Virtual Gourmet

  September 24, 2023                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Cohen's Chicken on a Tray, Junction City, Kansas




By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani


        The Living Daylights (1987) was the first James Bond movie to star Timothy Dalton, who seemed more self-absorbed and had less natural wit than Sean Connery, George Lazenby or Roger Moore before him.
         Only the beginning of the film’s plot had anything to do with Ian Fleming’s short story “The Living Daylights,” which was published in the Sunday Times on February 4, 1962. In the story Bond is assigned to help a colleague named “272” escape East Berlin by eliminating a KGB assassin named “Trigger” trying to prevent it. Bond sets up his shooting position on the edge of the border where 272 is supposed to cross. Bond spots a beautiful blonde cellist who is part of a visiting orchestra, who turns out to be Trigger. But 007 cannot bring himself to kill her, so he only shoots her weapon from her hand, allowing 272 to make his crossing. For his action, Bond hopes that M will not take away his 007 status.

         Given the story’s starkness, there’s no gourmandism exhibited, only mention of his drinking Haig & Haig Scotch before going to his shooting perch.
    Returning to an earlier form, the film was free from much of the gadgetry and outer space fantasy of recent Roger Moore episodes, spending more time on the characters themselves in exotic locales. It begins with a chase scene in Gibraltar with Bond fighting on top of a truck and escaping by parachute onto a yacht in  the sea below, where a woman in a bikini drinking Champagne is speaking on the phone, saying “All the men here are so boring,” just as Bond lands, pours himself a glass and checks in
with MI6 on her phone.
       Bond is assigned to help KGB General Georgi Koskov to defect, but finds the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov from escaping is a beautiful cellist in Bratislava, then part of Czechoslovakia. The concert hall is actually the Volskoper in Vienna. Bond shoots the rifle from her hands and smuggles Koskov out. Bond takes him to an MI6 safe house  at Blayden House (right), bringing along a hamper from Harrod’s Food Hall of caviar, foie gras and Bollinger RD, for which Koskov says, “As Russians say, hearts and stomachs good comrades make.” When Bond’s superior, M, gets the bill, he is shocked. Bond explains, “the brand on the list was questionable, sir, so I chose something else.”
         Koskov tells MI6 that the Russian spy sector SMERSH has been re-activated by General Leonid Pushkin. He is then re-captured by a Russian agent at Blayden House, and Bond is sent to kill Pushkin in Tangier, where he finds that Koskov’s defection had been faked.
         Bond returns to Bratislava to find the cellist, Kara Milovy (Maryam D’Abo), is Koskov’s girlfriend. She agrees to go with 007 to Vienna to kill Koskov. They are pursued by Soviet agents on skis until they can cross the safe border into Austria
         Meanwhile, Koskov meets arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) at his villa (using the Forbes Museum as a location) in Tangier to cancel a KGB arms order. In Vienna Bond and Kara meet at the Café Prater in Prater Park and they go on the same Ferris wheel used in The Third Man movie. They then stay at the
Hotel Im Palais Schwartzenberg (below) in Vienna and attend a Mozart contest at the Palace Theater.   
He meets an MI6 colleague named Saunders, who tells of the Koskov-Whitaker connection and then is killed by a SMERSH henchman named Necros. Bond and Kara fly to Tangier and meet Pushkin at the Île de France Opéra Hotel. Bond meets Felix Leiter onboard a boat outside the marina, where Felix pours them Jack Daniels.
Pushkin manages to get Bond to join him in getting Koskov, but also tells Kara that Bond is actually a KGB agent and gets her to drug Bond’s martini (made with Stolichnaya) in his suite. Koskov and Kara fly the captive 007 to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan, where Koskov betrays Kara and imprisons her with Bond. They escape and free another prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen, who are fighting Koskov for stealing profits from an opium sale, which Koskov will use to buy arms from Whitaker.
         With the Mujahideen's help, Bond plants a bomb aboard and hides in a cargo plane carrying the opium. The Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback, and Kara drives a Jeep into the plane’s cargo hold as Bond takes off, but he is attacked by Necros and manages to throw him from the plane. Bond activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, helping the Mujahideen against the Russians. Just as the plane crashes into a mountain, Bond and Kara escape in the Jeep with a parachute. Upon landing in the desert, Bond sees a sign for Karachi and says, “I know a good restaurant in Karachi.”
        Bond and Felix return to Tangier to kill Whitaker, and arrest Pushkin,   to be sent back to Moscow. Later, Kara is the solo cellist in a Vienna performance, where Bond meets her for a romantic evening.






                                                                                        Mercer Hotel

                                                                                      99 Prince Street


                                                                                    By John Mariani
                                                                          Photos by Teddy Wolff


         Set foot any night of the week in the new Sartiano's, a subterranean Soho Italian restaurant in the Mercer Hotel, and you will be disabused of the current media’s imbecile claim that “no one wants to eat like this anymore.” Truth is, Sartiano's, like many upscale restaurants, will be packed, even on a late summer weeknight. Given its shadowy, flickering, sexy lighting, roomy booths, excellent brickwork, a 20-foot bar of Carrara marble and a pink Himalayan salt display, you might think it would attract a fickle, transitory glam crowd—the staff itself is dressed in blue sharkskin suits with navy satin lapels. Maybe so, but once tasted, the food is what brings people back to this vibrant restaurant that seems to define what fine dining has evolved into being in 2023. 
This is a project of Bond Hospitality, and its founder, Neapolitan-born architect Scott Sartiano's, had the good sense to hire Alfred Portale as culinary director, along with executive chef Chris Lewnes. Portale is one of New York’s most respected chefs among peers, having established Gotham Bar and Grill in 1984 as among the city’s finest restaurants for thirty-five years. His mastery of technique comes from stints with Michel Guérard, the Troisgros brothers and Jacques Maximin, and he is author of three cookbooks. After leaving Gotham, he opened his own very successful Portale restaurant four years ago.
Sartiano's is, like every new restaurant these days, very loud, and there’s no reason to pipe in throbbing techno music. The service staff is genial, and sommelier Daniel Vannatter is an exuberant fellow who loves telling you about the wines he chooses (if you wish) and why they are special to the impressive, mostly Italian  list.
         The breads and focaccia with whipped ricotta ($10) are excellent, and, at the top of the menu, a cannolo  (below) filled with mascarpone cheese, chives and Pacific Northwest white sturgeon roe ($48) sets a style of what’s to follow, like the silky crudo of yellowfin with lemon, basil and crispy farro grain ($28). A fritto misto of calamari, rock shrimp, zucchini and fennel ($26) is as light and good as at Portale, as are the hearty meatballs with ricotta and velvety Parmigiano fonduta to be scooped up with crostini ($21).
         How, then, in a city of so many superb Italian restaurants, does Sartiano’s differ? It doesn’t need to, because it simply competes with the very best; you needn’t get wildly creative when you’ve perfected pastas like the paccheri (below) with meatballs, sausage and short ribs, standing like the pillars supporting Venice. The dish is $64, but, believe me, a party of four can enjoy this as a primi course. Agnolotti are stuffed with buffalo milk ricotta and dressed with a simple but first-rate tomato and basil sauce ($29). I did find that one evening’s 12-layer lasagna was a bit dry ($29).
         There are several steak cuts available, and while I am not much of a fan of wagyu, which is so often too much fat and too little lean, the  Australian wagyu zabuton, cut from the outer side of the chuck eye roll, was superb; rich, to be sure, but also with a fine beef flavor, and at $68 for ten ounces, about the same as you’d pay for a NY strip or ribeye elsewhere. Veal milanese, at $75, was a steep price, although it had flavor and the right crispiness of breading. Branzino was impeccably cooked. Dover sole is served piccata ($68) in a rollatine of thin slices.
        Desserts ($15) are quite traditional, but done with true refinement. You’ll enjoy the fruited panna cotta with a crisp caramel crust, the individual tiramisù and especially the six big, tender bomboloni.
     I must mention that since one month ago, some of Sartiano's prices have risen.  I long ago gave up any thought of there being a surfeit of Italian restaurants in New York because it has always been a city foremost for its Italian food, and, while menus are similar—as they are in Italy—the stye, décor, hospitality and the flair of the chef make the best of the new entries much sought out and appealing. Sartiano’s adds measurably to that landscape with a striking décor, excellent cuisine in generous portions and the Italian vitality that makes eating out a joy.

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


By  John Mariani


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



         Upon arriving at their hotel Katie and David found Janós Frankel waiting for them in the lobby at 9:15.
         “You got my message!” said Katie.
         “Yes, I checked when the plane arrived and came here. Good flight? Hungry?” His English was excellent, with a slight British lilt characteristic of Europeans who had learned English in school.
         “Famished,” said David. “If it’s okay with you, Katie, mind if we just leave our luggage with the bellman and check in later?”
         Katie said that was fine, so the three of them set off in a taxi. Katie and David could tell little about the city during the ride from the airport but noted it looked rather dark, especially for a Friday night. The only sign of nightlife near the hotel was the glow of a neon sign set above the door of a strip club called La Dolce Vita. Getting a better sense of the city would have to wait for the next day. Fortunately, the hotel was within sight of the city’s Chain Link Bridge (above), spanning the Danube and fairly well lighted. From there they could see the old town of Buda set against a deep blue winter’s sky.
         Frankel seemed to be in his early thirties, tall, thin, fair-haired, with a trimmed beard and wire-rimmed glasses. He wore bluejeans and a tweed jacket with a wool scarf tied the way David had seen everyone in Europe tie one, looped in a double fold.  David liked the way it looked but didn’t think he could carry it off back home.
      They arrived at a restaurant named Remiz (right), which Frankel said opened at the turn of the century but went into decline during the Soviet occupation and had been restored by new owners around 1992, when Hungary became free again. Katie and David could see that there was a garden patio and gazebo, closed for the winter, and the dining room was well lighted and seemed full of people. The entrance was framed by two pillars mounted with a bright red sign with the restaurant’s name.
         Frankel was greeted like a favored regular, and he in turn introduced Katie and David as friends from America, which seemed to make the host very happy because the owners, a family called Meződi, were trying to build a tourist clientele. They were given a fine table draped in good linens within a room of modern Secessionist décor and walls hung with black and white photos, none of which was familiar to the Americans.
         Frankel said, “The family originally just wanted a pastry café but demand grew so fast for restaurants after the Soviets left that they turned it into what you see now. Before that there were no restaurants in Budapest worth eating at. The Soviets determined the menu, which was almost identical in every eating place, the wines were terrible because the Soviets ripped out all the old vineyards, and, for a café culture that once prided itself on service, the old ways died out. Dinner could take hours to eat because the waiters took their time getting the food out of an under-manned kitchen. But there are a lot of new places opening now—not all as good as Remiz, but getting better because the variety and amount of food now coming into the markets is much better than it was. By the way, you should try to visit the old Central Market. It is huge by any standards and there’s now plenty to see.”
         Frankel suggested he order the meal, which was fine with the hungry Americans, who had already started in on the very good bread and butter. Frankel called over the waiter, speaking Hungarian, and ordered an array of appetizers like beef and goose soup, toast slathered with goose liver, and grilled sheep’s cheese with cranberries. For the main course he ordered paprika-scented roast chicken (above), a crisp pork knuckle with roasted potatoes, and breast of duck with wide noodles and braised cabbage.  To accompany it all Frankel ordered two Hungarian wines he said were good modern examples of the country’s viniculture, a white named furmint and a red named Egri Bikavér, “bull’s blood.”
         Katie and David were amazed at the amount of food presented—David had no complaints—and the overall quality, although it was definitely heavy, rich in fats and gravies. 
“So, you have an appointment with Toth on Friday?” said Frankel. “I consider that quite a coup! Whatever you and your editor said to his people must have convinced Toth he’ll get a very favorable article on him. He’ll twist it all his own way, of course, but to get into an American magazine as a major player in Europe feeds his ego.”
         “Well, our problem is we only have a half hour with him,” said Katie. “Not much time to get to where we need to go.”
         “If he thinks you’re really interested in his achievements, he’ll probably give you more time. He did with me. And right now he needs all the good publicity he can get.”
         “Why’s that?” asked David.
         “As I told you on the phone—and you may know more about all this than I do—Toth is a leftover from the Soviet era. They enabled him to go through the bureaucracy to where he is today, and his indebtedness to the Soviets was huge. Believe me, Toth made a lot of money for a lot of commissars. But then, when the Soviets left, Toth hasn’t had quite the same support from Russia. He’s managed to stay at the top of the company because he is still useful, but I’m sure the majority of the company is held by the Russians—many of them the same people as before, but now I’ve heard rumors those same people are mounting pressure on Toth for a bigger cut of the operations.”
         “But now that Hungary is free of Soviet domination and Hungary Pharm is a western-style corporation, how much can the Russians interfere?”
         Frankel paused for a moment and ordered dessert.
         “The Soviets moved out of all their former socialist republics, but the Russians never really did. The old guard of the USSR works exactly like the Mafia, which is everywhere in Europe and America, too, eh David?”
         “Oh yeah,” said the former detective. “It was my life’s work to stamp out as many as I could.”
         “And David was very good at it,” added Katie.
         “Well, then you know that the cockroaches never really disappear. Some launder money, others are silent partners, even owners, of former Soviet satellite companies. The KGB just changed its name to FSS. They’re still the same thugs.”
         “We’ve have a little experience with that,” said Katie.
         “So, the Russians have a majority stake in Hungary Pharm.  I even hear that their brand new Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, is one of them. You heard of him? Ex-KGB head. Very dangerous man. So if people like Putin and his cronies move against Toth, he may well be toppled. And if your article shows the world what a magnificent entrepreneur and philanthropic saint he is, he will have a good deal more clout to keep his position and his part of the company.”
         The desserts came—a lavish, cream-rich chocolate cake and an apple strüdel—with which Frankel ordered an intensely sweet Hungarian wine called Tokaji, which he said was once considered the greatest of Hungarian wines but whose vineyards had only in the past five years begun to be restored.
         By then it was eleven o’clock and the dining room began emptying out. Katie and Frankel turned to shop talk. David again felt sidelined by all the chatter about the news business, but Frankel also proved very interested in David’s work in the NYPD, so the trio lingered over the coffee and wine until midnight.
         “So what are you two doing tomorrow?” asked Frankel. “I have a story to finish by noon but after that we can meet and I can show you a little of my city. We are not quite ready to be a five-star tourist town, but we’re coming along. Your hotel is the best we’ve got at the moment—it’s the only one that doesn’t allow the prostitutes to hang out in the lobby—but there’s a lot of investment coming in now and they are restoring the old Grand Hotel Royal, which should be wonderful, if it ever re-opens. I’ll also show you where Toth’s headquarters are.”
    Katie and David were happy to be shown around town and agreed to meet Frankel at one o’clock.  Then they returned to the hotel, checked into their rooms and by the time Katie finished writing up her notes, David had already been in a deep sleep for an hour.


John Mariani, 2016




By John Mariani

Vazisubani Estate


        As one of the world’s oldest wine-producing regions, Georgia, like all countries under Soviet domination, suffered a devastating demise in viticulture. Today, however, the country has not only revamped its vineyards but is producing wines that can compete in a global market. I interviewed Lado Uzunashvili (left), chief winemaker for Vazisubani Estate, one of Georgia's most modern and largest, on the current state of the industry in Georgia.


When did winemaking first begin in Georgia? What does “qvevri” mean? Is it still used?

The scientific evidence says that Georgia is the birthplace of Vitis Vinifera, the grape family on which the modern international wine industry stands firm. The evidence also indicates that we have the Western Georgian origin as well as the Eastern Georgian Origin of Vitis Vinifera from the same period in history, thus proving that there was no opportunity for these species to be introduced to our country from other sites. Furthermore, the latest article makes Israel (and the wider area of Levant) our contemporary partner, for that period of time, in the adaptation of Vitis Vinifera 9,000 years ago. With the increased popularity and demand of wine, large ceramic  vessels called qvevri (right) also must have grown. To keep them intact, and otherwise save them from collapsing under their own weight, qvevris were put into the ground; you could hide your wine from intruders, which our country has had in great numbers. The process has survived for 8,000 years and is still used today on an even bigger scale than perhaps any other time before, due to the increasing popularity of the wine made in qvevri, as well as increasing popularity of Georgia as a destination for unique wine and tremendously diverse and delicious cuisine.


What are Georgia’s indigenous varieties?

We have 525 native varieties still surviving the test of history. Out of this, to my best knowledge, up to 70 now are commercially grown, while we add more to the list. Names are really new to the world and in some cases need huge efforts to memorize and even more to pronounce them, for example, Saperavi, Saperavi Budeshuri, Shavkapito, Otskhanuri Sapere, Tavkveri, Tamaris Vazi, Simoaseuli for reds; and Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Khikhvi, Kisi, Mstvivani, Grdzelmtevana, etc. for whites.


Can you give me the background on Vazisubani Estate?


In the 1800s, this splendid estate belonged to a renowned nobleman,  Sulkhan Chavchavadze. A pioneer in winemaking, he built the estate and vineyards in 1891. His contribution to the cultural and educational development in Georgia, particularly Kakheti, is paramount. With time Chavchavadze’s once-prosperous palace and vineyards deteriorated. In 2013 the visionaries behind Vazisubani Estate took it in their hands to revive the derelict estate and transform it into an iconic destination rooted in its rich history, uninterrupted winemaking tradition, exceptional cuisine and outstanding hospitality. With that in mind, the vineyards were replanted, and an old wine cellar was restored. The palace was renovated and now is a 19-room exquisite boutique hotel (above).


What happened when the Soviets took over?

With the invasion of Soviet Russia in 1921, first they destroyed the family, even the family dog. Today we have no traces of the family burial site. The estate was then changed into a varietal collection field under the newly created Research Institute of Viticulture and Winemaking during that notorious time. This lasted 77 years. With the collapse of the USSR, it was privatized and then re-sold to the current owners in 2014. This is the year when its new and impressive life starts.


When were the vineyards restored? 

We immediately cleaned badly maintained remains of the vines and we replanted them in 2015 and 2016, covering the total of 33 hectares under 6 varieties:

                 Saperavi and Saperavi Budeshuri reds, considered the future of red wines not only in Georgia.

                 Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Khikhvi and Kisi, the best known leaders, as well as the most adapted to the area. For example, Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane are essentials for the local Controlled Appellation of Origin.


Now we have a perfect local, aboriginal tool to deliver the most authentic wines the way we have done it for the last 8,000 years, as well as to give the international modern-style wines from the same varieties. In doing so we use our qvevri cellar and the state-of-art winery, which we built in 2020.


How has it been developed for tourism?


Ideally located at the foothills of the Caucasian Mountain range within a 2-hour drive from the capital, Vazisubani Estate is surrounded by vineyards stretched over 33 hectares and a magnificent parkland, home to some of the oldest and rarest tree species. Since 2014 we have been creating a place, a home away from home, where people come to relive the history, savor the estate wine, reconnect with nature and one’s self, celebrate life and be part of a memorable experience.


What are the current different labels (categories)?


The company produces three product lines:

                 Traditional qvevri wines under Vazisubani Estate

                 Modern style wines under Estate Collection

                 Unique blends that are unusual to the industry under Georgian Sun


To where are they exported, and how much of the wine remains in Georgia? 

Wines of Vazisubani Estate are exported to 22 countries—from Brazil to USA and Canada, from the UK to Baltics across the EU, also to some other former USSR countries and finally in the Far East, Japan and China. We sell 60% of our 200,000-bottle production abroad, while offering only the remaining 40% locally. Georgia is a small country for bottled wine sales. It becomes even smaller if we take into consideration the fact of how Georgians see the wine phenomenon: “The wine I make is the best of all.” Thus, most people, who have even a slight link to grapes, or have such an interest, make their own wine for home consumption. It is worth mentioning that we observe Georgia’s genetic, inherited love to guests behind this. They must serve guests wine, as they think guests represent the gods themselves. Although this has changed into modern perceptions, they are still happy to use this tradition to make life cheerful and beautiful.


How has the war in Ukraine affected the estate? 

The war in Ukraine affected all sides of our lives, naturally. The estate is not an exception. What we observe is the changing demography of the visitors, as well as the changing numbers of them. Geography of our sales has been very diverse. War in Ukraine tells us to diversify our markets even further, accentuating on the Western and Asian markets. The demand on Georgian wine is increasing everywhere in the world,  and this is giving us a very good chance to supply more since the image of our wines is very high.


The website says there are now 100,000+ family wineries in Georgia as of 2019. What allowed this huge growth to happen?

The answer is so very short. It is the wine culture which is sitting in our genes historically that allowed this huge growth to happen. That number does not necessarily refer to wineries but to family cellars, which is a very familiar phenomenon to our country. The growth is also seen thanks to the easing regulations for the small players to come into the game, thus the government helping this part of our life to become as strong as it historically deserves.


What are the prospects for increased production?


We have reached 200,000-bottle sales last year and still have a capacity of 150,000 additional bottles to produce, thanks to the production potential of our vineyards.


At a time when the global market is flooded with wine, how can Georgia make progress in the international marketplace?


I think Georgia is a unique case and this is what attracts people to our wines. When we say:

                 Our qvevri is 8,000 years old with its unbroken tradition recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

                 We have 525 aboriginal grape varieties (down from 1,400) in this tiny country

                 We are recognized as the birthplace of the first cultured grapevine—Vitis Vinifera, the base of the modern wine industry of the world

All these things drive people’s emotions very deeply. Immediately you have friends for life. They want to hear all these unusual stories about how essential grapes and grape products are for our lifestyle for all these millennia. We make not only wine from grape juice, but also an array of other delicious products which are full of nutrition for energizing the human body.


How has climate change affected the wineries?

As you may imagine, we are also affected by the changing climate. As elsewhere in the world, descriptives for our Controlled Appellation Zones are changing, and this is a big dilemma for the producers to persuade buyers. However, more and more people understand that it is inevitable and we have to face this change. Nature dictates! We can only study its new ways of behavior and in the best case scenario, manage to adapt to its demands. Though, so far, we look a lot better than other wine regions, for example, famous France. Our varieties with their oldest genes show exceptional adaptability. While talking to our colleagues in other countries, we jointly think that, for example, Saperavi (red) can save many regions of the world by replanting vineyards, or using it as a powerful blending tool next to their current varieties. I am sure we can find something similar among Georgian whites as well, thus the place of Vitis Vinifera origins helping other regions to regain their resilience once again to produce those exceptional wines. Humans are quick learners,  and this time too we will hopefully find our way to minimize climate effects.



"In a common version of the infinite monkey theorem, an infinite number of monkeys hitting the keys on a typewriter at random would “almost surely” bang out the works of William Shakespeare given an extraordinary amount of time — but almost certainly would not do it in anything resembling a human lifetime. The concept has been used across disciplines: in statistical mechanics to demonstrate the generation of random text, but also in philosophy to illustrate how art is not made by accident — even if a monkey managed to randomly type out Hamlet, it would not be in order to communicate the story of Hamlet. A monkey would not come up with Hamlet because Hamlet requires imagination, critical thinking, and intent. I believe the same applies to loaded mashed potatoes served in martini glasses at weddings."  Eater



 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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© copyright John Mariani 2023