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.

Odds and Ends

Aug 3, 2017
Cameron Kennedy/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

J B/flickr

I think that one of the most closely guarded secrets of so-called foodies is that we harbor a yearning for some of the classic meals we enjoyed as kids. For folks of a certain age, it might be called the best of "The Mad Men Cookbook," and for younger folks it's a matter or retro cooking. But as Chef Jerry Pellegrino will agree, some of our mom's favorites are still ours. The trick however is to approach these dishes from scratch, and not rely on cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup.

-Al

Click on the picture for recipes. 

Public Design Workshop/flickr

As one who is always keeping an eye on his waistline, I find myself eating more salads than usual this summer. I can do something as simple as iceberg lettuce with a dollop of 1000 Island Dressing, or something as complex as a Salad Nicoise. And the one undeniable thing about salads is the near infinite number of permutations that we can choose from.

-Al

Click on the image for recipes. 

Rosés From France

Jul 26, 2017
Didriks/flickr

Click on the image for the wine list. 

geyserpeakwinery.com

Click on the image for this week's wine list. 

Fruit Tarts

Jul 18, 2017
torbakhopper/flickr

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that we here in Maryland are swimming in fruit.  From here on out, each week's harvest is going to include all manner of locally grown fruit in a bewildering variety.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can verify,  aside from munching on a peach, there's a lot of ways of making use of this wonderful bonanza, especially if you're inclined to make a fresh fruit tart.

Click on the image for the instructions. 

Zinfandels

Jul 12, 2017
Evan Bench/flickr

Al and Hugh investigate what's shakin' in the world of zinfadels.  

Click on the image for the wine list.

Market Inspirations

Jul 11, 2017
Jamyla Krempel

It's probably pretty easy to figure out where we get a lot of our ideas for Radio Kitchen. All it takes is a visit to a weekend farmers market and we walk away with topics galore. Jerry and Al made their regular visits to Baltimore's farmers markets recently, and came away inspired. Click on the picture for some ideas they culled from the market.

Jon Connell/flickr

 

Al and Hugh return to one of their tried and true friends--Rioja. Al recently visited Marques de Murrieta in Spain, where modern Riojas started, and he and Hugh share some suggestions for riojas you can find in stores. 

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Boris Mann/flickr

Happy 4th of July. And I'm willing to bet that more than a few of you are planning crab feasts to go along with the fireworks. Some purists may insist that you only need two things for a proper crab feast: crabs and beef.  But to make it a true feast, I think you've got to offer more than that. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has set his focus on the sides. Here are a bunch of ideas to round out your crab feast.

Click on the image for the list of recipes. 

Cameron Kennedy/flickr

In the cellar this week: Tempranillos, which refers in Spanish, to the grape's tendency to ripen early. 

Click on the image for the wine list.

Krista/flickr

Last week I shared my culinary memories of my trip to Spain, and the week before that Jerry was talking about the grill. So this week we've decided to blend the two concepts and talk about something rather novel. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has figured out how to throw a Spanish classic on the barbie.

Click on the photo for recipe and instructions. 

Timothy Vollmer/flickr

I just got back from my trip to Spain, and boy did I eat well. We did a fair amount of tapas and a fair amount of sit-down dinners, and since I had my notebook with me, I brought back some ideas. And I'm sure that Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Coking School would have been going nuts sampling all that good food.

Click on the picture for recipes.

Megan Cole/flickr

The Radio Kitchen food for thought: Who says French wines can't be paired with Spanish cuisine?

Click on the image for the wine list. 

Albariño Wines

Jun 14, 2017
Evan Bench/flickr

Albariño is a white grape grown in Spain and Portugal. The grape produces varietal, light colored wines. Click on the picture for the wine list.

Aimee Plesa/flickr

I've been firing up my grill for a few weeks now, and ever since we did a show on smoking with wood chips, I've been cooking up some very tasty food. But if you want to increase the flavor of your steaks, ribs and roasts, you can't beat the direct approach:  going with marinades and rubs. And this is where Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can get very creative. Click on the picture to the left for instructions and recipes.

Sweet Vermouth

Jun 7, 2017

Click on the picture for the wine list. Radio Kitchen food for thought: The Market Report.

Jamyla Krempel

It's been an odd spring to say the least. A lot of cool damp weather, punctuated with a few sunny days:  it makes me wonder how things are doing down on the farm. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino, one of Baltimore's leading chefs, knows to keep his eye on the Farmers Markets at this time of year.

Click on the picture to learn what local farms are unloading at Maryland markets!

Naotake Murayama/flickr

Click on the picture for the wine list.  

Radio Kitchen food for thought: Something smoked

Memorial Day is here, and summertime is officially underway. One of the first things I'm going to do is get my grill all cleaned up, replace a few old parts, and get it all fired up. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School often says, when it comes to grilling where there's fire... there isn't necessarily smoke. And that's a shame. Click on the picture for more info. 

Alsace Overview

May 24, 2017
http://www.zindhumbrecht.fr

Al and Hugh give their picks for wines from the Alsace region in France. If you want some dessert to pair with these wines, Radio Kitchen has a great recipe for Maryland strawberry shortcake. Click on the picture for the wine list. 

Baltimore Food Chronicle

One of the happiest times in the Maryland calendar is the month of May when our delicious strawberries are just pouring in. With all the pick your own farms out there, there are few things nicer than taking the kids out to pluck a few pecks of sweet red strawberries. Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School reminds us that there is a classic way for Marylanders to enjoy those berries.

Click on the picture for the recipe. 

Al and Hugh share their picks for chardonnay wines with affordable price points. Click on the photo for the list. 

Fancy some food with your wine? Check out the latest episode of Radio Kitchen

Cuba Chow

May 17, 2017
Lablascovegmenu/flickr

Although it's still a little tough to get there, Cuba has captured the imaginations of a lot of Americans who want to see what life is like after Castro.  A big part of Cuban life centers on food, and already, a lot of Cuban food has spilled over into the US.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has looked into this culinary exchange program and has developed some tasty Cuban recipes. 

Click on the image for recipes.

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.

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