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TO DINE IN PARIS AS THE PARISIANS
DO by John Mariani
CORNER: The Oak Room by John Mariani
THE WINE CELLAR: Is It A Good Time to Auction Your
Wines? by John Mariani
WHERE TO DINE IN
PARIS AS THE
by John Mariani
"Moulin de la Galette" (1876) by Renoir
in the good old days—last summer—a Champagne-fueled business meal at a
Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris seemed a requisite. Now, however,
a business meal is more likely to take place in a new or old reliable
bistro where what’s left of expense accounts still goes a long way.
And since the US dollar did gain ground
on the euro, a meal that might have cost $75 last January now costs
about $60-$65. And the 2008 Michelin
Guide to Paris
lists scores of “Bib Gourmand” restaurants
serving “quality cuisine” for a maximum price of 35 euros.
On a trip to Paris last month this month
I sought out places that business people pack at lunch and dinner to
see how far my US dollar would go for quality cuisine. (It was running
$1.27 to the euro then, it is $1.31 as I wrote.) Traditionally menu
prices are the same at
lunch and dinner, though some restaurants are now offering special
deals at midday. I ate very well indeed, keeping with modest wines.
Unless the dollar sinks badly, current
prices at these very popular
Parisian restaurants are in every way competitive with their
counterparts in New York, Chicago, or Boston--with one exception: In
Paris the tax and service are included in the price of the dish, so you
need not tip one extra euro when you pay the check.
Café Moderne is open for lunch and
Rue Notre Dame des Victoires
011-33 (0) 1 53 40 84 10
My first stop was
opened in 2003 but since last summer wholly owned by Frederic Hubig and
his beautiful wife Claudia Hubig-Schall, who last month brought in Chef
LeFrançois from the Hotel Astor.
Located just across from the old Bourse,
Café Moderne has been redecorated
to reflect its name, a long, sleek room with brown and cream-colored
walls, orange banquettes, blond wood floor, and black-and-white food
and wine photos.
At midday there is a two-course 30€ euro
meal, at night a 5-course dinner at 39. I chose from the à la
menu, which was full of superb modern ideas like a tartlet of tender petit gris snails with a
compote of red onions (12€); duck foie gras
with dried fruits and pumpkin chutney (16€); and a rich chestnut
with a mushroom croquette (11€). Main courses included tender, quickly
roasted sea scallops with endives and sliced hazelnuts (27€); shoulder
of lamb confit with shallots
and a parsnip mousseline scented with thyme and citron (24€); and a
breast of guinea hen with roasted salsify (23€). We ended off with a
sweetly caramelized apple-rhubarb tart infused with verbena (12€) and
classic millefeuilles puff
pastry with bourbon-laced vanilla cream
(12€). The winelist is excellent and hoplds plenty of bottlings
If there was ever a place that
epitomized the French term savoir-faire, Café Moderne is it, and
owners have plenty of it so that they are working hard to make everyone
feel very welcome, not least Americans--the owners speaks impeccable
1 Rue de Mail
My second meal was at an
old favorite, as old–fashioned as Café
Moderne is of the moment: Chez Georges on the Rue de Mail is a
quintessential Parisian bistro, with typical décor of a zinc
bar, maroon leather banquettes, antique mirrors, and art nouveau
touches. In a word, it bustles, and it is crammed in the
most frenetically delightful way. The fleet-footed, veteran waitresses
are in no
chitchat--English is rudimentary among them but they get their point
across--and they seem to know everyone in the place. So do not assume
just walk into Chez Georges without a rez.
The menu hasn’t changed in years,
and the best-priced regional wines are scribbled on the side of the
menu, like the sturdy Loire Valley Chinon (26€), which was perfect with
our starters of peppery frisée salad topped with a quail egg
(11€), a creamy chicken liver terrine (11€), and a quart-sized crock of
fatted rabbit rillettes (11€)
from which you scoop out as much as you like, spread it on toasted
bread, pop a gherkin into your mouth, and know you are in the belly of
Paris food culture.
Grilled lamb chops with green beans (26€) were
skimpier than I remember them in past visits, but the sole “Georges” (35€) was
magnificent—a huge portion of sole fillets in a pond of buttery cream
sauce dotted with tarragon.
Deserts include a velvety chocolate
fondant with mandarin orange (10€), crisp tarte Tatin (10€), and a plate of
frumpy-looking but delicious profiteroles
drowning in bittersweet chocolate sauce (10€). You go out feeling
brighter, a little woozy from the wine, thinking that in Paris the old
canard that "le plus ça
change. . ." really is
true in places like Chez Georges.
(By the way, the Chez Georges on
Boulevard Perèire is wholly unrelated.)
Chez Georges is open for lunch and dinner
5 place de l’Alma
011-33-(0)-1-53 67 97 53
If you find
yourself meeting for business or pleasure around the Champs
Elysée, perhaps staying at the Four Seasons George V on Avenue
George V, there is a fine seafood
restaurant on the street called Marius
et Janette, with its ship's ceiling, fish lures, and hanging
swordish. For great meats,
however, step right across the street to DeVéz, which I found
a cold Sunday afternoon, including the heated terrace that allows a
good view of Paris’ passing parade.
The décor is dated and somewhat
drab--brown wood, brown curtains, bare brown tables— but the
waitresses, dressed in black,
are young, very amiable, and get by with moderst English.
You come here for one thing—beef
from the famous grass-fed Aubrac cattle from a town of the same name in
southern France. DeVéz offers several cuts, along with a hearty,
wine-dark beef stew (20€) with huge chunks of sweet carrots. I loved
the chewy, mineral-rich flavor of a thick rump steak with pale yellow
Béarnaise (22€), and, as if to show the French can make a great
hamburger, DeVéz offers “Le
Aubrac” (18.50€)—two inches of ground meat on a bakery bread
roll with soft onions and terrific frites
on the side. They even bring
a bottle of Heinz ketchup to the table.
Start off with one of the best onion
soups (10€) in Paris, bubbling with thick Gruyère cheese and
onions. And as long as you’re going overboard with calories, order the
incredibly rich aligot—-potatoes
whipped with garlic and a lavish
amount of Cantal cheese so that it becomes a stringy, hot, gooey mass
of goodness. The winelist is strong in bottlings from the Rhône
and Languédoc. Skip dessert, which will probably not cross your
DeVéz is open daily for
FEW MORE PARISIAN RESTAURANTS THAT WON'T
BUST THE AMERICAN BUDGET
by Sean Cronin
Lyonnais--32 Rue Saint
Marc; 01 42 96 65 04--This amiable French
bistro has been around since 1890 but for
several years now has been under the ownership of Alan
Ducasse. As you’d expect from its name, this
comfortable old bistro specializes in the cuisine of the area around
Lyon. About 50 seats, with a high tin
ceiling and chandeliers, a black-and-white tile floor with the
patina of decades of convivial meals. Sample prices: Pig’s ears in
brioche, €12; Charcuterie Lyonnais
platter, €14; Roast
guinea fowl, €21; Desserts - €10 or €11.
La Rôtisserie d’ en Face--2 rue Christine; 01 43 26 40 98--It sits on a small,
narrow street in the chic, funky, Saint Germaine de Pres area on the
Left Bank of the Seine The restaurant, owned by Jacques Cagna, is
cheery, warm and inviting with off white walls, wooden tables,
tile floors, and red and gold banquettes, all bathed in soft yellow
prices: Pâté chicken liver salad, €13; Casserole
with Burgundy snails, €13; Duck fois gras, €13; Rabbit
casserole with kidney, €22; Spit-roasted free range chicken with
mashed potatoes, €22; Desserts, €10.
NEXT WEEK: The Glory that Still Is Haute Cuisine in Paris
L’ Ami Georges--5 rue du Quatre September; 01 42 97 48 80--Unrelated to Chez
Georges above, L’ Ami Georges is in another Cagna bistro and
serves people who live and work in the in the 2nd
Arrondissement It’s the kind of place where you can
just walk in, sit down and have nice meal, lunch or diner, at a very
reasonable price. Sample prices: Fois gras pâté,
soup, €6.50; Lamb shank orientale, €16.
Fifth Avenue & Central Park South
Room photos by Sari Goodfriend
I doubt there is a more
fabled hotel in America than The Plaza, which has turned over many
times since opening in 1907. Originally
designed by Henry Hardenbergh, with an addition in 1932 by Warren &
Wetmore, the grand hotel combined Edwardian posh with the style of a
French château, offering rooms at the opening for $2.50 a night. The current owners are the Saudi-based Elad
Properties and Kingdom Holdings, and managed, since 1999, by Fairmont
Hotels & Resorts; rack rate for the 2822 guest rooms now start at
$595 a night, but the building is now principally a condo.
Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby,
and his own antics while staying at The Plaza gave the stately hotel a
Roaring Twenties raffishness, and later the children's book Eloise at the Plaza (1965) by Kay
Thompson bestowed an urban fantasy upon the vast hotel, echoed in the
1990 movie "Home Alone." Indeed, several movie scenes have been set in
the hotel, from Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" (1959) and "The Way We
Were" (1973) to "Plaza Suite" (1971) and even "Crocodile Dundee"
(1986). The hotel is now designated as a City Landmark.
The "men's bar" (for decades off limits
to women) is called the Oak Bar, adjacent to the Oak Room dining room,
which, with its baronial wood-paneled walls, barrel-vaulted ceiling,
and murals of German castle fitted into arched niches, has always been
among the grandest restaurants in America's palatial hotels.
Today most all of the rest have been turned into banquet rooms; indeed,
only operating hotel restaurants with the Oak Room's level of opulence
I can think of are the Palace Arms in the Brown Palace in Denver, The
Oak Room at the Seelbach in Louisville, and The French Room at The
Adolphus in Dallas. (Any others I'm forgetting?).
The renovation of the Oak Room has been
done with great care and with the City's Landmarks Commission looking
over the architect's shoulder. The only problem is that the
lighting in the room is dull, casting not a gregarious glow but a
funereal solemnity to this gorgeous room. I was told that the problems
lie with the owners' being handicapped by the Landmarks Commission's
dictates that none of the original work be damaged in any way.
Still, I'm sure a creative lighting consultant could bring much more
vitality into the room. (The Oak Bar, by the way, is even
darker.) All really popular restaurants have a level of lighting
that allows guests to see other guests, coming and going, and light, by
its very nature, brings gaiety into a large room.
Which is exactly what Chef Joël
Antunes' beautiful cuisine does for the palate at The Oak Room. I
have known Antunes' work since he was at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead,
then when he opened his (still running) Joël in Atlanta. Before
that he had trained widely in prestigious restaurants like Troisgros in
Roanne, Paul Bocuse in Lyons, and the Hôtel Negresco in
Nice, furthering his expertise with stints in Thailand, Japan,
Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Beverage Director Joshua
Nadel, formerly of NYC's Cru and Veritas, has drawn up a very
fine 700-selection winelist overseen by There is a sufficient
number of good bottlings under $50, but most prices are well north of
that, with scores of wines well above $100.
The tablesettings are first rate, the service
itself friendly, and the reception cordial. The
menu itself is, no doubt about it, expensive, with starters running
$18-$58 and main courses $38-$59, a troublesome range in a troubled
economy. O.K., you are
paying for the room, and Antunes'
ingredients are first rate, but squash risotto with black truffles and
Parmesan cheese--a delicious dish--may be a little hard to swallow at
We began with a big-eye tuna
tartar with melon and Japanese dressing, wonderfully flavorful if not
unusual these days in New York, but even though foie gras terrine may
also be ubiquitous, Antunes shows his flawless French technique to a
fare-thee-well with a textbook example of what such a dish should
be--creamy, rich, tasting truly of the foie gras itself, enhanced with
raisins, red wine apple puree, and grilled country bread. Ricotta
ravioli with a barigoule of
artichokes was lustrous, and lasagna with sunchoke puree and truffles a
memorable rendering. Nantucket bay scallops (at $21, a
bargain) came in a refined truffle broth.
Among the five fish dishes, I loved the Dover sole--nice
and fat--with a confit of potato, artichokes and lush brown butter.
Halibut, that dullest of seafish, took on good flavors from being baked
and served with assertively tangy preserved lemon and rosemary. A
roasted lamb tenderloin came with potatoes, porcini mushrooms, and a light
basil jus, while roasted
pheasant, with a pleasingly light gaminess, took on Mediterranean notes
from tapenade and polenta.
Except for Antunes' wonderful, signature
"cigar" of chocolate filled with tobacco cream and Armagnac ice
cream (left), the rest of the
desserts are conservative but classically delicious, including a
praline cream and lime sorbet, a moist baba au Rhum
with coffee Grand Marnier ice cream, and an old Aussie sweet that
deserves revival--coconut pineapple Pavlova with fruit sorbet.
I am so happy to see The Oak Room
back in business. With so many old hotel dining rooms turned into
dreary banquet rooms around town, the mere existence of such a splendid
example of over-the-top period taste is heartening, and Antunes is
serving a modernized version of cuisine that would not have been out of
the turn of the last century. That's a compliment at a time when
so many chefs are trying to distinguish their food with flash, not
substance. Now if the management will only turn the house lights
up and the menu prices down, The Oak Room should glow as
ever as a uniquely New York icon.
Breakfast daily; Lunch
Mon.-Fri.; Dinner nightly; Brunch Sat. & Sun.
FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Is This A Good Time to Sell Your Wines. . . Or
Bid on Some?
by John Mariani
never been much of a wine collector and I’ve run
low on reasons to
keep expensive old wines in my cellar. So, for the first time, I
thought I’d try to auction off about 20 notable old wines and be a
little more cash heavy for Christmas.
This was back in August before the global economy went south, but the
auction, through Zachys Fine Wine Retail &
Auction in Scarsdale,
NY, was held in December. Zachy’s is one of only a handful of wine
auction houses in the U.S., the others being Sotheby’s, Christie’s and
Hart Davis. I brought my wines over to Zachys retail store, they
were examined, and within a few days a contract and a print-out of each
lot’s reserve price and estimate were sent to me.
The auction was scheduled for December 4, held at Restaurant Daniel (below) in NYC,with total estimates
lots between $5,900-$9,150. One bottle, a 1961 Mouton-Rothschild,
did not meet the $800 reserve (its condition was questionable).
When the last hammer came down the total was $5,750, certainly lower
than most of the estimates, and minus a 15 percent commission. But as
far as was concerned, I was happy enough to have the money, though a
year or two ago it might have been much more.
There’s no question that wine auction sales have been down in the last
six months. In a phone interview, Peter Meltzer, author of Keys to the
Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting, told me
estimates that global wine auction sales in 2008 fell about 8 percent,
adding, “In the wake of October's financial meltdown, prices for fine
and rare wine at auction dropped an average of 30 percent, much like
other collectibles. So if you are looking to capitalize on purchases
made in the past couple of years, you may not see a good return on your
investment. In contrast, vintage classics like Chateau
Lafite-Rothschild 1990 have more than tripled in value over the past
decade, yielding a very acceptable return. In retrospect, however, this
may prove a golden opportunity to buy.”
I also interviewed Jeff Zacharia, 47, President of Zachys auction
house, about the current market and how one goes about selling one’s
wines at auction.
JM: What should a person consider
with regard to what he has to sell?
JZ: Only consider wines that make sense—high profile wines. Bordeaux
and Burgundy are the bulwarks, top Rhone wines, but really top wines
from anywhere. Champagnes and Ports are doing very well. But you’re not
going get any money trying to sell a case of 2005 New Zealand
JM: How does one begin
the process of selling one’s wines
JZ: Contact us and send a list. We will then discuss it with you, ask
how the wines are stored, how long you’ve had them, and, if it’s a
large cellar of several hundred wines, we may visit and ask to taste
some of them to see how they’ve been stored. Then, we set prices for
the lots, and if you’re comfortable with that, we will set them for an
JM: What are some of
the guidelines you use to set prices?
JZ: Prices are based on what have been selling in the near past. Prices
do vary a lot for the same wines in different auctions, which is why we
JM: Do you guarantee the soundness
of the bottles you sell?
JZ: Auctions do not offer a guarantee that the wines are sound, but we
try to be very careful.
JM: How long in advance do you need
to have the wines and how many
auctions do you hold each year?
JZ: We need the wines two months ahead of time. We hold twelve auctions
a year, most of them in New York and L.A., but one in Las Vegas and a
couple in year in Hong Kong.
JM: Would one be better off selling
in one city or another?
JZ: There may be some slight difference depending on the lots, but I
can’t say that prices are always stronger in one or the
JM: Can a person pull wines
out of the auction prior to it?
JZ: Only if we agree to it and there is usually a charge to do it. We
have to print the catalog well in advance.
JM: What percentage commission do
JZ: It depends on how much we get. The higher the estimate the lower
the percentage. It starts at 15 percent and can go down from there.
JM: Is it a good idea to attend the
auction as a seller?
JZ: Actually we encourage you NOT to attend because sellers tend to
focus on this or that lot, especially if it doesn’t sell. As a
buyer, though, it’s great because there are always values you wouldn’t
expect to get. You can also now bid live on-line.
JM: Given the current economic
conditions, is this a bad time to sell
JZ: It was better six months ago, but wine prices are still at historic
highs, though down from their peaks. How long will it be before prices
go up? I have no idea. But the wine market is still performing better
than many other markets. And for a buyer, auctions are some of the best
places to get mature wines because prices are the least expensive way
to get them—often much less than at a retail store.
Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News,
from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from
art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and
some of its articles play on the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.
THERE IS A BIG SIGN IN THE
KITCHEN SAYING "ALL EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS."
In Xenia, Ohio, aspiring musician Timothy Tackett (right) video-taped himself for his
25th birthday taking a bath at the local Burger King. Green County
Health Commissioner Mark McDonnell told WDTV-TV. "My first thought was,
oh my God, any bacteria on his skin could have
been deposited giving people food poisoning." The fast-food chain fired
everyone who appeared in the video, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com
THE WINE GEEK WRITING PRIZE GOES TO. . .
"The nose of Deutz’s 1998 Blanc de Blancs brought to mind
the sumptuously ripe and juicy Royal Riviera Pears produced and
marketed by Oregon’s Harry & David. Armed with superb richness and
depth, this wine is Puligny-Montrachet-like in its glorious pear and
floral flavors. Notes of toasty yeast appear in its exceptionally long,
silky finish. Score: 94." —Pierre Rovani, Wine Advocate.
FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up
with four excellent travel sites:
all public relations people: Owing to the amount of press releases
regarding Valentine's Day dinners, I regret that it is impossible to
list any but very special events.
* To celebrate its 50th anniversary, The Four Seasons Restaurant in
NYC is currently offering a 3-course $59 menu. Call 212-754-9494.
* Monday night is “COMFORT FOOD NIGHT” at NYC’s Artisanal Bistro and Wine Bar.
Chef-Proprietor Terrance Brennan has assembled a menu that incl.
(all priced under $20) Lamb Meatloaf and Roasted Chicken with Mashed
Potatoes. Artisanal has also introduced a new Bar Menu featuring
a Grilled Cheese Bar ($12 to $15), a one-of-a-kind Pomme Frites Menu
($9) and Amuse-Bouches. Call 212-725-8585;
* The "Menu d'Economie" at NYC's Picholine is now available in the
Dining Room Mon.-Thurs. after 9 pm and in the Cheese and Wine Bar
each night throughout the evening, featuring a dozen Tasting
Plates for $20 each. A 4-course menu also available for $72. On Monday
nights, guests can enjoy any bottle of wine, $150 or less, at half
price in the Dining Room or in the Cheese and Wine Bar. The 60 under 60
wine list is also available at the Cheese and Wine Bar. Call
* In NYC,Chef Jean-Michel Bergougnoux of L'Absinthe Brasserie-Restaurant has
created a special, 3-course menu offered through March, Mon.-Fri.
at $30.09. There a special $30.09 winelist too. Call 212-794-4950
; visit http://www.labsinthe.com.
* To celebrate his first year of service at Eighty-One, Chef Ed Brown offers a
new Winter Warming Menu available exclusively on Sunday evenings,
either two or three courses for $29 or $35. Call 212-873-8181; visit
* From Jan. 19-Feb. 30 Prism
in London will feature “All things Scottish,” incl. hot toddies
in the Prism Bar, special whisky cocktails and a tasting menu by Chef
Richard Robinson in order to celebrate the best of Scottish
produce, accompanied by whisky, selected by whisky creator and
master blender Rachel Barrie of Glenmorangie. £75 pp. Call
020 72563875. www.harveynichols.com
* The Italian Trade
Commission in collaboration with some of NYC’s finest
restaurants and wine shops will celebrate “Italian Wine Week” from Jan.
21-Feb. 1 with a special SHOP & DINE - VINO 2009 consumer
promotion: Visitors can attend a series of wine tastings and seminar
sessions featuring some of Italy's finest producers. Participating
wineshops incl. Morrell & Co., Sherry-Lehmann, and Zachy’s,
and restaurants incl. Centovini, Le Cirque, Del Posto, and I
Trulli. Visit www.italtrade.com/countries/americas/usa/newyork.
* On Jan. 20 NYC’s Chanterelle
offers a $44 all-inclusive “Welcome to the White House”
lunch featuring Chef David Waltuck’s spin on classic American food
favorites, a “Yes We Can” champagne cocktail by the mixologists of
Employees Only, and a live broadcast of Washington D.C.’s festivities
beginning at 11am. Call 212-966.6960 or email
* In Atlanta, Shaun’s
is featuring several events dinners: Jan. 21: Wine and Crystal
from R&B Cellars. $70 pp with wine pairing; Feb. 5: Whole Foods
presents wine and cheese tasting. $18/38 with wine pairings; Feb.
6: bar chef Brian Stanger and the debut of our new cocktail menu; Call
404-577-4358 ; Visit http://www.shaunsrestaurant.com.
* From Jan. 22-29 The
Peninsula Chicago will celebrate the Chinese New Year at a Shanghai Terrace special dinner
menus prepared by Chef Chi Ping Xu as well as visiting guest chefs Tony
Hu from Lao Sichuan and
Beverly Kim from Opera.
Also, tea expert Roderick Markus will
conduct a Chinese Tea Ceremony. The Lobby will feature a special
Chinese Afternoon Tea throughout the week and on Jan. 24 the
traditional Chinese Lion Dance will take place. Call 312-573-6695.
* On Jan. 25 in NYC, COCHON
555 will feature 5 chefs, 5 pigs and 5 winemakers in a
friendly competition for a cause. The chefs will each prepare a
heritage breed hog from head to toe at the Hiro Ballroom. The event is
raising awareness for Farms for City Kids. $125 pp. Visit
* On Jan. 25 "Burns' Night 2009" will be celebrated at
London’s Paternoster Chop House,
in honour of Robert Burns's 250th Birthday. For £19, guests
will be treated to Roasted Leg of Blackface lamb served with Haggis and
other dishes washed down with a dram of Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Paternoster Chop House. Call 020-7029 -9429. Visit
* On Jan. 26 in Boulder, CO, The Kitchen will hold a purveyor
dinner with Chef Hugo Matheson and Ingrid Bengis, incl. dinner
with wine, talk and a screening of the film, Fishing Voices: Insight
into the Future” at $95. Call 303-544-5973.
* Irving Mill in
NYC is teaming up with Sixpoint Brewery to offer Burger + Beer Mondays,
incl. its Irving Mill Burger from Chef Ryan Skeen, served with a
Sixpoint beer, for only $15. Beer selections will change every month or
so, and a rep from Sixpoint will be at Irving Mill on Monday, Jan 26 to
answer questions about the beers and offer additional samples. Call
* From now until Feb. 13, D and D London restaurants team up
with The Evening Standard to run an exclusive promotion with
every D&D restaurant in London offering one-off menu for Evening
Standard readers. Divided into price brackets of £10, £15,
£20 and £25, each restaurant will showcase its most popular
dishes. Guests must show two tokens from the newspaper or showing an
Eros Card: Visit www.danddlondon.com.
* On Jan. 26 celebrate Australia Day at Bondi Road (212-253-5311) and the Sunburnt Cow! (212-529-0005)
Restaurants in NYC, with an early “Drunken Brunch” followed by
their famous “Two Hours of Happiness” happy hour special. Asan added
sweet treat, Tim Tams, a delicious chocolate covered sandwich cookie
popular in Australia.
* From Jan. 26-31 TenPenh
in DC is offering a special 4-course menu in honor of the Chinese
New Year and the coinciding start of a new zodiac sign, the Year of the
Ox. Guests who order TenPenh’s Chinese New Year menu will also
participate in another tradition of this holiday: red packets--small
envelopes, which often contain money (even numbers for luck)
distributed as an offering of good luck for the recipient. At
TenPenh, guests will receive a red packet with two chocolate
coins. $45 pp or $65 with wine and beverage pairings. Call
202.393.4500 or visit www.tenpenh.com.
* In NYC, Hearth
announces its winter wine dinner series. To reserve: email
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646- 602- 1300. Jan. 26:
Randall Grahm, of Bonny Doon Vineyard; Feb. 2, The Miraculous Riojas of
Lopez de Heredia; Feb. 9: Is there such a thing as great AND affordable
red Burgundy? And more through March 16.
* On Jan. 26 in San Francisco, MO Bar will showcase Australia Day
Celebration with wine tastings of many of the great Australian labels
including Penfolds, Grant Burge, d’Arenberg, Peter Lehman, Cape
Mentelle, Mollydooker and more by Wine Director Nicole Kosta . $28 pp.
* The French Institute
Alliance Française (FIAF) will host
"Taste and Terroirs: A Wine Tour de France," a 6-part series at
FIAF led by sommelier Raj Vaidya of Cru Restaurant and will focus
on the importance of terroir and the opportunity to sip great-tasting
wines from France's most important and representative wine regions. The
series begins on January 26, with a look at Burgundy: Cotes de Nuits
and several Grand Crus are on tap. For more info: www.fiaf.org.
* On Jan. 27 Mio
in DC holds its first Beer Dinner with Portland, Maine’s Allagash
Beers and food by Chef Nicholas Stefanelli. The 4-course meal will
incl. discussions lead by Stefanelli and an Allagash Brew Master.
$90 pp. Call 202-955-0075. Visit www.miorestaurant.com
* On Jan. 28 NYC’s Tribeca
Grill presents a 5-course dinner by Executive Chef Stephen
Lewandowski, featuring Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers, with
14 barrel samples, many of whom will be on hand throughout the evening
to answer all of your questions, incl. Bernard Gripa.
* On Jan. 30 in Carmel;, CA, Chef Christophe Grosjean of Aubergine and special guest chef
Steve Gothman of Robuchon Las Vegas will
prepare a unique 5-course dinner featuring a variety of wild
mushrooms paired with specially selected wines, at $125 pp. There is
also a complete package that incl. overnight accommodations, 2 tickets
to the mushroom dinner, and breakfast at a rate of $475 for 2
persons. Call 831-622-5907.
consider this the best
and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist
for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and
Luxury Spa Finder,
a contributing editor for Ski
and a frequent contributor to National
Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this
site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter.
"For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t
necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of
staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about
five-star places as five-star experiences." To go to his
blog click on the logo below: THIS
WEEK: STRATEGIES FOR SAVING AT
Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet
A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food
scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is
the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past
reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org.
Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online:
A Critical Guide to the World's
Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps,
published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing
about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also
written for Arthur Frommer's Budget
Travel, New York Magazine,
Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has
authored two books-The World's
Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin,
1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton
Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the
Wall Street Journal Business
Guide to Cities of the
Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK: A Report on The Four Seasons
Jackson Hole. Click on the logo
below to go to the site.
Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!",
is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
All You Need to Know
Before You Go
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani.
Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,
John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort
Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing
Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical
Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Wine Spectator, Bloomberg News and
Radio, and Diversion.
He is author of The Encyclopedia
of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary
of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the
award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.
newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our
years growing up in the North
Bronx. It's called Almost
Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our
so many wonderful things seemed possible.
For those of you who don't think
the Bronx as “idyllic,” this
book will be a revelation. It’s
about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful
neighborhood filled with great friends
and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives.
It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost
the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this
very personal look at our Bronx childhood. It is not
yet available in bookstores, so to purchase
a copy, go to amazon.com
or click on Almost Golden.
© copyright John Mariani 2009