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Testaccio by John Mariani
MAN ABOUT TOWN by Christopher Mariani
Tradition and Innovation
Basque Country Dining
As a whole, Spain has a very strong national identity and a community of people who want to hold onto their regional roots by calling on a history that pre-dates the Romans, but it is quite evident that each region's people don't want to recognize themselves as Spaniards as much as they do Catalans, Valencians, Castillians, or, especially, Basques. In the Basque country of the north, the language is drastically different than Catalonian or any dialect, and during a recent trip I noticed these distinctions firsthand while sitting in a pintxos bar in San Sebastián when a woman tourist watching a TV soccer game screamed out, “Viva España!” Not a good idea, because to the Basques, España is little more than a generalization: the locals looked at her and started yelling at her for what they took as profanity, as if she found the regional patriotism insignificant.
But besides the language, the Basque region is also defined by the glorious food and the social interactions that surround eating and drinking. When we arrived in San Sebastián, we met up with some friends who live there and happen to work at the world renowned Mugaritz restaurant. Through them, we were able to get a local perspective and the opportunity to experience only the best of what San Sebastián had to offer.
Most of our eating in town consisted of a lot of pintxos (the Basque term for tapas), which traditionally consists of slices of fresh bread topped with different items such as anchovies, peppers, jamon, and a few other ingredients. (To be wholly traditional about it, as Spanish food and wine authority Gerry Dawes points out, the topped breads are called montaditos, and pintxos are more on toothpicks, though pintxos are now being used interchangeably with tapas.)
Pintxos bars tend to be the meeting places for friends, lovers, people on dates ,and are the places where individuals come to socialize and relax over a glass of beer or txakoli, the fizzy regional white wine poured from a height into the flat-bottom glass. Bouncing from one bar to the next is very common, for the reason that some bars are known for certain items and also because a glass of txakoli and pintxos will only cost you €4-5, allowing you to move around as you please.
The first bar we went to was Bar Portaletas, one of the larger in the area, where we had classic pintxos of white anchovies, diced pimientos, and a pepper relish, as well as with white anchovies, jamon and an onion relish, both well balanced, clean tasting, with the right amount of fat, salt, and acidity. The giant local mushrooms called hongo beltza a la plancha (left) were sliced and cooked on the griddle and dressed with olive oil, parsley, garlic and sea salt.
We then moved on to Bar Ganbara, known for their braised octopus, served either hot or warm with potatoes, a generous amount of olive oil, Spanish paprika, and a side of fresh bread with which to sop up the oil. Ganbara is also recognized for its warm mini-croissant sandwiches (below) stuffed simply with great quality jamon and melted cheese as well as their croquetas de jamon, which everyone does, but they do perfectly.
As I noted, many of the bars are known for specific items: La Cepa, open since 1948, is the place to go for jamon de Jabugo. Here you can enjoy a glass of txakoli and a small or large palette of thinly sliced jamon cut from one of the dozens of legs that hang from the ceiling. For anchovies, get over to Txepetxa, which cures their own and creates exciting and delicious pintxos with them.
Not all the bars in San Sebastián stick to classic Basque country pintxos; some are doing slightly more modern, upscale dishes. For this type of bar, I recommend Cuchara De San Telmo and Bar Barri. At the former you can get small plates of braised beef cheeks, cannelloni of braised meat trimmings with beef jus and sea salt, croquetas of sweetbreads (not that great), or pig’s ear crisped on the plancha with a puree of chickpea and braising jus. And at Bar Barri, which I thought was a little better, you can sample the goat’s cheese à la plancha with sesame seeds and prune puree; ham neck with pimiento choricero, a traditional pepper puree; a tempura-fried croqueta of mixed meat mousse and an aïoli; or stuffed piquillo peppers with beef cheek, goat’s cheese, mushroom puree and aïoli--all extremely tasty and satisfying.
On our last day in San Sebastián, our friends brought us to one of their favorite places, Donostiarra, quickly becoming one of my favorites, a place with a long history; once owned by a gentleman who decided to close up shop after decades of success, the new owner re-opened, calling on the previous owner to ask for all his recipes so that it could continue to produce the same food that its costumers had come to love.
The design of the bar is simple but contemporary. Recommended items are the classic potato and egg salad with cured anchovies; a plate of oil-packed anchovies (left), tuna, olives, and guindillas de ibarra (pickled small green peppers); bocadillos (sandwiches about four to six inches long) with tuna and anchovies or chorizo, and the classic pintxos, the tortilla egg omelet with potatoes cooked in olive oil, which most pintxos bars make large size and serve a slice of; at Donostiarra they make personal sized ones in six-inch pans. If your time is limited in San Sebastián and can’t frequent all the pintxos bars that the city has to offer, then make sure Donostiarra is on your list.
The dining scene throughout Spain
dusk or under the street lights of the night dressed well with a
woman on your arm won’t create an
indelible memory I highly recommend, but
as far as dress codes and requirements go, there really aren’t
any. The normal dress for men is casual slacks or jeans with a nice
button down shirt in most establishments. But don’t think the food or
is going to match the lax attitude; quite the opposite. Here in the
country, the people pride themselves on their local ingredients,
dishes, attention to quality, and generous hospitality.
As addictive and satisfying as pintxos bar hopping can be, there are restaurants worth saving a little room and euros for. Right outside of San Sebastián, about a 30-minute drive, is an exceptional restaurant called Etxebarri. This quaint little restaurant (right) in the tiny village of Axpe, with little else in it but the lovely Basque countryside as backdrop, rests in a building constructed in the 18th century and renovated in 1989 by Victor Arguinzoniz, who is both the chef and owner. He took this restaurant and applied purity and focus on the highest quality ingredients. But he didn’t stop there. Many chefs claim to do the same thing, but I don’t know any others who build numerous grills just so that each grill will house a specific type of wood to cook with. Every dish served at Etxebarri is cooked on a wood-burning grill, including the desserts. It’s not just Arguinzoniz’s attention to details, quality, and extreme talent that separate him from everyone else, it’s his adamant dedication to cooking in the oldest and purest way.
We walked into the restaurant a little early, so we decided to have a drink at the bar to buy some time. More txakoli! A young woman led us upstairs to the dining room, asking if we preferred smoking or non-smoking, and showed us to our table in a open room with cathedral ceilings, hanging light fixtures of red glass, stone masonry, and barn house décor. The tables are simply set with white tablecloths, fine glassware, and beautiful silverware.
we all chose to have the tasting
ordered a bottle of Itsas Mendi
Bizkaiko Txakolina No. 7, a
wine local to the region, with floral notes, well-balanced acidity, and
At this point we moved on expectantly to seafood, given the Basque country’s emphasis on the sea. Now, with our appetites just getting going, out came red prawns (below), so very lightly grilled, the flesh just warmed through, and drizzled with fine olive oil, sea salt, and a little chickweed. Until you’ve had one of these, you don’t know what a sweet shrimp tastes like, and to not waste the slightest bit, we picked up the heads to make sure we sucked out all the last bits of flavor. Do not, I repeat, do not be shy; this is one of the best parts of the shrimp.
Following the prawn was another crustacean, a giant specimen, locally called a “Royal Prawn,” but universally named the “Slipper Lobster” (below). Once again, it was simply grilled till perfectly cooked, tender and succulent, with a natural sweetness that far surpassed any Maine lobster I’ve ever had. There is no glitz or manipulation in these dishes, they are just pure, great ingredients cooked with a respect for what they are.
As we moved on, the dishes started to become a little bit more composed. First was a dish of local cockles, grilled till just opened, with a light smokiness and finished with grapefruit segments and candied orange. Not being a fan of clams in the past, I had to reconsider when I tasted these. Following these was baby octopus, pulpito, quickly grilled and served with a red onion compote, wilted spinach, pickled red onion and squid ink sauce. As well as teardrop peas, barely blanched, with a just farmed egg yolk, crisps of jamon, purple potato puree, and a garniture of pea flowers, this was a dish well thought out but a little too heavy on the puree, which overpowered and drowned out the delicate flavor of the young peas.
After the few composed dishes we had, we went right back to basics, first with a whole grilled turbot, in Spain called rodaballo, served with an emulsion of its own gelatinous juices, olive oil and lemon juice. (Turbot is perhaps my favorite fish, and the hardest to find made well in the States, but if you want the best in NYC, look no farther then Marea, Michael White’s Italian seafood restaurant on Central Park South, where he serves it—and I used to cook it when I worked there!-- in almost the same manner.)
And last but not least, was the steak. Perhaps a little background on Spanish meat: The Spanish don’t have the same meat or methods of raising cattle as we do here in the States. The idea of corn-fed cattle doesn’t cross their minds. Everything there is grass fed and aged--but not post-slaughter; instead, they like their cattle older in years than ours, which helps them develop a distinct flavor and tender texture, and to top it off, they serve it rare. Myself, I love good American beef, but the Spanish steak is nothing to be balked at, unique, flavorful, and extremely tender, and Etxebarri does it well.
To finish our meal, we had a palate cleanser a floral granita with a hint of anise liqueur, followed by a smoked fresh cheese ice cream with a mixed red berry soup. Remember, I said everything was smoked over coals, but it’s always done subtly, so as not to overpower the ingredients. Last was a dessert of milk ice cream and pain perdu (grilled and caramelized French toast) with fire-roasted strawberries.
was by far one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve ever had,
one filled with wonderful company, calming ambiance, and phenomenal
you’re in the area, do not hesitate to rent a car, take a cab, or find
other way to visit this stand-alone restaurant in the hills of Spain.
be greatly rewarded.
At the other end of the spectrum, Spain has new restaurants that dabble in what many have called “molecular gastronomy,” a genre pioneered by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in Roses--who calls his cuisine cocina de vanguardia--and a far cry from the simplicity and purity of restaurants such as Etxebarri. Just as in more puritan restaurants, there are good and bad specimens, and in a genre of cuisine that sets itself up for a lot of criticism, risk and potential for shortcomings, there are few places that can compete with Arzak.
Prior to walking into Arzak (above), I had read a lot of different reviews on the restaurant that made me believe that I was going to see things I had never seen before, things that were going to blow my mind, dishes that I couldn’t recognize. I was expecting it to be a science show, and when I arrived, yes, there were concoctions I had never seen before, and, yes, things that blew my mind, but was it the kind of lab experiments people make of molecular gastronomy? No. In the States, molecular cooks’ main purpose is to wow first, not to satisfy, and very, very few have the experience and the extensive experimental background that Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena (below) have acquired. They keep true to their Basque cuisine and respect and focus on every ingredient, maintaining classic cooking techniques highlighted by some manipulative effects, not the other way around. This, for me, is what makes Arzak unique and one of the best at what they do.
Arzak was opened in 1887 by Juan’s grandparents, José Maria Arzak Etxabe and Escolástica Lete, with the intention of becoming a distinct presence in the city of Alza, which later became San Sebastián. With those intentions came great success. As generations passed, Arzak was transformed into one of the innovators and creators of a new, modern, and contemporary cuisine, changing the world of gastronomy as people new it, acquiring accolades that include three Michelin stars and, in 2009, Spain's Premio Vedrá.
Juan, who had trained under many of the greats such as Bocuse, Troisgros, Senderens, Boyer and Arrambide, has now created his own notch on the totem of Basque gastronomic history. Elena has degrees from Cambridge and Oxford, as well as training with at La Gavroche, Troisgros, Carrá de Feuillants, and Vivarois. With these two highly decorated individuals, you can imagine what is possible.
To start off our tasting menu, we began with an array of tasty amuse bouches, ranging from a simple bean soup and tart apple, perfectly ripe strawberries with cured anchovies, and a tempura of blood sausage, all delicious one- or two-bite morsels to get the palate going. Successive dishes became more creative and playful, like gently cooked lobster in a boat of crisp potato and served with a sauce made from copaiba, a resin obtained from a legume tree native to South America, followed by a poached fresh farm egg “con temblor de tierra,” a play on words meaning earthquake, with a crumble of toasted panko breadcrumbs and dehydrated mushrooms with a touch of sweetness that balanced out the whole dish.
We then moved onto our fish course, a dish called Rape Marea Baja (above), meaning "low tide," roasted Monkfish and a spread of almond puree mimicking sand and clams molded into the shape of a seashell, so that the dish visually resembled the seashore scattered with shells, coral and starfish. And to finish off our savory courses, ossobuco de Cordero, a perfectly roasted loin of lamb served with a natural jus and garniture of potato transformed into the appearance of a bone.
To finish our meal, we sampled a selection of the desserts ranging from Sopa y Chocolate “entre viñedos,” a strawberry soup, basil sorbet, and molten spheres of chocolate; Bizcocho Esponjoso de Yogurt, a yogurt sponge cake with a tart of passion fruit, and white chocolate with a filling of lemon curd.
Arzak also has
a phenomenal wine cellar (right),
a half hour to read through, so do not be shy to ask the sommelier for
recommendations. We enjoyed a 2007 Allende Rioja and 2006 Ceres from
Duero, which went perfectly with our meal.
It is assumed that you can get anything you want in NYC's Italian restaurants, but in fact, few actually commit to a menu of food from a specific region, instead offering a pan-Italian menu with a few special dishes from Campania or Liguria or Tuscany. So the emergence of Testaccio, named after the eighth hill of Rome, which is really a mound of ancient broken wine amphoras (testae), as the only true Roman trattoria in NYC is absolutely wonderful news.
Owned by Chef-partner
Beacco, general manager Adriana Crescenzi, and partners Carlo
and Paul Bordone, seen below with NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg (a fourth
not in the photo is Alviero Pirani), Testaccio is in Long Island
City, which is not on Long
Island but in Queens, just minutes' drive from the 59th Street,
Triborough, or Whitestone Bridges (the No. 7 subway takes you to Vernon
and Jackson Avenue). It's a long, handsome room with a bar
upfront, ample use of red brick and good lighting, and an open pizza
oven. Beacco will probably bound over to your table to say hello
and make suggestions, but you can pretty much choose from anywhere on
the menu and you'll be amazed at the fidelity of his cooking to Roman
tradition. Only Danny Meyer's new Maialino
in Manhattan comes as close.
The only disappointment among
the starters was a too-thin pizza, tasty but without the corona of
crust that would make it so much better, despite its being topped with
Gorgonzola, mozzarella, and Italian ham.
The service staff, which seems
overworked, can also be lax, and you will find yourself hailing a
waiter or busboy throughout the evening. The winelist is just
long and short enough for a trattoria cellar, and there are some very
good buys on it well under $50.
WONDERFUL TWELVE DOLLAR WINES
percent of the time the offerings are poor sellers
inventory of undistinguished, already cheap wines.
But I am not so flush these days that I can snub a good bargain, and out of professional interest I thought it worthwhile to check out some recent discount sales at fine wine stores and see what was worthwhile to drink. What I found was that, as never before, much better wines are now being offered at much better prices, owing to the huge wine glut on the market during these recessionary times.
As recent auction prices have shown, the First Growth Bordeaux and the most illustrious Burgundies are going for record bids, but below that firmament very little is selling well, especially out of French wineries.
France, more than Italy, Spain, and South America, has not been able to export enough interesting, full-flavored wines at moderate prices (under $15) to keep sales from flagging, aside from a few enormous successes like Gallo-owned Red Bicyclette at $8--even after a French court convicted 12 members of the Languedoc wine industry last February of illegally blending cheap merlot and syrah into 18 million bottles of pinot noir-based Red Bicyclette.
So when I spotted an ad—among many these days—for deep discounts at the fine wine store Zachys (above) in Scarsdale, NY, that read “The $12 Sale Is Back!” I thought it worth a drive to see what’s going cheap these days. I chose a dozen or so bottles based on what looked intriguing, hedging my bets by siding with Chile, Spain, and Italy, and, after tasting all of them, both alone and with summer food, I have to say I was really delighted with the majority.
Some of the wines had been marked down from as high as $23, though most had been about $17. At $12 a bottle I would certainly drink the good ones any night of the week and happily even pay list price for some. Most important, my tastings showed that producers are shipping quality matched to price in just about every kind of varietal, from barbera d’alba to shiraz.
One of the most impressive was a full-bodied, fleshy Altos de Luzon 2006 from Jumilla in Spain, a blend of 50 percent monastrell, 25 cabernet sauvignon, and 25 tempranillo of a kind you usually find in more expensive bottlings. This one showed bold tannins and enough spice to go throughout a meal of roast chicken with white beans and tangy-hot salsa verde.
From Spain’s Ribera del Duero region came a solidly knit Creta Roble 2006, 100 percent tempranillo grown at 850 meters (2700 feet), whose coolness calms the grape and gives the finished wine a finesse and then a nice bite of acid at the finish. I drank this with a very rare porterhouse and nothing but a shake of sea salt and black pepper. Perfect!
A third Spanish bottling, Borsao Crianza Selecçion 2006 is another example of how modestly priced wines need not be one-dimensional. This is a blend of 50 percent grenache, 25 tempranillo, and 25 cabernet sauvignon, so that the violet notes of the grenache play off the softness and tannins of the other two varietals. Curiously enough, though it began with good backbone, its power faded after two glasses.
A 2008 barbera d'alba from Stefano Farina in Italy’s Piedmont showed just how good this workhorse grape can be, even this young, when handled carefully, revealing the ripe fruit, the lovely fragrance, and a peppery undertone that makes it excellent with red meats like lamb or veal.
Mas du Fadan Les Fées 2007, from the Côtes du Ventoux in the southern Rhône region, had a characteristic purple color and big rustic smell, which partially derives from its not being filtered. It’s a bawdy beauty of a red wine, made for barbecued ribs on the grill and sweet corn on the cob.
Not every wine I tasted was as good as these—a Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Napa Valley was pale to the eye and palate, and a Lagone Aia Vecchia from Tuscany 2007 was all tannin and no taste. But for a dozen wines chosen more or less at random, I thought I had found that level of quality that puts much more expensive wines into focus when asking the question, is a $50 bottle really all that much better than a $12 bottle? More and more, I think, the answer is not quite so easy as it once seemed.
John 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.
Emeril’s Red Marble Steaks--The Allen
Brothers Company, with a longstanding reputation of offering
high-quality steaks has teamed up with Chef
Emeril Lagasse to release a new line of meats called Emeril’s
currently being sold online
strictly for US household consumers. Emeril,
House in PA. At a recent event in Chelsea
NY, showcasing the line’s best cuts of meat, tenderloin, ribeye, and
strip, I was
able to meet Chef Lagasse, who was extremely proud-- rightfully so--of
new venture. I tasted the well-fatted 1
1/2 inch- thick juicy ribeye, seared and cooked by the man
himself. According to a spokesperson for
the company, while not all of the steaks are USDA Prime,
all of the steaks sold are hand-selected. With
online market offering a new
for great steaks, considering we all know of the disappointment when
through local supermarket chain meat departments filled with
trimmed, extremely lean, tasteless cuts of meat.
The Plaza Food Hall by Todd
The Plaza Food Hall, inside NYC's
Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South,
offering New Yorkers and visitors both prepared and retail food items. The hall, seating up to 80, is made up
of eight unique food stations including the ocean grill and oyster
bar, which sells whole fish, fresh oysters, Alaskan king crab and even prepared
items like lobster rolls and grilled branzino to be brought home. The
grill, prepares amazing made-to-order burgers--my favorite is the
slider topped with
caramelized onions and fontina cheese--and also savory
carved meat sandwiches, one filled with warm apple wood smoked turkey
placed on fresh Sullivan Street Bakery ciabatta bread. I recommend no one leave the Food Hall
by the alluring pizza station, which
serves thin crust pizzas topped with interesting European ingredient
combinations like fig jam, prosciutto, gorgonzola and rosemary; another
pie is topped with spicy chicken sausage, roasted tomato sauce,
onions, and ricotta cheese. The
dumpling bar has an Asian menu with
items like shrimp stir fry with udon noodles, prawns, ginger, chopped
scallions and a touch of orange. The Food
Hall also has delightful items found at the other
stations: Cheese and Charcuterie, Salads
and sides, Sushi, and Tapas.
English and executive chef Mike Suppa have obviously
picked the best
ingredients for the Food Hall and have covered quite an extensive range
for one single location.
✉ 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 in format below, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
* For month of July, Mélisse, in Santa Monica, CA offers its 11th anniversary 4-course menu by Chef Owner Josiah Citrin. $65 pp. Call 310-395-0881. . . . On July 26 Mélisse presents Guest Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig (NYC), a special menu at $65 pp with a portion of proceeds to benefit Special Olympics, Visit http://www.melisse.com or call (310) 395-0881.
* On July 17, in San Francisco join EPIC Roasthouse for its 2nd annual Pinot tasting and pig roast event, "High on the Hog." $95 pp.VIP tix $160 incl. a private reception and demo with Chef Jan Birnbaum on how to make his signature barbeque sauce. Call 415-369-9955; http://www.epicroasthousesf.com
* From July
19-25, in Washington D.C.,
Restaurant and Wine Bar will celebrate its fourth birthday with
Alex Bollinger to serve a four-course $40 menu incl.
Prosecco, birthday cake, and glass of wine with dinner. Call
* On July 20 in New Orleans, LA, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will host Virginia Willis and Lisa Ekus-Saffer for a Cookbook Publishing 101 class. $199 pp. Call 504-569-0405 or visit www.southernfood.org . . . . On July 25 the Museum will begin a "Dinner and Movie" series, showing food films by the Southern Foodways Alliance and offering a special discount to Zea's Grill on St. Charles. $10 pp for non-members. . . . On August 8 the Museum will hold its 3rd annual fundraiser, "Eat! Drink! SoFAB! Tailgating party." Local chefs will prepare sophisticated riffs on tailgating foods and local athletes are invited. Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue will play. $75 pp.
* On July 20,
in NYC, Henry’s
hosts Transportation Alternatives Summer Benefit dinner by Chef Mark
Henry’s host its 2nd
behind-the-scenes tour of the local 116th Street Greenmarket followed
seasonally-inspired lunch menu by Chef Barrett. Proceeds to the
Greenmarket’s Youth Education Program. $45 pp. . . . On Aug 2, Henry’s
hold “Sing for Your Supper,” a night of song on Broadway,
Amy Burton and pianist/composer John Musto, paired with Chef Barrett’s
3-course,Spaghetti & Meatballs dinner for $19. All Italian-American
wines half-price. . . . On Aug 19,
Henry’s launches its guest chef dinner
with "Hot Summer Nights -- A Taste of Brazil." Chef Barrett welcomes
Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, author of The
Brazilian Kitchen, for a traditional Brazilian meal and
music. $65 pp. Call
212- 866-0600 or visit http://www.henrysnyc.com.
* On July 24
in Oakville, CA, Music in the Vineyards presents
"Roll Over Beethoven" from Napa Valley’s Star Vintners, incl. Bill
Grgich, David Duncan and Jeff Gargiulo . $175 pp. Call 707-258-5559.
* On July 26 in NYC, A Voce Madison presents a 4-course dinner with speaker Maurizio DeRosa of Feudi di San Gregorio. Chef Missy Robbins’ menu will be paired with exceptional selections from this progressive winery. 1$40 pp. Call 212-545-8555.
* On July 30 in Chicago, IL, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar features Grgich Hills Estate Wines with a special 5-course wine dinner. $90 pp. Call 312-329-9463.
* On July 30, Jean-Louis in Greenwich CT will host Margareth Hendriquez, new president of KRUG Champagne, who will present the Krug collection. $195 pp 5 course dinner by Jean-Louis Gerin. Call 203-622-8450.
* On July 31 in Oakland, CA, the East Bay Vintner's Alliance will host its 5th annual "Urban Wine Xperience." Nineteen urban wineries will pour a variety of sparklings, whites, roses and reds alongside 19 local restaurant and food purveyors. $45 in advance, $60 at the door. Visit http://www.eastbayvintners.com/events.html#uwx5.
* From July
31-Aug. 1 in Atlantic City, Harrah’s Entertainment Atlantic City
will host the "Food Network Atlantic City
Food and Wine Festival" at Harrah’s Resort, Caesars, Showboat &
Chefs incl. Guy Fieri, Sandra Lee, Ted Allen, and Pat & Gina
Neely. Tix start at $30 and may be purchased at
www.acfoodandwine.com or call 800-745-3000.
* On July 31, Mimosa Grill, in Charlotte, NC, will host a 5-course dinner featuring the wines of Domaine Serene Vineyards by Executive Chef Jon Fortes. $75 pp. Call 704-343-0700; http://www.mimosagrill.com .
* From Jul. 31 – Aug. 30 in Worcestershire, England, the Pershore Plum Festival, celebrates locally sourced plums and related recipes including main courses, desserts, jams and preserves, sauces, chutneys, pickles as well as juices and wines, ending on England’s August Bank Holiday. Tix prices vary based on event. Call 44-0138-656-5373.
*From Aug. 1 – Sept. 30, in Miami, FL, the Miami Spice Restaurant program returns for its 9th consecutive year featuring top fine dining restaurants offering 3-course menus at $22 pp. for lunch; $35 pp. for dinner. For more info visit http://www.ilovemiamispice.com.
From Aug. 3 – 7 in London, England,
Great British Beer Festival, Britain’s biggest
beer festival ,will
showcase international brands as well as small, local brewers of real
ciders and perries at London’s Earls Court. The Champion Beer of
competition will also be judged. Tickets in advance are £6
CAMRA members and £8 for non-members or £8 for CAMRA
members and £10 for
non-members at the door. Call 44-0844-412-4640.
Beachwood, OH, Moxie the Restaurant
Jonathan Bennett partners with NYC’s Sip Sak owner Orhan Yegen in the
preparation of a 5-course Turkish
dinner. $99 pp plus tax and gratuity. Call 216-831-5599.
* From Aug. 4
– Oct. 31, in South Beach, FL,
The Setai’s The
Restaurant will feature “Flavors of India," every
present an authentic 4-course menu.
Three choices will be offered per course and the menu will conclude
glass of homemade Chai Tea and Petit Fours. $60 pp. Visit http://www.setai.com
. . . . From Aug. 5 – Oct. 31, The
Setai’s The Bar &
Courtyard is will feature perfect for a Jazz Night under the
stars. Specials on Taittinger Champagne by the glass
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: Martha's Vineyard; The Dead Sea; St. Anton, Austria.
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:
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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: Christopher Mariani, 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
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