Virtual Gourmet

  April 28,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Cover of Field & Stream Magazine (1940)


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

The Pommards of Domaine de Courcel
By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Photo by Jan Geerk

    With just 8.5 million inhabitants and 11 million annual tourists, Switzerland has plenty of room for everyone, which means that one never feels anything like the crush and traffic of Rome, Paris, Madrid or Athens in Swiss cities.
    There are no long, snaking lines to get into Swiss museums, as there are at the Vatican, the Louvre, the Prado or the Pantheon. No need to book restaurants weeks in advance. And, while all the international fashion brands have stores in the big cities, it’s better to seek out the less expensive, more distinctive Swiss designer shops on the smaller streets.
    It’s also easy enough to blend in with the local citizenry of Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne, Vevey, Basel, Lugano and Geneva.  The ski slopes of St. Moritz, Zermatt and Gstaad get very busy in winter, and in spring, summer and fall the lakes and mountains may be dotted with hikers, climbers and boaters, but the number of dots will be small within the vastness of the territory.  Snow-capped mountains loom over every lake, and their cloud-reflected blue waters are clear to remarkable depths. You might not want to but you could actually drink it.
Photo: Martin Maegli 

  A recent ten-day trip to Switzerland—nine with perfect weather—showed both its cities and the countryside in ideal relief, and the word “frantic” never entered my mind. My usual New York stride slowed to a Swiss stroll, and, since everything runs on time, I never had to rush anywhere.  No one would ever make an idle bet against the on-time performance of a bus, a tram, a subway or a train, because they always depart and arrive on the second. If you have a train leaving Zurich at, say, 9 a.m., and the tram from your hotel takes exactly four minutes, you could leave your hotel at 8:50 and have time to spare to grab a coffee before getting on the train.  Over those ten days I never once used a taxi or Uber, because the transportation system is so efficient everywhere.
    The best way to travel around the country is to buy a Swiss Travel Pass, an all-in-one ticket that gives access to trains, buses and boats on 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days, plus admission to 500 museums (out of 1,000). With the Swiss Travel Pass Youth, people under 26 years of age benefit from a 15 % discount off the regular fare. (For info and prices go to: swiss-travel-pass).

Glacier Express
Photo: Andrea Badrutt

    The problem with clichés is that they become outdated and fatuous, like calling Paris the City of Lights, Las Vegas Sin City or New York the Big Apple. But so many of the clichés about Switzerland remain delightfully true, not least that on-time performance. Indeed, there’s a very funny book entitled How to Be Swiss by Diccon Bewes and cartoonist Michael Meister that sends up enduring Swiss habits that include “Thou shalt eat chocolate daily”; “Kiss strangers three times on the cheek”; “Address your boss as ‛Mister’ until one of you dies”; “Feel lost when you travel an hour across country and can’t understand anyone”; and “Feel superior.” (More on this last later.)
    The German, French and Italian cantons are, certainly, very protective of their respective cultures, but all pride themselves on being open to new ideas via polite social democracy. To bring an idea to a vote, one need only gather 200,000 signatures, as one fellow did when he tried to pass a law that would prohibit the cutting of goats’ horns, a traditional process that keeps them from injury and saves space; the measure failed.

Cheese market vendor in Lausanne
Photo: Galina Dargery

    I will happily add that Swiss cheeses—Emmenthaler, Gruyère, Berner Alpkäse, L’Etivaz, Schabziger, Raclette, Sbrinz, Tête de Moine, and many others—and breads are among the best in the world. First-rate Swiss wines are wholly underappreciated because no more than two percent of the production ever leaves the country. Swiss restaurants, from casual eateries serving raclette and fondue to haute cuisine dining salons, are excellent.
    As for the Swiss air of superiority, I believe it is more true about the last generation than the current one. I recall some fifteen years ago my wife, who speaks fluent French,  endured a dinner table conversation among middle-aged locals, in Swiss French, who gloated about how unsophisticated Americans were. At meal’s end, my wife stood up, smiled and said, in perfect Parisian French, “We are leaving now and hope never to meet any of you pompous snobs ever again.”
    But on more recent trips I found the Swiss wonderfully cordial and eager to help in any way they can. And the fact that just about everyone, at least in the cities, under the age of forty now speaks English makes an American tourist feel very comfortable at every turn. And the streets are astoundingly clean.
    It is certainly true that Switzerland is an expensive place to live and visit.  Eurostat ranks Switzerland’s consumer prices as the most expensive in Europe overall and 61% higher than the EU average, with food and non-alcoholic drinks 73% higher, hotels and restaurants 67% and clothing 43%. I certainly found prices in the cities I visited high, though they won’t come as much of a shock to anyone who visits London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, New York or San Francisco. Still, many Swiss cross over to France to go shopping to save money.  
                                                                                                            Lausanne Palace
                                                                                                                                            Photo: Galina Dargery 

    We found there were plenty of hotels—this was in early spring—under $150 a night (the US dollar is now just about at parity with the Swiss franc, which makes calculating easy), and the most deluxe restaurants, while pricey, cost somewhat less than comparable restaurants in Paris or London. And always remember: A 35 franc main course in Switzerland includes VAT and service charges, whereas in the U.S. a comparable main course might cost $28, but with tax and tip comes out to about the same. (Tipping is not expected in Switzerland.)

Lucerne at twilight 
Photo: Galina Dargery
  I shall be writing a series of articles about the individual cities I visited on my trip, but let me mention one more thing about Switzerland: Nowhere—not on the street, in the train station and airport, on the metro, in restaurants of any stripe—was there anything like the cacophony of noise one experiences in similar places in American cities. A full dining room in Switzerland will have a happy ebullience about it, but no one is screaming to be heard—unless it is packed with foreign visitors. Perhaps to be Swiss means never to guffaw.



By John Mariani

206 Spring Street (near 6th Avenue)

    It’s almost become a requisite for the New York food media to ignore all Asian restaurants with any high degree of design, preferring instead cramped spots in the outer boroughs with ten stools, raucous atmosphere and no wine list. This is certainly true of the swath of Korean restaurants currently trending, but I’m hoping the sleek, shadowy good looks of The Woo will afford readers a far more comfortable and exciting evening out.
    Owner Julie Choi’s pedigree goes through three generations, dating to 1974, when her grandmother, Chung Bong Lee, opened Woo Lae Oak in Midtown, when a Korean restaurant of any kind was a rarity. In 1999, Choi’s mother, Young Sook Choi, opened another location in Soho. Julie  herself holds a Grand Diplôme of Cuisine and Pastry Arts from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in London and an International Hospitality Management degree from École Hotelière de Lausanne in Switzerland.
    Chef de cuisine Eli Martinez has worked for the Choi family for all those years and is thoroughly imbued with their passion for fine Korean food and service.
    The dramatic two-level space (which used to be Fiamma, then Costata) is a very modern update on the original Woo Lae Oak, with a sweeping downstairs bar area and open kitchen. Upstairs the long dining room has polished ceiling beams, a row of granite-topped and smokeless barbecue tables set against violet booths on distressed wooden floors, all brightened by star-like ceiling lights. There’s some background music, but it’s not enough to be intrusive.
    The menu is very, very long, and since the barbecue is the showpiece, you need to be careful how much else you order around it.  Four of us made a dent into several categories but missed some others.
    I’ve rarely had a dumpling I didn’t like, and my streak continued on a high level with the mandu pan-fried dumplings (above) stuffed with beef short rib served with a chili and soy sauce ($15). Yook hwe ($17) is a well-cut, well-seasoned version of soy-marinated steak tartare with quail egg and Asian pear, which has savory salty-spicy-citrus-sweet flavors that play off the raw beef. Looking like Greek dolmas, ke sal mari ($17) are wraps of spinach crêpes containing crab and leek with Korean mustard sauce, and ga ri bi gui ($17) is a highly delectable mélange of scallops, shrimp and Korean pine nuts baked and lavished with a light seafood mousse.
    Classic Korean bi bim bap, which means “mixed rice,” is an artful presentation of rice,  assorted marinated and fresh vegetables simmering in a hot stone pot and topped with a fried egg ($24).  Un dae gu jo rim ($34) shows a real hand at lustrous seafood by simmering rich black cod and daikon in a deeply reduced sweet and spicy garlic soy broth.
    There are several options for self-cooked barbecue, and I must say the smokeless burner used at The Woo really works as it’s supposed to, keeping fumes as well as grease away from your face and clothes. The most popular variety is kal bi, made with remarkably well-marbled beef short rib ($38); Bulgogi ($36) is a nearly as rich ribeye in slices; Hyaw mit ($30) is thinly sliced beef tongue;  O ree  ($32) is Long Island duck breast; and there are two seafood options—hwang sae chi ($34) of swordfish and cham chi of yellowfin tuna loin ($28). You slip the main ingredient on the grill, then put together your wrap of lettuce with an array of delightful condiments of heat, spice and various textures.
    We weren’t quite done yet—the food here is actually fairly light—so we had a hotpot called ben jang chige ($18), rife with pork, zucchini, chili, mushrooms and sweet onions, a dish that was very soothing at that point in the meal.
    Desserts are pleasant enough, including Tropical Snow, shaved coconut ice with sweet jellied fruits, sweet beans, coconut ice cream and raspberry and vanilla sauces.
    Julie is ever present to make recommendations and to show you the correct way of eating this wonderful food. Her personality is a big part of the charm, and her taste in décor raises Korean restaurants to a new level in New York.

Open for lunch and dinner daily.



The Pommards of
Domaine de Courcel

By John Mariani


    Every varietal has its own distinctive smell—the smoky brick of Bordeaux, the tropical fruit of Sauvignon Blanc, the spiciness of Gewürztraminer—but the aroma of good Burgundy is one of Pinot Noir’s great pleasures, one not often found in examples from California or Australia. To be more romantic, Burgundy’s “bouquet” does open up like buds in bloom, and it is richly satisfying, even before you taste the wine.
    I was reminded of this while tasting eight examples of Pommard from Domaine de Courcel with owner Gilles de Courcel (left) over dinner in New York. He is a wiry fellow who looks as if he’s happiest in the vineyards, checking the grapes’ ripeness, watching the rain clouds and shading his eyes from the Burgundian sun, although he actually lives in Bordeaux. His family has been at the estate for four centuries, and he took over its management in 1983 together with his sisters, Anne Bommelaer and Marie de Courcel.
    The domaine, arrayed over 26 acres, has always sold its own wines, rather than sell them to a negoçiant, which is more common in Burgundy. (About 95% of the Pommard vineyards are owned by families, and 50% sell their own wines.) The vineyard area of the Pommard region (Pommard itself is a village) is one of the largest within Burgundy—about 850 acres—with the best estates under the appellation Premier Cru, and within that illustrious group, Épenots and Rugiens are the most highly rated. Lesser Pommards are produced in very large quantities; Domaine de Courcel’s production is never more than 30,000 bottles per year.
    De Courcel is most certainly committed to both the traditions of his family and the estate’s terroir, improving the estate itself as well as the vineyards, and says that “Too often winemakers make a style, not a wine,” which is what many negoçiants do when they blend wines they buy from different estates.
     In addition to its Grand Crus, the domaine produces another Pommard called Les Vaumuriens. Over our dinner of roast chicken, frites and sweetbreads at Benoit bistro in Manhattan, the 2016 vintage ($120) was aromatic and lustrous, from a high terroir with a large percentage of limestone.
    The Grand Clos des Épenots accounts for 50% of the domaine's production, and while Pommard has a reputation for being heftier than other Burgundies, Épenots are a somewhat softer expression of Pommard and constitute the largest acreage of the domaine. The 2016 ($176) has Pommard’s typically deep color, layers of silky fruit and a long finish, while the 2015 ($166) was a bigger wine, a bit more tannic and will take a few years to mature.

    I was fortunate to taste two older examples of Épenots—the 2006 ($186), which was lighter in color and in impeccable balance (“The years have been very kind to the 2006,” said de Courcel), while the 1999 ($286), from a very large crop, had a bit of a barnyard smell one associates with older Burgundies, but a few moments in the glass brought all its elements of fruit and acid into supple equilibrium. It showed the lasting power a Pommard can exhibit twenty years after being made.
    There was also one Les Rugiens  to taste, a 2015 ($223), which, despite its youth, was delicious. Rugiens (the name derives from the red soil) is a bigger wine than Épenots, yet it had none of that overpowering plumminess you find in hot California Pinot Noirs. It went extremely well with a course of three French cheeses.

    Since I faced a 40-minute drive home it killed me not to be able to drink every drop poured and to have to drain out the remains to make way for the next wine. For one thing—and at these prices—I rarely get a chance to drink Pommard. Perhaps next time Gilles de Courcel invites me for dinner in New York, I’ll get a hotel room for the night and have sweet dreams about all the wonderful wines I drank every drop of.



 "It’s a little bit as if Barbra Streisand had returned to Broadway, and then sang all her songs in a whisper sitting on the edge of the stage. It might not be what you had been waiting for, but you’d watch."—Pete Wells, "The Standard Grill," NY Times (April 2, 2019)


An amendment proposed to the European Union’s agricultural committee would make it so that veggie burgers could not be called "burgers."  French member of parliament Éric Andrieu 
told the Guardian that words like “steak” ought to “be kept for real steak with meat.”



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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