsides.
    Ever vigilant, Saverys is also concerned about climate change.  Over dinner at Taralucci e Vino in New York she said, “I never used to bring an umbrella or a raincoat to Italy.  Now there’s so much rain and hail, both of which can damage a vineyard.”  Warming the planet can benefit grapes by building up sugars in regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy that don’t always  get ideal sun and heat.  But in once sunny Tuscany, Saverys doesn’t want to find those higher sugar levels ferment into higher alcohol levels, and she worries that her wines will reach above 15 percent alcohol. 
    We began our dinner with Italian sausages and cheeses with Avignonesi’s Rosso di Montepulciano 2014 ($16)—an excellent vintage—a lighter version of Vino Nobile, with a delicate aroma and berry flavors, at 13% alcohol. “I always serve this slightly chilled,” she insisted, “it gives the wine a refreshing quality.”  The winery’s flagship bottling, Vino Nobile 2013 ($28), was a much richer, more complex wine of 100% Sangiovese that spent 12 months in French barriques then six months in much larger Slavonian casks, finally resting for 6 months in the bottle to allow the components to knit.  Still, this is a wine that needs some time in the bottle to soften the tannins; in two to three years it will be superb.  Typical of the estate, they did not make a Grandi Annate Vino Nobile in 2013 (they had in 2012, $88) because the year was deemed not to be at the highest level of quality.
    Avignonesi does make a non-traditional wine called Grifi ($58), which lesser winemakers would likely call a Super Tuscan; in fact, before Saverys bought the estate, it was called that.  Grifi is an IGT wine, meaning a wine “typical of its geography” but not governed by rules as to which grapes it must contain.  Grifi is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, grown, respectively, in different estates in Tuscany.  Saverys poured the 2013 vintage first (57% Sangiovese, 43% Cab) because she thinks the 2012, which we tasted,  still needs more time to mature, which makes sense since there is 55% Cab with 45% Sangiovese, providing more tannin, and because the summer was hot and dry, giving the juice more body.  The 2012 will be released next year.  The 2013 was indeed farther along, more medium-bodied and wonderfully ripe and perfumed with spice.
        One of Avignonesi’s most interesting and unusual wines is Desiderio 2012 ($58), another IGT made with 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is, owing to the amount of Merlot, a very velvety wine tasting of dry fruit, with a structure of tannins that the Cab provides, with 14.5% alcohol, near the tipping point for Avignonesi wines.  It’s a big, brawny wine with a soft touch, named after a famously huge bull who lived on the estate in the 19th century.  It went very well with a dish of pasta with duck ragù.
    Saverys wants to educate people about her wines and the land, so visitors can tour the property and have a fine lunch with wines at the estate, or even take cooking classes there.
     The name Avignonesi derives from Avignon in France, where the papacy resided for six decades in the 14th century. When the pope re-located to Rome, several noble families of Avignon followed, with one branch moving to Montepulciano in Tuscany.  It's a good bet Virginie Saverys will leave just as indelible a footprint.





After breaking out of jail, Shaun Higham (left) was arrested by the police at Mitch’s Place in Paris, Arkansas, where he'd wandered in for a beer. Higham told the owner to call the police to say that, with his thirst now satiated, he was more than happy to return to prison.  According to police,  they apprehended Higham without incident, finding him “very cooperative and apologetic.”  He was brought back to prison and charged with  the original aggravated-robbery charge, plus “numerous additional charges.” . . . Meanwhile, in Arizona, a fugitive pursued by local police pulled his car into an  In-N-Out burger drive-through, but drove off and ditched his car when service took too long. He then surrendered to the police.


"And now I am going to say something that you just need to trust me on: Paging through Bacon’s cookbook was a quasi-religious experience; I felt gleeful to the point of borderline hallucination after reading some lines. For instance, there is the sentence, `Moon pots are the epitome of fancy lazy,' a string of vaguely illogical words that lodged in my brain the second I read it and refuses to let go. (Moonpotsaretheepitomeoffancylazy!) There is her desire, expressed earnestly and with a slightly confused understanding of global politics, `to be the one who gets to hug you as you tell me you actually really like the taste of unsweetened green juice, and that maybe world peace really does start in the kitchen.'"--Gabriella Paiella, "Zen and the Art of Reading the Moon Juice Cookbook," NY Magazine (10/24).



 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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