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  June 25, 2023                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

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Hendrik Gluntenjamp"Cuban Workers Club 1937"


"007 IN NEW YORK" and

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani


"007 IN NEW YORK" and

By John Mariani


         The two James Bond subjects treated in this article are unrelated and therefore require being treated separately. The first is from a 1966 collection of short stories entitled The Octopussy Collection that appeared after Ian Fleming’s death in 1964. (I’ve already written about both the story “Octopussy,” and the subsequent film.) The collection also includes “The Living Daylights,” whose title was used for a movie many years later (to be discussed in another article), and “The Property of a Lady,” which never was. “007 in New York” is a tossed-off bit of memoir, with Bond musing about his favorite hotels and restaurants in New York.
     The story was originally called “Reflections in a Carey Cadillac” and was first published in the NY Herald Tribune in October 1963.
     The slim plot involves Bond flying to New York to track down a British agent who is unwittingly sleeping with a KGB agent. 007 is to meet her at the Central Park Zoo’s Reptile House, but finds there is no such exhibit there and she does not show up.
      While on the BOAC airliner to New York, Bond recalls the great fun he used to have at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem years before.  Upon landing he checks into the Astor Hotel, originally built in 1905 and famous as a venue for New York’s social elite. It also appeared in the film The Clock. By 1966 the hotel had been sold and re-sold, that year for $10.5 million, but it was demolished a year later.
         Bond preferred the hotel’s location near Times Square, where he liked going to the Automat (below) and always laughed about the big BOND clothiers neon sign on Broadway. He has a martini at the ‛21’ Club (where he’d dined with Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever), then heads for lunch at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant (left), which opened in 1912 in the train terminal’s underbelly, where he intends to savor their famous oyster stew with a Miller High Life beer. But he finds the cavernous dining room too noisy, so, after considering Chambord and Le Pavillon, he decides on lunch at the baronial Edwardian Room in the Plaza Hotel, where he has  another martini, smoked salmon, Taittinger Brut Rosé Champagne and scrambled eggs (the recipe from his maid is provided), musing that “one could never tell with American food. As long as they got their steaks and seafood right, the rest could go to hell.”
         He plans to have dinner with a New York girlfriend named Solange at Lutèce, the city’s finest French restaurant of its day, then drinks with CIA agent Felix Leiter at the Embers nightclub.


         The title for the film Never Say Never Again came from a remark actor Sean Connery’s wife Micheline made after years of his refusing to play Bond ever again. Roger Moore had already embraced the character as of 1967, and, now six years later, Connery was coaxed back into the role by other producers who got hold of the literary rights to Thunderball, which Connery had starred in in 1965, but not the right to use the title, so Never Say Never Again was used. As it turned out, Octopussy, which came out the same year, was a far better Bond flick than Never, which suffered from cheap production values and a weak script. Connery looked like he was phoning it in.
        Never Say Never Again follows the Thunderball novel’s  plot to a large extent, though it differs greatly from the earlier film, both of which begin with 007 being forced to check into Shrublands Clinic (right) by M, who contends Bond’s skills are being compromised by too much “white bread, red meat and dry martinis,” to which Bond replies, “Well, I suppose I can cut out the white bread, sir.”
       Once checked in and having been told of the clinic’s strict diet of  bland health foods, Bond breaks open a suitcase full of Russian sevruga caviar, Georges Bruck foie gras, Absolut vodka and Château Cheval Blanc. While there, he spies on a beautiful nurse named Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) beating a patient whose face is bandaged. Blush sends an assassin named Lippe to kill Bond, who, after a savage fight, blinds the man by throwing a beaker of Bond’s urine sample at the man.

        Blush works for SPECTRE, run by Ernst Stavro Blofield (Max von Sydow), who has plans to steal atomic warheads in order to extort billions from NATO. Bond follows a lead to the Bahamas, checking into the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, where he goes to its Gazebo Bar for a martini, where Blush sweeps onto the beach and splashes Bond, saying she hopes she didn’t get him too wet. Bond responds, “Yes, but my martini’s still dry.”
He also meets Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger), lover of  Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), SPECTRE's top agent.
         Bond then heads for Nice, where Blush also arrives at a café on Villefranche-sur-Mer.  Bond finds that Largo is hosting a gala event at the Casino Royale (actually the Casino de Monte-Carlo, also used in Dr. No), and he crashes the party, where he and Largo play a 3-D video game called Domination that 007 wins. After a car and motorcycle chase, Bond is captured by Blush, who forces Bond to declare in writing that she was his "Number One" sexual partner. Bond responds, “Well,  there was this girl in Philadelphia once . . .” then kills Blush with his poison fountain pen.
       Invited aboard Largo’s yacht, the Flying Saucer, Bond finds Domino, and attempts to make Largo jealous by kissing  her; they are captured and brought to Palmyra, Largo's North African base of operations. 007 escapes and rescues Domino, and they find the first warhead, then search for the other at the Tears of Allah, below a desert oasis in Ethiopia. In an underwater battle, Largo is shot and killed by Domino with a speargun, Bond finds the bomb and defuses it. He returns with Domino to the Bahamas, where, while sipping tropical cocktails, he declares to her never again to work as a secret agent.      




13-15 West 54th Street

    A quarter century in a restaurant’s life is not just a testament to its  enduring quality but to the ability of its owners to get through the thick-and-thin of economic downturns, disasters like 9/11, pandemics, rising prices for rent, wages and ingredients and changing tastes. That Il Gattopardo has sailed through it all with the same grace it exhibited upon opening is little short of amazing, when so many of its competitors in the Italian fine dining scene have disappeared, like Del Posto, Da Silvano, Felidia and San Domenico.
         The credit goes to Gianfranco and Paula Sorrentino, who also run The Leopard at Des Artistes across from Lincoln Center, who have never thought of down-sizing or going down market or compromising the refinements of table linens, sprays of flowers, deep wine lists and impeccably dressed staff. One aspect that I hope will be addressed soon: for whatever reason the decibel level in the dining room has become intensely loud. Perhaps some buffering would help (or sending the loudmouth guests to the rear).
        Chef Vito Gnazzo is proudly from Salerno, so the menu skews towards the South, especially with an abundance of seafood. Thus, you might begin with l
ightly smoked burrata Pugliese (the Sorrentinos also own the storefront next door, Mozzarella e Vini) with pickled eggplant and sun-dried plum tomatoes ($21) or a parmigiana of zucchini with smoked mozzarella di bufala, finished with basil olive oil ($27). There’s a translucent carpaccio of fluke marinated in citrus and olive oil with sprinklings of coriander and fresh fennel ($35). Gnazzo’s guests always expect his expertly grilled octopus with roasted fingerling potatoes, celery hearts and Castelvetrano olives, lemon olive oil and parsley dressing ($33) that could readily serve as a main course.
        There is hardly a single pasta that you’ll find on Italian menus elsewhere, beginning with Sardinian fregola, cooked like risotto till tender but still a little chewy, blended with zucchini for color and taste and both clams and bottarga for the salty scent of the sea ($36). Ravioli come stuffed with summer asparagus and toma cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy and dressed with butter, sage and parmigiano Reggiano ($37).  A hearty shellfish ragoût is the base of ricotta cavatelli ($37). Another of the unique pastas is an ancient grain called busiate (“bruised”) pasta from Sicily, made traditionally by inserting a knitting needle through the fat spaghetti. To this is added pistachio pesto and dashed with caciocavallo Ragusano ($37).
        The term “Genovese” in Italian cookery does not refer to Genoa, but to a Neapolitan sauce of slowly cooked pork, onions and white wine, supposedly introduced to Naples by Genovese sailors. At Il Gattopardo it gets the pasta it deserves: Fat paccheri noodles that soak the sauce up through their ridged shape ($36). If you crave a northern-style gnocchi, have them with black truffles and sweet sausage, from Umbria ($48).
       These courses are rich and generous, and, again many people have them as main dishes. But if you shared one, then by all means have one of Gnazzo’s fishes of the day, which, lucky for me last week, was a beautiful rombo (turbot) [MP] possessed of the balance of meaty white flesh and natural gelatin, simply cooked and dressed with olive oil. Otherwise, have the poached halibut with artichoke, fingerling potatoes, sunchoke, white wine and olive oil broth ($57) or the codfish “in casseruola” with Gaeta olives, Pantelleria capers, cherry tomatoes and organic potatoes ($53).
Afterwards share one of the desserts ($22), which show a balance between traditional simplicity and modern refinement, such as the delizia al limone sponge cake filled with lemon custard soaked with limoncello or the dense chocolate torta caprese, also with limoncello from Amalfi.
         The wine list exceeds 300 labels, with a good selection under $100.
         Il Gattopardo’s location across the street from MoMA seems wholly apt, for the restaurant is a gastronomic reflection of the esthetic excellence of the collection. Food, wine, service and ambience like this are signs of being truly cosmopolitan without the slightest hint of pretense.


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



By  John Mariani


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





Calloway: Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.

Martins: As soon as I get to the bottom of this, I'll get the next plane.

Calloway: Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals. — The Third Man


         Four hours later, the Airbus landed at Heathrow at noon, and, after getting their bags and exiting through customs, they found two men in tweed coats in the airport lobby holding a sign saying “CAVUTO/GRECO.”  The two Americans looked at each other, trying to puzzle out who the men might be, since they hadn’t told anyone they were coming back to London early.
         One man was of average height, in his fifties, wearing a gray fedora; the other tall, hatless and younger by twenty years. When David and Katie walked towards them, the older man spoke.
         “Miss Cavuto, Mr. Greco? Welcome back to London.  A bit early, I believe. May we take your bags?”
         “Not until I know who you are,” said David, knowing another cop when he saw one. “I assume you’re London police?”
         “No, actually, we are with British intelligence,” he said, showing them ID.  “My name is Peter Chambers, this is my associate Mr. Collings.  We would be very grateful if you would come with us to discuss your trip to Moscow.”
         David said, “How so? Miss Cavuto and I had business visas to visit Russia, if you’d like to see them.”
         “That won’t be necessary,” said Chambers. “It’s simply a matter of your having had an interview with a certain Colonel Kovalyov yesterday.”
         David said, “And what brings you that conclusion?”
         “Mr. Greco, Miss Cavuto, Colonel Kovalyov contacted us and told us you would be coming in on this flight and that perhaps we’d like to speak with you about your brief stay in Moscow.”
         Katie said, “You and Kovalyov speak to one another?”
         “Well, of course,” said Chambers. “Cold War is over, you know. No more cloak and dagger.  Even James Bond avoids the Russians these days.”
         “Kovalyov said that, too,” said Katie. “But, Mr. Chambers, we are American citizens and I don’t think we have to talk with you if we choose not to. As a matter of fact, I think we’d like to go straight to the American Embassy.”
         Chambers glanced at Collings and let out a small sigh, then said, “That is well within your right, Madam. But, quite frankly, we already know what you were doing in Moscow and whom you saw and who it was here in London who led you to him. We would just like to set the record straight on some items. We’ll do the talking, you just listen, how’s that? We can do it right here at the airport, if you like.”
         Katie asked to speak to David alone for a moment and Chambers nodded, saying, “By all means.”
        They went off to a noisy corner of the lobby.  Katie said, “Why in God’s name is everyone so anxious to speak with us about our seeing Philby? They already know that we did. It’s not like he was passing secret documents to us to give to Russian agents in London.”
         David said, “Unless there’s something in that note about the pills, but I can’t see that of any importance to them. I guess I don’t see any reason not to speak with them, as long as they don’t start asking questions we don’t want to answer.”
         Katie and David walked back to the men and said, “Okay, we’ll listen to what you want to tell us.”
         Chambers said, “Fine, won’t take more than ten minutes and you’ll be back at your hotel, and back to the States whenever you choose to leave.”
        The group headed to an elevator and went up two floors, then to a nondescript door with only a number on it. Inside was a small front room with one unoccupied desk and a larger room to the right, where Collings led them. Except for a Union Jack flag in the corner, it might have been Kovalyov’s office.
         “Can I get you two anything?” asked Chambers. “Tea, coffee, water?”
         Katie and David said no thanks and sat down in silence.
         “Well, then, here’s what this is all about,” began Chambers. “As I’m sure you’ve surmised, we are aware that your . . . business trip was to visit a man you believed to be the Soviet double agent Kim Philby.  May I ask why you made such contact?”
         Ignoring for the moment Chambers promise not to ask questions, David asked, “Are you saying you don’t know?”
       “As a matter of fact, we do. We understand that you, Miss Cavuto, are a reporter at . . .”—he glanced at a piece of paper in a file—“McClure’s magazine, and that you are trying to find out who was the inspiration for the character of Harry Lime in the movie The Third Man, is that correct? Sounds like an intriguing idea.”
         Katie gave away nothing, feeling quite sure that Chambers had no thumbscrews in his top drawer.
         The officer went on. “And I understand that you’d been in touch with an ex-MI6 agent named Joseph Southey, as well as a former Soviet agent named Leonid Lentov.”
         David was not surprised by anything Chambers had to say but was anxious to know what Southey and Lentov had told Chambers, who kept speaking.
         “Now there’s nothing illegal about your speaking with such people, nor did they apparently tell you anything to compromise their own situation. Mr. Southey didn’t give away any secrets, did he? And Mr. Lentov had none to give.  And Mr. Southey would not vouch for what Mr. Lentov told you about Mr. Philby still being alive in Moscow and that he might be thrilled to speak with two Americans about Graham Greene.”
         Chambers stopped speaking and folded his arms, waiting for Katie or David to say something.
     David did: “I assume you know I’m a former NYPD detective, Mr. Chambers?”  The British officer nodded and stayed silent.  “So, you know I’m pretty familiar with interrogation techniques,” said David.
         “I’m sorry, Mr. Greco, I wasn’t aware you were being interrogated.  I’ve done all the talking.”
 Katie spoke up. “Mr. Chambers, can you get to the point, please? What exactly is it you’d like us to tell you?”
cambers got up from his desk and let a little more light in through the Venetian blinds, then said, “I never use the words ‘let me be honest with you,’ because you know very well it means nothing. So, instead, let me say I’m being candid when I say that we believe you and Mr. Greco would be better off going back to the United States and letting this Philby thing drop. I’m not suggesting you are in any physical danger—certainly not from us or the Russians—but I believe your alleging that Kim Philby is alive and well in Moscow could bring you and your magazine considerable legal trouble, probably a libel suit.”
         Katie felt sure Chambers knew that the Russians had stolen her pocket recorder with all her proof.
     “I’ll let my publisher and lawyers deal with that,” she said.
         “Even without proof, except your word against theirs?”
         “Who do you mean?”
         Chambers paused again, looked Katie straight in the eye, then at David.
         “In the first place,” he said, “libel is much easier to prove here in the UK than in your country, and easier still in Russia. Your insisting Philby is alive, without a mountain of proof, will probably not hold up in an English or Russian court of law.”
         David got up from his chair and said, “You’re beginning to sound intimidating. You saying the people we saw in Moscow were not the Philbys? Because we’re very sure they are.”
         “Not according to our friends, the Russians. They insist that Kim Philby is resting quietly in a Moscow cemetery and that those people you interviewed were actors who entertain investigators just like you.”
   “That’s what Kovalyov told us,” said Katie, “but I’m surprised you just accept what a former KGB agent would tell you about a turncoat British spy. A chapter we’d like to forget.”
         “Meaning,” said David, “you’d prefer not to find Philby alive, because it would open up MI6 to a whole new chapter of accusations of ineptitude?”
         “Mr. Greco, I can assure you that MI6 and a lot of people up and down what you Americans call a totem pole were embarrassed, scorned and lost their careers over the case. Possibly, even a suicide or two. But that was back in 1963—thirty-five years ago.  But let’s for the moment say that Kim Philby is alive and living in a flat in Moscow. He’s already published his memoirs, which were judged to be mostly nonsense and propaganda. What more can he add to the whole sordid story? Almost everyone on our side who was involved in the Philby case is dead now. If he is alive, he’d be well into his eighties, I believe, and very possibly senile. No one would take anything he has to say seriously. If there’s anything left to say at all.”
         Katie was finding it hard to believe what she was hearing. But David knew from experience that the last thing any police department wants to hear is that an old, burnt-out case with no new victims is suddenly reignited and casts further ignominy on personnel who had long ago retired or passed away. 
Katie then remembered the line from The Third Man and repeated it:  
“‘Leave death to the professionals.’ Is that what you’re trying to tell us, Mr. Chambers?”
       Chambers looked at Katie, took a breath and said softly, “I’m not trying to tell you anything, Miss Cavuto. You’re free to leave right now. I just hope you will take to heart what I said about publishing something you cannot prove and cannot go back to Moscow to get further support for your contention.”
         “Then we can go?” asked David.
         “My colleague will show you out. Enjoy London.”
         Katie and David collected their luggage from the outer office, assuming they’d been thoroughly gone through; Katie had not been asked to surrender her handbag.
         Outside, the two Americans caught the Heathrow Express (left) into London, arriving at Paddington Station, then catching a taxi back to the hotel they’d stayed at before going to Moscow. Both were dragged out by tension and the jet lag and the meeting with Chambers.
         “I’ve got a splitting headache,” said Katie, rubbing her temples.
         “Need aspirin?” asked David.
         “No, I’ve got some. Where are you off to?”
         “I’m going to try to find a drugstore and see what I can find out about those pills. And if they have them I’ll buy some for our man Philby.”
         “Love to tag along, but I’m just going to collapse. Let me know what you find out.”
         David would have preferred to stay in Katie’s room and massage her headache away, hear her murmur with her eyes closed and drop off to sleep, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it and feared that if he asked if she would like him to do it, she might say no—in the nicest possible way.  High school phobias never really fade when a guy wants to ask a girl out.


John Mariani, 2016




By John Mariani




    The  most famous of Tuscan wines, Brunello di Montalcino, would never have existed had it not been for Clemente Biondi, who created the wine in 1865, for the first time labeled as Brunello di Montalcino as of the 1888 vintage. For seven generations the Biondi-Santi family ensured the unique stature of their wines, producing Brunello Annata and Riserva of remarkable longevity. (Back in the 1980s I actually tasted an 1891 vintage at the Biondi-Santi estate, Tenuta Greppo, and it was amazingly vibrant.)
     The wine world was astonished, then, when the last scion of the  Biondi-Santi estate sold the winery in 2020 to luxury brand EPI, founded  in 1974 by French industrialist Jean-Louis Descours, whose grandson Christofer Descours (left), 48, became its president and CEO in 2005. In 2011 he purchased Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck Champagnes, along with Piper Sonoma from the U.S., for a total of $593 million.
     To see what, if any, changes would be made to the legendary Biondi-Santi brand, I interviewed the estate’s Federico Radi, Viticulture and Winemaking Director (below).

Biondi-Santi has a long and illustrious history but was not well known in Italy until the 1970s. Yet now there are hundreds of producers of Brunello and many different styles. What is the B-S style and do you intend to maintain it?

Let me answer the last question first with a firm yes. We do indeed intend to maintain the signature style of Biondi-Santi, which over the decades has always been the same. Our wines first and foremost are wines of balance, crafted with the idea of a long life in the bottle. They have a good acidity, a balanced alcohol that rarely goes beyond 14%, a wide spectrum of aromas with the fruity notes which are always fresh, never overripe. Our estate is located on the top of the Montalcino hill in a ventilated location, which helps us to produce grapes which can deliver these characteristics. We also harvest quite early for the same reason.


I met Franco Biondi-Santi back in the late 1970s and he opened a bottle from, I think, 1891 and it was amazingly sound. Biondi-Santi’s longevity was key to its appeal, and Franco said a bottle takes many years to mature. Given today’s market, is Biondi-Santi made to mature faster? How long is it kept in barrel and bottle? When should a buyer open it?

What an experience to have been able to taste the 1891. I have yet to try it and don’t even know if that honor will ever befall me, but to answer your question ,we aren’t really doing anything different today compared to the past. Franco’s father, Tancredi, used to age his wines for 4 years in large Slavonian oak casks. Franco shortened this aging to 3 years, and this is still what we are doing today. One thing that we have changed, though, compared to Franco, is to prolong the bottle aging before we release a new vintage. The Brunello stays for at least one year and the Riserva for two years. This is to be sure that the wine is readily enjoyable when it reaches the market, even when it is young. It is obvious that a Riserva should be able to age for many, many decades in the bottle, but it is also important that people should not have to wait to enjoy it, if they want to open the bottle within its first years. Our Riserva is released 7 years after the harvest. It is already quite a long time. For me, every era in a bottle’s life gives us a distinct and special drinking experience. There is not only one good time.


You have worked in Tuscany for 20 years. What changes have you seen? There have been scandals and the DOCG is now given to so many Italian wines. Does that appellation still have importance?

More than appellation, I would say that territories matter, and with territories come appellations, which become a sort of “grand family” to whom all producers belong. I am happy to see that one of the biggest changes in Italian viticulture has been the shift from “winemaker wines” to “territory wines.” For a long time the name of the winemaker, often a consultant, was an important trait for the commercialization of a wine and for the definition of that wine’s personality. Now it is the winery with its terroir that give personality to the wine, as it should be. As for the appellation, I have to say that for me it is a point of strength and inspiration to be able to work within a network where we can learn from each other and discuss problems and challenges together.


Since “Super Tuscan” was never an official appellation, have Tuscan winemakers shied away from using the term?

I believe that it is mostly the trade using the term now to simplify the presentation of certain wines, for example, on the wine list. Many of the so-called Super Tuscans now have quite a long history and a specific identity for the winery which produces them, so the producer himself has no need to refer to the term Super Tuscans.


What were  Biondi-Santi’s wines like after Franco died in 2013 and his son Jacopo (with whom he disagreed) took over?

Jacopo was in charge of production for a very short period of time. Franco passed away in 2013. In 2014 no Brunello was produced because the vintage was not of a good quality. Jacopo personally followed the vintages 2015 and 2016. It is true that Jacopo has a bit of a different idea about what the Brunello Biondi-Santi could be and that he wanted to work a bit more on the structure of the wine compared to his father. We can see the results of this idea in the Riserva 2015, for example, which does go in that direction, but with elegance and grace, still preserving those traits of a typical wine from Biondi-Santi we spoke of in your first question. I have been involved in following these two vintages in the cellar and personally oversaw the blending of the Riserva 2016, which is a beautiful vintage. 


Did the estate lose its reputation under Jacopo? Was he looking to sell it? His son Tancredi took over in 2020.

I wouldn’t say so. Biondi-Santi continued its normal path as always. Tancredi worked side by side with his father, but never took over in production.


Why did EPI want to buy it and what does it intend to do with the brand?

EPI is Christofer Descours, as the group is family owned, who was interested in Biondi-Santi because it is a unique winery with a unique history, as the founder of one of the most important appellations in Italy, and the intention is to make sure that the estate continues in its evolution and that it strengthens its position in the ultra-fine wine sphere. Christofer has a very long-term vision for the estate that includes new investments in the vineyards to see if we can reach an even higher excellence in production. An example is the parcellization project which we started in 2018 and which is proving very important to define even further the personality of our three wines, Rosso, Brunello and Riserva.


Will production increase?

The production at Biondi-Santi will always be quite small.

Does Jacopo still own a share of Il Greppo?

Jacopo has no share of Biondi-Santi. No one from the family is involved anymore.

What is Giampiero Bertolini’s role at Biondi-Santi?

Giampiero Bertolini is the CEO of Biondi-Santi.


What is meant by “regenerative viticulture?”

This is a holistic approach that aims at going further than the paradigms of organic or biodynamic viticulture. We treat the soil with the objective of increasing the organic matter and life in the soil to make sure that the soil is in health for the next generations. We stimulate biodiversity of flora and fauna to obtain a balance which is as close to “wild nature” as possible. We plant fruit trees, olive trees and hedgerows of different plants around our new vineyards for the same reason.  We try to make the vines as resilient as possible in coping with the changing climate. We have started a new massal selection in our oldest vineyard, from the 1930s, in order to propagate our genetic imprint in the new vineyards we will plant in the future. In this old vineyard, vines and olive trees live in unison, and it is interesting to see how the soil here is the healthiest and liveliest we have on the estate. This is a lesson we mustn’t overlook.


Are barrels of Slavonian oak now used for all Biondi-Santi wines?

We use Slavonian oak casks for all our wines, of varying sizes, as we keep our parcels separate in the cellar throughout the aging. There are no barriques, however.


How deep is the historic cellar? Are there still bottles dating back to the 19th century?

We are very proud of the fact that we still have bottles of each vintage of Riserva ever produced, starting with the two bottles of the first Brunello vintage in history, the 1888.





In his book Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs Jamie Loftus goes to the Coney Island Fourth of July Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship and declares, "I'm in love with Joey Chestnut" (left), who won that year by stuffing down 63 hot dogs.



 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.


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