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.

Pages

Cellar Notes
9:17 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Franciscan Revisited - 11/12/14

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

Franciscan"Equilibrium" White Blend, Napa, 2013 * 1/2 $$
(An interesting blend of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and muscat.)

Franciscan Chardonnay, Napa, 2012 ** $
(Super value in classic Napa Valley chard.)

Franciscan Chardonnay "Cuvée Sauvage" Napa/Carneros 2012 **1/2 $$
(Pricey but worth it, made with wild yeast fermentation.)

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2012 **1/2  $$
(A very consistent winner, everything you could ask for in a good cab.)

Franciscan "Magnificat" Meritage, Napa 2011 *** $$$
(A true reserve quality cab blend with great complexity, texture.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1307
5:30 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Puerto Rico Recipes

November 11, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Puerto Rico Recipes

I just got back from a lovely week in Puerto Rico and as always, I kept my eyes open for some interesting new ideas.  It wasn't hard to find a lot of fascinating dishes, including the legendary mufungo.   I tried a few things that will take advantage of the last of our local peppers and onions that are available in the markets.

Read more
Cellar Notes
2:16 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Taltarni of Australia - 11/5/14

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

Taltarni Taché Sparkling Wine, Victoria  *1/2  $
(Bone dry rosé sparkler with good flavor.)

Taltarni Three Monks, Victoria 2011 ** $
(Very nice cab/merlot blend for near-term drinking.)

Taltarni Three Monks Fumé Blanc, Victoria 2011 ** $
(Good value in a very meaty, full throated sauvignon blanc.)

Taltarni "T Series" Shiraz, Victoria 2006  **1/2  $
(Super value in a very nice shiraz that is fully mature.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1306
9:07 am
Tue November 4, 2014

A Chicken on Every Stove Top

November 4, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - A Chicken on Every Stove Top

As we wander through the aisles of our produce sections or our farmers markets this time of year, we're left to wonder what we can do with a dwindling amount of fresh produce.  Well we think the answer is to go chicken.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen discovered when his oven went on the fritz that there are a lot of stove top recipes that are perfect for this time of year.  Here are three recipes he developed:

   

Read more
Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Viognier - 10/29/14

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

Bonterra Viognier, Mendocino 2011 * $
(Simple, lightweight vigonier.)

McManis Viognier, California 2012 ** $
(Very good entry level viognier, true to form and affordable at $12.)

The White Knight Viognier, Clarksburg 2013 **1/2  $
(Very well made viognier at a very reasonable price.)

Desert Wind Viognier, Columbia Valley, Washington 2011 *** $$
(Very classy, very refined, very well made.  An excellent wine.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1305
11:19 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Cabbage

October 28, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Cabbage

As the fertile fields of Maryland start to wind down the 2014 growing season, there are still a few hardy vegetables that are still being harvested.  One of the more interesting is also one of the most humble, and that would be the cabbage.  And thanks to our gallant local farmers, we have a lot of varieties of cabbage to work with.

Read more
Cellar Notes
9:25 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Italian Reds - 10/22/14

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

Rigo Nebbiolo d'Alba '10  $$  *1/2 - **
(A lighter nebbiolo, but  decant and let it breathe for two hours.)

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva '10 $$  **
(A good if not spectacular Chianti, full of traditional character.)

Villa Puccini Vino Nobile de Montepulciano '09 $$   ** 1/2  
(Medium bodied, graceful, very flavorful, very classy.)

Zonin Valpolicello Classico Ripasso '11 $ **1/2
(Wine of the week!  A fabulous wine, buy by the case!)

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

Read more
Radio Kitchen #1304
9:53 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Pumpkins: Part 2

October 21, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Pumpkins II

Last week we took a look at pumpkins, particularly which varieties are good for cooking. This week we want to bring you up to speed on some of the delicious recipes you can create.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen has pointed out, this is a far more versatile vegetable than most people realize.

Read more
Cellar Notes
9:21 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Cambria Update - 10/15/14

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

Cambria Benchbreak Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, 2012 $$ **
(Very nice large-scale California style chard.)

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay $ **1/2
(Hugh loves this big French influenced chard, at a great price...bargain!)

Cambria Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley 2012  $$ **
(Blend of vineyards, good well-structured pinot noir.)

Read more
Radio Kitchen #1303
9:24 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Pumpkins: Part 1

October 14, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Pumpkins I

Boy there's a lot of pumpkins out there.  This time of year, everywhere you go, you see big old orange pumpkins laying all over the place.  Now I'm sure that some of these are going to be made into Jack O' Lanterns, but that only accounts for a small percentage. Here's a little guidance on the question of buying pumpkins for cooking.

Read more

Pages