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.

horrapics/flickr

Cellar Notes brings you a range of rioja wines.  

Back in the 40's when the old Howard Johnson's chain added pot pie to their standard menu, you know that it had become an American icon.  This classic example of comfort food is both simple and satisfying.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can testify, as simple as pot may be, there are lots of little twists and turns you can explore as you make it.

jenny downing

Part II of Cellar Notes' rundown on the best Italian wines.   

Jean/flickr

Heirloom tomatoes opened the door for a new appreciation of bygone produce, and that led to a re-examination of long forgotten livestock breeds.  One of the most successful heritage breed hogs are raised right here in Maryland.  So we invited our pal Shane Hughes of Liberty Delight Farms in Reisterstown to talk to us about the Berkshire pig.

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60 Quality key:  * = decent wine   ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine   ****= elite November 30   Italian Whites I  (Lanterna Distributors) Illuminati Costulpo Trebbiano d'Abruzzo '15  *1/2  $(Dry, subtle, mild and fresh)Illuminati Pecorino Colli Aprunti '14  **  $(Wonderful elegant, floral wine with peachy notes)Tenute Guicciardini Strozzi Vernacia de San Gimignano '15  *  $(Idiosyncratic, perhaps not everyone's cup of tea)Lunae Pigato Terreferme '15  **1/2  $(Fabulous wine, floral, gingery, bright and assertive) Many

November 29  #1508   International Dumplings

 I've read that there is one thing that all societies have in common when it comes to food:  if you have any kind of flour available in your kitchen, you make some sort of a dumpling.  And Chef JP of Schola Cooking School, has been pondering these tempting little bundles of goodness.

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

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

Helfrich Gewurtztraminer, Alsace '13  ** $

(At $15, this is a real VALUE, classic T'giving wine)

Chat. de la Chaize Brouilly (Beaujolais) Vielle Vignes '12  **1/2  $$

(A cru Beaujolais, mature and ready to enjoy)

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages '15 ** $

(A classic producer smooth and easy drinking Beaujolais)

Baked Apples

Nov 22, 2016

November 22, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Baked Apples

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days off, we thought we'd give you some ideas for last minute desserts.  You might want to serve something that is right at hand, easy to prepare and sure to please.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School suggests, one dish that fills all those criteria is baked apples.

Cotes du Rhone

Nov 16, 2016

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

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

Alan Jaune Cotes du Rhone Villages "Les Travées" '13 **1/2 $

(From Cairanne, this is a silky refined CDRV with spicy fruit, great flavor)

Dom. Paul Autard Cotes du Rhone '14 ** $

(Polished, elegant, with berry and field herb flavors)

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Villages '13 ** $

(Great price for a refined CDRV, lovely café wine. VALUE)

Dom. del la Jannasse Réserve Cotes du Rhone '13  **1/2 $

(A touch rustic, a little wild and rugged, great VALUE)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits  

November 15, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Taco Tool Kit

A lot of us spent a portion of summer's closing weeks putting up and preserving that great Maryland produce.  Now it's time to use it. A good tangy salsa is a great destination for, say preserved tomatoes, peppers and garlic, and what better way to enjoy a salsa than with a taco.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, give us some tips on fixing homemade tacos.

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

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

Giuseppe Lonardi Valpolicella Classico Superioire Ripasso '15 **1/2 $$

(Terrific, bright, tart, dried fruit flavors)

La Quercia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ** $

(Well-rounded Italian red, with direct fruit flavors)

Edi Simcic Duet (red blend) Slovenia '13 *** $$   

(Fabulous Bordeaux blend from an unusual source)

Edi Simcic Chardonnay Riserva, Slovenia '13 ** $$

(A fleshy, fully mature chardonnay from Slovenia)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

November 8, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Liz Nuttle and Seasonings for Stews

This is the season of the big stew pot, of big hearty dishes that inevitably call for a big hot loaf of crusty bread on the side.  It's a pleasure to stroll up and down the aisles of the farmers markets in the Fall, mentally putting together recipes with the ingredients that are right there at hand. 

Italian Whites

Nov 2, 2016

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

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

Broglio Gavi "La Meircena" '15  **1/2  $$

(This wine could have been poured at an Italian feast, like in a painting)

Terradora DiPaolo Falanghina, Irpinia '13 **1/2 $ 

(Totally refreshing,, food-friendly, calls out for seafood, delicious, VALUE)

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio '14 *1/2  $

(From a  weaker vintage, but still a lean, flavorful wine)

Enoteria Arneis, Mendocino '13  **1/2 $

(California copy of Italian grape Arneis, very impressive and a VALUE)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

Fall Squash

Nov 2, 2016

November 1, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Fall Squash

  

If you're checking out our farmers markets these days, you may be more than a little impressed with the abundance our display.  Among the champion vegetables of autumn are the wonderful squashes that come out.  And if you think that only means butternut, think again.  According to Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School, there's quite an amazing assortment out there.

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

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

Michael David of Lodi

(Look for the wacky lables)

Michael David  Chardonnay, Lodi '15 *1/2 $

(Decent value in California chardonnay)

Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi '13 ** $$

(Big fruity cab, bold and well-mannered)

Michael David Petite Petit (Petite Syrah) Lodi '14

(Big, smooth, well rounded, lots of fun)

Michael David Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi '13 ** 1/2  $$

(Concentrated, explosive, complex)

Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel, Lodi '13 **1/2  $$

(Powerful flavor-packed zin, loaded with fruit, powerful)

Michael David Lust Zinfandel, Lodi, '12 *** $$$

(Expensive, but worth it, rich and deep and very complex)

Michael David Inkblot Cabernet Franc, Lodi *** $$

(A whopping wine that will deeply empress)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

October 25, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Berkshire is Best with Shane Hughes       

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.  We all know the story of heirloom tomatoes, and how easily they ended up fitting into our summer salads.  These long-lost varieties charmed us with their appearance, flavor and distinctly quaint names.  What not everyone realizes is that the same thing has happened with livestock. 

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

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

Boordy Vineyards wins the 2016 Maryland Governor's Cup with its 2015 Albariño from its South Mountain vineyard.

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits  

October 19, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Simple Soups for Autumn

That cool snap in the air is so welcome after a particularly hot summer.  And it may be my imagination but I think that cool air carries the aroma of cooking food in a way that puts a smile on my face.  This is the time for soup making, ideally a day-long process that puts a keen edge on your appetite.  Here are some of Jerry's ideas for simple soups.

Alexander Valley

Oct 13, 2016

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

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

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, '14  ** $

(A good buy in Russian River chard, lightly oaked.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley '13 **1/2 $$

(Top wine of the three zins, a big mouth-filling complex wine.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zinfandel '12 **  $

(Medium bodied, juicy everyday zin. VALUE)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin '13** $

(Dark, inky zin with rich dark fruit flavors in a well-structured wine.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir '14 ** $$

(Russian River fruit goes into a full-flavored pinot with silky texture.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Syrah '14 **1/2 $

(Lovely California syrah with aromatic nose, rich dark fruit flavors.)

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon '14  *** $$

(Possibly the best value in California Cab.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

Baking Bread

Oct 11, 2016

October 12, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Baking Bread

After spending a heat-stressed summer in Maryland I'm really in need of some restful, meditative therapy.  And as luck would have it, Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has been practicing an ancient form of therapeutic baking.

Garnacha/Grenache

Oct 5, 2016

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

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

Espelt Old Vines Garnacha, D.O. Emporda '12 *** $

(Wild and eccentric and totally delicious SUPER VALUE!)

Domaine de Cristia Grenache, VDP Mediteranné '12 ** $

(Classic grenache character in a medium bodied format, very nice.)

Castillo de Fundejalon Garnacha Crianza, Campo do Borjo '09 * 1/2

(Nice, but too much tempranillo tampers with the flavor.)

Alto Cinco Garnacha, Cariñena '14 ** $

(VALUE in a big fruity quality every day wine.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.  Sometimes we Americans think we're the only people in the world who understand barbecue.  Now I'm not saying we don't get it awesomely right... but there are other places that have pretty strong traditions of their own.

And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Schola Cooking School, you've been looking into something totally new to me.

September 27, 2016 - Cherry Tomatoes - Radio Kitchen    

All this wonderful weather has been welcome in the farm fields of Maryland.  Much to our delight, tomatoes are still coming in, and that is very good news.  While full-sized tomatoes get most of our attention, we should not forget the little guys.  As Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, the little guys will be around a lot longer than the full sized tomatoes, which are approaching the end of their season.

Viognier

Sep 21, 2016

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

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

Boordy Vineyards Viognier, South Mountain '15 *** $$

(Made in the style of Condrieu, high quality)

Spann Viognier, Alexander Valley '14 ** $

(Leaner than most California viognier, but has plenty of fruit.)

D'Arenberg "The Hermit Crab"  Viognier/Marsanne, McLaren Vale '13 **1/2 $

(A very astute blend of two Rhone varietals, quite polished.)

Domaine Haut de Mourier Viognier, Cuvée Stephane Bouix '15  ** $

(Wonderful floral nose, austere but flavorful, well made VALUE.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.  

Peaches

Sep 21, 2016

September 20, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Peaches

As the summer winds down we are still blessed with peaches, fresh from Maryland orchards.  This year's crop has been delicious, and I can't stop buying them.  And of course, the question is, what do I do with all these peaches.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School has some good ideas.

Sipp-Mack of Alsace

Sep 14, 2016

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

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

Sipp-Mack Pinot Blanc "Tradition" '15 ** 1/2  $

(Unusual quality for a pinot blanc, sophisticated and pleasurable.)

Sipp-Mack Pinot Gris "Tradition" '14  ** 1/2  $$

(Structured with some flesh, pure fruit flavors, very food-friendly.)

Sipp-Mack  Gewurtztraminer "Tradition" '12 ** $$

(Lots of fruit and body, could use more acid, but lovely wine.)

Sipp-Mack Cramant d'Alsace (sparkling) NV  *** $$

(A worthy substitute for Champagne, very well made.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling "Tradition" '15 ** $$

(A soft and fleshy riesling, resembles Vouvray.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling "Vielle Vignes" '12  *** $$$

(Classic austere Alsatian riesling with complexity and subtle flavor.)

Sipp-Mack Riesling Grand Cru Rosaker '10 **** $$$

(One of the best white wines we've tasted in a long time.)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

Homemade Pasta

Sep 13, 2016

September  13, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Homemade Pasta

To say that we are living under an avalanche of fresh Maryland tomatoes is quite an understatement.  They are everywhere, and each year we see more and more varieties. 

One way of storing away this abundance is to put up tomato sauce, something we have talked about on this show before. 

And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino, of Schola Cooking School has noted, if we're going to talk about home made tomato sauce, sooner or later we're going to have to talk about home made pasta.

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

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

(These are the best of Maryland's wines, as judged by a panel of seasoned wine professionals.  The competition was held August 14 at Baltimore's prestigious Center Club.)

Governor's Cup winner:  Boordy Albariño, South Mountain 2015       

Wines of merit and interest:

Big Cork Vidal Ice (dessert wine)

Sugarloaf Mountain Chardonnay

Big Cork "Black Cap" (winner of the Jack Aellen Cup for best fruit wine)

Old Westminster Winery "Tapestry, Third Edition"

Linganore Winecellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon,

Turkey Point Lighthouse White

Catoctin Breeze Estate Cabernet Franc

Crow Vineyard Barbera Rosé

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits.

September 6,2016 - Radio Kitchen - What To Do With All That Produce II

Last week we gave you a useful little show chock full of ideas for using all that summer produce that is piling up around us.  And this week we'll do it some more.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School and I think people are probably a little overwhelmed with all the good things that are out there, courtesy of our great Maryland farmers.

Odds and Ends

Aug 31, 2016

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

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

Domaine Bardin, Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, '15 **  $

(100% sauvignon blanc, lovely nose and taste, seafood friendly)

Domaine Vincent Bouzereau, Meursault '13 ***  $$$

(Loaded with finesse, refinement, great structure, touches of hazelnut)

Ch. Rocher, Corbin Montaigne St.-Emillion '12 ***  $$

(VALUE for the price/quality ratio for good Bordeaux)

Ch. Pebrun, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux '12  **  $

(Nice easy drinking Bordeaux for the price)

Domaine Jacky Piret, Côtes de Brouilly (Beaujolais) '13  *** $$

(This is classic "Cru Beaujolais", regal, easy to understand, delicious)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine and Spirits

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