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.

House of Mandela Chenin Blanc, South Africa '13 **  $

(A fresh lively chenin, with great acidity, sweet/tart fruit and earthiness.)

Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc, Alsace '14 ** 1/2 $ VALUE

(A beautiful full-flavored pinot blanc, rich, easy to drink, aperitif.)

Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California '13 ** 1/2 $  VALUE

(A great negotiant blend, plump for a grassy style of sauvignon blanc.)

Dr. E. Loosen "Loosen-Up Riesling" '14 * $

(A simple, very pleasant riesling with some sweetness and balance.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine, Spirits, Deli & Meats.

Visit them at www.redswinenspirits.com.

Flat Breads

Apr 5, 2016

April 5, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Flat Breads

Baking bread is one of the most enjoyable pastimes that the kitchen offers.  But it's also one of the more intimidating.  All that yeast, a punching down, and fretting about the humidity.  What if there were a kind of bread that side-stepped those issues?  Would you be tempted then?  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, has something right up your alley.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60

Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite

Villa Antinori Toscanna Red IGT '12  *1/2 $$

(A classic Tuscan red, lean structure, modest fruit)

Tomasi Rompicolla '12 **1/2 $

(A velvety sangiovese/cab blend with opulent flavors and texture)

Familia Dante Chianti Riserva '12 ** $

(Dry, lean red with notes of chocolate and cherries)

March 29, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - The Market Awakens - Market Report

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.  April, with all its promise of warmth, is just days away, and with April comes the awakening of the local markets around the state. And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Schola Cooking School, this is the moment we're all waiting for.

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

Mara Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, '13 **1/2 $  VALUE    
(Classy versions of Juicy Fruit gum aroma and flavor, complex.)

Loriñon Rioja Crianza '10 ** $  VALUE
(Graceful, flavorful, with layers of complexity, a lot of bang for the buck.)

G. D. Varja Langhe Rosso '11  **1/2 $  VALUE
(Lovely blend of 6 grapes, bright, balanced and complex.)

Urban Maule Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Maule '11 **  $
(Soft, modest red with correct aroma and flavor, very tasty.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine, Spirits, Deli & Meats.
Visit them at www.redswinenspirits.com.

March 22, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - "The Physiology of Taste"  Brillat-Savarin and the Joy of Eating
    
 I always thought T.S. Eliot got it wrong, at least from a Maryland perspective.  It's March, not April, that is the cruelest month.  It weighs heavily on our spirits, still half-wintry, not yet green and warm.  At times like this, as a cooking, eating man I need a little inspiration, and as I told Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, I know just where to find it.

Porter - 3/16/16

Mar 16, 2016

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

Original Flag Porter, England **    
(Grainy, earthy, iron flavors, almost light bodied)

Fuller's London Porter, England **1/2
(A touch of molasses, good density, well integrated flavor)

Anchor Porter, California **1/2
(Good depth, good body with roasted coffee and malt notes)

Saranac Caramel Porter, New York ***
(Very complex with true coffee flavors, great smoothness)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine, Spirits, Deli & Meats.
Visit them at www.redswinenspirits.com.

Cauliflower

Mar 14, 2016

March 15, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Cauliflower

Late winter is something of a challenging time in the kitchen.   The inspiration and renewal of spring is just days away, and by now many of us have done all we can with root vegetables.  One thing that I've seen around in the market these days is cauliflower, that shy, retiring wall-flower of all vegetables, whose simplicity may be its greatest virtue.

Malbec - 3/9/16

Mar 9, 2016

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

Salentin Reserve Malbec, Mendoza '13 * $
(Simple and uninspiring.  Not much to say.)

Amancaya Gran Reserva, Mendoza '12 *1/2 $
(Catena-Rothschild project with some complexity.  OK)

Alta Vista Estate Malbec, Mendoza '13 ** $
(High altitude vineyards give it good character.)

Don Manuel Villafañe  Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza '12  ** $
(Lush texture, mild, tons of flavor...see what can be done.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine, Spirits, Deli & Meats.
Visit them at www.redswinenspirits.com.

One of my favorite cuisines in the world is Indian cooking.  And here in Maryland we are twice fortunate:  not only does our region produce a full market basket of appropriate ingredients, but there are a lot of ethnic Indian folks around who know a thing or two about curry. 

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