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.

June 21, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Mulberries with Gwen Kokes

We are in prime time for berries here in Maryland. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, are all here or in the pipeline.  But there is one other berry that does well in Maryland that I have absolutely no cooking experience with, and that is the mulberry.  So we invited Gwen Kokes to school us on this big juicy berry.

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

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

Lago Adega do Salvador Vihno Verde "Portal da Calçada" '14  *1/2  $

(A bit bigger and bolder than most Vihno Verde)

Mirabeau Rosé Classique , Provence '15 ** $

(A big firm rosé, dry but filled with flavor, good for dinner)     

Domaine de Prince Costieres de Nimes Blanc '15 **1/2 $ VALUE

June 14, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - French Café Food

Well I've gone and done it again.  I've dashed off to Paris, looking for a mighty fine time, and I found it.  Vickie and I just spent a week there and a lot of time was spent, very pleasantly, in the cafés of Paris.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School agrees, there are few more evocative locales than a French café.

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

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

Charles and Charles Rosé, Columbia Valley '15 * 1/2 $

(Rhone blend with surprising deep flavor, herbal touches)

Planetta Rosé, Sicily '15 * 1/2 $

(50-50 nero d'avola and syrah, elegant, delicate, full of flavor)

Bertani Bertarose, Veneto '15 * 1/2 $

(A lovely pale pink rosé from a celebrated producer, dry and crisp)

Bieler Père et Fils, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence '15 ** $  VALUE

(A tremendous rosé from Provence, bone dry but great fruit)

Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir, Oregon '15 ** $

(Tons of flavor in a light bodied, dynamic rosé from Willamette Valley)

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

May 31, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Cooking With Local Beer

As everybody knows Radio Kitchen is all about local ingredients, which is why it's about time we paid attention to one local product that is getting a lot of love.  And that would be our fine local beers. 

From Heavy Seas to Brewers Art to Stillwater to Union brewing Co. there are a lot of very good beer makers practicing their craft in and around town.

And as Chef Jerry Pelllegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, there are so many varieties of beer out there that a cook can have a field day working with them.

Here are a handful of ideas that have been brewing in Jerry's head.

Oregon Pinot Noir

Jun 1, 2016

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

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

Adelsheim Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley '13 * 1/2  $$

(Light, simple, toned down fruit, a bit tannic, entry level)

Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir, Eola Hills '13 **

(Good quality, subtle pinot, nice balance, needs breathing)

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills '13 **1/2 $$

(Obvious class, feminine, pure fruit flavors, gentle tannins, lovely)

Stoller Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills '13 **1/2 $$

(Big masculine pinot, earthy aroma and flavors, deep fruit)                  

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

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

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

Tenuta De Arceno, "Strada al Sasso" Chianti Classico '09 ** 1/2 $$

(Great Chianti character, considerable depth, floral and dark fruit notes)

Donna  Olimpia "Millepassi", Bolgheri Superioire  *** $$$

(Costly Bordeaux blend that delivers great complexity, flavor)

Donna Olimpia Bolgheri ** 1/2 $$

Spring Lamb

May 24, 2016

May 24, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Spring Lamb

Tradition is an obliging master; pay homage to tradition, and it will reward you with familiar pleasures.  The tradition of Spring Lamb is well-rooted here in Maryland, and with good reason.  By the month of May, the new crop of lamb is available, and ready for the table.  And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Schola Cooking School, I'm sure that you would agree with me that the grill is a great place to go with lamb.

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

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

Spy Valley Dry Riesling, NZ '15 **  $$

(Very firm, bone dry riesling with deep fruit, great acidity)

Fratelli Allesandria Barbera d'Alba '14  **  $$

(Fully packed medium bodied red, with soft deep fruit flavors)

Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin Valley, SA '15 ** $

(A big bold SB that makes a statement, very well made)

Paul Cluver Riesling, Elgin Valley SA '14 **/12 $

(Dead ringer for classy Alsatian riesling, very good effort)

Paul Cluver Pinot Noir, Elgin Valley SA '13 ** $$

(Very Burgundian style, classic flavors, some complexity)

Adelsheim Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley '14 ** $

(Strong, lovely floral nose, dry deep fruit, minearlity)

Rhiannon California Red Blend '14  **1/2 $ VALUE       

(Big, complex, brawny, over-delivers, stupendous value)

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