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.

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Radio Kitchen #1323
6:56 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Sweet Potatoes and Yams

March 10, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Sweet Potatoes and Yams

As we come out of the winter months, there are still a few things left in the market that were grown last year.  Preeminent among these hardy vegetables would be sweet potatoes.  And notice I said sweet potatoes, and not yams.

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Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Tuscan Reds - 3/11/15

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = decent    ** = very good    *** = superb    **** = elite

Castiglion del Bosco Chardonnay '12   *1/2  $$
(Crisp, nutty white with considerable interest...an Italian chardonnay!)

Castiglion del Bosco "Dainero" 2010 **  $
(Merlot, Sangiovese, a good value in a well-structured Italian red.)

Castiglion Rosso di Montalcino 2009 *1/2 $$
(Decent wine, but pales in comparison to the Brunellos.)

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Cellar Notes
9:21 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Red Blends from Around the World - 3/4/15

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = decent    ** = very good    *** = superb    **** = elite

Menhir Albanegra, Rosso Salento IGP 2012  ** $$
(Cotes du Rhone meets Zinfandel in Italy.)

Jean Royer "Le Petit Roy", Southern France, NV **1/2  $$    
(Deliberately a mystery wine, rustic, old-fashioned, yummy.)

"The Cleaver" Red Blend, California 2012 **  $
(Big classic Cal blend, perfect for Sunday roast.)

Quinta do Alqueve, Tradicion, Tejo Portougal 2009 **  $
(Vibrant, medium-bodied very food friendly.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Wine World.

Radio Kitchen #1318
3:36 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Winter Soups and Stews With Root Vegetables

March 3, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Winter Soups and Stews With Root Vegetables

In the depths of winter we look to the kitchen as a source of warmth and comfort.  And few things warm us up better than a hearty stew.  And since we have so many good root vegetables available to us, it's easy to concoct a delicious winter stew.

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Cellar Notes
3:14 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

West Coast Pinot Noir - 2/26/15

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = good decent wine  ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine

Byron Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley '12 **1/2  $$
(Stylish, elegant light and supple)

Wind Racer Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley '11  **1/2  $$
(medium bodied, understated and elegant)

La Crema Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley '12 **1/2 $$
(A new Oregon offering from a very good pinot producer)

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Radio Kitchen #1322
9:09 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Vegetable Curries - 2/24/15

February 24, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Vegetable Curries

Starting late last autumn, I began buying pumpkins and squash, cutting them up into bite-sized chunks and freezing them.  And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Waterfront Kitchen, one culinary tradition in particular knows exactly what to do with pumpkin and squash... and that would be, make a curry.

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Cellar Notes
8:38 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Petite Sirah - 2/18/15

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = good decent wine  ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine

Michael David "Pette Petite" Petite Sirah, Lodi 2011 **1/2 $$
(Big, jammy Shiraz look-alike)

Marietta Petite Sirah, Alexander Valley 2009 ** $$
(Informal, personality-laden big red)

J. Lohr Tower Road Petite Sirah, Paso Robles 2011 **1/2 $$
(A very refined, complex, elegant big red)

Earthquake Petite Sirah, Lodi 2012 **1/2 $$
(Blockbuster style, tons of fruit)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Wine World.

Radio Kitchen #1321
3:00 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Cooking With Pickled Vegetables

February 17, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Cooking With Pickled Vegetables  

Late last autumn we encouraged you to buy up freshly harvested vegetables and preserve them for later use.  Well, winter is here and we ought to tell the people how to cook all those pickled veggies.  So let's look beyond pickled cucumbers and embrace everything from green beans, beets, carrots, cauliflower, radishes to hot little peppers.

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Cellar Notes
9:17 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Mont Redon/Domaine Galevan - 2/11/15

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = good decent wine  ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine

Chateau Mont Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape '10 *** $$$
(Ultra smooth and refined, pricey but worth it)

Chateau Mont Redon Cotes du Rhone '11  ** $
(Grenache dominated, refined CDR)

Domaine Galevan Chateauneuf-du-Pape '11 *** $$$
(Dense, well structured, magnificent)

Domaine Galevan Cotes du Rhone "Paroles des Femmes" '11 **1/2 $
(Dynamic, rustic up-front fruit, very classy, great value)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Wine World.

Radio Kitchen #1320
5:30 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Even’ Star Farms

February 10, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Even’ Star Farms
                    
When it comes to visiting Maryland farms, one of the biggest surprises I've ever had was seeing the winter fields of Even' Star Farm down in St. Mary's County several years ago.  Even in the middle of winter Even' Star looked like Ireland, it was so green.  And that's why we have invited the owner Brett Grohsgal to talk with.

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