Virtual Gourmet

July 27, 2008                                                                             NEWSLETTER

"Summer Clementines" (2008) by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery

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In This Issue


Visiting The Glenlivet--Home Of the Single Malt Scotch by Robert Mariani






By Suzanne Wright


      The romance of rail travel, so much a part of 19th and 20th century culture, is in 2008 still exemplified by the four-day Royal Scotsman excursion from Edinburgh to the rugged Western Highlands.
     We passengers—just 36 of us from the U.S., the U.K. Australia, Germany—followed a bearded bagpiper onto the shiny burgundy carriage where we were welcomed with champagne.  Our leaders were straight from central casting:  Michael, the train manager, was witty and Sandra, our hostess, wore smart tweeds and had a plummy accent.
     My cabin, identified by “Ms. Wright” in script over the door, is tastefully decorated with subtle paisley and plaid, dark woods, gleaming brass and a shower with a heated towel rack.
    Many a “captive” travel experience results in dreary food, disheartening on such a journey.  But from the tiny galley—just eight steps from the wall at one end of the galley to the refrigerator, and the corridor is less than two feet wide—Chef Ian Murray turns out an exceptional parade of dishes:  omelets, French toast, monkfish, venison, potted shrimp, foie gras, scones, carrot cake, cheeses, chocolate soufflé, honey and oatcakes and truffles. Most trains, he says, have off-site kitchens.  “We can only carry what we need." When asked to describe his food, he says, “I want it to be ‘fine house party food.'  Most people’s expectations are we’ll just have beef and potatoes.”  He sources seafood and meat locally where he can, tying into location known for venison, say, or fish.  Murray tests the menu (which changes every two months) for up to five weeks prior to the season’s start.
     We gathered in the observation car for cocktails and conversation or afternoon tea.  On formal evenings, the men don kilts or tuxedos, the women little black dresses.  The answer to what’s under a Scotsman’s kilt?  The Loch Ness Monster, I’m told with a grin. On some nights, fiddlers, accordion players and a harpist come onboard after dinner to entertain as you sing along, plied by one of the 36 whiskies served. We stabled overnight, so everyone was well rested.
     By day, the famed landscape rushes by—sweeping glens and black lochs (lakes)—as we crowded the outdoor viewing platform, glasses clinking, the tracks disappearing behind us. We caught a glimpse of the Isle of Skye.  There’s an excursion each day:  a Highlander spins stories, we boarded a ferry to tour Mt. Stuart, Britain’s most spectacular Gothic House, we visited a beach, we hike Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.
The stately pace encourages conviviality and many of us exchange email addresses before we disembark.
     Rates for The Western Excursion begin at $4,960.

Loch Ness Lodge

     I made my way up to Nessie’s kitschy hometown.
Loch Ness is the country’s second largest loch, a large, fresh, deepwater lake 20 miles or so south of Inverness.  After a visit to The Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, founded by explorer Ranulph Fiennes, I am disabused of the idea of the fabled creature, in spite of its renewed popularity courtesy of the 2007 movie "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep."  But it’s no fable that the nearby Urquhart Castle, situated on a rocky peninsula of Loch Ness, was blown up in 1692 to prevent it becoming a Jacobite stronghold. Walking around the tragically romantic ruins on a bright, summer spring day, I was not surprised to learn it’s a frequent spot for wedding ceremonies.
    The days are long in May, so when I finally arrive at The Lodge at Loch Ness (below), it’s well into dinnertime.  Host Scott Sutherland greets me at this newly opened five-star B&B named by The Independent as one of the 10 most romantic places to stay in the U.K.  The Sutherland family, which also owns self-catering cottages adjacent to the Lodge, aims to create a relaxing retreat with top-notch accommodations and cuisine and they have. Local craftsmen have given the space an artisan feeling; subtle thistle, check and plaids evoke the classic elements of the Highlands, updated with such contemporary touches as aubergine walls.  Scott shows me to the handsome Maree Room (rates begin at $360 per night, double occupancy) with its views of the lake.  There’s a hot tub and sauna guests can use, and Sutherland will arrange massages, boating excursions or golf at one of the nearby courses.
     After I am settled in, I head downstairs to the parlor for a pre-dinner cocktail, a locally distilled gin (my notes fail me, but I believe it was from the Shetland Islands) and tonic.  Chef Ross Fraser, who trained with Marco Pierre White, uses the freshest seasonal ingredients to create dishes that marry French techniques with Scottish ingredients. Dinner (five courses at $90 per person) unfolds at a leisurely pace.  There’s a creamy, mellow velouté of zucchini with Inverloch goat's cheese; a refreshing and delicate West Coast crab salad with cucumber juice and crème fraîche; braised Morayshire pork belly with a white onion compote; a selection of cheeses with handmade oatcakes; and a luscious vanilla and strawberry trifle, followed by coffee and petit fours. I tumbled into bed at 11:30.
   Breakfast the following morning included eggs scrambled with smoked salmon and suggestions for the day’s touring.
      Scott waved goodbye as I headed out for points south.  I may not have managed a glimpse of the sea serpent, but I found a sumptuous respite worthy of discovery.

Suzanne Wright is a writer living in Atlanta and founder of

Visiting The Glenlivet-- Home Of the Single Malt Scotch

by Robert Mariani


    As we flew in over the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh, I couldn’t help noticing how much the landscape below us resembled a bolt of Scottish plaid. Stripes of dark umber crisscross huge square fields of brilliant green, watery silver patches and wine-colored heather.
    Once on the ground, we drove two hours north to the Cairngorm Mountains in the Speyside region, passing fields flecked with cloud-colored sheep and rusty-coated cows (or “coos,” as the old Scotch dialect pronounces it.) The Victorian stone houses are few, far between and all immaculately maintained.
     We were headed to the Glenlivet Distillery, birthplace of the original single malt Scotch back in 1824. It’s mid-July, and if you’re looking to escape the summer heat, this is where to come. During my 4-day stay in the Speyside area, the temperature never rose above 60 degrees, and the breezes were constant and exhilarating as they came off the lochs and across the mountains.
     The Glenlivet distillery is about 900 feet above sea level in the starkly beautiful Cairngorm Mountains. We arrived just in time for a late lunch at the charming nine-room Victorian Minmore House Hotel (below),  once the family home of the founder of Glenlivet, George Smith. It still feels very much like a home rather than a hotel and the proprietors, Victor and Lynne Janssen, are clearly committed to maintaining that commodious feeling.
     Lunch began with a bowl of the Inn’s creamy, lightly minted pea soup that evoked the scents and flavors of a fresh mid-summer garden. The soup was accompanied by slices of the rich and grainy “Minmore Health Bread,” and if this bread is as healthy as it was delicious, everyone should eat a loaf a day.
     The main course was a breast of young Guinea-fowl in a luscious red port wine sauce. The meat ran with flavorful juices and was served with a “Celeriac Smash,” a somewhat under-appreciated celery variety that tastes like a blend of celery and parsley. Some nice, light potato croquettes complete the entrée. It was indeed one of those main courses that satisfies without over-filling.
    Dessert was a fresh Scottish berry Pavlova roulade wrapped around a mixture of local raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.    After lunch we repaired to the parlor to sip some 12-year-old Glenlivet single malt as we gazed through the bay windows out over the Minmore’s lush four acres of gardens and the surrounding hillsides.

There Will Be Whisky

     We spent the night further back down the mountains at the Macdonald’s Aviemore hotel/motel/shopping mall/amusement area/convention center—a pale stucco, rather characterless, “1984” style enclave that has nothing to do with the quaint little town of Cairngorm that it’s come to inhabit. Cairngorm itself features a charming Victorian hotel, tourist shops, an old steam-driven dinner train ride, golf courses, and a fly fishing stream, all within walking distance of each other.
  From the town, it’s a little over an hour’s drive north along winding mountain roads to The Glenlivet Distillery (below, left) situated at over 900 feet above sea level in a wind-chilled, rocky landscape,  the oldest legal distillery in all of Scotland.
   The 12-year old Glenlivet Single Malt is the best-selling single malt in the U.S. and among the top three world-wide. It is also the “springboard” or “platform,” if you will, for a rich and varied family of Glenlivet single malts. Note well: to be officially labeled a “singe malt,” a bottle must only contain whisky distilled from malted barley and produced at a single distillery. This distinguishes it from the numerous Scotch “blends” available which mix their whiskies from several distillers. It should also be noted that not all single malts bear the strong peat flavor so often associated with this style of whisky. In fact, there is no peat smoke flavor in any of the Glenlivet single malts or in any of the Highland Speyside whiskies. That is a characteristic relegated to the lowland and island-located single malt whiskies.
     The Glenlivet 12-year old embodies the classic Speyside flavor with its creamy opening and layered notes of fruit and chocolate. which it gets from the French oak casks in which it is finished.  The 15-year old is a milder, subtler whisky, darker in color but somewhat lighter in taste,  with a more nuanced palette of flavors. Aged in European and American oak casks, The 18-year old is, as might be expected, more complex than it’s younger brothers, and to my taste buds at least, seemed the most friendly. With a hint of sherry up front, it has a smooth, beautifully rounded flavor that does not diminish as it swirls about the mouth.
     The 21-year old provides a slightly stronger sherry opening with a full-bodied flavor that one of our Glenlivet hosts referred to as “Christmas cake.” At about $300 a bottle, the Glenlivet XXV is the oldest permanent addition to the Glenlivet line. It is a rich, full-bodied whisky with strong sherry notes and as another of our hosts put it, “you can almost cut this one in slices.”
     Rarest of all—and the most expensive at about $750 a bottle- is Glenlivet’s 1969 Cellar Collection. It opens with a mild but almost operatically rich sherry note that spreads out long and slow on the tongue and just seems to get mellower by the second.
     Being at the Glenlivet Distillery, you also get to sample some of the more obscure versions of this family of distinguished single malts. There is, for instance, the “cask strength” Nadura that spends its entire 16 years aging in bourbon casks. It’s first sip can be a bit strong but with just a splash of Speyside water it smoothes out and finishes quite beautifully.
     Of course, no distillery tour would be complete without viewing the huge goose-necked copper stills where the various whiskies are distilled. On this particular visit, we also got a demonstration of one of the earliest and most primitive forms of Scotch single malt making. It’s called “smuggler’s style” because it replicates how single malts were made up here in the mountains back in the early 1800’s when whisky-brewing was illegal under British law. Using just a small campfire and a copper gooseneck still that’s roughly the size of a beer keg, the malted barley is distilled to a clear white liquor that drips out into a wooden bucket. Visitors are offered a taste, and in my group of about 25 people, every single head did a kind of pull-back double take at the first sip.
    Again, though, the simple addition of some water took the initial sting out of the whisky and I could even savor some interesting after-notes of what to me, tasted a bit like pumpkin seed.

    On our last night in Scotland, we spent a bone-chilling half-hour or so sipping some 15-year old Glenlivet on the rocky shore of the infamous Loch Ness near Inverness. In this high latitude, at 9 pm the sun was still very visible behind high pewter clouds and the wind off the Loch was stiff and wintery. No sign of the Monster, and somewhat to my surprise, not a single sail or motor boat on the choppy gray waters either. The Loch and its surrounding mountains are majestically beautiful with just a few white stone farm houses dotting the deep green landscape.
    If you are like me and not a fan of intensely hot summer weather, and you are easily seduced by a wee dram o’ “the creature” (whisky), you should be very content here in the Scottish Highlands where July seems more like March, and the whisky seems to seep sweetly up through the landscape in the warmest and friendliest of ways.

Robert Mariani is a freelance writer who lives in Bristol, RI. He is co-author of the memoir Almost Golden.   



630 Ninth Avenue (at 44th Street)

by John Mariani

     Andy D'Amico has for two decades now been among New York's top chefs, first making his mark at long-gone Sign of the Dove, then opening his own two fine French bistros, Nice Matin and Marseilles. Now, with Nizza, he seems more grounded than ever in providing the kind of rustic Italian trattoria fare that is impossible not to love, especially the array of antipasti with Ligurian regionalism. "Nizza" is Italian for Nice, just across the Ligurian border, and they share many of the same flavors.
     The storefront restaurant has just 65 seats indoors (20 outside right now), done up with warm sienna brown and ocher yellow colors, a white marble bar, and a wall of wines (with 30 by the glass available).  The waitstaff is friendly, knows the long ten-category menu well, and caters to requests, as when I asked for the loud music to be turned down a notch or two, or three.
     Among the antipasti were irresistible foccaccette--fried ravioli filled with crescenza cheese; there is a Ligurian torta layered with Swiss chard and pancetta, and one of the best is roasted tomatoes with sheep's milk ricotta. Right up there is deliciousness is the braised pork belly done in a ragoût of summer beans.  You are just getting started.
     Don't miss the cured meats here--bresaola, capicola, mortadella, prosciutto, Speck, pancetta, duck salami, and hot soppressata, or the cheeses, from oozy French Époisses and Pont l'Évêque to sweet Italian Gorgonzola and ubriaco (washed with wine), all served with great crusty bread.  These also go onto toasted panini if you just want to drop in for something light with a glass of wine. The fillings are myriad, from Kobe beef with roasted tomato, fried onions and red pepper rémoulade to house-cured sardines with tapenade and eggs.
      You can't of course, skip the pastas! Just point to any of them--the pesto lasagna with crescenza cheese is luscious, pansôti (fat bellies) of herbs and greens in a creamy walnut sauce very rich, and the linguine with swordfish, tomato, pignoli, raisins and anchovies mimics the cooking of Sicily.
      There's still more: wonderful pizza with pancetta bacon, taleggio, red onion, and chile flakes, and "terror stricken beef," which is a flat iron steak that has been marinated in fiery spices and served with shallots, capers, anchovy and a vinegar sauce.  I felt true bliss rather than an iota of terror when faced with this terrific, full-flavored slab of beef. If you want to go lighter, I recommend the branzino fillet with roasted artichokes, potatoes, and olives.
       Pastry chef John Lee does some simple, old-fashioned Italian desserts like zuppa inglese with berries, a cooling granita di caffe, and a lovely l;light lemon semifreddo.
      As you might imagine, none of this costs very much, so that you can pick and choose a half dozen items and a little wine and be out for under $40. Antipasti run $5-$7 (a platter for the table is $15), the panini $7-$9, the oven-baked dishes $9-$11, and the specialties like the steak and the branzino $10-$16.
      Nizza is the kind of place where you'd love to pull up on a Vespa or in an old Fiat 850 Spider, nosh away with friends for a couple of hours, then take in a revival of "Marriage Italian Style" or "Swept Away."  Hey, maybe you can talk D'Amico from showing them on DVD over the bar. Sounds sweet to me.


by Brian Freedman

    Salus Alvarez, winemaker at Vall Llach and one of the most important interpreters of the Priorat style, arrived at the restaurant just in time for a final bottle. He had spent the morning conducting one of the most illuminating winery tours I’d ever had: after rain had scuttled his plan to tour the vineyards with us, he walked the group I was leading through the barrel-packed cellars of the winery, insisting we taste the individual lots before finally sampling Vall Llach’s eponymous flagship bottling. Afterward he sent us all to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
    Restaurante Lo Teatre is housed in a dramatic 19th-century space  originally built as a theater. By the time Salus arrived, we had finished our meals (chorizo and eggs; sausage and fries;  country wine drunk from glass tumblers) and were ready to open a bottle of such rarity, such unusual constitution, that I couldn’t imagine doing so without the man who had made it to serve as our tour guide during my annual wine-region excursion of the Wine School of Philadelphia.
    The Vall Llach Aigua de Llum 2006, a perfumed beauty crafted in quantities that make the DRC Romanée-Conti look mass-produced by comparison, is one of those wines that changes the way you look at a region. Composed primarily of viognier with old vines garnacha blanca and a bit of macabeo added for seasoning, the Aigua de Llum was a deeply floral, richly textured white that, over the course of the half-hour it spent in the glass as Salus explained every twist and turn of its evolution, spoke of the region’s philosophy every bit as exuberantly as its more famous reds.
    Those reds, produced in this rugged region two hours southwest of Barcelona by car, are responsible for Priorat’s meteoric rise. The permitted grape varieties are garnacha, cariñena, syrah, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon, though it’s the first two, more often than not, that set the tone for the wine. Old vines of both stud the vertiginous mountainsides of the region, the rows typically following the curvature of the slopes and terraces and often not planted in the perfectly straight lines of so much of the rest of the wine world.
    But more than the grapes themselves, it is the land that provides the lion’s share of personality in the wine. In that regard, Priorat reminded me more of Burgundy than anywhere else in Spain. For here, no matter which producer I visited—modern, gravity-fed Mas Perinet; sprawling Mas d’en Gil (photo below); international superstar and iconoclast Costers del Siurana, whose top wines are the intense Clos de l’Obac and the sweet Dolç de l’Obac; or Vall Llach—the philosophy was the same: Use the grapes to express the land as clearly and cleanly as possible.
    The geological secret here is llicorella, the silver-gray, occasionally red-streaked slate on which so many of the best vines are planted. This crumbling, ancient land allows the roots of the vines to penetrate deep into the earth in search of water and nutrients, and results in a pronounced minerality in the wine, often regardless of the dominant grape.
That stony, mineral-inflected character was the thread connecting so many of the wines I tasted over the course of a week long stay. And each one, it seemed, was inextricably tied to the unique parcels of vineyard where its constituent grapes were grown.
    But what of these wines with the local food? Many of Catalonia’s forward-thinking, paradigm-shifting restaurants, after all, would seem to be at odds with the wines, would seem to exist at the opposite end of the spectrum from such terroir-driven bottlings.
    But in Priorat, even the more molecular-leaning kitchens keep one toe in the pool of traditionalism: I dined at a wide range of restaurants during my stay in the region, and all of them, even the most avant-garde, still maintained solid contact with the culinary traditions of the area, which made pairing the food with the local reds and whites far less treacherous than it otherwise would have been.
    My meal at Irreductibles in Gratallops, for example—a striking, set-menu gem whose chef, Brazilian Ricardo Siginore, seems totally unafraid to push the envelope in terms of both the underlying philosophy of his dishes and the flavors he coaxes out of them—included preparations that ranged from a magnificently unexpected seared tuna with casing-less pig-trotter sausage (gorgeous with the Cims de Porrera Priorat Solanes 2004) to a sweet-savory ‘petit four’ that looked like a poached egg but was actually a sour Greek-yogurt ‘white’ with sweet oregano and a deep orange ‘yolk’ of pureed carrot, orange juice, olive oil, and sugar held together with a vegetable gelatin. It would be tasty with so many of the licorice-inflected garnacha blanca-based whites of the region, or, even better, with a late-harvest white that would highlight the sweeter aspects of the dish and transition perfectly to the dessert courses. At this dinner, though, it was fabulous with nothing more exotic than coffee.
    At Cal Llop, also in Gratallops (below) , meaty sea bass with mammoth langoustines cosseted in a crispy shell were perfect alongside the 2006 Les Sorts Jove. This juicy red wine from the abutting Montsant region had gone through carbonic maceration, and as a result, even its constituent cariñena, garnacha, and syrah were light on their feet.
Heady foie gras mi-cuit at Cellers de Gratallops, down the street from (and owned by) Costers del Siurana, sang alongside that producer’s Usatges bottling, whose ripe fruit and well-calibrated acid balanced out the liver’s almost dizzyingly richness. The foie also, I suspect, would have paired spectacularly with the Dolç de l’Obac 1998, a late-harvest stunner produced from garnacha, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah that is without a doubt one of the best sweet wines I’ve ever tasted.
    The traditional foods of the region, of course, provide even more options when it comes to pairing. The olive-oil-marinated veal (more deeply beefy than any I’ve ever had) at El Cairat in Falset worked just as well with the old-vines cariñena Onix Selecció as it did with the meaty syrah-based reds from the region. At Venta d’en Puvill, a meat-lover’s paradise in Cornudella-Poboleda, a seemingly endless procession of simply, aggressively seasoned beef, veal, rabbit, lamb, and pork arrived hot off the wood grill and seemed custom made for Mas Perinet’s earthy, complex “Gotia” bottling from Montsant.
    That’s what makes these wines so delicious and useful at the table: Their ability to pair well with such a surprisingly wide variety of foods and cooking styles. Much of that success is due to the natural character the land itself imparts on the wines. But it seems that even more credit is owed to the people who craft them, and who have the confidence and good sense to allow the earth to speak more loudly than any stylistic desires they themselves might possess. No matter what part of the world your bottlings express, that is one of the universal hallmarks of great winemaking.

Brian Freedman is food and wine editor of LifeStyle  Magazine (, restaurant critic for and, director of wine education at the Wine School of Philadelphia and editorial director  at



“Pork stones,” formed by natural stone mixes with minerals were exhibited at the Suzhou Int’l Expo for Natural and Weird Stones, selling for about $17 per kilo.


“As soon as I laid eyes on this burger, I completely understood why Australia is referred to as Oz.  This monster had to have been created by a wizard.  Who else would think to top a beef patty with fried eggs, grilled pineapple, and pickled beets? This Down Under specialty has ‘em all. . . . We’re told Australians consider it ideal beach food—when they’re done eating, they simply head into the surf and wash off.”—Lawrence Karol, “A Taste of July,” Gourmet (July 2008).


* On July 29 at NYC’s Adour Alain Ducasse, Mitch Cosentino (winemaker & partner) of Cosentino Winery and partners Larry Soldinger, Edie Soldinger & Ben Soldinger  will pair their wines with Chef Tony Esnault’s 4-course dinner. $400 pp. Call 212-710-2277.

* On Aug. 12 in Chicago, Cafe Matou’s Le Pays Basque Wine Dinner wil be held with Chef Charlie Socher preparing a 5-course  dinner with wines selected by Wine Director James Rahn. $75 pp.  Call 773-384-8911.

*  On Aug. 13 Chicago’s Mity Nice Grill  presents a 4-course Beer Dinner hosted by Master Brewer Jason Ebel of Two Brothers Brewing Company, with special guest, master sommelier Alpana Singh, and food by Chef John Chiakulas, $40 pp. Call 312-335-4745.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, offers a  $250,000 Ultimate Access packages, incl. a private heli-tour to Sonoma’s Chalk Hill Estate Winery; private lunch with Chef Didier Ageorges and 6 signed bottles of rare wines from winemaker Peggy Furth; a heli-visit and tour of closed-to-the-public Emery Estate Ranch and 6 signed bottles;  private wine tasting at Hanzell Vineyards with 6 signed bottles from the winemaker’s private collection; 3 nights in The Ritz-Carlton Presidential Suite; 8-course in-suite Louis Roederer Cristal dinner prepared by Chef  Ron Siegel, with champagne pairings by sommelier Stephane Lacroix; a $25,000 art and design shopping spree at Gump’s  and more; shopping for dinner ingredients with Ron Siegel and cooking alongside him for another dinner.  Call 415-773-6171.

*  On Aug. 13 in St. Helena, CA,  Chef/Co-Owner Todd Humphries will present his Third Annual Tomato Dinner at Martini House, with wine by Peay Vineyards, and guests John DeBello, director of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," and Kevin Morrisey, director of photography, with a showing of the 1991 sequel Killer Tomatoes Eat France. $165 pp. Call 707-963-2233, ext. 1 or visit

* On Aug. 14  Hotel Granduca in Houston hosts a reception featuring former White House Executive Chef, Walter Scheib, benefiting The Brilliant Lecture Series.    $100 pp. Call 713-418-1000. Visit

* On Aug. 21 in Chicago, NoMI’s “Wine Engagement”  series of wine and gastronomy events will have Executive Chef Christophe David collaborating with Advanced Sommelier Fernando Beteta to pair a menu with Livio Felluga Wines of Italy. $150 pp. Call 312-335-1234; visit

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with three 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."  To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK: An Interview with Angler Tom Ohaus


Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contrinbutor 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). THIS WEEK: A Report on The Four Seasons Jackson Hole. Click on the logo below to go to the site.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,  Naomi  Kooker, Suzanne Wright, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

 John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Wine Spectator, Bloomberg News and Radio, and Diversion.  He is author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press).

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from by clicking on the cover image.

My newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our years growing up in the North Bronx. It's called Almost Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our lives when so many wonderful things seemed possible.
    For those of you who don't think of the Bronx as “idyllic,” this book will be a revelation. It’s about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful neighborhood filled with great friends and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives. It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this very personal look at our
Bronx childhood. It is not yet available in bookstores, so to purchase a copy, go to or click on  Almost Golden.
--John Mariani

© copyright John Mariani 2008