Virtual Gourmet

  May 26,  2019                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


American G.I.s feeding children in Sicily, 1943



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani

Photo: Gerry Dawes


         The first thing everyone will tell you about Ávila is that it’s a walled city, which does not make it unique in Europe. But its 1.6-mile, nine-foot-thick wall, built in the 11th to 14th centuries, is as impressive as any outside of China, dotted with 87 turrets from which the local militia used to rain down holy hell on invaders.
    For one thing, it circles the medieval city and is in extraordinary shape; for another, its view of the city of Ávila is extraordinary in its sweeping breadth and depth. It is, therefore, requisite for every visitor to see, but be aware that if you start at the lower section of the wall, it requires an uphill battle on a rough stone pathway. And that trek is only half the length of the wall.
    Better to begin at Puerto del Puente and take the elevator to the top of the wall, then walk, more or less, downward, exiting at El Alcázar. The route is clearly marked with signs (in English) at important spots and vistas. Once finished, you will be at the center of the beautifully restored old town, which claims to have the highest number of Gothic churches per capita in Spain.

   Photo: Gerry Dawes

   The Romans occupied the territory in the 5th century BC, and it was one of the first in Hispania to convert to Christianity. It was later captured by the Visigoths and Moors before reverting again to Christian control. Ávila declined in power and population in the 18th century and grew back only with the establishment of a railway line from Madrid. It was a Franquista rebel town in the Spanish Civil War before Franco became dictator, and in the post-Franco era Ávila has thrived as a major tourist attraction.
    If you go to Ávila in October, you may enjoy, and will definitely be caught up in,  the month-long Fiesta of St. Teresa, its beloved patron saint (above), whose pictures are everywhere. There are concerts, bullfights, Masses and plenty of food and wine.                                   Photo: Galina Dargery
    One could spend days in Avila merely popping into churches, but the ones to see are the Cathedral, dating to the 12th century and finished in 1350, and the Basilica of St. Vincent, begun in 1175.  The cloistered Monastery of St. Thomas, built in 1482 and located outside the walls, is of interest for its so-called Isabelline architecture, which combines Gothic and Moorish elements, ans the splendid Castle of Arévalo outside of town (right), one of the best preserved of its kind in Europe. As a World Heritage Site, Ávila is a place for slow strolling, or sitting in a plaza and nursing a cerveza, coffee or hot chocolate. There are many restaurantes with outdoor seating and people dine at all hours of the night.
    My wife and I stayed at the beautiful Parador Ávila (Marques de Canales de Chozas 2; 920-211-340; left), near the Basilica of St. Vincent and the wall. Los Paradores hotels are a series of historic properties throughout Spain, each completely different, located within sites that might be have been monasteries, palaces or fortresses. The Ávila branch, for which my wife and I paid a very modest 140 Euros a night (with breakfast), was set within the former Piedras Albas Palace and was very luxurious, across from a pine garden. Rooms, some with canopied beds, are large and done with a blend of traditional wallpapers and fabrics with a fine use of stone, wood, light and large windows, all wonderfully quiet and away from the tourist bustle of the city center.
    Ávila is full of good restaurantes, and on one street, Calle Figones, are several asadors specializing in suckling pig and baby lamb. We ate at Asador Las Cubas, where you walk in to find the cooks pushing the meats into a smoking ancient oven, with the appetite-stirring aromas wafting through the entire restaurant. (The owners also run the asador across the street.)
    We got there around 1 p.m. and found the place almost empty, but within in an hour it was packed.  The main dining room is large and well-lighted, with tiled pillars and a canned music selection that consisted of three songs played on the clarinet, including “Unchained Melody,” which we heard about nine times.
Photo: Gerry Dawes

      A leg of baby lamb (right) was as succulent as could be imagined and the gambas in olive oil and garlic came to the table sizzling in a black skillet. I learned the hard way that Ávila is not the place to order a Basque dish like cod cheeks pil pil, which were awful. Our lunch, with salad, water and three beers came to 63.25 Euros, including tax and service.

    That night we had a unique experience, made so at Rincon Jabugo (Calle San Seguindo 28) near the Cathedral by the ebullient Benjamín Rodríguez, a master carver of jamon Iberico (above),  a talent he exhibits merrily but seriously, paper thin square by square.  In the boisterous front room bar, its orange walls hung with various aged hams, a young crowd sits and stands enjoying a beer and light bites while cheering on or cursing at their favorite soccer teams on TV.                                                                                             

                                                                                                                Photo: Galina Dargery

        The back room is for those wanting a full meal, and ours was very, very full indeed.  Having put ourselves in Rodríguez's  hands, we began with silky, shiny slices of sweet Jalisco 51 ham, with tomato-rubbed bread, followed by strong-tasting sardines with olive oil; a potato tortilla with mushrooms; boletus and muscullus mushrooms that had been foraged that morning; a massive chuleton of beef cooked very rare and served on a sizzling platter; and a lovely cinnamon-flavored rice pudding. The bill, with wine, tax and service, came to under 100 Euros.
    We were in
Ávila on a weekend when the city is thronged with tourists from all around the world and in October its must get crushed, but I could tell that when those throngs disappear, Ávila must surely be one of Europe's most congenial cities for slow, quiet walks and good cafes, all under the protection of Saint Teresa.



By John Mariani


99 Bank Street (off Greenwich Street)


    On my first day in Paris—I was nineteen and all alone—I got off the hissing train at the Gare du Nord and sheepishly took a table at the bistro inside. Looking over the menu with only the benefit of high school French, my eyes found the familiar—steak frites, soupe à l’oignon, coq au vin, boeuf bourguignonne—and then I spotted blanquette de veau. I knew veau meant veal, which I loved, and was willing to take a chance on the unknown word blanquette.
    What came forth from the kitchen was a gleaming white ceramic pot, whose lid the waiter removed to send an astonishingly delicious aroma into the air. The steam lifted to reveal morsels of tender veal, string beans and sweet white onions in an ivory sauce made with crème fraȋche. The waiter spooned some onto my plate, I tasted it and I was forever in thrall to the food, the feel and the comfort of the remarkable thing called a French bistro. In some way, that bistro led me into travel, wine and food writing years later. Vive le bistro!
    Many years and many bistros later, I’ve never lost my ardor for bistros and the traditional food they serve, so when I entered Pierre Lapin, my smile broadened from ear to ear upon seeing the charms of flowered wallpaper, a cozy little bar, red and green banquettes, gingham curtains, tables set with white linens and paper, a lighted candle and fresh flowers on top, and through the window the narrow streets of the West Village. Nostalgic French songs by Cyrille Aimée and Annie Girardot played without intrusion.  Even the pelting rain outside had the cast of Paris in what Hemingway called “the false spring.”
    Added to the pleasure of merely entering Pierre Lapin (Peter Rabbit, whose figure you’ll find affixed to the window), I was greeted by a lovely hostess named Gabriella with an irresistible Rumanian accent and brought to our window table by a stunningly beautiful Parisian waitress named Sophia, who could be  on any magazine cover she chose.
    Chef and restaurateur Harold Moore  and his partner, Julia Grossman, opened Pierre Lapin exactly one year ago, he having earned his New York stripes at Montrachet, Commerce and Harold’s.  At Pierre Lapin Moore did not wish to replicate the vast, ear-splitting atmosphere of a brasserie like New York’s Balthazar, aiming instead for intimacy and an ambiance that encourages good conversation, with a menu of bistro classics. And very, very good bread. And plenty of  good butter and truffled cheese.
    There is a nightly menu written on a mirror with a lot of “Plats Classiques” that any true gourmand would swoon over.
    One dish Moore cannot take off his menu is the round of ripe baked Brie (left).  Once a cliché of gourmet luncheons, it faded in popularity because the Brie usually wasn’t very good, but Moore presents a fine, rich, gooey Brie with walnuts and figs and a good deal of flair. His terrine of foie gras with toasted baguette ($19) is as good as any in town, and it’s worth ordering the garlicky, parsley-flecked frog’s legs for two as an appetizer. Equally delicious is a generous slab of hearty, crisply fried tête de porc with mustard ($14). And now that the fat white asparagus  are in season, Moore lavishes them in a cream sauce and slips them under the flame to brown ($19).
    For main dishes there is, of course, steak frites ($46), a good piece of perfectly cooked beef with enough French fries for the table. Tender morsels of sweetbreads are done in a francese style, dipped in an egg bath and sautéed with lemon and white wine ($28). That evening there was a superb risotto with peas, asparagus, morel, parmesan and butter ($23) that we all shared.
    After my epiphany about the blanquette de veau at the Gare de Nord, I wish Moore’s version ($28) were better, for while it had good flavor, it came messily plated and lacked the richness of a winey white sauce that raises the dish to the sublime.
    There is also a roast chicken with a foie gras bread stuffing and pommes purée ($68 for two) that has long been one of Moore’s signature dishes since his days at Montrachet and one I shall gladly order next time.
    Desserts include a perfect crème brûlée with a shiny, crackling caramel crust ($14), and as unlikely as a coconut cake ($14) seems at a French bistro, the version at Pierre Lapin (left) was a winning example, not too sweet, very moist, very light.
    There are about 50 wines on the list, with about one-third under $100, as well as some trophy bottles upwards of $500.
    Were I crazy enough to open my own restaurant in New York, I can think of few models more congenial to my tastes and style than Pierre Lapin. Fortunately, there can be but one, so I’m safe and happy.


Open for lunch and  dinner nightly; Brunch on  Sat. & Sun.








By John Mariani

    I’ve written more than once that I consider Beaulieu Vineyard’s Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignons (GDL, I’ll call them) the best red wines made in America. And a recent tasting with the vineyard’s young winemaker, Trevor Durling (below), did nothing to change my mind.
    Beaulieu has been in the business for 119 years, and its “Private Reserve” was the family’s private wine.  In 1938 the legendary wine consultant André Tchelistcheff joined Beaulieu Vineyard, and upon tasting the 1936 Reserve, he insisted it be bottled and sold as the winery’s flagship offering, with the first release in 1940, named in honor of Beaulieu’s French founder, Georges de Latour (right). It was immediately ranked among the best Napa Valley reds then produced, long before Robert Mondavi in the 1960s prompted more wineries to make wines that might aim for the GDL style of power and elegance.
    (Beaulieu Vineyard also makes dozens of other wines under its “BV” brand, starting at $25, while current vintages of GDL sell for $145 to $350 a bottle.)
    Durling is only the fifth winemaker in BV’s history and second youngest. Tall and rangy, barely looking his 35 years, Durling had been winemaker at Provenance and Hewitt Vineyard, just opposite  BV, and he recalls seeing people lining up to buy GDL on allocation. From 2008 he worked with BV’s previous winemaker, Jeffrey Stambor, learning the secrets and traditions of the legendary wine.

    Since his appointment, Durling has been trying to return to a more traditional style by, ironically, investing in state-of-the-art technology, like the Dynamax Flow System that can read the water and nutrients in a vine to see if they are getting stressed so that BV can more closely target irrigation, which is becoming more important than ever owing to global warming.
    Still, Durling believes that good winemaking occurs through trial and error, with science to back it up. “It is the sensory aspect of wine making where you find the art,” he says.
    Today all the GDL vintages are aged in French, not American oak, and for fewer months (two years rather than three). The vintage selection is based on an initial 1,200 lots tasted and tested to come up with 500 barrels.
    Over dinner at an Italian restaurant in New York, we tasted seven vintages of GDL. Unfortunately, the first, from 1968 —which Tschlelistcheff once said was “the greatest vintage”—whose bottle had been opened earlier that day, had oxidized and smelled badly, although I could still detect the fruit.
    The 1974, though 45 years old, was remarkable, having aged well, still with some acid and a real brick flavor of Bordeaux, which has always been a benchmark for a winery whose originator was French.
    The 1995 was magnificent and everything I’ve always loved about GDL—rich, impeccably structured with luscious levels of fruit and soft tannins. It was a hot summer vintage made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and spent time in both French and American oak, released at 13.9% alcohol.
    Big and somewhat plummy at the moment, the 2001, also a single varietal, had more of a California Cab style, but I’d let it age for a while until everything commingles into better balance, at 13.1% alcohol.
    The 2007 was as fresh as a daisy, with moderate spices, superb fruit and backbone. Much younger but very, very good was 2013, made from 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, not yet ready for a full assessment, and the 2016 had a density of fruit and sweetness that needs calming down from the influence of oak before release, which will be this fall. Its 15.2% alcohol is high, though, so I’m not placing any bets on its eventual outcome.
    So, if anyone asks me again what I think the best Cab out of California is, GDL will be my knee jerk response, and I look forward to seeing what Durling adds to the reputation of the winery and himself in the years to come. I do hope he doesn’t let those alcohol levels climb.



"Buffalo Wild Wings Was My One-Man Gay Bar" By Logan Scherer,  (May 8, 2019).



The Springtown, Texas, Police Department got a call about possible food tampering at a Mr. Jim’s Pizza location because  one of the employees posted on social media that they were putting Miralax laxatives on pizzas that ended up being eaten unknowingly by a co-worker, who got sick. The employee denied he put it on any customer's pizzas. The city’s health inspector pulled the business’ health permit and shut down the restaurant until an inspection scheduled for Monday.



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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