IN THIS ISSUE
EATING AROUND ANNAPOLIS, Part One
By John Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER
FRANKIE & JOHNNIE'S STEAKHOUSE
By John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
By John Mariani
By John Mariani
Crab Dishes at Cantler's Riverside
I suspect I am not alone in being helpless to resist ordering crab in every form when eating around Annapolis. Even though the fat Maryland blue crabs—including softshells—are just now coming into season, the restaurateurs of Annapolis are able to maintain a steady supply of the best blue crab from down the coast and the Gulf of Mexico pretty much year round. Thus, did I find myself ordering crab dishes at almost every meal—including breakfast—while visiting the historic city set on the Chesapeake. They certainly weren’t hard to find in profusion, with eggs, fried, broiled, with hash, in soups, as cakes, as stuffing, or on their own. Here are some of the places, all quite casual but with food far better than you might expect, where I enjoyed them and much else in Annapolis a month ago.
GALWAY BAY IRISH
Opened in 1998, Galway Bay has
all the trappings of a stereotypical Irish pub
without seeming in the least kitschy. The brick
walls, bare wooden tables and booths, the beer
signs, banjos, fiddles, and Irish whiskies—38 of
them behind a long polished bar—are key to the
genial ambiance, but it’s all a lot cleaner and
kempt than so many rougher versions of the genre. The
owners make a good deal about their being, with no
pun intended, green, which is to say it is the first
restaurant in Maryland to be certified by Maryland
Open daily for lunch and dinner.
You may think you’ve seen
places similar to Chick & Ruth’s, but you’ve
never met anyone like owner Ted Levitt, who can
build, dis-assemble, weld, wire, fit, anchor, brick
up, light up, and do anything and everything to keep
his magnificent folly going after 50 years. Proudly
patriotic—everyone stands up to recite the “Pledge
of Allegiance” at 8:30 a.m. (below)—familial to his employees and heavily
involved with local charities, Ted is a Renaissance
Man who has chosen as his life’s work to carry on
his mom and pop’s legacy here by making people happy
with good, honest food culled from the best
ingredients he can find, no matter what it costs
Open daily for breakfast,
lunch and dinner.
In terms of sheer enthusiasm
and customer care, Dick Franyo, owner of the
immensely popular Boatyard Bar & Grill, would go
arm and arm with Ted Levitt as exponents of
Annapolis hospitality. The whole atmosphere, which
does indeed resemble a boatyard clubhouse with its
flags, marine art and varnished wood, draws you
right in, sits you right down and makes you hungrier
than you were just a minute ago.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Dinner Under the Stars – Reminiscent
of the open air cafes in Paris and the piazzas of
Rome and Venice, al fresco dining can now be
enjoyed all summer long in Annapolis. On twelve
Wednesday evenings, from July 13th through September
21st, the first block of West Street from Church
Circle to Calvert Street will be closed to traffic
from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. so foodies can enjoy
Dinner Under the Stars. Participating restaurants,
Head Tavern, Café Ole, Stan & Joe’s, El Toro
Bravo, Luna Blu, Tsunami, 49 West Coffeehouse,
Chesapeake Brew Pub and others, will set up
tables for dining in the streets. Visitors and area
residents are invited to dine, stroll and shop while
enjoying music beneath a canopy of lights strung
above in the Annapolis Arts District. Sponsored by
Annapolis’s Inner West Street Association.
NEW YORK CORNER
By John Mariani
Photos by Noak Fecks
& JOHNNIE'S STEAKHOUSE
The New York steakhouse
long ago set the standard for the rest of
America—along about the time that Prohibition
forced a lot of restaurants out of business and
sparked an explosion of speakeasies where food
was the last thing on patrons’ minds. But
along the way, customers began clamoring for
something to eat and the New York
steakhouse—largely owned by Italians—began
serving up steaks and chops, and maybe a little spaghetti, with the beer
Open for lunch and dinner daily.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR❖❖❖
MURRIETA'S WELL AIMS FOR TERROIR EXPRESSION,
NOT HIGH RATINGS POINTS
By John Mariani
Despite what many passionate winemakers will tell you about the excitement of what they do, the hard facts are that the science and making of wine is largely agricultural and biological. It’s just that Idaho potatoes and New Jersey tomatoes haven’t quite the romantic associations that a Napa Valley Cabernet or Chardonnay has accrued though literature and marketing. Wine writers like myself have to know Chemistry 101 just to be able to interview a wine maker, so we can chat about things like Brix levels, micro-oxygenation and TCA contamination.
Fortunately, as in all interviews, it is the contrarians of the industry who are the most fun and the most revealing about modern viniculture in California, where far too many wines are indeed manufactured back at the winery lab to taste a certain way and to win awards according to the preferences of the wine media.
“If I were asked by a winery to make 96-point [on a scale of 100] wine, I’d just walk away,” said Robbie Meyer (right), 45, since 2015 winemaker at Murrieta’s Well winery in the Livermore Valley in an interiew in NYC. “The people who ask for such a thing know nothing about wine.”
Holding such an opinion flies in the face of many wineries, often owned by Silicon Valley millionaires or Wall Street billionaires who want nothing more from their investment than to win high points or “Wine of the Year” from publications like Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate.
Instead, Meyer focuses on small lot harvesting and blending based on the soil and micro-climate of the acreage, called terroir. Hailing from Georgia, Meyer earned his Master’s degree in enology at the University of California, Davis, and has worked in prestigious wineries like Peter Michael, Lewis Cellars, and Jericho Canyon as well as for his own labels, Peirson Meyer and L’Angevin.
Murrieta’s Well is owned by the much
larger Wente Family Estates, which has built it
into their luxury wine brand. Murrieta’s
Well honors the name of Joachin Murrieta, who
first discovered the property in the 1800s where
Louis Mel would later set up a winery. So, too,
Meyer assesses the wine from various estates
owned by the winery, then blends them to reflect
each vintage’s strengths, so that Murrieta’s
Well wines may taste somewhat different from
year to year.
Meyer works with 20 different grape varieties from 500 acres with three soil profiles ranging from 560 feet to 860 feet elevations; he plants root stocks according to the soil composition, which will affect flavors. Livermore Valley, for instance, has very gravelly coarse sandy loam, while at Pleasonton the gravel is very fine, and Las Positas has a grass pasture.
Still, Murrieta's Well wines sell at
modest prices by comparison with other
well-known California small estate labels. Its
white blend, called The Whip, sells for about
$24 and has a wonderful aromatic bouquet that
comes from orange Muscat, Semillon, chardonnay
and sauvignon blanc, to give it an acidic edge
that makes it very food friendly. The
red blend, The Spur, at about $30, is made from
Petite Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, which provide
several layers of fruit and tannin.
Dante Anderson of Oklahoma City, who claims to be
a time traveler, bust into a local Arby's, shoved
the manager out of the way and stealing chicken
and beef. After trying the same thing at a
Carl's Jr., Anderson told police that he walked here
from the distant future of 2020 because this will
be how people go foraging once the apocalypse begins.
ANNALS OF CRUSADING JOURNALISM
After 21 years on the job and 1,100
cartoons, editorial cartoonist Rick Friday of
Iowa's small-circulation Farm News and nearly 1,100
cartoons, the longtime editorial cartoonist was
fired for drawing a critical cartoon noting farmers'
shrinking profits within the context of huge salaries
paid to the CEOs of DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, and
Monsanto, leading to one company's canceling ads with
Sponsored by Banfi Vintners
Sponsored by Banfi Vintners
Benventuo Brunello 2016: First Taste of Castello Banfi
Any vintage that
followed the perfect 2010 was bound to have the cards
stacked against it.
However, 2011 --
ranked a 4 star vintage by the Consorzio--portrays itself
larger than imaginable shoes to fill, the
Brunello producers poured their 2011 wines for the
first time in public in late January.
Overview - Vintage 2011
Tasting Notes: Castello
2014 Rosso di Montalcino Poggio Alle Mura -- Contains lots of declassified Brunello from this vineyard and it is impressive. I enjoyed a glass of this with lunch immediately following the seminar and this was juicy, fresh and delicious with penne pasta with sausage, and vegetable panini. Lots of bright berry flavors accented with spice, vanilla, and a hint of olive. The best 2014 rosso I tasted that day. 88-90 points.
2011 Brunello --This deep ruby wine displays pretty floral notes, with warmed clay and lots of bright berry character. The acidity is fresh and lifting and there's some fresh red licorice on the finish. Solid effort. 90-92 points.
2010 Poggio Alle Mura Brunello Riserva--Only 1,000 cases of this select Riserva are produced from vineyards just outside the Castello walls. Deep ruby with lots of flowers, toast, spice, meat and berry character. Polished and elegant, there's lots of power here. Not yet released. 95-98 points.
2010 Brunello Riserva Poggio All'Oro--Single vineyard Riserva and simply one of the best wines from Brunello each year that it's made, which has been only 11 times since 1985. This is deep ruby in the glass with only a slight fade to brick at the edge of the bowl. A bit shy on the nose initially, the aromas blossomed considerably with more air time. Huge berry and cherry aromas and flavors dominate with sweet pipe tobacco, spices and chestnut joining in. Lots of structure, lots of acid, lots of tannins. Elegance and power combined, this will cellar and develop well for a decade or more. Lots of fennel emerges on the finish. Love it! 97-100 points.
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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: A NEW PARIS BISTRO; PUB CRAWLING IN DUBLIN.
Eating Las Vegas
JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas
food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is
the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50
Essential Restaurants (the fourth
edition of which will be published in early
2016), as well as the author of the Eating Las
Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas.
He can also be seen every Friday morning as
the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the
Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3 in
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
Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,
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John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein,
Andrew Chalk, Dotty Griffith and Brian Freedman. Contributing
Photographers: Galina Dargery, Bobby
Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
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