Virtual Gourmet

  March 3,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


"The Storming of the Sazerac Bar" by Women of New Orleans, 1949


Part One
By Geoff Kalish


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


Part One


Katsuya Bar

    Less than a four-hour flight from Chicago and three from New York, the Bahamas have primarily drawn vacationers looking to escape harsh winter weather. But, until about two years ago, accommodations were primarily relegated to the Disneyesque resort Atlantis, which some complain has become “tired,” or the very upscale Ocean Club, now run by The Four Seasons group, both on Paradise Island. Now, with the opening of the Baha Mar area, less than a 15-minute cab ride from Lynden Pinding International Airport, there’s a range of lodging options, as well as expanded possibilities for great dining, sporting activities (especially golf) and a sprawling casino. The following reports on our dining and golf experiences over a 10-day visit to the Baha Mar and the rest of Nassau and Paradise Island.


    Although a few other options exist, the three main hotels (all connected on the ground floor) are the Grand Hyatt, the SLS and Rosewood hotels. Families seem to gravitate to the Grand Hyatt, with upscale couples and “high rollers” preferring the luxurious Rosewood, with the SLS somewhere in between. All offer a wide range of lodging options, particularly the Grand Hyatt, with its sleek modern rooms, many overlooking Nassau Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, multiple swimming pools, bars, a plush spa, a white sand beach rimmed by a number of permanent “food trucks” that are perfect for lunchtime dining,  and, of course, numerous other dining options, including: Regatta, a very upscale buffet eatery; Stix, a busy lobby spot for Ramen and other noodle dishes; The Palms, an outdoor casual breakfast and lunch site; and 3 Tides, a seafood spot.

3 Tides Fish House
1 Baha Mar Blvd (in the Grand Hyatt Hotel)

    This restaurant is a very popular spot for sustainable seafood served in a casual setting with a central open kitchen and walls lined with large modernistic depictions of the seaside. Servers are pleasant and quite knowledgeable, offering suggestions from a large choice of menu items.
     Sushi and raw bar choices range from oysters to sashimi, including a poke bowl filled with slices of dewy yellowfin tuna and puffed rice seasoned with furikake, a flavorful mix of sesame, chopped seaweed and bonito flakes ($16), a spicy tuna roll and a crisp, spiny lobster spring roll stuffed with mango, avocado and mint ($18). Larger plates include a meaty Caribbean lobster tail with drawn butter ($48) and zesty prawn linguine with chorizo in a sauce of chili peppers and lime ($28). And for carnivores, a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye ($63) and 14-ounce New York strip steak ($48).
    From a fairly limited wine list we chose a Château St. Michelle Riesling that had a fragrant bouquet and flavor of ripe peaches and apples with hints of honey and a crisp finish, which mated equally well with the sushi and lobster.                       
    Open for lunch and dinner daily. Expect dinner for two to cost $130-$140, excluding wine, tax or tip. There is also a $75 three-course menu.

1 Baha Mar Blvd (in the Rosewood Hotel)

    This restaurant features fare from around the British Commonwealth countries, particularly Canada and India, in a contemporary setting with well-spaced wood-topped tables, comfortable banquettes and chairs, and walls showing scenes from the six commonwealth nations. There is also an outdoor courtyard.
    We enjoyed appetizers of a generous portion of juicy tandoori lamb chops spiced with lime, ginger, chili and cilantro ($26),  and another consisting of three large, perfectly grilled prawns glazed with honey ($22). For main courses we chose a chef’s special of tender slices of pan-seared pork shoulder accompanied by spicy sausage and an eggplant millefeuille ($35) and an order of grilled Canadian lobster coated in a heady mustard and Cognac emulsion, accompanied by crisp sugar snap peas ($54).
    Desserts range from ice cream and sorbet to raspberry and chocolate trifle to an Australian and New Zealand favorite—a Queen’s Pavlova of fruit atop vanilla meringue served with strawberry sorbet ($26 for two).
    Service was friendly and professional. From a list of Australian and New Zealand bottles, we accompanied the meal with a  2015 DMZ DeMorgenzon Stellenbosch Syrah that showed a fragrant bouquet and ripe flavors of plums and cherries, which paired equally well with both the pork and lobster.

Open daily for dinner: Expect dinner for two to cost $150- $160, not including wine, tax or tip.

Katsuya by Starck
1 Baha Mar Blvd (in the SLS Hotel)
    Designed by the Philippe Starck design team, this sleek spot with indoor and  outdoor seating, beige walls and chrome rimmed tables looks over a rectangular pool of water that after darkness fills with flames every 10-15 minutes.
    The flavorful food is the fare of Japanese star chef Katsuya Uechi, who runs fourteen Katsuya restaurants (and more on the way). This one has three separate kitchens: one for Sushi, another for skewers of beef or fish cooked on a Japanese charcoal robata grill, and one to prepare other cooked food—all served by a very knowledgeable staff.
    Appetizers range from a large portion of crisp-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside grilled octopus ($25) to a sizable portion of briny uni sashimi ($22), to seared tuna accompanied by baby heirloom tomatoes doused in a heady salsa ($26). Main courses of note, from a large selection of raw or cooked seafare and beef, were a sweet, miso-marinated black cod fillet ($36) and grilled shrimp served with a mix of Asian mushrooms and asparagus ($22). With the meal we enjoyed a bottle of cassis-scented 2017 Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon and ended with velvety ice cream for dessert.

Open nightly for dinner. Expect dinner for two to cost $130-140, not including wine, tax or tip.


Cleo Mediterraneo
1 Baha Mar Blvd (in the SLS Hotel)

    Featured here is the Moroccan-Japanese fusion fare of rising star Executive Chef Danny Elmaleh in a Mediterranean-modern setting, with white tables and chairs, widely set apart in a room with eclectic glass chandeliers and a long wall of irregularly shaped, flat beige stones separated by bits of greenery.
        We shared small plates of tender shrimp and lamb kabobs ($14) and an order of crisp octopus coated in aromatic, slightly sweet smoked paprika ($19), as well as a chopped freekah wheat salad, with the grain tossed with crisp Persian cucumber, diced tomato and watermelon radish slices. We also shared larger plates of pungent saffron-crusted chicken ($28) and a mix of local seafare and artichoke served in a heady sauce of tomato, harissa, coriander and saffron ($42), all cooked and served in decorative hand-painted ceramic tagines from Morocco.
    We accompanied the fare with a plummy, easy drinking 2014 Poggio Graffetta Syrah from Sicily and concluded with an order of classic flourless chocolate cake accompanied by excellent ice cream.

Open nightly for dinner. Expect dinner for two to cost $120-$130, not including wine, tax or tip.

Bit of Golf

    Built on the site of the defunct Cable Beach Course, this magnificent, two-year-old Jack Nicholas-designed Royal Blue Golf Course, less than a five-minute shuttle ride from the hotels, meanders alongside the ocean and through lush landscape featuring ancient limestone walls, with over 70 species of birds and beautiful indigenous plants like sisal and red and black mangroves.
    At par 72 and over 7,000 yards long from the “tips,” it’s a challenge for seasoned golfers, with its hills, strategically placed fairway bunkers and a 165-yard 16th hole with a peninsular green. But for the average golfer it offers wide fairways and generally flat pristinely-kept greens. And while it has the typical Nicholas feature of elevated greens surrounded by sand traps, the greens are not as elevated as at many other Nicholas-designed courses. Also, while the course features only three sets of tees, they are not set in typical “boxes,” allowing for wide changes in distance from day-to-day, making multiple plays on the course very different experiences.
    In addition, “no clubs – no problem,” as the course offers an excellent “Better than your own” rental program, with top-end clubs from multiple manufacturers and, if desired, there are friendly, knowledgeable, non-pejorative caddies available and guidance from an excellent clubhouse staff. In addition, the Royal Blue Tavern offers an all-day menu of top-notch typical pub fare like wings, crispy calamari, burgers and a variety of salads and sandwiches.

Greens fees are $275 for Baha Mar guests, with advance reservations readily available. (242) 788-8000



By John Mariani

209 Pinehurst Avenue (at West 187th Street)

    Even though I’ve lived in or around New York my entire life, I had never heard of Hudson Heights, a neighborhood located at the northern edge of Manhattan, high above the Hudson, where many of the pre-war Art Deco and Tudor apartments have a spectacular view of the river.  Both Fort Tryon Park and the stunning Cloisters are just north of it.
    Tucked away in this hidden-away pocket of New York is The Pandering Pig, a slip of a room seating 28 guests, with a kitchen even smaller than New York’s notoriously small apartment kitchens.
    The phrase “labor of love” does not really hint at the enormous intensity, focus and sheer hours that it takes to turn something one loves into a viable business, and chef/owner Nicole O’Brien  (left) and her husband, Wine Director Senator O’Brien, are doing so with what they call “FreNoCal,” an awkward mouthful that actually means French-Northern California cuisine. There may not be any rubrics as to what that term actually means, but, upon tasting Nicole’s cooking, I got the true sense of it: hearty farm-and-wine country Provençal family-style cooking with an emphasis on long-simmered dishes with a good dose of fresh herbs.
    Nicole was born and raised in Marin County, cooking alongside her mother, who used largely local provender. She pursued a successful career in the arts and film, then became a private chef for demanding celebrity clientele with eccentric tastes. It was just four years ago that she realized her personal dream within her own Hudson Heights neighborhood, and the couple took the leap, opening The Pandering Pig, a caricature of which hangs below the blue awning at the door.
    The décor is as homey as everything else, with plush royal blue cushions made by Nicole’s mother, a brick wall hung with small, black and white cards of silent-movie actors, wooden tables and booths set with a single red rose, a tiny bar and a tinier kitchen. There’s canned music, but it’s played softly in the background.
    Keeping the menu short is requisite, and choosing dishes that are braised or stewed makes the most of the kitchen’s shortcomings. So, too, appetizers like a generous cheese board for two ($18) that comes with dried fruit, seasoned pecans, olives and good bread; a pate board ($24) with foie gras rillettes and brandied cherries (which they’d run out of by 7:30 p.m. the night I visited); and a fig-and-olive tapenade with goat’s cheese and garlic toasts ($12) show that plating, rather than cooking, is a wise option. For a winter’s evening a red lentil and apricot soup (at a very modest $8) made perfect sense (left), as did roasted Brussels sprouts with melted bleu cheese ($12).
        The main courses manifest that Franco-California style admirably, starting with a robust short rib boeuf bourguignon rich in aromatics and herbs ($28). This came with parmesan-and-garlic laced mashed potatoes. The meat from a hefty lamb shank braised in white wine ($28) peeled from the bone, soaking up the scent of rosemary atop creamy polenta and seasonal vegetables.
    Nicole is rightly proud of her classic coq au vin (a steal at $19). Succulent and tender, suffused with reduced red wine and the caramelized flavor of onions, tomato and carrots, it was a splendid rendition. That night there was a seasonal fish, a special of roasted black sea bass ($27). Specials are, of course, tied to the seasons and allow Nicole to stretch a bit back in that kitchen.
    The desserts are as homey as any you’d find on a Shaker table, like the almond tart with sliced pears and blackberries, or a good French farmhouse table, like the Nuage au Chocolat (chocolate cloud), served with vanilla ice cream and touched by a mint leaf.
    There is even a menu for Les Enfants—penne with marinara and chicken apple sausage.
    Senator takes care of the cocktails and wine service, which can take a while because he’s also catering to all the tables, delivering food and taking orders. He carefully chooses bottlings from dependable estates, about ten each of red and white, and mark-ups are quite reasonable.

Open Wed.-Sun. for dinner only.



By John Mariani


    The variety of wines in the market increases measurably each season so that well-established favorites like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay get well-deserved competition from lesser known varietals. All of them make wine drinking in 2019 more engaging than ever.


Masseria Le Veli Passamante Salice Salentino 2016 ($14)— Believe if you wish the story that the vineyards of Le Veli are next to a forest named Passamante, which very roughly translates to “pass [the] lover” and refers to romantic trysts among the pines. In any case this Negroamaro-based wine from Puglia spends six months in barrel, so it’s meant to be drunk young, and its cherry fruit notes make it very versatile for a range of foods, including cheeses. It’s quite robust for only 13.5% alcohol.

Domaine Weinbach Famille Faller Muscat 2017 ($35)— The misapprehension that Muscat wines are too flowery, even unctuous, and sweet is belied by this superb example from one of Alsace’s finest producers. Not that much Muscat is grown in the region, and it is vinified drier than others, making it a delightful aperitif. The label says it goes with asparagus, so if you must drink wine with that troublesome vegetable, this might be your best option. The blend is of two Muscat grapes and results in 13% alcohol.

En Mémoire du Malbec 2016 ($17)—This fancifully named Bordeaux red wine by Château de Lagarde in Entre-deux-Mers is certified organic (and vegan), which is of small note, but it is worth saying that 30% of the wine spends time in oak, and the rest only in stainless steel. Argentina is currently the leader in Malbec production, but Bordeaux was its birthplace, and this is a sturdy, deep purple wine excellent with baby lamb or pork. At this price you can hardly go wrong.

De Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé 2017 ($45)—Few Pouilly-Fumé producers can get this kind of money for their bottlings, but for a very long time de Ladoucette has been the pinnacle of excellence in the Loire region.  It always has a roundness and softness backed by lovely aromatics that distinguish it from lesser examples. At 12.5% alcohol it is easy to drink throughout a meal of seafood straight into cheese.

Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($35)—Rodney Strong has long been my go-to label when I want high quality and absolute consistency in a range of varietals. For 55 years it has set standards not often met by pricier competitors in the Sonoma Valley. Within that appellation, Knights Valley is the farthest east from the Pacific Ocean, making it the warmest in the region, with a lot of volcanic soil.  This gives it body and heart, at 14.5% alcohol, making it ideal for red meats of all kinds.

Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($105)—Like Rodney Strong, Melchor, located in the Maipo Valley of Chile, is a leader in its own country. Under the broad Concha y Toro umbrella, Don Melchor is one of the most expensive wines in South America but has earned a large following who love its complexity and its likability at an early age. Don Melchor planted his vineyards with French vinifera as early as 1833, so they’ve had plenty of time to find the best terroir, the best clones and the best ways to handle this rich, always enticing Cab.



Australian eatery Kaili's is now serving a fish and chip gelato.

Theres always a moment when it hits me. Its usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurant


"There's always a moment when it hits me. It's usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurant. This time it was a forkful of homemade dan dan noodles."--Andrew Knowlton, "America's Best New Restaurant," Bon Appetit.


es always a moment when it hits me. Its usually a single bite and, boom, I fall in love with a restaurant


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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