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
5:30 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Viognier - 10/29/14

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

Bonterra Viognier, Mendocino 2011 * $
(Simple, lightweight vigonier.)

McManis Viognier, California 2012 ** $
(Very good entry level viognier, true to form and affordable at $12.)

The White Knight Viognier, Clarksburg 2013 **1/2  $
(Very well made viognier at a very reasonable price.)

Desert Wind Viognier, Columbia Valley, Washington 2011 *** $$
(Very classy, very refined, very well made.  An excellent wine.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1305
11:19 am
Tue October 28, 2014


October 28, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Cabbage

As the fertile fields of Maryland start to wind down the 2014 growing season, there are still a few hardy vegetables that are still being harvested.  One of the more interesting is also one of the most humble, and that would be the cabbage.  And thanks to our gallant local farmers, we have a lot of varieties of cabbage to work with.

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Cellar Notes
9:25 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Italian Reds - 10/22/14

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

Rigo Nebbiolo d'Alba '10  $$  *1/2 - **
(A lighter nebbiolo, but  decant and let it breathe for two hours.)

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva '10 $$  **
(A good if not spectacular Chianti, full of traditional character.)

Villa Puccini Vino Nobile de Montepulciano '09 $$   ** 1/2  
(Medium bodied, graceful, very flavorful, very classy.)

Zonin Valpolicello Classico Ripasso '11 $ **1/2
(Wine of the week!  A fabulous wine, buy by the case!)

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

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Radio Kitchen #1304
9:53 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Pumpkins: Part 2

October 21, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Pumpkins II

Last week we took a look at pumpkins, particularly which varieties are good for cooking. This week we want to bring you up to speed on some of the delicious recipes you can create.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen has pointed out, this is a far more versatile vegetable than most people realize.

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Cellar Notes
9:21 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Cambria Update - 10/15/14

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

Cambria Benchbreak Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, 2012 $$ **
(Very nice large-scale California style chard.)

Cambria Katherine's Vineyard Chardonnay $ **1/2
(Hugh loves this big French influenced chard, at a great price...bargain!)

Cambria Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley 2012  $$ **
(Blend of vineyards, good well-structured pinot noir.)

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Radio Kitchen #1303
9:24 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Pumpkins: Part 1

October 14, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Pumpkins I

Boy there's a lot of pumpkins out there.  This time of year, everywhere you go, you see big old orange pumpkins laying all over the place.  Now I'm sure that some of these are going to be made into Jack O' Lanterns, but that only accounts for a small percentage. Here's a little guidance on the question of buying pumpkins for cooking.

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Cellar Notes
12:00 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Beers for Autumn - 10/8/14

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

Fuller's London Porter  ** 1/2
(A very complete porter, correct in all aspects and satisfying.)

Innis & Gunn Scottish Porter, oak aged  **
(Very tasty, but maybe too much of everything.)

McEwan's Scotch Ale **1/2
(Big, rich, complex thirst quenching, a classic.)

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter *
(A trifle thin, but a good effort, serve on the warm side.)

Darwin's Original Flag Porter **
(Very good porter, medium weight, complex and smooth.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1302
1:27 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Homemade Tomato Soup

October 7, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Homemade Tomato Soup

It's been a great year for tomatoes, and I have personally enjoyed some of the best I've ever tasted.  Between tomato sandwiches and assorted salads, I've polished off a lot.  But there's one thing I didn't try... and as I asked around, no one else has either.  How many people do you know who have tried to make home-made tomato soup?

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Cellar Notes
9:24 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Chile and Argentina - 10/1/14

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

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchaugua Valley '09   $$  **1/2
(A dandy cab, with a lot of class and correct varietal character.)

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Grande Reserve, Colchagua '11  $  *1/2
(No more than competent cab sauv at a good price.)

Norton Malbec, reserva, Mendoza '11  $$   **
(Refined malbec, well made at a affordable price.)

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Radio Kitchen #1301
9:31 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Smart Eating in the Autumn

September 30, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Smart Eating in the Autumn

This is the most bountiful time of the year for local food lovers.  There is an unbelievable assortment of produce out there, and we have a perfect chance to try a lot of new things.  It's hard to go wrong at the market, but  you can make some choices that will set you up for the upcoming holiday season.

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