Eating Around the World
The Songkran Festival, Thailand's celebration of the new year, begins today and continues until April 15. The exciting, absurdly healthy food of that country has become extraordinarily popular around America. The flavors of Thai curries, noodle dishes, and spicy soups always get me going. Most dishes are jammed with fresh vegetables and herbs. The cuisine has been popular long enough that more than a few chefs of other kinds of restaurants have borrowed Thai flavors. You even see that in chain restaurants.
Annals of Winemaking
Baron Philippe de Rothschild was born today in 1902. At age 20, he took over management of Château Mouton, which his grandfather bought in 1843. For the next two decades, he was single-minded in the pursuit of first-growth status for Mouton, which had been a second growth in the great Bordeaux classification of 1855. His motto: "Premier ne puis, second ne daigne. Mouton suis." (First I am denied, second I disdain. I am just Mouton.) He reached his goal in 1945. Baron Philippe also created the world's first branded wine in Mouton Cadet. And the first French-California partnership in Opus One. He was a revolutionary.
It's also the birthday of America's first boutique winemaker. Thomas Jefferson — who in addition to his achievements as a statesman and philosopher, was a serious gourmet and wine lover — was born today in 1743. He planted vineyards in Virginia using vines from Bordeaux, and thought that some day American wines could rival French wines. But his favorite wine was Château Lafite.
Deft Dining Rule #236
Just to be on the safe side, never order a famous, very expensive wine. You're already on the safe side by ordering wine at all.
marchand de vin, [mar-shan-deh-VANH], French, n., adj. — A style of serving roasted meats — most commonly beefsteaks — with a sauce made with a good deal of red wine and beef stock (sometimes demi-glace). Some versions also include a dark roux (especially in New Orleans, where the sauce is a standard in Creole-French restaurants) and mushrooms. The name means "merchant of wine."
Wine Hill is in southern Illinois, 73 miles south of St. Louis, Miss., and seven miles northeast of the Mississippi River. It's a country crossroads town in the middle of rolling cornfields. The hill itself reaches 612 feet, which isn't nosebleed territory exactly, but still about a 100 feet higher than the surrounding terrain. Despite the name, there is no evidence of significant vineyards anywhere nearby (although wine is grown in Illinois). The community supports a church but no restaurant. The nearest eatery is the Roadhouse, four miles west in Chester.
It's Peach Cobbler Day. Peach cobbler is easy enough to make: you bake some fresh peach slices with a little sugar and cinnamon until they're soft. Then you drop spoonfuls of sweetened biscuit dough into the baking dish, mix them up, and bake again until it browns. Not enough restaurants serve peach cobbler. Those that do usually make it too sweet. It would be better made with fresh peaches and less sugar.