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.

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

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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. 

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