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the creator of Pez candies, died at the age of 87 on Dec. 15,
2009, at his home in Olympia, WA.
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in the Valley of the Sun, Part Two by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Ten Predictions for the Wine World in 2010 by John Mariani
in the Valley of the Sun, Part Two
asked about a colleague, Winston Churchill said, "He's a modest man,
who has a good deal be be modest about." Obviously that was not meant
as praise. But in the case of two new restaurants in Phoenix and
Scottsdale, I mean it as a compliment, that is, they are modest
restaurants but should be justifiably proud of that. They catch
the tenor of the moment by being comfortably casual, good looking, and
well priced, with a real dedication to good, simple flavors.
Start with good ingredients and you can’t go too far wrong—that’s the contemporary mantra of good cooking, and Moises brandishes the idea by telling you where all his ingredients come from locally, including pond-raised shrimp, heirloom tomatoes, naturally raised pork, and eggs from Dave the Egg Man at Two Wash Ranch.
Given the restaurant’s name, the focus here is on pastas, through there are some terrific antipasti too—buffalo mozzarella with basil pesto, tomatoes, and anchovies, and Dave’s eggs with Parmigiano, warm garlic, and anchovy vinaigrette. There are also good side dishes—the ones you do not want to miss are slow-roasted pork shoulder and the sweet shrimp.
The main event is a list of nine or so pastas, all hearty, freshly made, with vibrant sauces, from bavette with lemon, butter, and Parmigiano to spaghetti alla ghitarra all’amatriciana, with guanciale bacon, onion, parsley, hot pepper, and tomato. Both are exemplary and as close as you can get to the true flavor of Italy. I also enjoyed the gnocchi alla Lupa (I suspect the “wolf” in question is Mario Batali’s trattoria in NYC), with a sweet and spicy fennel sausage ragù, and the spaghetti alla carbonara is true to Roman form, with the raw egg cooked by the heat of the hot pasta. The odd thing here is that ,as the photo above shows, they serve bread with pasta--two starches--which is like the old days at Italian-American restaurants when people would have pasta followed by a main course with a side order of spaghetti.
There are 18 Italian wines by the glass.
The dining room itself is spacious and fairly quiet at lunch, when I visited, so I can’t comment on the noise level at night. There is indeed a bar, ideal for dropping in for a plate of pasta. The place is a tad difficult to find: You drive down the street, see a storefront named Sens and Turf Restaurant & Pub, with an alleyway, go down there and you’ll find it at the end. Believe me, once you eat here, you’ll remember where it is and bring your friends.
Pasta Bar is open for lunch and dinner daily. Antipasti run $5-$10, pastas $9-$17.
7216 East Shoeman Lane, Scottsdale
What a novel idea! At least for Scottsdale. An old-fashioned French bistro offering impeccable renditions of classic bourgeois French fare--exactly what Old Town Scottsdale needed. Chef James Porter, previously at Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar, has opened a bistro of ideal size, 33 seats inside, 50 on the patio, where I had lunch on a relatively cool (i.e., not 95 degrees) afternoon. The décor is cheery throughout, with chandeliers and country fabrics, a good bar, open kitchen, and service couldn't be more cordial.
Glancing over the menu, I saw so many dishes I wanted to try, including many that will never go out of style no matter what culinary fashions are. Those you may begin with would be a fine, well caramelized onion soup with Gruyère cheese and a touch of sherry, or wonderfully creamy, well-textured duck rillettes, served with apricots and pistachios. The foie gras on toasted brioche with caramelized apples and pickled grapes is an outright steal at only $10, and if you enjoy roasted beef marrow (below), here's the place to have it in town, accompanied by a parsley-caper-fennel salad. Sea scallops were done the old way, with mushrooms, white wine and an herb gratin--a fine winter's appetizer.
For the main courses, lush confit of duck comes with a steaming white bean cassoulet that showed a real respect for such this style of cookery, and the roast chicken is stuffed with chestnut and sage, served with pearl onions, and buttery pommes purée. Porter wraps pork tenderloin with bacon, serves it lightly pink, and sidles the plate with celeriac and Brussels sprouts with a red wine gastrique to add sweetness and piquancy. Bouillabaisse for two ($39) is a lovely, almost romantic dish, chock full of mussels, clams, lobster, scallops, and whitefish, then scented with saffron and a ruddy fennel broth.
You might end with a selection of good, ripe cheeses, but then you'd miss the textbook soufflé au Grand Marnier with vanilla crème anglaise and the crème brûlée au chocolat.
In its lack of pretense, Petite Maison shows just how much precision and talent it takes to turn out food of such wholesome goodness and to do it with a little more largess that makes this a bistro à l'Arizona rather than l'Antibes.
Petite Maison is open daily for lunch and dinner. Appetizers run $6-$10, main courses $16-$18.
To Read Part One of this article, click here.
NEW YORK CORNER
name Tony May has enormous respect in the New York restaurant industry,
and among Italian restaurateurs everywhere he is justly credited with
raising the image of Italian cuisine and wine over the last 30 years,
having opened two of the most refined ristoranti
in America--Palio and San Domenico--along with helping create the
program for Italian culinary studies at the Culinary Institute of
America's Caterina de Medici Room, for which he complied the textbook.
SD26 is open for lunch
and dinner daily. Salumeria items run $7.50-$9, antipasti $7/$16
to $11.50/$19.50 (depending on portion), pastas $14/$3 to $30,
main courses $16/$30-$23/$40.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Will Happen in the Wine World in 2010?
since that Millennium 2000 folly have I seen so much frenzy in the
global wine market.
Back then, with the stock markets booming, auction houses setting
records for wines, and Champagne producers warning there would not be
enough product for the celebration, everything in the wine world seemed
upbeat and getting pricier by the month.
John 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 the Journal of Sexual Medicine, light
to moderate consumption of red wine may lead to improved sexual
function in women. A study conducted at the
University of Florence showed that women who
drank one or two glasses of red wine a day scored higher on a
questionnaire about sexual health and enjoyment.
UH, RUN THAT BY US AGAIN?
"When a highly regarded restaurant loses its chef, we tend to hold our breath. The better the restaurant, the deeper we inhale. It's a reflex. We tend to think of a chef and his restaurant (even when it's not `his' restaurant) as inextricably entwined, two entities sharing a single personality. When they pull apart, we react as though hearing about the separation of conjoined twins. Can either survive? Will one, at the expense of the other? "--Phil Vettel, "Sepia sails along nicely despite chef shakeup," Chicago Tribune (12/3/09).
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
Cleveland Independents, a
group of 90 independent restaurants located in northeast Ohio, will be
promoting Family Values throughout January. Restaurants will
feature family-style dinners and/or children’s menus and special
desserts. Visit www.clevelandindependents.com and click on
* Every Sun. through Wed., Marfa in NYC's East Village presents “BBQ
Tax Relief” specials. Big Bend Sundays: Big Bend Platters for Two
(incl. a shot of tequila each), $11 pp, El Cheapo and Border Platters
1/2 off, for two, $4 shots of tequila. All You Can Eat Mon:
Unlimited Wings ($9), Ribs ($12), Barbeque Shrimp ($15), All served
with Baked Beans and Slaw. $3 Bud or Bud
Lites. Cross the Border on Tues: $4 appetizers, or $10 for
any three, Choose from Guacamole, Vegetable Quesadilla, Fish Taco,
Vegetarian Chili, Beef Chile or Pork Tostada. $3 Tecates, $4 Coronas,
$4 Margaritas, $4 shots of tequila. West Texas Trash Wed: $9 All
You Can Eat Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, $3 PBR's. Call
* From Jan. 6 through Feb. 27, McCormick & Kuleto’s
(415-929-1730) in San Francisco,
and Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto (510-845-7771)
in Berkeley, bring
the flavors of New Zealand to the San Francisco Bay Area by showcasing
special items on their dining room and bar menus. Visit
* From Jan. 11-Feb.28, in NYC, restaurants of the Patina Restaurant Group offer
comforting one-pot specials at wallet-friendly prices: cassoulet,
paella, choucroute, and more. See menus at www.patinagroup.com.
* On Jan. 16-23 in NYC,
Great Performances presents James Beard guest chef Michael Wei
and his Chinese cuisine at Sotheby's
Café. Menu will complement Sotheby's current exhibition
on Chinese ceramics. Price ranges from $5.75-$12.
* From Jan. 17-24 in Virginia
Beach, VA, Virginia Beach
Restaurant Week is offering 3-course prix-fixe meals at special
prices. Call Virginia Beach Restaurant Association at 757-422-4420 or
the Virginia Beach Visitor Center at 757-491-7866, or e-mail
email@example.com, for more information.
* On Jan. 20 in Salt
Lake City, Lugano
Restaurant kicks off its ten year anniversary with its first Italian
wine dinner featuring Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco and Guest
Chef Maurizio Albarello of Trattoria Antica Torre. Six course
chef’s menu inspired by the cuisines of Piemonte for $59 pp, optional
Barbaresco wine pairing $45 pp. Call 801-412-9994 or visit
* On Jan. 20 in Healdsburg,
CA, Cyrus Restaurant,
continues their Winter Winemaker Dinner series with an evening with
Radio-Coteau. Special guest, Eric Sussman, Winegrower at Radio-Coteau,
will provide information about the wines paired with a 5-course
menu by Chef Douglas Keane. $215 pp. Call 707-433-3311 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. . . . On Feb. 2, Cyrus
Restaurant welcomes Peay Vineyards for their final Winter Winemaker
Dinner of the series. Andy Peay and winemaker Vanessa Wong will
showcase their beautiful Sonoma Coast offerings complemented by a
* On Jan. 22, in Orlando,
FL, Rosen Centre’s award-winning “Vine and Dine” series returns
to The Everglades Restaurant
with “Homage to Frommage” in honor of national cheese lover’s day, as a
5-course menu is prepared to showcase a variety of distinct, flavorful
chesses accompanied by wine selections designed to compliment each
dish. $65 pp. Call 407-996-8560 or visit www.rosencentre.com. or
* On Jan. 23-24 in Boston,
the 19th Annual Boston Wine Expo returns
to the Seaport World Trade Center. Highlights incl. the Grand
Tasting showcasing over 450
international and domestic wineries from 13 countries pouring over
1,800 different wines; An Exclusive Grand Cru Wine Lounge; Celebrity
Chef cooking demos; a Seminar Series designed for all levels of wine
lovers; and a Meet and Greet the Winemakers presentations where
attendees can meet the winemakers to discuss and sample their latest
vintages. Call 877-946-3976 or visit www.WineExpoBoston.com.
* From Jan. 29-31, in Eugene, Ore. the Oregon Truffle Festival celebrates
its 5th anniversary. Truffle enthusiasts, chefs, foodies, truffle
hunters with truffle dogs and truffle growers gather at the festival
for three days of tastings, tours and workshops.Visit
www.oregontrufflefestival.com; call 503-296-5929.
* On Jan. 30, V. Sattui Winery’s annual Barrel Tasting & New Release Party in St. Helena offers more than 45 wines, including horizontals of 2007 Zinfandels and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignons, complemented by an international feast ranging from Alsace to Vietnam.. $75-85/person, 800/799-2337, www.vsattui.com.
* On Jan. 30 in NYC, Henry's presents a special Jazz Brunch as part of its 10th anniversary celebration featuring a surprise jazz vocalist with acoustic accompaniment and Chef Mark Barrett’s additions to the menu. Call 212-866-0600 or visit online at www.henrysnyc.com. . . . On Feb. 1 Henry's presents the debut of "Sing for Your Supper," a relaxed evening of food and American popular song hosted by Pianist Steven Blier (Founder of the New York Festival of Song). Chef Mark Barrett will serve a 3-course Spaghetti and Meatball Dinner and all the Italian varietals will be offered at half price. $19 pp.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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."
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.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; email@example.com; www.nickonwine.com.
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.
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