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.

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.

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