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.

August 23, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Making Ice Cream

Although I do try to watch what I eat and then eat as healthy as I can, I find that at times during the summer I can't resist a big bowl of ice cream.  So it is with great, if slightly guilty, interest that I try to learn about making ice cream at home.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, has been studying this.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Ladoucette Touraine Blanc (Loire) '13  **1/2 $

(Very well made sauvignon blanc, subtle mineral flavors, mild citrus)

Arrogant Frog, vin de pays, Languedoc '14  *1/2  $

(VALUE wine, lots of good solid SB flavors, very pleasant)

Tom Gore Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, California '15 ** $

(Well made, fuller bodied SB, with a touch of colombard added)

Ch. Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven vyd, Washington '15 **  $

(Crisp, racy, vibrant style with clean clear flavors)

Infamous Grouse Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand '15 **  $

(Powerful SB with notes of huckleberry)

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ '15  **1/2  $

(A very well made SB with a lot of finesse to counteract aggressiveness)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

Summer Salsas

Aug 16, 2016

August 16, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Summer Salsas

During these hot weeks of summer a lot of us pay more attention to the cooking traditions of people who know hot weather, and understand how to thrive in it.  The Latino world is wide and complex, and its influences on our cooking is indisputable.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has learned, quite a few Latino staples have become our staples.  The classic example is salsa.

Pinot Grigio

Aug 10, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Attems Pinot Grigio, Venezia Giulia '14  *   $

(Notes of lime and green apple in a tart, simple format)

Terlato Pinot Grigio, Friuli '15 **  $

(Light on fruit, but has a good smooth texture, easy drinking dry white)

Nals Margriel Pinot Gris, Alto Adige '14 ** $  VALUE

(Firm and flavorful, some complexity, nice round texture)

Terra d'Oro Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara '14 *1/2  $

(A good mouthful of wine, with a burst of sweet fruit)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

August 9, 2016 - Cynthia Glover and Spain - Radio Kitchen

When we travel abroad, inevitably we come back with new ideas about what we can do in the kitchen.  So when I learned that one of my friends was traveling on El Camino de Santiago de Campostella in Spain, I had to hear what she ate that impressed her.  Cynthia Glover is a good friend of ours, and one of the most knowledgeable food and travel writers we know.  She also owns Smart Works, a marketing  communications company that caters primarily to culinary clients.       

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite

Frédéric Mabileau "Chenin des Rouillères" Anjou Blanc '14  $$ **

(A dry,frim, racy chenin blanc that is a fine dinner wine)

Frédéric Mabileau "Les Rouillères" St. Nicolas de Bourgueil '14  $$  **

(A medium bodied red with bright red berry, floral notes, well balanced)

Frédéric Mabileau "Racines" Bourgeuil '13 $$  **1/2

(Hugh's favorite, complex, great structure, pure cab franc)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

August 2, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Market Report

It's been a wild and crazy year so far, but we are at the highpoint of the local produce season.  To get an idea of how things have been going since that unexpectedly warm March, we went to my favorite market and talked tomy farmer buddies to get a sense of how things were going.  And we bet you can guess the gist of what we heard.

Maryland Wines

Jul 27, 2016

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   **** = elite

Dodon Sauvignon Blanc, Maryland '14 **1/2

(Very nice SB, round, fruity with melon and grassy character)

Dodon "South Slope Red Blend", Maryland '13 **

(Very good effort for a tough vintage:  light red with lots of flavor)

Boordy Petit Verdot, South Mt. Vyd, NV  **

(Surprsingly middle weight red with bright, lighter notes, good depth)

Boordy Albariño, Sotuh Mt. '15 ***

(Superb full mouth feel, rich and floral, very complex, very well made)

Boordy Viognier, South Mt. '15 **1/2

(Very reminiscent of Condrieu, tart, mineral flavors, well balanced)

Old Westminster Cabernet Franc, Antietam Creek '14 ***

(Deep, concentrated, totally classy, tons of plum, with quinine tang)

Old Westminster Malbec, South Mt.  '14 ***

(Big juicy wine, very complex, flavors run from deep to bright, wonderful)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits  

July 26,2016 - Radio Kitchen - The Seven Spices of Lebanon

A couple weeks ago we talked about the delicious cuisine of Morocco, so we thought we would sail to the other end of the Mediterranean and visit Lebanon.  While we here in Maryland are awash in fresh produce, it might pay to look at a culture that venerates vegetables and knows what to do with them.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite  

San Gregorio "Ciampoleto" Rosso di Montalcino '11 **  $$

(A good buy for Tuscan red with Brunello style)

San Gregorio "Ugolforte" Brunello di Montalcino '10 ***  $$$$

(Superb Brunello, with dense complex flavors, silky texture, memorable)

Tenuta L'illuminata "Colbertina" Barbera d'Alba '10 ** $

(A rich fruity medium bodied red, excellent with pasta dishes)

 Tenuta L'illuminata "Tebavio" Barolo '10 ***1/2  $$$$

(As good as it gets:  intense, fabulous flavors, will age for years)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

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