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.

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. 

Ralf Smallkaa/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Didriks/flickr

Every time you bring in something off the grill this summer, you end up asking yourself, "what am I going to put on that?"  The answer is some sort of condiment, of course.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School will tell you, it's all to easy to reach for you store-bought mayo or catsup, but it can be very rewarding to whip up your own versions of your favorite condiments.

-Al

Click on the image for the recipes. 

Odds and Ends

Aug 3, 2017
Cameron Kennedy/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

J B/flickr

I think that one of the most closely guarded secrets of so-called foodies is that we harbor a yearning for some of the classic meals we enjoyed as kids. For folks of a certain age, it might be called the best of "The Mad Men Cookbook," and for younger folks it's a matter or retro cooking. But as Chef Jerry Pellegrino will agree, some of our mom's favorites are still ours. The trick however is to approach these dishes from scratch, and not rely on cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup.

-Al

Click on the picture for recipes. 

Public Design Workshop/flickr

As one who is always keeping an eye on his waistline, I find myself eating more salads than usual this summer. I can do something as simple as iceberg lettuce with a dollop of 1000 Island Dressing, or something as complex as a Salad Nicoise. And the one undeniable thing about salads is the near infinite number of permutations that we can choose from.

-Al

Click on the image for recipes. 

Rosés From France

Jul 26, 2017
Didriks/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

geyserpeakwinery.com

Click on the image for this week's wine list. 

Fruit Tarts

Jul 18, 2017
torbakhopper/flickr

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that we here in Maryland are swimming in fruit.  From here on out, each week's harvest is going to include all manner of locally grown fruit in a bewildering variety.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can verify,  aside from munching on a peach, there's a lot of ways of making use of this wonderful bonanza, especially if you're inclined to make a fresh fruit tart.

Click on the image for the instructions. 

Zinfandels

Jul 12, 2017
Evan Bench/flickr

Al and Hugh investigate what's shakin' in the world of zinfadels.  

Click on the image for the wine list.

Market Inspirations

Jul 11, 2017
Jamyla Krempel

It's probably pretty easy to figure out where we get a lot of our ideas for Radio Kitchen. All it takes is a visit to a weekend farmers market and we walk away with topics galore. Jerry and Al made their regular visits to Baltimore's farmers markets recently, and came away inspired. Click on the picture for some ideas they culled from the market.

Jon Connell/flickr

 

Al and Hugh return to one of their tried and true friends--Rioja. Al recently visited Marques de Murrieta in Spain, where modern Riojas started, and he and Hugh share some suggestions for riojas you can find in stores. 

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Boris Mann/flickr

Happy 4th of July. And I'm willing to bet that more than a few of you are planning crab feasts to go along with the fireworks. Some purists may insist that you only need two things for a proper crab feast: crabs and beef.  But to make it a true feast, I think you've got to offer more than that. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has set his focus on the sides. Here are a bunch of ideas to round out your crab feast.

Click on the image for the list of recipes. 

Cameron Kennedy/flickr

In the cellar this week: Tempranillos, which refers in Spanish, to the grape's tendency to ripen early. 

Click on the image for the wine list.

Krista/flickr

Last week I shared my culinary memories of my trip to Spain, and the week before that Jerry was talking about the grill. So this week we've decided to blend the two concepts and talk about something rather novel. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has figured out how to throw a Spanish classic on the barbie.

Click on the photo for recipe and instructions. 

Timothy Vollmer/flickr

I just got back from my trip to Spain, and boy did I eat well. We did a fair amount of tapas and a fair amount of sit-down dinners, and since I had my notebook with me, I brought back some ideas. And I'm sure that Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Coking School would have been going nuts sampling all that good food.

Click on the picture for recipes.

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