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.

When Al was a kid there were few things his parents fixed to eat that impressed him. He said his dad's Thanksgiving turkey was a knock-out, and his mom's homemade fudge got his attention. But when his dad suddenly, out of nowhere, whipped up a couple dozen donuts from scratch, he was impressed. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, shows us that you don't have to go out to Dunkin Donuts to satisfy that particular craving.

Winter Beers

Jan 11, 2017

Recommendations 

Bellhaven "Wee 90" Scottish Ale ***

(Dark, rich, lively, complex, very malty, excellent)

McEwan's Scottish Ale **1/2

(Warm and comfortable, a cozy brew for chilly weather)

Harviestoun "Old Engine Oil" Black Ale **

(Dark, thick and tasty, but not terribly heavy)

Heavy Seas "21" Anniversary ale, Imperial Rye ESB (pint bottle)

(Unique, robust, rye influence, high in ABV but supple)

Fuller's ESB   **1/2

(All about sweet malt flavors in a full bodied format)

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A couple weeks ago we resolved to eat more of the many alternative whole grains out there.  Turning away from standard starches like white potatoes and white rice, we are now more interested in some of the more obscure, but delicious grains.

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Hugh and Al on their new favorites from Sardinia and Sicily.

Veggie Stews

Jan 4, 2017
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In keeping with last week's show about New Year's Resolutions, I have personally resolved to eat more all-vegetable meals this coming year.  So I have surfed through the internet and found a treasure trove of recipes that would appeal to me personally.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School observes, winter is actually a great time to whip up some veggie stews and soups.

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It's time to break out the bubbly! Al and Hugh give their picks for what you should be sipping on as you ring in the new year.

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With New Year's Day fast upon us, it might be a good time to examine our eating habits and see if there is any room for improvement.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, a lot of New Year's Resolutions are in fact food related... like dieting, for example.

The Gift of Wine

Dec 21, 2016
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Al and Hugh's picks for the best wines to give.

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Although some people may think that Beef Wellington is hopelessly passé in today's sleek, modern culinary environment, I seriously doubt they would turn up their snarky noses at a plate of this great holiday tradition.  And as fancy as Beef Wellington is, it isn't terribly difficult to make.

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Cellar Notes brings you a range of rioja wines.  

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