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.


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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Radio Kitchen #1239
5:42 pm
Wed June 25, 2014


June 24, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Rhubarb 
We've tipped into summer and the farms of Maryland are sending all sort of fabulous food to the markets.  One of the more dramatic vegetables you'll find out there this time of year is rhubarb.  The long, bright crimson stalks of rhubarb look incredible, but the problem always is:  what do you do with them?  And there's more to rhubarb than good old rhubarb-strawberry pie.

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Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed June 25, 2014

French Rosés - 6/25/14

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

Whispering Angel, Cotes du Provence 2013 *1/2 $
(A charming well structured delicate rosé.)

Domaine de Corbillieres Rosé, Tourain 2013 *1/2 $
(Big soft rosé with nice fruit flavors.)

Commanderie de Peyrosol Rosé, Provence 2013 ** $
(Quintessential French rosé.)

La Manarine Rosé Cotes du Rhone 2013 * $
(Fuller bodied, with a bitter finish.)

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

Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Malbecs by Renacer - 6/18/14

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

Punta Final Malbec, Mendoza '12  *1/2  $
(Very nice entry level malbec.)

Punta Final Reserva Malbec, Mendoza '11  **1/2 $$
(Dynamic, hedonistic, very impressive and satisfying.)

Enamore Malbec, Mendoza '11  *** $$
(A co-production with Allegrini of Italy, robust, very impressive.)

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Radio Kitchen #1238
10:23 pm
Mon June 16, 2014


June 17, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Spinach

Like a lot of folks of a certain age, I grew up watching Popeye the Sailorman and loving every minute of it.  But something baffled me:  the spinach thing.  If they were talking about the reeking, droopy, plop of who-knows-what that they served in school, it didn't make any sense.   My parents told me Popeye was the creation of the powerful spinach industry, but that may not have been true.  Research reveals that  Popeye was not created to sell spinach, but the cartoon's creators remembered their mothers saying, "Eat your spinach, it will make you strong!"  So it became Popeye's magic elixir.

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Cellar Notes
9:19 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

American Syrah - 6/11/14

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

Cline Syrah, Sonoma County 2009 ** $
(Very good value for a luscious red.)

Zaca Mesa Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, 2008 **1/2 $
(Australian influence, has some age on it already.)

Corvidae "Lenore" Syrah, Columbia Valley 2009 ** $
(A good example of cool-country syrah.)

Earthquake Syrah, Lodi 2006 **1/2 $$
(A great California syrah with tons of flavor.)

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

Radio Kitchen #1237
10:22 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Greens and Vinaigrettes: Part Two

June 10, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Greens and Vinaigrettes: Part Two

We're going to be in salad season for quite some time now.  Two weeks ago we talked about the wide variety of greens that are grown here in Maryland.  For the next few months they're going to be available in abundance.  And we could spend a whole show talking about one of the most important components of a salad, and that would be vinegar.

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Cellar Notes
8:28 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Ponzi, Pioneer of Oregon - 6/4/14

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

Ponzi Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley '13 *1/2 $
(Very good value in a Ponzi staple,  bright, elegant, crisp)

Ponzi Reserve Chardonnay, Willamette Valley '12 **  $$
(Subtle, firm, complex and delicate; typical quality Oregon chard)

Ponzi Pinot Noir, "Tavola" '12  ** $$
(Lean, balanced with good falvors)

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Radio Kitchen #1236
8:09 pm
Mon June 2, 2014


June  3, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Berries

One of the biggest cravings I have every spring is for fresh, local fruit.  Last year's apples are still available, that's true.  But I'm thinking of something a lot fresher and a lot juicier.  And it's just our luck that nature arranged for two succulent berries to be available this time of year:  strawberries and blueberries.

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Cellar Notes
5:30 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Paul Blanck of Alsace - 5/28/14

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

Blanck Pinot Gris, Alsace 2011  **1/2 $$
(Dense, earthy, off-dry, almost majestic.)

Blanck Pinot Blanc d'Alsace 2011 ** $
(One of your better pinot blancs, with earthy citrus notes.)

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