Thursday, November 28, 2013

8 Amazing Memories .... Dare to touch the sun!

This morning I went to Jensen’s Market, Palm Springs's finest foods market.

I went to see my friend Kevin, the wine guru at Jensen’s.

And I went to see Jensen’s “Mr. Chicken”, Pete.

Today Pete was “Mr. Turkey” too.

He was not wearing his turkey hat, not his chicken hat, but I recognized him.

Pete’s smile is unmistakable; and he likes to be called “Pierre”.  I am happy to oblige, especially when he does such a fine job boning a turkey breast. 

As I waited for Pete, aka Pierre, to do his work, I realized I was listening to John Denver singing his Rocky Mountain High.  

And that segued into an Amazing memory.

In 1977 I was sommelier at Moran’s Riverside Restaurant.  The restaurant was a Renaissance room, overlooking the Mississippi in New Orleans’s French Quarter.  My job was simple.  The owner, Jimmy Moran, said he wanted me to create for him “the finest wine cellar possible. “  He never asked what I paid; he trusted me to do what he asked me to do.  And so we had a great time together building this wine cellar. 

Moran’s restaurant was on the second floor in a newly remodeled eighteenth-century building.  It was only accessible by elevator from the courtyard on the ground floor.   The kitchen, just to the east of the dining room, was situated above the pasta-making facility, also on the ground floor.  Between that ground-floor pasta facility and the kitchen above was the wine cellar.  It floated between floors, and had great ventilation as well as security. 

I had plenty of room to house current-drinking wines from the great regions of France and Italy and some from Spain, as well as that newly discovered territory, Napa, California.  And some from The Finger Lakes’s iconic Dr. Konstantin Frank.    I also had adequate space to house, in unopened cases, those wines that were too young to serve.  Each was marked with my suggested date of serving.  

In my search for the “best” I had thought of Mr. Moran’s customers and what would please the majority.  Thanks to Michael Broadbent and Michel Roux as well as many of my vineyard-owning friends, I had found fine vintages of the best Second and Third growth Bordeaux as well as those I loved from the Cru Bourgeois, and the estates of Julius Caesar’s Burgundy.  Of course for the minority who could afford the ultimate, the greatest vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux, Italy and Napa, had their bins.  Every bin was clearly named and marked “do not disturb” so the waiters would not go in frantically moving bottles that were sleeping into perfection. 

One morning Mr. Moran told me that John Denver had heard about the wine cellar and was bringing his entourage for dinner that night.  By the time I entered the dining room for the dinner service I had sort of forgotten what he had said.  I had been receiving some 600 cases of our house wine that day, and that is a long and important job.  About half an hour after the night’s service began I looked up. Someone was waving me over.  It was John Denver.  Really.  He was holding the wine list and smiling.  Really.  We, his wife Annie and he and I, discussed what the group was eating, and then he chose the wines he thought would be best.  His father agreed. 

Their dinner was about to enter the desert course when John waved me over again.  He wanted to see the wine cellar.   So we walked through the dining room into the kitchen to reach the stairs down to the wines.  One bus-boy, just finishing polishing the silverware, looked up.  Stunned by recognizing John Denver he dropped all the silver at John’s feet.  Joining John in an uproar of laughter, the whole kitchen erupted in relief.   

John followed me down the staircase and into the wine cellar.  He really was curious as to how and why it was arranged as it was. 

Like a troubadour he carried his guitar.  Entering the cellar, seeing how it might swing and dislodge a precious inhabitant, he removed it, laying it carefully over a newly arrived case.  When we’d made the circuit, he picked up his faithful pal.  “I’d like to sing a song for the wines,” he announced.  
“Do you mind singing in the stairwell,” I asked?  I took a deep breath.  How do I tell John Denver ‘no’?  “This is a nursery.  They will dream your song, inventing themselves anew.  But perhaps inside this room the reverberations will be too upsetting?” 

The troubadour understood.  Strumming the first bars as he strutted out, John Denver began to sing for and to Mr. Moran’s wines, “Rocky Mountain High.”   A movement made me look above John’s head.   There was the whole kitchen staff, bus-boy in the foreground.  And in back the whole of the dining room too.  It was an Amazing Moment. 

Waiting for “Mr. Chicken” this morning,  John Denver’s refrain, “Rocky Mountain High,”  followed by his soaring note that would fall into “Colorado,”  I was amazed by the immediacy of those long-ago surroundings crowding in memory.  I can see the faces of Annie, his wife, and that of his father as John waxed lyrical in choosing the wines.  They understood they were in the presence of a fleeting dream, of a troubadour.

John Denver’s song tells of the majesty of America’s natural heritage.  As on the first Thanksgiving let us again celebrate our human similarities and our native differences.   He also tells us of his voyage, like Pharoahs of antiquity, to touch the sun.  All together now:  “He left yesterday behind him; you might say he was born again.  You might say he found a key for every door.   He climbed cathedral mountains; he saw silver clouds below.  He saw everything as far as you can see. And they say that he got crazy once; and he tried to touch the sun.  And he lost a friend but he kept his memory.  Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams, Seeking grace in every step he takes.  His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake; And the Colorado mountain high.  I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky.  You can talk to God and listen to the causal reply.  Rocky mountain high.  …..Colorado.”

I’d be a poorer person if I had not this amazing memory of such a troubadour touched by the sun.   Wine, god Dionysos, caused us to meet; caused John to sing on that stairway long ago, inspiring bus-boys and chefs and diners to do greater things, like reaching for the sun. 

John eventually did reach for and touch the sun.

Now I have an Emperor next to me who is getting antsy to tell his story.

But, Julius, your time is not yet nigh.  Shussh.  Soon.

Madeleine de Jean.

Dream Amazing dreams.  Dare to touch the sun.  Dionysos is there to uplift you.

The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.

Thanksgiving day, 28 November, 2013.

Comet ISOS is nigh.  Today it is touching the sun.   Will it survive?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

7 Amazing things ...

I like to write about amazing things, wondrous things, like the transformative powers of the god Dionysos and those found in Champagne’s “gas of life”, especially at this time of bounty and thanksgiving, the season of harvest and good cheer.

But also at this season it is perhaps the time to write about amazing things that are not so wondrous, things about which it is hard to write because they are so sad.  Like children who live not far from any of us who do not have enough to eat everyday.    Like “Rosie”.  

I have been looking for Rosie since I saw her, last Spring, on a Bill Moyers-Chef Tom Colicchio-Laura Silverbush program about the Colicchio film “A Place At the Table.”  In that film twelve-year old Rosie shines with intelligence and the promise within herself.   But she goes to school so hungry every day that she says she cannot concentrate; that instead of seeing her teacher she sees a “banana”; and, instead of seeing classmates, to console her hungry-self she pictures “apples and oranges.”  Rosie is not looking for cakes and junk food.  She is craving a banana.    

I emailed Bill Moyers to see what I could possibly do to help Rosie.   I have had no reply.

This morning I was planning to write more about Champagne; “Champagne Toujours” after all is what this blog is called.  But, hello, I turned on the CBS news and there was Rosie talking about her banana teacher.  The Colicchios were on with Charlie Rose and Norah and Gail.    Dionysos is sending this sign so I write about Rosie instead of him today.

How can I find Rosie; how can I do something so that the next time Rosie is on television perhaps she will be acting in a drama she wrote and directed, instead of wishing for a banana?  There should be bananas in every child’s home; and apples and oranges too.   Who can help me to do something? 

This is a time of harvests and of plenty; a time of remembering our country’s heritage of giving Thanks; of giving thanks while learning and celebrating the differences of those with whom we share.  I can write about Champagne and fois gras tomorrow.  But today I want to do more than know that many children, right here in America, are wishing and dreaming of dinners they will not have.   How can I make a difference?  While there is harvest and bounty all around us, while twenty-four hours a day The Food Channel has programs showing gargantuan meals being prepared, there is want and need in children around all of us.  How can I make any difference?   

If you have suggestions please send them. 

That includes you too, Caesar.   If you have suggestions, you pass them right along.

Madeleine de Jean

The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

6 For The God Dionysos I Am Thankful

6 For Dionysos let us be thankful.

For this god of civilization, rising from the east, traveling ever westward, rising with the sun, divining the moon, god of ecstasy, of poetic dreaming, of architecture and mysticism, of rest in times of need, of springing into resurrection , divinity of madness and of song, dance and flight and fantasy:  I am thankful for Dionysos.  Where would I be without him?; without the vineyards of the world?; without the millions of vines, hundreds of thousands of artists and artisans working, doing, fulfilling the promise of the god? 

At this time of year the harvest of the the god  must give great pleasure to the weary vineyardists, hearing the wild fermentation and smelling the divine aromas arising from their efforts, from fermenters and casks, from pithoi and jugs.  Dionysos is at work.  Dionysos is about to arrive.  In fact in those vineyards devoted to carbonic maceration vinification he is already here, the first wine of this year has arrived:  Nouveau wines, made by sealing the grapes without air, together with their yeasts, so the yeasts go mad with hunger for the grape sugars they smell profoundly in this captivity.  In their frenzy they cannot wait, they will not wait, they do not wait for this divine meal.  Boring into the grapes the miniscule ferments begin to eat within the grape the wonder summer has wrought within, sugar.   Being overwrought in their feeding wildness, the ferments belch while consuming their divine meal, belch carbon dioxide and alcohol, bursting open the grapes.  And thus does Dionysos’s magic transform these un-pressed grapes into a wondrous wine of fruity flavors and fragrances of roses and persimmons.  Nouveau Gamay is particularly, headily delicious.  I am thankful it is arriving as I write.   By tomorrow I surely will have found several to enjoy during this thankful week.

Once, in 1984, when I was the western US agent for Bouchard Pere et Fils wines from their estates in Burgundy (akin to being the Sorceress of the West) the Ahwahnee Hotel in California’s Yosemite National Park and I hosted Yosemite’s first Beaujolais Nouveau wine weekend.   The Ahwahnee already poured Bouchard Pere et Fils Burgundy by the glass, and they wanted to be the first National Park to have a Beaujolais Nouveau festivity.  Mindful that Yosemite is one of the grandeurs of California, I wanted this festival to include some California Nouveau wines too.  So I went to meet with my friends, Robert Pecota in Calistoga  and Charles Shaw outside of St. Helena to ask them to please join us in celebrating the first wine of the year.  Then both were alone in making the real “Beaujolais style” nouveau wines with the Gamay Noir au Jus Blanc grape in the US.  In fact for Chuck Shaw’s winery this 1984 nouveau would be the first of a long tradition.   We all met in Yosemite in July, with wine-writer Robert Lawrence Balzer, and planned the Beaujolais Nouveau event for the release of the new wines in November.  Mid-November Jean-Francois Bouchard, the fils of Bouchard Pere et Fils, flew in on the Concord to bring the first cases of his nouveau wines.   Charles Shaw and Bob Pecota brought their in by car up over the snowy passes into Yosemite Valley.  Joining us to discuss foods that accompany well these young fruity wines was America’s darling, Chef Jeremiah Tower from his Star’s restaurant in San Francisco.  Writing about it was James Suckling, newly elevated to staff writer at the Wine Spectator.   Writer-showman Robert Lawrence Balzer played the master of ceremonies.  And all the rest of us there in the exhilarating Ahwahnee hotel enjoying these new wines with delicious Thanksgiving dishes.    For this first wine of the year I bow to Dionysos.

No thanksgiving would be truly celebratory without Champagne.  I am thankful for Champagne.  Another Grande Dame of Champagne, Madame Lily Bollinger, should be thanked for her advice given while describing her pattern of life:   “I drink my Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad.  Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.  When I have company I consider it obligatory.   I trifle with it when I’m not hungry and drink it when I am.  Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” – Should we not be thankful for Madame Bollinger?

Thanksgiving is not quite here.   Maybe tomorrow I could find another small excuse to be thankful for Champagne?

Julius Caesar, be still.  Your time will come. 

Madeleine de Jean,
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

5 Champagne Extends To Cognac

The oldest house under family ownership and management in Champagne is also certainly one of the oldest, if not the, in the cognac region of France:  Champagne Gosset is the oldest in continual ownership and management by a family; since 1584, since before Champagne’s modern-day sparkle was invented, Gosset has owned property and made and sold wine in the Ay/Epernay area of Champagne.
Today that family that owns Champagne Gosset is also a family from another champagne-soil area, Cognac.   The Frapin-Cointreau family must be the oldest also in continual property-owning and brandy-making in Cognac.   Frapin cognac has been collecting property in the most prestigious region of Cognac, Grande Champagne, since 1270.    Today they own over 400 hectares.

When, after four hundred years making Champagne wines, the Gosset family decided to sell their family Champagne house what more perfect union could have been devised than that the oldest house from Cognac would arrive with freshness and eagerness to continue this legacy in Champagne? 
Immediately this newcomer from another traditional house,Beatrice Frapin, set to work to continue a most important legacy in Champagne:  that everything sold as Champagne undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle in which it is sold.  In the early 1990s there was some danger that this was an endangered way-of-champagne making because of?  …what else? … cost.  Many houses had already begun cheating by transferring from magnums into 375 ml. bottles.  But Beatrice Frapin Cointreau, President of Champagne Gosset, with Champagne GH Mumm, went to the governing board, Champagne’s CIVC, and challenged this as against the principal of Champagne.    Beatrice Frapin's and the GH Mumm side won.  Today if a Champagne house produces 375 ml (or “half bottles”) the wine must undergo its second fermentation in that bottle which the customer eventually purchases.    

Champagne Gosset, tooth-by-jowl with Champagne’s Cote de Blancs, their house surrounded by Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Champagne vineyards of Ay, is almost unique in that their house style has always been one that, in order to keep fruit flavors high in their Champagnes, malolactic fermentation is prevented. 

Since 1584 the owners and makers of Champagne Gosset have striven to blend tradition with modernity.  Today the main facility of Gosset has moved from Ay to Epernay, but the Ay house is maintained as the center of aging in deep cool chalk cellars.

Both modernity and tradition underlie the Champagnes produced.   Gosset’s Grande Reserve Brut in its traditional 18th century Champagne bottle, is made of 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier, a modern blend.   But traditionally it is aged for over 4 years before release, yielding a complex and savory champagne, one that has true links to greatness.  The Grand Rose of 58% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, with 7% still red wines, is a blend which shows the house roots in the Cote de Blancs, yielding a rose Champagne with undertones of exotic spices and richness and floral essence.  But it is in Gosset’s famed Celebris Blanc de Blanc that extraordinary length of palate richness is achieved.    

Though Ay’s vineyards touch those of the Cote des Blanc, these Grand Cru vineyards are divided between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Given the soil structure that nearby promotes some of the world’s greatest Chardonnay vineyards, the Pinot Noir plantations here often produce wine with white flower fragrances, offering a backbone of Meursault-like glycerin to the elegant black-grape wine.  So it is no wonder, though Champagne Gosset professes to be a Chardonnay style house that their wines have a floral balance between the two great grapes.

Champagne and Cognac share chalky soil which makes the differences in the richness and style of their products.   Several are the links between some of the finest Champagnes and the greatest of Cognacs:  Gosset-Frapin is outstanding for this legacy, the oldest in continual existences in both areas fostered and planted by Caesar’s legionnaires.

Soon Julius Caesar will come to visit.  I promise. 

Madeleine de Jean 24 November, 2013
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

4 Mastroberardino is like Champagne

In 51 BC Julius Caesar was conquering Gaul, before inventing Champagne.

And in 1984 AD Antonio Mastroberardino was conquering Yosemite National Park with his wines made according to Pliny the Elder.  

Being with and working with Antonio is like being immersed in Champagne:  always slightly hallucinatory and always delicious.  I never knew from which direction he would pop out with another gem of knowledge, like how he devised, on our flight from the Heublein Rare Wine Auction in Atlanta to San Francisco in 1984, a non-tormenting method to remove the natural tannic color imparted to Greco di Tufo wine because of the grape’s natural inclination to mutate in skin color.  He wrote fast on his pad; I was mesmerized.  I was glad the method he was devising from electronics was “non-tormenting”. 

Bubbly Mastroberardino is to be with.  Where else could I inhale so much of the “gas of life” except from him and from Champagne?  One day I fully expect to see Antonio floating like an Ionesco character, strolling in the air some meters over his vineyards; especially those vineyards like “Villa dei Misteri”, which he and Pliny Senior have created, with the Superintendent of Archaeology at Pompeii, on the outskirts of Pompeii.  The ancient varieties in the vineyard, Piedirosso and Sciacinoso, were selected after finding pips in the volcanic ash of this about-to-be-harvested in 79 AD vineyard; their DNA proved these to be the varieties used then.

(Here you see, thanks to a photo from Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia, a photo of a wine-bar in Pompeii as it may have looked before service on that morning in August, 79 AD, prior to Vesuvius’s eruption.)

Arriving in San Francisco that day in 1984, Mastroberardino and I caught another flight to Yosemite to meet with James Suckling, then newly elevated to the Wine Spectator staff because of his writing ability and his erudition about wine.  After a day of tasting with the Ahwahnee Hotel wine-servers many Mastroberardino wines, during which the questions posed underlined the general wine knowledge Stew Good had imparted to his staff, we were (Philip di Belardino, myself, James Suckling and Antonio Mastroberardino) sitting on the banks of the Merced River, a vinous picnic spread before us.  Antonio gazed at the wonders of Half Dome and Bridalveil falls.  By 1984 Antonio was well-known in Italy and in his native Campania for standing alone to turn back the tide to planting modern grape varieties after the horrors of two world wars.  In his vineyards he insisted on planting his heritage, the ancient indigenous varieties of the Romans and those historically imported by the Greeks and Phoenicians, like Greco and Taurasi, Irpinia and the great Fiano. “Modern man’s task is to take what he should from the past; I value the ancient vines….Tomorrow’s scholars will be interested in tasting these wines.  …Why did we come to Yosemite?  It is to compare ourselves to the ancient past.” 

Today, twenty-nine years later it is very true that the world is interested in tasting his wines.  At Pompeii he has reconstituted two vineyards destroyed just prior to harvest in August, 79 A.D.  Using his friend, ancient historian of wine, Pliny Secondus, Antonio and other friends in the Italian antiquities and archaeological departments, can point with pride at these thriving Pompeian vineyards, “Villa dei Misteri” and “79 A.D.”    To taste such must be like tasting the “gas of life”, the gas that makes Champagne. 

For me, one day, when I do have the opportunity to taste these wines of the great Antonio Mastroberardino, I think I will join him in an Ionesco-like moment.  Holding hands we will float over his vineyards, buoyed on the gas of life.  Ah, Champagne.

So I proclaim that today is the day for us all to go out there and find a bottle of Mastroberardino wine:  Falanghina is a particularly intriguing white wine; or perhaps you will find a bottle of his great red wine, Taurasi;  if you are truly lucky you may chance upon his Fiano di Avellino, one of the greatest white wines in the world.   Campania is on the road to Champagne.

Yes, Caesar, we are approaching!  Nunc bibendum est.

Madeleine de Jean, 22 November, 2013,

The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

3CHAMPAGNE's Noble Art of Sabrage

CHAMPAGNE's Noble Art of Sabrage. 

3 CHAMPAGNE TOUJOURS:  Let’s talk Sabering.  CHAMPAGE’s Noble art.


Champagne GH Mumm is the Champagne house synonymous with the art of sabrage, the Noble Art of sabering.

Some twenty years after the founding of GH Mumm Champagne in Riems, the Mumm family invited le Legion d’Honneur to their circuitous underground caves for a reception.   A guest, impatient with the cellarmaster for taking too long to uncork what they were anticipating, by-passing the unwinding of the string that then held the corks, he took his sabre to the bottle. Unexpectedly his sabre hit on the vulnerable spot, the ridge where the top meets the neck, and the cork came sailing out.   Voila!  The “Noble Art of Sabrage” had begun.   

After these illustrious guests had downed millions of Mumm’s bubbles, another, not so steady-on-his-feet legionnaire exclaimed, “Let us award Mumm’s excellent Champagne le Legion d’Honneur.”  Thus Mumm’s “Cordon Rouge” Champagne received its name along with the Legion’s red sash, Mumm’s first award. 


Sabrage is not without dangers, so should not, without the cautions advised below, become a party trick or game.  Otherwise you might wish you also practiced law.  The possibility of the bottle shattering, scattering lethal shards all over the sabreur and guests is great if the laws of sabering are not followed.  Even Julia Child, who was an excellent sabreuse, and who truly loved to do it, surprised herself by breaking a magnum once on National TV.  Probably the bottle had not been properly prepared for her.  If these simple rules are followed you will delight and surprise yourself and your guests, as that legionnaire did long ago.


 After second fermentation, most bottles of Champagne are at “full mousse”, or six atmospheres of pressure, or contain 90 pounds per square inch.  That bottle therefore can be some powerful weapon, and caution must be taken.

1.      The bottle should be very cold, especially the neck of the bottle.  Immerse it deep in ice for a good hour.

2.      A real Champagne “sabre” should be used.  A Champagne sabre, such as those LaGuiole make for Champagne houses, is never sharpened.  The “blade” side of the sabre is simply very narrow but not sharp.  It is not meant to cut anything, merely to encourage the top to separate itself and fly away on the pressure of the bubbly mousse.

3.      A cloth should be placed about fifteen feet in front of the sabering, and guests should be spread away from where the cork is expected to fly and to land.

4.      Handling the neck area as little as possible to maintain its frigid temperature, keeping the bottle on a slight upward angle, carefully remove the wrapping, find the lateral seam along one long side of the bottle, and unwind the six counterclockwise turns of the wire muzzle, carefully opening it as you do so.

5.      If the sabreur is right-handed, with a napkin grasp the bottle near to the bottom with the left hand, while with the right hand slide the sabre as close to parallel to the bottle as possible up the seam twice.  On the second slide, with the same parallel motion, with conviction tap the rim of the neck where the wire used to be fastened.  Just that slight pressure should be enough to send the cork and the top of the glass bottle flying about fifteen feet into the air on a sigh of bubbles.


The pressure remaining inside the bottle is sufficient to prevent any small pieces of glass from entering the bottle.  But as a cautionary, pour out the first drops before serving the rest of the sabered bottle.  The napkin that was used to hold the bottle should continue to be used to prevent the bottle from slipping in the hand of the server as the neck where the top was removed is extremely sharp and can cut easily.


These simple cautions should make sabering safe and fun, causing quite a sensation at your next Champagne party.  I hope you have one daily.


One more word of advice:  only Champagne has 6 atmospheres of pressure built up in the bottle during its long and slow fermentation.  Other sparkling wines of less pressure will not have as ebullient a result as a bottle of Champagne.

It’s all in the wrist and the bubbles. It’s Champagne!


Sante and Bon Appetit!

Champagne Toujours. 

Do not forget:  Julius Caesar did invent Champagne.


P.S. The photos I used to show you where the Real Lion King, Agamemnon, lived, I took at his city of Mycenae.   Several of the photos were taken in Mycenae’s Museum, and are of discoveries made by Archaeologist Elizabeth French.  Mycenae and its museum are waiting for you too to voyage back into the Bronze Age.  Don’t forget the Champagne for your picnic with the Real Lion King.

2 Visiting the real LION KING is like Champagne

Visiting the real LION KING.


Visiting the real LION KING is like Champagne:  exciting, elevating, thrilling.

Agamemnon and his pet lion (the lion's den below)
met me at those gates and I had a tour of his

Palace.  Then off we went in a fancy carriage to visit with King Nestor, where he and Queen Eurydice were celebrating, hosting their annual wine festival.  Tall kylix cups with handles like funny ears
were passed around.    The new wines were delicious, especially the Kydonitsa.


We stayed much too late to leave, so we spent the night and continued the celebrating.

I told you traveling to the Bronze Age is like drinking Champagne.


I have not yet told you about how Julius Caesar Invented Champagne, though, have I?  That’s quite a tale.    Next time, maybe.  Bye-bye,


Saturday, November 16, 2013

1 Champagne at Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon in Denver Nov 10. 2013

1 Champagne at Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon in Denver, Nov. 13, 2013

Placemat with menu

Sunday, a week ago today, I traveled Memory Lane to host again my once-annual Julia Child luncheon.  Last Sunday’s lunch was not just a memory, but the real thing.  Missing though was the first key ingredient, Julia, herself, bon appetit; but I know she was seated in the chair-of-honor I set for her, enjoying all the praise she received from her guests.

A fitting ending to the 9th annual Denver International Wine Festival, at the Omni in Broomfield, Colorado, the Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon was co-hosted by the creators of the DIWF, Darcy and Chris Davies.  The menu I had created in 1989 for my first luncheon for Julia at the Jerome hotel in Aspen (with GM then and now Tony di Lucia) was replicated: from the divine fried chicken to the deliriously maddeningly decadent chocolate cake, all washed down by Champagnes GH Mumm Cordon Rouge, and Mumm Rose, Taittinger’s Brut La Francaise and Brut Rose, and, from the oldest house in Champagne, Gosset’s Grande Brut and Grande Rose.  Sabering was in order, and Chef Mario acquitted himself admirably.   

Chef Mario Clapes and Madeleine de Jean

Memory Lane it was, guests standing to remember Julia:  her recipes, her help with their careers (Cliff Young of his famous and eponymous restaurant in Denver, spoke movingly of this), her enthusiasm and fervor in bringing gastronomy, freeing America from death-by-frozen-TV-dinners.

I was sorry her niece and nephew-in-law, Phila Cousins and Bob Moran, could not be with us as in the past, but they are in Venice gondola-ing the cannels on a second honeymoon.

Admirably was I assisted by the Omni’s Champagnettes, Julie, Meredith, and Mary.

Until the next one, November 22, 2014, bon appetit  to us all! 

 Dear Julia, how we miss you! 
your friend,

Click here to view the photo gallery from this delicious event!