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

Rioja - 7/1/15

Jul 1, 2015

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

Lan Rioja Riserva '08  ** $   VALUE
(Great in true reserve qualtiy Rioja)

Marques de Caceres Rioja Riserva '09 **1/2 $
(Well aged, subtle but powerful red, autumnal quality)

Marques de Riscal Rioja Riserva '09 *1/2  $
(Lean red that shows much more with food)

Baron de Ley Rioja Riserva '09 *** $$
(Very complex, dense deep wine, special occasion wine)

June 30, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - All those Potatoes

Strolling around the Farmers Market the other day, I was taken by the surprising variety of potatoes available.  It seems there is some sort of heirloom action going on in Spudsville, and that's really good news.  There's nothing like jazzing up and old standby.  Here are some of the potatoes you're going to find.

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

Josh Cellars Merlot, California '13  ** $  VALUE
(Great buy in lush flavorful merlot, soft and approachable)

Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, California '13 ** $  VALUE
(As good as entry level Pinot Noir can get)

Barrymore Pinot Grigio, Monterey '13 **1/2 $    
(Drew Barrymore's wine, a fleshy melon flavored PG with class)


Jun 23, 2015

June 23, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Cucumbers  

One food that we are finding in abundance these days is one of the most modest:  the cucumber.  The flavor of a cucumber is so mild that it could stand duty as a metaphor for a quiet, unobtrusive demeanor.  But as is so often the case, the simple little ingredients of life serve as an essential backdrop for the more
flashy components of a dish.  Here are a few ideas that will make use of our Maryland cucumbers.

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

Tablas Creek Vineyards, Patelin de Tablas Blanc, Paso Robles '13  **1/2 $ VALUE
(Viognier dominated crowd pleaser, big body, off dry flavors)

Vignobles d'Azur Rosé, Cotes de Provence '13 *** $   VALUE
(Full bodied but delicate rosé, distributed by Washburn Wine Co. in Balto)

La Rioja Alta "Alberdi" Reserva, Rioja '08 ** $$
(A lovely, mature, ready to drink older Rioja with style and class)

Ravenswood Zinfandel "Old Vines" Napa County '12  ** $  VALUE
(Big enjoyable red zin that touches all the bases)

D'Arenberg "Darry's Original" Shiraz Grenache, McLaren Vale '10 **11/2 $ VALUE
(Aussie take on big Cotes du Rhone, powerful and fun)

Many of these fine wines can be purchased at Reds Wine, Spirits, Deli & Meats.
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