Welcome, my friends, to Drink Wine With Dinner® Month! What’s that about, you ask?
Well, as you’ll see, I created the “Drink Wine With Dinner® Day” holiday in 2011 to commemorate Julia Child’s August 15th birthday. Julia was my inspiration and mentor for the food-and-wine career I love so much, and we shared a correspondence for many years.
After Julia moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the Santa Barbara area – about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles – I had the pleasure of meeting her in person on a number of occasions.
I also interviewed her about her adventurous life in the food world for an article in the magazine Palate and Spirit, for which she shared several very touching family photos, including several with her beloved husband Paul.
During that time, I was teaching the “Food and Wine Pairing” course at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Even into her 80s and early 90s, Julia was still writing her wonderful books, and with each new release, she would come up to San Francisco to do book signings.
I offered to help Julia anytime she was in town. Fortunately, she accepted during several of her California Culinary Academy visits, as well as at other locales such as the Monterey Food Festival.
It truly was a thrill for me, as well as a great honor and privilege, to be standing at Julia’s right shoulder as her eager fans lined up with their book purchases, waiting to exchange a few words with the inimitable “Queen of Cuisine.”
As I opened each book to the proper page, Julia would autograph it with a flourish, adding her trademark “Bon Appetit” tagline.
She was always gracious and generous – in fact, some of the people in line had even brought one or more of Julia’s earlier books from home – and no matter how long it took, she would sign everything with a delighted smile.
At the Culinary Academy, Julia would always draw a huge crowd, composed primarily of students. If possible, she was even more animated then than usual, bantering with her eager young audience and asking each of the chefs-in-training about their career goals and ambitions.
The last time I saw Julia, not long before her passing (see photo, above left), she and Jacques Pépin were being honored at a gala dinner at San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The event was celebrating the release of a marvelous new book – Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home – that the two had just co-authored.
Toward the end of the cocktail hour, I managed to get through the crowd of well-wishers for a conversation with Julia. We spoke about her new book, about the Culinary Academy, and about several people we knew in common.
When the dinner announcement came, Julia and I looked at each other, and I extended my arm for her to grasp. “Shall we?” I asked – “Delighted,” she replied with a twinkle.
Holding my arm with her right hand, and her cane and baseball cap with her left, Julia allowed me to escort her into the dining room, to the table of honor – and we exchanged a hearty “Bon Appétit” in parting.
My friends, I look forward to sharing Drink Wine With Dinner® Month with you throughout August.
I’ll be back soon with some tasty new wine-and-food pairings – some of them rather offbeat – as well as a tribute to Julia Child, on the day of her birthday.
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Great! You’re now an official “Wine Lover” member of the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club.
Buuut (as they say…) WAIT! There’s MORE!!!
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