Virtual Gourmet

June 14, 2009                                                                 NEWSLETTER



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In This Issue




FINDING GREENVILLE (the one in South Carolina)
by John Mariani

Greenville's Liberty Bridge across The Reedy River

     I've got to be honest and say that, upon being invited to the city of Greenville, I really wasn't sure which of the Carolinas it was in and for a moment mistook it for Greensboro, then the Greenville in North Carolina.  But after a visit to this historic and utterly charming, thriving South Carolina city, I came away with not only fond memories of a new place but a corroboration of my claim that you can now eat exceedingly well just about anywhere in the United States.
      Greenville has been called the "#1 North American City of the Future, 2009" by Foreign Direct Investment, one of the "Top Five Cities to Weather the Economic Downtown" by Forbes, and, thanks to BMW's and Michelin's setting up their North American headquarters here, the highest per capita foreign investment in the here. The city proper has 76,000 residents, and just about every one I met couldn't have been more hospitable. The municipal managers, specially Mayor Knox White, have clearly had a realistic vision for their city, helped out by developers and wholly supported by BMW and Michelin, whose contributions to charity and the arts has been of enormous help over the past five years, when the city really turned around, having prior to that had a lazy, unproductive main street that has now become a thriving thoroughfare of stores, cafés, and restaurants.
     The Greenville County Museum of Art is not just a fine piece of architecture with varied,  well-laid out exhibition space but home to more than two dozen paintings by Andrew Wyeth, which the artist himself called "the very best collection of my watercolors in any public museum in this country."  There is a performing arts center and little theater in Greenville, too. The city holds an Azalea Festiuval in the spring, A Shakespeare Festival in the summer, and a Pumpkin Festival in the fall.
       The city has the usual chain restaurants in abundance, but it has developed a uniquely local series of places that would rank among the best in the South, places that respect Southern cooking traditions while incorporating all that is going on in global cuisine, whether it's sushi and flatbreads or charcuterie and gelati. There's Greek food (Acropolis), Mexican (Fonda Rosalinda), Vietnamese (Pho Noodleville), sushi (Takosushi), even Jamaican (Island Blend Jerk & Grill). The following are among those I found outstanding.

25 East Court Street

     Good looks will only get you so far in the resto business, and Deveraux's certainly has them going for it: Located in the historic American Cigar Factory (circa 1902), it draws on the vastness of that enterprise's spaciousness, retaining the exposed brick and beams while giving it good lighting and modern art.
     But if the décor is the initial draw, it is Chef Steven Devereaux Greene's cooking that packs them in here. He learned good Southern cuisine at Charleston's 82 Queen and McCrady’s, along with deluxe dining at Woodlands Resort & Inn. Now, under the umbrella of the 301 Restaurant Group that runs several places in town, Greene is showing his own chops in a blend of Southern and American food with canny global accents, evident in dishes like his naturally sweet Vidalia onion soup and his braised veal ravioli  with smoked Portobello mushrooms,  roasted sweet peppers, and a delicious goat's cheese mousse and parmesan consommé.  He takes Hudson Valley foie gras and enriches it further with passion fruit sabayon, brioche, and bittersweet chocolate, which really does work well. Hawaiian bigeye tuna comes cuddled with a parsnip purée baby veggies, and thyme-scented jus, while in a prosciutto wrapping, with brown butter dressed gnocchi, smoked tomatoes, asparagus and wild mushrooms. Muscovy duck breast and confit (right) takes well to stir-fried vegetables, daikon, and pomegranate sweet and sour sauce.  Almonds add crunch to sea scallops with aromatic jasmine rice and a saffron broth.
      You sense immediately that Greene is going for big, sophisticated flavors, just shy of too many enhancements, so the dishes seem in good balance of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour tastes, maybe a little umami thrown in with accents like that curry seasoning. Desserts run the same delectable course, like his s'mores, made with flourless chocolate cake, toasted marshmallows, and housemade Graham cracker crust. There is also a selection of domestic and internationalist cheeses.
      Devereaux's 200-label winelist is strong across the board, with a very good number of bottlings under $40 and a good array by the glass.
      The place is as chic as things in Greenville gets, meaning that people come dressed in casual, smart clothes, and the bar retains a failry tony crowd until late in the evening.

Deveraux's is open Tues.-Sun. Appetizers run $8-$16, entrees $22-$34.

207 South Main Street

     The food at Soby's, now 12 years old,  is described as "New South Cuisine," which is easy enough to understand when presented with a menu of dishes like pimiento cheese hushpuppies with jalapeño honey butter, and Gullah shrimp and grits with bacon and grilled bread that serves to mop up all the goodness on the plate. There's terrific she crab soup splashed with sherry, a dish that reminds you how Southern food can be as good as America's best at a place like Soby's, when all tooften elsewhere that same food is made with mediocre or poor ingredients and lackluster preparation that don't show the real virtues of the cookery.
     So Soby toes a noble, traditional line. But Chef/partner David Williams and chef de cuisine Shaun C. Garcia know well how to gussy things up a bit--always using first-rate ingredients--to make those traditions glow with modernity, obvious in a dish like their meatloaf with a maple Creole mustard glaze that invests the finely ground beef tenderloin with marvelous flavors, adding mashed potatoes and a succotash of butternut squash on the plate.  A lightly smoked smoked pork chop,  juicy and well-fatted to begin with, is carefully seared then treated to a lashing of blue cheese, candied sweet potato purée, and "blackened" green beans, which makes this the kind of dish that redeems Southern cooking from the gloppy excesses of the Paul Deen school.
     Pretty much everyone who goes to Soby's raves about its Southern fried chicken, the all-natural bird itself brought from Ashley Farms in North Carolina, which just shows that evevn fried chicken needs a great chicken to begin with.  It is a gem, crispy, golden, juicy rather than greasy but with enough fat to make the appetite roar, and it is accompanied by a rosemary-flecked biscuit, beans punched up with garlic, and perfectly textured mashed potatoes. For dessert there's white chocolate banana cream pie (too sweet) and a Stout-laced ginger spice cake served warm with cider and pepper sauces, with toasted streudel and pomegranate ice cream on top.  A lot to describe, a lot to love.
      Soby's, also,
ike Devereaux's, a creation of the 301 Restaurant Group, takes advantage the lineaments of a century-old brick building (the restaurant won an Award of Excellence from the local realtors as Best Commerical Revitalization Project of 1998). Two years ago the owners, Carl Sobocnski, Rodney Friedman, and Williams published an excellent cookbook that shows off what they've done over the decade, entitled Soby's New South Cuisine, in which they describe how so many of Greenville's historic structures had been demolished and how they wanted to help save and restore downtown from further decrepitude, taking over the old building that once been a grocery but that had for years been something called the Cancellation Shoe Mart. Tearing off the wallboard, they discovered gorgeous old brick, thick wooden beams, and an antiuqe fireplace. Everything was scraped down and made new, retaining the original charm of the structure; high  upholstered wooden booths and oak chairs were added, pendant lamps hung, and a modern kitchen installed. The first thing they served on opening night were garlic and Cheddar cheese biscuits. They';ve been making the regulars and newcomers happy ever since.

Soby's is open for dinner daily, with Sunday brunch. Appetizers run  $4.5-$8.50, entrees $14.50-$26.50.

170 River Place

    The Lazy Goat's trademarked motto is, "Time well wasted," and you get the drift as you enter this wrap-around, sprawling restaurant on the river that bisects and meanders through the downtown. Huge windows, two levels, an outdoor patio, and walls decked out with old clocks and antiques all make this is a convivial place where you are indeed tempted just to linger on long after your meal or to extend it with more food.
    You could, of course, just drop by for Chef Victoria Ann Moore's  "Graze and Nibble" items, like the fine charcuterie of
Jamón Serrano Ibérico, Italian salamis, and Spanish and Italian country cheeses like Murcina Al Vino, Manchego, and Gorgonzola Dole. Or perhaps a creamy moussaka with béchamel sauce, or some succulent braised pork belly with cannelini bean cassoulet. The there's toasted, garlic-and-chimichuirri drenched shrimp with blistered tomatoes, feta cheese, ouzo liqueur, and arugula, and  then papas bravas potatoes with fire onions, chorizo, and saffron aïoli. Such starters run only $4-$6.
     Or you might opt "To Share or Not to Share"--a good choice of words since you might fight over wonderfully tasty dishes like pancetta-wrapped grouper with caramelized pears and lavished with sherry brown butter; or Jamon Serrano-wrapped flounder with fried fingerlings, ratatouille, and charmoula. Moroccan lamb (right) is fired up with spiciness and served with warm pita bread and feta cheese. Branzino comes perfectly grilled, with crushed fingerling potatoes, shaved fennel, and charmoula.  These run $15-$24. There is also a pasta section--the baked orecchiette with bolognese sauce and shaved ricotta salata is outstanding--a pizza section (nothing over $12 here), and then desserts like citrus spiced rice pudding, and some ridiculously good  churros  fritters with chocolate dipping sauce What's not to love about tiramisù poppers and the "petite sweet potato cheesecakes" --all $4.
     This is the kind of food that Americans now want to eat--to dig into, to pick up with your fingers, to over-order because none of it costs very much, and to go away completely satisfied.  Don't be fooled--this may be gutsy, downhome global fare, but it takes a sophisticated and deft hand to carry it all off with the aplomb Victoria Ann Moore, an Alabama girl,  shows to a fare-thee-well  at The Lazy Goat.

Open Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner.

684 C Fairview Road
Simpsonville, SC

     I love family-owned restaurants; indeed, I promote them as eagerly and as often as I can. And Stella's Southern Bistro, located some miles outside of Greenville, is worth a trip not just for the good food but to meet two people who obviously love what they do and love the fact that you've come to be their guests.
        Jason and Julia Scholz met and married in Charleston in 1999--he's from Kentucky, she's from South Carolina.  Jason got his culinary start at the crack Maverick Southern Kitchens group in Charleston under chef Frank Lee, opening High Cotton there and later a branch in Greenville for the company. Julia, who grew up on Hilton Head Island as daughter of a fisherman and local restaurant owner, also worked for Maverick and High Cotton, from bartender through managerial positions.  So now they have their own charming place, opened last August, serving cuisine "inspired by the coastal Carolinas and the American south" and supporting as much as possible regional food artisans.
       This is readily appreciated in dishes like the smoked pulled pork spring roll with avocado sauce, corn salad, and Carolina mustard, which brings some new ideas to traditional pulled pork. There is Charleston she crab soup with a dash of sherry and blue crab meat; a perfectly fried pecan-crusted Carolina catfish with big-flavored collard greens; and sweet pepper shrimp butter, with baked cheese grits from Aduh Mills, which also accompany the crispy duck legs with Creole grilled tomatoes and tasso gravy with a real nice bite to it. There wasn't enough lump crabmeat in the crabcake here, which comes with succotash, remoulade, and tomato coulis.
      For dessert go with the luscious bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and caramel, a delight that will never grow old, or the toasted pound cake with caramelized pineapple, passion fruit coulis, and whipped cream.
     See, you don't have to do much to make Southern food the equal of any in the U.S.; you just have to do it with care, imagination, and love.

Lunch is served Mon.-Fri. and
dinner Mon.-Sat. Appetizers at dinner run $6=$10, entrees $16.50-$25.


To get a fine sense of Greenville's historic Southern charms, by all means stay at its best hotel, the 12-story Westin Poinsett, right on Main Street.  Built in 1925 by New York architect W. L. Stoddard, the hotel's classic décor has been admirably maintained in the public rooms, including the beautiful lobby (right), where scenes for the George Clooney movie "Leatherheads" were filmed, with 90 percent of the original windows  retained, and damaged terracotta decorative pieces and ironwork restored. As a result, the hotel has received a Historic Preservation Award, By the same token, the guestrooms have all been refurbished with every modern amenity.



by John Mariani

BRASSERIE COGNAC de Monsieur Ballon
1740 Broadway (at 55th Street)

       The differences between a bistro and brasserie are not so readily distinguished as they once were when the latter were opened in Paris after Alsatians poured into the capital after the Franco-Prussian War, bringing their own concept and cuisine of a big beer hall with them. The old-fashioned dishes like choucroute and baekoffe endured, while at the smaller bistros, which began dotting Paris after the fall of Napoleon, families from various regions of France cooked in their own style and at a considerable cut above the food at a café, if not in the haute cuisine class.
       These days the words bistro and brasserie are bandied about and trade on each other's strengths: In New York, Balthazar in SoHo is the closest we have to a big, well-lighted, old-fashioned brasserie, though it serves a lot of bistro food too;  and in cooler months you'll find the old brasserie dishes being served up in NYC bistros all over town, just as you'll find bistro dishes served at places with the word "brasserie" in their name.
      So Brasserie Cognac de Monsieur Ballon maintains a winning  balance of both traditions, being fairly large, but not too large, and offering bistro dishes that cover a wide swathe of regional French cooking.  All of it is served up with the appropriate bonhomie, thanks to the care of restaurateurs Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, who have trained their staff to be warm, vivacious, and just genteel enough for New Yorkers--which include a lot of French people--to feel at home.  Chef Florian V. Hugo (below), who's actually descended from novelist Victor Hugo, has worked with Alain Ducasse and more recently at the great La Panetière in Rye, NY. At BC, he is making the Europeans swoon over the authenticity of his food
for anyone who ever dined at a place like Bofinger, Ma Bourgogne, Le Dôme, and Benôit in Paris. This is also a good spot for lunch and pre-theater; afterwards a very romantic one for dessert, coffee, and Cognac, oh which 100 are stocked.
    The décor may not have the scruffy patina of age that has accrued to Paris originals, but the owners have done everything to make this a slice of French style, including tin ceilings, zinc bar, big clocks, and a cheese and charcuterie counter. The wine list is 110 selections strong.
BC is also open for breakfast, brunch ($19.95 prix fixe), and there's a great value for pre-theater, at $29.50 for three courses. On Fridays and Saturdays the place stays open till 1 AM.  And they offer a "to go" menu and a happy hour. Talk about maximizing the business in tough times!
     BC's menu is, therefore,  a little too inclusive, even offering sushi and sashimi (why would anyone go to a French brasserie for a California roll?), along with hamburgers (which have, in fact, become almost de rigueur in Paris), and some American sandwiches.  But I would stick to the French classics, beginning with the hot puffy gougères with Gruyère and parmesan cheeses, which are very difficult to stop eating along with a glass of Chablis--oh, make that a bottle and keep drinking it with the tuna tartare with ginger, coriander, and potato wafers, and the fine selection of charcuterie here.
      If it's lunch--or breakfast--the croque monsieur sandwich with ham, Swiss, and truffle oil, is a triumph of gooey goodness, and, owing to its size, worth the $18 at dinner.  You could share it as an appetizer.  The onion soup is textbook perfect, bubbly, browned, thick with Gruyère, rich with caramelized onions, and don't neglect the macaroni and cheese, also now become a French addiction.  There are daily specials that include a game meat on Wednesdays and good old duck a l'orange on Thursday, and on Sunday couscous royale, which is just made for a family dinner.
     Of course, roast chicken, here done on a rotisserie, is a signifying dish in French bistros, and Hugo's is excellent, as juicy as can be, with the full flavor of chicken, well-buttered mashed potatoes, and aromatic tarragon sauce.  Just as telling is steak au poivre, and BC's is nice and chewy, with a good beefy mineral flavor. You can also have it with red wine sauce or maître d'hôtel butter.  The only slight disappointment I had at BC was the blanquette de veau, an ancient bistro dish I remember with enormous fondness from my first trips to France.  BC's version is all right but lacks the richness and thickness of the creamy sauce that should smother the morsels of veal and vegetables.
      Bistro/brasserie desserts tend to be predictable, by BC's are of a very high order, crisp when they should be crisp, dense when they should be dense, from an ethereally light floating island with caramel to a lovely raspberry vacherin, all $9.  The profiteroles (right) are impossible to resist, in all their decadent chocolate, puff pastry, and ice cream glory.
        It's not all that difficult to reproduce the look and the menu of a Parisian bistro/brasserie, and NYC has plenty of them. But Brasserie Cognac is not only impeccably rendered in its dècor but in the all-important vibrancy of a good French eatery and fin the ine cooking that distinguishes it from so many other half-hearted attempts in town.

Brasserie Cognac is open every day. Dinner appetizers range from $8-$15, main courses $18-$29.



Firefighters rescued Anthony Abruzzese after he fell more than 30 feet into a silo (right) housing flour for blueberry waffles at a Kellogg’s plant in Winslow Township, Camden, NJ, where he was employed.   He got stuck in the silo when he went to check the flour levels, and there was concern that the flour could ignite.


On the subject of gelato: "The oral neurosis of the Italians appears to desport the whole of its weight in this realm of frozen childhood pleasure."--Rachel Cusk, The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy.



* From June 11-16, Chicago Chefs For Choice will host the "2009 Foie Gras Fest," with specially-created $10 Foie Gras dishes, at restaurants that incl. Cyrano's Bistrot & Wine Bar, Café Bernard, Café Matou, Carlos, David Burke’s Primehouse, May Street Market, and Hemmingway’s Bistro. Call Chef Didier Durand 312-467-1850 for more info.

* On June 16, Chiara Bistro in Westwood, MA, has invited Susie Selby of Selby Winery in Healdsburg, CA to host a 5-Course Chef's Tasting Menu featuring 6 wines. $75 pp.  Call of her winemaking award winning wines. Call 781-461-8118;

* On June 18 in NYC, Sora Lella will hold special wine dinners pairing the restaurant’s signature dishes with the best wines of Lazio in a 5-courses with 5 wines from Sergio Mottura. $70 pp. Call 212-366-4749; visit

* On June 19 in Washington, DC, Zola Wine & Kitchen  extends an opportunity to wine and dine with Wine & Spirits Professional Terry Theise of Terry Theise Estate Selections, created by Executive Chef Bryan Moscatello, at $115 pp.  Call  202-654-2855.

* On June 19 in Chappaqua, NY, Crabtree's Kittle House will hold a dinner of Pahlmeyer wines with special guest  Director of Winegrowing dinner with Pahlmeyer Wines, with winemaker Erin Green. $150 pp. Call 914-666-8044.

* On June 22, in Miami Beach, Blue Door at Delano presents a 6-course wine dinner featuring the wines of Duckhorn and the  cuisine of  executive Chef Maria Manso,  priced at $150 pp. Call 305-674-6400.

* On June 22 in NYC, Hearth holds a 4-course Riesling dinner focusing on the  wines of Johannes Leitz in the Rheingau region, above the town of Rüdesheim.  $99 pp/ . Call 646-602-1300 or e-mail

* On June 23 in Las Vegas, the first of a new series of Beer Pairing Dinners is being held at Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas, with bexecutive Chef Wesley Holton and wine manager Sur Lucero, as well as Michael Smith of Unibroue Brewery. . $85 pp.  Call 702-770-DINE.  Visit by Daniel Boulud Brasserie’s executive Chef Wesley Holton and wine manager Sur Lucero, as well as Michael Smith of Unibroue Brewery;

* On  June 23 in NYC, City Harvest’s young professionals group, Generation Harvest, will host its annual Summer in the City Restaurant Tasting and Cocktail Party at the Metropolitan Pavilion with Tasting & Silent Auction  Tix range from $125 - $200 pp and sponsorship packages from $2,500 - $25,000.  Call 917-351-8716 or

* On June 24 in ChicagoChefs on the Grill  brings together renowned chefs of the Millennium Valley  at The Plaza at Park Grill. Attendees will interact with the chefs then vote on the best-grilled dish of the evening. Guests will also enjoy food, drink and special take-away prizes all under Chicago’s famous “bean.” Proceeds will benefit the Grant Park Conservancy. Chefs incl. Bernie Laskowski of Park Grill, Cliff Ostrowski of China Grill, Michael Fiorello of Mercat a la Planxa, Ben Walanka and Daniel Romero of Rhapsody, et al.  $55 pp. Call 312-521-PARK; or visit

* On June 24 in Venice, CA, Piccolo presents "13a Cena al Contrario"-- a "reversal dinner"  because instead of first choosing the food then picking wine to complement your choice, you’ll choose the wine first and chef Roberto Ivan will pair it with the food.  Chooose either 3 or 5 wines from a list of about 30 new labelspicked exclusively for the evening by  sommelier Pietro Biondi. $70 for 3 wines and 3 plates; $110 for 5. Call 310-314-3222.

* On June 24 in Alexandria, VA, Bastille Restaurant has partnered with The Winery, a local wine shop in Old Town Alexandria, along with Elite Wines Imports to bring “France on a Budget” Wine Dinner by Executive Chef Christophe Poteaux and Pastry Chef Michelle Garbee Poteaux, 5 courses at $85 pp. Call 703-519-3776.

* On June 25 in Clayton, GA, Persimmon Creek Vineyards  welcomes Virginia Willis, chef/author of "Bon Appetit Y’all, Three Generations of Southern Cooking" and Tasia Malakasis  artisan cheese maker from Belle Chevre, for an  evening of Southern cuisine and wines, in a multi-course meal of seasonal specialties from her book, paired with Persimmon Creek Vineyards wines. $95 pp. Call 706-212-7380; visit . . . On June 27, "A Purple Haze" dinner will be held by  Chef Kristian Holbrook, formerly of  Blackberry Farm, and now g-m the Cottages at Persimmon Creek Vineyards. $85 pp.

* On June 25 in Milburn, NJ, Anna Maria Sorrentino of Shop Wine and Dine-Food & Wine Travel Concepts  has joined with  Semolina Restaurant,  for an all Sicilian, tasting menu dinner paired with Sicilian wines, at $95 pp.Net proceeds will be donated to the Italian American Museum Earthquake Relief Fund 2009. Contact or 973-467-4418.
* From June 27-July 5, in Kutztown, PA, the 60th anniversary of the Kutztown Folk Festival is to be held, the oldest, continuously operated folklife festival in America, featuring regional food and drink, crafts, and entertainment in the traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Visit

* On June 27 at Elysian Park/Montecillo Old Lodge, LA,  the 29th Annual Picnic Des Chefs Presented by Club Culinaire of French Cuisine will be held, with games and rffle, silent and live auction,  hotel packages,  and 100+ Gift Certificates from our Chefs’ Restaurants. $50 Adults; Children 10 to 21 $20; under 10 free. Call  949-295-0505 or visit

*  On June 27 in San Francisco Epic Roasthouse is pleased to announce "High on the Hog," an al fresco afternoon of Pinot Noir tasting, gourmet eats by Co-Owner and Executive Chef Jan Birnbaumand music, on EPIC’s bayside patio.  In addition, wine writer Jordan MacKay will be on hand signing copies of his book, Passion for Pinot: A Journey Through America's Pinot Noir Country.  $50 pp. Call 415-369-.9955.

* On June 27 in Atherton,  CAVintage Affaire, one of California's largest wine auctions, is to be held in the gardens of a private estate, to benefit Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto. Events incl. an array of silent auction items and wines from  25+ of California's top vintners; Some of the area's best chefs, incl. Alessandro Cartumini, Quattro Restaurant and Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley; Daniel Patino, Michael Mina's ARCADIA, San Jose; Xavier Salomon, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay; and Cal Stamenov, Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, will serve hors d'oeuvres and discuss wine pairing options with guests. Music by the Magnolia Jazz Band. Live auction and gourmet supper in the garden. $300 pp. Visit or call Vista Center at (650) 858-0202.

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with 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:  PARIS


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). THIS WEEK:

Family Travel Forum: The Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!", is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy, safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: 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.

 John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Bloomberg News, 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 2009