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
9:13 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Big Red Blends...All $20 or Under! - 7/30/14

Price key:  $=less than $20  $$= $20-40   $$$=$40-60  $$$$=above $60
Quality key:  * = good decent wine  ** = very good wine   *** = superb wine
Open Range Red Wine, California 2010  *1/2  $  
(well balanced, informal, a pizza wine)

Austin Hope "The Troublemaker", California, NV  **1/2   $
(A very good bargain for a masterful blend.)

Ch. Ste. Michelle "Indian Wells" Red Blend, Columbia Valley 2010  **1/2 $
(A classy, well sculptured red based on merlot, excellent value.)

Milbrandt Vineyards "Brother's Blend", Columbia Valley 2011 * $
(Cotes du Rhone like, rustic and simple, good burger wine.)

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

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Radio Kitchen #1244
7:19 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Market Galette

July 29, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Market Galette

I've has become a big fan of taking vacations in Normandy, France.  There is something about the gentle Norman countryside that really appeals to me, and believe me you do eat well over there.  And one of the most popular items in Normandy threw Jerry a curve ball the first time I ever mentioned it, and that is the galette. 

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Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed July 23, 2014

California Pinot Noirs - 7/23/14

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

La Crema Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast  2012 *1/2  $$
(Light, fruity, rounded, good every day pinot noir.)

La Crema Pinot Noir, Monterey, 2012 **  $$
(A bigger, earthier pinot noir with good complexity.)

Wild Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2011  ***  $$
(Impressive, full bodied, well balanced, nuanced.)

Champ de Reves Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley 2011  *** $$
(Very complex, great body, very elegant.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1243
10:26 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Heirloom Radishes and Carrots

July 22, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Heirloom Radishes and Carrots
Our national celebration has just past, so it's a good time to consider the great heritage America's farms have bestowed upon us.  During this season of tomatoes, corn and watermelons, it's easy to overlook a pair of bit players in the summer, and that would be radishes and carrots.   But we've now started to see some heirloom varieties of these garden greats.

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Cellar Notes
8:50 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Chardonnays - 7/16/14

William Hill Chardonnay, North Coast 2012 * $
(Nice basic chard, nothing fancy.)

Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2011  *1/2 $
(A touch of complexity, good mid-level chard.)

St. Supery Estate Chardonnay, oak-free, Napa ** $
(Very nice, idiosyncratic chard, seems "German" in style.)

Arrowood Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2010 **1/2  $
(One of the classics, a steal at this price.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1242
8:49 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Leeks, Green Onions and Garlic Scapes

  July 15, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Leeks, Green Onions and Garlic Scapes

Summer is a time for some pretty serious salad making and some pretty serious grilling.  Most salads need a little zing, and the various members of the onion family were put on earth to do just that.  And we shouldn't be surprised that a lot of these oniony veggies can serve multiple roles.  Chef Jerry Pelligrino of The Waterfront Kitchen filled us in on some of the things we should look out for.

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Cellar Notes
11:33 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Byron Winery - 7/9/14

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

Byron Chardonnay, Santa Barbara '12  *  $
(Very nice entry level chardonnay, good value.)

Byron Pinot  Noir, Santa Barbara '12  *  $$
(Very good varietal character, great value.)

Byron Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley '11  *** $$
(Creamy, rich, well balanced, textbook chard.)

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Radio Kitchen #1241
5:30 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Baltimore Chef's Table

  July 8, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Baltimore Chef's Table    

In case you might not have noticed, Baltimore is developing quite a reputation as a town with some mighty good chefs.  And to prove the point a number of books have appeared lately featuring our talented cooks.  And we are very proud to see that you have made it into one of the newest books featuring the local team.

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Cellar Notes
9:00 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Whiskeys Around the World - 7/2/14

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

Schniederweisss clear whiskey , Germany 1/2*  
(A curiosity)

Mackmyra "The First Edition", Sweeden *

Penderyn, Wales 1/2*
(Scotch-like, big rich flavor)

Reisterbauer, Austria 1/2*
(Bourbon-like, uninspired)

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Radio Kitchen #1240
8:39 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Traveling Spice Kit

July 1, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Traveling Spice Kit

Summer is the time to travel and whether you travel within the state, hit the wide open highways of America or fly abroad, you're going to want to eat.  Of course, dining out is a big part of the fun of travel, but you might want to do a little home cooking too.

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