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.

As spring draws near it's time to break out the pinot noirs, the perfect red wine for a transitional season.  Hugh reviews new releases from one of his favorite California wineries.

Click here for the full list. 

With St. Patrick's Day looming we thought it would be a good idea to help you think past corned beef and cabbage and take a fresh look at modern Irish cooking.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School says, it seems to be high time to re-calibrate our thinking.

So with that in mind, here are a few classic Irish recipes done up for modern tastes and techniques.

Click here for recipes. 

Spanish Preview

Mar 15, 2017
David McSpadden/flickr

Al will be going to Spain later this spring, and he is boning up on some of the lesser known regions. For this week's program he is looking at Alicante, Jumilla, Bierzo, and Calatayud.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Daniela Pasta and Pastries Facebook

If you can't just hop on a plane and fly to somewhere exotic, like, say, Sardinia, you can do the next best thing. And that would be to book a table at Daniela Restaurant in Hampden where you will be treated to the next best thing.

Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School and I invited Chef Daniela Useli to tell us about how she brings a little piece of Sardinia to Hampden.

To read more, click here

Yalumba

Mar 8, 2017
yalumba.com

Yalumba is one of Australia's best known wineries.  Long known for their famous Yalumba Pipe Port, their portfolio also includes a strong lineup of tables wines.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Spinach

Mar 7, 2017
Kristin/flickr

It's a comfort to think that spring is creeping up on us and in a few weeks the markets will be open with the first produce of the year, some of it grown in hoop houses.  And one of the first things we can expect is spinach, and that makes us smile.

The first spinach, which often has been exposed to cold crisp air, is often the sweetest.  Besides its marvelous flavor, spinach is, as Popeye averred, really healthy for you.  It's a great nutrient delivery vehicle, and the only caveat we can offer is not to over-cook it.

To read more click here.

Cameron Kennedy/flickr

With winter lingering we still need to have something warm, cozy and red to snuggle up with.  Hugh has a selection of red wines that fit the bill.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Shad Run

Feb 28, 2017
Maryland Fisheries Service/DNR

Years and years ago, each and every spring, a Baltimore landmark restaurant called Danny's would hang a mysterious sign outside their front door. "The Run is On" said the sign, and every spring I would be left puzzling what that was all about. And I call myself a Baltimorean. Well, I don't have to tell you it meant that the shad were running and shad roe was on the menu.  It was a rite of spring.

The story continues here

Maryland Winter Wine Event

Feb 22, 2017
Jon Connell/flickr

Al visited the annual Maryland Winter Wine Gala and had a chance to taste the very best wines from the Free State.  He was impressed by the quality and provided this list of highlights.

Smabs Sputzer/flickr

I was making the rounds at my local farmers market last week, looking for something off the beaten path in the meat department. I stopped by Woolsey Farm's stand, famous for their excellent lamb, and it hit me. I could get a pound or two of ground lamb and see what I could do with it.  

Lamb and beef are mostly interchangeable, but there are differences. Lamb's flavor is quite distinct from beef, so a lamb cheeseburger might not exactly hit the same spot. But ground lamb is nothing if not versatile, and it does open up doors to more exotic culinary traditions. 

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