Wine pairings to toast the legacy of Julia Child

MICHELLE LOCKE
The Associated Press
Modified: May 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm •  Published: May 15, 2012
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Maybe it's in the way one cook browns meat, or another views dessert. Or it may be in the moments when a harried chef seeks perspective in the well-worn pages of "The Way to Cook."

One thing's for certain, the late, great Julia Child remains a culinary lodestone in kitchens across America.

"She was one of our most influential teachers and was among the first Americans to bring the spotlight to traditional French cooking methods and show that food is something more than the sum of its parts," notes Thomas Keller, chef of the acclaimed The French Laundry and Per Se restaurants in the Napa Valley and New York.

To mark the century since Child's birth, we asked chefs and others in the food world to toast the moment by suggesting a wine pairing for a favorite Child recipe. What we got back were a lot of tasty contributions ? and a flood of memories.

? Gigot a la moutarde (herbal mustard coating for roast leg of lamb) and Chateauneuf du Pape, Les Cedres, Paul Jaboulet Aine 2007, from Marc Murphy, chef/owner of Landmarc, Ditch Plains, N.Y., and judge on Food Network's "Chopped."

"My biggest influence was Julia Child's highly successful TV show and her ability to make even the most complicated dishes seem simple and effortless. Her passion for food was what I admired most. It really spoke to her audience and especially to myself as a French-influenced and inspired chef."

? Salmon en croute (pastry wrapped salmon) with Chappellet Chenin Blanc, from Jan Birnbaum, chef, EPIC Roasthouse, San Francisco.

As a young cook, Birnbaum worked his way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" with some efforts more successful than others. One he remembers in particular was salmon en croute, a pastry-wrapped salmon, that was his first attempt at a simple butter crust.

"I studied the cookbook until the pages were worn and sticky," he recalls. It turned out well, a golden, flaky crust encasing a succulent side of salmon steaming along with spinach and shallots. "It was as if Julia was there with me!"

A decade later in 1993, Birnbaum had the chance to meet Child in person when he worked with her on a segment of "Cooking with Master Chefs," and the accompanying video. For five days they filmed and detailed recipes, "the experience of a lifetime." Birnbaum also accompanied Child on a promotional tour for the series in California. People stood in long lines, many with stacks of eight or 10 books for her to sign. "When Julia walked into a room, it was clear that she was not only a celebrity, but a gem of a human being with a genuine, down-to-earth point of view. She was endlessly curious and taught me that any real cook is."

? Roast duck with cracklings with Domaine Parent Premier Cru Les Epenots 2005, from Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, authors of the recently published "The Fire Island Cookbook" and entertaining and lifestyle editors for Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

DeSimone and Jenssen watched re-runs of Child's cooking show as children. They have a battered copy of "Julia Child's Menu Cookbook," which drove home the idea of "theme" dinners and eating meals over several courses, an influence that shines through in "The Fire Island Cookbook," a collection of summer dinner party menus. For a pairing, they picked a duck dish from the menu cookbook's birthday dinner chapter. "If you live in an apartment and make this dish and don't set off your own smoke alarm and the one in the hall, you are not trying hard enough!" they joke. Child recommends a pinot noir from Burgundy with the duck, they go further and recommend a particular pinot noir from Burgundy winemaker Anne Parent.

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