MARIANI’S

Virtual Gourmet


  JULY 5,  2015                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

ARCHIVE


                                                                                         William Holden and Kim Novak in "Picnic" (1955)
 
HAVE A GREAT FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND!



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IN THIS ISSUE
AFFORDABLE PARIS RIGHT NOW 
By John Mariani

NEW YORK CORNER
THE LEOPARD AT DES ARTISTES

By John Mariani


NOTES FROM THE SPIRITS LOCKER
THE ART OF TEQUILA
By Robert Mariani




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PARIS IS AFFORDABLE
AGAIN FOR AMERICANS!
  
By John Mariani


    As the song says, “I love Paris in the springtime. I love Paris in the fall. I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles. I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.”
    I suspect most people do.  But I love Paris most of all when it is affordable, which it has not been for many years . . . until now.  The dollar has strengthened formidably against the euro, and, although the latter is back up to about $1.11 (when I was there in April, it was $1.05), who knows what the rest of the year brings, especially if Greece gets the boot from the EU?  Then all bets are off.  Parity with the dollar is likely.
    Of course, I’m old enough to remember when you really could do Europe on $5 a day, even less if you were willing to stay in youth hostels.  I recall that in the late 1960s I could get a room in Paris for three  bucks, eat steak frites for two dollars (with a half-carafe of wine, tax and service), and a summer-long Eurail Pass cost $120.  In those days, by law, all restaurants had to offer an inexpensive “tourist menu.”  That's me, to the left, on the terrace of my fifth floor walk-up pension overlooking Paris. T’was bliss to be alive in those days!
    More important, the hotels and restaurants of Paris have been careful to maintain, even to trim, prices so as to maximize patronage.  In the past, lunch and dinner prices were usually the same, but increasingly many of the best bistros are offering very appealing fixed price menus--which may be as low as 25 euros and rarely above 39--for a three-course meal (sometimes with a glass of wine), tax and service.
    I shall be reporting on where I ate and stayed in Paris this spring in an upcoming issue of the Virtual Gourmet, but for now, let me just note that at the very popular Le Grand Colbert (right) three courses are offered at 37 euros at lunch and after 10:30 p.m. At Guy Savoy’s delightful Les Bouquinistes, lunch runs only 36 euros, with a glass of wine.  Translated (
at $1.11 = 1 euro) that works out to $40.  Bargains like this you do not easily find in NYC, London, Moscow, or Tokyo.
    The best list of good places with inexpensive meals is the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand listings for 650 Paris restaurants (100 new in the 2015 edition) with “cuisine of quality” at a maximum price of 36 euros. But even some of the top-rated, très cher deluxe restaurants of Paris now offer good prix fixe menus. The illustrious Taillevent now offers  “Le Menu Tirel” that includes an apéritif, three-course meal, half-bottle of wine chosen by sommelier Stephane Jan, coffee, mineral water, tax and service for an astonishing 120 euros (
$133).  Compare that with NYC’s Jean-Georges at $128 for three courses--but no wine, no coffee, and you have to pay tax on top of that, plus a 20% tip.  London’s Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester will cost you £95 ($148), without wine, tax and service.
    Incidentally, although now quite rare, a few old-time Paris restaurants allow you to pay for your wine by how much you consumed from a whole bottle, a nicety called à la ficelle. 
    These places to eat do not even include bakeries, crêperies, and charcuteries where you can make a delightful meal from a sandwich or a few slabs of terrine.  One of the most famous charcuteries in Paris,
Maison Gilles Vérot (right), serves wonderful take-out items, and at La Maison Croque Monsieur on Rue Montparnasse you’ll find the ultimate in French fast food.
    As for hotels in Paris these days, the secret is to find a time when the city is not having a major exhibition or show--fashion, food, cinema, art, and more. Last year Paris hosted 976 congresses, including the World Gas Conference, the Antioxidants Conference, Hypnosis Conference, the Varnish Summit, and Microwave Week.  Paris Fashion Week is held in April and again in September.  The largest of all is the Paris Air Show, a huge marketplace for buying private, commercial and military planes with 2,300 exhibitors from 48 countries, 150,000 professionals, 200,000 public visitors, and official delegations from 91 countries.   (You can check out the dates for all these exhibitions at
convention.parisinfo.com.)
    Finding a hotel room anywhere in Paris is not only difficult at those times--and forget about the most deluxe hotels in the city--but prices will be hiked in response to demand.
    Thus, the best time to visit Paris and pay a decent price for a good hotel is when the biggest shows are not on. You know as well as I the myriad hotel websites available to book a room, but I must say that
Trivago really does seem to have the best comparison shopping.  And what I’m seeing on that site for July are very pleasant hotels (pegged at a distance from the Eiffel Tower--0.7 miles, 1.9 miles, etc.) for as low as $77, with plenty of offerings at $100 per night.  A peek at the Hotel Fleurie (left) in St. Germain des Prés for $124 shows what appears to be sumptuous rooms with a charming view of the city, half a mile from city center.
    Transportation within the city is easy enough as long as you don’t travel by car going to Paris in the morning or leaving it after work.  Otherwise, the traffic is no worse than many cities and better than in NYC, London, Rome, or L.A.  You do not want to take a taxi to the airport, however; it will be very costly--at least 53 euros--and it may take forever.  Far easier, less time-consuming and cheaper is the easy-to-find RER B train (right) for 10 euros, which takes about 35 minutes to the Gare du Nord.  There are also two very efficient Air France buses (if you avoid rush hours) that go to Charles de Gaulle and Roissy in about an hour plus. One bus starts out just across from the Arc de Triomphe.
    The Paris Métro, which in my experience has never been more dependable, cleaner, and more efficient, is priced according to how far you travel, so you type in the destination station, et voilà, your ticket is priced accordingly. 
You save money with a ten-ticket carnet for 13.30 euros.
    And what about tipping? It exists in Paris, but not in the flagrant way it does when Americans think they have to tip everyone in sight.  Here’s the deal: In hotels and restaurants a service charge is built into the bill (as is the VAT tax). So, say your restaurant check is 100 euros; of that amount, 10 euros will be for the VAT, and 12 for service.  The latter does not go to the waitstaff at the end of the night because they are paid a set wage.  Therefore, you need not tip anything at all, although leaving a few small coins at a café (called a pour-boire, “for a drink”) or rounding off the bill for a taxi is customary.  If, however, you have that 100 euro tab with the service built in, leaving more than a few euros is either showing off or being insecure.  The waitstaff will not hate you if you don’t tip; they will of course appreciate it if you do.
    In hotels it is the same.  Invariably guests tip the fellow who delivers their baggage, but no more than a euro per bag.  Your hotel room already includes a 20% VAT and a service charge, so the people who clean your room are being paid a set wage.  If you choose to leave a tip for them, you’re being kind, but it is not expected.
    As for the concierge, he is well paid to perform all sorts of services, including the most difficult to obtain.  So, if he arranges for a table for an impossible-to-get-into restaurant or arranges for a private tour of the Louvre after hours, he should get a nice tip.  But, if all he’s done is make a reservation, show you the route to Les Halles, or recommend a good shoe shop, there’s no reason to. That's his job.  It is, however, a smart idea to tip a concierge when you expect to be a regular at the hotel in the future.  A ten-euro tip may not make you a V.I.P. (at least not at a time when Russian billionaires tip exorbitantly), but he probably will have it in your record for the future.
    Of nothing is there more nonsense written by travel experts--especially editors of high-end American travel magazines who should know better--than about tipping in various countries, including France.  When in doubt, ask a Parisian.  The American magazines--though not the British--say you should tip everyone, but that’s utter twaddle.
   
A Few Other Notes:

    • It used to be better to get your euros from an ATM machine and to use credit cards instead of cash, but these days, in addition to the ATM service charge, you may find that when you get home you also pay a foreign transaction fee on your credit or bank card. That includes charges for hotels, restaurants and other payments.  I still use the ATM, but only with a bank credit card that does not charge such a foreign transaction fee.  And to avoid further service charges from the ATM,  I try to take out enough euros one time only to last me through my stay.
   
    • The VAT refund on merchandise you bought can be a pain in the neck to file for when you get to the airport, and the refund is never as much as you thought it would be, but it’s still a 20% tax that you, as a foreigner, need not pay. To make things a little easier, remember to carry your passport if you go shopping.  Ask the merchant to fill out the
“tax-free form” for you and attach your receipt.  Some stores, which usually have a “Tax Free” sticker in their window, will offer to mail in your forms and give you a tax credit on your credit card, though they may charge a fee.    
    • Take your purchases with you.  Unless it’s a piece of furniture, don’t ask them to ship it because costs will be outrageously high.

    • B.Y.O.B. is not done in Paris, but, if you do, shame on you--and expect a whopping corkage charge.

    • Parisians obviously take their culinary reputation very seriously, and it  is applied even to the cafeterias and restaurants in their museums, which offer some very good value for delicious food.  The Musée d’Orsay has three—Restaurant, with 22 euro and 32 euro meals; Café de l'Ours for salads, sandwiches and pastries (right); and Café Campana for brasserie fare.

    • Always ask about Wi-Fi charges! Even today, when hotels have gotten very competitive about offering the service for free, many deluxe hotels in Paris do not, and you may wind up paying a 25 euro charge for less than a day’s coverage.  Paris itself is well wired, so there are plenty of hot zones outside the hotels.

    • Breakfast is often included in hotel room prices, but make sure you ask. If not, it is much better to go around the corner to a pastry/bakery shop or café and have a fresh croissant and coffee for a few euros.

    • Of course, as everyone knows, you’d be a complete fool to take anything out of the minibars.  But, if you do, here’s a hint: Owing to the way minibars are checked (not every day), you may dispute that charge for a Toblerone bar and I guarantee the cashier at the front desk will take it right off your bill, no questions asked.  Don’t try that with the pillows or towels, though.




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NEW YORK CORNER

By John Mariani

The Leopard at Des Artistes
1 W 67th Street (near Central Park West)
212-787-8767

theleopardnyc.com

    The rich cultural and gastronomic history of the dining room space within the Gothic-Tudor-style Hôtel des Artistes (actually a residence), began when it was first an artists' studio, then continued as the Café des Artistes, on whose walls Howard Chandler Christy painted his 1930s murals of 36 naked young women romping in woods that look a lot like Central Park.
    Risqué in their time, they look every bit as risqué in ours, and while their continuing precence in the dining space has never been secure, they are still there. The happily naked girls--who look like New York debutantes, or models for the artist’s more demure “Christy Girl” magazine covers--swing on vines, dance rapturously, and shower under a waterfall, all managing to look both shyly innocent and tantalizingly seductive at the same time, as if we onlookers are Peeping Toms. The murals are as inseparable from the city's popular culture as the New York Public Library lions or  Maxfield Parrish's "Old King Cole" mural at the King Cole Bar in the St. Régis Hotel.
    For decades the Café des Artistes was a favorite hang-out for artists, actors, opera stars and musicians--Lincoln Center is a block away--but, when the lease ran out six years ago, it seemed time had run out on the space as a restaurant.  Fortunately, veteran restaurateurs Gianfranco and Paula Sorrentino, who also own Il Gattopardo and Mozzarella & Vino across from the MOMA, turned the space into The Leopard at Des Artistes four years ago, and it has again assumed its rightful place as a classic New York  dining venue.  Not to dine here upon visiting NYC is like missing tea at the Palm Court at the Plaza or not having a drink at the bar at `21’ Club.
    The dining room is as lovely as ever, though when I dined there last month the lights had been lowered and the murals showed less of their vivacity in the dimness. (I’ve been told that this is being or has been remedied since then.)
      The Sorrentinos are usually at one or the other of their restaurants each day, and maître d’ Alessandro Guardiello adds a European amiability to the evening’s proceedings.
      The wine list is excellent, especially with Italian small estate bottlings, and the wines by the glass ($12-$29) judiciously chosen. The white selections are particularly interesting with rarely seen wines like Poggio dei Gorlei Pigato “Albium” 2010 and Trebbiano D’Abruzzo “Altare” Marramiero 2010.  By the way, on Sunday evenings the restaurant has a”BYOB Sunday Supper,” with no corkage fees.   
    
There is a fine new executive chef aboard, Michele Brogioni (left), with 20 years experience that includes winning a Michelin star while at Il Falconiere in Cortona, Italy, and his cooking shows more finesse than the menus here previously had.  Every dish is carefully composed from the finest ingredients, and there is a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and bitter impeccable throughout (throw in some umami, if you like), whether it’s combining housemade friselle with Swiss chard, anchovies and tomato ($14) or tortelloni (below) filled with three meats and prosciutto and dressed with a veal sauce, mascarpone and thyme ($24).
      Many Italian restaurants these days offer a cutting board of charcuterie and cheeses, though they are not always top-notch examples.  Brogioni chooses wisely and serves them with fruits, mustard fruits and a rustic Neapolitan spiced bread called casatiello ($25).
      His pastas easily rank with the best in the city, not because they are novelties but because they are all based on the Italian rule of simplicity, heightened with refinement and beauty.  The gnudi (below) of buffalo milk gnocchi come bathed in nothing more than butter and Parmigano atop organic spinach ($16), and they will make you swoon.  The spaghetti alla chitarra comes with a rich rabbit ragôut, Taggiasca olives and wild arugula ($24),  and escarole-stuffed ravioli of wondrous delicacy are dressed with pine nuts, raisins, Gaeta olives and a Genovese-style sauce ($19). There is a risotto special each night, and our table lapped up the version with woodsy funghi porcini ($24).
      Again, main courses are kept simple in order to manifest the prime ingredient’s own flavor, so that red snapper is quickly pan-seared then scented with fennel, capers, and a tangy lemon sauce ($37). Equally as delicious is the veal chop alla milanese with arugula, oven-dried cherry tomatoes and pickled onions ($48), a variation of the usually quite plain pounded, breaded veal chop; here the sweet and sour flavors of the tomatoes and onions add measurably to the dish.
      A delightful Sicilian item is the seasoned, breaded pork on skewers ($38), an excellent choice for summer--they should sell them out on the sidewalk!  Pan-seared duck breast is done “in porchetta” style, that is as a roulade, with aromatic of wild fennel, sour onions and potato frittata ($39).  It was a good dish but lacked the heft of flavor of the other dishes.
      It is no longer accurate to say Italian restaurants neglect desserts--though most offer disappointing clichés--and The Leopard proves its kitchen is as serious in that department as in what precedes them.  What a joy to crunch into a just-made cannoli (below) of creamy sheep’s milk ricotta and chocolate chips ($12); a classic babà soaked with rum and topped with whipped cream and summer berries ($12); almond semi-freddo with apricot sorbet and plum sauce ($12); and a rich lemon-verbena panna cotta with blueberry compote ($12).
      As at the Sorrentinos’ other ristorante, Il Gattopardo (which means "the leopard” in Italian, named after the great Sicilian novel by Giuseppe di Lampedusa), The Leopard at Des Artistes embodies la finezza, which takes a long time to develop and a longer time for a chef to leave his personal stamp on without betraying tradition.  Like those not-so-innocent girls in the murals, there’s a secret story behind every dish at The Leopard that reveals itself in every morsel.  

The Leopard at Des Artistes is open for dinner nightly and brunch Sat. & Sun. There is a pre- and post-theater fixed price three-course dinner at $35.

 






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NOTES FROM THE SPIRITS LOCKER

BEAUTY IN A BOTTLE--
THE TEQUILA MYSTIQUE

By Rob Mariani

    Did you know that a bottle of fine, well-aged tequila can cost as much as $1,800 or more? That’s not just because this traditional Mexican beverage continues to evolve and become more popular with connoisseurs. It’s also because this many-faceted drink is presented and sold in some of the world’s most creatively designed bottles.
    Once you see the exquisite artistry that goes into the making of these glass and ceramic masterpieces, you’ll realize they are worth every penny, and why they are so coveted by collectors the world over. Take for example a bottle of Milagro Romance Extra Añejo (right).  The crystal-clear, hand-blown bottle has three inner chambers that are craftily suspended inside the unique outer bottle. Each chamber is filled with 100% Blue Agave Select Barrel Reserve anejo tequila, and each represents a year of the tequila’s aging to maturity.
    Some bottles depict ancient myths and gods, while others feature more abstract arrangements or recaps of Mexican folk tales. One of the artisanal tequilas comes in a hand-crafted, ceramic bull’s head that is ringed by six shot glasses with miniature bull’s heads wrapped around each glass.
    A Gran Centenario Azul Gran Reserva is one of the most beautiful bottles of tequila to come from Mexico.  Both the bottle and the tequila are extremely rare. The bottle’s elegant blue ceramic body depicts a bronze angel playing a long trumpet in its hollowed out center. The bottle comes cradled in a handcrafted burlap “display case” along with a booklet of information about the specific brand of tequila.
      And the dazzling creativity doesn’t end with just beautiful bottle designs. Many of the fine tequila bottles come in meticulously hand-made wooden boxes adorned with original graphics--art work that makes these boxes collectors' items as well.

A GUIDED TASTING TOUR OF TEQUILA-INSPIRED CUISINE

    There are so many aspects to this unique art form of making fine tequila and packaging it in extremely imaginative ways, that there is now a newly opened “Tequila Art Museum” in Providence, Rhode Island’s capital city. In addition to the dozens of original tequila bottles on display in this small but well-focused venue, the museum also offers two-hour evening tasting tours twice a week, Monday and Thursday in Providence’s much lauded dining district, known as Federal Hill. Each tour features a tequila and food pairing at three of Federal Hill’s most acclaimed restaurants, as well as a guided tour of some of the other culinary highlights in this historic area.
    All tastings are included in your ticket purchase. Enough food is served that, for most participants, a meal afterwards is not needed. $40 tickets can be purchased at TequilaArt FedHill (right).

 

 

 

 

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ANNOUNCMENT

THE WORLD SHOWERS CHARLESTON WITH AMAZING GRACE--AUCTION FOR COMMUNITY UNITED CHARLESTON INCLUDES ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME LUXURIES

CHARLESTON, SC – Organizers of the Community United Charleston fund and event have been showered with auction items best described as extraordinary. The Fund sprang up hours after nine individuals were shot in the historic Mother Emanuel AME church.  Auction bidders – who can pre-register and participate from anywhere at www.bidr.co/communityunited – are invited to bid on hundreds of auction items ranging in value from $50,0000 to $50. The auction opens at noon on Friday, July 3 and closes at midnight Thursday, July 9. Bidders need not be present to participate. Among the rare items – which are included in the complete gallery at https://bidr.co/events/items.php?evt=3000:

·      A City and Safari package with round-trip Business Class tickets to Capetown, South Africa featuring stays at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel and a Belmond safari reserve.

·      More than 100 pieces of original art, valued from $500 to $15,000.

·      A weekend for two in New York City, including all-access tickets to the New York Wine Experience, plus business class air tickets.

·      Tickets to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, an event that typically sells out.

·      A ticket package including access to the Grammy Awards.

·      A Brazilian Bucket List Trip from Belmond, offering nine nights at the iconic Belmond Copacabana Place and Belmond Hotel das Catartas in Iguazu National Park (named one of the seven wonders of the world).

·      75 hotel stays in the United States and abroad.

·      52 weeks of dining out in Charleston’s world-class restaurants.

·      A Tuscan Grand Tour featuring round trip business class airfares plus eight nights in the Italian wine region, including a 3-night stay at Belmond Hotel Splendido.

Organizers place the total value of auction items collected thus far to be in excess of $500,000. 


 



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AND HOW ABOUT A BIB AND DIAPERS FOR THAT?

Zéro de Conduite, a Parisian bar, is serving cocktails from baby bottles.  One Yelp reader reported,  “Yes, it is a little odd to drink your cocktails out of baby bottles, but it lasts a little longer and it's so much fun!”










 



 FOOD WRITING 101: TRY NOT TO USE WORDS
 ONLY ONE OUT OF 1,000 READERS WILL KNOW

“From the shrubbery comes a sound like a güiro being scraped by an unmusical child in a school assembly. Then Quammen struts forward, with brilliant patches of deep blue on his body and a huge red beak primed to cut like weaponised garden secateurs.”—David Whitley, “Meet the Natives,” National Geographic Traveller (June 2015).

 




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



   I'm proud and happy to announce that my new book, The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books), has just been published through Amazon and Kindle. 
     It is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring back his master back from the edge of despair. 

WATCH THE VIDEO!

“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.


“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.




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The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.


"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.




Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  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, thedailybeast.com

"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 Meal.com.

"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,  The Modern, and Maialino.

                                                                             





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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, 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: HIKING IN THE ALPS; CYCLING ACROSS CUBA






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 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, BusinessWeek.com;  nick@nickonwine.com; www.nickonwine.com.



MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, 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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© copyright John Mariani 2015