Virtual Gourmet

  August 13,  2023                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

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By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani

The Colonial Williamsburg Inn


         Away from the tavern restaurants, there are several at Colonial Williamsburg that cater to those who seek a casual venue in other areas of the estate.

         Sweet Tea & Barley, set within the Williamsburg Lodge, focuses on Southern dishes in a handsome, wide dining room with a broad bar with handcrafted cocktails like a honeysuckle pomegranate gimlet you may want to enjoy on the patio before dinner. Bar snacks go way beyond the usual, offering fried shrimp remoulade ($14); fried chicken wings with a choice of hot sauce, Alabama white, bourbon BBQ or Nashville hot ($20).
         Portions are ample for two people, evident in the “Southern Throwdown” ($19), a platter of seven ounces of Angus beef with pimento cheese, bacon jam, fried green tomato and a brioche bun. The “Dixie Stacker” ($16) is a classic rendering of North Carolina-style  pulled pork BBQ with creamy slaw, house pickles and a brioche bun.
        The Chesapeake crab chowder ($11 or $13) is rich, thick and served with corn relish and crisp Virginia pork. Another southern staple is the excellent shrimp and grits ($29), made with flavorful fried shrimp lavished with a creamy smoked bacon and seafood ragoût, sided by  Anson Mills Cheddar Grits and green onions.
         If you like catfish, there are two options: smoked and pureed catfish comes as a dip with benne seed crackers ($12), or fried in a cornmeal crust with hoppin’ john, collard greens and hot honey ($30). Buttermilk biscuits are enhanced with both sorghum butter and house jam ($7).
         There’s certainly no  better way to end off than with the rhubarb strawberry shortcake ($10). And on the weekends there’s live music.

        Open from afternoon through dinner daily.


       There are two golf courses at Colonial Williamsburg that are part of the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent and Rees Jones, and the Clubhouse Grill at the 18th hole is open to non-members and those not staying on property. There Juli Gutierrez shows her skill with smoked foods, starting off with “loaded tots” ($14) of crispy smoked Gouda cheese,  smoked pork and beans, scallions, sweet tomato BBQ sauce and buttermilk Ranch  dressing. There’s also smoked chicken chili ($12) with spicy cannellini, cheddar, sour cream and moist cornbread.
         The BBQ is Virginia style, with all the meats first brined or hand-rubbed, then smoked on property with Virginia oak. The result is very tender, moist meat, not overly smoky, retaining its own flavor. You can get a two-meat plate ($20), three ($24) or four ($26) that offers a panoply of ‘cue—America’s foremost cooking technique—that includes chicken that is spice-rubbed and chopped; pulled pork shoulder;  fried wings; and Texas-style brisket. There are some BBQ options available in bulked-up sandwiches, too.
         For dessert you can indulge in a Coke or root beer float ($5) or a warm fruit cobbler of the season ($8).
         Downstairs the Gold Course Clubhouse Bar serves grab-and-go sandwiches, salad, and snack options.

         The Grill is open for lunch daily and Fri. & Sat. for dinner.


        Colonial Williamsburg’s most elegantly appointed restaurant is The Rockefeller Room, recently redecorated, but it was not open the night I visited the Inn and only serves dinner Thurs.-Sat. The menu, once fussy and overwrought, has been brought down to a far more appealing level of American cooking, including dishes like crisp deviled duck egg; fried green tomatoes; braised beef ribs with pureed potatoes; and hazelnut ice cream torte in a price-fixed, four-course dinner (with several choices) plus dessert ($128; wine pairing add, $58).
         The Rockefeller Room also has an award-winning wine list, so I was surprised to find that none of the other food service outlets, except The Terrace at Colonial Williamsburg, shares its breadth or depth.








390 Park Avenue

By John Mariani

Photo by Christian D. Harder

         The creation in 1952 of Lever House as one of the first glass box skyscrapers in Manhattan had an enormous energizing effect on staid Park Avenue, then crowded with traditional masonry structures. Designed by Gordon Bunschaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the  21-story tower has long been a City landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
         Nevertheless, Lever House was showing its age, with rust and corrosion leading to structural failures. Beginning in 2022 (post-Covid) new owners gutted the building, as well as closing its 13-year-old restaurant, Casa Lever, for renovation. Just re-opened a few weeks ago, the Italian restaurant remains under the stewardship of SA Hospitality, which runs the mini-empire of San Ambroeus restaurants.
         I had visited just before Casa Lever’s closing, and upon returning I hoped there wouldn’t be any radical changes, so I was relieved to find the basic structure the same, while eliminating a unattractive raised platform to the rear. The alcove tables seem cozier than ever, banquettes and some chairs are still black leather, the bar is more sprightly than ever with the inclusion of an exquisite new marble counter, and the artworks, once  by Damien Hurst, have been replaced with his new color field paintings. The carpet now has a bolder striping, but the same chandeliers (which I always thought dated) are still hanging. Right now the outdoor patio, with its big white umbrellas, is one of the loveliest places to dine al fresco in the city.
         I was happy to see affable general manager Antonio Colombani still deftly working his way through the room, as well as SA’s culinary director Iacopo Fallai, who has brought in Ravenna-born executive chef Michele Liverani. There’s a new, very knowledgeable sommelier, Lucienne Froz, whose choice of wines for our dinner was impeccable.
         The menu seems more cogent now, and every dish I had demonstrated the way each has been rigorously thought through so as to be expressive of the kitchen’s respect for classic techniques. Thus, while the inclusion of the now ubiquitous cacio e pepe on the menu sounds like a throwaway dish, it is actually one of the very best in the city—an amalgam of pasta, cheese and black pepper in perfect equilibrium, using heat and a careful tossing of the spaghetti to produce a creamy masterpiece ($31).
         Such deftness was evident in every category, starting with the choice of breads with a pour of fine olive oil. There are three crudi, and I chose locally caught fluke that took on the sweetness of apricot, the tang of Champagne vinegar and Meyer lemon and an unexpected hit of chopped pepperoncino ($34).
         The other antipasti form a slim list of four salads, beef tartare ($39), vitello tonnato ($31) and a Peekytoe crab cake with sweet, steamed asparagus, dill, parsley and a spicy mayonnaise, all emphasizing the briny taste of the crab. It’s pretty pricey, though, at $47.
         As ever, the pasta courses are the most enticing, and, along with that paragon of cacio e pepe, the spaghetti all’arrabiata ($31), a Roman classic with more pepperoncino and the delightful addition of garlic chips, was a hearty rendering. The cappellacci di burrata ($33), using house-made burrata, was a luxurious and very lovely dish of pasta bundles with an intense tomato confit, a touch of fresh oregano and a lush fondue of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (left).
         Risotto is a critical test of an Italian kitchen’s mettle, especially in a large restaurant, because the essence of any variation is the quality of the rice and how it incorporates the flavor ingredients. Timing is everything. At Casa Lever the special that night was a subtle mixture of creamy rice with Argentinian shrimp and zucchini blossoms ($42).
         The main courses range from “Plant-Based” to meat, fish and “Simply Cooked,” and a subtle simplicity is at work in all the dishes. Eggplant parmigiana ($34), another Italian-American item that has bounded back to eminence on New York menus, is as richly conceived and executed as any so as to please both vegetarians and carnivores, with texture and seasoning adding to the heft of the cheese and eggplant.
         A large, perfectly baked turbot ($69) came with baby artichokes and dressed with lemon, oil and parsley for a lesson in fish cookery, its meaty, fat-rich flesh coming off the bones in luscious slabs. Vitello arrosto ($57), which you almost never see on a menu elsewhere, came as a generous serving of perfectly pink, flavorful sliced veal with roasted potatoes that had spent time melding with garlic, rosemary and sage.
         But the best of all the main courses was an osso buco alla milanese ($57), whose meat was suffused with sweet onions and spices, glistening with a coat of superbly reduced  juice, served with its bone marrow, a sweet-sour gremolata and seared saffron rice.
         The desserts ($19) at Casa Lever pretty much match the level of savory courses. A summery raspberry was enchanting, and the tiramisù pleasantly old-fashioned with layered lady’s fingers. One chocolate dessert, which vaguely resembles the Lever House building, is made of “floors” of chocolate and hazelnut filling.
         Froz’s wine list hits every category squarely—largely Italian, but with a good California section—with mark-ups that are average or below others’—and a long list of wines by the glass.
         I must mention one small thing that helps to explain Casa Lever’s elegance and refinement: A knife accidentally fell to the tile floor and landed, not with a ping as would cheap silverware, but with a bell-like clang, indicating its impressive, silvery heft, which is mirrored in an opposite way by the fine, supremely thin stemware.
         Casa Lever has emerged, after the double closings of the pandemic and rehab, among a handful of upscale Italian ristoranti without any of the pretensions of the shuttered Del Posto or the calculated “Sopranos” artifice of Carbone. Casa Lever joins Il Gattopardo, Duomo 51 and Fasano as a true standard bearer of la dolce vita in the real sense, not of worn decadence, but of the renewed sweetness of Italian style and culinary culture.


Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri.



By  John Mariani


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


                                                                                                Harrod's Egyptian Escalator




        Katie was very happy that her meeting with Peggy Stinchfield would be at the legendary department store Harrods in Kensington, so she arrived closer to noon so she could have a look around the vast food halls, silverware counters and clothing boutiques. A few minutes before 12:30 she took the opulent Egyptian escalator up from the ground floor, got off and took the elevator to the sixth floor (below); the doors parted and in front of her stood a woman who looked very American—the broad smile, her height, and the clothes themselves, which had more of an American than British cut—a comfortable navy blue blazer, white pleated skirt and soft white blouse. Only a very dark brown bob seemed more European. She appeared to be a very young forty year old.
         “Katie,” said the woman with the outstretched hand, “Peggy. Welcome to Harrods.”
        Katie expressed her amazement at the beauty and breadth of what she’d seen. “I came early so I could take a little of it in,” she said. “Frankly, there’s nothing quite like this in New York.”
         “Ah, you’re from New York? I grew up in Connecticut, New Canaan. Here, let’s get out of the traffic. In another week the Christmas decorations go up and this place will be mobbed wall to wall with people. Mind if we go to my office?”
       The two women repaired to Stinchfield’s cramped office, where three other women had cubicles.  The room was scattered with clothes samples.
          “So you’re a buyer here?” asked Katie.
         “Yeah, I buy the American labels for the store—Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein. It’s crazy this time of year, just waiting for shipments to come in.  Here, sit down wherever you can find a chair. Want some coffee, tea?”
         “I’m good,” said Katie. “So you grew up in New Canaan?”
        “Yeah, born and bred, then I moved into the city and went to the Fashion Institute of Technology, started working in the rag trade, and a job came up to open an office for Donna Karan in London—that’s when I met Pogue—and, y’know, one thing led to another, now I’m buyer for all the American brands.” She spoke very fast.
         “So you travel to the U.S. a lot?”
         “Too much, like every other month, plus the shows in Paris and Milan twice a year. Believe me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. My handbag is full of order forms.”
         Katie looked around at the close quarters and the three other women so near and asked, “Peggy, due to the kinds of questions I want to ask you, do you think we could speak somewhere a little more private?”
         “Oh, I’m sorry,” said the buyer. “Sure, let’s go downstairs and grab a table at the Tea Room.  They just put the tree up.  It's quiet there and we can get something to eat. I’m starving anyway. On me.”
         The two women took the elevator down to the second floor and took a table in the trim, unfussy room. Peggy recommended the Welsh rarebit—“It’s a little heavy, but it’s fabulous”—the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich or the chicken sandwich with cheddar cheese.  Katie chose the last, Peggy the salmon.
         “So,” said Peggy, “you want to know about Pogue. By the way, that’s the name everybody used for him. Even I did. He hated the name Jonathan. Why are you so interested?”
         Katie noticed a wedding ring on Peggy’s finger. “You two were going to be married?”
         Peggy turned wistful and answered, “Yeah, all set, big wedding, back in New Canaan, actually. Then Pogue went off to Russia and just . . . disappeared.”
         “Can you tell me the circumstances?”
         “After you tell me why you’re so interested.”
         Katie had rehearsed what she’d say. “I’m on a story to find out what real-life person might have inspired Graham Greene’s character of Harry Lime in the movie The Third Man.”
         Love that movie!”
         “And a lot of people over the years thought Greene had the British double agent Kim Philby in mind when he wrote the character.”
         “I know. Pogue was one of them,” said Peggy. “That’s why he went to Russia.”
         Katie kept quiet, hoping to hear more without revealing more.
         “Pogue was a brash guy,” said Peggy. “Good journalist, always looking for the big story, which is why he never took a job on a newspaper or magazine.  He liked being a freelancer.”
         “A crusading journalist type?”
         Peggy laughed. “Not a crusader, just a reporter who wanted bombshell stories.  He had several in his career, local British stuff, but they were explosive at the time and very solidly researched.”
         “So he went to Russia to find Harry Lime and Kim Philby.”
         “Well, that’s the thing. Pogue got this idea that Philby might still be alive, although he was reported to have died the year before. Pogue was suspicious of anything coming out of the Soviet Union, and because it was starting to break up at that time, he thought he could get in and find out whether or not Philby’s death was dis-information on the Soviets’ part. The problem was, no newspaper or magazine would give him the assignment or the money for the story.  So, stubborn as always, Pogue just went off on his own.”
         “So he did get in?”
         “He did indeed. Pogue had contacts everywhere and as a journalist he was allowed to travel to Russia—if he had a good reason, not just to snoop around. I think he told them he was doing a travel story on Moscow’s subway system or some bullshit. Anyway, as soon as he got back, he was going to publish this blockbuster about Philby and we would be married and live happily ever after.  But somehow it didn’t work out that way.”
         “Did you ever hear from him when he was in Moscow?”
         “At first, yes. I got letters in the first two weeks, then nothing. I didn’t think much about it at first—he often went deep into places he didn’t want me to know about. But then, two weeks went by and I started to worry.”
         Katie was taking scribbled notes. “So, then what happened?”
         “I contacted the Foreign Office here in London and they put in some calls to their Embassy in Moscow, but they said they had no word on his whereabouts. He’d never checked in with the Embassy, which he should have, and they couldn’t very well go searching for Pogue unless they had some evidence he had been hurt in some way. They made official inquiries with the Soviets but got nothing back.”
         Peggy had barely eaten any of her sandwich. “After Pogue’s visa ran out, I was convinced something bad had happened to him. After another month, I had to assume the worst. The Brits dithered around some more, but he’s been officially listed as a missing person ever since.”
         “And you married someone else?” asked Katie.
         “Yeah, wonderful guy, five years ago. We have two kids. Life goes on.”
         Katie wanted to be very careful with her next questions. “Peggy, do you think, or did you feel at the time, that Pogue had perhaps been picked up by the KGB and maybe put in prison.”
         “I thought of that, but then I’d ask myself, for what? For snooping around about a forgotten spy who was probably dead anyway? What would be so damn . . . explosive about that?”
         “Well, if Pogue did find Philby alive, that would be very big news, especially here in the UK. The Soviets would not want that kind of thing to get out.”
         “Maybe so,” said Peggy, “but after the fall of the Soviet Union a year later, what would be the big freaking deal? Pogue disappeared in 1989. If they stuck him in prison, would they keep him there after Russia opened up again a year later?  Remember glasnost? What would be the point?”
         Unless, thought Katie, he’d already been executed by the Soviets.
         “So you think Pogue is still alive?”
         Peggy wiped her lips and leaned back and sighed. “I asked myself that question a thousand times a day for years. I hope he is alive and that he’ll get out of prison and back to London.  But it’s another chapter of my life that happened a long time ago.  I lived with it for five years, believe me. It was a very rough time for me. But now it’s a faded bad dream.”
         Katie sensed there wasn’t much more that Peggy would add to her story, so she passed the remaining minutes of their lunch chatting about their own backgrounds. Peggy signed for the check and brought Katie to the elevator, saying, “I don’t know how much help I’ve been, but I wish you luck with your article.”
         “And, not that I expect it, but if you do find out anything about Pogue, I’d like to hear it.”
         It was then that Katie realized Peggy thought Katie had not yet been to Moscow. By then the elevator doors had closed and moved smoothly downward.



John Mariani, 2016




By John Mariani

Photo: Bridget Elkin

Those with even a mild interest in wine are familiar with territorial names like Napa, Sonoma, Willamette and the Finger Lakes. But ask even a serious wine lover about wineries on New York’s Long Island, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Which is not surprising for two reasons: Long Island wineries only date back to the 1970s, and, because of a robust sale of their wines from both the North and South Forks at the wineries themselves, vintners have until now not sought wide representation beyond Long Island, not even in Manhattan restaurants.

This is now changing as more and more wineries open and the focus on terroir and varietals is more exciting than ever. Of these changes I spoke to Kareem Massoud (below), President of Long Island Wine Country and winemaker at Paumanok and Palmer Vineyards.



How many wineries are currently active on Long Island and are more in the planning stage?

Long Island boasts 57 distinct wine producers, who are divided between the North Fork, South Fork (aka The Hamptons), and western Suffolk County. The region generates about half a million cases of wine annually that are distributed domestically and internationally.


How would you describe the various terroirs—North and South—that make them different from one another for planting?

On the North Fork, our terroir is defined by a prevailing cool, maritime climate with sandy, loamy soils. Since we are on an island and surrounded by water, these bodies of water act as giant heat sinks in the winter,  insulating us from the extreme lows measured further inland, and in the summer they act as coolers, moderating the heat recorded in the city and inland. At harvest we often experience a late hot summer elongated by our maritime climate.
    The topography on the North Fork is primarily flat. We succeed as a wine growing region because our soils drain incredibly well. The top soils are a sandy loam, followed by sandy, gravelly subsoils below. This makes for excellent drainage. Geologically, Long Island is a glacial moraine. Our soils were described by Prof. Gérard Seguin, (U. of Bordeaux) as similar to those of Les Graves. The third aspect of terroir is the human component. On Long Island, wine growers like ourselves have concluded that viticultural practices, such as maintaining an open canopy and leaf removal to expose the fruit, are critical to achieving our goal of growing the healthiest, ripest fruit obtainable.
    The chief differences on the South Fork have to do with heavier soils and cooler temperatures. While the South Fork is generally cooler than the North Fork there is ample heat accumulation to fully ripen the most commonly grown varieties: Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The prevalent soil type in The Hamptons is Bridgehampton loam. This soil type rates Grade A, according to USDA, the most fertile rating. In addition, the soils are extremely well-draining, same as the North Fork. This makes row crop farming a dream in The Hamptons. For vineyards high fertility is not always desirable and so vineyard sites are not necessarily located on the most fertile sites.


How is the terroir different from the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley?

The key differences in terroir between Long Island and any other wine region in New York is that Long Island is defined by its maritime climate. The Finger Lakes experience a more continental climate moderated by the lakes—not unlike a wine growing nation like Germany, where it is predominantly a cool climate for the whole country but with warmer and cooler zones among regions. The Mosel and Rheingau produce Rieslings with higher acidity and lower alcohol, while regions such as the Pfalz and Baden produce Rieslings with more alcohol and lower acidity.
    In general, that analogy holds between the Finger Lakes and Long Island,  with Long Island being generally warmer and the Finger Lakes cooler, especially in the winter. The Hudson Valley lies geographically and climatically between the two. Long Island’s maritime climate helps moderate the extreme temperatures in both summer and winter. A vivid example of this occurred on May 18, 2023, when the Finger Lakes region experienced a severe frost whereas Long Island emerged from that night virtually unscathed. On the other hand, Long Island is more likely to suffer from hurricanes than regions further inland. Fortunately, strong hurricanes have been quite rare throughout Long Island’s viticultural history, over the past 50 years.


Have heat and climate change affected the vineyards?

Yes, as with most growers around the world, we have noticed earlier bud breaks and earlier harvest dates over the years. When my parents first started harvesting their grapes in the mid-’80s, harvest occurred in October. Now we are harvesting throughout September and even in August for early ripeners used for traditional method sparkling wine, such as Pinot Noir. 


What is the Sustainability Certification ?

Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards. LISW uses international standards of sustainable practices in quality wine-grape production that have been refined for the northeast and utilized through the VineBalance Workbook. These practices are based on an independent, 3rd-party-verified checklist system consisting of recommended and prohibited practices and materials, thoughtful planning and numerous ecological options.


How many varietals are planted and which are the most important that thrive particularly well?

There are two or three dozen varieties that are being grown across Long Island. The top performers include Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc followed closely by Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Chenin Blanc.


Top row: Andrew Kim, Cellar Master at Macari Vineyards; James Christopher Tracy, Winemaker/Partner at Channing Daughters Winery; Shelby Hearn, General Manager at Suhru Wines; Anthony Nappa, Winemaker at Raphael Vineyard; Kareem Massoud, Winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards; Macey Reichel, Tasting Room Manager at Lenz Winery; Alie Shaper, Owner & Winemaker at Chronicle Wines; Patrick Caserta, Winemaker at Rose Hill Vineyard; Brewster McCall from McCall Wines; Bottom Row: Left to Right: Gilles Martin, Winemaker at Sparkling Pointe Vineyards; Roman Roth, Winemaker/Partner at Wölffer Estate Vineyard; Russell McCall, Founder of McCall Wines; Photographer Eric Vitale, The Beekman Hotel.

What about Bordeaux blends?

From early on the parallels to Bordeaux were clear: maritime climate, prevailing flat topography, well-draining soils and similar rainfall and heat accumulation. Therefore, it was logical to plant Bordeaux varieties, and not surprisingly these have done very well. Of course, there is overlap with Loire varieties. Loire varieties have done equally well. On Long Island we now have Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne. In any case, Bordeaux blends have performed well on Long Island, yielding wines that are moderate to full-bodied, well-structured and age-worthy.


Wölffer Estates makes an excellent Riesling. Is Long Island terroir conducive to that varietal?

Wölffer does make an excellent Riesling. German-born winemaker Roman Roth has excelled with this variety for many years. It is also worth noting that Paumanok has been growing Riesling since 1983 and has earned numerous accolades, including Best Overall Riesling in New York at the 2015 New York Wine Classic.
     Long Island's terroir is conducive to growing Riesling, which thrives in cool climates, and that is what we have on Long Island. Riesling is most famous in Germany, and great Riesling is found all over the wine regions from Rheingau to Baden. The regions further north produce Rieslings with higher acidity and sometimes a leaner style. Those further south, such as the Pfalz — where my mother was born and raised— and Baden, may have lower acidity and slightly higher alcohols, in general. And so it is in New York when we compare the Rieslings of the Finger Lakes to those from Long Island. Ironically, our sandy soils are not dissimilar from those found in the Pfalz. The Finger Lakes Rieslings are more likely to resemble wines from the Mosel or Rheingau.


What will the 50th anniversary program be about?

Our 50th Anniversary celebration will be an incredible tribute to the wines and the people who make Long Island a remarkable wine region. We've got an exciting day planned on Saturday, August 19, at Peconic Bay Vineyards. During the event, we'll feature wines from more than 35 Long Island Wineries, providing guests with a unique opportunity to explore a wide range of exceptional local wines. We're also partnering with over 20 top culinary talents from the area, serving up delectable bites that perfectly complement the wines.
    What makes this celebration truly special is the emphasis on diversity. We want to showcase the various wine styles and the incredible foods cultivated on both the North and South Forks of Long Island. So, whether you're a fan of traditional methôde champénoise sparkling wine or you're intrigued by the trendy “pet-nat” varieties, we've got something to satisfy every palate. And for those who appreciate the distinctive "maritime minerality" of white wines, or seek out rare red library wine selections from our best vintages, we have dishes specially crafted to complement each wine style.
It will be a coming together of wine makers, owners, growers and Long Island wine enthusiasts. It will also be an excellent occasion for anyone new to Long Island wine to discover the wines, the people and the region. We can't wait to share this joyous occasion with everyone who attends. For any wine enthusiast interested in celebrating, tickets can be found here.



Describe some of the agro-tourism on the island. How many wineries are open to the public.

Most wineries are open to the public seven days a week in the summer and fall. Some stay open year round; some close for some of the winter months. Each winery has something special. Many offer cheese, charcuterie and other foods to be paired with the wines. Many offer tours, education opportunities, and others are pet-friendly. For anyone interested in planning a visit to the region, Long Island Wine Country has a section on the website, where visitors can search for winery options, things to do in the area, restaurants, lodging, and events. 


Finding L.I. wines is not that easy in stores or restaurants because so much of those wines produced are sold at the wineries. Will this change? 

This is based on each winery’s business model. A small winery that can sell most of what it produces at retail is unlikely to venture into the wholesale market if it hasn’t done so already. On the other hand, if such a winery is looking to grow, this is one avenue for growth. Several wineries are either self-distributed in New York with a significant retail presence on Long Island and New York City and others through bigger distributors.


Is there a campaign to sell more L.I. wines at stores and restaurants?

Yes, we have started hosting a perennial “portfolio tasting” of Long Island wines, trying to bring all the wines of the region under one roof for members of the trade to sample and evaluate. There is still more work to be done on this front. Long Island is a very small wine region and we have limited marketing resources. But providing a forum where buyers can be exposed to our wines on a regular basis continues to be a top priority.


Is there much international interest in L.I. wines? Any investors? 

Again, Long Island is a very small wine region and so the interest could be considered proportional to the scale. Long Island wines are exported to countries such as the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Canada, and there may be more that I am missing. There have been several transactions in recent years in which Long Island wineries have sold to new owners. Shinn Estate (now Rosehill) and Croteaux sold to Randy Frankel. Laure Lake Vineyards, which was owned by a group of Chilean investors, sold to television personality Dan Abrams, who has renamed it Ev & Em. The Rivero Gonzales family, which owns and operates a winery in Mexico, acquired what is now RGNY (formerly Martha Clara). And one local winery, Paumanok, bought another, Palmer. This was not the first time this happened. Years ago Macari Vineyards acquired what used to be Galluccio Family Wineries. 


Since real estate is so expensive in Long Island, especially the Hamptons, is there still land for sale for new development of a winery? Are sections zoned only for agriculture ?

Yes, even with intense development pressure, there are still over 30,000 acres of farmland on Eastern Long Island. Vineyards represent about 10% of that, so there is room to grow. We operate in a unique real estate market, because we are surrounded by water. So increasing the supply of real estate (by pushing into another county in other parts of the country) is not an option, and so when demand is high, the price goes up. Land values are expensive and new entrants to the business must be well-funded as this is a very capital-intensive business. And, of course, an investment in a Long Island vineyard and winery is as much about the real estate as the wine business itself. However, there is still a pathway to profitability for those with well-thought-out business models.






"With the anticipation of several hot new menu items, heartwarming cuisine creations and additions of some incredible top chefs, Coloradans are chomping at the bit to see what’s coming down the pipe. Here’s the inside scoop on what’s going to make our mouths water this summer.—Kerrie Lee Brown, “What's Cookin’” Colorado Expressions (7/23).


 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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