Virtual Gourmet

  June 24,  2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER



"L'Asperge" (1880) by Édouard Manet


Part One
By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Taking Prosecco To A Higher Level
By Pat Savoie


Part One

By John Mariani

Place de La Bourse

    Bordeaux, with a quarter of a million inhabitants, is assuredly the world’s most famous wine capital, and its historic center is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its 18th century architecture and 362 historic monuments.  Nevertheless, it is a solidly industrial city, and few Bordelais have achieved international renown—artist Odilon Rédon, dramatist Jean Anouilh and film director René Clement pretty much complete the list.
    Bordeaux has Celtic and Roman roots, occupation by the Vikings, Gothic and Frankish tribes, and three centuries of English control after Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Even today, many of the Bordeaux wine châteaux have Anglo or Irish names, like Lynch-Bages, Léoville-Barton, Talbot (left), Smith-Haut-Lafitte and others. In the 18th century Bordeaux emerged as France’s principal wine region, making its capital’s merchants very rich.
    For all that, Bordeaux can seem quite provincial, with nothing of the intense rush of Paris and even less the decadence of the French Riviera. It is not, however, a somber city, for its wide plazas and broad Garonne River, along with an excellent new tram system, make it easy to access and get around in. That historic center is compact enough to stroll through in a couple of idle hours, across the vast Place des Quinconces and the beautiful arc of the Place de la Bourse with its statue of the Three Graces (right), which replaced an equestrian statue of Louis XV destroyed during the Revolution. Just across from Place de la Bourse is a reflecting pool designed by landscape artist Michel Corajoud that covers the granite floor with just under an inch of water, creating both a mirror effect as well as a cooling light mist in the air. It is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

    Bordeaux is the site of the largest wine fair in the world, Vinexpo, which is far from strictly a French affair. Every vigneron and negoçiant, spirits distiller, importer, distributor, hotel company, restaurant chain attends each year to buy or sell, make deals and expand markets. If it hasn’t quite the glamour of New York’s Car Show or the Cannes Film Festival, Vinexpo is tremendously popular, and profitable for the city.  Just recently Bordeaux opened a state-of-the-art La Cité du Vin museum (left) and education center that is shaped somewhat like a wine barrel; plan on a good two hours to see as much as possible.
   As in every major city in Europe, you might spend all your time visiting churches, and Bordeaux has no dearth of them; from the grand Saint-André Cathedral (below) consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096, with its addition of a soaring Gothic tower to the Romanesque Church of the Holy Cross and the baroque church of Saint Paul Francis Xaviar; there seems a church on every block.
    This was once a walled city, and the remains are still in evidence at the Porte Cailhau and its La Grosse Cloche (big bell) belfry since the 15th century.  There are even the extensive remains of a 3rd century Roman amphitheater at Palais Gallien.
     The best time to see Bordeaux, I found, was on a Sunday morning, when that big bell tolls, calling the Bordelais to church at the magnificent Gothic Saint André Cathedral, where Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married in 1137. It is a lovely walk along the Rue Catherine, said to be the longest pedestrian street in France, lined with boutiques and cafés until it opens onto the broad Place de la Comédie anchored by the Grand Theatre.  Built in the 18th century along neoclassic lines, with 12 Greek columns and statues of the nine Muses and Three Graces, the building went through a superb restoration in the 1990s, and re-opened as home to the National Opera of Bordeaux, one of the most opulent in Europe.
    On that quiet morning I visited the Museum of Aquitaine (left) on Cour Pasteur and, finding myself nearly alone, was delighted by the richness of its holdings exhibiting the entire history of Bordeaux from the Stone Age to the present. The sarcophagus of Eleanor of Aquitaine is here, along with the tomb of French essayist Michel de Montaigne.
    The best way to visit Bordeaux is to buy a City Pass (24 hours  €29; 48 hours €39; 72 hours €43), which gives access to La Cité du Vin, 20 museums and monuments, city tours and unlimited rides on public transportation.  There are also boat cruises, most with wine and food, trips on the Garonne that are part of vineyard visitations.
    What Bordeaux desperately needs is air conditioning, which until now the French have always disdained.  But climate change has hit Bordeaux with record heat—it was above 100 degrees for the four days I visited last summer—and few apartments or restaurants have a/c. Neither does the tram. I’d buy Carrier stock in Europe before it soars like the temperatures.


By John Mariani

  230 East 44th Street (near 2nd Avenue)


        The area around the United Nations has always been fertile territory for Asian restaurants—it’s where the phenomenon of Hunan/Sichuan cuisine began back in the 1970s—and Zaika adds to the Indian entries in a highly contemporary way, not least in a décor of hand-painted pillars depicting Buddhas, a glittering bar, and rippled walls lighted in violet colorings.
    Opened six months ago by two Indian physicians seeking the kind of cuisine they missed from the Old Country, Zaika has attracted a solid neighborhood clientele of every ethnic stripe, not a few from the U.N. at lunch.  In the kitchen is a veteran of 35 years, Executive Chef Raamanuj Sharma (left), whose experience includes Bukhara Delhi and Tamarind Tribeca. His cooking is largely Northern Indian in style, though lighter in butter and yogurt.
    Manager Mohan Ahliwalia has built an international résumé over 42 years, and he is an extremely affable host.  I’ll give some slow service a pass on the night I visited because a party of 26 people without a reservation came through the door at eight o’clock, took up an entire room and needed to be out in ninety minutes.
    The chef offers three- and five-course tasting menus, and I left ours pretty much up to Chef Sharma. Proceedings began with methi (fenugreek) malai (cream) tikka of beets with papaya and lychee chutney ($12) and large, hefty samosa pastry pockets ($12) made with angooir sounth (ginger) and chana chat, a Northern Indian street food of chickpeas in a richly spiced sauce.  Best of the starters was a cake of juicy chili crab cooked with red onions and tomato masala spice mixture ($16). Aloo gobhi matar ($17)    was a vegetarian entrée of cauliflower, tomato, potato, peas and ginger, while saag paneer ($19)—a classic dish of spinach, housemade cheese, grilled peppers and annatto tomato oil—had plenty of nuance and levels of flavor. Ambarsari choley ($17)—called “Mom’s chickpea curry”—was indeed a homey, stick-to-your ribs item of red radish, pickled onions and cherry tomatoes.
    Salmon tikkey ($26) was cooked in the tandoori oven very quickly to retain succulence, served with orange-glazed asparagus, papaya and lychee and a shot of pink pepper (right). The best of the mains I tried was a form of Indian osso buco—slowly braised lamb shank with cremini mushrooms, whole spices to add pungency and a red wine sauce very unusual in Indian cookery, balanced with sweet-sour pineapple  ($34). We couldn’t resist ordering butter chicken ($21), perhaps not the best I’ve had in New York but a good standard rendition.
    There is every good reason to order two or three of the steamy, yeasty breads ($4-$6), like the mushroom truffle naan, the onion kulcha and the garlic naan.
Desserts ($6-$7) like soft, fragrant  ras malai cheese patties infused with saffron; gulab jamun balls soaked in rose and saffron syrup; and gajjai halwa of shredded cooked carrots mixed with nuts, are nothing out of the ordinary at Zaika, but they are refreshing for those who want to end with a creamy sweet.
    There is a long list of special cocktails at Zaika that make for a good way to enjoy the finger foods. They do a chili-and-salt rimmed margarita that has a kick. Wine lists have become more and more interesting at Indian restaurants, but Zaika’s is not among them.
    Zaika is breaking from the established menus found so often elsewhere, and I encourage Chef Sharma to go further with his own ideas in the coming year. I’ll try anything he chooses to make.


Open daily for lunch and dinner.



Taking Prosecco To A Higher Level
By Pat Savoie

    For the past five years, the engine driving the growth of sparkling wine consumption in the U.S. has been Italian Prosecco, which now accounts for about 20% of all sparkling wine sales, with 5.3 million cases imported in 2016,  up from 900,000 in 2010. Price is one key to this growth, with more then one-third of Prosecco’s dollar sales from bottles priced between $10 and $14.  The brand names that dominate are La Marca (E&J Gallo), Mionetto, Cup Cake, Zonin and Ruffino.
    Italy produces about 150 million bottles of Prosecco a year, all from the Veneto region, which includes Venice, of which 65% is exported. Prosecco is labeled by the region where it’s produced using DOC or DOCG (the higher quality). DOC is produced in several provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. DOCG can be made only in the province of Veneto between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and in the smaller area of Asolo and Montello.
    Prosecco wine is made primarily from the Glera grape (right), which used to be called the Prosecco grape but was renamed in 2009 for the ancient Glera, which is the same grape by DNA. Up to 15% of other permitted grapes may be used. Styles are based on the amount of bubbles: spumante ("sparkling"), frizzante (semi-sparkling), or tranquillo (still).
    In addition, Prosecco can be made by two different production methods. The vast majority is made by the Charmat, or “tank,” method, with fermentation taking place in large stainless steel tanks, rather than in the bottle. The wine has less contact with the “lees,” or yeast sediment, and generally less complexity. The second approach—the so-called méthode champenoise—is how actual Champagne is made. The main difference between the two methods is that the second fermentation takes place in the bottle.  After several months, the sediment is disgorged and the bottle corked.
    And the level of sweetness, as in Champagne, varies based on the levels of sugar remaining after fermentation. The most common designations for Prosecco are:

Extra Brut Under 6 grams of sugar per liter
Brut  6-15 grams
Extra Dry 12-20 grams
Sec or Dry 19-35 grams

    But there is a trend developing—one experienced with other wines—in which interest and tastes are moving to more complex, expressive and expensive examples of Prosecco. These still represent a small portion of sales, but are growing rapidly. The sweet spot for these wines is the small production area of Asolo and Montello, around the towns of Asolo and Montebelluna.
    Asolo (left) is known as the “Pearl of Treviso.” It and the smaller region of Montello are set at the foot of the Venetian Alps, where the landscape is mountainous to the north while to the south plains slope toward the Venetian Lagoon and Venice, 30 miles away.
    I visited this area in May as a guest of the Consorzio Vini Asolo Montello and tasted wines from many of the 40 producers (over 85% of total) who are members of the Consorzio. These wines are a step above the rest, with intense freshness, minerality, salinity, and fruit notes. Many were made by the Traditional Method. All are classified as DOCG.
    From 2013 to 2016 Asolo and Montello Prosecco Superiore DOCG production increased by about 800%, reaching in 2017 a total of over 10.6 million bottles. But only a few producers, many of whom are fairly small, have importers in the U.S., though several are seeking representation.     Following are some of the standouts.

   Bele Casel
– Brother and sister Luca and Paola Ferraro now run the winery that their parents started over three decades ago. Luca makes some fine Proseccos, including the popular Extra Dry (about $15 in U.S.). The wines show the minerality and salinity that are hallmarks of the region.
- Armando Serena founded this winery over 50 years ago. He is now the President of the Consortium Vini Asolo Montello, and his son, Roberto, runs the winery and makes the wine. They produce about 4.5 million bottles, of which 1.5 million are Prosecco. While they are exporting to most of the rest of the world, they are currently not in the U.S. due to a law suit over the brand name of the winery. (They do sell “recyclable kegs” to on-premise buyers here.) Their Brut and Extra Dry are perfect examples of the Asolo region.

Conte Loredan Gasparini –
This winery, located in Venegazzù, Montello, has been in existence for about 60 years. It was purchased in the 1970s by the Palla family, and Lorenzo Palla is now the winemaker. The Pallas planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbech (Italian spelling) and produce some lovely red wines as well as a Brut and Extra Dry Prosecco (about $15).

Ida Agnoletti Winery – Ms Agnoletti personifies the independent female wine maker. She is opinionated and, in her own words, a “contrarian.” Her wines are lush and distinctive. Her Proseccos (she doesn’t like calling them as such) are fine and she makes a still white Manzoni and a lovely Merlot, a grape that does well in this area. Her red blend is excellent. She used to export to the U.S. a few years ago. She is currently seeking an importer.

Tenuta Baron – Founded by Nico Baron in the 1970s, the winery is managed by his wife, Enrica Beatrice, and son, Giacomo, in collaboration with Andrea Sbrissa. Their Brut, Extra Dry and Extra Brut (about $15) are excellent. The Syrah-Merlot blend Conamore ($17) is nicely fruity.

Case Paolin – Emilio Pozzobon purchased this Montello estate in the 1970s; he and his family had been sharecroppers previously. They planted more vines and today his sons, Diego, Adelino and Mirco, run the operation, where production is organic. Lovely Brut and Extra Dry Proseccos ($17) and red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot-Carmenere ($17) are worth seeking out.

La Ghisolana – Excellent Prosecco from vines over 100 years old.  The family also runs an Agriturismo inn. Organic.

Pat del Colmel – In addition to the Proseccos, wines from native grapes such as Recantina and Rabbiosa are made by this small winery (above). They follow organic practices but are not certified. 

LETERRE – Lovely Prosecco, plus good reds (Cabernet Sauvignon and blends).

Tenuta Amadio – Sylvia and Simone Rech reclaimed a hundred-year-old family property and created a sustainable winery. They bottled their first vintage in 2014. The Brut and Extra Dry and great examples of Asolo Prosecco.  They are actively seeking an importer.




“Compared with knockout Italian cities like Florence and Venice, Milan is gray and full of Fascist architecture.”—Melissa Biggs, “Milan,” Indagare (June). 


Hot-pot parlor Jiamener in Chengdu, China,  recently opened its doors and offered a month of all-you-can-eat unlimited food for $25, but customers ate the restaurant out of business, falling $100,000 in debt after just two weeks of operation.




Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


   Wine is a joy year-round but in cooler weather one grape varietal has really taken center stage in my daily activities – that most Italian of grapes, Sangiovese, and its ultimate expression – Brunello di Montalcino.
    From mid-September through mid-October, the Sangiovese grown for our various styles of red wines are be harvested, culminating with the top selection for Brunello di Montalcino.
    Second, cooler weather here means it is time to start enjoying more red wines and especially Sangiovese based wines.  That includes Banfi’s cru of Brunello, Poggio alle Mura, literally the cream of the crop of our Sangiovese vineyards. Alongside our Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, this year we introduced two more wines from the cru Poggio alle Mura – a Rosso di Montalcino and a Riserva of Brunello.  Rosso is sort of like the younger brother of Brunello, also made from 100% Sangiovese grapes but usually a selection from younger vines and the wine is aged only two years compared to the four required for Brunello.  The Riserva, on the other hand, is an even more selective harvest of Sangiovese, and ages for an additional year before release.
    What is so special about this cru Poggio alle Mura?  Well, it is the result our over 30 years of ongoing research at my family’s vineyard estate, Castello Banfi.  When we first began planting our vines there in the late 1970s studies from the University of Bordeaux indicated which strains of many varietals we should plant, based on the soil type and microclimate of each vineyard.  But when it came to the region’s native Sangiovese, there was only local lore, no scientific research.  So we took it upon ourselves to figure out this vine, and set off on three decades of incredibly detailed research.
    We started with 600 apparent variations on Sangiovese, because it is so susceptible to variations in weather and soil, and narrowed that down to 160 truly genetically different clones.  We planted a vineyard with two rows of each type, made wine from each of them, and charted the differences – remember, you only get one chance a year to make wine, so this took time.
    It took about ten years to get some concrete results, though we continue to experiment today and always will – you never stop learning in science and nature!  Once we determined which were the best, complementary clones that could be planted together to make the best Brunello, we chose to plant them in what we determined to be the optimal vineyard sites.  Coincidentally, the best soils and climate conditions are in the slopes surrounding the medieval fortress today known as Castello Banfi, known since Etruscan times as Poggio alle Mura – the walled hilltop.  Hence the name of our most special “cru” of Brunello, representing a synthesis between tradition and innovation.
    Though the focus of this study was our Brunello, all of our Sangiovese-based wines, including the super Tuscans SummuS, Cum Laude, and Centine, benefitted from this work.  And that’s the third reason for celebrating Sangiovese this month, for the range of wonderful reds that usher us into autumn!  One wine in particular was inspired by our research – the BelnerO, a Sangiovese dominant blend with what I like to call a kiss of Cabernet and a whisper of Merlot.  We grow the grapes a little differently for BelnerO than for Brunello, make the wine with less oak aging and released it earlier from the winery, providing a counterpoint to Brunello and a lovely terroir-driven wine in its own right.
     If you know Italians, you know that by nature we are multi-faceted, varying in mood, and always passionate.  As a nation, we span from the hot sunny beaches of Sicily near the African coast to the rugged mountains and Alpine ski slopes of Trentino-Alto Adige in the north.  Sangiovese is grown in almost all of Italy’s regions and reflects the unique nature of each; it is most famous (rightfully so) in Tuscany, yet even there it reflects the nuances of each hilltop, valley and subzone.  It has something a little different to say in Brunello than Chianti, Morellino than Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montalcino than Super Tuscan blends.
    Here is a smattering of Sangiovese-based wines that you may wish to get to know better, reflecting a spectrum that appeals to every occasion, every taste, and every budget.  We can assure you that the conversation will never become boring.

Recommendations for Celebrating Sangiovese 

BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese – A refined cuvée of noble red grapes perfected by our pioneering clonal research. This dark beauty, BelnerO, is produced at our innovative winery, chosen 11 consecutive years as Italy’s Premier Vineyard Estate. Fermented in our patented temperature controlled French oak and aged approximately 2 additional years. Unfiltered, and Nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites. 


Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino – Rich, round, velvety and intensely aromatic, with flavor hints of licorice, cherry, and spices. Brunello di Montalcino possesses an intense ruby-red color, and a depth, complexity and opulence that is softened by an elegant, lingering aftertaste. Unfiltered after 1998 vintage. 

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino – Brunello's "younger brother," produced from select Sangiovese grapes and aged in barrique for 10 to 12 months. Deep ruby-red, elegant, vibrant, well-balanced and stylish with a dry velvety finish. 

Poggio all’Oro Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – A single vineyard selection of our most historically outstanding Sangiovese, aged five years before release, the additional year more than that required of Brunello including 6 months in barrel and 6 months more in bottle to grant its “Riserva” designation.  Incredible elegance and harmony. Intense with lots of fruit and subtle wood influence. Round, complete, well balanced with hints of chocolate and berries. Unfiltered after 1998.

Poggio alle Mura – The first tangible result of years of intensive clonal research on Montalcino’s native Sangiovese grape.  Estate bottled from the splendidly sun drenched vineyards surrounding the medieval Castello from which it takes its name.  The Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, silky and smoky.  Deep ruby in color with an expressive bouquet of violets, fruits and berries as well as cigar box, cedar and exotic spices. The Rosso di Montalcino is also intense ruby red.  The bouquet is fresh and fruity with typical varietal notes of cherry and blackberry, enriched by more complex hints of licorice, tobacco and hazelnut.  It is full bodied, yet with a soft structure, and a surprisingly long finish. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is deep ruby red with garnet reflections and a rich, ample bouquet that hints of prune jam, coffee, cacao and a light balsamic note.  It is full and powerful, with ripe and gentle tannins that make it velvety and harmonious; this wine is supported by a pleasing minerality that to me speaks soundly of that special hillsidein southern Montalcino.

SummuS – A wine of towering elegance, SummuS is an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon for fruit and structure; and Syrah for elegance, character and a fruity bouquet.  An elegant, complex and harmonious red wine. 

Cum Laude – A complex and elegant red which graduated “With Honors,” characterized by aromas of juicy berries and fresh spices.

Centine – A Cuvee that is more than half Sangiovese, the balanced consisting of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Vinified in a firm, round style that easily accompanies a wide range of dishes, this is a smooth and fragrantly satisfying wine with international character, and a perennial favorite at my own dinner table. 

Banfi Chianti Superiore – The “Superiore” designation signifies stricter government regulations regarding production and aging requirements, as compared to regular Chianti.  An intense ruby red wine with fruit forward aromas and floral notes.  This is a round wine with well-balanced acidity and fruit.

Banfi Chianti Classico – An enduring classic: alluring bouquet of black fruit and violets; rich flavors of cherry and leather; supple tannins and good acidity for dining. 

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – Produced from select grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Chianti, this dry, fruity and well-balanced red has a full bouquet reminiscent of violets.

Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico – This is our newest entry into the Chianti arena, coming from a 99 acre estate in Castellina, the heart of the Chianti Classico region.  The wine is a captivating mauve red that smells of cherry, plum and blackberry with hints of spice.  It is round, full and balanced with very good acidity.  

Col di Sasso – Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Luscious, complex and soft with persistent notes of fruit and great Italian style structure.



 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 (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.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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