Virtual Gourmet

  November 11,  2012                                                                                                NEWSLETTER

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There will be no edition of Mariani's Virtual Gourmet next week, Nov. 18, because Mariani will be in France eating and drinking himself silly. 



Part Two
by John Mariani

by John Mariani


Margarita Madness Demands
a Good Orange Liqueur

 by John Mariani

Frank Prial, Wine Writer, Dies at 82
by John Mariani



Part Two
by John Mariani

Miami, as noted last week, is where much of the buzz is, but within a short drive are some of Florida's best new restaurants.

St. Regis Bal Harbour
9703 Collins Avenue
Bal Harbour, FL

    The new St Regis at Bal Harbour is a snazzy piece of work--all silver and mirrors, glitter and glitz--and its restaurant J&G Grill capitalizes on its high profile association with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who now has his name or initials on 36 restaurants around the world via his management group, including a slew of steakhouses and grills.
    Not unexpectedly, many of those I've visited have been first-class operations, even if JG himself is never really a presence much outside of his NYC flagship, Jean-Georges.  A few have flopped, most thrive,  and many are offshoots of originals, including six under the Market brand.  I was not much impressed by the J&G Steakhouse in Scottsdale, AZ, but this new branch in Bal Harbour is excellent and distinctive, very much under the control of exec chef Richard Gras, who incorporates many of his own ideas into the corporate style; he offers his own tasting menu at $75, in addition to the à la carte offerings. He's a chef to keep your eye on.
    The dining room is all in  gray, but overhead lamps cast a warm glow, and there's nothing like a Florida sunset to bring color into the proceedings in early evening; from a banquette facing the broad, high windows, you are in sight of the pool and the ocean beyond. Moonlight can work its charms, too.
    There are eight items and as many sauces on the grill side of the menu, from red snapper and wild salmon to veal chop and filet mignon (below). I started off a variety of appetizers that included Hawaiian ahi tuna (now that came from far away) with a spicy radish and ginger marmalade that gave it some kick, and hamachi sashimi with shiitake mushrooms and a soy-ginger dressing. I was lucky enough to be there during stone crab seasons, for Gras gets the big fattened critters full of sweet meat; surprising then that the Peekytoe crab cake with a snap pea rémoulade wasn't chock full of lump crabmeat.
    Both delicious and quite beautiful is the pea soup with creamy  parmesan and sourdough croutons (right), and the hearts of palm salad with heirloom tomatoes and coconut is just the thing to make you grateful you are in Florida.  One of Jean-Georges' requisite menu items everywhere is the black truffle pizza with fontina, and it's as good here in Bal Harbour as everywhere else. Oddly enough, I thought the very best appetizer was freshly made fettuccine with tangy Meyer lemon, parmesan, and crunchy black pepper whose simple ingredients just leapt from the plate and onto the palate.
    Of excellent quality and expert cooking was a roasted mahi mahi with a Caribbean black bean vinaigrette and tender bok choy, showing Gras' command of techniques across a wide spectrum. That night there was an American wagyu tomahawk steak featured, for two at $99--not a bad price but, like all American wagyu, it had little of the flavor of the Japanese original (now again allowed to be imported to the U.S. after a two-year ban), and the meat was cut too thin. First quality USDA Prime beef has excellent flavor, for half the price. 
    For dessert the J&G Cheesecake is a balm to those who mourn the passing of Miami's great Jewish delis, and the vanilla crème brûlée with cinnamon ice cream was textbook perfect.
 The winelist at J&G  is impressive for its depth and breadth, although I counted only four white and red wines each just under $50 a bottle. That needs some re-thinking.
    J&G is a swank dining room, the service in the appealing St Regis style, and the scenic beauty ideal for a true lotus eater from anywhere else.

J&G Grill is open for lunch Mon.-Fri., brunch Sun., dinner nightly ; Dinner appetizers run $10-$36, main courses $$24-$46 (wagyu beef $99 for two).

1290 Third Street South
Old Naples, FL

Fabrizio Aielli has long been one of my favorite Italian chefs (via Venice), and his beautiful wife Ingrid has always been at his side to make perfect in the dining room what he does in the kitchen. They began in Washington, DC, then in Old Naples, where a few years back they opened  Sea Salt, one of America's great seafood restaurants.
    Now, just a door or two down, they've opened the more casual (although everything in South Florida is very casual) Barbatella, a pizzeria on one side (below) and trattoria on the other. And the pizzas are really terrific, with signature toppings that include the “Funghi & Carciofi” with mushrooms and artichokes, and the “Diavola” with spicy salami.
    There is a 20-foot bar with 100 wines by the glass, and the larger dining room (above) is a blast of color with a retro design that might have been in the lobby of the old Fountainebleau Hotel back in the 1960s.
    You could happily have a light lunch here with the perfectly rendered, generous seafood salad and some superlative eggplant parmigiana. From the friggitoria (frier) comes impeccably crisp arancini rice balls stuffed with meat and ragù, and the pastas are as good as any the Aiellis have ever turned out, al dente, simple, enormously tasty, including the orecchiette with broccoli di rabe, garlic and sausage, and the rich lasagne all bolognese (left) in delicate pasta sheets with besciamella and beef ragù.
    There is also a rotisserie and grill here, and from their former you can enjoy a mix of herb-crusted chicken, porchetta with fennel and rosemary, duck with orange and sage, served with roasted potatoes an tomato gratin, all for just $29.  From the grill comes beef tenderloin, pork ribs, mahi mahi and Scottish salmon, none more that $29.
    You mustn’t leave without some gelati—16 flavors--then you can stroll Third Street wholly satisfied that you have dined well, for a moderate price, and you can think about dinner at Sea Salt that night. 

Barbatella is open for lunch and dinner daily; Dinner appetizers $8-$12, pizzas $14-$16, pastas $18-$19, entrees $24-$29.

Max's Harvest
169 NE 2nd Avenue
Delray Beach, FL

    More than two decades ago, Dennis Max set out to bring Florida a thoroughly modern restaurant style, not much in the so-called Floribbean fusion trend of the mid-1980s but with more of an emphasis on the wood-fired grill and Italian dishes.
    Max’s Unique Restaurant Concepts was founded to open its first project, Café Max, in Pompano Beach,  FL, with a California spark brought to the Sunshine State. Max's Place in North Miami, Maxaluna in Boca Raton and Brasserie Max in Plantation followed and more.
    The idea at Max’s Harvest is to focus on ecological concerns about food, sourcing its animals and fish raised humanely and without antibiotics and hormones. A cattle rancher in Clewiston, FL,   raises Akaushi breed beef cattle and a pig farmer in Avon Park raises Hereford pigs.
    The casual new place in Delray Beach has outdoor seating as well as a patio out back, and the one-page menu is arranged around Snacks, Start Small, and Thing Big categories.  Everything has plenty of dash and big flavors, spiciness and succulence, a good char and irresistible side dishes. This is intended to be a place for food and fun.  You can tell everyone is having a great time.
    Begin with snacks like Medjool dates with blue cheese, bacon, marmalade, orange, and arugula, or the meatballs with tomato gravy, basil, ricotta and pecorino—not really a snack but a great starter.  The spinach and Brie onion dip on baguette toast goes great with Caribbean cocktails, and the B.E.L.T. wedge salad is huge and lavished with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, pickled red onion and Russian dressing.    
    Among the main courses I enjoyed most were the pork chop with braised red cabbage, and chipotle-sweet potato puree; the chicken cooked “under a brick” to flatten and crisp it, served with warm farro salad, pearl onions, cauliflower, Swiss chard, squash—a canny idea of showing off the vegetables more than the protein.  A crisp parmesan risotto cake with wild mushrooms, peas, carrots, zucchini ribbons, tomato coulis and truffled herb salad cried out to be ordered and was rewarding in every ingredient.   Only a dish of fresh  fettuccine was labored with rock shrimp, pancetta peas, zucchini, spinach, onion, parmesan cream and egg yolk.

    Among the sides don't miss the Gouda-pancetta mac & cheese or the rosemary frites.
    Prices are fair, portions large, and part of the restaurant’s income goes to Share Our Strength.  This is the way an American restaurant is meant to be.  You won't leave hungry and you may feel light of heart.  

Max's Harvest is open for dinner Mon.-Sat. for brunch Sat. & Sun. Dinner snacks  run $5-$14, small plates $10-$18, large plates $24-$42.



by John Mariani

871 Seventh Avenue (near 55th Street)

    To paraphrase the old joke about "how do you get to Carnegie Hall?" (practice, practice, practice), how do you get great Greek food in NYC? Turn left at Carnegie Hall. Since 1997, the Livanos family, together with Managing Partner Paul McLaughlin and Chef Partner James Botsacos, Molyvos, named for a village on the island of Lesvos, has been a beacon for traditional Greek food done with a wholly modern sensibility.  Now, after an extensive renovation this year, the rustic, wooded décor is now done in the palette colors of the Greek isles--white and sky blue--still retaining, however, the family photos of the Livanoses dating back to pre-immigrant days.
    The kitchen has never wavered, so it is good to report that the food is better than ever, starting with a sparkling taramasalata that was as fresh as could be wished for, the roe not too strong, the mousse rich and creamy.  Wood-grilling gave an eggplant salad greater depth, and the small keftedes meatballs came braised in red wine, tomato and a touch of cumin, all of these scooped up with excellent housemade pita bread. Then there are pites, stuffed pies in crispy phyllo that I could so easily make an entire meal of.
    All these were just considered mezedes, to be followed by lavish appetizers like the wonderfully grilled octopus, with arugula, smoked potatoes, white beans, red onions, tomato, capers and red wine vinaigrette--a tantalizing dish of many savory, tangy flavors and soft textures.  A more-or-less traditional Greek salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, feta and more was nothing out of the ordinary, and left more room for the remarkable spiced lamb spareribs with thyme honey and an ouzo glaze--a dish I would order and order and order again.
    There are whole fish available and displayed as you enter, covered, not just laid on crushed ice, and, while expensive by the pound, fish like the succulent wild lavriki (sea bass) was some of the best I've ever had this side of the Aegean.  The same fish is cooked expertly in a clay pot, infused with onions, tomatoes and kalamata olives. 
    Of course, many a Greek cook would claim that lamb is the true test of a master, and Botsacos scores highly with arni yuvetsi, braised marinated lamb shank of supreme tenderness from the clay pot, with orzo and kefaotyri cheese.  Simpler but showing thew quality of ingredients at Molyvos are the grilled baby lamb chops with potato kefte, watercress, frisée, and roasted eggplant salad.
    For dessert I recommend the impossible-to-say galaktoboureko, a semolina custard in phyllo enriched with citrus syrup, and a warm chocolate baklava with almonds, dates and spiced almond syrup.
    Obviously Molyvos gets a pre- and post-theater crowd, and for those who love ouzo, there are 15 offered to sample at the bar; the all-Greek winelist is testament to modern winemaking in a country that has been making it, not always well, for millennia.
    I'm glad I got back to Molyvos after a long absence, reminding me not just of its continuing excellence but that this is without doubt the most complete and versatile Greek restaurant in America, with a warmhearted degree of filoxenia--hospitality--that others need practice and more practice for to reach its level.

Molyvos is open for lunch Mon.-Fri, brunch Sat. & Sun., dinner nightly. Dinner mezedes and appetizers run $8-$19, main dishes $21-$36, with fish priced by the pound.    



Margarita Madness Demands
a Good Orange Liqueur

 by John Mariani

    When was the last time someone offered you a crème de menthe, you know, the one that turns your teeth bright green? Never? I’m not surprised, since liqueurs, or cordials, are not as high on most people’s list of after dinner drinks as they were when ladies retired to one room and men to another.
     But a slew of new apple-, chocolate-, even chile-based liqueurs are now appearing in the market, fueled by bartenders crafting new, high-end cocktails.  “These products are popping up in new cocktails because they add novelty without upping the alcohol too much,” says Rachel Burkons, senior editor of the industry magazine The Tasting Panel. (Most liqueurs range from 15 to 30 percent alcohol.)
         Yet the category is still led by orange liqueurs, with plenty of competition capitalizing on the soaring popularity of premium margaritas, which also drives the sales of high-end tequilas. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., “high end” tequilas rose 14.6 percent, “Super premium,” 11.3 percent and “pre-mixed cocktails” with tequila 12.2 percent in 2011.
         So, Mexico’s Patron, is now making a Citronge liqueur to add to their line of premium tequilas, albeit at a high 40 percent alcohol. Cognac maker Pierre Ferrand is trying to carve a niche in the market with a new “ancienne méthode” Dry Curaçao, which is not so sweet and uses Ferrand’s fine cognacs, not basic brandy.
         “A margarita has two iconic ingredients, tequila and orange liqueur, and people have gotten very well versed in them,” says Sean Beck, beverage director at Hugo’s Mexican restaurant in Houston (above). “The orange liqueur segment has really grown up, and I match the specific tequila--we have 60--to a specific liqueur, like mixing a soft resposado tequila with Grand Marnier or Royal Combier, both with a cognac base.” 
Hugo’s does not even make frozen margaritas, which Beck says “is just a way for a bar to extend profit margins. That cold ice just masks the taste and aroma of the spirits, so they use cheap Triple Sec.”
    Bar chef Abigail Gullo of the new SoBou (left) bar-restaurant in New Orleans says that customers are very specific about the orange liqueur they want in margaritas and other cocktails. “With premium margaritas, cosmos, and sidecars, you need top ingredients like Cointreau and Grand Marnier, which people request by name. There’s also a big resurgence of those Polynesian-style tiki cocktails like mai tais that require orange liqueur.”
         At SoBou, which refers to South Bourbon Street, the newest featured cocktail at SoBou is the New Orleans Yacht Club, made with three kinds of rum, falernum, lime juice, and curacao orange liqueur.    
         I myself swear by Cointreau, now owned by Remy Martin, was created in 1875 by Edoaurd Cointreau in Angers, France, using sweet and bitter orange peels, while many liqueur makers just use orange flavoring.  I once took a tour of the Cointreau distillery (open to the public by appointment), and clearly smelled the different perfumes in the various orange peels, dried before distillation. Today Cointreau sells 13 million bottles a year, in more than 150 countries.
    What I love about Cointreau is that it is bittersweet and shows itself in a mixed drink as more than orange-flavored sugar. More important, on its own, poured over crushed ice, it is a superb after dinner drink, as is Grand Marnier, created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle using cognac, orange essence, and sugar.  Yet even though they blend impeccably in cocktails, these two products are very expensive—Cointreau about $35, Grand Marnier about $40. (Premium bottlings of these same liqueurs cost much more.)
         So I assembled a range of orange liqueurs, some new to the market, tasted them on their own and in margaritas, which made for a long afternoon. Here’s my report.

Mathilde Grande XO ($22)—This is another, somewhat cheaper Ferrand Cognac product from their Dry Curacao, and you can smell and taste the brandy, with 40 percent alcohol. It has a fine, bitterness upfront that gives way to a cream sweetness, then ends with a light sting of heat.

Patron Citronge ($24)—I was surprised this came across with so much sweetness, perhaps in the belief that Americans prefer candy-like spirits. It’s rather like an orange Creamsicle, which would not be my first choice in a mixed drink.

Dekuyper 03 Premium ($25)—Made from Brazilian pera oranges by one of the leading cordial producers, begun in Holland in 1695, John DeKuyper & Sons, this is a crystal clear liqueur with a pleasant, light citrus nose, and, beneath a thick mantle of sweetness, a good dose of orange flavor that goes well with a basic blanco tequila or most mixed drinks.

Stock Orange Gran Gala ($21)—Made with VSOP brandy, this has a lovely caramel orange color, but its bouquet smells and tastes medicinal, with a chemical aftertaste.

Solerno Blood Orange ($30)—This Sicilian bottling has plenty of Italian style, starting with the gorgeous, punted, slim-necked scarlet bottle and the fact that it’s made from blood oranges. But the liquid is clear and colorless, the aroma quite refined, and the taste unique, with a berry-like flavor, medium sweetness, and a faint, pleasing burn. Its bitter component keeps it clean and makes this an excellent alternative to Cointreau and is a little cheaper.

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.


Frank Prial, Wine Writer, Dies at 82
by John Mariani

    There has never been a more important or seminal wine writer than Frank Prial, who died this week at the age of 82.  One might argue that Robert Parker has had a more enduring influence on the wine trade, but Frank was a man who gave the profession of wine writing not just an American slant but a refreshingly new, unaffected way of appreciating wine.  His wine column ran in the NY Times for more than three decades, a venue that gave him enormous clout and readership.
    At the start, in 1970, wine columns were few and far between in American media, and Prial's editor, A.M. Rosenthal, told him, "We'll try it for a couple of months."  By 1977 Frank's column was a fixture in the Times, and everyone in that era of burgeoning enophilia read him weekly.  Most important about his wine writing was how Frank approached it as the common man looking for a good wine over dinner, maybe once a week or once a month. 
    At first he dutifully heaped praise on French wines--he spoke French well--and early on recognized that California would be a major contender in the wine world.  He also championed Italian wines like Barolos and Brunellos, which, it can be said, he literally put on the worldwide map as examples of modern Italian viticulture.  He even wrote with enthusiasm about Two-Buck Chuck, the discount wine sold at Trader Joe’s l for $1.99 a bottle, saying,  “Someone referred to it recently as the ultimate fund-raiser wine — perfect for large groups of people who really don’t care what they are drinking.”
    As a neophyte wine writer myself, I didn't hold Frank in awe, because in person he was the least pompous wine lover you'd ever meet.  The very word "connoisseur" could make him wince, and his writing, clear, concise, based on solid research, was an antidote to the traditions of British wine writers who (churlishly) went into dithyrambs to describe old vintages.  He also loathed having to come up with those tiresome, useless adjectives and tasting notes embraced by lesser writers for whom wines contained flavors of Tahitian lime, Cohiba tobacco, and Ethiopian cacao.  Once asked how he discerned the various flavors in a tasting of twenty wines or more, Frank winked and said, "I fake it, like everyone else."
    He was born in Newark, NJ, graduated from Georgetown, served in the Coast Guard, and worked his way through the NYC newspaper world. Even while he wrote his wine column, Prial was still a street reporter, as at home on a hurricane-blasted street as in a French dining salon in Paris.  When, in 1979, he stopped writing his column, he became a Paris correspondent for the Times,  and he was made a member of the Légion d’Honneur by the French government. He returned to the U.S. and resuscitated his wine column, after his readers howled for it, which ended finally in 1984; he retired ten years later.
     I always enjoyed Frank's company, for his expanse of interests and great repertoire of stories went way beyond the navel-contemplating of the wine world.  He didn't much hobnob with the growing wine press and preferred meeting winemakers on their own turf.  He was a good newspaperman first, a guy after a story, not a witty phrase.



Three-star Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in Bray, England, will be making a two-and-half-meter high Christmas pudding in a cement m mixer, to serve up to service men and women working over the holidays. It will contain 600 kg of dried fruits. "Last week, I met this loony pyrotechnic from
UCL," said Blumenthal "who was showing me how to use chemicals to make green and red flames, and, if you spin the pudding, you can create a vortex of the colored flames. That's what we're going to try to do with this."


"Phaidon, lately, has led the way in quirky, uniquely designed, international cookbooks. The press raises the bar dramatically here with 100 recipes taken from Faviken Magasinet, a restaurant in a remote area of Sweden, some 375 miles north of Stockholm, that serves only 12 people a day, but is fast becoming a bastion of New Nordic Cuisine, thanks to head chef Nilsson. . . .  Entries primarily consist of very small plates with very long names such as, `Rose fish, coarsely chopped pieces of its liver and raw langoustine stirred with really good butter, lichens and a broth of forest floor,' or, `Grilled pine mushrooms, vinegar matured in the burned-out trunk of a spruce tree.' If a spruce trunk is unavailable, do not fear. . . .  In his introduction, Bill Buford writes of, `an air of unworldly disconnect,' and indeed it's a palpable feeling moving through these pages, dense with the history of the foods and landscapes that are Nilsson's metier.
"--Publishers Weekly (8/16/12)




 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

My latest book, which just won the prize for best book from International Gourmand, written with Jim Heimann and Steven Heller,  Menu Design in America,  1850-1985 (Taschen Books), has just appeared, with nearly 1,000 beautiful, historic, hilarious, sometimes shocking menus dating back to before the Civil War and going through the Gilded Age, the Jazz Age, the Depression, the nightclub era of the 1930s and 1940s, the Space Age era, and the age when menus were a form of advertising in innovative explosions of color and modern design.  The book is a chronicle of changing tastes and mores and says as much about America as about its food and drink.


“Luxuriating vicariously in the pleasures of this book. . . you can’t help but become hungry. . .for the food of course, but also for something more: the bygone days of our country’s splendidly rich and complex past.  Epicureans of both good food and artful design will do well to make it their coffee table’s main course.”—Chip Kidd, Wall Street Journal.


“[The menus] reflect the amazing craftsmanship that many restaurants applied to their bills of fare, and suggest that today’s restaurateurs could learn a lot from their predecessors.”—Rebecca Marx, The Village Voice.

My new book--Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has just won top prize 2011 from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe, Gotham Bar & Grill, The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  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: LE MASSIF, SAN FRANCISO ANTIQUEING, COSTA RICO.

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 Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.


Tennis Resorts OnlineA 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).

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;

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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