Virtual Gourmet

  January 1, 2023                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas in "Ninotchka" (1939)



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Chapter One
By John Mariani

Vintage Wine Estates Goes Digital
By John Mariani


On this week's episode of my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. January 4 at 11AM EST,I will be interviewing Bill Malone on the Great Female Country Singers.  Go to: The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Emmy Lou Harris



By John Mariani

            With more than 400 miles of coastline on the Adriatic, Italy’s province of Puglia quite naturally bases its  gastronomy on the bounty of the sea, and Bari, as one of its principal seaside cities (Brindisi and Taranto are the others), is exemplary for the abundance of seafood it brings in, sells and cooks. Indeed, as the locals proudly insist, “If Paris had the sea, it would be Bari.”       
Various invaders have left their mark on Bari’s food culture, including the Greeks and Spanish. One of the more interesting examples of Barese independence occurred in 1647 when the Spanish overseers tried to tax flour to the point of entering the people’s homes to check on hoarding. Already heavily taxed, Baresi revolted and street fighting went on for a week before peace was restored and the tax rescinded.
            The Baresi are also very fond of vegetables, especially chicory and fava beans they combine in a wonderful hearty dish, which was, on a recent trip, the first thing I ate—ravenously—in Bari at the 85-year-old Antica Osteria delle Travi (
Largo Chiurlia)  in the Old Town. Monastic in its vaulted ceilings and barebones décor, the service is perfunctory but pleasant, overseen by an owner who’s a ringer for  Samuel Beckett. The one-page menu rarely changes, and the prices seem to date back twenty years, with antipasti, pastas and main courses only €8 to €10. It’s almost as if they never got around to changing them.
            The fava beans and chicory (€8), scented with  garlic and Puglian olive oil, was a masterpiece of simple flavors, while a platter of impeccably fried Adriatic fish (€10) made for a perfect introduction. For the pasta we had a local specialty of ear-shaped orecchiette—Puglia’s favorite—lavished with a very rich cavallo (horsemeat) ragù (right). There is also a selection of local salami and sausage like the superb filone di maiale of pork (€8).
        That evening, with local friends, we approached a place called Piccinni 28 (Via Niccolò Piccinni 28) in the city center at 7 o’clock, only to be told no one could enter until 7:30. Okay. So we strolled the well lighted streets full of boutiques and returned to find ourselves at the only table taken; ninety minutes later every table spread over several dining rooms was occupied.
       Piccinni 28 is known for its pizzas, whose options fill pages of the menu. We started off with a globe of glistening, cream-rich burrata and marvelous hot focaccia, very crisp but with a soft center, and prosciutto. Then came a parade of terrific pizzas (€5-€13) with fanciful names like  Don Chiscotte, Corsare, La Buona Figliuola and Il Cavaliere per Amore.
            We were very close to satiety but the waiter brought a pasta dish unique to the region—spaghetti all’assassino (right), which is dried pasta cooked only in a heady sauce of tomato and wine then topped with cool ricotta (€12). The pasta stays firm, much more so than mere al dente, and has a delightful chewiness to it. The “assassin” reference is to the chile peppers that make this a fiery killer of a dish, said to be created in Bari in the 1970s.
           One of the best known, though not particularly pricey, ristoranti is the amiably elegant Al Pescatore ( Piazza Fedrico II de Svevia),  set near the sea, which brings its saline air to the verandah and al fresco tables. The barrel-vaulted inner dining room with a wine wall is quite cozy, but the table lights in the other rooms make them even more intimate and shadowy. Linens, china and glassware are of fine quality. (I do wish they would not allow patrons to bring their dogs into the dining room.)
            We began with a large portion of orecchiette with an octopus ragù (€15), a very robust dish now for winter (right). Al Pescatore also serves a local specialty that clearly derives from fishermen’s family kitchens, a dish called tiella (€12), which is a sort of Italian paella (though there is no evidence they picked up the idea from their Spanish occupiers). It is a mélange of potatoes and mussels with an abundance of rice in a casserole. Interesting, if not as flavorful as I’d expected, it is one of those dishes every gourmand must try once.
             Garlic-sweetened true scampi and langoustines (€20)followed. My wife chose from an array of glistening fish set on ice at the entrance, opting for sarago (market price), a sea bream baked in the oven with potatoes and olives.
            There are other places I’d recommend as good examples of Barese cooking, including the very simple Il Canto dei Bischeri (Via Putignani 93), where they do indeed serve cavatelli pasta and meatballs and  lemon zest.  The chickpea soup is a great restorative. Prices are cheap.
             Very new is Le Nicchie (Vico Corsioli 11), a narrow room (left) that is both rustic and well lighted, and the young owners are very eager to please everyone who comes for the typical Pugliese food like spaghetti with clams, mussels and scungilli




                                                                                                223 Westchester Avenue

                                                                                                        Port Chester, NY

                                                                                                                914 937-2727

By John Mariani



            Back in the 1970s Asian restaurants—Chinese, Thai and Indian—proliferated into American suburbs, supplanting outdated and often unattractive eateries all serving the same pseudo-ethnic menus. Many of these new places were in strip shopping centers, and by the 1980s nearly every city and town in New York’s Westchester County had its admirable efforts, not least Indian.
        Air India posters, paisley sheets and tarnished bronze pots were replaced with cleaner, more modern designs, and the owners and chefs began to refine the old classics like mulligatawny soup and lamb vindaloo while bringing in specialties from their own regions throughout a country with myriad cuisines with hundreds, even thousands of years of tradition.
            Bharat Patel (below) and his cousin Kirit, from the western state of Gujarat,  were among those pioneers, whose Tandoori Taste of India (TTI) has, after a quarter century in Port Chester,  recently moved from East Main Street into bright new quarters on Westchester Avenue. One room has a counter and, when they get their wine and beer license, it should function as a pleasant bar. For the time being you only need cross the street to a grocery owned, as luck would have it, by two Indian fellows (who vouch for the food at TTI).
            The other, larger room is spacious, contemporary and the Indian writings on the wall are translated for your edification.
            The menu is not revolutionary, though. Given the restaurant’s name, the tandoori items are requisite, and there is a column of specialties. But, given Patel’s longevity in the field, he has brought all of them to a level of intricacy and distinctiveness—virtues not always found in Indian cooking, where one sauce carries over into many dishes.
            I immediately ordered several Indian breads of a kind I think rank with the best French baguettes, Italian ciabatta, German rye and Greek pita. There is the puffed whole wheat poori that blows up in the oil like a balloon ($5); smoky naans with minced garlic and cilantro ($5);  paneer with housemade cheese ($5); and slick onion with minced onion and cilantro ($5).
            You’ll find the usual appetizers, including mulligatawny soup with lentils ($6); crispy samosas stuffed with potatoes, onions, peas, and spices ($5); and the paper-thin stuffed dosa crêpes ($12-$14). But it is the vegetable dishes—for which Gujarat is famous—that TTI really shines. Baingan burhani ($14) is fragrant baked eggplant topped with rich yogurt, mint and a tamarind sauce used judiciously as a sweetening agent. Similar in style but very different in its flavors is the creamed spinach-based saag malai, which can be had solely with vegetables
seasoned with fenugreek, fresh garlic and freshly ground Indian spices ($16) or with chicken ($19 ), lamb ($20) or goat ($22). I don’t know if TTI is the only Indian restaurant around serving crispy bhindi chaat ($9) made from matchsticks of okra deep fried and topped with onions and tomatoes, but I found it a terrific addition.
         You must have a lentil dish in an Indian restaurant, for the legumes served as a fairly neutral base for a chef’s inventiveness with spices. Tadka dal ($13) is made with yellow moong lentils tempered with ghee butter, and it’s delicious either as an appetizer or side dish.
         You can get a good indication of the kitchen’s predilection for tandoori dishes with an appetizer platter ($14) that contains seekh kabob, chicken tikka, and chicken malai (above. left). Otherwise, there are thirteen tandoor-fired items on the menu, including succulent lamb chops with a sprightly lemon and ginger lashing tamed with yogurt ($32); a whole chicken marinated with ginger and garlic ($18); and a whole branzino ($29).
         A standout specialty is the biryani ($16 to $24), which comes as a hillock of aromatic basmati rice containing your choice of chicken, lamb or goat or shrimp, and enclosing a whole hard boiled egg,  It’s a showpiece and a delight for a table of four, or even more.
         I adore Indian desserts when they taste freshly made and that is the case at TTI (all $6), where ras malai cakes made with sweet cottage cheese is wonderfully scented, and the gulab jamun spongy balls of lightly fried dough and milk doused with rose water and a honey syrup is unlike anything in western cuisine.
         I’ve never left a good Indian restaurant like TTI without taking home the food, and the aromas that fill the car on the way home can make me hungry all over again.  Or at least make me want to return soon to TTI and to see what else is new and so different.


Closed Tuesdays. Sunday luncheon buffet, noon-2:30 p.m.




By John Mariani

Beginning the third in the Katie Cavuto-David Greco crime series, which has them searching for the inspiration for Graham Greene's The Third Man.



           “After all,” said Greene, “the money’s good. I always do it for the money.”
            Graham Greene had just been offered a contract to write the script for a film to be called
The Third Man, a cynical melodrama about the search by one American for another, who’d become a criminal opportunist in post-war Vienna.
            “Who’s directing?” asked Catherine Crompton, a wealthy farmer’s daughter with whom Greene was having an affair.
            “Carol Reed. Last film was quite good.
Odd Man Out, about an IRA gangster. James Mason did a fine job with the role.”
            “What’s this one about?”
            “About an American who goes to Vienna after the war to find an old friend who turns out to be a notorious criminal, not to mention being already dead when the movie begins.”
            “Well, that’s inconvenient of him, isn’t it?”
            “I’ve got to work it all out. The story, I mean. I’m going to scribble a working plot, then if it works, I can write the script. Shouldn’t be too hard, really.  I had a friend while I was working for MI6 during the war. Capital fellow but he decided he’d make himself a fortune after the war dealing with the Russians. Quite a shock to me.”
            “What happened to him?”
            “I don’t really know,” said Greene, lighting another cigarette. “For all I know he’s still in Vienna or Budapest or somewhere making a bigger fortune.  I lost track of him. He may still be working for the Russians for all I know.”
            Greene took a long draw on his tenth cigarette of the day and the first sip of Scotch, neat.
            “Strange thing is, he fooled me completely while we were in the Secret Service. I never saw it coming. Ah, well, it’s all fodder for the story.”           


                                                *                *                *


            “David? Katie.”
            “Well, Katie Cavuto. My heart pounded as soon as the phone rang.  You have a distinctive ring.”
            “And you’re a sweet guy, David Greco.”
            “You should show me some time,” said David, immediately regretting how stupid a thing that was to say. 
David, 53, a retired NYPD mob detective, had been in unrequited love with Katie, twenty years his junior, ever since they’d worked together on what became two prize-winning magazine articles she had written for McClure’s magazine: one about a search for gold Al Capone stole from the Federal Reserve, and another about the most expensive Old Master painting ever to appear at auction, by Jan Vermeer. Both had involved Katie and David in unexpected, very dangerous activities that almost got them killed. 
David was lovesick from the start of their work together, and being both an investigator for and ally with Katie made him feel happy and helpful after retiring from the police force and moving up the Hudson Valley. McClure’s also paid him well for his time and effort.
            “So, David, did you ever see the movie The Third Man, the one where Orson Welles is running through the sewers of Vienna to escape the police?” 
“You kidding? It’s one of my favorite movies. I can pretty much quote every line in it. Great flick. Good crime story, too.”
            “Isn’t it terrific? I just saw it for the first time, on a big screen at a revival theater on the Upper West Side, and I was so impressed. The story, the acting, the off-kilter camerawork, the lighting, and of course, that weird zither music playing throughout the whole picture.”
            “Yeah, it’s pretty perfect in every way.”
            “Did you know it was written by the English novelist Graham Greene?”
            “Yeah, Katie, I knew that.” David always had the feeling—not entirely groundless—that Katie thought he had a great mind as a detective but wasn’t much interested in the arts on or off the screen. “We had to read his book The Power and the Glory in high school, about a whiskey priest.”
            “So did we,” said Katie, who shared David’s Catholic school upbringing in the Bronx.
            David said, “Carol Reed directed the movie, Alexander Korda produced it, Robert Krasker did the cinematography and Anton Karas did the music.”          
“Jesus, you really do know the movie cold.”
            David was proud that Katie was amazed. He could talk movies with her all day and night.
            “Well,” she said, “Y’know what occurred to me after I saw it?  I knew about Graham Greene writing the script and all, and I knew that he himself had been in the British Secret Service during the war.”
            “Yeah, MI6, same as James Bond. Served in Africa for a spell.”
            “Really? Wasn’t Ian Fleming also in MI6?”
            “No,” said David, “he was in Naval Intelligence during the war.”

            Katie hadn’t expected her friend to know so much about dead British authors but said, “I knew you’d be familiar with such details, David.”
            David was delighted he’d sparked Katie’s interest, so he kept going.
       “Being a cop, I always liked spy stories and good detective novels, like the ones Nero Wolfe and Robert Parker write. Elmore Leonard’s the best of them all, but he’s more a crime novelist, doesn’t deal much with detectives or spies. They all write good stories and they’re easy to read. I also like to find all the plot holes and things detectives would never do. Hey, did you ever read the book Graham Greene wrote in preparation to do the script for The Third Man movie?”
            “I didn’t know he had. Was it published?”
            “Yeah, but it came out after the movie and it’s hard to find. Maybe at a second-hand bookstore like the Strand in Greenwich Village. I have a copy I can lend you.” He wished he’d said “give you.”
            “Oh, that’d be great,” said Katie. “Y’know why? Because while I’m watching the movie, knowing Greene had been in—what was it? MI6?—that maybe, just maybe he based the character of Harry Lime on a real person he knew before 1949, when the movie came out. It’d make a great story if I could find out, especially if the guy is still alive. I mean, he could only be, like, in his mid-to-late seventies.”
             Because of the movie, the character of Harry Lime had become one of the most notorious in cinema history—a completely devious, amoral psychopath selling bad penicillin to doctors and hospitals while he was being harbored in the Russian sector of Vienna, a city divided, as was Berlin, into American, British, French and Russian sectors.  Yet despite his hideous criminality, as played with extraordinary savoir-faire by Orson Welles, Lime came off the screen as a post-war international man who believes he is merely an opportunist in a world so devastated by mass murders that his small role in the evil that men do seemed wholly insignificant. He cynically contends that crime is the only way to make a living because you don’t have to pay income tax on your profits.
            In a famous scene set atop a Ferris wheel, when Lime is defending his actions to the disbelief of his old American friend named Holly Martins, Welles added dialog to Greene’s script to explain Lime’s view of good and evil in a mad world:
You know what the fellow said—in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.”
            Lime ends up trapped like a rat, chased through the sewers of Vienna and finally shot dead by his old friend Holly.
            Without trying to sound condescending, David said, “I don’t think you’re the first person to think there may have been a real-life Harry Lime behind Greene’s fiction, but I agree that if you could find out the truth, it’d make a great story.”
            “You do?” asked Katie. “You know your opinion on these things means a lot to me. If you thought it was a dumb idea, I’d just shelve it.”
            From past experience David sensed that Katie yet again wanted to involve him in one of her projects. Both the Capone and Vermeer articles started out that way. Katie was a crack researcher and reporter on her own, but she depended on David to give her insight into the criminal mind and to use all the myriad contacts he had developed over decades in various police departments, at the F.B.I., Interpol and other organizations.  It had certainly not been in the plans for the two of them to barely escape being murdered, but that was the way those projects went and it made good copy.  Katie hoped to God there was no assassin waiting at the end of a story about finding a real-life link to a fictional character named Harry Lime. But having an ex-detective like David along was always good, just in case.
            “I gotta admit, Katie, this doesn’t sound like a project you really need me on.”
            “Yeah, I thought about that,” said Katie, “but after all we’ve been through, it’s difficult for me to imagine not having you along for the ride.”
            “And your editor’s going to be okay with me going along?”
            Katie’s editor at McCLure’s, Alan Dobell, always put up an officious defense against Katie’s needing to hire on David Greco, but he had to admit that without him the Capone and Vermeer articles would never have had the substance they did. 
“You know Alan. He’ll bristle at the idea, I’ll cajole him, he’ll pretend to put me on a short leash, then he’ll begrudgingly say okay. Though I have to admit this might be a tough sell.”
            “Well, just let me know how it goes. I think you know, Katie, I’d be happy to help you in any way I can, even if McClure’s doesn’t want to pay me a dime. They paid me very well for the last two articles, so I’m okay with just tagging along.”
            “I think I can get him to agree,” said Katie. “He knows I’m not going to run up an expense account for no reason.”                        “Then just let me know," said David. "I’m always here.”

John Mariani, 2017



Wineries Of The Future Had Better Go Digital, Says The Chief Growth And Experience Officer Of Vintage Wine Estates

By John Mariani

    The American wine industry tries to maintain a genteel image of friendly competition rather than a cutthroat style.  Yet like every industry, it is about market shares, supply and demand and getting the message out. Keeping ahead of one’s competitors means keeping up  with the newest technologies, even with an agricultural product like wine.
                As Chief Growth and Digital Officer for Vintage Wine Estates (WVE) Jessica  Kogan is one of a handful of women in charge of branding in an industry not quite as glamorous as her former positions at Donna Karan, Hill+Knowlton, Razorfish, Elizabeth Arden, Urban Decay, and Giorgio Armani. In 2004, she co-founded and launched digital native company Cameron Hughes Wine to critical acclaim, then joined the team of Vintage Wine Estates with their acquisition of Cameron Hughes in 2017, Under her direct leadership DTC more than tripled, from $30 million to just over $90 million in revenue. Other breakthrough feats include the development of a competitive omnichannel strategy bringing the Vintage brand beyond brick-and-mortar retail by pivoting DTC and e-grocery as well as programs like “refer-a-friend,” shareholder passports, virtual wine tastings, and a digitally enhanced estate tasting room. She has been nominated by Wine Enthusiast for Innovator of the Year and making the prestigious 2021 Wine Business Industry Leaders list.

    I interviewed Kogan  earlier this month.


What exactly does your title “Chief Growth & Experience Officer” mean? 


The Chief Growth & Experience Officer pursues growth across sales channels and within the organization with a specific focus on creating frictionless customer experiences. For example, identifying new growth channels like eGrocery and third party wholesale eCommerce that support channel agnostic customer journeys that connect brand loyalty. The deployment of customer facing systems drive revenue and growth and at the same time achieve organizational digital fluency.  So in short, it is being a great marketer who can predict major consumer shifts, provide solutions around those shifts, and can drive  agreement and implementation of solutions with a unwavering focus on the improvement of customer experience for all. 

How many brands do you oversee?

For eCommerce and digital brands around 25 unique brands.  

You’ve worked on projects as diverse as
  Donna Karan, Hill+Knowlton, Razorfish, Elizabeth Arden, Urban Decay, and Giorgio Armani. What are the similarities among them and, now, Vintage Wine Estates to which you bring your expertise and history.  

The similarities between the fashion and beauty brands that I have worked are that they are all as genuine, aspirational and trying to solve real consumer problems. For Donna Karan, “How can I make her feel like the titan in the boardroom?”; or for Urban Decay, “How can I help them express their real selves?”;  or Elizabeth Arden, “How can I make you feel ageless?” Working at Hill & Knowlton and Razorfish I was lucky enough to be part of the teams that not only communicated the solutions but defined and solved the problem. For Schwab it was, “How do we enable safe and secure retail trading online?” Before Schwab, we all had to call our broker by phone to place a trade. For The Southern Poverty Law Center, “How do we use the internet to teach tolerance?” and for, “How do we enable access to fashion streetwear from anywhere using the internet?” My expertise is my mindset. I am brand and channel agnostic and focus wholeheartedly on solving the customer problem. At VWE my focus is solving the problem of “how I feel excited and delighted by wine choice.”



In 2004, you co-founded and launched digital native company Cameron Hughes Wine, which had never really been done before. Can you explain what it was and did?


Cameron Hughes Wine was founded because we wanted to solve a problem of how to make incredible wine more accessible,  and the idea came when we had a terrible bottle of wine that cost $20. It was humiliating to the extent that , wow, we spent $20 on wine that is garbage,  and eye opening to the extent that apparently we were not the first or the last to feel totally ripped off by the wine we bought. And so, CHW was born with the idea that amazing wine can be bought at a fair value ,and that if ever you feel like our wines rip you off you did not have to live in a zone of frustration: you have direct access because you bought directly from us, and this was the revelation unique the wine industry – accessibility and transparency.


You officially joined the team of Vintage Wine Estates with their acquisition of Cameron Hughes in 2017, serving as their Chief Digital Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. What were your responsibilities in that position?


My primary role was to oversee the entire DTC portfolio which included Estate tasting rooms, wine clubs, and eCommerce, lifestyle eCommerce, third party marketplaces like QVC and HSN, Cameron Hughes Wine, Vinesse, The Sommelier Co. and any provide insight/support on growth opportunities connecting wine directly to customers. In my role we grew the DTC business from $30M to $100M, accounting for a third of VWE revenue, which has been helped really diversify the business.


What were your innovations?


I know this will sound very simple but it is the absolute truth – customer first strategy. All decisions made, be it CapEx to software investments, and done through the lens of how do we excite and delight our customers. The concept of the customer above the retailer, the wholesaler, the distributor was truly a foreign concept, much having to do with the majority of product delivery on a 3-tiered path. The sale begins and ends with a handful of buyers, not the hundreds of thousands of individuals who consume the wine. Coming from DTC where revenue is dependent on every single customer, experience really changes perspective and culture.


Has the wine industry generally dragged its feet with new digital technologies?


Absolutely yes when it comes to digital consumer technology. Digital technology related to wine production is state of the art, it is the software that enables relationships, connection, purchase and consumption that have lagged for many reasons.


How does VWE work insofar as dealing with so many of the strong personalities in the wine world?

I would say that VWE is the mediator among the strong personalities in the wine world. We have acquired companies from larger-than-life personalities who have joined hands with us and have gone toe to toe with fierce competitors who want us on the bottom shelf but somehow find room for us at the top. I would say nothing phases our team, and it really always comes down to a basic truth – we all really love the wine business and attuned to its complexity and beauty.


It appears everyone is working towards sustainability.  Had VWE an overall program to combat climate change?


We have certified all our California Estate wineries and vineyards through the California Certified Winegrowers Alliance, with one vineyard (Laetitia Estate Vineyards) certified through Sustainability in Practice (SIP). Certified Sustainable vineyards and wineries produce high quality grapes and wine, adhering to sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable. 


Are there plans to acquire more estates in 2023 and 2024?


We are always looking!


Are there still a number of innovations you are seeking to put into place?


Definitely. Much of it is software related  and designed to enable the best customer experiences and interactions either in the tasting room, online, within our organization and to our trade.


How do you personally keep up with the technology?


I try to read as many briefs and reports as possible on the ever evolving definition of digital transformation, but mostly, I watch and learn from other industries and how they implement certain technologies to guide my understanding and reveal the potential opportunities for our business.


What’s your best guess as to wine sales to American consumers in the next five years? 


We will see more enthusiastic wine adoption by Gen Z then Millennial cohort, $10 Billion in wine sales transacted in online grocery, and gamificatio


THINGS WE TEND TO DOUBT:  According to the NY Times' prediction as "flavor of the year": "Embrace the brine. Fresh, bracing marine flavors have spawned a craze for coastal cocktails garnished with crab claws and oysters. Dan Levy, the actor and host of `The Big Brunch,' is making Clamato cool." 


 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.


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


If you wish to subscribe to this newsletter, please click here:

© copyright John Mariani 2023