Broader Caviar Ban Restricts Tourists, Too

Caviar isn't just for the wealthy. A dot of it on a crisp-fried crab cake, a touch of it with smoked salmon on a sesame cracker ... a little bit goes a long way.

Plus, travelers have found beluga caviar a nifty little thing to squirrel away in various suitcases and carry-on bags during jaunts abroad -- something nice to have as a remembrance of the trip, and certainly an easy-to-transport gift for the folks back home.

Thus, it's unfortunate that just as various types of caviar are finding more favor with American palates that the U.S. government has broadened its ban on the importation of the best -- beluga. That ban isn't limited to commercial importers. It goes for travelers, too.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had slapped a ban on beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea back in September, and now has extended the ban to include the Black Sea basin. (See map.) The effect of this expansion means that the U.S. is banning all imports of the most highly-regarded caviar.

This is not in service of some protectionist marketing philosophy, though. It is to help protect the rapidly-dwindling sturgeon population in that part of the world that has been overfished for years and now is in danger of extinction. The Caspian and Black seas are the only producers of beluga caviar in the world.

Beluga caviar already in the U.S. may be sold for the next 18 months, so if you're interested in getting it, now is the time. As Michael Emery, sales directore for Petrossian, the New York City caviar importer, says, "We still have enough beluga to last until the end of the year, depending on the demand. Once we run out, that's it."

The ban does not include osetra or sevruga caviar, or caviar from farmed sturgeon. The U.S. ban has been greeted with pleasure by various conservation organizations because Americans consume some 60% of beluga caviar.

U.S. Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton said the ban is effective immediately and will stay in effect until caviar-producing countries make "significant progress" in regional efforts to protect the fish.

The full scope of the ban includes caviar, meat and other products from beluga sturgeon imported from the region, re-exported from an intermediary country or carried by travelers, who until now had been allowed to bring up to 250 grams of beluga caviar (about a half-pound) into the United States without a permit.

The New York Times quotes Robert Gabel of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as saying the illegal trade in beluga caviar is estimated at 10 to 12 times times the size of the legal trade.

"During Soviet times there was very strict state control of the fishery," Gabel told the Times. "Currently, the people that seem to be in control are really organized crime and the bad players."

Petrossian's Michael Emery said caviar from California farm-raised white sturgeon "is wonderful. We do sell quite a bit of it. We feel it's very close to an osetra. We have been steering our clientele away from beluga for some time."


The Hottest Clubs In Town

If you're like most people who enjoy visiting new cities but don't always know where the best nightspots are located, Nightclub & Bar magazine can be of assistance.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the magazine's Top 100 Clubs:

32 Degrees, Philadelphia
Ampersand, New Orleans
Avalon & Spider Club, Los Angeles
B&G Oysters Ltd., Boston
B.B. King's Blues Club, Memphis
Baja Sharkeez/Newman Hospitality, Manhattan Beach, CA
Banana Joe’s, Marion, OH
Bar Anticipation, South Belmar, NJ
Bar Twenty 3, Nashville
Barmuda Corp.: Becks, Coconuts, Jokers, Voodoo, Cedar Falls, IA
Barracuda/Concept Entertain Group, Portland, OR
Billy Bob's Texas, Fort Worth, TX
Blue Note, New York
Bobby McGee's, Phoenix
Boogie Nights, Fort Lauderdale
Café Iguana, Fort Lauderdale
Cafe Sevilla, San Diego
Caramel Bar and Lounge at Bellagio, Las Vegas
Casbah/Trump Taj Mahal Casino, Atlantic City, NJ
Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA
Churchill's Pub, Miami
Club Chameleon / Chameleon Studios, Las Vegas
Club Clau, Cincinnati
Club Deep, Miami Beach
Club La Vela, Panama City Beach, FL
Copacabana, New York
Crobar, Miami
Crocodile Cafe, Seattle
Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis
Dave & Buster's, Dallas
Denim, Philadelphia
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle
Dream, Washington, DC
Elements, The Lounge, Sea Bright, NJ
Excalibur/Ala Carte Entertainment, Chicago
GameWorks, Glendale, CA
ghostbar (Palms Casino), Las Vegas
Green Parrot Bar, Key West, FL
House of Blues, Hollywood, CA
Howl at the Moon, Covington, KY
ICE, Las Vegas
Infinity Room, Minneapolis
Jazz At Pearl's, San Francisco
Jazz Bakery, Culver City, CA
Jillian's, Louisville, KY
Jocks & Jills and Frankie's Sports Grill, Atlanta
Kahunaville, Wilmington, DE
Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, Portland, OR
Key Club, West Hollywood, CA
Le Passage, Chicago
Long Street, Columbus, OH
Manitoba's, New York
Marquee, New York
Matrix, Orlando, Fl
Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
McDuffy's Sportsbar, Tempe, AZ
Mercy Wine Bar, Addison, TX
Metropolis, Orlando, FL
Mickey's Hangover, Scottsdale, AZ
Mike's Treehouse, Dallas
NASCAR Cafe, Greensboro, NC
Pin-Up Bowl, St. Louis
Polly Esthers (The Danceplex), New York
Rain In the Desert (Palms Casino), Las Vegas
Raleigh Hotel/Oasis Lounge, Miami Beach
Red Star, Houston
Roostertail, Inc., Detroit
Rudy's Bar and Grill, New York
Scott Gertner's Skybar, Houston
Senses, Memphis
Shooters, Saginaw, MI
Sloppy Joe's, Key West, FL
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, New Orleans
Studio 54/MGM Grand, Las Vegas
T.J. Mulligan's, Memphis
Tabu Ultra Lounge/MGM Grand, Las Vegas
The Beach, Las Vegas
The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville
The Bosco, Ferndale, MI
The Cafe Wha?, New York
The Derby, Los Angeles
The Fillmore, San Francisco
The Funky Butt At Congo Square, New Orleans
The Highlands, Hollywood. CA
The Library Bar & Grill, Tempe, AZ
The Longbranch Entertainment Complex, Raleigh, NC
The New Crown & Anchor, Provincetown, MA
The Polo Lounge/Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA
The Potion Lounge, New York
The Swamp, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
The Viper Room, Los Angeles
The Water Tank , Austin, TX
Tipitina's, New Orleans
Tonic Night Club, Pontiac, MI
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville
Velvet, St. Louis
Village Vanguard, New York
Whisky A Go-Go. West Hollywood, CA
Zeldaz Nightclub & Beachclub, Palm Springs, CA


Thruway heave-ho for Bob's Big Boy

Travelers using the 496-mile New York State Thruway will find an upgraded cuisine -- at least by some standards -- next year.

Details still are being negotiated, but early information points to the ouster of such Thruway standbys as Bob's Big Boy restaurants and TCBY Yogurt and the influx of such establishments as Panda Express Gourmet Chinese, Quiznos, Outback Steakhouse Post, Coldstone Creamery, Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips and KFC as 16 of the 27 rest stops on the Thruway that runs from suburban New York City to Buffalo go through a changeover.

"The improvements we were looking for were updated offerings -- things that our customers have been asking for," Bill Rinaldi, acting director of operations for the state Thruway Authority, said in a statement.

HMS Host, the Maryland company that currently runs all 16 of the Thruway plazas that aren't under a separate contract with McDonald's, and Delaware North, with U.S. operations based in Buffalo, were the only two companies to bid on the 27-month contract that starts on Oct. 1, 2006, and runs through 2018.

Delaware North, which also provides food service at airports, sports arenas and national parks, will take over the Seneca, Scottsville, Pembroke and Clarence plazas from HMS Host. HMS Host, formerly known as Marriott, will keep its other 12 plazas, which include those at Pattersonville, west of Schenectady, and New Baltimore, just south of Coxsackie.
NYS Thruway Authority
Big Boy Restaurants
Dowd's Guides


Cowboy Culture In the Big Apple

The latest food craze in New York City is American. Wild West American.

The newest emporium of such fare is Maremma. If that sounds Italian, it is. Let us explain.

The region called Maremma is an area of Tuscany where a lot of "spaghetti westerns" -- those Italian-made U.S. western movies that helped spring Clint Eastwood to stardom, for example -- were shot. The restaurant called Maremma, located at 228 West 10th St., is owned by chef Cesare Casella. It has a western theme despite the Italian influences.

Movies and western dining seem to be going hand in hand here. Movie director Bob Giraldi, who has a longtime business relationship with restaurant owner/chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is opening two new restaurants this year. One is Diablo Royale at 189 West 10th St., near Maremma. It has a modern Mexican menu and a Wild West saloon motif. In addition to adobo ribs, roast chicken and whole fish, oversize tacos are quite popular, stuffed with traditional fish, pork, chicken, or steak. (Giraldi is staying mum on the theme of his pther new enterprise at the moment.)

  • Real Cowboy Food
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  • 20051018

    America's Wine Trails

    William M. Dowd photo

    This guide to wine trails throughout the United States is updated regularly. In states that have no formal division by wine trails, a statewide link to winery directories is supplied.


  • Coastal Tour

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Dry Creek Valley
  • Mendocino
  • Monterey
  • Napa
  • Paso Robles
  • Russian River
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Ynez
  • Sierra Foothills
  • Silverado
  • Sonoma Valley

  • Statewide

  • Eastern Trail
  • Western Trail

  • Nassau Valley

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Central
  • Northern
  • Shawnee Hills
  • South Central
  • Southern

  • Indiana Uplands

  • IOWA
  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Central
  • DC Metro
  • Eastern Shore
  • Mountain Region
  • North Central
  • Northeast
  • Southern Shore

  • Statewide

  • Leelanau Peninsula
  • Old Mission Peninsula
  • Others
  • Southwest Michigan

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Coastal
  • Delaware
  • East-West
  • Hunterdon
  • Mid-State A
  • Mid-State B
  • Northwest
  • South
  • South Central A
  • South Central B
  • Southeast
  • Southern Most

  • Northern
  • Central
  • Southern

  • Cayuga
  • Chatauqua
  • Dutchess
  • Hamptons
  • Keuka Lake
  • North Fork
  • Seneca Lake
  • Shawangunk

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • OHIO
  • Appalachian Heritage
  • Capital City
  • Canal Country
  • Nicholas Longworth Heritage
  • Wines & Vines
  • Wing Watch

  • Statewide

  • Columbia Gorge
  • Horse Heaven Hills
  • RogueValley/Applegate Valley
  • Umpqua Valley
  • Walla Walla Valley
  • Willamette Valley
  • Yakima Valley/Red Mountain

  • Susquehanna Heartland
  • Brandywine Valley
  • Lehigh Valley

  • Newport Trail

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • West
  • Middle
  • East

  • Balcones
  • Brazos
  • Enchanted
  • Highland
  • Hill Country
  • Munson
  • Palo Duro
  • Pecos
  • Tarantula

  • UTAH
  • Moab Area

  • Statewide

  • Blue Ridge
  • Loudon’s
  • Monticello

  • Leavenworth

  • Statewide

  • Statewide

  • Statewide
  • 20051013

    A Bi-Coastal Wine Effort

    Noted Napa Valley winemaker Scott Harvey took with him more than just pleasant memories after recently helping judge the annual New York Wine & Food Classic in the Finger Lakes.

    Harvey, right, purchased a batch of Riesling grapes to be shipped by refrigerated truck from the Anthony Road Wine Co. on Seneca Lake to use in creating his own Riesling wine back in St. Helena, CA.

    Harvey has long been impressed with "the quality and consistency of Finger Lakes Rieslings."

    A Riesling has won the top award -- the Governor's Cup -- in the New York competition in six of the last eight years. This year's winner, however, was a 2004 Vidal Ice Wine from Casa Larga Vineyards that also was voted “Best Dessert Wine” and “Best Ice Wine” en route to the ultimate award.

    I lunched with Harvey at the winemaker's quarters in August of 2003 when he was the winemaker at the Folie a Deux vineyard near Napa. At that point he had branched out with a sideline of his own wines en route to his current independent status. Even then he was enamored of the Finger Lakes Rieslings and mentioned his desire to create his own version.

    Harvey comes by his fondness for German-style wines honestly. As an Army "brat," he lived with his family in Germany during his formative years and returned there for an education in winemaking.

    Ever since noted wine writer Dan Berger annointed him one of California's best winemakers in the 1990s, anything Harvey does attracts attention. His bi-coastal Riesling should be the next such item.


    Montreal converts wheel place to real place

    William M. Dowd photos

    MONTREAL -- In 1992, the Montreal Biodome opened in the former Velodrome, built for the 1976 Olympic Games. Since then, it has hosted more than 13 million visitors.

    The distinctive structure is located in an area of the Canadian city that also is home to the Botanical Gardens, the Insectarium and the Planetarium. The distinctive Biodome Tower (see at right) helps visitors spot the area from almost anywhere in the city.

    Inside the Biodome is a series of ecosystems of the Americas through which visitors can walk as they view the plant and animal life living in the recreated environments: the Tropical Forest, the Laurentian Forest, the St. Lawrence Marine Ecosystem, and the Polar World of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

    At right, visitors wedge themselves between two towering trees that are part of the Tropical Forest environment inside the Biodome. Below, you can be excused for wondering which species is viewing which in the Polar World environment.


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