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March 24, 2024                                                                                          NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 

"Italian Still Life" by Konrad Cramer (1930)




By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani


By John Mariani



By John Mariani


          In 1986 Parisians Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze took a leap of faith that New York would appreciate a luxurious restaurant named Le Bernardin devoted solely to seafood made with ingredients from American waters. The original Le Bernardin was in Paris, which meant a trans-Atlantic commute for the brother and sister, who had little familiarity with what  might be available in New York’s Fulton Fish Market. Gilbert, as chef, spent early mornings there goading the notoriously tough vendors to give him their best, from lobsters and bay scallops to tuna and sea urchins.
          Within months Le Bernardin earned four stars from The New York Times and, eventually, three stars from the Michelin Guide (each their highest rating). Awards never subsided, including a position of Number One in the world by the global food guide La Liste.
          Yet, tragedy struck the restaurant in 1994 with the unexpected passing of Gilbert. Marshaling her resources and fortitude, Maguy began working closely with chef Eric Ripert, a disciple and close friend of Gilbert, who took over the kitchen to continue his legacy.
    Neither economic downturns, 9/11 nor Covid have stopped the evolution of Le Bernardin, and for 38 years there has rarely been any empty seat at lunch or dinner. I interviewed Maguy and Ripert as to how they’ve managed to survive those storms as well as culinary trends that value novelty over enduring excellence. 

Maguy, after your success in Paris with LB did you and Gilbert plan to open in NYC and other cities? 

After Paris, I really wanted to open in New York City. I loved the energy of the city. Gilbert was more reluctant, because at the time we couldn’t find the same quality of ingredients that we had in Paris.  

Did you change the Paris menu in NYC based on what seafood was available in the market? 

Yes, we did. Gilbert was going to the fish market every night and was very inspired by the local New England seafood coming from day boats. To which, the menu was highlighting regional North American species.

Were you surprised Americans wanted to eat at an all-seafood French restaurant?

When we came to New York, we were excited and didn’t expect to fail. However, we knew it would be challenging. Le Bernardin was the first luxurious seafood restaurant in the country, but we never doubted that it would please the clientele.

What was the price of a meal when you opened? What is it now?

When we opened, dinner was $65 for three courses. Today, our prix fixe dinner menu is $210 for four courses with elaborate canapés and petit fours.

After Gilbert’s death, did you ever think of closing NYC and returning to Paris?

When my brother passed, I was devastated, but I never thought about closing and going back to France. With the help of the team and Eric in the kitchen, we worked extremely hard and kept Le Bernardin successful.

Eric, were you frightened by the idea of taking over from Gilbert?

The loss of Gilbert was very emotional because we had become very close friends, almost like family. However, I was not scared of continuing the legacy of Gilbert. I was focused, maybe a little naïve, but fearless and Maguy was a great support.


What are the essential qualities of Gilbert’s cooking that you would never change?

Gilbert was an autodidact. His cuisine was very personal and influenced by his roots in Brittany. His obsession for freshness, precision, and ultimately the philosophy that “the fish is the star of the plate” will never change at Le Bernardin.


Has there, however, been an evolution in your cuisine?

When I started with Gilbert, he gave me a lot of freedom and I was very inspired by my roots in the South of France and Spanish cuisine. Then, with both living in the vibrant city of New York and having opportunities to travel around the world came inspiration. And we created a natural fusion in between cultures that never stops.

Maguy/Eric: What were your fears when Covid shut the restaurant?

We were heartbroken, because we had to let go of most of the employees. And at the time, nobody knew when we would reopen. We were very concerned by the well-being of the employees and patrons.

What happened to your staff during Covid?

We laid off most of the team and kept the office open. We were able to bring back a few kitchen employees to cook meals for World Central Kitchen with the support of City Harvest.

It seems LB is more popular than ever. Who are your clientele now? Percentage of New Yorkers, French, Asians, etc.? 

We never compromised on the experience we delivered, from the service to the food. We keep our prices reasonable and did not develop other restaurants. Our clientele seem to appreciate that. I believe the vast majority are New Yorkers from many different ethnicities. And our Asian clientele from South Korea and Japan has grown tremendously. With our standings on La Liste and Michelin, we have also seen an increase in clientele from France.

Maguy, how would you describe the style you brought to LB and NY? How often are you able to be in NY? 

I spend a lot of time in New York, and I always keep an eye on Le Bernardin with Eric. I believe I was able to bring a Parisian sense of style and flair to the restaurant. This style was an elegance and sophistication that you find in many restaurants today but was not so common in the U.S. at the time.

Many in the media say that fine dining at LB’s level is dying. Is that true?

This is not the truth at all. If you try to make a reservation in fine dining establishments, very often one cannot get a table. We think that fine dining and luxurious restaurants are very vibrant and inspirational.

You once had restaurants in Atlanta and Miami but have never expanded since. Why not?

Eric and I thought that it was more pleasurable and efficient to focus on one property, so we decided to close these locations to regroup in New York. We made one exception with our restaurant Blue by Eric Ripert at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman.

Do you feel that hiring first-rate kitchen staff is harder than ever?

At Le Bernardin, we do not have problems to find employees in all departments, especially the kitchen. A lot of young cooks are excited to learn in fine dining restaurants. It is the best place for them to work with luxurious ingredients, have great equipment, and large teams to support them. 




Da Adriano
1198 First Avenue


By John Mariani

         Adriano Kercuku describes his storefront as a “Caffé, focacceria and bottega,” wherein he does serve Italian coffee (12 types), focaccia bread sandwiches and food items.  (There is a Brooklyn branch for take-out orders.) But it is also one of the most delightful new osterias in Manhattan, located on the Upper East Side, where Italian restaurants are largely copies of each other with long menus of favorite staples. Some of those staples are on the menu at da Adriano, too, but there are plenty of other dishes that are his and his alone.
        I first tasted Kercuku’s food when he was executive chef  at Casa Lever, before the building closed for total renovations. I loved what he did at that high-end dining venue at the level of refined cucina all’Italiana. The food at da Adriano is more rustic, warming, casalinga style, with generous portions readily shared.
        The place is as comfortable as it is familial—Kercuku’s wife often fills in—and it’s already caught on big with the local crowd.  The window with half-curtains faces the avenue and brings in light during the day; at night the atmosphere is one of calm, with sturdy wooden chairs and rust red cushions and tables set with flowers, sconces, simple artwork, and a small counter with espresso machine towards the kitchen. The walls have a pale orange glow at night above brown wainscotting and green ferns give it all a buoyantly fresh look. And because there are so few tables and a civilized clientele, conversation is a pleasure.
        Kercuku himself has trained his crew well, so he gets to come out front in a suit and make new friends with everyone who comes through the door. Some of them come already three or four times a week. He will tell you the evening’s specials, two or three, and suggest a wine from a  small, gently priced list.
         Since focaccia is part of the place’s identity, there are several to choose among,  all of them arriving warm and aromatic. The Caprese ($14) is topped with cherry tomatoes, filled with buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil; the one I most enjoyed was stuffed with mortadella ham studded with pistachios, stracciatella and a pistachio pesto ($16); a third with chicken, lemon zest, aïoli, tomato and greens ($16); last, with caramelized onions, tuna, artichoke, tomato and spicy mayo ($19).
         Among the appetizers, but just as good as a pasta, is the crespelle alla  fiorentina ($19), a tender Italian crȇpe filled with spinach, ricotta, béchamel and 24-month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano (below). It’s a Florentine dish that should be better known around town.
         A marvelously simple pasta plate of rigatoni al pomodoro ($19) was distinguished not just by the intensity of the tomato sauce but the fact that the rigatoni was housemade, which you rarely see this side of the world.  The tender potato gnocchi ($29) is lavished with mixed mushrooms and a rich truffle cream (below), while a special one night was an exceptionally flavorful spaghetti alla chitarra bulked up with big pieces of perfectly cooked lobster in a spicy tomato sauce ($32).
         One dish Kercuku is known for is the unusual La Chiantigiana de Adriano ($28) made with pasta impressed with bitter chocolate and served with slowly braised beef, tomato sauce, balsamic, red wine and Parmigiano-Reggiano, The chocolate does not add sweetness but enriches the dish within the pasta itself.
         I like the fact that da Adriano lists only three secondi. A spezzatino di vitello  (left) is veal cooked in white wine with celery and onion and a side dish of sweet roasted carrots ($32). Arrosto rosa ($32) is rosy red, sliced roast beef of real succulence, served with roasted carrots and kissed with a sprig of rosemary; and pan-seared chicken thighs in red sauce with taggiasca olives, shallot onions, rosemary and side of roasted squash ($26). So, too, a similar roast pork (right).
         Of course, there has to be tiramisù for dessert and this one has the addition of some crunchy chocolates ($11), while the crostata di miele is a sablé dough enriched with vanilla cream, caramelized baked apples and a dash of cinnamon ($11). The flourless chocolate tarte ($11) is dense but moist and topped with raspberries.
         Da Adriano is a place anyone from anywhere should consider for the variety of new dishes Kercuku brings to the New York table, and if you’re lucky enough to live in the neighborhood, you can try what’s new this week and next and the next after that.


Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


By  John Mariani


City Island, The Bronx


      At the same time Katie was doing her research, David was busy phoning up old colleagues—not just policemen he’d worked with but guys he’d kept in touch with from high school, old neighborhood friends he used to have beers with at the Irish bars in Woodlawn. Sometimes he’d meet them at an old hang-out to talk and drink pints of Guinness, which he hated. Most of the time, when he brought up the subject of child molestation, David’s old friends looked at him as if he’d broached a subject that made them very uncomfortable. Several shook their heads and said something like, “What do you want to bring that stuff up for? Let the Church take care of those bastards.” Others joked about a priest or brother who seemed a little too affectionate with the students back in high school, and more than one confessed to having fantasies about some of the pretty, young nuns.  The joke back then was, “You can kiss a nun, but you can’t get into the habit!”
             Others said that whatever went on it wasn’t just the Catholic priests and asked why David seemed to be singling them out. None of them said they’d seen instances of sexual molestation by priests firsthand, much less experienced it. Yet every one of his cop friends said they knew of reports that would come into their precincts accusing priests, brothers and nuns of molestation and how those complaints never went any further. One guy remembered a priest who actually turned himself in and was told to take his confession to his Church superiors. 
Same story again and again. David was becoming increasingly enraged by the idea that the Church would cover up these crimes and that there weren’t more good priests like Joey Evangelista demanding action. The more he thought about the hypocrisy of it all, the more he swore he’d help Katie to go as high up, or deep down, with her research as it took to find out just how widespread the corruption was within the Church, and he’d be with her every step of the way.


                                                                                                      *          *         *        


         Tuesday morning David received a call from Tommy Sullivan.
         “Y’know who I forgot to mention when you were up here?”
         “Do you remember a cop named Maria Colón? Pretty Puerto Rican, very earnest, was on the force about eight years when you retired."
         David said, “Vaguely. I saw her around. Never worked with her.”
         “Well, she worked in the Special Victims Division, so she probably has more knowledge about sexual predators than anyone else you and I know.”
          Special Victims Division was in charge of investigating crimes against children under 13, or any victim of rape at any age. David had heard there was a recent TV series centered on that Division but he’d never watched it. 
“You know where I can reach her?” asked David.
         “Far as I know, she’s still with the Division. Call Bobby Valentine. I think he still heads the unit. He’ll know.”
         David thanked his friend and got on the phone immediately, finding out that Sgt. Maria Colón was indeed with the Division. Although she had at first had to work harder than every male cop to prove a woman could cut it in the force, she was considered a rising star at NYPD, bucking for Detective grade. David left a message for her to call him as soon as she could.
         Maria Colón returned the call within the hour. David explained what he was doing, helping Katie Cavuto, with whom Colón was familiar, and arranged to meet her that evening for dinner, her choice.
         “I’ve got two young kids at home, so I gotta make it a local place,” she said. “You know the Lobster Box on City Island? I live there, so it’s just two blocks from my house.”
         She was still in uniform when she met David at five o’clock, and she received a warm welcome from the Greek-American owner, who took her to a favorite table overlooking the Long Island Sound.
         Reached over a blue-green iron bridge, City Island was a maritime community that looked pretty much the same as it had since the 1950s, a mile-long finger of land with a Main Street flanked by clapboard houses, many of them sea captain’s  residences dating back to the 19th century. Main Street was lined with marinas, antique stores, bait-and-tackle shops and restaurants, most Italian-American. The Lobster Box, down at the end, was somewhat more upscale than the rest, adjacent to Johnny’s Reef, a cafeteria whose main draw was fried seafood and cold beer.
         David was already at the table, nursing a beer, and he greeted Maria as a colleague, calling her “Sergeant,” she addressing him as “Detective.” Then, using their first names, they spoke of what they knew of each other’s reputations, Maria noting David’s adventures with Katie Cavuto. “You’re something of a celebrity among ex-cops,” she said, “traveling around the world. Most of us never leave the precinct.”
         Maria Colón was about five-foot-five, dark eyes and hair, her skin the color of café au lait. She had strong Latino features and carried some weight on her torso and hips; her face showed her to be in her early forties.
         “So, you spoke to Tommy Sullivan?” she began.
         “Yeah, he said you’re the one cop he knows who might be able to help in what I’m looking into.”
         “Mind if we order first, then talk? I’m starving and I wanna take something home for the kids. By the way, you buying?”
         “Of course,” said David. “Order whatever you want.”
         Maria merely raised her chin and a waiter bounded over. She asked him how his family was doing.
         “So, O.K.,” she said, not looking at the menu. “Think I’ll start with the clams casino, then a steamed lobster. Green salad on the side.”        
David had already perused the menu and said, “I’ll go with the clam chowder and the shrimp scampi. Don’t skimp on the garlic.”
         “To drink?” asked the waiter.
         “I’m good with this beer,” said David.” Maria?”
         “Glass of Chardonnay, the one I usually get. And I’m going to take home an order of fried shrimp, OK?”
         The waiter nodded and walked away.
         “So, you wanna talk about all the pedophile priests and nuns, huh?”
         “Tommy said you worked on those cases.”
         “Did he also tell you that most of the time they went nowhere?”
         “Yeah, he did,” said David. “Even in your unit?”
         “We nailed a few of the bastards,” said Maria, “but only because they were so blatant that these pervs really needed to be put behind bars, rather than sent to a shrink, or moved to another parish. The complaints piled up, the parish tried to cover it up, but when it threatened to get into the papers, the diocese turned them over to the court to prosecute, usually for a lesser crime with some bullshit misdemeanor like ‘inappropriate touching.’”
         “And they got put away?”
         “Six months, tops. Probation. I think some of them enjoyed prison life, either because they could get a lot of sex or because getting screwed in the shower was a form of penance. They needed lots of penance.”
         David smiled. “They really are scum, aren’t they?”
         “Not really any better or worse than any of the scum that abuses a child or his wife or girlfriend. Parents who chain their kids to a radiator, starve them to death. All cut from the same cloth. Freakin’ animals.”
         “Yeah,” said David, “but most of those non-religious criminals you were able to put away.”
         The glass of wine arrived at the table, Maria sipped, nodded it was alright and said, “Yeah, a lot of my collars went to jail because their crimes were abhorrent to the people in the neighborhood, and it’s like the one crime they’d talk to the cops about. But with the priests, rarely, except for the family making the accusation, the Church just covered everything up most of the time.”
         David shook his head and said, “That’s what really gets to me. That there could be this total wall of silence on the part of the entire diocese. It’s so goddamn corrupt.”
         Maria widened her eyes and leaned in towards her colleague.
         “You’ve gotta be bullshitting me, Detective. You know as well as I do that cops cover for cops all the time, every time. No matter what they’re accused of, that long blue line stands firm, the police union flies into an indignant rage and the guy goes on desk duty for a month. C’mon, David, you’re a cop, I’m a cop, and cops don’t break that blue line. Ever.”
         The appetizers arrived and Maria dug in.
         “You’re right, Maria,” said David, almost wanting to tap his chest and say Mea culpa. “And I know it drives the good cops crazy not to be able to do anything without being shunned by the rest of the precinct. It sucks.”
         “Well, that’s the way it is, and I don’t know who created the rule of silence first—the Church or the police—but they both stick to it, every time they think they can get away with it. Always have, probably always will.”
         “So, you don’t think you can provide me and Katie any way to get closer into the swamp?”
      “No,” said Maria, wiping her mouth. “I didn’t say that. I’m just reminding you that this shit goes on in a lot of institutions, and the kids are always the one who suffer for years and years afterwards. I’ve got stuff I can tell you, people you should see. Some good people, others you’ll want to punch through a wall. It’s a dirty story, David. I’m not sure how much more I can take of it. If I make Detective, I can retire in two, three, years with a good pension, good record, get a job in security. Thinking of maybe even going to law school, when my kids are out of high school. One way or the other, I’m washing my hands of it all.”
         David loved talking to this woman. She was tough enough to get where she was, yet he could see that her maternal instincts played an enormous part in her coping with the job. Bobby Valentine told David she brought her suspects to tears before confessing their crimes.  David didn’t see much of that interrogating mob guys.
         The evening went on, faster than David would have liked—Maria mentioned two or three times about getting home to her kids and kept checking her watch—and his mind even briefly wandered into a ridiculous fantasy of marrying her after she retired, move down to City Island and fish off the piers whenever he liked. Maria wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask if she was married. With women, David had a wide streak of shyness.
         He was hesitant to ask the last question. “Maria, you don’t have to answer me, but can I ask if you personally ever had an encounter with one of these pedophiles?”
         Maria drank the last sip of wine, wiped her lips, took off the lobster bib and said, “Not anything physical. But all the girls in my school talked about how, when we were in the confessional, this old priest named Father O’Keefe loved to ask us about our sex life—such as it was when you were a sixteen-year-old Catholic Latina. You’d go, ‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,’ then how you went out with a boy who felt you up, and O’Keefe would ask, ‘Above or below the waist?’ He’d want details, and you had to give them because he was the one who was going to forgive you your sins. I know that some girls made stuff up just to get him to stop. You didn’t want to be in the confessional too long because the people on line would start to think you were a real bad sinner or a slut. That never happened with you?”
         David shook his head. “Not with me personally, but guys would never talk about something like that with each other.”
         Maria signaled for the waiter to give the check to David, said she had to leave and told him she’d get him some names and contact numbers the next day.
      “I’ll put you in touch with the good, the bad and the really ugly,” she said. “Some priests who will talk with you, probably off the record, some pricks who’ll give you the official Church line, some family attorneys who tried and failed to help. And a couple of pedophile priests still in the diocese who probably got away with five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys.”
         “You think I should speak to any of the kids?” asked David.
          “Some of those kids are now in their thirties, forties. This ain’t a new game, y’know. I know a couple—really screwed up by what they went through—who will probably want to tell their story.”
         “Enough to bring charges?”
         “Statute of limitations used to be three years, then they changed it to five, except for sex crimes against children. Then the SOL doesn’t begin until the child turns eighteen. But, if he’s above the age of twenty-three, it gets extremely difficult to bring charges. Cases twenty years old, feh’get about it.”
         Throughout the evening Maria had been cordial but not overly friendly, but David had to ask, “So, if Katie and I turn up some new evidence, can we call on you for advice?”
         Maria got up from the table, grabbing the take-out bag. “Here’s my cell phone number,” she said. “Call me if you need me. And, David, I hope you and your girlfriend have better luck than I did.”
         David didn’t like the crack about his “girlfriend,” sensing it was Maria’s way of putting him off socially, but he watched her walk away anyway in the hopes that he’d see her again. Probably he’d make an excuse to do so.

John Mariani, 2018



Part One
By John Mariani

Dolores Cakebread


      Strides made by women in the American wine industry have been notable since 2000, building on the shoulders of those women who pioneered wine culture both in the U.S. and abroad. Thus, during Women’s History Month, I interviewed three West Coast women who are in the forefront of their  regions’ development.

      Niki Williams brings more than a decade of experience from some of Napa Valley’s most well-known wine estates, including Mount Veeder Winery, The Prisoner Wine Company, Franciscan Estate, Merryvale Family of Wines, Chateau St. Jean and now at Cakebread Cellars, a 50-year-old winery of established reputation by Jack and Dolores Cakebread.
      Jane Dunkley was born in Australia and bred in its vineyards, and learned from wine cultures in Portugal, Italy and California’s Central Coast, where she is winemaker for Bezel, which is Cakebread’s craft winery.
      Sally Johnson Blum took over winemaking at Cakebread’s Mullan Road vineyards last summer in Walla Walla, Washington; she was also recently hired by Mike Martin to make The Walls and Páxša wines at their Walla Walla winery, as well as making her own wines and consulting for various clients, including CourAvant,J Ranch, School House Vineyards and Tamber Bey Vineyards. 


It is Women’s History Month, and there are now more women in the wine industry than ever. Who do you think were the pioneers?


Williams: (right)  I’m proud to say that I’ve been inspired by many of the women who paved the way before me. Ofcourse, one that comes immediately to mind is Dolores Cakebread as a pioneer in the industry, particularly for her forward-thinking approach to wine and food pairings, a philosophy that was ahead of its time. Her visionary efforts laid the foundation for Cakebread Cellars' wine and culinary programs that exist today.       Another great pioneer here at Cakebread Cellars is Julianne Laks, who was the first woman and non-family member to be a winemaker here.


Dunkley (below): When I think about pioneering women, I always go back to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin of Veuve Clicquot. After all, to be a woman in wine in the 1800s must have been tough! People like wine writer Jancis Robinson in the U.K. and Luciana Vietti in Piemonte are a real source of inspiration for me for how they have pushed the industry forward. Given my background in Western Australia, I’m grateful for the pioneering spirits of Diana and Vanya Cullen, too. Not only did this amazing mother and daughter pave the way for female winemakers like me, but they rose beyond having their wines simply viewed as those made by a “female winemaker” to having world-class wines that truly spoke for themselves.


Blum: (right) I’ve read that Hannah Weinberger was the first female winemaker in Napa in the 1880s, but my frame of reference doesn’t go back quite that far! In recent years, some of the names who come to mind are Zelma Long, Helen Turley, Heidi Barrett, Mia Klein, Margaret Davenport, Jennifer Lamb, Celia Welch, Pam Starr, Genevieve Janssens and others. I’ve been lucky enough to meet all of these women over the course of my career. In addition to being talented and hardworking, they all possess a strong vision, a determination to keep pushing forward, and an unwavering resilience in the face of setbacks. They are truly inspirational, incredibly kind and supportive of other women in the industry, and each is as tough as nails.

Is there anything you believe is distinctive about how women approach winemaking vs. men? Does “women’s intuition” play a part? 

Williams: I have never detected a pattern that places women on one end and men on the other. It’s more of a unique personality choice for each winemaker.  


Dunkley: Winemaking, in general, is so often driven by intuition because you need to trust and have confidence in your senses. The more experience one has, the more highly tuned those senses and, thus, intuition are. We make wines with the thought of how the wine will taste when drunk, often far into the future. Even in the vineyards, you have to be proactive rather than reactive. If you’re reacting, you’re probably behind, and it can be hard to catch up. Perhaps, as women, we are more dialed into what our senses tell us, but I truly think there is no way to fast-track or cheat the connection between intuition and experience, regardless of gender.


Blum: Winemaking is all about preferences, and each winemaker approaches the craft differently, based on their background and their goal for the wine. I think that philosophy plays a role more than personal identity. Skills, experience and personal taste, rather than gender, shape a winemaker's approach to their craft. That said, according to a study by Dr. Lucia Gilbert at Santa Clara University, women currently account for only 14% of American lead/head winemakers. So, it’s clear that there are still some barriers to success as a woman in this industry. In my opinion, whenever a group is underrepresented in a career relative to its proportion of society at large, the members of that group who rise to the top are likely delivering at a very high level. I think that some women make great wine not because of anything inherent to their gender but because of their talents and hard work to break through the glass ceiling.

Is there an organization for women winemakers in California or the U.S.  now?

Williams: There are several great groups for women in the industry, including Women for WineSense, Wine Women and Batonage Forum, to name a few. We are very supportive of each other, and I love tasting their wines because I can always catch little notes of their personality inside the glass.


Dunkley: I have been loosely involved in a couple of different organizations for women in wine, but none specifically for women winemakers. When I first came to Paso Robles, I was lucky enough to meet Brianne Engles, the winemaker at Chamisal, who was starting a tasting group for other women winemakers in the region and invited me to join. This has become a great support network and collaborative space for us to discuss big ideas and challenges and connect with the broader community. Some of the members have also been putting together larger tastings for younger women working in wine production to mentor in our local community, which is something I would like to do more of.




Announcement from the Dorchester Grill in London: "Dress code: Although London forever strides ahead, elegance never goes out of style. So whilst there’s no strict rule book for our dress code, The Dorchester is very keen on the habit of dressing brilliantly. We kindly suggest no sportswear and wearing smart shorts only by day, not by night. Guests: Children of all ages are welcome."



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.



MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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