Al Spoler | WYPR

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.

Market Report

Oct 9, 2018
Gemma Billings/flickr

What a long strange growing season it's been. Heat, rain, heat, rain all at the wrong time, it makes you wonder how are things going down on the Maryland farm? And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, it's not hard to get answers if you shop at our local farmers markets. Early October is usually one of the richest market times of the year, but what about this year?

Audio coming soon. 

Cameron Kennedy/flickr

 

 

Rioja is Spain's most important red wine, but how did it get started?  Well, the Marques de Riscal had a lot to do with it. Click the links to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Winter_1983/flickr

Jerry is constantly looking for more ways to get more vegetables into his diet. One of the best and most versatile is to start using a wok, or something very much like it. According to Chef Jerry Pellegrino, the wok is a simple tool, but there are some techniques you can learn to make your stir fries go better. Here is some of his advice and a few recipes.

Kārlis Dambrāns/flickr

If you really want to have some fun in your kitchen, buy a pasta making machine.  They start at about $30, so it's something of an affordable luxury.  Now the thing is you have to decide what to do with all this hand made pasta.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino says, we could tell people to "stuff it"!  Here are some of his thoughts.

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Spanish reds are very popular these days. But what about the whites? Here's a review of some of the most popular blancos. Click the links to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

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Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, are they the same grapes? Yes, but they're not the same wines. Hugh explains the differences. Click the links to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Khairil Zhafri/flickr

At any given time I can dig no fewer than five different mustards out of my refrigerator.  A hot dog is not a hot dog unless it has classic Yellow Mustard on it, but all those others have so many uses.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I asked our friend Liz Nuttle to come on and give us her take on this extraordinarily useful condiment.

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On a long ago vacation in the South of France I came across a dish that I brought home with me and made it a standard.  Salad Nicoise is one of the easiest and most appealing salads I know. Chef Jerry Pellegrino says, even though we can't always get those classic tiny nicoise olives, we do have everything we need right here.  But one thing I thought you needed, isn't one of the classic ingredients: lettuce!

Paul Aloe/flickr

Spanish reds are very popular these days.  But what about the whites?  Here's a review of some of the most popular blancos. Click the links to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Over-oaked Chardonnay is becoming a thing of the past. Here's a collection of tasty whites that never see a barrel. Click the links to purchase Cellar Notes recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Ceviche

Sep 5, 2018
Luca Nebuloni/flickr

There's been a recent push by  the Maryland seafood industry to work Blue Catfish into our repertoire of recipes. This very tasty species is available in abundance, and folks are trying to engineer a decline in its numbers.

One way was to have a contest for Blue Catfish recipes and one of the winners was an idea for Catfish Ceviche, something that intrigued us.

Need a new cabernet sauvignon recommendation? Don't want to spend a fortune? Al and Hugh have you covered. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Personal Creations/flickr www.personalcreations.com

There's an enormous variety of veggies out there in our Maryland markets and grocery stores.  And as students at La Schola cooking school can tell you, one of life's treats is to go shopping with Chef Jerry Pellegrino and fill your basket with whatever captures your fancy at the farmers market.

One thing you can do is whip up a vegetable-heavy summer casserole. 

Click on the image for recipes. 

 

Al and Hugh offer suggestions for sparkling wines that are perfect for end-of-summer toasts. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Luca Nebuloni/flickr

During the cold of mid-winter it makes sense to warm our insides with big bowls of piping hot soup.  So, conversely, wouldn't it make sense to cool down our tummies during the summer with bowls of fresh cold soups? Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, so much of the summer produce can be used this way.

Austrian Rosé

Aug 15, 2018

Get Al and Hugh's picks for Austrian rosé. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Gazpacho

Aug 15, 2018

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!  They're really rolling in now, and the varieties seem endless.  Classics like Big Boy and Beef Steak, heirlooms like Cherokee Purple and German Stripe, and petite cherry and grape tomatoes are all out there.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino tells us, all this variety can be put to good use when you talk about making Gazpacho.

 

Zinfandels

Aug 8, 2018

Zinfandels go great with chunky barbequed meats. Al and Hugh tell us about some of their favorites. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

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During this season of grilling, some of us think that the process stops the moment we take the food off the grill. But you can really do a lot more to put together a fantastic plate. And as the French say, "the sauce is everything." Listen for some sauce recipes.

Primitivo

Aug 1, 2018
Cameron Kennedy/flickr

If you like zinfandels, you should try primitivo. Al and Hugh share some of the "treasures" they've found.  

Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits

Rebecca Siegel/flickr

It's the time of the year when our local markets are at their prettiest, with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables coming our way. Among the most eye-catching are Maryland peaches, in their soft yellow and orange splendor. And there are so many great ways to enjoy peaches.

Aveleda of Portugal

Jul 26, 2018

Get a taste of Portugal with these Cellar Notes selections. Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits

Summer Berries

Jul 24, 2018
cookbookman17/flickr

Summer is the season of the berry patch, the source of some of the most appealing fruit of the year. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries... gooseberries! We could go on and on, and you can eat 'em right off the bush, or you can take 'em home for some real fun.

Organic Wines

Jul 18, 2018
Stefano Lubiana/flickr

The good news for people who want to support organic farming and buy organic wines is that there's lots of choices out there. Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Soft Shell Crabs

Jul 18, 2018
oliver.dodd/flickr

One of the fleeting joys of summer is the soft shell crab. They seem to come and go in the marketplace, but when they're around, they're irresistible to a lot of Marylanders. To newcomers, the prospect of cleaning, cooking and eating these crustaceans is, frankly, quite daunting. But once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze...

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They make white wines in the Rhone, and they are great. Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Paella

Jul 10, 2018
Hirotaka Nakajima/flickr

Now that I'm a veteran of no fewer than 3 trips to Spain, I can tell you for certain that paella is taken very seriously, and enjoyed immensely.  This rice and seafood and chicken and whatever else dish is cooked in a big purpose built  deep metal pan that is indispensible for making the paella up to specs.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School will tell you, this is a seemingly involved dish that is actually quite simple.

Here's one of Jerry's favorite approaches. 

yevgeniy_shpika/flickr

You don't have to spend a lot to get good pinot noir. Click the links to purchase Al and Hugh's recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

 

Audio coming soon.

 

July 4th, our great national holiday when we do our level best to celebrate with gusto.  There's going to be a lot of grilling going on, and there is nobody better than Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School to give us a few shrewd hints on how to make the most of it.

 

Leeks

Jun 27, 2018
F Delventhal/flickr

The first weeks of spring are prime time for the onion family.  Green onions, spring onions, ramps and garlic are all coming in right now.  And so is an oft-overlooked member of the onion family, the leek.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino  of Schola Cooking School will confirm, this is actually a very good ingredient to work with.

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