With Child: After an evening of red meat and red wine last week with Julia Child, sponsored by the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food (which Julia founded sixteen years ago with Robert Mondavi, Richard Graff and others) and held at Brasserie Z, I came to the following conclusions. First, Julia is still the greatest, but she is losing the ability to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Second, the local AIWF group is not the stuffy, tight-assed organization I feared, but a really fun bunch of folks. And finally, a panel discussion of red meat and red wine is as good a reason to eat and drink to excess as any other.
Seriously, this do was entertaining, even with Bill Husted moderating the panel, which included Bill St. John (you go, boy, for having the huevos to pooh-pooh one of the course's meat-wine matchups); Omaha Steaks owner Fred Simon, who didn't get to talk about red meat very much; sommelier Sally Mohr from Boulder, who, as one of four female master sommeliers in the country, is one of Colorado's best-kept secrets; and Sam Arnold, who good-naturedly plugged his favorite red meat, buffalo.
And, of course, there was Julia, who continues to be so adorable you want to eat her with a glass of "lovely Burgundy," as she's fond of saying. In fact, she's so darned reverential about food, you gotta love it--everything's a "lovely sauce," a "lovely wine," a "lovely piece of cod." But she's also still a pistol, at one point deriding that insipid group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest--you know, the ones who keep grabbing headlines with such stop-the-presses studies as "fettuccine Alfredo is high in fat"--by proclaiming, "There's that something-or-other-for-the-public-good group, but they're a deceitful people. I'd like to give them a piece of my mind." She had competition, though, from St. John, who extolled the virtues of "big, on-all-fours red wines"--hmmm, like to have me some of those--and described blush wines as "wines that are too embarrassed to be real wines."
But none of the banter detracted from the impressive dishes being trotted out of the kitchen--from the salmon tartare appetizer by Z owner Kevin Taylor to the Venezuelan chocolate tart dessert by the same guy. In between, we were treated to buffalo tongue in truffle aspic with caper-horseradish sauce from The Fort's Mark Jakobsen (terrific tongue, but where was the truffle flavor?); a Pacific Rim beef salad from Aubergine Cafe's Sean Kelly (the salad was stellar, but this was the matchup I thought didn't work); oak-grilled steak and two-peppercorn soup with fresh currants and chive blossoms from Cucina Leone's Sean Fowler (the most innovative offering, but the kitchen had a tough time giving everyone the same amount of currants and blossoms); and Taylor's fantastic fennel-and-pepper-rubbed tenderloin of beef with garlic whipped potatoes.
The wines were outstanding in their own right, especially the finale 1995 Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls from France, with its portlike quality and high alcohol content. As usually happens at these deals, everyone at our table had pledged their undying love for one another by the time we got to the fifth wine, then we all made our hazy way out into the real world--which is, unfortunately, not always lovely.
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The AIWF, on the other hand, is an appealing association and seemingly well worth the $75 individual membership fee, which gets you the bimonthly newsletter and other AIWF publications, as well as special member rates for local and national events such as this one. Call 800-274-2493 to join.
Ask for the Moon: Speaking of wine, the Full Moon Grill, at 2525 Arapahoe in Boulder, will host a Southern Italian wine dinner on June 24. Pay $45 and taste Feudi di San Gregorio "Tavrasi" 1991 and Greco di Tufo 1995 while eating chef Bradford Heap's fetching Italian creations.
For the birds: And speaking of meat, what's been touted as the "other red meat," ostrich, hasn't quite taken off. But that's not stopping the Rocky Mountain Ostrich Association from promoting its product through such gimmicks as the Rocky Mountain OstrichFest, set for July 20 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock. Look for ostrich races, ostrich chile and--whoa--opportunities to watch ostrich chicks hatch before your very eyes. The cost is $3 for adults, $1 for the under-thirteen set.