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IN ROME by Mort Hochstein
Thoughts on Abruzzo by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: California pinots need a good night's rest by John Mariani
In the movie "The
Roman spring of
Mrs. Stone," based on Tennessee Williams' play, Vivien Leigh had more
on her mind, especially Paolo, played by a not-very-Italian-looking
Warren Beatty, than adventuresome eating. But when spring comes to
Rome, the Romans come feast on what the season brings to the
table--wild greens, zucchini flowers, and the famous abbacchio--baby lamb that feeds
the hillsides of Lazio, digesting the sweet mint of the region, an herb
that is used ubiquitously in Rome.
Coco is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Mort Hochstein, 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 Few Thoughts on Abruzzo by John Mariani
As the reports and photos come in showing the devastation wrought by earthquakes in Italy's Abruzzo, I am particularly saddened by what I see because that is the region my father's people came from at the turn of the 19th century to settle in New York. Theirs was a town called Vasto, perched above the Adriatic, a fishing village that was as poor as any in Italy at that time, so, like millions of other southern Italians, my grandfather and grandmother came to the United States for a new life that materialized very quickly.
Today Vasto has become quite a resort town, very popular in summer with Germans and English tourists who come for the beach and the loveliness of the hillside location, the broad piazzas, the little churches, and a small garden that has a curious stone monument to my grandmother's family, the DelGuercios, who apprently aided the town after establishing themselves successfully in America.
I have not heard any news of Vasto being affected by the earthquake, but my heart grieves for those who have suffered so much in the area around the beautiful city of L'Aquila, the provincial capital, set within the glorious valley called the Gran Sasso. Long the region's historic and artistic center, with its own University, Musical Conservatory, Arts Academy, Theater and Concert Society, National Museum of the Abruzzi, and the famed Salvatore Tommasi library, L'Aquila is home to unique monuments that include the Fountain of the 99 Spouts, the 13th Century pink-and-white marble church Santa Maria di Collemaggio (which I don't believe has suffered damage), and the severely damaged Santa Maria del Suffragio on the Piazza del Dumo. It is a wonderful walking city, teeming with young people, with a few pleasant trattorias serving the chile-pepper spiked dishes of Abruzzo and its most famous pasta, spaghetti all ghitarra.
My faith in the people of Abruzzo (once called Abruzzi, because it encompassed two provinces, the other being Molise), if not in the government, to restore their beautiful city is abiding. After all, L'Aquila, which means "The Eagle," was destroyed in 1259 by conquest, became a powerful and wealthy city that attracted successive contenders to battle over its domination, was again destroyed in the 16th century, this time by the Spanish, was twice sacked by the French, and, in 1703 destroyed by an earthquake--one of several dating to 1349, 1452, 1501, and 1646. The Abruzzese have seen it all before and not only survived by come back to vibrant life in an effort to preserve not only the beauty of their province, nestled in mountains and pine forests, but their ancient culture and bloodlines that go back ancient Roman times.
For those who wish to contribute to the revitalization of Abruzzo go to The National Italian American Foundation's NIAF/Abruzzo Relief Fund for information.
Idon't think I've ever set foot
on Front Street, which has got to be one of the smallest in Manhattan,
wedged between Peck Slip and the South Street Seaport.
Onda is open Mon.-Sat.
for dinner. Small plates run $7-$12, large plates $18-$23.
California pinots may need a good
by John Mariani
Over the last week I’ve
learned something extraordinary
about California pinot noirs: They improve with age! Oh, I don’t mean
by keeping the bottles in your cellar for the next several years. I
mean they improve overnight after you’ve opened the bottle and drunk
some of the contents.
Mariani's 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 ARE NOW DRUGS TO CONTROL IT
"Rio de Janeiro is one of those great
cities that works its way into
your plasma and lingers there, time and distance notwithstanding."--By
Matthew Stafford, "Soma," San
Francisco Weekly (2/10/09).
According to the NY
Robert Uri Heller, a psychologist and professor at the Adler School of
Professional Psychology, leads a "Furry Kids Passover Seder" in Chicago
this Saturday at which the guests will be dogs, to be held at
Wigglyville pet store, sponsored by Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company
to promote its kosher varieties, endorsed by the Chicago Rabbinical
Council. When members of his synogogue protested that such a Seder
might be sacrilegious, Dr. Heller replied, "We’re having
fun." (photo by J.
Lott, 2005) . . . . Meanwhile, NYC businessman Martin
Silver is launching a new kosher tequila called Agave 99 in time for
Cinco de Mayo. Silver told AP that a half million cases of the 99-proof
kosher tequila ($41.95) are being made in Mexico using methods
certified by a rabbi.
In Charlottesville, VA,
Amy Lewis, Keswick Hall’s Head
Gardener is offering a “From the Garden to the Table” package –a class
on the important nuances of spring pruning followed by a fresh lunch in
the Villa Crawford. This 2 night package also incl. accommodations,
breakfast, dinner Fossett’s, and a garden tour of Monticello. Rates
begin at $813, available thru May 31, Call 1-800-274-5391 or
* The Palm Restaurant Group announce their “Spring Dining Stimulus Plan” with an all-new Business Lunch Menu and $39 Biggest Steak dinner, available at Palm Restaurants nationwide. through May 31. Visit www.thepalm.com.
* On April 17, "Springtime in Paris" takes place in Orlando at Rosen Centre hotel's Everglades Restaurant, with its 2009 "Vine and Dine" Series-- a 5-course Parisian-inspired menu with French wines. $65 pp. Call 407 -996-8560; visit www.evergladesrestaurant.com or www.rosencentre.com.
In Nantucket, MA, American Seasons Executive Chef
Michael LaScola and General Manager/Sommelier Orla Murphy-LaScola
celebrate the restaurant’s 21st anniversary with a $20 entrée
menu and its “American Bistro” menu. Call 508-228-7111 or online
On April 25 NYC’s Benoit will hold a “Taste of
Rosé,” 20+ French rosé wines with charcuterie. $35. Call
From April 13-17 in Washington,
D.C., Asia Nine
celebrates Songkran, the Thai New Year, with a special menu designed to
capture the holiday’s spirit of cleansing and renewal. Call
202-629-4355 or go to www.asianine.com.
On April 16 in Charlotte, NC,
Southpark's Upstream Restaurant will
host a 5-course wine dinner by Executive Chef Tom Condron and Chef de
Cuisine Scott Wallen. celebrating Nickel & Nickel Vineyards.
$95 pp. In addition, guests attending the wine dinner will be given a
$25 Upstream gift certificate to use on a future visit. 704-556-7730;
On April 19 in Miami,
Heart of a Chef Festival
to benefit the Florida Heart Research Institute, will be a family
friendly day, in the Tree Top Ballroom at Jungle Island; $25 for
adults, $10 for children. Celebrity Chef Cook-off ; Wine Seminars;
Kid’s Demo and Chef’s Interactive; Call 305.674.3020 or visit
www.heartofachef.org. . . . On April 25 in Miami, Driven to Dine, also to benefit the
Florida Heart Research Institute, takes place. Priced at
$5,000 per limo, attendees begin with a reception at NFL Coach Don and
wife Mary Anne Shula’s Indian
Creek home, draw envelopes that determine their destined restaurants,
incl. Chef Sean Brasel/Meat Market, Peter Vauthy/RED the
Steakhouse, Patrick Boucher/Acqua at the Four Seasons, Dale
Ray/Casa Casuarina, Gaetano Ascione/Gaia Ristorante,
Giancarla Bodoni/Escopazzo, Kurtis Jantz/Neomi’s at the Trump
International, Sean Bernal/Oceanaire, Odel Arencibia/ The Capital
Grille, Virgile Brandel/Gia-Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar at the Eden
Roc, John Critchley/Area 31, and Jonathan Wright/The Setai. Call
305-674-3020 or visit www.heartofachef.org.
From April 18-22 Pizza Fusion on
North Miami Beach, FL,
celebrates Earth Week with family festivities, incl. free pizza,
Honest Tea giveaways and raffle drawings for Jamis bicycles, a ‘Green
Home Makeover,’ a trip to wine country, a Sierra Club Excursion
Vacation, et al. Visit:
On April 22 in National Harbor, MD,
Old Hickory Steakhouse’s
Wine Dinner Series will hold the Dr. Loosen Wine Dinner from
Germany’s Mosel Valley with cuisine by Chef Wolfgang Birk welcoming
Ernst Loosen, head of the Dr. Loosen Estate. $95 pp. Call 301-965-2718.
On April 22 Il Buco in NYC will hold its Second Annual
Earth Day Fund-Raiser to Protect the Amazon Rainforest, by reducing
customers' total lunch bill by 15% for one week and donate the
15% saved by its guests. Call 212-533-1932; visit www.ilbuco.com.
From April 27-May 3 in Atlanta,
Highland Tap celebrates
its 20th Anniversary with Chef Bert Chapman featuring $20 signature
dishes and $20 wine pairings. Visit
NEW FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up with four excellent travel sites:
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." THIS WEEK: ARE YOU USING TWITTER FOR TRAVEL?--AN AFFORDABLE RUSTIC GETAWAY IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE?--SEVEN TRAVEL BOOKS THAT RETRACE HISTORIC FOOTSTEPS.
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).
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.