What is it about food history and culture that keeps us craving more? Recently, I visited the National Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington,DC, to experience its first major exhibition on food history – “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000.” I enjoyed my visit so much I went back for a second helping two days later.
First, there’s Julia’s Child’s kitchen which is like a shrine. Then there are the focused exhibits touching on historic milestones and the changing landscape of what we eat and drink in post World War II America. So much to digest!
Food Historian and Museum Curator Paula Johnson, who serves as Project Director and Co-Creator of this fascinating exhibition, and shares her insights on how food shapes our culture November 23 on The Connected Table LIVE! W4cyRadio
I first met Paulette Satur over a game of tennis. She was pretty good as I recall. At the time she worked in wine sales for Martin Scott. But this Pennsylvania born farm girl had a bigger vision. After 12 years working in wine she decided to buy a farm on the North Fork of Long Island.
Initially the sustainably grown produce and herbs harvested at Satur Farms was intended to supply the restaurant where Paulette’s chef husband worked. Chef Eberhard Müller was known for his exacting standards when it came to his raw ingredients and wanted better than what was available at the time. Eberhard shot to fame at Le Bernardin, took over the kitchen at Lutece after Andre Soltner retired and then moved on to Bayard’s when Lutece closed.
As the saying goes, “If you grow it they will come.” Other chefs wanted what Eberhard was serving and asked who his produce purveyor was. Satur farms took off. Now Eberhard works full time as a partner with Paulette at Satur Farms which now includes 250 acres on Long Island and another 500 acres in Florida during the winter months. Satur Farms provides millions of people in the Northeast and Florida area locally grown produce in season.
Two annual events always signal the holiday season for me aside from Thanksgiving. Both are seasoned with sentiments of delicious years past and take place the same week.
The first is the third Thursday of November with the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. For four years I had the honor- and challenge- of creating and staging Beaujolais Nouveau arrival happenings for Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. Preparation started months in advance well before the first grapes started to bud on the vines. Each year we attempted to stage an uncorking ceremony more inventive and outrageous than the last. By Thanksgiving I felt like I’d given birth and was flat out exhausted from pulling off all the multiple events, but, oh, what fun! Here’s the list:
The Beaujolais Biker Brigade (2008): The wine was delivered/escorted by chefs and Harley Davidson Hogs on motorcycles from the southern tip of Manhattan to Bouley Restaurant in Tribeca. A similar event was held in Miami the same day.
Peace, Love & Beaujolais Nouveau (2009): The wine was delivered by hippies escorting vintage Volkswagon buses and staging Sip-Ins in New York and Miami.
Cirque Nouveau (2010): The wine was dropped into Franck Duboeuf’s arms by a trapeze artist in a room filled with contortionists and acrobats.
Year 4: Art Nouveau (2011): A vintage Cadillac custom painted by graffiti artist, Kaves, delivered the wine into giant warehouse turned art gallery filled with hip hop dancers.
These days the celebrations lean toward tasteful wine and food events with more refined fanfare. The dinner we attended November 17 at Bouley Botanical in Tribeca featured a spectacular menu by Chef Daniel Eddy of Rebelle and an evening of festive toasts amidst wine industry friends. We had the chance to catch up with Franck Duboeuf and his wife Anne.Georges Duboeuf was in Japan for the arrival celebration which is one of the largest in Asia. It’s a wonderful tradition that always puts us in the mood for the holidays, toasting friends and being thankful for our deliciously abundant life. Kudos to our friends, Marsha Palanci, Cornerstone PR, and Kimberly Charles, Charles Communications, who now carry the PR torch for Duboeuf’s very special delivery.
The second event is Citymeals on Wheels Power Lunch for Women held at The Plaza Hotel November 18 attended by a Who’s Who of leading ladies in NYC, including many who work in the wine and food industry. This year’s 30th annual lunch honored Citymeals on Wheels Co-Founder and Chair Gael Greene who has been a guest on this show (Here is the link).
Gael Greene has raised over $410 million for Citymeals on Wheels in its 35 year history, and she never stops. This year’s Power Lunch for Women has raised over $1 million providing 136,000 meals for New York’s homebound elderly.
It is always an honor to be among such talented and well meaning leaders of our city to support this important cause. New York City is home to over 1.4 million seniors. 66% of them are women since we ladies tend to outlive men. But, 73% live alone; 40% never leave their homes; 8% have no one to talk to. Citymeals on Wheels fills the void of isolation and provides physical and emotional nourishment through meal deliveries and conversation. Just $1,200 covers the cost of a full year of meals for one person. These days that’s four dinners at a top NYC restaurant if you carefully order your wines.
Citymeals on Wheels’ “Chefs Deliver”program brings together a rotating cast of culinary stars who, once a month, lend their talents to Citymeals – cooking and often personally delivering meals right to the doors of homebound elderly New Yorkers.
Sometimes it’s your first taste of something that you remember forever. Other times it’s the experience you were having, or you you were with, that creates that palate memory,
My first wine memory and taste- at age 15- was my Dad teaching me how to properly serve and taste wine. he wanted me to learn that good wine existed from many parts of the world. My only experience with wine was sipping Mogen David at Passover, so any wine would be an upgrade. With my Dad it was an adventure.
Proudly wearing his tastevin around my neck, I demonstrated to my classmates how to open and serve a bottle of wine in my public speaking class. The only issue was my teacher would not actually allow me to open the wine since we were all underage. The first wine I actually tasted was Mogen David during a Passover seder. But that doesn’t really count! Fortunately, I had nowhere to go but upgrade in my wine life.
Sommelier-turned vintner Rajat Parr‘s early wine memories came from his uncle in London. Born in Calcutta and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Rajat apprenticed with Larry Stone at Rubicon in San Francisco, whom he credits as his mentor. He brought his expertise to Fifth Floor restaurant and became wine director for The Mina Group. He’s traveled the world to visit the finest vineyards and has a special affinity for the wines of Burgundy.
But it’s stateside where he’s making his mark as a vintner. Rajat has transitioned from working the restaurant floor to tending the vines. In 2011 he launched Sandhi, a partnership with Charles Banks and Sashi Moorman, to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from select vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills. In 2013 he released wines from his estate vineyard Domaine de la Côte. We recently saw Rajat at Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience where he was debuting Seven Springs Estate “La Source” from the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon.
Here’s our November 9th show with Rajat Parr on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.
Want to learn how to enjoy great wine from a world’s top sommelier? Purchase a copy of Rajat Parr’s book, Secrets of the Sommeliers : How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals. Winner – 2011 James Beard Cookbook Award – Beverage Category
The month of November is both bitter and sweet for us. Both David and I lost our fathers in November. Both our fathers inspired our lives in wine. Jack Ransom owned Rivendell Winery in Ulster County where all three of his sons worked. Mel Young taught wine classes for more than 30 years in Chattanooga and had me tasting wine with him when I was in my teens. Both of our fathers served in the U.S. military, and we will remember them on Veteran’s Day this Friday and toast them when we host Thanksgiving later this month.
With the Presidential election now over, half of Americans woke up with a bitter taste in their mouths and half now relish sweet victory. To distract myself from the news and look for home-baked holiday gift ideas, I’ve been poring over Dorie Greenspan‘s gorgeous new book, “Dorie’s Cookies” Maybe her cookie called “World Peace” (pp 335-337) would be most appropriate right now.
The story behind the World Peace Cookie, from “Dorie’s Cookies”…
The World Peace cookie has a long history, starting sometime before the turn of the millennium, when Pierre Hermé, recently named the Best Pastry Chef in the World (something I knew decades earlier), created it for Korova, a then-new, now gone restaurant in Paris.
Revolutionary when it was born and beloved ever since, the cookie is a chocolate sablé, a French shortbread cookie, but because Pierre was inspired by the all-American chocolate-chipper, it has brown sugar and so it’s chewier. It also has a generous amount of chopped bittersweet chocolate and an immediately discernible amount of fleur de sel, moist, French sea salt. While we take salt in a cookie for granted now, sprinkling cookie-tops with flake salt and adding more than a pinch of salt to just about every cookie, it was startling then and still so appealing.
Baking Expert Dorie Greenspan says she dreams of cookies in her sleep. She notes she has at least 300 cookie recipes to her name. Dorie managed to narrow her recipes down and create even more….to 170 for her just released 12th cookbook “Dorie’s Cookies,” including some very interesting savory cookies (not crackers, she notes!)
Who doesn’t have a cookie memory? My favorite is a crunchy white meringue made with whipped egg whites, sugar, almond extract and cream of tartar. The recipe was passed down from my grandmother, Mimi. My mother calls them “forgotten cookies” because she says she puts them in the oven and just forgets about them. For years, there wasn’t a holiday homecoming for me where my mother didn’t have meringues waiting. Dorie’s version of “Meringue Snowballs” is on pages 224-25.
Dorie joins us November 9, 2:25pmET, to discuss her passion for baking and cookies. She’s a multi-James Beard Award recipient and the “Everyday Dorie Columnist” for Washington Post who divides her time between homes New York, Connecticut and Paris. Life sure is sweet!
Dorie shared her cookie memories with us November 9th on The Connected Table LIVE! Listen to our show on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.
Dorie’s Cookies is a great gift for cookie lovers and bakers. Buy it now!
Chef and restaurateur Nora Pouillon is Washington, DC’s- and the nation’s – Forever First Lady in the world of organic food and sustainability. When she arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s from her native Austria, our country was on a diet of processed foods and agricultural products treated with chemicals -and in too many communities still is. Determined to feed both her family and her customers healthy, farm fresh food like she grew up eating in Europe, Nora set out to find local farmers to supply her food. It wasn’t easy but Nora was committed to finding a better and healthier solution to serve
local, seasonally prepared meals. Restaurant Nora opened in its 19th century red brick building in 1979 (the same year McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal just to give you an idea of what many Americans were eating). Twenty years later in 1999, Restaurant Nora became the first certified organic restaurant, which means 95% of all ingredients must be produced by certified organic farmers, growers and suppliers. Thank goodness Nora stuck to her guns; many restaurants don’t even last 20 years.
Nora has received countless awards, too many to list here. But what struck me at the panel discussion where she spoke about Chef-Activism is how she cultivated farmers and helped nurture their businesses by organizing bus tours to introduce DC area chefs to the farmers. In the process she sustained both their businesses and hers by helping ensure the viability of their farms. Nora also initiated DC’s first producer-only farmer’s market, FRESHFARM Markets, which now includes eleven markets in the metropolitan area.
These days “Farm-To-Table” is a frequent phrase in restaurants around the nation. Sustainability and ethical cooking are top of mind. We all have Nora Pouillon to thank for leading the way. She recently announced plans to pass the torch at Restaurant Nora. Somehow we know there’s an interesting new chapter to be written. If you haven’t read Nora’s full story, check out this book. And listen to our show here:
While many Americans may be gnashing their teeth and biting their nails as we head into the last week of the Presidential campaign, I’m ready to cast my vote for the most impressive women-as-culinary-activists after attending last week’s Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference in Washington, DC. Not intending to sound political, but just proud of my tribe: “If you want to get something done, ask a woman to do it.” Hats off to the Dames of the Washington DC Chapter who made this annual conference a fabulous success. The conference speakers addressed some very substantial topics that had everyone thinking about the role of food, its cultural significance in history and diplomacy and why activism and advocacy are critical to sustainability.
James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro’s keynote speech addressed the importance of embracing more diversity at every level of the food- and drink- chain of command. Lauren Bernstein, Director of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership in the Office of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State, illustrated how top chefs are serving the nation in the role of culinary diplomat beyond Presidential State Dinners.
Native Americans may have worked out treaties with our country’s early settlers over a peace pipe, but today’s global relations are warmed up over a peace plate. Gastro-diplomacy takes knowledge, skill, good taste and an appreciation of cultural and culinary traditions.
Pass the plate of peace, please!
Founded by New York based Food Writer and Editor Carol Brock Les Dames d’Escoffier is an invitational organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy. www.ldei.org
The role of food as a cultural identity and brand builder for a country, how food can be used as both a weapon of war and vehicle for peace, and how ethical cooking and a borderless kitchen factor into international relations were among the topics addressed in a presentation by Dr. Johanna Mendelson Forman.
With more than two decades of experience in the international arena, working on post-conflict transition and democratization issues, Johanna holds a wealth of expertise and insights into the role of food in driving conflict and connecting people and communities. An Adjunct Professor at American University’s School of International Service where she teaches Conflict Cuisine®: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table, Johanna encourages new ways of looking at diplomacy, conflict resolution, and civic engagement. She is also a Senior Adviser at the Stimson Center where she directs the Food Security program.
Johanna has written extensively about food and conflict, and topics related to Latin America. Her work has been published in a wide-range of publications including, the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Americas Quarterly, The Globalist, VOXXI, Estadao, El Universal, and World Politics Review, and has been cited in NPR’s The Salt, LeFigaro, Salon, and Italia Oggi, and This Week. She has lectured on food related topics at the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program, Johns Hopkins University Bologna Campus, New York University’s Washington Program, and at the United States Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy. She also writes a column on conflict cuisines for the DCist, a local Washington blog post.
Listen to our show November 2 show with Johanna Mendelson Forman: