by Robert Kushner, a mural at Gramercy Tavern, NYC
To Read John Mariani's Article on "The
Year of the Pig"
go to Diversion
Magazine this month.
FAVORITE MANSIONS: WINVIAN by John
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: PLUMPJACK RAISES CADE by Mort Hochstein
MY FAVORITE MANSIONS
by John Mariani
Seth Bird House at Winvian
ever seen quite prepared me for Winvian, an oddly named Connecticut
country inn that appears from the road to be quite in line with what
one expects of a Connecticut country inn--rolling hills and woodlands,
clapboard structures, a pond or two, a greenhouse. Indeed, when
you drive through the rustic Litchfield landscape, that's what you see
from the blacktop road--113 acres of lake and forest land bordering the
4,000 acre White memorial Foundation.
Winvian is located at 155 Alain White Road in Morris, CT; 860-567-9600; www.winvian.com
few years ago Michael
Psilakis ran a sweet little place named Kefi on the Upper West
Side whose food was traditional Greek but always with a
twist to every dish
that revealed Psilakis' simmering talent to transform a cuisine that
had not budged much in NYC circles, which of course included the Greek
neighborhood of Astoria, Queens.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
PLUMPJACK RAISES CADE
by Mort Hochstein
follow a success like Plumpjack, a super-premium cult
wine that retailers---when they can get it--hide under the
counter for favored customers, a wine whose three-digit price tag
defies thoughts of recession? You could, of course, just
make more Plumpjack or make a second label wine, as they do in Bordeaux.
former editor and producer for NBC News and the Today Show, and former
managing editor of Nation's
Restaurant News, writes on
wine, food and travel for Wine
Spectator, Wine Business Monthly, Saveur and other food
and wine publications.
A plumbing mistake turned water into wine
during a public celebration in Marino, Italy. "At the heart of the town's
famous Sagra dell' Uva, or Grape Festival, is the moment when sparkling
white wine flows from the fountains in the main square," BBC News
reports. "But this year locals and tourists had to make do with water,
as bad plumbing meant the wine supply was switched by mistake to local
homes." The (London) Times says "many
quick-witted residents" managed to fill jugs with vino before city
officials redirected it to the fountains.
YER BLOODY PIE HOLE AND INSERT YER BLOODY FOOT, BIG BOY!
When Gordon Ramsay appeared on the TV show "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," during the cooking of a red mullet, fennel, with orange segments and wine in parchment. Conan said, "This is going to go very badly," as Ramsay's comments needed to be bleeped out at least a dozen times, Then, when a guest referred to Ramsay as a "cook," Ramsay snapped, "Big boy, use the word 'chef.' Ladies cook."
* Bistro Z at
the new Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown,
NY, is introducing its Weekend Dining Club: For $10 a
year, members receive reduced prices every Fri.-Sun. nights. With one
half-priced entrée with dinner for two, or 20 % of all entrees
for a party of three or more, and 25% off the purchase of a
bottle of wine with dinner. Call (914) 524-6410 or visit
* The luxury 45-room Post
Hotel Weggis (POHO) in Switzerland
offers a getaway for couples with two-night Winter
Dream@POHO Package with rates starting at CHF 1079/$930 per room, valid
through December 31. It incl. 2 nights accommodations with balcony
views of Lake Lucerne ; breakfasts in bed ; dinner at the POHO
Dining Lounge; in-room private fondue dinner ; Romantic boat trip
on Lake Lucerne incl. hot wine punch aperitif ; Tix to Mount Rigi
; 30-minute wellness treatment at POHO’s sister property, Park Hotel
Weggis ; Visit www.poho.ch or call 011-41(0) 41 392 2525.
* Beginning March 1 through March 7, anyone who
dines at NYC's Olana will be part of the
first birthday celebration. Guests receive a glass of prosecco,
compliments of owner-chef Al Di Meglio and owners Patrick and Bill
Resk, and pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse will be making a
mini-birthday cake for each table to enjoy after the meal. Guests can
also enter for a chance to win a dinner for 10 cooked in their home by
Al and Katie. Call 212-725-4900.
* Thalassa in NYC’s Tribeca (212-941-7661)
launched "Wine Day." Every Monday evening, Thalassa's wine list
is available at half-price. Each bottle of wine (7,000+,
including many rare boutique Greek wines) is being offered at 50% off.
* Silks restaurant
at Mandarin Oriental, San
Francisco announces its 2009 schedule of winemaker dinners
hosted by guest wine makers and Silks' wine director/sommelier Nicole
Kosta, who has also put together a program of more casual special
events to take place in MO Bar. Silks chef de cuisine Orlando Pagan
creates multi-course menus to pair specifically with each of the
specially selected wines. Call 415-276-9787.
* Picholine in NYC has introduced a new wine
Monday night. 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
restaurant also features a 60 under 60 wine list in the Cheese
and Wine Bar. Chef-Proprietor Terrance Brennan also announces
"Tastes of Picholine," a 3-course tasting menu for $58. Each additional
plate $12, Mon.-Thurs., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visit
* Beginning March 1 through the end of the year,
patrons at Baxter’s in Lake
Tahoe and Moody’s Bistro
in Truckee can purchase
any item on the 500-selection wine list at either restaurant for the
same price as in a store while dining at either. Call 530-587-8688 or
* On March 2 in Englewood, NJ, Nisi will begin their celebration of Lent with daily menu specials containing no meat, fish that are round or flat, or dairy, leading up to Easter Sunday, April 19 on the Eastern Orthodox calendar. Call 201-567-4700.
* In Los Angeles,
beginning March 3, Il Grano,
Chef Salvatore Marino has decided to resurrect some of his favorite
Italian recipes dating back to his childhood and his grandmother’s
kitchen table in Napoli, with “Rustic Tuesday’s” featuring a
different region of Italy each Tuesday by exploring the various recipes
of ‘la nonna.’ All menu items range from $9-16 with family style
carafe wine options, Call 310-477-7886.
* On March 4 in NYC
invites guests to their rooftop to meet Executive Chefs from all
SUSHISAMBA locations (New York, Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas) for a
Chef’s Panel hosted by author and food critic, Bob Lape.
The special night of food, drink and conversation incl. a discussion of
culinary authenticity and how it applies to the successful SUSHISAMBA
concept. In addition, guests will be served select SUSHISAMBA
dishes as well as signature cocktails. Tickets are available at
the SUSHISAMBA 7 restaurant for $45. Call 212-691-7885;
* On March 5 in Charlotte, NC, Zink American Kitchen will hold a 5-course Highland Brewery Beer Dinner at $48 pp. Call 704-444-9001; www.zinkamerican.com.
* On March 6 & 7, Savor
Dallas features 400+ premium wines, spirits and imported beers,
and signature cuisine from 60 of Dallas-Fort Worth's top chefs, to be
held at renowned Arts District and Victory Park. Highlights incl.
limited admission "Reserve Tasting" at Windows in Westin City Center
Dallas and "VVIP Lounge" at the International Grand Tasting.
Visit www.SavorDallas.com. Call 866-277-7920.
* On March 9 Adour
Alain Ducasse at the St. Regis Hotel New York will take place in our
Wine Vault with Stéphane Vivier, wine maker at HdV with
a 4-course. $270 pp. Call 212-710-2277.
March 10 in Charlotte, NC,
presents an Alex Gambal Wine Dinner, 5 courses created by Executive
Chef Tom Condron and Chef de Cuisine, Scott Wallen for $65 pp. Call
March 13 OSO Restaurant at The
Southampton Inn on Long Island,
NY welcomes Miguel Marin winemaker at Palmer Vineyards at
the popular “Dinner and…” mid winter series. 3 course dinner
prepared by Executive Chef Bryan Naylor. $25. Call 631-283-6500 ext
* In Kennebunkport, ME, The White Barn Inn Restaurant
will hold its Guest Chefs Series 2009, offered over 3 weekends this
spring, incl. cocktail parties, cooking demos, dining, and
accommodations. The 2009 lineup incl.: Chef Steven Titman,
Summer Lodge (Evershot, England), March 12-15; Christopher
Brooks, Blantyre (Lenox, Massachusetts), March 27-29; and Juan
Bochenski, Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort (Antigua, West Indies), April
24-26. From $598 pp. Visit www.whitebarninn.com.
On March 16 in San Francisco, The Fifth Floor hosts a James Beard
dinner celebrating author Paula Wolfert and Gascon cuisine crafted by
Culinary Director Laurent Manrique. $150 for James Beard Foundation
members, $165 for non-members. Call 415-348-1555.
Each Monday beginning March 16, chef/owner Charles “Chip” Roman of Blackfish in Conshohocken, PA will create a
4 course Chef’s Tasting for $45. March 16th will feature A Study of
Porcini. Call 610-397-0888; blackfishrestaurant.com
On March 17 in Charleston, SC,
The Old Village Post House
announces a St. Patrick’s Day 4-course Irish Whiskey Dinner featuring
Jameson, Redbreast, and Middleton Irish whiskeys from the rare and
reserve collections. The menu is created by Frank Lee,
Executive Chef and Jim Walker, Chef de Cuisine, with whiskey pairings
by Patrick Emerson, Wine and Beverage Director.$45 pp. and
special room rate $100.Call 843-388-8935; www.oldvillageposthouse.com.
* On March 17 in Greenwich, CT, Restaurant Jean-Louis will hold a wine dinner co-hosted by three Bordeaux Châteaux owners and Oenologists: Eric Perrin, Château Carbonnieux; Basile Tesseron, Château Lafon-Rochet; Jérôme Héranval, Oenologist and Technical Director, Château Durfort Vivens. $79 pp. Call 203-622-8450.
March 18 Castle Hill Inn &
ResortSM in Newport, RI,
presents a Duckhorn 5-course wine dinner with Dan Duckhorn, Co-Founder,
Chairman and CEO of the Duckhorn Wine Company and Chef Jonathan
Cambra. $150 pp. Call 401-848-0918.
March 18 in San Francisco,
McCormick & Kuleto's Seafood
Restaurant, has announced a Honig Vineyard & Winery
winemaker dinner of 5 courses of seafood by Executive Liz Ozanich,
paired with Honig wines. $85 pp. Call 415- 929-8374.
* On March 19 in Boston, Morton's The Steakhouse, together with Charles Krug Winery and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, hosts its 7th annual wine dinner. Peter Mondavi, Jr., owner of Charles Krug Winery, will host the 4-course dinner with Morton's VP of wine and spirits, Tylor Field. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on a 27-liter bottle of Charles Krug, Vintage Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. Proceeds to the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. $150 pp. Call 617-526-0410; www.mortons.com.
March 21 in Yountville, CA,
the 16th annual “Taste of Yountville”
area restaurants, 20 local wineries and an array of mustard and olive
oil producers on tap for tastings. The 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. event is
free; tasting tix available on site for $1.00 each. Visit
March 22-28 Va Pensiero in Evanston, Il, is proud to
be a part of Unicef's Tap Project 2009 and its efforts to help prevent
illness in children due to poor drinking water. During World
Water Week, , patrons will be asked to pay $1 or more for the tap water
they usually enjoy for free. For every dollar raised, a child
will have clean drinking water for 40 days. All funds raised support
UNICEF's efforts to bring clean and accessible water to millions of
children around the world. Call 847-475-7779.
March 25-29 in New Orleans,
the 23rd annual Tennessee
Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, celebrates the life and
legacy of Tennessee Williams in the adopted city he called his
“spiritual home,” offers two days of Master Classes; a roster of lively
discussions among blue-chip panelists; celebrity interviews; theater,
food and music programs; a scholars' conference; short-fiction and
one-act play competitions; a breakfast book club; French Quarter
literary walking tours; a book fair; parties and other special
events. Sites hosting events incl. Le Petit Théâtre
du Vieux Carré; The Historic New Orleans Collection; The
Cabildo; Bourbon Orleans Hotel; Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant;
Williams Research Center; Palm Court Jazz Café; Windsor Court
Hotel; The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans; Besh Steak, Harrah’s Casino; and
Gold Mine Saloon. On March 27 John Mariani of The Virtual Gourmet, will give a
talk on the state of restaurants in the USA. Call 1-800-990-3378
(FEST), or visit the Festival website at www.tennesseewilliams.net.
March 25 Wine & Wishes a
benefit for the Make A Wish Foundation® of Metro New York will be held at
Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, New York City.$250 pp, VIP Tix
$1,000. Call 212-957-WISH. Participating
restaurants incl. Uncle Jack's Steakhouse, Tribeca
Grill, Mamajuana Café, Talay, 809 Bar & Grill, Mad46, Havana
Abigail Kirsch and Culinary Institute of America. A VIP ticket provides
access to the crowd favorite “Coveted Corks” – a private VIP Tasting
and Culinary Sampling.
March 25 in New Orleans
“Absinthe, The Green Hour” with foods will be hosted by Morton’s The Steakhouse in New
Orleans. $45 pp. Call 504-566-0221; visit www.mortons.com.
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I 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: The Interview: Larry Olmsted on Getting into Guinness
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also 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.
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.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.