Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times" (1936)
QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN MARIANI WRITE
may now access
Archive of all past newsletters--each annotated--dating back to July,
2003, by simply clicking on www.johnmariani.com/archive
PROUD ANNOUNCEMENT: The
American Society of Magazine Editors handed out its National Magazine Award in the
Leisure Interests category, which "recognizes excellent service
journalism about leisure-time pursuits" to Esquire Magazine's "The Esquire Almanac of Steak"
2008), to which I contributed two articles, "The 20 Best Steaks in
America" and "Outback Steakhouse: The Review." You can read all the
articles in the section at this link: www.esquire.com.
Out in PHOENIX by John Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER: MINETTA TAVERN by John Mariani
Out in PHOENIX
by John Mariani
acronym for North
Camelback, the main drag that runs through Phoenix, is a
casual, drop-in kind of place with
terrific food by Chef Chris Curtiss. Set in the
Biltmore Plaza shopping mall with the look of a high-end
luncheonette—bare tables, simple chairs, counter service, stainless
steel-backed open kitchen, and a neon green sign out front--Noca
nevertheless is a very canny exemplar of casual American dining.
Curtiss, who comes out of fine San Fran restaurants like The Fifth
Floor and Masa’s, serves a highly sophisticated menu at remarkably
moderate prices—main courses start at $23 for a tasting of vegetables
and top out at $34 for a generous rib-eye with sauce bordelaise.
Noca's appetizers run
$12-$18, main courses $23-$31. Open
for dinner Tues.-Sun.
Quiessence is open
and dinner Tues.-Sat.; Dinner appetizers run $8-$16, main courses
$27-$29. Six-course tasting menu $75.
of the best Mexican restaurants in Phoenix is Barrio Café, run by the
and intensely authoritative Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza (below) and her
partner Wendy Gruber. Three colorful dining rooms and bar
make up this engagingly funky place whose menu pictures a red-faced bandito who
looks as if he’s waited too long for his food. Be patient: this is truly excellent, very
authentic Mexican food, the ingredients for which Esparza, who is
nothing if not ebulliently serious about her cooking, goes everywhere,
from Arizona to Mexico, which she visits once a month to gather things
like fresh seasonal oregano.
Barrio Cafe is open for
lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. Appetizers run $10-$15.50, main
NEW YORK CORNER
would be farfetched to call Keith McNally a genius restaurateur, but he
certainly does have the touch for charming the media and attracting the
kind of people who absolutely, positively have to get a table in his
restaurants, which include Balthazar, Pravda, Morandi, Pastis,
Schiller's Liquor Bar, and Lucky Strike, most of which have had a long
life and packed houses, no matter if the food is particularly
or exciting. All are casual; one, Balthazar, is huge, and most serve
more or less a French bistro menu with American items. (Morandi is
Italian, Pravda a caviar-and-vodka bar.)
Minetta Tavern is open
for dinner nightly. Soon to be open for brunch.
GET THE PART ABOUT FAT CHEFS,
"When it comes to cooks, I'm with Julius Caesar (as
sampled by Shakespeare): `Let me have chefs about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men such as sleep at nights.' Yond' Ramsay may not have a
lean and hungry look (you'll forgive me for tinkering with the Bard on
this one; there's not one of us who can't be improved by a little
temperature subbing), but nor is he a lardbucket, and such men, as Tana
will verily agree, are dangerous. No, just as you can’t put too much
faith in a bald barber or in a psychiatrist whose jacket does up from
the back, so you cannot fully trust a professional cook with a Body
Mass index anywhere near whatever nonsense the powers that be classify
as `normal'.”—Matthew Norman, “Corrigan’s,” The Guardian.
To all public relations people: Owing to the amount of press releases regarding Mother's Day dinners, I regret that it is impossible to list any but very special events.
* On May 2, in NYC, in partnership with Danny Myer’s Union Square Restaurant Group, Eleven Madison Park and Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon, Esquire Magazine hosts the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby at Eleven Madison Park and will host 250 guests for a day of great horse racing (“The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”), classic Maker’s Mark Mint Julep cocktails, a Kentucky inspired menu by Chef David Humm, Cigars by Nat Sherman, and classic Kentucky Derby attire. There will also be an auction that will benefit the N.Y. Horse Rescue. Guests will be invited to dress up for the Derby and enjoy a day watching the 12 different horse races that take place starting at 3 pm.Tix are $250 pp. and can be purchased by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* In Carmel, CA, a “Wine Collector’s
Package” has been created by L’Auberge
Carmel, Aubergine restaurant and Michaud Vineyard that incl.:
One night stay in a queen guest room; 4-course dinner for
two; Michaud Vineyard Gift Box featuring three specially selected
wines; European style breakfast.Prices start at $525, valid
Sun.-Thurs. until June 30. Call 831-624-8578 or visit
* On May 6 in Worthington, OH,The Worthington Inn holds its "First
Wednesday of the Month" 4-course Wine Dinner. $70 pp. Call
* In Newton Highlands, MA, 51 Lincoln will serve "30
Days, 30 Ways with Soft Shell Crab Primes," which are only in
season in May. Call 617-965-3100; visit www.51LincolnNewton.com.
* Aer Lingus Vacation Store is offering the "Ultimate Affordable Luxury" package incl. round-trip Premier Business Class airfare to Dublin, 6 nights at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, full breakfast, full-size rental car with unlimited mileage and GPS Navigation, dinner at Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt; Waterford Crystal Entrance and Exhibition, and Shannon Region Discount Booklet. Available June 1-March 31, 2010, from $2,999 pp. from NYC, Boston, DC, and Chicago and from $3,099 from San Francisco. Call 800-495-7632; visit: www.aerlingusvacationstore.com.
On May 7, "Farm to Plate" in Austin,
TX, is Sustainable Food Center’s
2nd annual fundraiser featuring the food and wine of Central Texas,
with over 20 chefs and 10 wineries participating, at Barr Mansion
and Artisan Ballroom. Tix $85, Tables of 8 at $800. Visit
* On May 11 the 28th Sherry-Lehmann/Kevin Zraly Master Wine
Class will be a tasting of the ‘Super Second
Pauillac’--Château Pichon-Longueville Baron with guest of honor
Christian Seely, Managing Director AXA Millésimes, at
On May 12 in San Francisco,
The Rosé Avengers &
Producers will hold their annual rosé
tasting, "PINK OUT! SF" at Butterfly Restaurant with 40 participating
wineries. A trade and media tasting runs from 3:30-6 pm,
followed by the consumer tasting from 6:30-8:30. Consumer tix
$35 in advance from www.rapwine.com; $45 at the door. Call
* On May 13, the Argyle Steakhouse in Carlsbad, CA, presents a taste of 4 premium Glenmorangie selections along with steaks and cigars, with a hand-rolled cigar before retiring for dinner in the Clubhouse Library. $130 pp. Call 760-603-3773.
* On May 13 Castle Hill
Inn & Resort in Newport,
RI, presents a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wine dinner
with Jeff McBride, VP and GM at Stag’s Leap and Chef
Jonathan Cambra’s 5-course dinner. $160 pp. Packages begin
at $722.60. Call 401-848-0918.
* On May 13 at Brooklyn's
BAMCafe, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and Edible East End,
with support from the Long Island Wine Council and the New York Wine
and Grape Foundation, will be holding its 3rd annual sipping soiree: Brooklyn Uncorked, at
the Brooklyn Academy of Music. $40 pp; $20 for those who purchase
a subscription to Edible Brooklyn. www.brownpapertickets.com or
* On May 14 in Los
Angeles, the 7th Annual Wine
Aficionado Dinner benefiting the Bogart Pediatric Cancer
Research Program will take place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall:
“2005: Vintage of the Millennium (so far!),” features 3 flights, from
the great 2005 vintage. Also, a live auction. $1,250
pp or $10,000 per table of ten, Call 323-330-0520 or email to
* On May 14, the “2009
Taste of Spring” Food & Wine Benefit to benefit the Evan B.
Donaldson Adoption Institute will be held at NYC’s Midtown Loft with honorees
Wendy’s - Supporter, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption ; Cyril
Renaud – Chef / Owner, Bar Breton and featuring restaurants Barbuto,
David Burke Townhouse, Jean Georges, Singapore
Sling, and Zarela. Ticket levels from $100-$2,500,
Sponsorship levels $5,000-$50,000. Visit email@example.com.
From May 15-17 the 2009 “Lodi
ZinFest – Wine, Food, and Fun at Lodi Lake” in Lodi, CA, celebrates the
Zinfandel grape, incl.: Vintners’ Grille at Lodi Lake with local
vintners as they share a selection of Lodi’s with cuisine;
ZinFest Wine Festival will feature 50+ wineries with food from the
region’s best restaurants, live music; noted wine specialists and chefs
will offer something for everyone at the ZinFest Wine & Cooking
School; Winery Open Houses; Visit www.zinfest.com or call 209-367-4727.
* On May 15 The Fifth
Annual Greater New York
Wine & Food Festival presents "Chefs Uncorked: Big Talent,
Small Bites" Kick-Off Party in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree
Hotel in Tarrytown, NY. Chefs incl. David DiBari of The
Cookery; James Rosenbauer of Bistro Z ; David Haviland of Equus
at The Castle ; Vincent Barcelona of Harvest-on-Hudson;
Anthony Goncalves of Restaurant 42; Doug Nguyen of Wasabi;
and Debbie Lovrich of Woody's Parkside Grill. $60 pp. VIP $90.
* On May 16 & 17 The
Historic Inns of Spring Lake in New Jersey are hosting 3rd
annual "AUTHORS & INNS TOUR" of 11 inns ($15 pp) featuring
celebrity chefs/restaurateur’s cookbook signings. Guests staying at any
of the Inns for the weekend receive a complimentary Tour Ticket as well
as admission to the Private Culinary Appearances on Saturday, May
16. Manhattan Lifestyle Reporter Wanda Mann is Mistress of
Ceremonies for the weekend. Call 732-859-1465; visit
* On May 17 the music, dance, culture and cuisine
of Sicily come to the streets of San Diego 's Little Italy as
part of the 16th Annual FESTA
celebration on India Street. The highly popular FREE family event
features authentic Sicilian food and entertainment, with 4 stages
featuring a wide variety of Sicilian and Italian entertainment.
Food booths will line the streets and a wine and beer garden.
* From May 15-17 in Philo, CA, The Anderson
Valley Winegrowers Assoc. will hold the 12th annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Festival. Featured speakers incl. Rusty Gaffney, author of
PinotFile, Dan Duckhorn of Goldeneye Winery and Duckhorn Wine Company,
and Joe Phillips, MS, sommelier at Bellagio Las Vegas. BBQ at Husch
Vineyards with 40+ wineries, and will food and wines from
around the state. Entertainment by Mendocino County artists, silent
auction to benefit local charities.Visit www.avwines.com or call (707)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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." To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK: In Search of Value: What;'s the Best Way to Stretch Value This Summer?
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: Tips on (Tennis) Tipping.
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.