MARIANI’S

Virtual Gourmet


  February 26,  2023                                                                                             NEWSLETTER




Founded in 1996 

ARCHIVE



ROAD RUNNER AND WILE E. COYOTE



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THIS WEEK


WHY RECOMMENDING RESTAURANTS
  TO FRIENDS IS A FUTILE
AND FRUSTRATING GESTURE
 

By John Mariani

NEW YORK CORNER
FORSYTHIA   

By John Mariani

GOING AFTER HARRY LIME
CHAPTER NINE
By John Mariani

NOTES FROM THE SPIRITS LOCKER
ROYAL OAKS DISTILLERY, IRELAND
By John Mariani



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On my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. March 1 at 11AM EST, I shall be interviewing Dr. F. Perry Wilson, author of HOW MEDICINE WORKS AND WHEN IT DOESN'T. Go to: WVOX.com. The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.






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WHY RECOMMENDING RESTAURANTS
  TO FRIENDS IS A FUTILE
AND FRUSTRATING GESTURE
By John Mariani

 
                                                                                                            "Village Party" by Alice Neely (1932)

            As someone who has made a career out of writing about restaurants, I might strike you as someone who welcomes people’s trusting me to recommend a restaurant, either here or abroad. Unlike doctors, lawyers and stock brokers who spurn such requests by saying, “Call my office,” I always respond, but first ask some specific questions: What kind of restaurant? Neighborhood? New? Trendy? Classic? Budget?
            Unless they are going to Thailand or France, invariably their answer is: Upscale Italian. I almost never get a request to recommend a three-star French restaurant. Bistros, trattorias, tavernas are preferred. Second most popular preference—by a wide margin—is a steakhouse.
            You would think by now I’d narrow down my responses to half a dozen places, which is what concierges in good hotels always do, because they will only recommend places that repeated guests will come back and say were just what they’d hoped for. (I’ve tested this out in Paris and Rome and always get the same recommendations from concierges for places the well-heeled Americans seem to love, like L’Amis Louis in Paris and La Carbonara in Rome.)
       But I find I try to tailor my recommendations to the person asking, sometimes suggesting they go to the recent ten years of archives of this newsletter, which gives extensive reviews and photos of the restaurants covered around the world. I’ve also sent them links to articles I’ve written for Forbes.com. I often recommend dishes not to miss and—only if it’s for a really good friend—the owner’s name. Some pushy people will ask me to call the restaurant on their behalf and put in a good word. One asked me to put in a word for a cousin who was going out for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. And, no, I have no power to get you a reservation on a Saturday night at the most popular restaurant in Beverly Hills. For that, ask—and pay—a concierge to try.
            This last request is fraught with frustration, because so often people, including friends, tell me a few days later they were not much impressed,  or even disappointed, in the restaurant I had suggested. Of course, I ask why, and most often, their response is almost always over service, not food. They believed they got a bad table or an incompetent waiter. They think they got gouged for a bottle of water. The portion of gelato was on the small side.
        When I ask how was the food, the reports are usually quite positive. However, asked if they ordered those specific dishes I raved about, few say they did, with remarks like “We had a big lunch and weren’t all that hungry for dinner, so we only ordered salad and soup";” or, although I told them this was very specifically an Alsatian restaurant specializing in dishes like choucroute (left), they simply ignored my advice and ordered steak frites.
        It was maddening when I was once asked by a friend about the historic Italian restaurant Barbetta in New York (below), “Is it really any good?” I said, “Yes, it definitely is, especially if you order the Piemontese dishes the chef is proudest of.” The next day they reported they were unimpressed, adding, “I just felt like a green salad and my husband just wanted spaghetti with red sauce.” Had a steak knife been handy I might have plunged it into their livers.
            Many of the problems with recommending restaurants are due to the tastes of the people going to them. This one is a vegetarian; this one eats no shellfish; this one hates sushi; this one was insistent on ordering a dish not even on the menu.  Then, too, many people who go with friends for a table for four all order the same thing and then form an immediate opinion about a menu with forty dishes on it.
         Of course, many people who ask me for a half-dozen recommendations return from a city and tell me they didn’t eat at a single one, saying, “Oh, we found this Indian restaurant in London we liked so much we ate there three times.” Worse than that are those who come back raving about a restaurant one of their friends raved about, telling me it was the best meal of the trip, or that they never had a filet mignon that tender, or that the owner bought them a round of limoncello at the end of the meal.
            What I want to say is that, if all my recommendations did not live up to your likes and dislikes, or that you value your friend’s recommendation over mine, then please don’t waste my time in the future.  I want to say, “Listen, you went to a place and ordered two dishes, or dishes out of character, or asked for substitutions, or didn’t like the waiter’s attitude, and then tell me it’s not a very good restaurant.” I should say, in as nice a way as possible (stifling my rage), “Perhaps you and I don’t share the same tastes, and it would be best to ask someone else.” Or why not get hold of a completely specious list of the best this-or-that.
            Perhaps I should adopt the response of a doctor friend of mine who answers people asking advice: “Do you know what free advice is worth? Nothing.” Or, I could charge them for the advice in the knowledge that, like people who take placebos, they will love a place they paid to hear an expert’s professional advice about.
            So, friends and readers, if you really want my advice on where best to eat, read my columns or those of other reviewers whom you trust. But don’t bother letting me know how it went unless you ate the way reviewers do, with gusto, with an appetite and with a knowledge of the way food should taste.





NEW YORK CORNER



FORSYTHIA
9 Stanton Street

646-590-0609


 By John Mariani




 

            Hope springs eternal in the restaurant business, which is perhaps why Jacob Siwak has named his darling little storefront restaurant on the Lower East Side after the first flower to bloom in the spring, which, he says, “represents a symbol of hope, anticipation, and renewal, surrounded by an abundance of warmth; just as one should feel while dining at the restaurant.” More specifically, a Roman restaurant.
            Siwak spent a year in the Eternal City cooking at Santo Palato, then at La Vecchia Scuola in Bologna. Back in New York,  he and a partner served a series of pop-up dinners during the pandemic, then a more settled pop-up workshop that led to Forsythia opening two years ago; last year they expanded to another small room separated by an apartment building entranceway.  While Stanton Street doesn’t quite have the grandeur of Rome, it is a thriving restaurant row.
        The first room, with small bar, is a bit cozier and warm in its colors and lighting; the second is stark but for some Keith Haring-style paintings and a counter where
Sfoglino Nicolas Potoglou stands making fresh pasta before your eyes.
           
The whole staff pitches in on all counts, including Siwak, who bounds from room to room, while Executive Chef Emily Swaine (from Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Maialino and Union Square Café) oversees the kitchen.
            It’s a fixed price menu at $104 for four courses, with a fifth—bistecca alla fiorentina—an additional $85. The wine list is divided among nine white Italian bottlings, ten reds and three sparkling. Except for one bottle each of Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sicilian sparkler at $180, all the other bottles are under $110, with several under $70.
            Each course has two or three options, beginning with a choice of wonderful white escarole with a citrus vinaigrette, caciocavallo cheese and crispy shallots or an equally delectable porro stufato (braised leeks) with saline pancetta and whole grain mustard.
            Then come suppli, those enticing Roman risotto balls with a  rich cacio e pepe binding and morsels of buffalo mozzarella that bring something novel to all these ingredients. Fried octopus comes with red onions, fennel and a tangy gloss of lemon.
            There are then two separate pasta courses. Fat agnolotti (left) with a filling of braised shredded short ribs (not the oxtail— coda alla vaccinara— in its menu name) with a superb reduction of duck juices; it’s such a good dish Forsythia doesn’t dare take it off the menu because its legion of fans would rebel.
        Also delicious are the tortelli with chestnuts, bitter radicchio and Parmigiano. Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of the best versions I’ve had in months, a truly Roman rendering of  guanciale bacon, a good dose of black pepper, pecorino romano and an egg yolk that when tossed is cooked by the pasta’s heat.  Its equal is the plate of thin tajarin (tagliarini) in a “white” veal ragù (without tomato) and Parmigiano. The only off-note dish was fat ricotta-filled tortelloni in an “allium broth” made from nearly raw garlic with an unappealing flavor.
            That bistecca had plenty of beefy flavor, nicely seared, served with fingerling potatoes and truffle butter, and, although it’s not as massive as Florentine tradition dictates, after all you’ve had before it is easily shared by four people.
        For a light finish just have the limoncello gelato with pine nuts and candied lemon or the chocolate gelato. Much richer is the Roman yeast bun called maritozzo,  a Lenten pastry, that comes as a yeasty brioche bun filled with crème Chantilly.
            What Forsythia may lack in refined décor it readily makes up for in the seriousness of its food, true to trattoria form, made with dedication to quality ingredients and a cordial urging to try some new dishes—which change seasonally—you won’t find everywhere in town.
       By the way, they also offer pasta-making lessons for those who want to do it the right way.

 

Open Tues.-Sat. for dinner.  




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GOING AFTER HARRY LIME
By  John Mariani



 

CHAPTER NINE


“‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ Martins said to me.”—Major Callaway, The Third Man. 


           
Katie got good news from her editor that he was very happy with the hospital corruption story and only had a few questions he wanted cleared up. Wouldn’t take much of her time. A few phone calls to nail down allegations, then the fact checking by a copy editor would begin immediately, the photos collected and taken, illustrations ordered up. Dobell wasn’t sure it was a cover story, as Katie’s Capone and Vermeer stories had been, but it would be given all the pages it needed.
            “I’m sure you’ll ruffle a lot of feathers on this one,” said Dobell.
            “Isn’t that my job?” asked Katie.
            “Yes, it is, as long as you never massage the facts. By the way, you still working on that Harry Lime thing?”
            Katie hated that he called it a “thing.”
             “When I have a little time, yeah.”
            “Getting anywhere with it?”
            “I’ll certainly let you know if I do,” she replied, not telling him she and David would be leaving for London as soon as the copy editor was finished with her hospital story, probably by the end of the week.
            “I have some vacation time coming, thinking of going to London.”
            “Great city,” said Dobell. “I spent three years there with Newsweek back in the eighties, with that generous expense account. We used to compete with the Time magazine guys to see who could get away with spending the most money. But those days are over.”
           Katie took that as a cue that Dobell was not going to be throwing money at her to go on a wild goose chase to London.
            “I should say, Katie, that I’ve footed a lot of expenses for you that I wouldn’t for other reporters.”
            “For which I’m grateful, but look at the stories I gave you. One won a Pulitzer, the other sold more copies than any issue since the Oklahoma City bombing. When was that ’94?”
            “Ninety-five. We did do a bang-up job on that one. Great photos. But, hey, I have no complaints. Have a good vacation. Send me a postcard.”

 

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            Katie and David got a cheap flight on American Airlines to London’s Heathrow Airport and booked rooms in a small hotel in Knightsbridge on Brompton Road named the Beaufort (right), just a block from the Sloane Street Underground station with a curry house next door.
            “I forgot to ask,” said Katie. “Do you like Indian food?”
            “I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”
            “Wanna try the place next door on our first night in town? It looks nice.”
            “It’s up to you.”
            After a day of nominal sightseeing, jetlagged and very hungry at six o’clock, they found Noor Jahan almost empty and the menu full of many dishes in which chicken, pork or lamb was offered in the same sauces, with a note that “Our food can be made spicy if you like.” The décor was sacrosanct Indian curry house—travel posters of India on the walls, bronze vessels and figures of Buddha and Hindu gods, and Indian printed fabrics pinned to the ceiling. The waitress wore a beautiful sari.
            “Why don’t we just order a bunch of stuff and see how it turns out?” asked Katie.
            “Okay with me,” said David.
            The dinner began with some fried onion pakoras and went on from there to a platter of chicken from the searing tandoor open pit oven and two or three curries and side dishes of vegetables, with rice and breads that came steaming to the table.
            “Whaddaya think?” asked Katie.
            “Well, most of it looks pretty brown, but I like the flavors, and these breads are terrific,” said David, enjoying the Kingfisher Indian beer he’d ordered.
            “So, are you going to the archives tomorrow?” she asked.
            “Yeah, I’ve got the permission and plan to spend the day there, thanks to Professor Mundt. What about you?”
            “I’ve got a meeting with a novelist who knew Greene. See what he might know about our friend Harry. The book editor at McClure’s gave me the contact. His name is Evelyn Dawes.”
            “Why do so many of these British guys have girl’s first names? Carol, Evelyn?” asked David.
            “I have no idea. Maybe they’re like the Johnny Cash song ‘A Boy Named Sue.’ Their fathers want them to grow up tough.”
            “That I doubt,” David said.

            The British National Archives were in Kew Gardens, just nine stops from Sloane Square on the Underground. Having never been to London, David had boned up on how to use the Tube, poring over the famous Mondrian-like map of route lines, each its own color, a small miracle of concision and graphic impact. He ran his finger along the map on the Green District line, a branch of which went south to Kew Gardens.
            He descended into the station and was struck by the different smell of it compared with New York City subway stations. Both smelled old—London’s opened in 1863, New York’s fifty years later—but he was amazed how much less noisy the Underground was. The cars were more tubular and seemed more modern than the amalgam of new and old equipment that plagued New York subway riders. London’s cars clattered into view, New York’s screeched in as if about to go off the rails. He was surprised to find there were no express trains on the lines.
          David took a while to get used to the British monetary units, the one- and two-pound coins, the five- and ten-pound notes, so he went straight to the manned ticket window, rather than try to figure out the listed fares to Kew Gardens. In New York you could ride anywhere all day on one fare, a buck fifty.
             Once on the packed train, he found it clean and relatively quiet, with a mixed ridership of every class and tourists with backpacks and unfolded maps of the city.  As in New York, almost no one spoke to anyone, instead reading or staring off into space, and, at least on this one trip, no nut jobs chanting something indecipherable. David hated when that happened on the New York subways because, as a cop, he knew he would be the one who had to intervene if someone really got out of line, and he never knew if the guy was just semi-crazy or truly insane, maybe carrying a knife. He’d had to disarm more than one guy in his years on the force, and he was grateful he’d never been a Transit officer.  But here on the London Tube he felt pleasantly far away from all that.
            The stops clicked by—South Kensington, Turnham Green, then the train turned south to Kew Gardens, just across the Thames River. It was a fine morning and the cityscape was stunning, so David decided to walk the short distance to the National Archives Building, which was a brutally modern—as of its construction in 1977—structure, looking like a concrete pagoda, set behind formidable gates at which David, with the letter of intro from Professor Mundt, presented the pass he’d obtained in advance to meet with an archivist who would give him direction for his research.
            That person was a young woman in her late twenties, stout, brown-haired, wearing granny glasses, a beige printed blouse and brown skirt.
            “Mr. Greco?” she said, coming towards him. “Jenny Hurley,” and without further niceties said, “I understand you’re interested in looking at archives that cover the post-war military occupation of, is it, Vienna?”
            “Yes,” said David. “Specifically records of criminal activities under the jurisdiction of the British military police,” then, trying to be friendly, “Did you ever see the movie The Third Man? Came out in 1949?”
            Jenny Hurley shook her head. “No, doesn’t ring a bell. It was about that period?”
            Knowing it was not worth the effort to explain, David merely said yes and let it go.
            She asked him to follow her through the main hallway, then to the left, where they had to be buzzed in, and finally stopping at a large, very quiet room set with long oak library tables surrounded by bookshelves. 
           
“According to the request you sent, the staff has recommended you begin with the Military Agency Records. They are pretty large, but I’ll see if I can narrow it down a bit. You said 1945 to 1950 in Vienna alone, correct? We’ve pulled much of what we have, and then there is a whole section of books written about the period. May I ask, are you writing a book, Mr. Greco?”
            “No, doing research for a reporter who’s writing a story about the period.”
            “Give me about fifteen minutes. I’ll be back.”
            David took out his own files and notepad and waited in the stillness of the room, brightly lighted from above, with its door shut so that he could see but not hear staff in the hallways. Less than a quarter of an hour went by and Ms. Hurley was back, wheeling in a cart of files in upright boxes, all of them meticulously labeled.
            “Well, this should get you started,” she said.
            “Is there a lot more?” asked David, staring at the amount of them.
            “I suspect there is as much as you have time for. Just let me know if you need any further assistance.  And, if you will, please, once you look at a document, put it to the side. Don’t put it back in the folder. Things get misplaced that way. We’ll gather them all up later. As you can see, you’ve plenty of space to spread things out in. And if you should take a book off the shelf, please pull it by its covers, not by the spine. And, also, no pens, please.  Pencils only. Do you have one?” David nodded that he did.
            “Right,” said Ms. Hurley, “then I’ll be around.” She left him alone and shut the door after her.
            The room smelled of archives, faintly musty but not as bad as the NYPD files he’d worked with in very dank rooms with lousy lighting. 


To read previous chapters of GOING AFTER HARRY LIME go to the archive




©
John Mariani, 2016






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NOTES FROM THE SPIRITS LOCKER

ROYAL OAK DISTILLERY ENTERS
THE IRISH WHISKEY RACE

   

By John Mariani



 

        Irish Whiskey sales are soaring, with more than 6 million cases sold in the U.S. last year. The Irish Whiskey Association has revealed the record figure using CSO Eurostat data and the popularity of Irish Whiskey is continuing to increase around the world, as exports in 2022 passed €1  billion for the first time. Is the market in danger of being tapped out? Apparently not. I asked Woody Kane (below, right), Global Brand Ambassador for The Busker at Royal Oak, and Caroline Martin, the distillery’s master blender (below, left), about why they got into a crowded market. 

 

How is the Royal Oak Distillery unique? Why is that so critical for the brand?

Kane : The Royal Oak Distillery is producing hand-crafted Irish whiskey, proudly located on an 18th century estate in Ireland’s Ancient East region. The Royal Oak Distillery is the home of The Busker Irish whiskey, where we distill all three styles of Irish whiskey: Single Grain, Single Malt and Single Pot Still, all under one roof, balancing tradition with innovative and modern techniques. We source the highest quality ingredients, from the barely to the water, and work with highly trained distillers who are passionate about what they do and watch carefully over the whole process of production. We select the barrels to suit the needs of each whiskey, and, when ready, our blender meticulously works to ensure that consumers get the highest quality products. 

When and why did you get into the business?

Kane: I entered the professional spirits world in 1999, when I began assisting the research and development team at The Hot Irishman with their Irish Coffee and Irish Cream. In 2006, I took on a role by setting up trade show experiences in various markets and training bar staff around Ireland. Around 2014, I joined the Royal Oak Distillery as its ambassador with the goal of creating a world class distillery in County Carlow. 

Describe the styles of  Irish whiskey Royal Oak makes. Have you discontinued the single pot still?

Kane: As noted, we make all styles of Irish Whiskey: Single Malt, Single Pot Still, Single Grain, and a blend of all three single expressions. Our Single Malt whiskey is matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks to bring you great complexity. We also have our Single Pot Still expression, which is very distinctive to Ireland, and was created to take consumers on a journey of rich and intense flavors. For our Single Grain bottle, the secret is choosing the highest quality spirits and combining them with our hand-selected bourbon and marsala casks. And finally, we have our extraordinary blend, made with Single Grain, and a very high percentage of Single Malt and Single Pot Still with an extraordinary smoothness given by the three-cask influence (Bourbon, Marsala, and Sherry).  

When Scotch producers focused in on single malts and everything from cask to vintage labels, it created a swell for a very upscale market but decreased interest in traditional blends and premium Scotches. Has this happened with entry level Irish whiskies?

Martin: I’d like to challenge that concept! Yes, I agree that single malt Scotch does get a lot of visibility, but in reality, blended Scotch whiskies deliver 90% of demand volumes and single malt 10%. The recent upsurge in Irish whiskey production means that the market is still young, compared to Scotch. I think it’s important that some of these whiskeys must be accessible to all consumers and across all formats, blended and singles, especially to new whiskey drinkers. Consumers are still eager to find out everything about Irish whiskeys, including traditional blends and premium offerings. There’s room in the market for all good quality whisk(e)y – Scotch, Irish, and beyond. People have different taste preferences; the fun is about seeking out and finding your favorites.  

Is the alcohol by volume an important factor when it comes to the quality of the whiskey? 

Martin: In my experience, it’s more complex than being just about the bottled alcoholic strength of the whiskey that conveys quality. The quality of a whiskey is all about the flavors for me, how they are perceived, do they appeal to the consumer? It’s also about the serving: do the consumers prefer their whiskey served neat, over ice, or in a cocktail? In my experience, the higher the alcoholic strength the more “closed in” the aroma and taste profile initially tends to be. In the main, “opening up” the whiskey has the tendency to reveal amazing aromas and flavors. It’s important to acknowledge that all consumers are different and to some, a higher alcoholic strength—as in cask strength—will always be an important quality factor, but it should not be the only one. 

What makes one whiskey cost so much more than another, as far as the distilling is done? Some casks don’t cost any more than another cask, do they? 

Martin: Every part of the whiskey supply chain brings its associated cost with it. That includes different cask types. Some casks are very expensive because they can be very rare and/or very sought after. Whiskeys, too, can range significantly in cost because they may be from closed distilleries, no longer producing newly made spirit. So the finite volume available in the cask can be highly sought after and command high prices. The length of time whiskey is in a cask also has an impact on the cost of bottled whiskey. The longer the maturation time, generally the higher the cost. Finishing a whiskey (in a different cask type) brings with it an added cost. Over and above this, there will be annual fluctuations in the price of raw materials,  e.g. malted barley, because of good/bad harvests. All of this drives differences in pricing—and branding will also have an impact on the price to markets. 

Do your whiskies make for good cocktails?

Kane: Yes, sure. We always suggest drinking our Whiskies neat to taste the quality of the liquid, but we collaborated with many important bartenders that created outstanding cocktails with The Busker. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who is the author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique, and now co-owner of Pacific Standard lobby bar in Portland, created for a special event the Slan Leat cocktail with Busker Single Grain, Lillet Blanc and Cynar. Simone Caporale from Sips Drinkery House in Barcelona created his wild vision of a Whiskey Sour. Hiroyasu Kayama from BenFiddich Bar (Tokyo) has created special cocktails with our Blend. 

Where are most of your sales?

Kane: The Busker's best market is the U.S. and is  growing a lot in Japan and Holland.  

Is there a stratum of drinkers you aim at most—GenX, Millennials, etc.?

Kane: Millennials are our main target.  

How do you work together with a distillery in the production of a whiskey before being put in cask?

Martin: As the Master Blender at Royal Oak Distillery it’s part of my role and that of the Lead Blender to work with the distilling team in creating new-make spirits that will support our current whiskey portfolio: The Busker Triple Cask Triple Smooth, and the 3 Busker single bottlings—Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot whiskeys. It's important the blending team sign off on the quality of each new-make spirit, including the flavor styles required. Thereafter it’s about ensuring the consistency of the three newly made spirits before they are filled to cask. Sensory and chemical analysis is performed on a daily basis. Significant experience in the science and technology of whiskey making is vitally important in ensuring the distillery produces a spirit that is fit for purpose.

What is a “new-make spirit”?

Kane: A new-make spirit is a high-proof alcohol that comes straight off the still during spirit production before being transferred to the barrel for aging so it can legally be called whiskey. Moonshine and Malt Spirit are two other names for a new-make spirit. While the new-make flavor has an effect on the whiskey, the wood in which it is aged contributes significantly to its flavor and color.

                                                                                                                            

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DILEMMAS THAT WILL
ALWAYS BEFUDDLE MANKIND


"I agree that I couldn’t imagine eating my morning cereal with the larger spoons in my drawer. But the more I thought about it, the more something seemed off. These utensils were, after all, designed for human use, and it’s not like we all accidentally stocked our drawers with teaspoons and serving spoons only. Is the dinner spoon really that unwieldy? Or are we just using it wrong?"—Jaya Saxena, "
We’re Using Big Spoons Wrong," Eater.com 2/8/23








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 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from amazon.com.



   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. 

WATCH THE VIDEO!

“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.




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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, thedailybeast.com

"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 Meal.com.

"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.

 

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