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.

Veggie Stews

Jan 4, 2017
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In keeping with last week's show about New Year's Resolutions, I have personally resolved to eat more all-vegetable meals this coming year.  So I have surfed through the internet and found a treasure trove of recipes that would appeal to me personally.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School observes, winter is actually a great time to whip up some veggie stews and soups.

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It's time to break out the bubbly! Al and Hugh give their picks for what you should be sipping on as you ring in the new year.

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With New Year's Day fast upon us, it might be a good time to examine our eating habits and see if there is any room for improvement.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, a lot of New Year's Resolutions are in fact food related... like dieting, for example.

The Gift of Wine

Dec 21, 2016
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Al and Hugh's picks for the best wines to give.

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Although some people may think that Beef Wellington is hopelessly passé in today's sleek, modern culinary environment, I seriously doubt they would turn up their snarky noses at a plate of this great holiday tradition.  And as fancy as Beef Wellington is, it isn't terribly difficult to make.

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Cellar Notes brings you a range of rioja wines.  

Back in the 40's when the old Howard Johnson's chain added pot pie to their standard menu, you know that it had become an American icon.  This classic example of comfort food is both simple and satisfying.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can testify, as simple as pot may be, there are lots of little twists and turns you can explore as you make it.

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Part II of Cellar Notes' rundown on the best Italian wines.   

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Heirloom tomatoes opened the door for a new appreciation of bygone produce, and that led to a re-examination of long forgotten livestock breeds.  One of the most successful heritage breed hogs are raised right here in Maryland.  So we invited our pal Shane Hughes of Liberty Delight Farms in Reisterstown to talk to us about the Berkshire pig.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60 Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite November 30   Italian Whites I  (Lanterna Distributors) Illuminati Costulpo Trebbiano d'Abruzzo '15  *1/2  $(Dry, subtle, mild and fresh)Illuminati Pecorino Colli Aprunti '14  **  $(Wonderful elegant, floral wine with peachy notes)Tenute Guicciardini Strozzi Vernacia de San Gimignano '15  *  $(Idiosyncratic, perhaps not everyone's cup of tea)Lunae Pigato Terreferme '15  **1/2  $(Fabulous wine, floral, gingery, bright and assertive) Many

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