Virtual Gourmet

  July 1,  2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER



"Barbecue" by Gil Elvgren (1954)



By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani



By John Mariani

Langoustines mayonnaise at Le Petit Commerce
  In Bordeaux the Michelin-starred “gastronomic” restaurants, Le St. James, La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez and Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay—where main courses can run €100—are fueled primarily by the expense accounts of the city’s wine trade.  But it is in the bistros where the Bordelais eat, and they do so heartily.  Prices at many of these smaller restaurants are amazingly good buys, especially prix fixe meals that can run under €30 per person, sometimes with a glass of wine and with tax and service included.

      Here is an array of good ones, most open Sundays, when others are not.


10 Place de la Bourse

+33 5 56 30 00 80

    Inside, this restaurant has a gourmet dining room, but the bustling bistro is outside, splendidly set right on the Place de la Bourse across from the River Garonne. Under the summer sun expansive umbrellas cast much needed shade on the nicely set tables, and the staff—who speak good English—are quick on their feet to meet all requests, and that makes this one of the cheeriest places to dine in the city.
    À la carte prices run about €25 euros for main courses, but the two lunch set menus, two courses for €18, three for €31, are extraordinary bargains. On Sundays they serve a chicken dinner for two to six people at €21 each. A children’s menu is €13.
      The wine list is excellent, especially the number of wines by the glass. I began with a glass of Dada Rouillac blanc, made from the local Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes, with a starter of Caesar salad with freshly cooked chicken and lush mango that was perfect for a warm afternoon. This was followed with a glass of rosé and a delicately cooked sea bass with a purée of turnips and ivory-colored beurre blanc.
    For dessert there was a tangy-sweet tarte citron with a meringue (right). Other sweets included le sable Bréton with pistachio and raspberries and chocolate dome with vanilla and cassis. Cheeses are also available.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.


77 Rue du Palais Gallien
+33 5 56 44 70 93

    Now six years old, with a chef named Philippe Lagraula, Une Cuisine en Ville is a small, breezy two-room bistro with a sunny patio, white tile wall and wallpaper, and color accents of avocado green. Lagraula serves personalized food of bright colors and an insistence that the ingredients not be masked by extraneous flavors.  He trained with Paul Bocuse, Michel Troisgros, Michel Bras and Nicolas Le Bec, and he has traveled outside of France to learn what other food cultures can teach him, not least Latin America and, especially, Peru.   “I love when the cooking has clarity without artifice or too much technique, and one that respects nature,” he says.
    My lunch was to be a menu ballade, four courses for a very reasonable €48  (a tasting menu runs €65) that actually turned out, with amuses and extra items, to be more like six, beginning with summer’s perfect asparagus scented with tarragon and served with a little duck foie gras and a vinaigrette of honey and passion fruit. Next was a ceviche of cod whose bouillon of red onions and vinegar bath gave it wonderful acidity along with crunchy pink peppercorns.  A Mediterranean fish called maigre in French was remarkable for being nearly free of bones, cooked simply with tiny clams and a foamy vegetable sauce (left).
    Perfectly medium rare breast of squab was done with a sauce caline and glazed sliced carrots.
    For dessert there were the sweetest raspberries of the season with fromage blanc, coconut and rose pralines, and a citrus tart with meringue and a confiture of milk and passion fruits.
    Despite this being lunch, I rose from the table impressed with what I ate but not feeling in the least that I’d been stuffed.  This is a light cuisine, very modern while very much the product of a grand tradition.
    The wine card lists more than 100 bottlings.
    If you need reminding why the produce in France is so much better than in the U.S., eat at Une Cuisine en Ville and be amazed.

Open Tues.-Sat. for lunch and dinner.

1 Place du Parliament
+33 5 56 444 443

For a quick bite or pleasant dinner on a Sunday, Chez Jean is as dependable as it is popular. It sits right on the Place du Parlement, in view of the fountain, with other restaurants arrayed around the square, all packed with hungry, thirsty people.
    Inside is a good-looking dining area with lipstick red banquettes and a stone fireplace; outside tables are set close to one another as much for conviviality as to maximize space, so the waitresses weave in among them holding plates of good, honest bourgeois food.  For me that meant a piperade tarte with red pesto, creamy ricotta and a light salad, and exactly the kind of rough-textured pâté de campagne with red onions I was craving that day (left). There is a savory parmesan cheesecake with figs as a starter, as well as a foie gras panna cotta with apple chutney and raspberry vinegar.
    A black pig from the Abotia farm in the Basque country is cooked for ten hours to make its meat velvety and suffused with fat, and a square of merlu (hake) comes with a confit of shallots and a risotto laced with tarragon beurre blanc. 
    For dessert go for the apple tarte de “ma Grand-Mere” or the raspberry mousse with a mango coulis.
    There are menus at €15 and €29.50 as well as à la carte.  The wine list is not long but is composed almost entirely of good Bordeaux at very reasonable prices, with no bottles over €57.

Open for lunch and dinner daily.




50 Rue Saint Rémi

+33 5 57 87 11 91

    La Brasserie Bordelaise has an avid following of locals, tourists and the Net media, so a reservation is always a necessity. Once it fills up, which it does every night, it gets loud but amiably boisterous. Its chief raison d’étre is that this is the place in town you come for meat, especially beef—a “taste of the Southwest”—with cattle from Bazas, Simmental, Limousin and Aquitaine. These are accompanied by one of the city’s best wine lists—700 selections, arrayed behind the bar as you walk in and on every square inch of wall space, too. 
    You might wish to begin with oysters from the Charente-Maritime, but it’s hard to resist the generous platter of regional pork products and the Spanish hams served with good country bread.
    You can order beef from any of those sources above, sold by the gram and kilo, and there’s also good lamb shoulder with white beans. Unless you specify otherwise, they cook the slabs of meats very rare, and, since it is all grass-fed, the beef can be chewy, without the fat of grain-fed beef.
    For dessert there is a slew of housemade ice creams and hot, crisp fritters filled with custard.
    There is a market menu of 3 courses at lunch on weekdays for €22 that’s quite a buy.  

Open daily for lunch and dinner.


22 Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre
+33 5 56 79 76 58

    When Bordeaux heats up in summer it gets very hot indeed, and most restaurants have so far resisted installing air-conditioning, which can make an otherwise delightful, casual meal at Le Petit Commerce something of an ordeal.
    It seems always crowded whenever it’s open and the food comes out of the kitchen with dispatch. So don’t expect the most attentive service.
    You’ll spot the place on a narrow street by its gray façade and inside by a large cut-out of a fish against a bright red wall with neon lights.  There’s a daily blackboard menu, so it’s best to go with the menu du jour (two courses €16), which is simple, based on the fish that came in that morning. The less done to the food the better, so begin with a plateau de fruits de mer, then a simply grilled fish and don’t think about dessert. Main courses run about €25.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.


By John Mariani

                      1626 Second Avenue (near 84th Street)



        I hesitate to recommend La Pulperia to anyone who fears hearing loss, but the food is so delicious that I would be remiss if I failed to alert readers to the restaurant’s true appeal. One of three connected Latin American restaurants by this name in New York, La Pulperia serves enticing, exciting dishes from appetizers through dessert, many not easily found in Manhattan, though chances are better in Queens and the Bronx.            But that noise problem is a big one. The second I walked into the two-room restaurant on Second Avenue I was hit with a punishing blast of noise, from both the boom box music system and the crowd trying to be heard above it.  Even after the co-owner (with Chef Carlos Barroz) cordially offered to turn the music down, it still registered on my iPhone app at 90 decibels—which is the equivalent of having a revving motorcycle in the middle of the dining room.  If you’re going to really enjoy the food and drink at La Pulperia, I recommend going at lunch or around 5:30, before the cacophony kicks in.
        If you do, you’re in for some terrific food, Pan-Latino but with a nod toward Argentina.  It’s a colorful place, with a busy bar up front, Mexican tile floors and recycled Brazilian wood on the walls and ceilings.  The only soft surfaces to absorb the noise are the banquettes.
        Our party could not have had a better, friendlier waiter that night, even if he had to apologize for the twenty-minute wait for cocktails; even then, my margarita arrived without a salted rim, as requested. We also had to ask for silverware like forks and tablespoons to scoop up the food served in bowls and on platters.
        The menu is of good size, with categories of starters, raw items, soups and salads, empanadas, sandwiches, seafood, meats and signature dishes, along with a selection of oysters each night.  From the raw bar, it’s best to order the crudo tasting ($30), which includes a cool, tangy escabeche of octopus, chorizo, scallions capers, cilantro, grape tomatoes and chipotle hummus—very unusual indeed (right). Even more so was the salmon brûlée that begins with a delicate salmon tartare mounted with fromage blanc, strawberry and ginger cache de Tigre for snap and microgreens for texture—one of the best dishes I’ve had this year.
        You can play it safe with guacamole ($12) or queso fundito ($12) as a starter, but far more delectable are the  crisp lobster taquitos with grilled pineapple, avocado and spiced mayonnaise ($20), a little pricey but made with abundant lobster.  A special the other night was an empanada stuffed with shredded crabmeat and nicely seasoned so as to enhance the delicate seafood.
        There is a section of grilled proteins like hanger steak ($29), Spanish octopus ($33) and chicken breast ($24), be we went for the signature dishes.  It was puzzling to find one of them not available that night—Argentinean BBQ for two ($75), a platter of short ribs, hater steak, chicken, pot loin, chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbreads, fries and salad. Instead we had a marinated ribeye of excellent flavor—better than at many steakhouses around town.
        Way more exciting were pacu fish ribs (below), which may well be unique to La Pulperia: grilled Brazilian ribs from the pacu fish (the chef gets them special from a Boston purveyor) that are related to piranha but a lot more benign in the water. They came with a sweet orange chipotle BBQ sauce and nutty coconut rice ($25). If not as unusual but every bit as good was Moqueca Mixta ($33), a big bowl of steaming squid, shrimp, mussels, white fish, scallops, chorizo, cod, green coconut rice and dense oil (above). All these signature items can easily serve two, even three people.
        I don’t really expect Latin American desserts to be much beyond intensely sweet, but La Pulperia’s are considerably more than that, and not all that sweet.  Not even the tres leches cake, creamy and very moist, or the banana crêpe.
        I was a little surprised there were no Brazilian coffees available, just the usual espresso and cappuccino everyone else serves. They might want to re-think that.
    There is a long cocktail list and the wine list is adequate, with some Latin American bottlings at reasonable prices. The Argentinean beer Quilmes is an excellent alternative.
        So. I really, really loved La Pulperia’s food, and, if I lived nearby, I’d be there often, and order take-out, too.  But the likelihood of my visiting after 6 p.m. is at this point zero. Since no one—not even the young Millennial crowd that packs the place—goes for the music and certainly not at that decibel level, management should push it to the background so that you might actually hear something besides the bass guitar playing at full throttle.  That said, on Monday evenings there is live Brazilian music that people really do come to hear.

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







By John Mariani

    If at all possible next weekend, Americans will be outdoors celebrating Independence Day with family and friends, along with burgers, franks, steaks, chops, shrimp, crabs and a whole mess of side dishes, a lot of it cooked on the grill. So here are wines I’m thinking of for a backyard party where a lot of people can drink well without my spending a fortune on each bottle.


CASTELLO DEL TREBBIO CHIANTI SUPERIORE 2014 ($15)—This well priced I.G.T. tastes like Chianti from forty years ago, a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and Ciliegiola, but without the oxidation that so often quickly occurred in the wine.  Made from grapes in the Colli Fiorentini and Rufina regions, the wine shows a good deal of fruit forward and the tannins are modest, making this as apt for a pizza baked or cooked on the grill as just about anything you might be serving on July 4th.


POLIZIANO VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO  2014 ($30)—If you’re thinking of doing an American version of bistecca fiorentina this weekend, you won’t find a better match than this reasonably priced Vino Nobile, made from 85% Prugnolo Gentile and 15% Colorino, Canaiolo and Merlot, spending 16 months in barriques.  Made by the Carletti family (left), the wine has a wonderful perfume in the glass and a nice soft finish, and it will take to the steak’s char like a velvet glove.


DOMAINE DE BILA-HAUT L’ESQUERDA 2016 ($28)—This red from a village in the Côte du Roussillon is precisely the kind to give wine lovers a new appreciation for regional French wines at good prices, which had been missing from the market for a long while. Now owned by Michel Chapoutier, the House of Bila was once a refuge for the Knights Templar (their cross is on the label). The  root stocks are 40+ years old, so the character of the terroir comes through from the blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan typical of the region. It’s big-bodied but not overpowering, so with grilled chicken or ribs, it’ll work splendidly.


CARTAGHO MANDAROSSA NERO D’AVOLA 2014 ($25)—Nero d’Avola is the predominant grape of Sicily, and this 100% varietal culls its grapes from the sandy soil right on the Southern Sicilian coast. Without being “plummy,” there is a hint of plum’s sweetness, and at 14% it is a very good option for cheese like Pecorino and Parmigiano.  With a plate of pasta I enjoyed every sip—make that glass—of this wine, one of the better Sicilian offerings from this vintage.

NOBILO ICON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 ($22)—With more layers of flavor than most New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Nobilo Icon winemaker Dave Edmonds (right) sources from three different vineyards in the Marlborough growing region. The Awatere vineyards provide the flinty character the grape needs; the Wairau vineyards give body, and the Rapaura gives the fruitiness without too much sweetness.  It’s very well balanced and will be terrific as an aperitif or with lobster.


FETZER ANNIVERSARY RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016 ($9)—Mendocino’s Fetzer makes a great deal of wine, and a lot of its basic bottlings make it onto restaurant tables of every stripe.  Barney Fetzer doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for the company’s finer wines, which certainly includes this well-balanced limited edition Cab with just 13.5% alcohol, with a little Petit Verdot, Merlot and Syrah adding complexity to the richness of the fruit. For nine bucks this is a great party wine for people who can recognize it for its quality.


LA CREMA SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR 2016  ($25)—This family winery, begun in 1979, used the name La Crema to denote their wines would be the cream of the crop, and consistency has always been a hallmark of their satiny flagship cool climate Pinot Noirs, which will go as well with salmon as with roast pork. The fruit is sourced from several vineyards with various soil types, so you get minerality with the soft fruitiness.




At the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Long Island, NY, Curtis Mays asked for his receipt to find  the instructions for his burger (well-done, toasted bread!) included his waitress’s request for a special ingredient. Spit.


"Fusion has become a dirty word in the food world. High-end chefs line up on the field of battle, ready to trade words over whether fusion is the driver of innovation and cross-cultural exchange or a craven attempt by white Americans to profit off the cuisines of immigrants."
    --Brian Reinhart, "There's Serious Craft Behind Eclectic Sandwiches at Irving's Shawarma Press,"Dallas Observer (5/30/18)




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 hillside in 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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