Virtual Gourmet

June 13, 2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER

"Prickly Pears, Sicily" (2009)  Photo by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery



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GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA.
 THIS WEEK:   El Rey, Philadelphia . . . The 11 Best Food Scenes in Movies.


In This Issue

CRUISING PARADISE by Christopher Mariani

KENMARE by John Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Drouhin Raises the Image of Chablis by John Mariani



By Christopher Mariani

    From its array of stunning volcanic islands, amber lighted sunsets, historic culture and natives as ever gracious as when the H.M.S. Bounty dropped anchor here, French Polynesia is a destination still unique in the world.
Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora, if only for their distinguished aesthetic value, are among the most recognized islands of French Polynesia, making up three of the Society Islands, named by British explorer James Cook, supposedly in honor of London’s Royal Society.

    One of the elite ways to experience these three islands, along with Raiatea and Taha, is onboard the M/S Paul Gauguin, a luxury cruise ship named after French post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin, who in 1891 visited the Society Islands and painted the daily life of the natives, especially those of Tahiti, staying on for ten years.
         The Paul Gauguin is a supremely elegant 332-passenger ship that offers a very personal encounter with the Society Islands and its people.  You get to the ship by flying into Papeete, Tahiti, which has a major airport, on either Air Tahiti or Air New Zealand.  There, the Gauguin’s outstanding service staff began its graceful ministrations the moment I exited the airport by welcoming me with broad smiles and a tiare, the Polynesian floral garland worn as a necklace.  The
transfer to the dock by shuttle bus was quickly orchestrated  and once onboard, check-in went remarkably fast, followed by a complimentary glass of champagne and a personal escort to my cabin. 
     As I opened  the door to my cabin, I stared directly across the room to
a spectacular view of the South Pacific.   All the ship’s  166 cabins are exceptionally attractive and very spacious, dressed with polished wood furniture and floor to ceiling mirrors.        
      One of my most cherished memories onboard was waking up the first morning around 5:30 am, rising from my queen-sized bed and deciding what to order from room service—an ideal and quiet way to shake off my jet lag after my flight from Los Angeles.  There  I sat on my veranda gazing out at the clear, almost glass-like South Pacific, easily the most remarkable sunrise I’ve ever witnessed.  Still in awe, I ate a delicious breakfast, consisting of a western omelet, thick crispy bacon, assorted pastries, fresh cut pineapple,  and cantaloupe, and drank cups of steaming hot coffee, all delivered to me my wonderful butler, Jerry.  The jet lag dropped away in a feeling of almost giddy bliss as the warm breezes wafted across the veranda.
For these reasons, I  recommend booking a cabin complimented by a balcony, which is hardly a problem considering that nearly 70% of the cabins on  the Gauguin are equipped with such a luxury.

     After breakfast each morning, I'd partake of one of the Gauguin’s many optional island excursions. My first outing was snorkeling the shallow waters off Taha’a while enjoying the site of its maze-like coral reefs.  On my second excursion I jet skied around the entire island of Bora Bora, which took exactly one hour, including the 15-minute break on the shore’s white sand beach.  During this rest time, I ate my first Tahitian hot dog--a banana split in half and stuffed with the fresh coconut shavings.
      My third and most thrilling excursion was swimming with four-foot lemon sharks as they fought over chum, following that small adventure by swimming with a friendly company of velvet-soft sting rays and a local guide (left).

Almost all of the excursions are outsourced to expert local companies and scheduled through the Gauguin’s reception desk for a supplemental fee--one of the very few additional fees a guest  might incur, considering that the cruise package pricings are  all-inclusive. There is no tipping, no card swiping, and best of all no signing for anything.  Every meal and top-shelf alcohol are included in the price, so that a guest could literally board the Gauguin for a seven-day cruise after paying the fare, then never spend one additional dollar onboard.
       When I spoke with President and CEO Richard Bailey, he emphasized strongly the friendly bond among guests created by this all-inclusive environment.  “Guests sitting poolside with newly acquired friends do not have that awkward moment of deciding who will be buying the next round of drinks,” he told me, “just as couples at dinner are not concerned with splitting the food bill.” 
  (Bailey acquired the M/S Paul Gauguin in August 2009, refitted the ship and had its inaugural voyage in January of this year.) This savvy, wholly sensible concept has the effect of dropping all guests’ defensiveness, creating an atmosphere where you may eat and drink as little or as much as you wish with absolutely no worries of getting a whopping final bill.  I cannot emphasize enough how pleasant the vibe was radiating from the Gauguin’s guests, whom I found overall to be genuine, intelligent individuals from many walks of life and many places over the globe.

        Dining on the Gauguin should surely exceed the expectations of even veteran cruisegoers. Food and beverage service has gradually improved onboard the world’s high-end cruise lines, and I found that Grant Chilcott, Executive Chef of the Gauguin, does an outstanding job of running the ship’s three restaurants, showcasing a combination of French and Tahitian dishes.  Chilcott spent much of his career in Sydney, Australia, where he cooked at major hotels and assisted in the 2000 Olympic Games before he joined the Gauguin in 2004, and he has used the years since developing the best sources for ingredients used onboard.
           L’Étoile (above),
my personal favorite, is the largest of the three restaurants, seating 210 guests. Here, beneath its high ceiling,  white walls and enormous windows, I dined with two fascinating Australian women as we exchanged stories of previous travels over a few glasses of the restaurant’s featured wines, Hogue Fumé Blanc from Columbia Valley, Washington, and Cantaluna Merlot from Casablanca Valley, Chile.  These were paired (and are changed nightly) with the restaurant’s dynamic 7-course menu, which that first night began with a rosy-rare Tahitian tuna appetizer with baby fennel, capers and olive oil, created by Guest Chef Dean Max, who runs 3030 Ocean restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, among others. My entrée, a New Zealand beef sirloin, was perfectly cooked, accompanied by a rich thyme-infused cabernet sauce.  An option was grilled moon fish with a rosemary-onion sauce.  At L’Étoile, no single dish is ever repeated on the menus  for the entire 7-day cruise.
          La Veranda (left), seating up to 140 guests,  is a bit more upscale, with an elegant atmosphere offering a formal dining ambiance, the lighting somewhat lower than L’Etoile’s, creating a distinctly romantic cast.  The menu  offered items like terrine of foie gras, pheasant consommé, and sautéed scallops with black truffles and shiitake mushrooms.  The featured wines are primarily French, but I also must mention the Las Olas Malbec from Argentina, which paired beautifully with the roast duck. The Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée is a must and will remind all those who order it of the perfume that permeates Taha’a, known as the “Vanilla Island” because of its abundant vanilla bean agriculture.
           Le Grill, the most casual of the three restaurants, is located on the top deck and is partially outside to partake of the island breezes.  The dinner menu here is strictly Polynesian:  poisson cru” consisting of raw tuna, lime juice, coconut juice, baby ginger, tomato and raw onion, is a very traditional appetizer, along with Polynesian braised suckling pig and the famous Raiatea curry chicken.  As a guest, if you are interested in getting a true feel for the island’s food, dining at Le Grill is a very fine introduction.
       The desserts, pastries and breads at all three restaurants are made from scratch by
Fotis Kefalakis using very high-end chocolates and natural ingredients, while baker Herbert Forsthofer bakes fresh breads each day--the kind of amenities you do not usually find on the bigger cruise lines.
       The same week I was onboard, I was lucky enough to meet, Florida-based guest Chef Dean Max (right), getting to know him well over a few Hinanos, Tahiti’s local beer, and I found that he has a great range for cooking seafood and an indefatigable enthusiasm for creating new recipes. Max was brought on board to offer signature dishes featured on the restaurant’s three menus and also to demonstrate cooking demos each day on the ship’s top deck.  The demos’ highlights included his chilled cucumber mint soup with warm shrimp curry, ahi tuna coconut ceviche, and vanilla bean flan.
          After dinner, the ship offers  entertainment in the Grand Salon, focused around a very talented group of eight beautiful Polynesian girls, know as the “Gauguines.” Truly gifted, these young,  charismatic performers embody the local culture and do a heartfelt  job of welcoming  guests onto the ship, not to mention that they are among the most gorgeous girls in the  South Pacific, like sea sirens who have drawn people to their faraway islands, some never to leave. Most never want to.

Your intrepid reporter on the job in Tahiti

After a night of entertainment, many guests tend to head back to their cabins for some well-needed rest, but for the few looking to continue through the night, the outdoors top deck has a great bar and live band.  Another late-night option is to hang around the piano bar where you can take your chances at the blackjack table.  The current casino is small, consisting of two card tables and a handful of slot machines, a section of the ship that Richard Bailey claims to be his next improvement project. He is also owner of the four Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts on the islands of Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea. I visited and stayed at Le Moana Resort on Bora Bora, legendary for its above-water bungalows, with unrivalled privacy set within a natural setting that gives you a better sense of each island's individuality. More than a century ago Gauguin himself spent ten years in Tahiti, but he  moved on when he thought the island had become too crowded. Having spent seven days in Polynesia this spring, I found it to be as pristine a place as I've ever been and as close to a Pacific Eden as I could imagine.  

Part Two of this article will appear next week




     NoLita is the wholly colloquial acronym for the neighborhood "North of Little Italy," which hasn't the tourist appeal of surrounding areas like Little Italy itself and Greenwich Village, the architecture of Soho, or the grungy edge of the Lower East Side.  So, a number of restaurants over the last decade have failed to draw a crowd to the space now occupied by Kenmare, which is actually beating away the crowds.  Reservations are not easy to get for prime hours, but once inside, you'll find that the cordiality of the management is one of Kenmare's many reasons it has become a big draw.
     With just 100 seats, Kenmare is the ideal size for a casual downtown restaurant, and the noise level is much easier on the ears than at the kind of big gastro-pubs and pizzerias of the current scene. The professionalism behind the kitchen door and in the dining room is the result of a canny partnership of resto vets Lou Ceruzzi, Nur Khan, and Paul Sevigny, along with Chef Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl and Market Table to run the kitchen. Kenmare is a collaboration of four of the hospitality industry’s top operators.  At the bar is Charlotte Voisey, winner of the prestigious UK Bartender of the Year award, and behind the well-composed winelist, Tracy Gribbon of Campanaro’s Blackfoot Consulting catering company.
       One of the signature items Campanaro does at The Little Owl is his gravy meatball slider, made with beef, pork, veal and pecorino, and it bests just about any such rendition at any restaurant in Little Italy.  His basil gnocchi, though too soft one evening, came with a short rib ragu with plenty of flavor, and lobster spaghetti had an assertive fra diavolo pepper sauce.
       Halibut is a fish that needs some work to make it interesting, as far as I'm concerned, but the crispy version here with chive-mustard "stroganoff" sauce was a very smart idea whose exterior texture and juicy interior made this a winner.  Grilled swordfish came with caramelized fennel,  fingerling potatoes aïoli, dandelion greens and olive tapenade, all   working together in the Mediterranean style, spicy but balanced, tangy, sweet, salty and briny.

        "The Chicken" (left) is the bold pronouncement about a simple roast bird, as succulent as any in NYC, accompanied by  grilled escarole, smoked chicken confit, and butter beans. But the best dish of all was a platter of Colorado lamb t-bones, nicely seared, well cooked, marvelously flavorful and well fatted, with toasted orzo, watercress and the crunch of almonds.     Cheddar Fries with green onion, giblet gravy  as an additional side dish was overwrought and not up to  par with the rest of the dishes.
For dessert they keep the comfort level high with sweet endings like her ricotta cannolis, pumped with gold raisins, and her delicious wild berry and rhubarb crisp with vanilla gelato.  Banana beignets with espresso zabaglione were good if not wonderful, but there was everything to enjoy about the warm, chocolate soufflé cake, a cliché these days but a fine rendering here.
       Kenmare is a restaurant of the moment in  two ways: It is clearly  a place everybody wants to try and try early on; but it is also the kind of place that at this moment in culinary history, the food is of a kind that everybody can enjoy and will earn to go back for.  When the crowds die down, Kenmare should be one of those restaurants that help transform an entire neighborhood and attract others to bring more light to the streets.

Kenmare opens nightly at 5:00pm seven days a week. Appetizers runs $8-$14, entrees $19-$28.



Joseph Drouhin Goes Biodynamic with Its Chablis

by John Mariani

The Burgundy negoçiant Joseph Drouhin Vaudon (left) has been putting a lot of its money and its reputation behind a wine that was once considered the plonk of Parisian bistros—Chablis.  About 32 million bottles of Chablis are made annually in twenty villages in northern Burgundy, with about a third vinified by the co-operative La Chablisienne. So, becoming familiar with Chablis is a maddening, if pleasurable, life’s work. In Burgundy a single vineyard may be owned by many negoçiants (merchants) who buy the grapes, must, or wine then make their own blends bottled under their own label. As a result, a Chablis from the same vineyard made by one negociant may taste quite different from one made by another.
     But French wine laws also recognize 7 Grand Crus and the 17 Premier Crus, so the reputations of negoçiants like Joseph Drouhin, Bouchard Pere et Fils, Boisset, Louis Latour, and Louis Jadot to produce consistent Chablis in their own style are what drives the market to import and sell their wines year after year.
     Joseph Drouhin (founded in 1880), in particular, believes Chablis can be a prestigious wine and sell for a good price, if not quite in the league a $3,500 white burgundy. To that end it has purchased more and more of its own vineyards, including four Grand Cru parcels and five Premier Cru, along with 8 other Chablis parcels on both sides of the Serein River.
The Drouhin family, now headed by CEO Frédéric Drouhin (right), follows the principles of biological and biodynamic cultivation to limit the amount of chemicals in the vineyards. Instead, they use natural predators to control spiders, compost from organic matter instead of fertilizers, and allow certain vineyards to lie fallow for a few years.
Winemakers Jerome Fauré-Brac and Veronique Drouhin (she also makes the wine at Domaine Drouhin in Oregon) press the grapes from their own vineyards and make the wines at their own facilities, with fermentation in stainless steel. No new oak is used because Drouhin believes Chablis can acquire too much flavor of the wood; instead, large, older barrels are used for 7-12 months of aging. The finished wines are released between 7 and 12 months later.
      Even then, the best Chablis may acquire more character after another few years, while the commercial Chablis produced in large quantities for quaffing in bistros is best drunk quickly and without great expectations. Still, even upon release, the Drouhin Chablis show admirable and individual character and finesse from estate to estate.
      The 2007 vintage came in under difficult climatic conditions—a warmer than normal spring, the rainiest July in 30 years, but good sunshine in September, allowing for quick ripening and good acid levels, though it was one of the smallest harvest in ten years. In his notes, Frédéric Drouhin says the 2007’s should be drunk after the 2006’s but before the 2005’s.
      The 2008 vintage produced exceptionally fine Chablis, following a rainy summer with ideal conditions in fall.  The crop was still smaller but Drouhin calls 2008 “one of the greatest vintages of the past 25 years.” So confident is the company that it recommends “drinking the [basic] Chablis within to 4 or 5 years, the Premier Crus from 7 to 8 and the Grand Crus to drink from 2011 and the next 12 years.”
      After tasting several of Drouhin’s 2008 Chablis, I can understand his enthusiasm, though I doubt I’m going to wait 12 years to see how the Grand Crus turn out.  The entry level Chablis ($24.50) shows the flinty character of the wine along with a nice acidity that shows why Chablis is the perfect wine with oysters.
      With Drouhin’s Grand Cru appellations, Chablis-Vaudésir ($72), Les Clos ($83.50) and Bougros ($72), and Premier Crus like Montmains ($38.25) and Sécher ($38.25), the complexity increases significantly, the fuller body of the wines reveals their richness, with more spice and minerals.
       These are very fine northern white Burgundies that bear comparison with their more celebrated southern cousins. And they are still the best thing you can drink with a grand plâteaux de fruits de mer while sitting on the terrace at a Montparnasse bistro.

John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.



The military of Gauhati, India, has conducted tests that have convinced them that the "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili"--accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's hottest--can be made into a weapon of  tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects. According to  Col. R. Kalia, a defense spokesman in the northeastern state of Assam, "This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hide-outs," R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of the DRDO said.



A new book entitled Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Jennifer Shaertl includes  recipes for
-Shuttupahyourface Bruschetta
-For a Good Time Call . . . Champagne Oysters
-Wassup! Wasabi Chicken Salad
-Snake-Charmin’ Moroccan Lamb Chops
-Leaning Loaf of Tofu Lasagna Stacks





Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani


 * In NYC, Paradou  will feature a four week World Cup promotion. Each week of the World Cup, t a menu inspired by a continent competing that week. Each menu is a 3-courses for $35 pp.  Week 1 will highlight Australia, Week 2 will highlight Africa/Asia, Week 3 will highlight the Americas and Week 4 will highlight Europe. Call 212-463-8345.

* Every Wed. this summer in NYC, The Roger Smith Hotel will hold a Clam Bake on Henry's Roof Terrace. $25 pp. call 212-339-2097.

* On June 14 in NYC, David Burke Townhouse is hosting a special wine dinner with vintner Agustin Huneeus of Quintessa winery. Chef David Burke will serve a 5-course menu of dishes  paired with wines from the Napa Valley winery. 7pm. $125 pp. Call 212-813-2121 or email Katherine Leong at

* On June 14-19 and 21-26, Aquavit restaurant in NYC will host its annual Herring Festival during lunch and dinner in the Bistro.  The herring smorgasbord will include some classic Swedish preparations and some innovative seasonal specials by Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark. $24.07 pp. at lunch; $35 at dinner. Call 212-307-7311.

* On June 16 in Scottsdale, AZ,  Sassi Executive Chef Peter DeRuvo presents a preview of his James Beard House dinner, "Italian Summer" being presented in NYC July 21. A five-course menu includes dessert and matching Italian wines starting with a reception of passed spuntini appetizers served in the elegant ambiance of an Old World Italian villa. $85 pp includes 5 courses and wines. Visit .

* On June 17 in Berkeley, CA, Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto hosts a One Fermented Evening California Wine Dinner with a 5-course  menu prepared by Chef Devon Boisen. $90 pp. Call 510-845-7771;

* On June 19 Chillingsworth Restaurant in Brewster, MA, will host the first Vintner's/Tasting Dinner. Flowers Winery of Sonoma, Ca. will pour their wines with a menuby Chef Nitzi Rabin. $120 pp.  Call
800 430 3640 or.  508 896 3640.

* On June 20 Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, CO, will kick off her Summer Harvest Sunday Suppers. Chef Kelly Liken will create an original 3-course tasting menu for $45 pp inspired by the Vail Farmers’ Market featuring ingredients and products from Colorado’s prized artisans, farmers, and purveyors.  Visit  <>  or call 970-479-0175.

* On June 24 in Kennewick, WA, the Washington Wine Industry Foundation presents the 10 Annual Wine Cup. Registration is $125 pp. Visit  <> or call 509-782-1108.

* On  June 25 &  26, Executive Chef Guillaume Bienaimé of Marché in Menlo Park, NJ, will offer a  4-course menu featuring the best in Pacific Coast seafood, to benefit the Gulf Coast Oil Spill cleanup. Marché will donate $10 for each menu sold to the Louisiana Bayoukeepers, members of the Waterkeeper Alliance. $80 pp and $59 add’l for wine pairings. Call (650) 324-9092 or visit  <> .

* On June 26 Craftbar in Atlanta, GA will host a Culinary Experience with Chef de Cuisine Adam Evans, including a trip to a local farmer’s market, cooking demo and a three-course lunch with wine pairings. $85 pp. Call 404-995-7580.

* From Sept 22 – Oct 3,  “Crack of Noon France” – a new kind of organized travel experience showcasing the country’s food, wine, and sights where almost every day’s activities start after “the civilized hour of noon.”  Inclu. stops in Paris, Provence, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and the French Riviera. The tour is limited to 24 passengers. Registration is due by June 30, 2010. . . .  Oct 6 – 18, 2010: “Crack of Noon Italy”  incl. stops in Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Bologna, Modena, and Venice. The tour is limited to 24 passengers. Registration is due by June 30, 2010. Request registration forms online at <> or call toll free 800-521-0070.


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: DRIVING THE MAINE COAST


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: Where Bollywood Meets Beefeaters; Denver Bike Sharing.

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

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Misha Mariani, 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 2010