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.

Megan Cole/flickr

The Radio Kitchen food for thought: Who says French wines can't be paired with Spanish cuisine?

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Albariño Wines

Jun 14, 2017
Evan Bench/flickr

Albariño is a white grape grown in Spain and Portugal. The grape produces varietal, light colored wines. Click on the picture for the wine list.

Aimee Plesa/flickr

I've been firing up my grill for a few weeks now, and ever since we did a show on smoking with wood chips, I've been cooking up some very tasty food. But if you want to increase the flavor of your steaks, ribs and roasts, you can't beat the direct approach:  going with marinades and rubs. And this is where Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can get very creative. Click on the picture to the left for instructions and recipes.

Sweet Vermouth

Jun 7, 2017

Click on the picture for the wine list. Radio Kitchen food for thought: The Market Report.

Jamyla Krempel

It's been an odd spring to say the least. A lot of cool damp weather, punctuated with a few sunny days:  it makes me wonder how things are doing down on the farm. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino, one of Baltimore's leading chefs, knows to keep his eye on the Farmers Markets at this time of year.

Click on the picture to learn what local farms are unloading at Maryland markets!

Naotake Murayama/flickr

Click on the picture for the wine list.  

Radio Kitchen food for thought: Something smoked

Memorial Day is here, and summertime is officially underway. One of the first things I'm going to do is get my grill all cleaned up, replace a few old parts, and get it all fired up. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School often says, when it comes to grilling where there's fire... there isn't necessarily smoke. And that's a shame. Click on the picture for more info. 

Alsace Overview

May 24, 2017
http://www.zindhumbrecht.fr

Al and Hugh give their picks for wines from the Alsace region in France. If you want some dessert to pair with these wines, Radio Kitchen has a great recipe for Maryland strawberry shortcake. Click on the picture for the wine list. 

Baltimore Food Chronicle

One of the happiest times in the Maryland calendar is the month of May when our delicious strawberries are just pouring in. With all the pick your own farms out there, there are few things nicer than taking the kids out to pluck a few pecks of sweet red strawberries. Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School reminds us that there is a classic way for Marylanders to enjoy those berries.

Click on the picture for the recipe. 

Al and Hugh share their picks for chardonnay wines with affordable price points. Click on the photo for the list. 

Fancy some food with your wine? Check out the latest episode of Radio Kitchen

Cuba Chow

May 17, 2017
Lablascovegmenu/flickr

Although it's still a little tough to get there, Cuba has captured the imaginations of a lot of Americans who want to see what life is like after Castro.  A big part of Cuban life centers on food, and already, a lot of Cuban food has spilled over into the US.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has looked into this culinary exchange program and has developed some tasty Cuban recipes. 

Click on the image for recipes.

Al and Hugh give some additional picks for South African wines. Click on the photo for the list of recommendations. 

wine-searcher.com

Boschendal, "The Rose Garden" Rosé, Coastal Region '16

Bright berry aromas, with spice notes, off-dry.

★★

Price Range: less than $20

Simonsig Chenin Blanc '14

Incredible VALUE in very good chenin blanc, dirt cheap.

★★★

Price Range: less than $20

Fleur du Cap Merlot, Stellenbosch '08

OUTSTANDING VALUE in very well made merlot, dirt cheap.

★★★

Price Range: less than $20

Fleur du Cap Pinotage, Stellenbosch,  '14

Roberta Sorge

If I need inspiration for an upcoming meal, I simple go shopping and let the ingredients stimulate my creativity.  Nowhere is this more true than when I go to a shop like EN Olivier where there are dozens of amazing olive oils and vinegars available for sampling and sale. And we've invited one of our best friends to talk about culinary inspiration, the owner of EN Olivier, Liz Nuttle.

Light Reds

Apr 26, 2017

Enjoy your transition into Spring with some light red wines. Listen in as Al suggests some classy wines.

Petra Cigale/unsplash

Let's have three cheers for springtime and the re-opening of the farmers markets.  This is a time for early abundance with all those delights of what the Italians call, the Primavera.   For Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, one of the first indulgences are salad greens, in bewildering profusion.

Interestingly enough there is actually a vegetable named ‘Spring Greens’. It is a member of the cabbage family and related to kale. It is cold tolerant, like the first cabbages of the year and has fresh, loose heads without the hard heart of other cabbages. It is great sautéed or boiled with garlic and olive oil. But we really wanted to talk about are the fun things we see in the springtime that are green!

Bonny Doon

Apr 19, 2017

Al and Hugh gives their picks from Bonny Doon, a California winery. Click on the picture for recommendations.

Mike Licht/flickr

A couple weeks ago I was shopping in the Waverly Farmers Market and I bought a nice head of cabbage from my friends at Eden Farm. I took it home, and over the course of the next week I got three meals out of it. So as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School would suggest, once again we have proof of cabbage's incredible versatility.

Click here for recipes. 

jessica mullen/flickr

April is, among other things, National Noodle Month, which gives us a chance to think outside the noodle box for a moment.  Whereas most pasta and noodles are made with the simplest ingredients, there are no rules saying you can't get a little more inventive.  Thanks to a nifty piece of hardware, we can easily turn vegetables like carrots and squash into something very closely resembling noodles.

The tool in question is a spiral vegetable slicer.  You pop a roughly cylindical vegetable into the mouth of the tool, twist and turn according to instructions, and a pile of tidy noodle shaped vegetables emerges.  The slices can be thin spaghetti style or broader fettuccine or anything in between. 

Some of these gadgets look like tiny kitchen lathes, and others are something like a tube with a cutting blade inside.  Regardless, they are inexpensive, ranging from as little as $10 up to about $40.

With your vegetable noodle maker in hand what can you do with it?  Well Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has an armful of ideas.

Click here for recipes. 

Anyone can pop the cork on a Napa cab or a white burgundy.  But there are a lot of pleasures to be had if you allow yourself to stray off the beaten path.  Al has a few suggestions to help you get pleasantly lost.

Click on the picture for the full wine list. 

Salsas

Apr 4, 2017

One of the things we do really well in Maryland is peppers.  Our soil and climate are perfect for the entire range of peppers, from the mildest to the hottest.

One of Jerry Pellegrino's favorite thing to do with peppers is to whip up some of the classic Mexican salsas.  Here are a few of his favorite.  Some of these ingredients can be found in the Latino bodegas that a scattered around town.

Click here for salsa recipes from Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino.

Desiree Litchford/flickr

I happen to be as patriotic as the next guy, but even I am forced to admit there are certain things the French do better than just about anybody else.  Perfume, champagne and truffles come to mind... and so do French pastries. Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School agrees.   He has had a number of French guests come into his school lately, and he has learned a thing or two.  Here are three recipes that will challenge you, but give you impressive results. 

Click here for unique French pastry recipes from Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino.

As spring draws near it's time to break out the pinot noirs, the perfect red wine for a transitional season.  Hugh reviews new releases from one of his favorite California wineries.

Click here for the full list. 

With St. Patrick's Day looming we thought it would be a good idea to help you think past corned beef and cabbage and take a fresh look at modern Irish cooking.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School says, it seems to be high time to re-calibrate our thinking.

So with that in mind, here are a few classic Irish recipes done up for modern tastes and techniques.

Click here for recipes. 

Spanish Preview

Mar 15, 2017
David McSpadden/flickr

Al will be going to Spain later this spring, and he is boning up on some of the lesser known regions. For this week's program he is looking at Alicante, Jumilla, Bierzo, and Calatayud.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Daniela Pasta and Pastries Facebook

If you can't just hop on a plane and fly to somewhere exotic, like, say, Sardinia, you can do the next best thing. And that would be to book a table at Daniela Restaurant in Hampden where you will be treated to the next best thing.

Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School and I invited Chef Daniela Useli to tell us about how she brings a little piece of Sardinia to Hampden.

To read more, click here

Yalumba

Mar 8, 2017
yalumba.com

Yalumba is one of Australia's best known wineries.  Long known for their famous Yalumba Pipe Port, their portfolio also includes a strong lineup of tables wines.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Spinach

Mar 7, 2017
Kristin/flickr

It's a comfort to think that spring is creeping up on us and in a few weeks the markets will be open with the first produce of the year, some of it grown in hoop houses.  And one of the first things we can expect is spinach, and that makes us smile.

The first spinach, which often has been exposed to cold crisp air, is often the sweetest.  Besides its marvelous flavor, spinach is, as Popeye averred, really healthy for you.  It's a great nutrient delivery vehicle, and the only caveat we can offer is not to over-cook it.

To read more click here.

Cameron Kennedy/flickr

With winter lingering we still need to have something warm, cozy and red to snuggle up with.  Hugh has a selection of red wines that fit the bill.

Click here for the complete wine list.

Shad Run

Feb 28, 2017
Maryland Fisheries Service/DNR

Years and years ago, each and every spring, a Baltimore landmark restaurant called Danny's would hang a mysterious sign outside their front door. "The Run is On" said the sign, and every spring I would be left puzzling what that was all about. And I call myself a Baltimorean. Well, I don't have to tell you it meant that the shad were running and shad roe was on the menu.  It was a rite of spring.

The story continues here

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