Virtual Gourmet

  March 10,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


French Railway Poster, circa 1951


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


There will be no issue of
Mariani's Virtual Gourmet Newsletter
next week,
for March 17, because Mariani will be traveling
through Switzerland this month.


By John Mariani

                                  The Annual Gastronomic Festival invited French and Swiss chefs to St. Barts: Éduoard Loubet,
                                         Cédric Béchade,  Nicolas Sale,  Serge Labrosse, Pierre Augé and Virginie Basselot.
                                                                                                                                            Photo: Michael Gramm

    It is no stretch to say that the island of Saint Barthélemy--popularly known as St. Barts--has the best restaurants in the Caribbean, for obvious reasons.

    For starters, it’s a French island and Air France (as well as Alitalia and KLM) have several flights per week, through St. Maarten, flying in European tourists and second-homers. And since the not-quite-ten-square-mile island has no indigenous food culture or agriculture to speak of, all ingredients must be brought in from Europe. Last, the island’s very affluent clientele expects to pay high prices at restaurants that try to replicate the best of French cuisine—not something you’ll easily find in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados or Jamaica.

    In the wake of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Irma, St. Barts rebuilt at an astonishing rate and high cost to get the island back close to what it was, and a grand gesture to show its gastronomic resilience, the annual St. Barth Gourmet Festival was restored last November, for which Michelin-starred chefs were flown in (along with their ingredients) to cook gala dinners at the various re-opened resorts. Each prepared a four-course menu at 95 euros and an eight-course menu at 130 euros.  (One should consider that at some of their restaurants back in France a single dish can cost more than 100 euros.)

    The participating chefs were Nicolas Sale of La Table de L’Éspadon at the Ritz Hotel in Paris; Cédric Béchade of La Table de l'Auberge Basque, Saint-Pée sur Nivelle; Virginie Basselot of  Le Negresco Hotel, Nice; Édouard Loubet of Domaine de Capelongue, Bonnieux; Pierre Augé of  La Maison de Petit Pierre, Béziers; and Serge Labrosse of  La Chaumière, Troinex, Switzerland. All dinners were sold out. 

    I attended three chefs’ dinners and a lunch while there and was impressed by how well the chefs’ cuisine translated into a Caribbean idiom, with help from the resorts’ own chefs.  At Hotel Christopher’s brightly lit Cristo restaurant (left), Basselot, the first woman ever to win the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France, served sophisticated renditions of celery-stuffed ravioli with a sauce of wild herbs; silky filet of cod with Japanese peas and a lemon balm butter; squab with fresh foie gras and a peppery olive sauce; and a dessert of salted butter caramel and mousse.

    At the renovated Le Tamarin, set within a shadowy garden near Saline Beach, Béchade did beautifully composed dishes like marinated trout in a smoky broth with roasted rice; a Basque-inspired marmitako seafood stew with tomato water; succulent roasted pork; and a tamarind tart (right).

    I also had a chance to dine at Le Toiny (left), a resort of 22 luxury suites set on a hillside on the wilder, leeward side of the island, where Loubet did an innovative dish of carrots stuffed with lobster tartare; red snapper simply dressed with caviar and eggplant; a rack of lamb with smoked thyme, leeks and a potato gratin; and for dessert “lemon caviar,” made with black chocolate bits flavored with ginger and coffee.

    While on the island I also had a chance to dine at the newest resort, Le Barthrmrly, which, after the hurricane, grew out of a smaller hotel to become a luxury resort that now extends along Grand Cul de Sac Bay, with a state-of-the-art holistic hydrotherapy center, the very popular WTF Rooftop Bar, and the wind-blown Aux Amis restaurant, headed by Chef William Girard.  I chose from a fine traditional menu that began with a carpaccio of pig’s foot with herbs, and a dish of poached egg “meurette,” in red wine sauce, with bacon and mushrooms (20 euros). Main courses included a traditional blanquette of veal cheek cooked with carrots and onions (32 euros), and a juicy, spiced Caribbean grilled lobster (market price). Desserts, too, were classic—a Parisian flan with rum and cinnamon; a chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream; and a rich baba au rhum with tropical fruits.

    I had lunch one day at the always-packed Nikki Beach  (below) at St. Jean, with fourteen branches around the world (the first, in 1998, founded by Jack Penrod, was in Miami), all sharing an open-air very casual beach club style and similar buffet menus. While there I enjoyed everything from an array of sushi and sashimi, an array of shellfish, mozzarella di bufala, charcuterie and cheeses and an assortment of four very good pizzas.  Parties, fashion shows, bikinis and chair dancing are encouraged.

    My happiest find in St. Barts, located in the principal town of Gustavia, was brand new. Fish Corner is a small enchantment run by Johnny Laplace (left) and Nicholas Lebon, who have the great advantage of owning a fishing boat, so what’s on the day’s menu comes from the day’s catch—I actually admired their saying they’d run out early of a particular species—which also keeps prices very moderate for high-end St. Barts.  It’s a tiny room, very casual, and both owners are the servers.

    I was delighted with a carpaccio of tender octopus with a sauce vierge of olive oil, tomato and basil (20 euros); the best roasted lobster (market price) I had that week, with a potato puree; a baliste à la meunière (25 euros), and a light rosé wine from Provence.

    If you’re hungry for Italian food, Le Repaire, in Gustavia since 1991, should satisfy your pasta deprivation. I had a very good, very generous tagliatelle with langoustines. It’s also good to know Le Repaire is open daily, year-round, serves breakfast starting at 7 a.m. and stays open till midnight. It’s got a very thorough wine list and prices for both food and wine are reasonable. 


By John Mariani

                                                                              1185 Avenue of the Americas (near West 46th)

By John Mariani

    It’s been a bit over three years since I last visited Utsav (from a Sanskrit word meaning “festival”), and my admiration for its cooking has only increased. While the menu hasn’t radically changed from my earlier visit, the food I tasted certainly ranked with the very best Indian cuisine in New York, and the prices— especially in this high rent location across from Rockefeller Center and a block from Times Square—are on average cheaper than a competitor like Junoon. And it would be hard to match Utsav’s consistently fine service staff, whose cordiality and efficiency in delivering successive dishes make dining a pure pleasure, all under the direction of owner Nadita Khanna  and Manager Jerry Joseph.
    What also has not changed much is the somber décor, whose lighting after dark is flat and drab and whose colors tend towards brown and rust. It’s a much nicer place to be at lunch, when sunshine streams through the tall, wide windows. (The private rooms are much more colorful, and there is a small bar downstairs.)
    Our party of four pretty much put ourselves in Joseph’s hands, with the help of our Indian waitress with the unusual name of McQueenie, to choose Chef Avtar Singh’s specialties, and he also recommended a Nebbiolo wine, chosen from a list culled to go well with this food, in addition to Indian beers.
     Singh is from Punjab and has worked in several notable Indian kitchens in the U.S., including Bukhara and Diwan in New York.
    We began with a series of savory appetizers to nibble on, from tandoori aloo of grilled potato halves, corn, green peas and cashew nuts ($10) to Bombay shredded blue crab, with garlic, cracked black pepper and crispy, crumbled cumin cracker ($16). A rich new dish is butter chicken kulcha, made with stuffed bread and a butter chicken filling ($7), and broccoli battered with cheese, yogurt and spices then seared in the tandoor oven came out impeccably cooked to the bite ($10).
    Two lamb dishes showed the versatility of the kitchen: one, a seekh kabab  of skewered ground lamb, marvelously spiced and seasoned with mint chutney ($23) and the other nalli ka salan, slow-braised lamb shank falling off the bone and suffused with a very complex reduction ($26). There was also a chicken malai kabab of boneless breast meat scented with cardamom and cooked with yogurt ($21). I’m not sure I’ve had tandoori Cornish hen ($25) anywhere else, so it was a treat to pick up the pleasantly chewy meat and bones from a generous fat bird. I have had butter chicken all over town, and if Utsav’s is not the very best, it’s still among the contenders—done with a fresh tomato sauce and fenugreek ($20).
    Indian restaurants too often flub seafood, often overcooking it and not always buying the best product. This is definitely not the case at Utsav. The large, meaty nawabi prawns ($28) were just barely cooked through, suffused with roasted garlic and spices. But a fillet of sea bass rasa baked in kerala coconut curry, fresh herbs and kaffir lime ($28) was easily one of the most delicious seafood dishes I’ve had in a while, Indian or not.
    Vegetables are a large part of Indian cuisine, and Utsav’s saag paneer of cottage cheese-enriched creamed spinach ($16) is very good, as is achari baigan of eggplant and pickled spices ($17).  The biryani rice dishes all have that wonderful fragrance of basmati rice, and come with raita yogurt. I chose goat ($22) as the meat component, warned it had bones, but it was worth the trouble of picking the tender meat of them.
    Of course, Indian breads are among the best in the world, and Utsav has a fine array ($4-$5): tandoori roti, naan, with garlic if desired,  aloo paratha spiced potato bread, and an impressive display of the puffed up poori that was exceptionally light and addictive. A variety basket is $12.
    Even those not in love with the usual Indian desserts should love the "Paan Acotta” of paan-flavored cream, fennel and rose; the sharabi kheer rice pudding with rum-infused raisins and coconut sorbet; and, especially, gulab jamun milk dumplings with a crème brûlée topping (all $8).

Utsav is open daily for lunch and dinner; à la carte or a fixed-price dinner at $38.




By John Mariani

    Last week in the magnificently restored train shed in Richmond, Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam awarded the 2019 Virginia Wineries Association’s  Governor’s Cup to Horton Vineyards for its 2016 Petit Manseng.
    The fact that Horton only harvested its first crop as of 1991, and had the wine made at another winery, shows how remarkable Virginia’s viticulture has come in the past two decades. The fact that the winning varietal was a dry Petit Manseng, a grape barely known outside of France’s Languedoc region, was even more amazing for being in competition with varietals from well-established wineries making better known Cabernet Franc and Viognier. (The Manseng was blended with 5% Viognier and 5% Rkatsiteli grapes.)
    The winner (which sells for about $25), among 502 entries from 102 vineyards, was made by Sharon Horton, a nurse, her husband, Dennis, and partner Joan Bieda, along with winemakers Michael Heny and Andrew Reagan. It joined eleven other top wines that made up the 2019 Governor’s Cup Case, which contained three Petit Manseng bottlings. All competitors’ wines had to be made from 100 percent Virginia-grown fruit, although the state’s wine regulations allow a bottle to be labeled “Virginia’ if it contains at least 75% Virginia fruit.
    The Cup Case winners were: Barboursville Vineyards 2017 Vermentino Reserve; Early Mountain Vineyards 2016 Eluvium; Glen Manor Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc; King Family Vineyards 2016 Mountain Plains; King Family Vineyards 2016 Meritage; Paradise Springs Winery 2015 Meritage; Virginia Wineworks 2016 Hamlet Vineyards Eltham; Virginia Wine Works 2016 Michael Shaps Petit Manseng; Virginia Wineworks 2016 Michael Shaps Raisin d’Etre White; Virginia Wine Works 2015 Michael Shaps Tannat; and Virginia Wineworks 2014 Upper Shirley Zachariah. The geographical regional spread included the Central, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Shenandoah Valley parts of the state. None of the wines was made from the most popular varietals raised on the West Coast, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Left to right: Gov. Ralph Northam with Horton Vineyards' Joan Bieda, Sharon Horton and Shannon Horton.VIRGINIA WINE BOARD MARKETING OFFICE

    The competition, now in its 36th year, was judged by a panel of professionals directed by Master of Wine Jay Youmans and included British wine writer Steven Spurrier (below), founder of L’Academie du Vin and Christie’s Wine Course, who in 1976 had mounted the famous blind Paris Wine Tasting that first brought California wines to international attention.  In a video of the Virginia panel tastings Spurrier caused an appreciative audience roar when he declared, “Virginia is the Europe of the U.S.A.” as a wine territory.
    It should be noted that, as in all promotional wine competitions, the judges tend to be very liberal with the number of awards doled out. At the Governor’s Cup 68 gold medals alone were awarded, and those were only 13% of the total winners.  Several of the 102 wineries entered many different bottlings and were likely to pick up an award. One winery, Virginia Wineworks, won five out of the twelve Governor’s Cup Case awards.
    The Governor’s Cup evening began with a mass tasting of wines entered into the competition, with several hundred attendees. Prior to the governor’s appearance, officials of the Virginia Wineries Association announced that, according to a 2017 economic impact study, the state’s wine industry employs more than 8,200 people and contributes almost $1.37 billion to the state’s economy on an annual basis.  Now with 312 wineries, Virginia ranks sixth in the number of wineries and wine grape production in the U.S., and more than 2.2 million tourists had visited the state’s wineries as of 2015.


"Foie Gras Symphony with dots of corn puree with consommé jelly" at Bacchanalia by Vianney Massot in Singapore.



"Detroit is trending because it’s new to people," adds Brian Spangler of Portland's beloved Apizza Scholls. "12 years ago, it was Neapolitan, and then it was Neo-Neapolitan. There was about a 10 year run of that thin crust pizza explosion across the US and I think people are ready for something new." –Omar Mamoon, Hip to Be Square: Detroit-Style Pizza Is Conquering America,”




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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