Good Meal, Had," Photo by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery (2009)
QUESTIONS? TO REACH JOHN MARIANI WRITE
ARCHIVE: Readers may now access
Archive of all past newsletters--each annotated--dating back to July,
2003, by simply clicking on www.johnmariani.com/archive
UN-SUBSCRIBE: You may subscribe anyone you wish
to this newsletter--free of charge--by
RATON by Edward Brivio
NEW YORK CORNER:
Sofrito and Sazon
by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR:
AND CHEESE. . . OR CHEESE AND WINE? by John Mariani
by Edward R. Brivio
Photos by Robert Pirillo
Flagler’s vision was in large part responsible for developing Florida’s
Gold Coast, Addison Cairns Mizner’s designs went a long way to defining
its distinctive style. Flush with Standard Oil money, Flagler came to
Florida in 1876 in an attempt to alleviate his first wife's chronic
illness, then stayed to build the East Coast Florida Railroad. 40 years
later, Mizner arrived in search of his own personal cure.
had become a successful society
architect in New York, and brought his Mediterranean Revival/Spanish
Saracenic-style mansions to Palm Beach, with their sweeping staircases,
colonnaded loggias, barrel-tile roofs, stucco walls, and wrought iron
accents that seemed to fit right into the tropical surroundings.
Success in Palm Beach lured him,
in 1925, further south to the newly incorporated town of Boca Raton,
unfortunately, just as the Florida real estate bubble was about to
burst. In September, 1926, the “Great Miami” Hurricane hit the coast,
delivering the coup de grace to the local land-boom. Mizner went
bankrupt. Weighed down by his failure, he succumbed to a heart attack
His most lasting legacy to Boca Raton was a
100-room hotel originally called the Cloister Inn, opened earlier that
year. The Cloister still remains as the gracious core of the present
day, greatly expanded and renamed Boca Raton Resort and Club,
whose newer additions, the 27 story Tower in 1969, and the luxurious
Beach Club in 1980, may have larger and more luxurious rooms,
especially after a recently finished $220 million restoration.
As part of this massive renewal, three new
restaurants have been added to the property. London Chef Angela
Hartnett’s new venture, Cielo,
has perhaps one of the most dramatic settings anywhere on the Gold
Coast. Located atop the Tower, its floor-to-ceiling windows overlook
the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic beyond. By day, the view
from above of million dollar homes and high-rise condos is impressive
enough, but when daylight fades to darkness, their innumerable lights,
reflected off the dark sheen of the Waterway, make the scene even more
magical. Cielo is a sleek, sophisticated, minimally decorated
room, predominately white in color: white linens and white leather
seating, with discreet glimpses of steel, and a gorgeous terrazzo floor
that looks like lapis lazuli flecked with gold. Tables are set right up
against the windows, so the view provides all the embellishment needed.
True to the Italian culinary tradition handed down to her
from her Italian/Welsh grandmother, Hartnett’s recipes here derive a
maximum of pleasure from a minimum of ingredients handled as little as
possible. Maine lobster tortellini, tender, hand-made pasta filled with
lots of delicious crustacean, came dressed with a simple shellfish
glace and topped with a sprinkling of micro-greens for a vegetal
crunch. Seared foie gras needs very little by way of accompaniment,
here centered on a square plate of frosted glass and set within a
border made up of walnuts, tiny, precise cubes of pear, and perfect
drops of quince puree and duck glace.
My pan-roasted loin of lamb contained
one large raviolo bursting with lamb shoulder meat, a couple of spicy
merguez sausages and a mint salsa verde, along with thin slices of
delicious eggplant rolled to resemble cannelloni,
atop a fresh tomato
compote. Paired with horseradish whipped potatoes, asparagus, and a
seriously good green pepper sauce, a prime 14 ounce NY strip, medium
rare, lived up to its credentials. A side of truffled
grits was another inspired tweaking of a culinary staple.
I can never resist passionfruit, and the
luscious passionfruit sorbet served here reminded me why. Alternately,
cheese plate--four selections for $17--was another good choice,
comprising a super creamy Brillat-Savarin, a robust Taleggio, crumbly
Stilton and an aged farmhouse Cheddar, all at their peak of ripeness.
Don’t, however, expect to find Hartnett here
in the kitchen or dining room, for she stays mostly in London, where
she is chef of Murano. Her visitations to the Sunshine State seem to be
few and far between, more as consultant than chef.
Appetizers: $14 to $21; Entrees: $29 to $39.
“Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, opened Morimoto
sushi bar at the Resort last fall, he brought along signature dishes
from his original venture in Philadelphia. Right off the Resort's
lobby, the shallow, oblong space, designed by Thierry Déspont, is
uncluttered, its pared-down, no-nonsense chic as pristine and
cliché-free as the dishes emerging from the kitchen.
Color is supplied by royal blue upholstery on free-form chairs,
beautiful two-tone hardwood floors, and eight large video screens above
the sushi bar, where changing underwater images showcase the
ocean's flora and fauna.
To get things going, we took the easy way out
and ordered the Morimoto sashimi with five kinds of fish: oh toro
(fatty tuna) topped with caviar, maguro (tuna) topped with guacamole,
hamachi topped with scallions, jalapeños and sesame oil, sake
(salmon) topped with seaweed, and kani
(crab) wrapped in cucumber
and topped with ikura (salmon
eggs), and two sauces, one of roasted red
peppers, and the other of cilantro—all good intros to Morimoto‘s style,
as well as to his beautiful, precise presentations.
Our next "course" included two hot dishes: a
white miso broth with Manila clams, and the chef's signature rock
shrimp tempura with kochujan (a
sweet and spicy red pepper/bean paste)
aïoli. The savory broth was chockablock with fat tender
and the shrimp was so good –"sweet and sour," but with such refined
flavors that it had nothing to do with what those three little words
usually conjured up-- we ordered a second helping. The maki were also
excellent, whether the soft shell crab roll with asparagus, avocado and
tobiko, or the spicy tuna roll with chopped tuna, scallion and a spicy
sauce. Appetizers/soups/salads: $7
to 30; maki: 6 to 14; sushi and sashimi: $3 to $9.
favorite restaurant here was Sea
Grille, located right in the
lobby of the Beach Club, a great place for breakfast, and serves food
throughout the day. Open and spacious, with a terrace overlooking the
beach, the overall feel is contemporary, and über-casual without
seeming slapdash. The "polish" is all in the details. Overlapping
squares of backlit, golden agate make up the wall separating dining
room from kitchen. Buttery, high grade yellow leather covers the
comfortable armchairs, contemporary globular fixtures illumine the
space, and a wall of French doors offers diners a view of the pools and
surf beyond. Try to get one of the sofas: nice, tall sofas, with seats
slightly elevated so the table is within easy reach. I can't remember ever being so
comfortable in a restaurant.
The SeaGrille is all about fish: the menu's
border is emblazoned with images of different species, "x's" indicating
what's available on that day. Pompano a la plancha was just about
perfect, its fresh, clean flavors highlighted by the grilling, but the
locally caught Dorade, also à
la plancha was a stunner, its flesh
a little firmer, a little “meatier” than the pompano, and its flavors
more intense. Accompanying sauces were a rather innocuous salsa verde,
a delicious soy/brown butter sauce, and best of all, a lime and yogurt
Before the main courses, we enjoyed spicy Bahamian conch
with morsels of tender conch, as well as mushrooms stuffed with crab,
two items that seem to be made for each other. Mile-high key-lime pie,
and caramelized banana cream pie were unabashedly indulgent grace notes
to a flawless meal.
Appetizers: $9 to $14; entrees:
$28 to $39.
(32 East Atlantic Avenue, 561-276-7868)
on Delray Beach’s main drag, is a neighborhood bistro for fine dining
in a comfortable setting. Chef Nick Morfogen’s market-driven menu
changes daily, combining the best ingredients from South Florida and
around the world, with an ease and flair that is distinctly American.
Morfogen is the kind of chef who shops the markets himself, and who is
only too happy to actually be in his kitchen every night, and it shows.
Who came up with the idea for foie gras
“sliders”? I‘m not sure, but as served here, with bing cherry jam for
sweetness and crispy shallots for depth and crunch, they transform this
aristocrat of haute cuisine into comfort food, something to be
(a Japanese, red chile pepper blend) seared Yellow fin
tuna, another beautiful piece of fish was set-off beautifully by its
primarily Asian garnishes: ponzu sauce, and an Udon noodle salad with
watermelon, pickled ginger and scallions. Grilled wild shrimp, redolent
of the grill’s smoky mesquite wood, were more South-of-the-Border
Pacific Rim, served with green mango slaw, yucca chips and an avocado
crema; whereas pan-seared diver scallops and smoked pork belly with
asparagus, creamed corn, and a shoestring potato salad with a hot sauce
vinaigrette, were pure American, and delicious as well, especially that
hunk of pork.
Any one of the desserts we tasted was worth a
visit on its own, whether a delicious strawberry cobbler, Key lime
cheesecake that combined the best of the Gold Coast with the best of
the Big Apple, rich, dark chocolate cake, or classic crème
On the back of the menu is a well-chosen
list of wines by the glass, all so gently priced that we looked no
$11 to $15; Main courses: $23 to $32.
32 East is Delray Beach’s neighborhood
bistro, then Vic & Angelo's (290 East Atlantic Ave. 561-278-9570),
another informal dining room, is its corner trattoria. World-class
pizzas, nicely charred from coal-fired ovens, walls and low-slung
arches of exposed brick, a coffered ceiling, and stone tiled floors,
bring a little bit of the Campo de Fiori, to Southern Florida. One
soon eases into the décor: spacious, bright, and airy,
especially at lunch.
Fortunately, the food shows the same deft hand
and lack of pretense.Thin-crust pizza doesn't get much better, either
V&A‘s “Originale,“ i.e.,
the classic Margherita, or, its "Mulberry Street," with eggplant,
mozzarella, Reggiano and crushed red pepper, that was something of a
Ah, carpaccio! To me, it’s every bit as
glorious a creation as that Renaissance Venetian painter
whose name it bears. Served here with shards of Reggiano, arugula, and
a simple spritz of lemon juice, the tenderloin was hewn so thin it all
but melted in the mouth. Calamari fritte with a marinara dipping sauce,
were also well-turned out, the squid, crisp, tender, and oil- free, and
the marinara, fresh and spicy.
Here again, desserts commanded
attention: San Gennaro’s Feast turned out to be fresh cannolis and
zeppole ( filled with banana cream -- not classic, but to our taste, an
improvement) as well as naturally flavored strawberry cotton candy of a
beautiful pink color; a “slice” of Giant Chocolate cake (believe me,
they mean it) was as rich as could be-- but I think that studding fudge
with chocolate chips is overkill -- and a tray containing "S’mores"
fixings, which, as usual, were quickly depleted.
Antipasti: $8.50 to $14.50;
pizza: $16.50 to $18.50; pasta: $15.50 to $37.50.
only stopped at Boston's
Upperdeck (40 South Ocean Blvd.,
561-278-3328) here for drinks and hors-d‘oeuvres,
but if the perfect mojitos, and various appetizers sampled-- crisp,
fried calamari, jumbo lump crab cakes with a citrus/mustard aioli,
heavenly artichoke crostini
on grilled olive bread, and luxuriant shrimp and lobster flat
bread pizza-- are typical nightly fare, it's well worth a 2nd date.
Besides, you’ll love the room, a slightly less informal setting than
downstairs (Boston's On the Beach), but still with a laid-back,
come-as-you-are, old-Florida vibe, complete with an unobstructed view
of the ocean beach directly across A1A.
Starters: $10 to $15; salads:
to $17, entrees: $17 to $29.
Another favorite with the locals is Sunday
Brunch at Sundy House (106 South Swinton Avenue, 561-272-5678),
a small boutique inn (right) listed on the National
Register of Historic
places. 11 beautifully decorated guest rooms are set amidst an acre of
stunning tropical gardens and freeform pools. There’s something for
everyone here at the various stations that make up the buffet style
10:30 to 2:00 PM, $42 p.p. incl. unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys.
we can’t leave the area without mentioning the Boca
Raton Art Museum, and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
in Delray Beach. The Museum is among the best regional
museums in the country, with an extensive collection of important
pieces, from pre-Colombian and African artifacts, through
Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and onto Abstract Expressionism, Pop
Art, and Contemporary art, as well as a topnotch Photography collection
filled with little gems, and a sculpture garden. The Museum is just the
right size for a leisurely afternoon visit, although you may want to
linger a little longer in front of certain displays, like the
gorgeous, and major, Louise Nevelson piece. Admission: $8 adult.
The Morikami Museum and Gardens opened in 1977
as a showcase for Japanese culture. Six gardens, each in a distinct
historical style, dating from the 9th century through the early 20th,
offer quiet and serenity amidst 200 acres of picturesque grounds: deep
green lawns, tranquil ponds, pine forests, bamboo groves, and nature
trails. Adding to their charm are waterfalls, antique stone lanterns,
wooden bridges over shallow streams, and an authentic Seishin-An
Tea-house. The museum has a good collection of Japanese woodcuts and
other artifacts. Hours: Tues.-Sun.,
10 A.M to 5 P.M., closed Monday. Admission: $12 adult.
Edward Brivio is a freelance writer living
in New York.
NEW YORK CORNER
The Flavors of Puerto
Rico, Uptown and Down
by John Mariani
By and large, I find
New York foodies are too damn serious when
they dine out. They don't actually go to enjoy the food, they go
to examine it--the worst of
them twittering and taking photos of
everything set before them. There seems little joy in the
beyond being able to say you ate at such-and-such a place and liked or
didn't like it very much.
contrary, I always approach the next restaurant with the
thought that I am going to be delighted by the décor, service,
wine, and that I will find out something new about what I'm eating and
enjoy the infectious happiness of other people in the room who came to
that restaurant to eat, not to kibbitz or, in some cases, not even to
eat anything beyond an insipid salad.
You will not find such people in NYC's Puerto
Rican restaurants, where eating is as much entertainment as anything
else, and the spirit of the Latinos who go out to eat is wildly
My entry into two closely related Puerto Rican restaurants--Sofrito on
the Upper East Side, Sazon in
Manhattan gave me enormous pleasure, both on the plate and within the
ambiance of these vibrant dining rooms full of color, Latino music, and
big platters of hearty, delicious food, most of it quite traditional
but done up with New York flair. I can't say that all their
the nines as if attending the Alma Awards, but most of the women come
here with a bit of bling and a whole lot of rhinestones woven into
their outfits. It's a very attractive crowd. The decibel level
can rise through the evening, but it
is the sound of people really having a good time, not just trying to be
heard over the music speakers.
I've have dined at
least as well at Sofrito and Sazon as I have in
Puerto Rico best traditional restaurants, and I had even more fun here
than on the Isla Encantada.
East 57 Street (at First Avenue)
two restaurants, both owned by former NYC
police detective JR Morales, are very different in
décor. Sofrito, just south of the Queensboro
Bridge, is a sophisticated mix of grass cloth wallpaper, neutral
sculptural wood artwork by James De
Chefs Ricardo Cardona and
Andres Ortega are in charge of the kitchen, and the five-piece Sofrito
House Band plays musica sabrosa—merengue,
salsa, bachata— five days a week.
At both restaurants you might think about not
ordering too much,
because the portions are huge, but then again, flip your hand and
forget that idea; just take home what you don't eat, as I happily did
both times I visited. Some of the very best food is among the starters
(pa' empezar), including the
hearty empanadas, available stuffed with shrimp, beef, chicken, or
vegetables. Crispy marinated pork is addictive, lightly charred
little morsels to eat with sweet plantains, and the crispy fried
calamari are just as good. Don't miss the pigeon pea gumbo with ham
either--it's a terrific soup and stew in one.
Listed under "Classic Dishes" is mofongo, a working man's dish that
will get you through a long day--mashed green plaintains with beef,
shrimp, or chicken--and the roast pork is one of the favorite dishes
here, with pigeon peas and nicely steamed rice. There's a whole
red snapper, either baked or crispy, with fragrant coconut-scented
rice. And for dessert go for the empanaditas with cheese and sweet
guava paste or the impeccably rendered cheese flan. Some strong coffee
and a shot of Fundador, and you'll want to join the throng here in
their jubilant style of eating well.
open daily; Appetizers run $2-$15, entrees $13-$23.
(near West Broadway)
is a very different look--hot pink and
tufted walls that put
you in mind of Calle Ocho in Florida or the better dining rooms in San
Juan. Tables are more closely set than uptown, and the crowd more
casual for the most part. Even before you enter, the greeting at
front steps is warm and inviting, the hostess pretty and smiling, and
the whole waitstaff very accommodating. If Mr. Morales is not at
Sofrito, he will be here, and his guestlist seems to include plenty of
Sazon's menu is very similar to
Sofrito's, so I tried to order some of the same items and different
ones. I loved the coconut arepas
with crabmeat escabeche, and
the grilled shrimp with a rich Puerto Rican rum glaze was a perfect
appetizer. Plantains stuffed with beef picadillo are rich and savory,
juicy and sweet, and the salt cod buñuelos
come hot and aromatic, so when you bite into them, the hot steam comes
out, and you take a quick swig of beer or wine and polish the rest off,
relieved that you didn't burn off the roof of your mouth.
Sazon's specialties include a
succulent paella with lobster, chicken, chorizo, clams, shrimps and
saffron rice--best to order for the table. Mar y tierra is a surf-and-turf
plate of churrasco sausage
and shrimp with fried green plantains and a red wine mushroom sauce
is absorbed into the other ingredients. The red snapper here is a huge
fish, nicely cooked so that the flesh comes off at the touch of your
with crackling good skin. Best of all is the very, very
popular--you see at least one at every table--penil, a massive piece of good
roast pork with pigeon peas and rice and more plantains.
I did think that the frying
at Sazon hadn't quite the deft timing of Sofrito's kitchen, so some of
the former's fried dishes were a little oilier than uptown's. But
Sazon's desserts seem to have more variety and flavor.
Desserts at Sazon are not to be missed, among them
food favorites like churros
served with hot chocolate sauce.
At both places, it seems to
me impossible not to have a good time. And if you're going to shoot pix
with your Blackberry, take them of your friends enjoying themselves and
smiling, not the food on your plate.
open for daily, serving though till midnight or 2 AM; Sunday brunch.
Appetizers run $2-$15, entrees $13-$37. There's a large downstairs lounge for
private parties, too.
by John Mariani
thirty years of successful business we are sad to share the news that
despite all our efforts the plans to renovate and re-open Chanterelle
will not come to pass. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many
people who have become dear friends and supporters through the years,
to our loyal and loving staff and to our endlessly encouraging family.
Through good and bad times it is a thrilling, passionate and rewarding
journey. We are proud to be a part of this creative industry in this
unparalled city of ours and look forward to what we will bring to you
in the future."
So reads the goodbye letter from David and
Karen Waltuck (below), who, as
noted, for three decades ran one of NYC's finest and most
sophisticated restaurants. At first in SoHo, then in TriBeCa,
Chanterelle gave Lower Manhattan a restaurant of the first order and a
very personalized one that reflected the enduring commitment of the
Walzogs to do things their way, which just happened to be the way
things should be done in fine
In its TriBeCa location its tables were
widely separated, the décor spare but done with refined taste,
the service staff well versed in both food and manners. Susan, always
mpeccably dressed, received you up front while David toiled, year
after year in the kitchen, believing strongly that his guests deserved
his presence and attention. He once told me, "Maybe I'm just not
as smart as those chefs who own ten restaurants and never cook, but I
need to be in my kitchen,
with my staff, to cook my food."
Chanterelle's menus, buoyed by one
of the finest winelists in America, were never lavish, never overloaded
with faddish flourishes, and always retained guests' favorite dishes,
like Chanterelle's signature grilled seafood sausage-quite a revelation
when the restaurant opened 30 years ago. Steamed zucchini blossoms were
stuffed with chicken and black truffles. Roasted guina hen was served
with a reduction of red wine and black olives. Sweetbreads were treated
to caramelized leeks and orange. And there had always been a superb
It was all properly French but quite a
remove from the clichés of those French establishments that
preceded it. And it always seemed a quintessential NYC restaurant, not
least because its location way downtown, on dark blocks onto which
Chanterelle cast its soft, golden glow, was a beacon of good
immune to the kind of dumbing down of food, décor, and service
that has had its vulgar effect on why Chanterelle has both run its
failed to re-open after the summer of 2009.
Chanterelle had a legion of faithful who
will have their fond memories of the place, the cuisine, the wines, and
Waltucks who were always there to make sure their friends were happy.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
WINE AND CHEESE. . .
OR CHEESE AND WINE?
by John Mariani
of wine and cheese has been an honorable one for centuries, and there
are at least a dozen books currently available on the subject. Most of
them focus on which wines to drink after choosing your cheeses, but
that shouldn’t always be the case.
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.
According to Carolyn Stromberg,
Maitre d’Fromage at Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord National
Resort & Convention Center (below)
in National Harbor, MD, which offers 20 cheeses each night brought on a
cart, “If you plan to serve wine with your cheese course, choose the
wine (or wines) first, then the cheese. If you have five cheeses
on your plate, they might be entirely different in flavor—one might go
best with cabernet sauvignon, one with a white wine, one with a sweet
dessert wine. But a common denominator doesn’t work with them all. If
you choose wine first, you can pair cheese to the wine.”
Were you to choose the five cheeses
first, says Stromberg, 30, “You’d need five different wines to make a
perfect marriage with each.” She points out that drinking a big red
like a cabernet would “run right over” a delicate young goat’s cheese,
which would be better served with a white sauvignon blanc, whose
typical grassy taste evokes the freshness of the cheese.
She also recommends a rich,
buttery chardonnay with a “mountain-style” cheese like an equally
buttery Emmental. For blue cheeses, she prefers a sweet dessert
wine like Port.
I share Stromberg’s
sentiment, especially at dinner when I may not want to invest in
another bottle or glasses of wine just to go with the cheeses I’ve
chosen. When I buy cheese to bring home for dinner, however, I’m likely to choose a wine I think
specifically goes with that cheese.
When guests do have a wine on
their table prior to the cheese course, what’s the most sensible
approach to an array of cheeses on a cart? In the case of the New
York’s restaurant Picholine, that cart will contain between 45 and 60
cheeses on any given night, and at its sister restaurant Artisanal (below), 100 or more are kept in
perfect condition in a temperature-controlled, humidified “cave.”
“When we approach a table we see
how much wine they have left over, or we may ask them if they have
another wine in mind,” says Jason Miller, 36, corporate beverage
director The Artisanal Group, LLC, that owns Picholine and Artisanal
and has just opened two cheese stores in Seattle. “The
problem is that the wine limits what cheeses may go stylistically. I
find the dinner wine is usually not the best choice with cheeses,
because the guests like to try the unfamiliar, fragrant cheeses that do
not pair well. If they do stick with a big red wine, we try to guide
them towards complementary cheeses, from light to richer.
“But we would prefer to have
them choose the cheese first, especially since we have the resources to
offer so many wines by the half-glass or half-bottle. White wines are
definitely the most versatile, but the saltier the blue cheese the
sweeter the wine should be.”
I don’t think my own ideas on the subject
differ much from most fromageurs’ and sommeliers’, but I do have a few,
general, pet preferences that have always worked for me in wonderful
believe that a fine white Burgundy or sauvignon blanc goes very well
with almost any cheeses, except blues, from mild goat’s cheese to
Camembert. Big reds like cabernet, pinot noir, and merlot I would only
serve with harder, granular cheeses like Parmigiana-Reggiano, Tomme,
and Cheshire. Syrah and Beaujolais go nicely with medium-soft cheeses
like Cantal, Gouda, and Mahon.
I hate herbed cheeses--they
always taste like acrid rosemary or thyme--and can’t think of any wines
worth wasting on them.
Very strong cheeses like Epoisses
and Munster, and blue cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton
really cripple red wines, unless they are sweet, like a ruby or tawny
Port (I would save a vintage Port for sipping on its own) or a dessert
wine like Sauternes, Barsac, or Late Harvest Riesling.
The late Baron Philippe de
Rothschild of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild once told me that whenever he
would be eating Roquefort, he’d stick a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem
Sauternes--“and only Yquem!” he insisted--in the freezer till ice
crystals formed. I’ve tried that, and it is really, really good—like a
cheese course with the most expensive snow cone imaginable.
By the way, one of the best book that
treats well the subject of cheese and wine pairings is Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the
World’s Best by Max McCalman & David Gibbons (Potter,
the entire month of October, Chaya
restaurant group in Los Angeles will offer
its customers at all 3 locations a $25 dinner and will
serve special anniversary-edition wines by the glass Chaya Brasserie
will host a celebration on Oct. 25, with a percentage to
benefit C-CAP. Go to www.thechaya.com.
* For 2
weeks in October,
in Chicago, at The Peninsula Chicago, Pierrot
Gourmet at the
Peninsula Chicago, will host a traditional Oktoberfest with beer, brats,oom-pah
music, festive décor and more. Call 312-573-6749.
* In San Francisco, every Fri.
& Sat. night, Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant will offer a
weekly-changing whole animal menus in addition to the restaurant’s full
à la carte menu. The “Weekly Beast” menu will be available both
à la carte and as a 5-course prix fixe for $49 pp. Wine pairings
from Sommelier Melanie Mancini will be $20 for half glasses with the
prix fixe menu.Visit www.onemarket.com; call 415-777-5577.
* The Palm Restaurant Group of 26
restaurants just announced a
$100,000 commitment to help the World Food Program’s “Fill the Cup”
campaign to feed school worldwide, providing 400,000 school meals at 25
cents each. The partnership is part of the Palm Cares© program,
the philanthropic arm of The Palm. When guests order the Palm's house
specialty, jumbo Nova Scotia Lobster dish, a portion of the proceeds
will be donated to the WFP, which is part of gthe U.N. system.
Call 202-207-5264 or 310-441-0165; Visit: www.wfp.org and
* On Oct.
2, in Milwaukee, The Pfister Hotel kicks off
Afternoon Tea in the hotel's 23rd floor lounge, Blu, learning from
their Tea Butler about each variety of tea and the origins, unique
flavors, their effects on mood and health, blending options and perfect
pairings. Friday, Saturday and Sunday 3-4:30pm. Visit The
* Oct. 4-9
and 11-16, 36 of Santa Monica’s
top restaurants will be participating in the first fall dineLA Restaurant Week in Los
Angeles County. Altogether 250 restaurants will be participating
throughout the county, providing consumers an opportunity to experience
a selection of specially priced, 3-course menus. Call 310-393-7593;
Oct. 6 in NYC,
Jean-Luc Naret, Director of the Michelin
Guides, will hold a panel discussion at the Borders bookstore in
the Time Warner Center about the Michelin Guide New York City
2010, restaurant reviewing, and the NYC dining scene, with Chef
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny
Meyer, Southern Wine & Spirits'/Founder & Director of SOBE and
NYC Wine & Food Festival Lee Schrager, Food & Wine's Kate
Krader, food writer Mimi Sheraton, and panel moderator Mike
Colameco. The event begins at 6:30pm and is free and open to the
* On Oct. 8 in NYC, a
Château de Beaucastel Wine Tasting Dinner will be held at Bar Boulud with Marc
Perrin leading a tasting retrospective of 10 of the Chateau's
finest vintages , some dating from the 80's from the chateau's
own cellars, with a 4-course dinner by Chef
Damian Sansonetti. $199 pp.
* On Oct.
10, in New Orleans, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will host an Old New Orleans
Rum Company rum tasting and discussion,
lead by Master Distiller Chris Sule of Celebration Distillation.
$10 for non-members. Call 504-569-0405 or visit www.southernfood.org.
Oct. 12 to 17th in Portland, OR,
East India Co. Grill & Bar
will celebrate Diwali, the Indian New Year, with a special tasting menu
featuring traditional dishes like Parda Biryani and Ras-Malai. $22 pp.
Call 503-227-8815 or visit www.eastindiacopdx.com.
* On Oct. 15, in Miami,
RUMBAR at the Ritz-Carlton Key
Biscayne will be hosting the 2nd and final stage of the Ron
Abuelo and Rum Jumbie Mixology Contest. The top U.S. rum mixologists
move from NYC to Miami to compete for a chance to win a trip to Panama,
courtesy of Varela Imports and Varela Hermanos. No cover charge, cash
bar only. Call 305-365-4286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*On Oct. 17th & 18th, in Nantucket,
MA, American Seasons
presents its first annual Hogtoberfest, celebrating the many ways to
use a pig in its entirety. Sat. events include a Pork & Beer
Tasting Tour with Cisco Brewers ($30) and a nose-to-tail demo with
American Seasons Chef Michael LaScola and visiting Chef Matt Jennings
of the Farmstead in Rhode Island ($150; Saturday). Sun. events kick off
with a candy making class with Pastry Chef Natasha Misanko ($30) and
end with a special prix-fixe pork dinner ($135). Reservations required.
Oct. 18 through 21 The Sagamore in
Bolton Landing, NY,
will host the Santé Restaurant Symposium, Strategies for
Survival and Success, designed for fine-dining and
upscale-casual hospitality professionals who want to increase profits,
stay on top of trends, and learn from and network with the most
successful restaurateurs in the industry. Visit www.isantemagazine.com.
From Oct. 16-18 the 3rd annual
Martha's Vineyard Food & Wine Festival will be held
MA. Josh Wesson of Best Cellars, will talk on "The
Price is Right." Cocktail Reception benefits the Martha's
Vineyard Museum, with Chef/Owner Andy Husbands of
Tremont 647 and Sister Sorrell in Boston. Fri.
night island chefs host wine dinners. Sat., boat
tours of the oyster flats followed by a tasting of
oysters with white wines; seminars in galleries,
boutiques, and a waterfront private club. Jonathan Alsop of the
Boston Wine School and Lee Napoli of Chocolee in Boston present,
"Dessert Wines and Chocolates." “Grand Tasting,”
with 25+ international vintners while local and
Boston-area chefs offer complementary seasonal dishes.
Sun., local chefs prepare brunches with wines and champagne. Visit
* On Oct. 16 Castle
Hill Inn & ResortSM, in Newport,
RI, presents adinner featuring the wines of Italy’s Pio Cesare.
Devin McGarry of Maison Marques & Domaines, Inc., will lead guests
through each selection of wine paired with Executive Chef
Jonathan Cambra’s 5-course dinner. $95 pp. A 2-night
guestroom package is also available, Packages begin at $1,399.02. Call
401-849-3800 or visit www.castlehillinn.com.
* On Oct. 17 Aqua blue restaurant in Roswell, GA, will host a beer
festival with a prix fixe tapas menu of 9 dishes paired with 9
different beers, along with live music from The Moonlight Band.
$26 pp. Call 770-643-8886 or visit www.aquablueatl.com.
* On Oct. 17 The Dorchester in
London, presents new
culinary master classes in the Krug Room led by Executive Chef Henry
Brosi. The Culinary Master Classes get underway with
“Native French Oysters” on October 17, 2009, and follow with White Alba
Truffles on Nov. 7; “Black Perigord Truffles” on Fe. 20, and four more
through the coming year. Classes priced from £150 pp. Call
800-650-1842 or visit www.thedorchester.com/
*On October 17th &
18th, in Nantucket, MA, American Seasons presents its first
"Hogtoberfest," celebrating the many ways to use a pig in its entirety.
Saturday events incl. a Pork & Beer Tasting Tour with Cisco Brewers
($30) and a nose-to-tail demo with American Seasons Chef Michael
LaScola and Chef Matt Jennings of the Farmstead in Rhode Island ($150).
Sunday events kick off with a candy making class with Pastry Chef
Natasha Misanko ($30) and end with a special prix-fixe pork dinner
($135). Call 508-228-7111.
FEATURE: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up
with four excellent travel sites:
* On Oct.19 in Yountville,
CA, Bardessono presents
a series honoring Napa Valley's farmers, artists and winemakers.
The first dinner in the series offers an opportunity to taste 3
varieties of Jamon Iberico with Alberto Solis. Chefs Slyvain Portay and
Sean O'Toole will prepare a 4-course Spanish dinner paired with select
Spanish wines chosen by Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji. $135
p.p. Call 707- 204 - 6030. www.bardessono.com.
From October 21 – 27 in Arlington,
VA, Restaurant 3 will
host the Week of Bacon featuring bacon happy hours with creative bacon
cocktails and dishes such as bacon on a stick, and a 3-course bacon
tasting menu Call 703-524-4440 or visit www.restaurantthree.com.
* On Oct 22, China Grill and Kobe Club in Miami Beach invite you to a
“Bring Your Own Wine” 6-course tasting dinner at $55 pp. Call
From Oct. 22-24 in Scottsdale, AZ,
sponsored by Food & Wine
magazine, the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Savor
Scottsdale, Crave Arizona will
be held in downtown Scottsdale waterfront. With over 10 events,
tickets will range from $20-$500. Events incl: “Taste
of Art” Cocktail Art Walk; “Taste of Art” Gallery Dinners; Crave
Arizona Kick Off Party on the Bridge; Library Wine Tasting Series;
Savor Scottsdale Wine Lunches; The National Top Bar Chef Competition;
Cocktail Culture & Bar Seminars; BBQ & Bubbles; The
Arizona Grand Tasting (John Mariani, publisher of
the Virtual Gourmet will be
judging a cook-off.) The festival’s most
anticipated event, the Arizona Grand Tasting, is prices at $75 presale;
$85 at the door. Visit www.cravearizona.com; call
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: FIVE WAYS TO MAKE EUROPE MORE AFFORDABLE.
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:
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
An engaging, interactive wine
column by Niclk Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine
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, Bloomberg News, 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