Al Spoler | WYPR

Al Spoler

Host, Cellar Notes and Radio Kitchen

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.

His most rewarding immersion in cooking came through his work as a television director at MPT.  Spoler served as off-line editor and assistant director on two series featuring the legendary French chef Pierre Franey.  He also worked with Mexican chef Patricia Quintana, and with Bed and Breakfast expert Gail Greco on her series "Country Inn Cooking". Al says traveling all over the US visiting country inns and taping recipes that they prepared in little makeshift television kitchens was an incredible education.

Spoler's tastes in cooking are influenced by regional tradition and contemporary casual French fare. Never slavish to recipes, he is never happier than improvising a Sunday dinner with whatever ingredients come to hand.

Viognier

Sep 21, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite                                                               

Boordy Vineyards Viognier, South Mountain '15 *** $$

(Made in the style of Condrieu, high quality)

Spann Viognier, Alexander Valley '14 ** $

(Leaner than most California viognier, but has plenty of fruit.)

D'Arenberg "The Hermit Crab"  Viognier/Marsanne, McLaren Vale '13 **1/2 $

(A very astute blend of two Rhone varietals, quite polished.)

Domaine Haut de Mourier Viognier, Cuvée Stephane Bouix '15  ** $

(Wonderful floral nose, austere but flavorful, well made VALUE.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

Peaches

Sep 21, 2016

September 20, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Peaches

As the summer winds down we are still blessed with peaches, fresh from Maryland orchards.  This year's crop has been delicious, and I can't stop buying them.  And of course, the question is, what do I do with all these peaches.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has some good ideas.

Sipp-Mack of Alsace

Sep 14, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Sipp-Mack Pinot Blanc "Tradition" '15 ** 1/2  $

(Unusual quality for a pinot blanc, sophisticated and pleasurable.)

Sipp-Mack Pinot Gris "Tradition" '14  ** 1/2  $$

(Structured with some flesh, pure fruit flavors, very food-friendly.)

Sipp-Mack  Gewurtztraminer "Tradition" '12 ** $$

(Lots of fruit and body, could use more acid, but lovely wine.)

Sipp-Mack Cramant d'Alsace (sparkling) NV  *** $$

(A worthy substitute for Champagne, very well made.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling "Tradition" '15 ** $$

(A soft and fleshy riesling, resembles Vouvray.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling "Vielle Vignes" '12  *** $$$

(Classic austere Alsatian riesling with complexity and subtle flavor.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling Grand Cru Rosaker '10 **** $$$

(One of the best white wines we've tasted in a long time.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

Homemade Pasta

Sep 13, 2016

September  13, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Homemade Pasta

To say that we are living under an avalanche of fresh Maryland tomatoes is quite an understatement.  They are everywhere, and each year we see more and more varieties. 

One way of storing away this abundance is to put up tomato sauce, something we have talked about on this show before. 

And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino, of Schola Cooking School has noted, if we're going to talk about home made tomato sauce, sooner or later we're going to have to talk about home made pasta.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite

(These are the best of Maryland's wines, as judged by a panel of seasoned wine professionals.  The competition was held August 14 at Baltimore's prestigious Center Club.)

Governor's Cup winner:  Boordy Albariño, South Mountain 2015       

Wines of merit and interest:

Big Cork Vidal Ice (dessert wine)

Sugarloaf Mountain Chardonnay

Big Cork "Black Cap" (winner of the Jack Aellen Cup for best fruit wine)

Old Westminster Winery "Tapestry, Third Edition"

Linganore Winecellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon,

Turkey Point Lighthouse White

Catoctin Breeze Estate Cabernet Franc

Crow Vineyard Barbera Rosé

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

September 6,2016 - Radio Kitchen - What To Do With All That Produce II

Last week we gave you a useful little show chock full of ideas for using all that summer produce that is piling up around us.  And this week we'll do it some more.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School and I think people are probably a little overwhelmed with all the good things that are out there, courtesy of our great Maryland farmers.

Odds and Ends

Aug 31, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite  

Domaine Bardin, Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, '15 **  $

(100% sauvignon blanc, lovely nose and taste, seafood friendly)

Domaine Vincent Bouzereau, Meursault '13 ***  $$$

(Loaded with finesse, refinement, great structure, touches of hazelnut)

Ch. Rocher, Corbin Montaigne St.-Emillion '12 ***  $$

(VALUE for the price/quality ratio for good Bordeaux)

Ch. Pebrun, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux '12  **  $

(Nice easy drinking Bordeaux for the price)

Domaine Jacky Piret, Côtes de Brouilly (Beaujolais) '13  *** $$

(This is classic "Cru Beaujolais", regal, easy to understand, delicious)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

August 30, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - What To Do With All That Produce:  Part 1

As the growing season reaches its crescendo in Maryland over the next few weeks, a lot of us will be prowling the markets with hungry eyes.

I for one will often buy now and worry later about how I'm going to use all that great Maryland produce that's out there.  So Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School and I are going to offer a two part series of shows called "What to do with all that produce".  So let's dig in.

First, the produce then the solution.

Petite Sirah

Aug 24, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite  

Concannon Vyds Petite Sirah, San Francisco Bay '14 **1/2 $  SUPER VALUE

(Deep intense, classic Pet with the trademark upper layer of citrus)

Chancewater Petite Sirah, Lake County, '11 **1/2   $

(Classic, tannic Pet, with layers of fruit, gorgeous nose, needs steak)

Foppiano Petite Sirah Lot 96, Sonoma '11   *1/2  $

(Perfectly sound wine, pretty nose, good fruit, not overly concentrated)

Vinum Cellars Petite Sirah, Clarksburg, Sonoma '13 **  $  VALUE

(Reminiscent of good zinfandel, soft tannins, long finish, very tasty)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

August 23, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Making Ice Cream

Although I do try to watch what I eat and then eat as healthy as I can, I find that at times during the summer I can't resist a big bowl of ice cream.  So it is with great, if slightly guilty, interest that I try to learn about making ice cream at home.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, has been studying this.

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