Virtual Gourmet

  February 17,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


"The Lemon" (1880) by Edouard Manet



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani

                                                                                                        Soccarat at Atico 

    There’s never been a finer time to dine out in Madrid than in this decade, when young chefs have brought young ideas to what had been a rather staid dining scene.  That they have done so without mimicking the excesses of molecular/modernist trickery is all to their credit. Still, buoying all the excitement is a strong respect for culinary tradition, so that from the tapas bars to the well-established places like Botin, Madrid has become a true gastronomic capital.

(By the way, while tax and service are usually included in Madrid’s restaurantes, the old bread-and-butter charge is still in place.)


Principal Hotel
Calle Marqués de Valdeiglesias 1
91 532 94 96

    The pleasantly quiet, 77-room Principal Hotel, across from the historic Metrópolis building and just a block from The Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, has snared one of Spain’s most illustrious young star chefs,  Ramón Freixa, who is also chef at the Unico Hotel in Salamanca. His dining room Atico has already won high accolades it well deserves.
    The swank dining room and outdoor terrace, which at night is a starry vantage point to watch the city move and shift, seats 70, and there is also a charming cocktail lounge where you might begin your evening with a glass of cava.  The wine list is not large but impeccably chosen to show the best in Spanish viniculture in this century.
    Sitting outside on a clear autumn evening, my wife and I chose the €70 menu of six courses (with €24 for wine pairings), which began with a kind of surf & turf of octopus with Peruvian purple potatoes and a curry-scented mojo on top.  Next was cannelloni with black truffles and a carpaccio of beef with what resembled a Mexican mole. Grilled sea bass came lightly sweetened with mango, sided with saline marine algae and a quinoa salad spiked with a dose of ginger.
    For dessert Freixa served a lovely version of liquid dulce de leche coffee caramel with lollipop cakes dusted with sea salt.
    Each of these dishes referenced Spain’s involvement in the global spice market and paid homage to the food cultures of lands Spain once held. This was very beautiful, subtly refined cuisine, and, with glasses of contemporary Spanish wine, it all fit seamlessly into our first night in Madrid.

Lunch menu at 45; dinner 70.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Plaza de Cibeles 1

                                                                                                                       Palacio Cebeles
     Among the restaurants in the world with fantastic views of their respective cities, I’d include Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, the Hassler in Rome, Sirocco in the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok, OXO Tower in London, the Signature Room in Chicago and several in Chinese cities, though not all for the quality of the food. The Restaurante at Palacio Cibeles would carry this same stature, if only for its situation in one of Madrid’s most spectacular buildings, but the cuisine of Adolfo Muñoz has garnered both Michelin stars and the praise of Spanish food media critics.
    Adolfo and his son Javier (left) also have a tapas place in Madrid called Colección Cibeles, a restaurant in Toledo (which I shall be writing about in the future), a new boutique hotel and a winery. Here, with seating inside for 100 and more on two terraces, their restaurante is on the sixth floor of what was formerly the Communications Palace, now Madrid’s City Hall. It is an ornate 20th century edifice that arcs around the Cibeles Plaza, looking up towards the Grand Via. By tradition, when the soccer team Real Madrid wins a game, fans flock to the Fountain of Cibeles to celebrate. Inside the building are municipal offices as well as CentroCentro exhibition hall and the Glass Gallery.
    At the restaurant there are set menus at €38.50, but we put ourselves in Javier’s hands for a more extensive sampling at €59.
   Javier, 36, a wiry, bearded fellow who reminds me of a Dominican figure from an El Greco painting, says that he is “making my grandmother’s food,” but either his grandmother was a very sophisticated cook or Javier has taken a great deal of leeway with the family recipes. What he meant was that he does not stray into eccentricity with his cooking, basing everything on the freshest local ingredients—the Madrid fish market, located twenty minutes away, is the largest outside of Tokyo —and he adds no salt to his seafood. The foie gras comes from Extremadura, and the figs come from his family’s farm.
    He began by serving us canapés of zucchini flowers and dried beet chips to nibble while we sipped a gin cocktail Javier suggested. Next came a ceviche of shrimp, mussels, clams, tuna and marinated salmon with red onion,  using the shell liquid as its base. Cod came carefully steamed with a sauce of roasted pimiento topped with tobiko eggs.
    Another wonderfully flavorful fish was turbot grilled over paper, then finished under a salamander with soy, sunflowers and just a touch of honey to give a sweet note. Two meat  courses followed. Venison was cooked in red wine for 24 hours, so it was fork tender, served with a chutney of apricot and figs, while very moist, creamy-textured suckling pig, beautifully presented after roasting at a low temperature for five hours, had a crisp skin and a nice smoky flavor that did not compromise the essential taste of the pig. It came with a confit of peppers and Lyonnaise-style potatoes.
    To end this remarkable evening we enjoyed orange ice cream with chocolate sticks in the style of Parisian chef Cedric Grolet.
    Below us in the plaza, car headlights raced in firefly patterns, while up the Gran Via the buildings gave us a shadow-and-light show against the dark foliage of the Retiro Park. But even late in the evening, the sounds of the city gave the scene a unique vitality that would go on for hours more.



By John Mariani

76 Carmine Street (near Clarkson Street)


Just as Americans go out for burgers and Chinese for dim sum, Japanese more often than not choose a place to eat depending on what they feel like eating, hence the ubiquitous array of counter eateries devoted to one style of cuisine—sushi, unagi, fugu, tempura, tonkatsu, kushiage, nabemono, teppanyaki, ramen and yakitori.
    To this last style of cooking—chicken on skewers over charcoal—belongs Toriko in Greenwich Village, the first outlet of a chain named Tokyo Restaurant Factory, which also runs Mifune and Amane in New York. In Tokyo and Osaka there are a dozen Torikos, but this is their first in the States.
    The darkened door of the restaurant opens onto a small, colorfully lighted bar counter, then to the right is the main dining room, together seating 46 people, most of them choosing the counters, with a few two-person tables set around the room.  The décor is highly typical in its minimalism: beautiful caramel-colored, polished woodwork and an open kitchen space where one cook puts dishes together and behind him the grill chef stands stolidly turning his wooden skewers over a charcoal grill. The Executive Chef is Shinji Odahara, a veteran of the Nadaman group in Japan and now Food Director of the Toriko brand.
                     Although not strictly an izakaya pub, the tradition of serving several courses over an evening is the motif here, but the pacing seems faster than is often the case in Japan, where a good deal of sake and beer drinking is part of a long evening out. When we dined there, courses came out the moment the dishes for the last were picked up by the affable crew.
    There is a very good sake list, several specialty cocktails, a reasonable number of wines, some local and international brews but only four Japanese beers. The one to try is the akanigori red beer with delightful spicy notes.
    Yakitori dominates the menu and the technique depends on split-second timing to retain the juiciness of the meat, mostly chicken, with just a slight searing on the outside. The chicken itself needs to be sourced carefully.  The skewers come with shio sea salt, tare soy sauce and freshly grated wasabi, which you sprinkle on the meats.
    There are two set menus available, at $70 for four courses and $85 for seven, plus à la carte.  Since portions are small and none of the food is heavy, it’s easy to go with seven-course meal and not feel stuffed at the end.    
    You begin with five small bites on one plate, which vary seasonally. This is followed by a scoop of creamy chicken foie gras chawavmushi with truffles, and then a small bowl of refreshing pickled vegetables.
    Then come the yakitori in flights: five of chicken on skewers, including chicken oysters, very tender, very moist; two vegetable skewers, which included lovely maitake mushrooms and cherry tomatoes with zucchini, as well as an interesting ice cold snowy ball of shredded turnip. Some very welcome tsukune meat balls added some heft to the meal, then cheese, and an even more welcome dish of sliced Japanese wagyu, whose fatty richness seemed by then like a reward for eating all that led up to it (left). Sunagimo was a skewer of marihatsu chicken hearts, rather mild in taste.
    The savory meal finished off with a salad and a choice of either oyako don chicken and egg (hard to tell which came first) in a rice bowl, or a shio ramen of silky, tender noodles in a rich broth (right).
    I can’t say the desserts of Japanese ice cream and matcha mousse were memorable.
    It must be noted that this kind of food hasn’t the intensity some might have come to expect if they’ve been used to chili pepper-laced dragon rolls or caviar-topped sushi. The flavors are really quite subtle, despite the shaved wasabi, and since izakayas in Japan are regarded more like pubs, the food at Toriko is akin to going to a Spanish tapas bar.  It’s a charming experience and a well-wrought, well-priced option.


Toriko is open Mon.-Sat. for dinner



By John Mariani


    The February blahs—cold weather, no football or baseball, TV reruns, movies dumped by Hollywood—are a very good reason to drink red wines that I haven’t tasted in a while in order to assess my current ideas about them. Here are some that impressed me.


MAISON ROCHE DE BELLENE CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 2011 ($80)—If you wish to taste two distinctly different but admirable examples of French versus California Pinot Noirs, this “old vines” Burgundy and the Masút from Mendocino below provide for a good lesson. Maison Roche de Bellene is a negoçiant (merchant), not a grower, and buys from many of the best vignerons in Chambolle-Musigny, whose wines, if lighter than Vosne-Romanée, have wonderful fragrance and, given eight years of age like this one, they have settled into exquisite balance at 13% alcohol. 

  ($40)—Ben and Jake Fetzer (left), grandsons of Barney Fetzer of Fetzer Vineyards, founded Masút Vineyard and Winery in Mendocino County to be Pinot Noir specific. Using five clones, planted in 35 acres of “dark, rich earth,” they’ve made a sumptuous but not plummy Pinot Noir, with 14.5% alcohol, that retains the flavor of the varietal and adds a boost of California power.

CHÂTEAU SMITH HAUT LAFITTTE 2001 ($125)—A Grand Cru Classé Graves of Pessac-Léognan, the chateau dates back to the 14th century. Florence and Daniel Cathiard have owned it since 1990 and brought to bear modern viticulture to every aspect of the estate, spending three years restoring a vineyard once called  “Sleeping Beauty.”  Their modus operandi, as explained by Florence, is that “Agriculture contains the word culture, artisan contains the word art, and aesthetic is similar to ethical.” That kind of breeding shows the vibrancy and depth of the wines of the Graves region along with a layered delicacy that flows throughout the palate.

NORTHGATE VINEYARD PETIT VERDOT 2015 ($32)—Petit Verdot is usually an element  in Cabernet Sauvignon blends and not often seen as a single varietal outside of Bordeaux. North Gate, located in Virginia’s Loudon County, shows how charming the wine can be and how much body it can have, with plenty of spicy, cedar-like notes. Very good with chicken or ham.

DRY CREEK VINEYARD OLD VINE ZINFANDEL 2016 ($35)—So much California Zin is dank or sweet, and too high in alcohol, but at its best, especially when made from old vines, it shows a spirit and texture few other wines can match. Dry Creek of Sonoma has championed the grape since the 1980s, using old vines (right) when others were ripping the vines out, and they have created a paragon of a rich, deeply fruited, complex wine at 14.5% alcohol that is perfect with pig in any form.

ROCCA SVEVA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA RISERVA 2013 ($60)—It’s hard to find old-style, leathery Amarones any more, unless they date back to the 1980s, but technology has made the wines far more stylish and easier to drink with more foods. At 15% alcohol this wine is also lower than many others, so you get a lush, powerful wine without the headaches. With baby lamb or suckling pig, you’ve got a blissful match. 



Facebook refused to run an image from King Cake Snob of the plastic baby figure placed inside King Cakes at Mardi Gras because, “This ad isn’t running because it includes an image or video depicting excessive skin or nudity, which includes medical diagrams depicting external organs of reproduction, breasts or butt. This kind of material is sensitive in nature.” King thereupon clothed the baby on their site.


“The baking by Rucker and her team weaves one narrative. The eclectic menus overseen by chef Shawn Pham tell another tale. He leaps from biscuits and gravy to an array of toast (but, pointedly, no avocado toast) at breakfast; tuna salad sandwich and a ginger-laced chicken and cabbage salad for lunch; and hamachi crudo,persimmon and burrata salad and hanger steak with Taleggio for dinner. How these two storylines interlace is what gives this restaurant its persuasive, unexpected intrigue.”  Bill Addison, “Fiona showcases pie queen Nicole Rucker’s baking talents,” LA Times (1/10/19).



Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


   Wine is a joy year-round but in cooler weather one grape varietal has really taken center stage in my daily activities – that most Italian of grapes, Sangiovese, and its ultimate expression – Brunello di Montalcino.
    From mid-September through mid-October, the Sangiovese grown for our various styles of red wines are be harvested, culminating with the top selection for Brunello di Montalcino.
    Second, cooler weather here means it is time to start enjoying more red wines and especially Sangiovese based wines.  That includes Banfi’s cru of Brunello, Poggio alle Mura, literally the cream of the crop of our Sangiovese vineyards. Alongside our Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, this year we introduced two more wines from the cru Poggio alle Mura – a Rosso di Montalcino and a Riserva of Brunello.  Rosso is sort of like the younger brother of Brunello, also made from 100% Sangiovese grapes but usually a selection from younger vines and the wine is aged only two years compared to the four required for Brunello.  The Riserva, on the other hand, is an even more selective harvest of Sangiovese, and ages for an additional year before release.
    What is so special about this cru Poggio alle Mura?  Well, it is the result our over 30 years of ongoing research at my family’s vineyard estate, Castello Banfi.  When we first began planting our vines there in the late 1970s studies from the University of Bordeaux indicated which strains of many varietals we should plant, based on the soil type and microclimate of each vineyard.  But when it came to the region’s native Sangiovese, there was only local lore, no scientific research.  So we took it upon ourselves to figure out this vine, and set off on three decades of incredibly detailed research.
    We started with 600 apparent variations on Sangiovese, because it is so susceptible to variations in weather and soil, and narrowed that down to 160 truly genetically different clones.  We planted a vineyard with two rows of each type, made wine from each of them, and charted the differences – remember, you only get one chance a year to make wine, so this took time.
    It took about ten years to get some concrete results, though we continue to experiment today and always will – you never stop learning in science and nature!  Once we determined which were the best, complementary clones that could be planted together to make the best Brunello, we chose to plant them in what we determined to be the optimal vineyard sites.  Coincidentally, the best soils and climate conditions are in the slopes surrounding the medieval fortress today known as Castello Banfi, known since Etruscan times as Poggio alle Mura – the walled hilltop.  Hence the name of our most special “cru” of Brunello, representing a synthesis between tradition and innovation.
    Though the focus of this study was our Brunello, all of our Sangiovese-based wines, including the super Tuscans SummuS, Cum Laude, and Centine, benefitted from this work.  And that’s the third reason for celebrating Sangiovese this month, for the range of wonderful reds that usher us into autumn!  One wine in particular was inspired by our research – the BelnerO, a Sangiovese dominant blend with what I like to call a kiss of Cabernet and a whisper of Merlot.  We grow the grapes a little differently for BelnerO than for Brunello, make the wine with less oak aging and released it earlier from the winery, providing a counterpoint to Brunello and a lovely terroir-driven wine in its own right.
     If you know Italians, you know that by nature we are multi-faceted, varying in mood, and always passionate.  As a nation, we span from the hot sunny beaches of Sicily near the African coast to the rugged mountains and Alpine ski slopes of Trentino-Alto Adige in the north.  Sangiovese is grown in almost all of Italy’s regions and reflects the unique nature of each; it is most famous (rightfully so) in Tuscany, yet even there it reflects the nuances of each hilltop, valley and subzone.  It has something a little different to say in Brunello than Chianti, Morellino than Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montalcino than Super Tuscan blends.
    Here is a smattering of Sangiovese-based wines that you may wish to get to know better, reflecting a spectrum that appeals to every occasion, every taste, and every budget.  We can assure you that the conversation will never become boring.

Recommendations for Celebrating Sangiovese 

BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese – A refined cuvée of noble red grapes perfected by our pioneering clonal research. This dark beauty, BelnerO, is produced at our innovative winery, chosen 11 consecutive years as Italy’s Premier Vineyard Estate. Fermented in our patented temperature controlled French oak and aged approximately 2 additional years. Unfiltered, and Nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites. 


Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino – Rich, round, velvety and intensely aromatic, with flavor hints of licorice, cherry, and spices. Brunello di Montalcino possesses an intense ruby-red color, and a depth, complexity and opulence that is softened by an elegant, lingering aftertaste. Unfiltered after 1998 vintage. 

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino – Brunello's "younger brother," produced from select Sangiovese grapes and aged in barrique for 10 to 12 months. Deep ruby-red, elegant, vibrant, well-balanced and stylish with a dry velvety finish. 

Poggio all’Oro Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – A single vineyard selection of our most historically outstanding Sangiovese, aged five years before release, the additional year more than that required of Brunello including 6 months in barrel and 6 months more in bottle to grant its “Riserva” designation.  Incredible elegance and harmony. Intense with lots of fruit and subtle wood influence. Round, complete, well balanced with hints of chocolate and berries. Unfiltered after 1998.

Poggio alle Mura – The first tangible result of years of intensive clonal research on Montalcino’s native Sangiovese grape.  Estate bottled from the splendidly sun drenched vineyards surrounding the medieval Castello from which it takes its name.  The Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, silky and smoky.  Deep ruby in color with an expressive bouquet of violets, fruits and berries as well as cigar box, cedar and exotic spices. The Rosso di Montalcino is also intense ruby red.  The bouquet is fresh and fruity with typical varietal notes of cherry and blackberry, enriched by more complex hints of licorice, tobacco and hazelnut.  It is full bodied, yet with a soft structure, and a surprisingly long finish. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is deep ruby red with garnet reflections and a rich, ample bouquet that hints of prune jam, coffee, cacao and a light balsamic note.  It is full and powerful, with ripe and gentle tannins that make it velvety and harmonious; this wine is supported by a pleasing minerality that to me speaks soundly of that special hillside in southern Montalcino.

SummuS – A wine of towering elegance, SummuS is an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon for fruit and structure; and Syrah for elegance, character and a fruity bouquet.  An elegant, complex and harmonious red wine. 

Cum Laude – A complex and elegant red which graduated “With Honors,” characterized by aromas of juicy berries and fresh spices.

Centine – A Cuvee that is more than half Sangiovese, the balanced consisting of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Vinified in a firm, round style that easily accompanies a wide range of dishes, this is a smooth and fragrantly satisfying wine with international character, and a perennial favorite at my own dinner table. 

Banfi Chianti Superiore – The “Superiore” designation signifies stricter government regulations regarding production and aging requirements, as compared to regular Chianti.  An intense ruby red wine with fruit forward aromas and floral notes.  This is a round wine with well-balanced acidity and fruit.

Banfi Chianti Classico – An enduring classic: alluring bouquet of black fruit and violets; rich flavors of cherry and leather; supple tannins and good acidity for dining. 

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – Produced from select grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Chianti, this dry, fruity and well-balanced red has a full bouquet reminiscent of violets.

Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico – This is our newest entry into the Chianti arena, coming from a 99 acre estate in Castellina, the heart of the Chianti Classico region.  The wine is a captivating mauve red that smells of cherry, plum and blackberry with hints of spice.  It is round, full and balanced with very good acidity.  

Col di Sasso – Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Luscious, complex and soft with persistent notes of fruit and great Italian style structure.



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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe,  The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  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:

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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