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NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: The Fountain of Youth Bubbles with Bobal By Jacqueline Church
THE FOOD DUDE DIARY
By John Mariani
Yo, I was like waiting outside Shake Shack for like ninety @#$%^ minutes in 100-degree heat for their Shackburger, but, hey, I once waited two @#$%^ hours in the rain outside Torrisi’s for a sub sandwich. Whatever. So I see my friend Donny, who says, “Dude, get outta line, man, we’re going over to this new place on the Lower East Side where they sell bangin’ bahn mi for like four bucks. Like nobody even knows the freakin’ place is even open yet.”
We hopped in a cab and split the eleven dollar fare, and--@#$%^--when we got there, there’s like 60 freakin’ people waiting outside already because Eater already wrote it up that morning. I was pissed. And hungry. So I said to Donny, “Yo, you know what? Why don’t we go over to Momofuku Ko and see if there’s like a cancellation? If there isn’t, we can see if we can score a pizza at Pulino’s and check out the hotties on line.”
So, no @#$%, we get to Ko, (left) and the guy says, “This is your lucky night, we just had a no-show for two people.” I said, “Dude, you have made our freakin’ day!” So Donny and I sit down on those stools without the backs and they’re playing Girls at Dawn—who I just saw at Brufar Falls like two nights ago!—and we’re chowing down on Chang’s awesome pork belly and this other great shit I don’t actually remember now, but, yo, it was worth the $125 bucks plus drinks. Like you pay what you gotta pay for awesome food, right?
Next day I’m hungry again, and my man Donny says there’s a fried chicken and waffles place in Williamsburg we need to check out. Maybe we can be the first to twitter about it. So we take another taxi—this time $27—so we get there fast, and $%^&*! We can see a line forming outside, but we still get there just as it opens, so they let us in but say they haven’t got any chairs or tables or beer license yet. I tell the guy no problem, man, we came for the freakin’ chicken. Then we wait, like %^&* forty-five minutes, but it was worth it. Real crisp, real meaty, with this orange sauce—I don’t know what the @#$%% it was but it was awesome. Fifty-two bucks for the two of us.
I’m already twittering like mad, saying how the place wasn’t redecorated at all since this was a plumbing supply shop—funny thing was, the urinals didn’t work—like real industrial. Smells funky too. And there’s two Mexican guys in the back cooking, you can smell they’re using real lard, man, and the waitress is a deadringer for that bangin’ spy on, what’s that show? The music, I don’t know what the @#$$ it was, just loud, man, but it rocked.
Then I get a message on my Blackberry, and s#$%&! It’s my friend Laurie and she's going to be on freakin’ TV, in the background of some Paraguyan chile joint in Astoria while that douchebag Adam Richman (above) shoots a segment of “Man v Food.” I am like freakin’ pissed she didn’t tell me she was even going there.
I didn’t take her to that taping of Guy Fieri (left) demolishing
that Greek lasagna at the diner in the Bronx? That is messed up! I am
this $%^&, man!
2342 Arthur Avenue
Bronx, New York
For the uninitiated, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is the only real “Little Italy” of New York left. The one in Manhattan is but a shell of its former self — having been overrun by bridge-and-tunnel folks long ago. Today, it is nothing (with a few exceptions) but multiple blocks of multiple tourist traps serving abysmal Italian food that would be right at home in Las Vegas.
and Botanical Gardens, is different. A
neighborhood of leafy, shaded streets containing businesses with a
Italian accent that still cater to customers who have been coming here
before WWII. This is a street of artisans. Of cheese and sausage
real butchers and handmade pasta. And of course, restaurants. Not
dozens of paltry pasta parlors lined back to back, but family-owned
restaurants like Mario’s, which has since 1919
catered to a clientele of paisans
and just plain folks who want
Neapolitan food the way their Italian grandmas made it.
First came the pizza. A simple margherita pizza. A good, blistered crust tasting of good bread, fresh tomatoes and a smattering of fresh mozz. That’s it, and that’s all it needed to be. Next, an antipasto platter that would feed a family of four for two days. Good crisp, lightly battered and fried calamari, eggplant “Siciliana” wrapped around fresh ricotta, clams oreganata fresh from the sea, and of course, roasted peppers. At that point my guest that evening was full, but host, owner and keeper of the flame Joe Migliucci--third generation here, and his son Mario is now chef--was just getting started. In succession came a procession of pastas the likes of which you will not encounter west of the Hudson River. Cavatelli (above) in a fresh tomato sauce was a revelation, not the lumpy, thrown together watery stuff that passes for fresh tomato sauce by too many chefs but a smooth, simmered sauce that brought forth a tomato-y kapow! – elevating the hand-rolled, al dente cavatelli without overwhelming it.
Before the food coma set in, we recall penne in a rich meat sauce, a definitive eggplant parm, pillow-light gnocchi in a spinach/Gorgonzola sauce, and spaghetti formaggio, made tableside by Signor Migliucci in a hollowed-out Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel (right)— so sharply flavored with cheese, then mellowed out by an cupful of flamed brandy, that we couldn’t stop gorging on it, even after the five preceding courses!
What separates a meal like this from so many mediocre ones is that sharpness of flavor and the sense you get from the moment you walk into the place (a sense that’s confirmed by bite after bite), that your food is being made by hand, and with respect for the history behind it.
supposed to be included in a
scene in "The
Godfather," but the Miglucci family refused, thinking it might
The Fountain of Youth Bubbles with Bobal
By Jacqueline Church
Perhaps that’s overstating things a bit. But Bobal, a grape indigenous to Valencia Spain, has one of the highest concentrations of resveratrol in any grape. The micronutrients are touted to make us younger, slimmer, healthier. Let others repair to the lab to continue their studies. After my introduction to Bobal and other wines of Valencia, I am smitten. Why not do your own field research there, enjoying them in their natural environment? Whether or not you return younger or slimmer, you will certainly return happier.
Bobal was only one of many discoveries for me in Valencia and Utiel Requena DOs (Designation of Origin.) With its Mediterranean climate Valencia enjoys hot days and ocean breezes that for centuries have cooled the vineyards in an around this gorgeous city. Touring the region recently, I enjoyed terrific food--both traditional and modern--but the biggest surprise was the diversity and the quality of the wines.
If most people think about Spanish wines, it’s likely they are thinking Rioja or maybe sparkling Cavas. The full spectrum of wines from Valencia has not yet enjoyed its rightful place at the US table. Importers are only too happy to fill orders for the now-popular Rioja wines--perhaps in this economy, it’s too easy. But this strategy underestimates the palate and the curiosity of American consumers. Luckily, things are changing. A new group of entrepreneurial wine makers and export directors are on a mission to introduce the US to the wines of Valencia and Utiel Requena.
Commercial winemaking in this region dates back to the 15th century, as evidenced by recently unearthed ruins along the Ruta Vino (Wine Route). Archeologists envision these ruins as a prime attraction for wine tourists and history buffs; in fact, all around the region one sees signs of an impending wine tourism boom. Forward-thinking wineries are adding function rooms, cabins, and B&Bs are popping up many in gorgeous old bodegas. Sitting under a grape arbor overlooking vineyards planted with Bobal, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, one can imagine what California’s Napa Valley looked like before the advent of tour bus traffic.
At Bodegas de Utiel (right), we sipped a Chardonnay that caused everyone at the table to join in translating “ABC” “Anything But Chardonnay” for our hosts. We proclaimed that the new “ABC” would be “A Better Chardonnay” and urged her to use this phrase at the NY Fancy Food show she was soon to attend. These Chardonnays were not fat, flabby wines suffering under a mask of oak. Here in Valencia and Utiel Requena, Chardonnay finds crisp expression of its true nature. Other revelations in white included crisp refreshing Macabeo and Merseguera, absolutely bargain-priced and perfect for summer sipping.
The rosés of Valencia and Utiel Requena are poised to join this increasingly popular category. The Bobal and Monastrell grapes produce distinct rosés with amazing deep color and structure that helps them linger on the tongue. These are food-friendly wines, exhibiting a light but persistent body and a bright acidity. Cava of fine quality is produced in this region as well.
Dessert wines have been historically produced in the region and much of the currently exported wine goes to countries like Russia that favor sweeter wines and Sangria-style reds. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are dessert wines that are true artisanal products. I had the opportunity to meet a fourth-generation dessert winemaker making internationally recognized wines. Noting the astrological signs chalked on the barrel butts, I asked if he was using biodynamic methods, with Demeter certification. “No,” he nodded, adding, “I don’t believe it’s necessary to kill cows to make wine.” (Biodynamic wines infuse the soil with natural compounds to heal and balance the soil, using cow horns buried in the vineyards to achieve their results.) His Dagón winery is the third winery in Europe to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification.
But Dagón is not alone in its allegiance to the environment. Coviñas collects so much solar energy from panels above their barrel room roof, they sell energy back to the grid. At Aranleón the winery is working with the university in Valencia to support their use of organic vinification, sustainable water use, and solar energy. Their award-winning Solo is certified organic and even has a snail motif on the Braille-adapted label.
Each local specialty has a wine that is traditionally paired with it. Many of our meals started with the light, crisp whites of Cherubino or Merlot of Villar. Many Cabernets are being produced in French styles and stand up well in comparison. Over a large platter of fideua (left) the local pasta and seafood dish, one winemaker leaned toward me and whispered conspiratorially that he “only drinks Rosé with this dish.” At that moment, a selection of reds and whites were on the table.
We learned of the ongoing agricultural research that is part of the region’s dedication to quality. There, by experimenting with different rootstocks, pruning techniques, watering levels, and so on, the wine makers in the region constantly test different varietals (as well as olives and fruits like persimmon) to assess optimal conditions for high quality agricultural output.
It probably doesn’t help the export situation that some clarity in label designations was lost in the transition to European Union standards. For example, two terms wine drinkers may be familiar with, especially on their Riojas, include “Crianza” and “Reserva.” The standards for Valencian wines require six months in oak cask, followed by 12 months in bottle for Crianza; 12 and 24 respectively for Reserva. In other wines, these terms may appear on labels without designating the same barrel and bottle aging times. To an unsuspecting consumer comparing two bottles of wine, the labels appear similar. In fact, one may be vastly inferior tank wine with very little barrel aging and the other may be a Valencian wine with significant barrel and bottle aging. For the consumer this can mean hidden value under the Valencian label.
Jacqueline Church is a contributing editor
for Citysearch Boston, a writer for Good Eater Collaborative, Nourish
Network, and writes the Gourmet Food column for Suite101.com.
She’s currently at work on Pig Tales: a Love Story about our
love for heritage breed pigs, the farmers, chefs and artisans bringing
them from farm-to-table. She is the founder of sustainable seafood
workshops for chefs called Teach a Chef to Fish.
a recent trip to Singapore, I found the city’s demand for really
restaurants higher than ever. Even
at local bars where guests primarily drank Singapore’s Tiger beer, the
first-rate. One of my best meals
was at Dolce Vita, inside the
Mandarin Oriental, a very upscale Italian
Italian-born chef Marco Pedrelli
does an outstanding job of combining flavors from regions of both
southern Italy. Pedrelli
started his career 17 years ago working at
Grotta in Montepulciano, Italy, later had an opportunity to work beside
chef Heinz Winkler in Germany,
2008 joined Dolce Vita.
Prior to dinner I sat outside by the hotel’s chic new pool (above) bordered by white cloth cabanas as the sky showcased its last hints of blue before transforming into darkness. It seemed a good time to indulge in some Perrier-Jouët Champagne Brut, and some freshly sliced prosciutto and mozzarella. Despite the thick humidity in the city that evening, the outside lounge is restfully beautiful and offers a spectacular view of the city’s impressive skyline.
For dinner, I ate
inside the dining
room, decorated with soft salmon red walls, wheat-colored
wooden chairs, and very elegant simplicity. I
light lemon sauce and topped with sweet pineapples, fresh
a touch of sevruga caviar. Next I
had the raw marinated Hokkaido scallops that were light, naturally
barely altered, a preparation I wish more chefs would replicate
when using such
fresh ingredients. With the appetizers I selected a bottle of Vincent
2005, Puligny-Montrachet from Dolce Vita’s extensive wine list.
It is obvious that
is upholding the fine dining reputation that the Mandarin Oriental
developed in the last few years, and chef Pedrelli proves himself
to be in the same
some of the other great chefs in other Mandarin locations like Pierre
Gagnaire, Daniel Boulud and Thierry Marx. Pedrelli may not yet have
those chefs' name recognition, but I'm predicting he soon will.
To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Palmer, 43, was sent to
jail for 18 months for faking seizures to get out of paying
restaurant bills. Prosecutors said Palmer ate and drank at several
restaurants between April and July, and then pretended to have a
seizure rather than pay his bill.
"Afterward, we collected what seemed like a small treasure chest of take-home boxes, coughed up the booty required to leave without walking the plank, and exited Smuggler's Cove thinking, arrrr, Matey, we'd had enough good grub to tame any self-respecting buccaneer."--John Phipps, "Smuggler's Cove," The Grand Rapids Press.
✉ 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
Aug. 30 through October in Atlanta,
Market will offer guests a “Going, Going, Gone” wine promotion
wines no longer on the restaurant’s list for low
prices. Two different wines will be
featured each week, e.g., wine
selections for week of Aug. 30 are Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley
$44/bottle) and Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
($5/glass, $19/bottle). Call 404-724-2550.
On Sept. 2 in Oakland, CA, Ozumo will host a Sake & Small Plates Dinner with
courses prepared by Chef Yo Matsuzaki., $55 pp, 510-286-9866; www.ozumo.com/oakland.
* From Sept. 7 – Oct. 31, in Paso Robles, CA, Forever Resorts offers “Wine Down at the Lake” package: Enjoy 3 days/2 nights on a 59’ Forever Houseboat at Lake San Antonio for 4 adults. Price ($1,300) incl. fuel and visit to Starr-Ranch winery, picnic lunch and bottle of wine for each couple. Visit www.lakesanantonioresort.com or call 805-472-2313.
* From Sept. 11 to Dec. 11, The Buccaneer and Queen Anne’s Revenge restaurants in Charleston, SC are offering a 15% discount to teachers, soldiers, police, EMT’s, healthcare professionals, and port authority. Call 843- 805-5065 or 843-216-6868.
* From Sept
14 – 20 in Sonoma, CA, The 5th
annual Attack of the Killer Tomatoes returns to Carneros Bistro
& Wine Bar
where they highlight Heirloom tomatoes with a special menu available
à la carte
or as a 3 or 5 course dinner with optional wine pairings. The “Attack
Killer Tomatoes” movie will be projected in the dining room throughout
week. $45 for 3 course dinner; $65 for 5 course dinner; optional wine
* From Sept. 14-18 in Atlanta, Star Provisions cheesemonger Tim Gaddis will host Cheese Week featuring tastings and demos from cheesemakers incl. Gabe Goodlett of Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville, GA.; David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery in Central Point, OR; Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT; and Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Co. in Dodgeville, WI; among others. Free admission. Call 404-365-0410 ext. 132 or visit www.starprovisions.com.
* On Sept. 16-18 in Denver, CO, The 29th edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) will be held. The premier U.S. beer festival will serve more than 2,200 different beers, in one-ounce tasting portions, from an estimated 462 U.S. breweries to the event’s 49,000-plus attendees. Ticket prices vary, Call 303-447-0816.* From Sept. 17 - 26, Chefs Nancy Silverton and Suzanne Tracht will lead a culinary tour through 4 cities in Argentina. Argentina 444 is a 10-day, first class trip offering discerning travelers an insider's view, from behind-the-scenes tours of top kitchens, to glacier hikes in Patagonia and private wine tastings at Mendoza's premier properties. Space is limited to 16 guests, Visit www.argentina444.com. Call 310-717-4809.
* From Sept. 17 -19, The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival takes place in Telluride, CO. Stay at the Inn at Lost Creek from $235 a night, and receive 50% off your Mon. night rate. Call 970-728-5678 or visit www.InnatLostCreek.com
* From Sept.
17 – 26 in York, England,
the annual York Festival of Food and
Drink will showcase Yorkshire growers and retailers, an
extravaganza of specialist markets, chef demonstrations, themed
dinners, tutored Slow Food tastings, cooking classes, restaurant meal
deals and other special events. Ticket prices vary based on
event, but many are free. Call +44-0190-446-6687.
* On September 17-19, in New Paltz, NY, Mohonk Mountain House’s Hudson Valley Harvest theme program celebrates the Slow Food Movement and the regional harvest through cooking demonstrations and tastings. Savor farm-to-table cuisine with guest Chef Ric Orlando, author and recent Food Network “Chopped” champion. Rates start at $217 pp. per night Call 800-772-6646 or www.mohonk.com.
*On Sept. 17 in Louisville, KY, Morton’s The Steakhouse will host a tasting event with a cocktail reception featuring four cocktails made with Dumante Verdenoce Pistachio Liqueur, with hors d’oeuvres prepared by chef Nick Butler. Howard Sturm, founder of Dumante Verdenoce, will discuss the specialty liqueur. $45 pp. Call 502-584-0421.
* On Sept. 17
in Temecula, CA, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers will
host its first Winemakers Roundtable event,
comprising a live webcast Q&A with the area's leading winemakers on
appellation’s past, present and future; following, awalk-around tasting
showcasing wines from 30+ wineries and SoCal
cuisine from wine country's top chefs. $65 pp. Call
800-801-9463 or visit TemeculaWines.org.
HI will host “The Art of the Cocktail” Summit, with seminars
taught by mixologists including Dale DeGroff,
Julie Reiner and Tony Abou-Ganim on “The Evolution of the Cocktail,”
Tequila and Island influences. A 5-seminar package is available
pp ; a la-carte basis with rates
$40 to $125 pp. Ocean View room accommodations at $460 per night
incl. breakfast for two. Visit www.halekulani.com.
* On Sept. 18 & 19 in Abergavenny, Wales, UK , The Abergavenny Food Festival celebrates its 12th year. Call (+ 44) (0) 1873851643. www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com.
On Sept. 19 in Paradise Valley, AZ,
Heavy Medal Culinary Competition will be held between Chef
InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Chef Charles Kassels of El
Guests enjoy a four-course dinner. $175 pp Call
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: Interview with Steve Conlon.
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).
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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.
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