Virtual Gourmet

  April 21,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


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By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani

Veritas Vineyards Farmhouse Inn

    It’s been fifty years since a Richmond ad agency came up with one of the most enduring and endearing of state mottoes—“Virginia Is For Lovers”—a sentiment my wife and I learned was very true for anyone open to the varied beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley and the Chesapeake Bay.
    Back in the Bicentennial Year of 1976, we drove throughout the state, using as our guide the popular Country Inns and Backroads by Norman T. Simpson, staying at enchanting, historic places like the Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, the Hollymead Inn (now the Silver Thatch Inn) in Charlottesville and the Wayside Inn in Middletown, and eating at picturesque restaurants like the Half Way House in North Chesterfield—all of them still going strong.
    So I had a strong sense of romantic nostalgia this winter when I visited wineries in Virginia to find that two of the best also have inns with restaurants that far exceed anything in the state in the 1970s.


THE 1804 INN
Barboursville Vineyards
17475 Mansion Road
Barboursville, VA

    Set at this distinguished wine estate, the 1804 Inn has three luxurious and quiet suites, along with the Vineyard Cottage with two bedrooms, and the Sangiovese Cottage, each individually decorated, with all modern amenities and fine antique décor. One of the suites, named the Malvaxia, is decorated with Poussin and Piranesi prints, a fireplace, chintz curtains and a 45-foot private balcony. The Philèo Suite is done with a gallery of game birds, kiln-baked brick floors and Adirondack chairs.
    There is a fine restaurant on premises called Palladio, named after the 16th century Renaissance architect who had a great influence on Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson. The menu is northern Italian, overseen by Chef Spencer Crawford, who likes to blend local ingredients with classic Italian dishes. My recent lunch began with an antipasto of Parmigiano custard with winter squash puree, radicchio and apple slaw, followed by housemade ravioli filled with ricotta and cauliflower with a touch of thyme and slices of pancetta ham made from Berkshire pigs. The main course was a Black Angus hanger steak that had marvelous flavor and chew, with sauteed broccolini, smoked potato puree and a demiglace made from the estate’s Octagon wine.
    The wine list contains only those of the Barboursville estate, with a few from the Zonin library, collected by the wonderfully named sommelier Alessandro Medici.

A two-course lunch is $46, with wines $56; three courses $53 and $68; four courses $60 and $80. The three-course dinner is $75 and $105 four courses $90 and $125.



Veritas Vineyards
72 Saddleback Farm
Afton, Virginia

    The Farmhouse was built in 1839 and remained a family home until 2012, when it was turned into a restaurant and small inn composed of eight rooms that overlook the 50 acres of Veritas Vineyards (see wine article below). Each room is beautifully decorated in a period style, some with poster beds, one on two levels with sitting room, one with a queen-size sleigh bed, walk-in closets and ceiling fans. The adjacent Barn Cottage has two bedrooms and baths, full kitchen and porch. Breakfast is included.
    Dinners are offered Tuesday through Saturday as four-course
meals paired with wines prepared by Chef Andy Shipman (left), who draws as much fodder as he can from the estate’s greenhouse and nearby farms.
    Dinner is served in a lovely room softly lighted with candles. In late February my meal consisted of a rich foie gras torchon with old-fashioned salt-risen bread, citrus kombucha tea and a red wine vinegar.  Shipman makes a fine, clear, well-reduced chicken consommé with chicken sausage, carrot noodles, celery, chicken skin and herbs. A third course was a 7 Hills strip steak with maitakes, red potatoes, butter made with preserved ramps, a spike of horseradish and a caramelized crème fraîche. Ending off the meal was a crispy chocolate crèmeux with caramel-orange glaze, shortbread crust, mint crumble, pomegranate and cream. In each dish you sense the kind of sophisticated technique Shipman has acquired and put to good use with Middle Atlantic ingredients and paired wines throughout.
    In spring and summer you can dine outside on the patio, with dinners preceded  by a glass of sparkling wine.

Dinner is $85 per person.




By John Mariani
Photos: Pierre Monetta

60 West 55th Street (near Sixth Avenue



    Over the past decade Benoit has become not only a bonafide New York bistro with a faithful West Side and Theater clientele, but over the past year it has gotten better after a period of coasting. Never meant to be an adventurous place to dine, Benoit maintains a menu of French classics you’ll find at scores of others in New York or Paris, but Executive Chef Laëtitia Rouabah (left), herself a Parisian who previously worked at the esteemed Allard, has re-affirmed the kitchen’s strengths and freshened what had become a bit stale.
    The restaurant falls under the umbrella of Ducasse Paris, which bases Benoit NY on the Paris original, opened in 1912 at 20 Rue Saint-Martin, and now with  a branch in Tokyo.  Though it never looked like its Parisian predecessor, Benoit NY used to be done in a cheery, wood-paneled bistro décor, complete with trompe l’oeil ceiling clouds, but two-and-a-half years ago underwent a radical shift to an all-white paint job, save for the red banquettes and brass accents. The clouds have vanished. Most tables have white tablecloths, some have white-and-gray marble tops, still others shiny metal. Fortunately, the brightness of the room has now been moderated  (from what the above photo indicates) to provide a warmer ambiance. Up front the wine bar and lounge (right) has become quite glamorous.
    Service, by a largely French staff, is swift and very accommodating. There is a sturdy, short wine list appended to the menu, and the full list has more than 700 selections.
    Rouabah has kept the classics on Benoit’s menu, like the  perfect onion soup gratinée ($17; below) and Alsatian tarte flambée ($15; below), and she’s brought back the quenelles of pike with sauce Nantua ($28). Hot, puffy gougères arrive the moment you sit down, and excellent breads and butter follow.
    The best approach to the hors d’oeuvres is to go with an assortment of three ($16) or five ($22) , which include impeccably rendered pork rillettes, crispy pig’s trotter with tartar sauce, rabbit porchetta with mustard and tarragon, roasted smoked eggplant with peanuts and basil dressing, squid with chickpeas and more. An order of five can easily be shared by two or three people.
    Among first courses that include the onion soup and tarte flambée is an excellent duck foie gras terrine with rhubarb and strawberry with slices of toasted buttery brioche ($29). There is also a flakey pâté en croûte ($20) from a recipe that dates back to 1892  by Master Chef Lucien Tendret. 
    At the moment, white asparagus ($29) are on the seasonal menu with an orange-tinged maltaise sauce and Kaluga caviar (produced in China), which adds nothing but a fishy taste to the asparagus. The night I had them the asparagus had little of the sweetness they have at their best.
    The roast chicken, always a bistro classic, is now offered for one ($31) or two ($56), and the single portion is an enormous platter of juicy, full-flavored chicken that receives a benediction of  buttery pan juices. Along with it, and some other dishes,  come what may well be New York’s perfect frites, tasting richly of good potatoes, perfectly crisp and nice and hot.
    Steak frites is not only a good buy at $37 but, made with skirt steak, has even more flavor than the usual onglet. Sweetbreads with vegetable jus is another generously proportioned dish, though a tad pricey at $49.
    Cheeses at Benoit are kept at the proper condition and temperature. Currently, the selection of three ($20) are the rarely seen mothais sur feuille goat’s cheese, Comté and Fourme d’Ambert, which may be paired with wines at $18.
        Desserts have always been a good draw at Benoit—not a bad idea for after theater or a movie—including a rummy baba ($12), homey crème caramel ($8), marvelously composed tarte Tatin to share ($24), and hot, ice cream-stuffed profiteroles ($22) that you spike on a fork and dip into a fondue-like hot chocolate sauce (left). And you get a whole pile of them.
    Alain Ducasse’s New York City ventures have come and gone over the years, but Benoit endures for all the right reasons, and now, under Chef Rouabah, the cooking is better than ever, very consistent and full of largess. Benoit draws all types, from West Siders, theatergoers, shoppers and nightly solo diners who set themselves behind a well-set table, ask for their favorite waiter, nurse a cocktail and order dishes that they may well take home half of.  I do miss the former woodwork, but Benoit is a very cheery place deserving of its longevity.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.





By John Mariani

Barboursville Vineyards

    Virginia’s earliest and most ardent agronomist, Thomas Jefferson, once said that good wine was “a necessity of life for me ... and the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.”  But, while Jefferson did a great many things very well, he never could quite get the hang of winemaking at his Monticello estate. After decades of experimentation with European vinifera grapes, he gave up. 
         Now, 250 years later, Virginia winemakers are proving Jefferson’s hunches were right. Not only are European and hybrid varietals thriving in Virginia, but the state’s wine industry is booming. In 1979 Virginia had only six wineries; today there are 312. Indigenous grapes were always grown in Virginia, even before Europeans arrived in the 16th century, though the pungent, foxy native labrusca varietals generally made poor or cloying wine. Those wineries that persisted were forced to close during Prohibition, so only since World War II have there been innovative attempts to grow vinifera in the state.
     Not until the 1990s were major investments made in the region, at a time when many millionaires sought to invest in vineyards when Napa Valley acreage was selling for $100,000, while prime vineyard land in Virginia was going for $10,000-$15,000.
    On a recent three-day trip to Virginia, I found creditable reason to believe Virginia will rank with California, Oregon and New York as a high-quality wine region. Just two weeks ago Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville won the Wine of the Year award at the Governor’s Cup in Richmond for a rare varietal named Manseng ($25). Horton also makes unusual varietals, including Rkatsitelli ($20), Vidal Blanc ($16), Norton ($18), and Touriga ($25), and an array of fruit wines made from apples and pears.
    One of last century’s pioneers was the giant Italian wine company Zonin, which in 1976 bought Barboursville Vineyards on what was once the plantation of Gov. James Barbour, for whom Thomas Jefferson had designed the property’s mansion. Today Barboursville’s winemaker is a Piedmontese named Luca Paschina (below), considered one of the innovators of Virginia wine. His insistence that Cabernet Franc, first planted in 1978, was the ideal wine for the region’s terroir helped make it one of Virginia’s most notable varietals.
    In addition, Paschina’s wines are based on traditional European red grapes like Merlot and Petit Verdot, as well as white wine grapes like Viognier—which has proved very popular among Virginia wineries—and Vermentino. This last, undergoing extended maceration, has surprised many for its longevity and maturation over three years.
    Barboursville’s flagship wine is called Octagon, named to celebrate the estate’s connections to Jefferson, who designed an octagon drawing room for Gov. Barbour. First produced in 2001 and made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and, usually, Petit Verdot, it is a very rich but very complex wine, closer to a Pomerol than a big California bombshell.
    Throughout my time in Virginia, drinking only Virginia wines, I was impressed by how many were of a quality that would rank with wines from Europe, California, Oregon and South America. Many, however, were one-dimensional and others were slightly sweet, a style that remains popular among consumers in the region.
    Glen Manor Vineyards, spread over six acres of rocky soil high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, began in 1995, and its most recent vintages of Petit Verdot have been very good.
    Other wines I thoroughly enjoyed included
King Family Vineyards Small Batch Series Skin Contact Viognier 2015; Veritas Viognier 2017; Blenheim: Chardonnay 2017; Chatham Vineyards Chardonnay 2017; Early Mountain Vineyards Petit Manseng 2017; Veritas Petit Verdot 2016; Blenheim Vineyards Petit Verdot 2017; Early Mountain Vineyards Quaker Run Cabernet Franc 2016; King Family Vineyards Meritage 2015; and Rosemont: Kilravock 2013.  All these were tasted with a dinner at The Farmhouse at Veritas Winery (see article above). 
    Veritas is a big family operation, begun in 1999 by Andrew and Patricia Hodson, who left other careers to become winery owners, producing their first vintage in 2001. Today their daughters Emily and Chloe and other siblings are very much involved in the operation of both the vineyard and The Farmhouse.

uring that dinner I suggested that Virginia’s wineries may be trying too hard to test too many varietals at once, rather than improving a smaller number over the years. The spirited rebuttal I received was that experimentation is something the wineries can afford to do in this, the pioneering stage of the state’s viticultural development.
         However,  because the overwhelming majority of its wines, made in small production,  are sold within the state,  t
he problem is that little is exported, meaning they have not developed a reputation beyond the state’s border.
    I suspect that in the future those many varietal options will narrow and the estates will gain better focus on producing world-class wines based on the very best varietals that find their best terroir in a state where grapes are grown in the Central, Northern, Southern, and Eastern regions, as well as the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains.



"As I write this, I’m reminded of something Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek (right) said when he addressed the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. ‛Don’t fall in love with yourselves,' he shouted into the crowd gathered in New York’s Zuccotti Park."—Soleil Ho, "The Fantasy—and reality—of dining at Chez Panisse," San Francisco Chronicle (2/28/19).



EATALY’s recipe for a classic spaghetti dish is to 1. Boil spaghetti for 11 minutes, 2. open up a jar of tomatoes EATALY sells, 3. heat in pan, 4. Add spaghetti. 


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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