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.


Cellar Notes
12:00 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Beers for Autumn - 10/8/14

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

Fuller's London Porter  ** 1/2
(A very complete porter, correct in all aspects and satisfying.)

Innis & Gunn Scottish Porter, oak aged  **
(Very tasty, but maybe too much of everything.)

McEwan's Scotch Ale **1/2
(Big, rich, complex thirst quenching, a classic.)

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter *
(A trifle thin, but a good effort, serve on the warm side.)

Darwin's Original Flag Porter **
(Very good porter, medium weight, complex and smooth.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1302
1:27 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Homemade Tomato Soup

October 7, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Homemade Tomato Soup

It's been a great year for tomatoes, and I have personally enjoyed some of the best I've ever tasted.  Between tomato sandwiches and assorted salads, I've polished off a lot.  But there's one thing I didn't try... and as I asked around, no one else has either.  How many people do you know who have tried to make home-made tomato soup?

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Cellar Notes
9:24 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Chile and Argentina - 10/1/14

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

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchaugua Valley '09   $$  **1/2
(A dandy cab, with a lot of class and correct varietal character.)

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Grande Reserve, Colchagua '11  $  *1/2
(No more than competent cab sauv at a good price.)

Norton Malbec, reserva, Mendoza '11  $$   **
(Refined malbec, well made at a affordable price.)

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Radio Kitchen #1301
9:31 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Smart Eating in the Autumn

September 30, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Smart Eating in the Autumn

This is the most bountiful time of the year for local food lovers.  There is an unbelievable assortment of produce out there, and we have a perfect chance to try a lot of new things.  It's hard to go wrong at the market, but  you can make some choices that will set you up for the upcoming holiday season.

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Cellar Notes
9:38 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Reasonable Burgundy - 9/24/14

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

Thevenet et Fils "Virée Clessé" white, 2005  $$  *
(Not quite the star of the show.)

Carillon Bourgogne Blanc, 2012  $$ **    
(Good structure, nice flavors, worthy value at $21.)

Domaine Guyon Haute Cotes de Nuits 2009  $$ **
(Very good value in red burgundy, from a somewhat unreliable appelation.)

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Radio Kitchen #1252
5:30 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Apples for Pie

September 23, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Apples for Pie

September is Apple Month in Maryland, and we have more selections in the market than ever before.  What I love is seeing new varieties come into the market, and I have a little tradition I do every few years involving new breeds of apples...I test them to see which makes the best pie!

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Cellar Notes
10:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Maryland Governor's Cup - 9/17/14

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

**Governor's Cup Winner - Bordeleau Cabernet Sauvignon "Amarone" 2008

Best Red Belnd - Little Ashby 2011

Best White - Old Westminster Albarino 2013

Best White Blend - Rockland Farms "White Oak" 2013
(Vidal Blanc 75% Chardonnay25%)

Best Off-dry - Linganore Traminette 2013

Best Rosé - Port of Leonardtown Chaptico Rosé 2012

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Radio Kitchen #1251
7:18 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Market Report

September 16, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Market Report

Apples are the September specialty crop.

Right about now we are seeing a very detectable transition from summer to autumn, especially in the markets.  On the one hand there is amazing abundance, but on the other some items are going out of season for the year, so you may have to move fast for some of your favorite things.

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Cellar Notes
3:23 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Williamsburg Winery - 9/10/14

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

Williamsburg Winery Act XII Chardonnay, Virginia 2011 $  *1/2
(Classic East Coast chardonnay.)

Williamsburg Winery Cabernet Franc, Hennings Statute, Virginia 2010  $$  **
(Full bodied, dark, with pronounced cedar notes.)

Williamsburg Winery Virginia Trianon, red blend, Virginia 2012 $$ **1/2
(Resembles the Cab Franc, only moreso.)

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Radio Kitchen #1250
10:47 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Cobblers, Crisps and Crumbles

September 9, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Cobblers, Crisps and Crumbles

If you're by nature patient and optimistic, this time of the year is the big pay-off.  We all love summer, but that humidity is just a killer.  So when we start to detect those first cool breezes of Autumn, we all indulge in a quiet little smile, take a deep breath and think, "bring it on."  And along with these first cooler days comes the richest season in Maryland for fruit.  And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Waterfront Kitchen suggests  some very nice ways of enjoying the harvest.

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