Virtual Gourmet

August 9, 2009                                                                 NEWSLETTER

"Bières de Chartres" poster by Girard (circa 1950)


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In This Issue




by Nikki Buchanan

     Stepping off the plane and into the Denver International Airport, I stood gazing up at those soaring ceilings — a series of bright white tents that from the outside looks like a 21st Century Bedouin encampment — when a gray-haired greeter in cowboy hat and boots asked me if I needed help finding my way around. “So this is Colorado,” I thought to myself, “a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.”
    I was headed for Fort Collins, where we would spend a few days before touring Estes Park then crossing the Continental Divide to stay at a guest ranch in Grand County. Driving north on the I-25, we passed red barns and white farmhouses, cows and horses grazing on rolling grasslands, everything so wholesome and tidy Norman Rockwell could’ve painted it.

Ft. Collins

    Situated on the Cache la Poudre River along Colorado’s Northern Front Range, Fort Collins is known for two things: Colorado State University and beer. But since Money magazine named it the best place to live in 2006 and the second best place to live in 2008, it has also become a mecca for retirees. Don’t think for a minute, however, that the place gives off the faintest whiff of Arizona's "adult retirement" destination of Sun City. In this state, people apparently keep hiking, biking, river rafting and mountain climbing until their outdoorsy little hearts give out.
    Fort Collins is more bike-obsessed than most Colorado towns, however, boasting over 280 miles of wide bike lanes as well as a bike library, where it’s possible to rent a restored bicycle (it's free of charge, you just swipe your credit card and off you roll) for an afternoon or an entire week. Hard-core mountain bikers have plenty of options as well, including trails along the Poudre. But for not-so-serious riders who simply want to tool around and look at stuff, this is the place: lots of quaint, shady streets, particularly in the historic Old Town, near the university.

     At the Armstrong Hotel, a shiny red cruiser sits in the front window, a reminder that bicycles are complimentary and easy to come by here as well. Built in 1923 and restored five years ago, this charming place offers 38 rooms and suites, each decorated differently but containing the same plush beds, down comforters and pillows. Some of the rooms feature wood floors and replicated antiques; others have patterned carpets, modern desks, and platform beds. I stayed in the latter, a crisply designed but soothing room overlooking the crabapple trees and bustle of College Avenue. The Armstrong sits right in the thick of things, surrounded by the gorgeously restored historic buildings, shops and restaurants that make Old Town such a fun place to explore. It’s easy to kill an afternoon browsing the shops or just plunking down at one of the pubs for some great local beer, which it is now time to talk about.


    In a college town, beer’s a given, but Ft. Collins has a major advantage in the suds department, boasting more brewers and microbreweries per capita than any city in the state. With the exception of Anheuser Busch Brewery, all of the brewers in Ft. Collins are craftsmen: by definition, small independents, using (in most cases) 100% malted barley as well as traditional brewing methods inspired by  behemoths such as Great Britain, Germany and Belgium. For serious hops-heads, Ft. Collins is the Promised Land, not to mention home base for New Belgium Brewing Company, the makers of Fat Tire.
    My group and I got a fabulous introduction to New Belgium beers at Plank
— a narrow, 50-seat restaurant in Old Town, holding its one-year anniversary celebration the night we arrived. Chef-owner Patrick Laguens (former sommelier, private chef and wine store owner) partnered with Melissa Merrell (longtime New Belgium employee) to create a hip, loft-like setting that would serve as backdrop for his global but largely affordable wine list, mostly local beer selection and frequently changing menu, which hews to the fresh-local-organic aesthetic. Not surprisingly— the night’s special five-course menu was built around New Belgium beer.
    The place was jammed and riotously noisy, easygoing young women in hippie clothes steadily doling out two beers for every course. We grazed through antipasti, terrific Belgian-style pommes frites served with lemongrass-curry aïoli, black tiger shrimp, bay scallops and orzo in saffron cream sauce, and rich shortribs, braised with tomato — sipping our beers and listening to a guy from New Belgium speak above the din about apple esters, residual sweetness and malt character. The meal was good, but the pitch-perfect pairing of food and beer was amazing: the lemongrass in the aïoli, for example, echoed in Mothership Wit organic wheat beer, spiced with lemon, orange, and hints of coriander; the creamy orzo nicely offset by Skinny Dip, a light, citrus-edged amber lager that doesn’t overpower the seafood; and a wedge of fudgy flourless chocolate cake perfectly complemented by the bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavors found in 1554 Brussels black ale.
    It may be difficult to catch a beer dinner, but it’s always possible to take a one-hour guided tour of New Belgium
, offered Tuesday through Friday from 1-3:30 PM, leaving every half hour, and from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Tour guides tell the story of Ft. Collins boy Jeff Lebesch, who rode his mountain bike through European beer-making towns back in 1989, where villagers repeatedly remarked about his bike’s “fat tires.” Guides proudly point to New Belgium’s impressive sustainability program (the only brewery to run on wind power) and its unique corporate culture (partial ownership is awarded after one year of employment, as is a brand new cruiser bike). Upstairs, where the giant vats whirl, the place has a toasty, yeasty smell that’s not quite like food but very pleasant.
    Many visitors are perfectly content to venture no farther than the brewery’s ground floor tasting room, dubbed Liquid Center, where they pull up a recycled bike rim stool and sample three to four different beers free.

Soapstone Prairie


   Soapstone Prairie natural area lies 25 miles due north of Ft. Collins, five miles west of the I-25 on the Colorado/Wyoming border. This 28-square-mile wildlife corridor, which connects the mountains to the plains, was officially opened to the public on June 11th of this year, a scary thought given how relatively untouched it’s been for centuries. Soapstone is one of the few places in this state or any other to find undisturbed prairie grasslands and it’s the perfect spot — accessible, yet still remarkably remote — to enjoy the 360-degree views and wide-open spaces that typify the west. Cliffs, canyons, arroyos, unique rock formations and intermittent streams dot the landscape. Biodiversity is high, and the area is home to 52 butterfly species, 800 plant species and over 100 bird species, including Colorado’s state bird, the lark bunting, which seems to be everywhere in the summer months.
    Thirty miles of trail are now open for non-motorized use such as picnicking, hiking, biking and horseback riding. Visitors are warned not to stray from designated paths, bring their dogs, or touch or remove anything. This ancient place — the site for Lindenmeier’s famous archaeological study of Paleo-Indians — is simply too lovely to ruin.
    Old Town doesn’t lack for beer halls, sandwich shops or ethnic restaurants aimed at college students, but chic enclaves offering fancy martinis, wild game, and live jazz are harder to come by. Jay’s Bistro
— its streamlined, vaguely Déco interior more elegant than the word “bistro” usually implies — captures an adult audience capable of appreciating its globally-inspired menu and Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list. The place is justifiably famous for its mascarpone-enriched Maine lobster mac & cheese starter, drizzled with white truffle oil, and for chocolate ravioli stuffed with chocolate ganache. In between, there’s everything from ahi tuna poke and bouillabaisse to chipotle pork tenderloin with frizzled Tabasco onion rings, and an exotic mixed grill of deer loin on blackberry chocolate demi, Colorado ostrich filet with pomegranate-black pepper sauce and garam masala-dusted Colorado lamb chop in red wine jus.

Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park

    Located 51 miles northwest of Denver and 30 miles southwest of Ft. Collins, family-friendly Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s no doubt it sits on gorgeous real estate — snow-capped mountains, clear lakes, lush meadows —the photogenic Colorado dear to Americans' hearts. And if the village is a bit touristy and bland, well, for people with children, homogeneity, and predictability are precisely its appeal.
    Even a hard-nose like me can’t resist the wildlife watching. In late spring, the elk are out in force, males sporting velvety antlers in various sizes. Wildflowers dot the hillsides; streams rush clear and cold. The Great Outdoors doesn’t get much greater. The park accommodates nature lovers with 359 miles of trail and five drive-in campgrounds.
   For a scenic day tour in a safari-style vehicle, call Rocky Mountain Rush at 970-586-8687. Their genial guides are full of information about everything park-related.
    Tourists who sign up for the Rocky Mountain Rush package are treated to an après-tour wind-down at Wine and Cheese (
330 & 332 East Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park, 970-586-5511)— part specialty wine shop, part Country French wine bar. Tour or no tour, the cozy wine bar is well worth a visit, offering more than 20 global wines by the glass as well as three-wine flights for $11. Meals, per se, are not available, only lavish meat and cheese platters accompanied by crackers, sliced baguette, olives, apples, candied walnuts, figs, raisins and jam. The rotating cheese selection is impressive, often including Brillat Savarin, Drunken Goat, chive-flecked Cotswold, Roaring Forties Blue and sheep’s milk from Steamboat Springs, drizzled with clover honey. Civilization surely has its perqs.

Continental Divide/Trail Ridge Road

   Getting to Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby — which sits on the western side of the Continental Divide — from Estes Park — which sits on the eastern side — requires a snaking 48-mile drive on Trail Ridge Road (also known as US 34). Trail Ridge, which follows an old Native American trail, is the highest continuous highway in the US, ranging in elevation from 8,000 to over 12,000 feet. As you might imagine, the scenery is spectacular — soaring peaks and deep valleys carved by Ice Age glaciers, pristine mountain lakes, alpine meadows, pine forests and groves of aspen. Near the top, the landscape becomes stark and moon-like, a treeless tundra still patchy with snow.
    As the road descends into Granby, the terrain turns gentle again. And if it were fashionable to say so, I’d call it Marlboro Country, land of verdant pastures and good-looking cowboys on horses. Nestled in its own private valley and reached by dirt road, Drowsy Water Ranch 
is definitely a get-away-from-it-all experience. There are no TVs in the cabins and cell phones don’t work very well, which is precisely what the families and aspiring cowpokes who come here seem to want.
  The place opened as a dude ranch back in the early 20s, when Jack Weil (inventor of the Western pearl-snap shirt) bought two homesteads on the site, steadily buying up adjacent land as opportunities arose. Ken and Randy Sue Fosha bought the 600-acre property in 1977, determined to build one of the best horse programs of any dude ranch in the country. The family breeds, raises and trains over 100 horses, which are corralled on property and turned out to graze every night (a pretty cool thing to see). These are serious horse people, and with the help of a dozen or so young wranglers, they offer serious instruction, including twice-daily trail rides and arena work, careful to match horses to the riding skills of their guests. Kids have their own Range Rider program, as well as other activities such as horse brushing, lassoing, swimming (there’s a pool on property), hiking and practicing archery.
     Thanks to the six or eight cabins of various sizes scattered about the place, the ranch accommodates about 55 people, most there for the standard weeklong stay. All the cabins are original on the outside, rustically furnished but comfortable within. Family-style meals are served in the dining hall at long picnic tables draped with plastic tablecloths. Walnut-encrusted tilapia aside, the food tends to be homespun and hearty. For breakfast, bacon and eggs, pancakes with syrup, oatmeal and fruit; for lunch, a salad, house-baked bread and chicken potpie and for dinner, maybe roast pork with mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade applesauce. Of course, the best meals are the ones eaten outside, say, in a high meadow on a cool morning after a trail ride, all of us watching hungrily as the eggs were scrambled.
     Because not everyone wants to straddle a horse 24/7, Drowsy Water offers plenty of other activities to keep guests entertained — rafting, jeeping, trout fishing and hunting expeditions, campfires, cookouts, songfests, hayrides and gymkhana rodeos among them. Thursday night is Country Dance Night, held in the Tee-Pee Dancehall, a vast round room made entirely of pine logs. Guests, wranglers — everyone attends, decked out in Western regalia and ready for boot-scootin’. Dances include the Hokey-Pokey, the Virginia Reel, the Electric Slide and a host of other line dances whose names I’ve since forgotten. The fun of it is dancing with everyone — 10-year-olds who move stiffly and count out the beat, 20-somethings who add their own suave fillips and old guys whose feet barely leave the floor.
     Better than the dancing though, was the afternoon we took a long trail ride and stopped on a high mountain meadow, taking in the panoramic view as storm clouds rolled in. When it comes to describing scenery, words like “awe-inspiring” and “breathtaking” are overused and meaningless. But here in Colorado, they’re the only words that fit.

Nikki Buchanan writes for The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, and She also does weekly restaurant reviews on KTVK-TV.



10 East 60th Street (near Fifth Avenue)

     Much is made about Rouge Tomate's commitment to SPE®, the acronym for Sanitas Per Escam (Latin for Health Through Food), which also stands for Sourcing, Preparing, and Enhancing, an organization founded by Emmanuel Verstraeten, a Belgium entrepreneur concerned about poor eating habits and limited healthy dining options,  in his city and abroad. Along with dietitian and nutrition professor Veronique Maindiaux, his mission was to develop a cuisine that "first appealed to the pleasure senses while also nourishing and strengthening the body."
     Fortunately this noble mission does not get in the way of enjoyment of the food and drink or the delight in the cool, modern setting on two levels of this new restaurant (formerly a Nicole Fahri boutique and restaurant).  The décor is smart, the polish high, and the menus strongly manifest the idea that you can eat very well and still feel good about it.  As its press release notes, "A registered dietitian name Natalia Rusin is responsible for the day to day application of the SPE® criteria and works closely with Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman to ensure menu items are balanced, delicious and provide optimum nutrition."  Even the bartender here is onboard--
Rainlove Lampariello (what a great name!) squeezes all fruit juices fresh, sodas are made from scratch, and ice is made with purified water purified.
New York-born Bearman, who is not one of those skinny-merink chefs interested in mission statements as much as he is preparing delicious food, has worked at high-end places like  db bistro moderne in New York City and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, then became  executive chef at the Ritz Carlton’s Medici Café and Terrace in Lake Las Vegas and afterwards at Lark Creek Steak in San Francisco, which was one my picks for Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2007 and where there was no notions about 16-ounce sirloins and fried onion rings being health food.
      Bearman's ideas at Rouge Tomate are rigorously sound and the flavors of ingredients are based on the best he can obtain. (This summer they held a farmer's market outside the store.)  Thus, tombo tuna poke with sugar snap peas, Japanese mushrooms, jicama, and sesame had everything in perfect balance, and the usual strong taste of Spanish anchovy was impeccably muted by the onion flatbread. olives, parsley pesto, lemon and roasted red peppers--a really terrific dish.
     An English pea risotto was creamy with carrots, radish, lavender--just a faint touch--and Parmesan cheese, while fettuccine with spring vegetables, including favas and a little toasted almond, was as fine a vegetable-based dish as I'd had all summer, though on a return visit, the same dish was overpowered by the herbs.  A variation, farroto, made with farro grain, absorbed the flavors of porcini, chives, and ramps, while sautéed calamari, very tender, took on lovely nuances from favas, chickpeas, garlic, and smoked paprika.  An appetizer of squab came with Bing cherries, quinoa, pistachio, and endive, which I would have loved as a main course.  A hake curry with coconut milk was all right, but nothing out of the ordinary in a city of good Indian restaurants.
      If there is one caveat about Rouge Tomate--and it is entirely understandable in context--there isn't a lot of fat in the food, and fat always means flavor.  This is also true of the desserts, which need not be exercises in restraint. I preferred the cheese-based black Mission fig with goat's cheese, candied sunflower seeds, a hint of marjoram, and multi-grain toast, though I did enjoy the Bing cherry chocolate pudding cake with Earl Grey tea, feuilletine, pistachio, and gelato.
       The winelist, culled by sommelier Pascaline LePeltier, has 200+ selections, with a sufficient number under $50 a bottle, and some half-bottles starting at $20.
            Rouge Tomate is as notable for its clean, fresh flavors as it is for its philosophy of cooking, and that isn't easy to pull off.  I'd gladly have lunch here any day of the week in Manhattan, although at dinner I might have a hankering for one of those 16-ounce steaks and a aside of rings.

Rouge Tomate is open for lunch daily and for dinner Mon.-Sat. Appetizers at dinner run $12-$18, main courses $21-$31.



According to a research study by German and Swedish scientists, it appears that beer does not cause pot bellies (also known as beer bellies). The study showed that heavy drinkers do put on weight but that it is distributed over their bodies, and pot bellies may be more of a genetic problem. The study also indicated that the men most likely to put on weight were those who drank either the most beer or those who did not drink at all. Moderate drinkers put on the least amount of weight.


"George Hamilton walks into Cecconi’s. Tanned (of course) and relaxed, he is about to sit at a center table in the crowded courtyard when from within the restaurant a guy yells, `George, George!' The man is going for it, pulling on some frayed thread that links him to the actor. Hamilton ignores him, though, and the man sits back down, unheard, unheeded, unseen, and in the unspoken but shared estimation of those who have witnessed the moment, snubbed."--
Patric Kuh, "Mixing old school and new, two Italian restaurants prove that there's more to them than just good looks," Los Angeles Magazine (July 2009).



* Through
the end of August in Houston, Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar is serving a special Julia Child Tribute Tasting Menu to honor Julia Child and the release of the film “Julie & Julia.”  The four-course tasting menu is available with or without wine pairings during dinner service.  Featured dishes will change weekly – menu posted at  Cost is $69 plus tax & gratuity for the tasting menu, and $89 plus tax & gratuity for tasting menu with wine.  Call 713-533-0200.

* From Aug. 10-16 Vermilion Chicago is celebrating "Summer, Spice & Liberation" (the Indian Independence day) with a 3-course $22,  both lunch and dinner. Celebrations peak Saturday night  with a DJ and dancing, Bollywood style. Ca;; 312.527.4060, . . . Vermilion NYC is hosting "Bombay Alley" a street stand every evening Mon-Fri 5-8pm all summer for afterwork chaats on the luxurious Lexington patio, $7 each for any of the 4 daily chaat slections made interactive, customized, and street side.  Call 212-671-8800.

* From now through the end of August, in celebration of the new film, "Julie & Julia," Chef Vincent Guerithault of Vincent's on Camelback in Phoenix, AZ, will be offering a special prix fixe menu featuring dishes from Julia Child's Cookbook  for $35 pp Vincent Market Bistro for $18 and they'll receive a coupon for one free bag of popcorn when they visit any Harkins Theatres. If guests can't make dinner, they can bring their Harkins Theatres ticket stub from "Julie & Julia" to receive a complimentary dessert at either location. Visit or call 602-224-0225.

* On Aug. 12 Virgil’s Real BBQ in NYC  will be hosting their 3rd annual Ribstock event incl.  incl. performances by Ellen Foley & The Dirty Old Men and the French Cookin’ Blues Band.  Magic Hat will be giving away Ribstock t-shirts along with beer tastings.  From 5:30 PM the restaurant will take over Times Square to serve Memphis-style ribs free to all who come to party.  To mark this year’s 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Virgil’s will partner with the Nokia Theater in  where “The Heroes of Woodstock” concert will be take place later that evening.  All “Heroes of Woodstock” ticket holders will receive special VIP access to Ribstock.  Call 212-921-9494;

* On Aug. 13 in London,
Le Bouchon Breton launches “La Fete de la Chasse,” a range of game platters including “Grouse à la Anglais” to celebrate the start of the game season, by Chef Olivier Ripert.  Call 08000-191-704.

* On Aug. 13, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) host the second annual “Unite for a Bite”.  Diners are called to visit participating restaurants, who will donate 5% of their food and beverage sales to support WCR’s scholarship and educational programs fostering growth of women in the culinary world. For participating restaurants visit or call  877-927-7787.

* On Aug. 13, 14 and 15 , in Greenwich, CT, Restaurant Jean-Louis welcomes Christian Délouvrier, maître Cuisinier de France,  and Chocolate Master Eric Girerd, Academicien Culinaire, for a dinner by Jean-Louis Gérin and his guest chefs. $59 pp.  Call 203-570-2749;

* On Aug. 14 & 15, Sweden’s Way Out West music festival takes place in Gothenburg, at the city’s central park, Slottsskogen, incl. regional food,  supervised Chef Mats Nordstrom, owner of  Wasa Alle, an organic gourmet  restaurant. Tickets: 1,345 Swedish crowns ($159) for a 2-day festival pass incl. club performances. Call 011-46-77-165-1000; Visit

* On Aug. 15 The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas will co-host the 2nd annual Carnival of Cuisine in The Venetian Ballroom with cooking demos, tastings from 20+ restaurants, prizes, restaurant gift certificates, show tickets and live entertainment.  Chefs incl. Luciano Pellegrini (Valentino Las Vegas/Venetian), Zach Allen (Mario Batali’s Carnevino/Palazzo), James Boyer (Canyon Ranch Grill/The Palazzo),  Hiroo Nagahara (Bar Charlie by Charlie Trotter/Palazzo) and  Peter Woo (Woo/ Palazzo).   $50 app. Call 702-414-7469 or  visit

* On Aug. 15 on Oahu, The Royal Hawaiian has created a special package, "The Epicurean Tropical Getaway" package incl. limo airport transfers; Luxury accommodations (4-night minimum); Breakfast at Surf Lanai; Tour of Nalo Farms or Pier 38 Fish Market; Chef’s tasting menu dinner at Azure Restaurant; Take-home recipe cards.  $820 per night. Call  866-716-8110 or visit:

*, the Web site that focuses on North American wines not made in California and the Pacific Northwest, hosts its first conference and Twitter Taste-Off at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas. Presented by the Texas Dept. of Agriculture’s GO TEXAN Program. The conference focuses on Texas wines and will include a Texas Twitter Taste-Off with more than 40 Texas wines. Online registration is $35 and day-of-the-event registration is $45.  Visit; call 214-727-1992.

* On Aug. 20 in  ChicagoShaw’s Crab House and Owen Roe Winery host a 6-course wine dinner prepared by Chef Arnulfo Tellez; Sommelier Steve Tindle will pair with Owen Roe wines, with a discussion led by special guest David O’Reilly, Proprietor of Owen Roe Winery. $99.99 pp. Call 312-527-2722; visit

* From Aug. 20-26 in Chicago, the 4th Annual "Show Me Your Tomatoes!" Contest at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, when the  gardener of the tastiest tomato wins a trip for two to Las Vegas. Chef Cottini will lead the Festival with new tomato-inspired offerings throughout the week,  Call 773-935-5000;  visit

* On Aug. 23 in Shelburne, VT,  some of the nation’s most authoritative authors on artisan cheese will gather for the first annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, hosted by the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, and the Vermont Cheese Council, featuring over 100 types of cheese from 40 cheesemakers, a variety of locally produced wines and beers, and other artisan foods, incl. maple syrup, honey, chocolates, baked goods, and more. Visit  for $20 pp, open to the first 1,000 people who register.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London is celebrating all that is British this year with a ‘Best of British’ program, incl. 1 night’s accommodation, Full English Breakfast, A Harrods Gift Certificate, lunch in the Foliage Restaurant, Complimentary membership to Aspinalls gaming club. Visit  or call  +44 (0) 207 235 2000. Available thru Jan. 31, 2010.

* From Aug. 28-30 the 6th annual Epicurean Classic takes place on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in St. Joseph, MI, with over 45 cooking demos, 16 cheese/wine/beer tasting seminars, 6 Guest Chef Dinners, the opening Great Lakes Great Wines BBQ Reception, the Grand Reception and the daily Tasting Pavilion. Some of this year’s featured artisans incl. Curtis Stone, Jean Joho, Gale Gand, Takashi Yagihashi, Tom Valenti, Anna Thomas, Jennifer McLagan, Giuliano Hazan, Brian Polcyn, Eve Aronoff and Mary Sue Milliken. Visit  or call 231-932-.0475.


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."  To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK: ALL WE NEED IS MAINE,  OYSTER HOTEL REVIEWS VERSUS TRIPADVISOR;  SUMMER GEAR; DEALS ON THE HIGH SEAS


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