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

June 16, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Grilling for Father's Day

One of the most enduring images of American suburban life (Al's background, as it happens) is the Dad of the Family holding court grillside in the backyard.  And for many of us,  there is something near perfect about a fiery grill, a set of tongs, a big hunk of meat and a gaggle of hungry people. So this Father's Day, we thought we'd toss out few ideas for the grill.

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

Domaine des Herbauges Unoaked Chardonnay, VDP loire, 2013  ** $ VALUE
(A delightful well-made chardonnay for around $15)

Domaine de Saint Just  Saumur Blanc "Les Perrieres" '13  ** $
(Bone dry, but loaded with fruit flavors, 100% chenin blanc)

Domaine Cedrick Bardin Pouilly-Fumé '14 ** $
(Tasty sauvignon blanc, round, fruity with lemon notes)

June 9, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Strawberry and Rhubarb

This is high season for one of the odder couples in the food universe:  strawberries and rhubarb.  OK, we get the strawberries, but rhubarb is a different matter.  But according to Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen, in many ways this is a marriage made in heaven.

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

Beringer Chardonnay "Luminus"  Oak Knoll, Napa '13 *** $$
(A superb Napa chard, made with restraint, textbook and delicious)

Beringer "Quantum" Red Blend, Napa Valley '12 *** $$$$
(Expensive, but worth it, Bordeaux and Rhone style together, superb)

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Knight's Valley '12 ** $$    
(Very nice presentable cab, young now, can age)

June 2, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Dressings for Spring Salads with Liz Nuttle

These days, if you can't go out and find the makings for a summer salad, you may not have a pulse.  This is high season for delicious locally grown produce to show up in the markets.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen would admit, the fixings are only half of the salad.  We need the dressing too.

So we asked Liz Nuttle, owner of EN Olivier, to swing by with some salad dressing advice.  EN Olivier is one of our favorite stores, with lots of great super premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and other gourmet items.