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.

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

Chão das Rolas Peninsula de Setubal 2010 * 1/2 $
(Rustic, lively with zingy flavors, perfect for suckling pig)

Crasto Douro 2011 **1/2  $
(Fabulous value in a serious, sophisticated red, same grapes as Port)

Alente, Alentejo DO Non-Vintage **  $
(Full-flavored, spicy, informal, perfect café wine)

Alente Premium, Alentejo DO 2009 **  $
(A more intense version of the regular Alente, great dinner wine)

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

 March 25, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Creatures of the Deep   

Last week we talked about dishes from Spain that I hoped I would encounter when I go there next October.  This week we're going to cover some of the favorite foods of its neighbor, Portugal.  If you go online and peruse any Porutguese restaurant menu, you will find numerous references to octopus and squid.  And those of you who are veterans of spring break in Florida will remember another creature of the deep: conch.

Here is Jerry's favorite recipe for octopus, plus two other great recipes.

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

Domaine de la Bouysse, "Hauterive Rouge", Vin de Pays d'Oc 2009  ** $
(Full, black fruit flavors, great for early grilling, bargain!)

Domaine de la Bouysse, "Mazerac", Languedoc (red) 2010 *** $$
(Intense, dark flavors, rustic notes, great value)

La Borie la Vitarelle, "Les Terres Blanches", St. Chinian (red) 2010  **1/2 $$
(Rhone blend, complex, full bodied, age-worthy)

Mas Bruguiere "La Grenadière", Pic St.-Loup 2010  **1/2  $$
(Intense, lovely aromas, loaded with Syrah, complex flavors)

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

Spanish Dishes

Mar 17, 2014

March 18, 2014 - Radio Kitchen -  Spanish Dishes

A little later this year I'm going to be going to Spain and Portugal, and in anticipation I've been looking up some recipes in my big book of Spanish cooking.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of the Waterfront Kitchen knows, there's a lot to like about Spanish cooking.

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

Le Nez Pinot Noir, Yamhill, Oregon, Lenné Vyd. 2012 **1/2  $$
(Silky smooth, with deep red fruit flavors, classy)

Lyric Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara 2011  *1/2  $
(A very good entry level California pinot noir)

Stoller Pinot Noir, Dundee HIlls, Oregon 2010  **  $$
(An upper end entry level Oregon pinot noir with great complexity)

CalStar Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2010  **1/2  $$
(Big, soft, silky pinot noir with wonderful flavor and texture)

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

March 11, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Chowder with Chris Corbett
The question these days, of course, is will winter ever go away?  Right now a lot of us are suffering late winter blues, and we desperately need a cure. Which is exactly why we invited our friend Chris Corbett to join us.  He came by to buck us up with talk of chowder.

Chris is a native of Maine, and he carries his heritage with him wherever he goes.  During the winter months he loves to whip up a steaming bowl of New England style chowder (chow-dah, as he says) to keep body and soul together.

Now that WYPR's new website is up and running, we wanted to let Cellar Notes listeners know how to use it to their best advantage. 

For years people have mentioned that they cannot write down our recommendations while they are driving home.  We understand.  That is why we post them on the website.

Raw Beef

Mar 3, 2014

March 4, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Raw Beef

Our topic this week may be something of a turn-off to some people, and something of interest to others.  Here's the deal:  every now and then, maybe once every two years, I get a hankering for a raw beef sandwich.  It's a taste I inherited directly from my father, so I think it's in my genes.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of the Waterfront Kitchen tells me that every time he puts Beef Tartare on the menu, it sells out.

February 25, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - The All-American Casserole

As winter keeps its icy grip on us, more and more often we seek comfort from our family dinners.  Everyone has a short list of favorite dishes that warm the soul as well as the belly.  I love a simple dish my father taught me, cabbage and noodles, and my mother's old standby, tuna noodle casserole.  In fact the All-American casserole is classic comfort food, and Chef Jerry Pellegrino of the Waterfront Kitchen uncovered a few delicious recipes. 


Jan 15, 2014

January 14, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Oysters

As we suffer through some very nasty weather this winter, it's good to stop and think about the Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay who are going out day after frigid day to harvest their oysters.  We're in the heart of oyster season right now, and it's a good time to talk about a few of the things you can do with our splendid bivalves.