Virtual Gourmet

  September  16,  2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Champagne Poster (1932)


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Annual Beer Festival, Brussels

    More than any Belgian city, Brussels has a staid and stolid cast—it’s home to both the EU and NATO—despite the presence of its beautiful Grand Place (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), great Gothic town hall, and more than 80 museums. And, just as Philadelphia has its Rocky Balboa statue, Brussels has its Mannekin Pis, a 1619 bronze sculpture of a boy peeing into a fountain that has been stolen several times and throughout the year now suffers the indignities of being dressed up like a Ken doll in different outfits.
    As a food city Brussels certainly has put its stamp on certain items—Brussels sprouts, which were developed in the city in the 14th century;  Belgian waffles, of much more recent vintage; French fried potatoes, garnished with myriad toppings, from mayonnaise to vinegar. Then there are the exquisite and justly famous Belgian chocolates.  
   Boosters will happily recommend any number of Brussels beers and will be happy to point you in the direction of the functioning beer museum called the Gueuze, run by the Van Roy-Cantillon family since 1978.
    Brussels teems with pubs and beer brasseries, including one called 
Delirium Café (below) on the appropriately named Impasse de la Fidelité, with a cache of more than 2,000 beers from all over the globe.
    Belgian cuisine has influences from France, Germany and Scandinavia, but its most indigenous dishes are waterzooi, a rich stew usually made with chicken or seafood, cream and eggs; Boterhammen, slabs of bread spread with a variety of toppings and eaten with a knife and fork; and the hearty beef stew called carbonnade.
    Such dishes are the kind found in many of the narrow streets around the cramped, bustling Rue des Bouchers, which is touristy but not untypical in its menus.  A quick peek down an alley called Impasse St. Nicholas brings you to the city's oldest, Au Bon Vieux Temps, dating to the late 17th century.
    Somewhat younger (it opened in 1905) but still among Brussels’ best restaurants is Vincent (below) on the Rue des Dominicains near the Cathedral, where the tiled walls are painted with game and seafood, mariners and cooks, and its Movado clock is in the shape of a life preserver.  The waiters are all veterans, dressed in white shirts and black aprons. The wine list of about 50 bottlings is geared to the food and the clientele. Prices are moderate.
    You might begin at Vincent’s with some Landes goose liver, or cold lobster with mayonnaise.  There are always oysters of many varieties, at least six mussels dishes, and the classic Belgian  shrimp croquettes are seriously addictive.  The meat section features a flambéed rump steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce, and beef carbonnade, portions of which are replenished as per your request. The waterzooi of chicken, gently cooked with egg yolks in broth, vegetables and its own juices, is as satisfying and comforting as food can ever be.
    If you go for dinner at Vincent’s, stop before or after at Le Cirio (opened in 1886) on the Rue de la Bourse for their specialty, the “half-and-half” of equal parts sparkling and white wines.
    Since Brussels is such an international city, it has more than 3,000 restaurants, five with two Michelin stars, including the illustrious Comme Chez Soi (right) on the Place Ruppé, there since 1926 and now run by Laurence Cuvélier, granddaughter of the original owner, and her husband, chef Lionel Rigolet.  The menu has a more or less French cast with Belgian products and offers several options, from à la carte dishes to four courses for €99, five for €147, six for €198 and 7 for €241.
    On my latest visit to Brussels I had a superb dinner at a splendiferous place named Belga Queen (which has a branch in Ghent) via Portugal-born restaurant designer Antoine Pinto. It’s located in a vast 18th century landmark building on the Rue du Fossé that combines the stately pillars of its former bank premises and a grand glass ceiling with gorgeous back lighting and cool colors of aqua, salmon and rose, with widely separated, beautifully set tables (left). Belga Queen also has better than usual service for Brussels, though it became lax later in the evening.
     Three of us ate our way through both classic and new dishes, from light, crispy shrimp fritters (
€18) and lush foie gras with a sauce of balsamic vinegar for acid and chocolate snaps for a little nudge of sweetness (22). One very large raviolo was packed with succulent crab with grated truffles, black radish chips and graced with a cream bisque (25). A roasted royal cod was napped with a well-made sauce vierge of lemon and olive oil with tomato and a jus made from cockles and Steenbrugge white beer, with melted leeks, all accompanied by a good dollop of mashed potatoes (€30).
          I don’t often see “cuckoo” on a menu, but it’s really a Belgian chicken from Malines (right) that at Belga Queen comes with a wonderful glaze of pear syrup and a slice of gingerbread, with Belgian frites and a mixed salad (€24).  For a very big appetite, or a main course to share, there is a rack of seven lamb chops in a Ghent mustard crust, beer jus, gratin of potatoes and a sauce of rosemary and thyme (€36).
    Our desserts included three very good chocolate mousses (€8), and a textbook crème brûlée (€7.50). They also do a refined version of a Belgian waffle with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream  (€8).
    Belga Queen is a special place in Brussels for all the most lavish reasons, yet it is not in the least pretentious and is there as much for your dining pleasure as for your delight in its ambiance.  It is open for lunch and dinner daily.


By John Mariani

306 East 81st Street (off Second Avenue)

Gnocchi with Truffles 

    Outside of Italy the distinction between a ristorante and a trattoria has become as blurred as have bistro and brasserie outside of France. Traditionally, a ristorante is a mid- or-upper level dining establishment of whatever size offering a fairly extensive menu, whereas a trattoria is small, unfussy, usually family run, with a short regional menu.
    New York has an applaudable number of the former, but not really many good examples of the latter, which tend to be Italian-American or pan-Italian. Sandro’s, on the Upper East Side since 2007, is the epitome of what a true trattoria should be, and the fact that it’s run by one of the most ebullient masters of the form, Sandro Fioriti, makes it one of the best Italian places to dine in New York, or anywhere else in America.
    Fioriti is resolutely Roman, and he spent many years in ristoranti in Rome and Milan before opening his own, D'Artagnan, in Frascati, where he diverged into nuova cucina stylistics. But, at the urging and support of Tony May, then head of the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani, he came to New York in 1985 to open the first Sandro’s, whose menu was a balance of the traditional and the innovative.  That ristorante closed in 1992 and Fioriti moved with his family to the Caribbean, but a hurricane destroyed his restaurant there. He came back to New York to open Sandro’s on Second Avenue as a trattoria with a menu of Roman classics done the way they were meant to be.
    You’ll spot the place by it daffodil-colored awning showing a Hirschfeld-like caricature of the chef, which also appears on some of the restaurant’s china.  Inside, the place is pretty bare bones—also quite typical—off-white brick walls, soft lighting, white tablecloths and a bar up front. All eyes are on the kitchen in back, for at any moment the ever-smiling Fioriti, looking like the heftiest tenor at La Scala, may come bounding across the room, bringing a plate of cheeses and salume to a table, spotting a regular or old friends and raising his arms with delight. His English, after all these years, is not the King’s and part of his charm is in that thick Roman accent of his.
    When you sit down you get long, thin, warm grissini to nibble while you look at the brief menu and the sensible, decently priced wine list. If you order something like mozzarella di bufala ($17), which is on every other menu in town, you can be sure Sandro’s will taste the way it does in Italy. The prosciutto is San Daniele ($22), and don’t miss the fried ricotta (left) with tomato sauce ($18).  A nod toward Tuscan cookery is the chicken livers dashed with balsamic vinegar ($22).
    And then there are the pastas. I need not tell you how perfectly al dente they are all cooked or of the wonderful texture of the various shapes, made with organic eggs. One of Fioriti’s signature items is the spaghettini al’limone ($22), whose citrus aroma and subtle taste are so simple they need nothing else to enhance the pasta.  One might roam all over Rome to find a better bucatini all’ amatriciana, the fat spaghetti noodles sauced with tomato and pancetta ($26), and his cacio e pepe ($25), trendy elsewhere, is a textbook version of why this dish is so remarkably delicious.
    If you like baccalà, Fioriti’s version with tomatoes, onions and potatoes ($33) is very Roman in every aspect of flavor and texture, and branzino with lemon and olive oil and potatoes ($40) is very good. For meat, there’s butterflied Cornish hen ($29) and sliced steak with mushrooms ($36.75) that two might share. The night I was at Sandro’s he was doing roast suckling pig (left), its skin crisp, its tender flesh almost melting at the cut of the knife and fork.
    Desserts, too, are as simple as they should be in a trattoria, like “grandmother’s apple cake” ($12.50) and tiramisù ($12.50).
    Sandro’s is a place where you allow yourself a glass of amaro after the meal, and the espresso’s correctly made. Fioriti won’t serve you what he would not want to eat himself. (Odd, then, that he imports gelato rather than make his own.)
    To live near Sandro’s must cause hungry neighbors constant temptation on any given night to drop by for a plate of pasta or a special like suckling pig. For the rest of us, Sandro’s is a dreamy reminder of what a trattoria means at its very best, and for that, everybody who loves Italian food should get there as often as possible. 





By John Mariani

Harvest at the Royal Slope in Washington State at Gård Vintners

    As a general rule I would contend that wines costing under $10 range from blah to outright plonk; from $10-$20, which the wine industry considers its “premium” category, there are some remarkably good values. But it is in the price range of $20 to $30 that you not only find bargains but very good varietals and blends as well.  By bargains I mean wines that in other bottles from other estates might cost $50 or more for the same quality, which is especially true of California Chardonnays.
    So when I sat down over dinner at Palm Too steakhouse in Manhattan with Josh Lawrence, proprietor of Gård Vintners in Royal City, Washington, and his winemaker,  Aryn Morell, I was both delighted by the samples they brought that cost $22 to $35 and happy to see how Washington State wines are getting more justified recognition.
    Washington’s is a young wine industry, with vinifera plantings begun in the 1960s in the valleys east of the Cascade Mountains, especially in the Columbia Valley, followed by Yakima, Red Mountain and Walla Walla appellations. Yet, despite the industry’s growth, Washington wines haven’t had nearly as much attention as Oregon’s, and the last authoritative book on the state’s progress, Washington Wines & Wineries by Paul Gregutt, came out eight years ago. (Sara Matthews’s Washington: The State of Wine in 2006 was a splendid photographic odyssey, but at 112 pages didn’t treat its subject in depth.) 
    Washington’s climate is certainly ideal for some varietals. As Gregutt points out, “Washington’s unique geography gives them the opportunity, the potential, to ripen grapes to physiological maturity while retaining high natural acid levels and keeping sugars and pH in balance.”
    In the case of Gård, Josh Lawrence and his wife (above with winemaker Aryn Morrell) . Lisa, have taken full advantage of its northern location in Frenchman Hills, first planting grapes there until 2003 on the Royal Slope, and three years later they had their first harvest. Today they are producing a wide range of varietals, including Riesling, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roussanne, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Grenache.
    Josh grew up in the Columbia Valley, Lisa in Olympia. After careers in wine importing and marketing, they moved to Royal City in 2001, partnering with Josh’s father, John, and their uncle Sandy Lawrence, who had already been farming apples and cherries for 40 years.

     Winemaker Morell, whose degree was in chemistry, had worked at a slew of California wineries, such as Joseph Phelps, Quintessa,  Chimney Rock and Chappelet, before joining Gård in 2010. (He also has his own label, Alleromb.)
    I asked Lawrence why such a young winery would make such a wide range of wines, rather than concentrate on two or three.  “For one thing, we’ve found that a lot of varietals do well in our terroir,” he said. “For another, I love an adventure  and challenge because it keeps other people out.”
    If Gård’s Rosé of Grenache ($22) is any indication of his intentions, then competitors will have a high standard to aim for.  I found this to be one of the most delicious and complex rosés I’ve ever had from an American vintner, all more surprising because Gård has only been making it since 2011. Grenache is not an unusual grape for a rosé, but I found its expression in Gård’s example to be impressive. And while many vintners make rosés as a way to use up grapes, Lawrence plants his Grenache expressly for his rosé.
    His 2014 blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Syrah, 18% Merlot and 7% Malbec called Don Isidro (after vineyard manager Isidro Mondragon) had a production of only 1,014 cases, and it’s a wine that tastes like it should cost far more than its $22 price tag. It is full of ripeness tamed by acid and smoothed out by the Merlot to make it a very satisfying wine now and for the future.Gård’s high-end wine, at just $35, is more of a Bordeaux-style blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec, and it has levels of flavor I think will be better knit in a year or two. But with my medium rare New York strip steak and Aryn’s bloody rare ribeye, it proved a great match right now.     
   Most of Gård’s wines are now sold through its wine clubs on-line or at its three tasting rooms in Walla Walla, Woodinville and Ellensburg, Washington. Lawrence’s visit to New York, to speak to wine media and distributors, is part of the next step for the winery. “Our goal is to get more into the New York market,” he said, indicating that placement in the East Coast’s major wine buying city is paramount to getting the recognition Gård deserves.                                        Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards

    With only 6,000 cases currently produced each year and a devoted number of club members and tasting room visitors, I can only hope he’ll have enough left over for New York and other cities. This year production will be 8,000 cases and Lawrence says they may someday produce 50,000 cases, now that they own 335 acres of land.  I wouldn’t mind tasting his full array of wines like Roussanne ($22), Riesling ($26) and Pinot Gris ($24). Better yet, I hope I can find them in New York wine shops soon.





When archaeologists opened an Egyptian tomb, they found the decomposed bodies of three non-royal people and a some red liquid. The disclosure caused more than 17,000 people to sign a petition to drink the red coffin juice "in the form of some sort of carbonated energy drink so we can assume its powers and finally die." But according to the Egyptian Antiquities Minister, the  liquid is not "juice for mummies that contains an elixir of life" or red mercury, but is instead just sewage water that leaked into the sarcophagus. To which the petition's creator posted, "Please stop trying to tell me the skeleton juice is mostly sewage. That's impossible.  everyone knows skeletons cannot poop."


FLAX & KALE, Barcelona, Spain, offering gluten-free pizzas.





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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