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.


Cellar Notes
11:40 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Delas Wines of Southern France - 12/31/14

Delas Cotes du Rhone "St. Esprit" Rouge '12 ** $
(An unusual reverse blend of 90% syrah and 10 % grenache.)

Delas Ventoux Rouge '13 ** $
(Another syrah-grenache blend, with fresh dark berry flavors.)

Delas Croze-Hermitage "Les Launes" Rouge '10 **1/2 $$
(An exceptionally good Croze, much better than most, at a good price.)

Delas St. Joesph "Sainte-Epine" Rouge '11 **1/2 $$
(Very good wine from a small but important appelation.)

Delas Hermitage "Les Bessards" '11 *** $$$$
(Very pricy, but monumental.  A wine to keep for years and years.)

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

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Radio Kitchen #1314
11:28 am
Tue December 30, 2014

New Year Traditions

December 30, 2014 - Radio Kitchen -  New Year Traditions

In a matter of hours we'll be turning over a new page in our calendars, as we greet the New Year.  January 1st is a momentous day and many people love to observe it with their own New Year's Day Traditions.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen is really down with a lot of these traditions that help us start a new year.

Here are a few ideas Jerry has pulled from his archives.

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Cellar Notes
4:37 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

New Year's Eve Bubblies - 12/24/14

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

Gruet Blanc de Noir *1/2  $  
(Surprise value from New Mexico!)

Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi  ** $  
(A touch of muscat makes for a lucious bubbly.)

St. Hillaire Blanquette de Limoux ** $
(Tremendous value at the price.)

Clara C Fiore Rosé Prosecco ** $
(Lovely rosé, easy drinking, and classy.)

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Radio Kitchen #1313
12:27 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Holiday Drinks

December 23, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Holiday Drinks

As we get ready to make merry during the holiday season, we here in Maryland are fortunate that a number of people in our agricultural community make it their business to keep us well supplied with seasonal drinks.  Which is why we invited Susan Rayner from Boordy Vineyards to talk to us about some of the lovely things you can do with our own Maryland wines.

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Cellar Notes
8:50 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Holiday Gift List - 12/17/14

• Unoaked Chardonnay:  Chamisal Chardonnay, Central Coast '12  $17

• Chardonnay:  Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley '11  $31

• Bargain Cab Sauv:  Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa '11   $20

• Splurge Cab Sauv:  Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon '11  $50

• Bargain Pinot Noir:  Meiomi Pinot Noir, Sonoma '12  $19

• Splurge Pinot Noir:  Belle Glos, Monterey '12   $46

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Radio Kitchen #1312
9:16 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Christmas Tree Farms

December 16, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Christmas Tree Farms       

There are lots of things that Maryland farmers grow during the year, and with one exception, it's all edible.  But come December there is another crop that our farmers offer that may not find a place at your table, but it may be the center of your holiday home.  We're talking about Christmas trees and other holiday decorations that come from our friends down on the farm.

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Cellar Notes
8:36 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Cru Beaujolais - 12/10/14

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

Chateau De Jacques Moulin a Vent '11 **1/2 $$
(Brilliant wine from Beaujolais's most distinguished village.)

Chateau de Jacques Morgon '09 **  $$
(Beaujolais's biggest cru wine, a very fruity, mature wine.)

Domaine Franck Besson "Note Blanche" '11 ** $$
(Very rare white Beaujolais, closely related to the standard red version.)

Les Freres Perraud Brouilly, "Vielle Vignes" **1/2 $$
(Tons of bright fruit, cherry and strawberry, great balance and depth.)

Domaine de la Bonne Tonne, Morgon '11  **1/2  $$
(As close to strawberry wine as you can come, informal and delicious.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1311
11:06 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Local Gifts

December 9, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Local Gifts

As we head into the year's biggest shopping season, a lot of us would like to continue our "buy local" habits.  Fortunately for us, Liz Nuttle of EN Olivier fine oils and vinegars ( 1407 Clarkview Road, 410-823-6457)  has become something of a local food scout.  And we're pleased to say that Liz won a Best of Baltimore award for having the best place to do some quality gourmet shopping.

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Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Merlot - 12/3/14

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

Matanzas Creek Merlot, Bennett Valley 2007  * $$
(Well-made, but underwhelming; fails to impress.)

Cline Estate Merlot, Sonoma Coast 2012 **  $
(Well-made, and captivating, a very good entry level merlot with aspirations.)

Sterling Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley 2011 **1/2  $$
(Allow one hour for breathing;  intriguing, tasty, likeable.)

Cameron Hughes Lot 356 Merlot, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County 2010 ***  $$
(A superb merlot, bursting with exotic aromas and flavors.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1310
9:59 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Gift Cook Books

December 2, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Gift Cook Books

With the holiday season officially underway, we thought we would give our more diligent listeners a few ideas for early shopping.  It should come as no surprise that we here at Radio Kitchen are exposed to quite a few cookbooks, and  to be honest, we think they make great gifts.  Here are some ideas:

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