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.

@thelocaloyster/instagram

Thursday is Thanksgiving, my favorite feast of the year. And although many of you will be turning to turkey as the featured dish, I would like to remind you of the many ways the Chesapeake Bay oyster can play an important role at the table.   Chef Jerry Pellegrino invited  Nick Schauman of Baltimore's hot new eatery The Local Oyster to be with us an share a few ideas about oysters.

The Local Oyster is in the Mt. Vernon Marketplace at 520 Park Avenue in Baltimore. Here are some wonderful holiday recipes.

domaine-pfister.com

Al and Hugh discuss their visit to Domaine Pfister in Alsace, a region in northeastern France. 

Sipp-Mack of Alsace

Nov 20, 2017
Sippmack.com

Al and Hugh visited Alsace, a region in northeastern France recently and they'll focus this week's episode on Sipp-Mack, a producer in the area.

Mindaugas Danys/flickr

Last week we talked about the 'King of the Chesapeake Bay,' the mighty rockfish. But lest we think it all begins and ends with the good ole' striped bass, let's remember there are quite a few other fish in the sea.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino, one of Baltimore's most creative chefs, has made it a point to work with these forgotten fish. Here are some of his ideas.

Isaac Wedin/flickr

In Al's mind there is no doubt about it: the king of the Chesapeake Bay is the rockfish. Considered by many to be one of the best fish in all the world, the rockfish, or striped bass, belongs in Maryland dining rooms for occasions big or small. With Thanksgiving coming up, Al and Jerry thought it would appropriate to suggest rockfish as an alternative to turkey.

Click on the image for the audio. 

Zinfandels

Nov 6, 2017
vmiramontes/flickr

Al and Hugh revisit some trustworthy Zinfadels. 

Back to Chile

Nov 2, 2017
Douglas Fernandes/flickr

One of the first wines outside of Europe and the U.S. to make a splash were from Chile. So, Al and Hugh revisit the wines of this South American country. 

Anne Arundel Community College/flickr

The Maryland pantry supports so many culinary traditions. While Al was in Spain this past spring, he had more than one plate of their famous national dish, paella. And it so happens that one of our creative local chefs has adapted paella to work with Maryland seafood. Chef David Ludwig, from Anne Arundel Community College, teaches cooking in their Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department and shares his recipe for a Chesapeake Bay paella. 

Veneto Reds

Oct 25, 2017
Cameron Kennedy/flickr

Al and Hugh give their picks for wines from the Northeastern Italian region. 

Dustin Aksland

Like any region with a distinguished seafood heritage, our Chesapeake Bay has attracted national, even international attention. Chefs around the country have taken notice of our traditions and have found inspiration on the shores of the bay.

Here in Baltimore, an accomplished New York City chef has come to town to open a pair of restaurants. Rye Street Tavern and Rec Pier Chop House are under his supervision.

In order to incorporate local flavor into his menus, Chef Carmellini spent time on the Easter Shore absorbing ideas for his kitchen. He came away impressed with how versatile the blue crab can be, and how superb the Chesapeake Bay rockfish is. He intends to rotate new ideas into his menus on a regular basis to present Maryland seafood at its best. Here is one of Chef Carmellini's best crab recipes.

Oktoberfest Beers

Oct 18, 2017
@joefoodie/flickr

Click  on the image for Al and Hugh's brew picks. 

Damien Walmsley/flickr

They do fast food a little differently in England;  I learned that my first trip over.  Scattered around every English town of any size are little food trucks selling fish and chips.  And even though we can't quite match the original, we can give fish and chips the old college try. And Chef JP, fish and chips are a tasty treat...and perfect for watching football.

Fish and chips certainly is not a hard dish to make, and given our great choices of firm white fish here in Maryland, we can easily whip up a convincing batch. Did someone say rockfish?

Grab Bag of Bottles

Oct 12, 2017
Stewart Butterfield/flickr

This week, Hugh and Al talk about wines produced by folks who are known for something else.

Brittany Lindsey

Soup - a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables, etc., in stock or water  

That cool snap in the air is so welcome after a particularly hot summer.  And it may be my imagination but I think that cool air carries the aroma of cooking food in a way that puts a smile on my face.  This is the time for soup making, ideally a day-long process that puts a keen edge on your appetite. Here are some of Jerry and Chef Amy von Lange's ideas for simple soups.

marylandwine.com

Al and Hugh discuss some of the winning wines in the Maryland Governor's Cup Competition. Click on the image for the list. 

Bryan Maleszyk/flickr

We're in the middle of our harvest season, when farmers all over Maryland are bringing in the food they've worked so hard to produce.  In Italy this season is celebrated with the Feast of San Martino, who quite logically is the patron saint of grape pickers, winemakers and sommeliers. So to fill us in on this festival, we've invited a friend whose knowledge and understanding of this Feast is first rate, Chef Sergio Vitale of Aldo's Restaurant in  Little Italy. Chef Sergio gave us a few ideas for celebrating San Martino. Here they are.

Odds and Ends

Sep 27, 2017
Cameron Kennedy/flickr

Click on the image for the list.

DIY Pizza

Sep 27, 2017
Brittany Lindsey

I wonder if anyone else out there has had the frustrating experience of bringing home pizza that just didn't hit the spot.  I hate to admit it, but buying pizza has become a hit or miss prospect. So Chef Jerry Pellegrino has a proposal for us: learn to make your own pizza according to your own specifications.

-Al Spoler

david mcspadden/flickr

Languedoc is in the southwestern region of France. Al and Hugh say the quality of wines from this area is increasing. Click on the image for the recommendations. 

Chuck Falzone/flickr

Most of us have been grilling for several months now, and although we've loved our burgers, steaks and ribs, we might be looking for something new, something a little exotic to toss on the grill.  So Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I look to Latin American and the Caribbean for a lot of inspiration, because the folks down there really know how to grill.

Viognier

Sep 13, 2017
Paul Aloe/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Colin Houston/flickr

The more time I spend in the kitchen the more I become enamored with trying different seasonings.  All that talk about spicing up one's life can be taken literally.  A deft command of the spice rack can give you unbelievable culinary powers.  But as Chef Jerry Pellegrino tells us, there are some handy shortcuts spice lovers can take advantage of.

Click on the image for the recommendations. 

tjabeljan/flickr

Click on the image for the recommendations. 

Personal Creations/flickr www.personalcreations.com

There's an enormous variety of veggies out there in our Maryland markets and grocery stores.  And as students at La Schola cooking school can tell you, one of life's treats is to go shopping with Chef Jerry Pellegrino and fill your basket with whatever captures your fancy at the farmers market.

One thing you can do is whip up a vegetable-heavy summer casserole. 

Click on the image for recipes. 

Long Meadow Ranch

Aug 30, 2017

Click on the image for the list. 

L.C. Nøttaasen/flickr

As the grilling season reaches its climax with Labor Day next week, we thought it might be fun to take an in-depth look atone of our favorite cook-out foods. We think the humble hamburger is just about a perfect... and perfectly satisfying food.  Jerry has thought a lot about the perfect hamburger.  Here are his thoughts.

Click on the image for more. 

Megan Cole/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Mark Bonica/flickr

For Maryland white corn lovers, this is high season, a treasured slice of time when life is as good as a buttery, salty ear of fresh corn on the cob.  Although corn on the cob is arguably the best way to enjoy it, there are a lot of other iterations of corn that are pretty wonderful too. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, one thing that always makes our eyes brighten is the mention of corn pudding on the menu.

Click on the image for instructions. 


Click on the image for the wine list. 

grassrootsgroundswell/flickr

There's a very laudable organization here in town called the Baltimore Orchard Project whose goal is to remind us that we are surrounded by an urban forest. And like any good forest, a lot of those trees are bearing fruit, which is there for the taking. And there are some very interesting things out there including the mythical pawpaw.

Click on the image for some apple recipes. 

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