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.

Ways to Connect

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

Saint Cosme CDR '13  * 1/2 $
(Very basic CDR, humble, rustic, peasant wine, perfect for café food)

Domaine Paul Autard CDR '11  **1/2 $
(An old friend, classic CDR with notes of field herbs, rustic tannins)

Andezon CDR '11 **1/2 $
(Fruity, deeply flavored, fine grained tannins, first rate bistro wine)

Chapoutier "Belleruche" CDR '11 *** $ GREAT VALUE!
(Very elegant, refined CDR with true regional character, super buy!)

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

With Halloween coming up, it's a good and responsible idea to see if you can't tempt your kids with some nice home-made treats that may be a little more healthy than some of the store-bought sweets they crave.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has come up with a list of ideas for treats that will delight your kids.

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

Stonestreet Chardonnay, Alexander Valley '12   ** $$
(This is what you think when you think California chardonnay)

Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley '12 **1/2  $$
(Dense, full bodied, elegant cab sauv from a great cab sauv appellation)

Stonestreet Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley '14  ** $$
(Pear, citrus flavors, bright acid, full flavored)

Mount Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, '11  *** $$$$
(Very expensive, but close to ideal Napa cabernet blend)

Fortress Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma '12 *** $$
(Cab blend with some syrah, lush, approachable, Saturday night wine)

Bootleg Red Blend, Napa '12 **  $$
(Off-the-wall blend with merlot/petit sirrah, but delicious)

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

October 20, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Autumn Spices for Autumn Food

I would say that Autumn is in full swing right now, and this is a great time to be planning your meals based on what you find at the market.  Part of the fun of shopping is having plans for all the food you bring home, and part of planning a dish is knowing how to properly season it.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School says, there seems to be an entire family of spices that seem custom made for the fall.  Here is a list of these marvelous spices and the foods and other spices they work well with.   Many of these spices are not in themselves sweet, but they work very well with sugars.

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

Lido Bay Viognier, Paso Robles '11  *1/2  $
(Simple, autumnal, a perfect foil for anything with butternut squash)

Little James Basket Press Viognier, Vid de pays d'Oc '12 ** $
(A blend of viognier and sauv blanc, a well made all-purposed white)

McManus Family Vyds. Viognier NV, California *1/2 $
(Entry level viognier, every day white, good introduction to the grape)

An Autumn Menu

Oct 13, 2015

October 13, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - An Autumn Menu

As anyone who has visited a farmers market these last few weeks can see, it's Cornucopia Time.  I've been strolling through the farm stands, taking notes, filling my shopping bag, and going home to look up ideas in my library of cookbooks.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, it's child's play to come up with a nice menu for dinner these days.

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

Jean Perrier & Fils "Abymes" Cuvée Gastronomie White '14  **  $ VALUE
(Jacquère grape, delicate, crisp, good as aperitif, cheap price)

Lionel Osmin Cahors '12 * 1/2  $
(Good value for a malbec based wine)

Lionel Osmin "La Réserve" Cahors '11 **  $ DIRT CHEAP
(A better malbec than the regular Cahors, and very inexpensive)

Chateau La Bastide Corbières '13 ** 1/2 $  EXTREME VALUE
(80-20 Syrah/Grenache, dynamite wine, fine tannins, lively fruit)

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

October 6, 2015 - Radio Kitchen -Tomato Canning and Sauce Making

As Radio Kitchen begins its 14th year, we are pleased to announce that we are going to keep on doin' what we've been doin', and that is talking about the rich bounty of Maryland farms... and how to use it.  So let's start by giving our listeners some tips on how to capture the goodness of all those gorgeous tomatoes out there.

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

Old Westminster "Greenstone" '14 *** $$
(A super white blend of sauvignon blanc and viognier, firm and crisp)

Sugarloaf Mountain Reserve Chardonnay '14 *** $$
(One of the best chards ever made in Maryland, smooth, polished, classy)

Black Ankle "Feldspar" NV *** $$
A cabernet sauvignon dominated blend, deep flavors, refined structure, texture)

Big Cork Petit Verdot '13 *** $$
(A big bruiser of a wine, loaded with great flavors, density and class)

Turkey Point Late Harvest Vidal Blanc '14 *** $
(Essence of white peach and apricot in a bottle, sweet, balanced, impressive)

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

DIY Pickles

Sep 29, 2015

September 29, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - DIY Pickles

Summer officially ended last week, and although our local farms are going to be in production for quite some time, it's not too soon to start thinking about what to do with all of that produce.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, as I was strolling around the market last weekend, I noticed a guy who was selling pickles.  It got me thinking.

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