"I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate." Julia Child
So I gotta tell you what I did last night, cuz it was one of the coolest things I've done in a while. As you may know, yesterday was what would have been the famous TV chef Julia Child's 100th birthday. It was a pretty big deal, especially around here where she lived for many years. Google even spelled out their name in "Julia-esque" fashion yesterday.
My BFF, had emailed myself and another girlfriend a few weeks back and had shared with us this email:
Join Chef Barbara Lynch and her team on Wednesday, August 15th - what would have been Julia's 100th birthday - for an entertaining and delicious tribute to America's first lady of cooking during national Julia Child Restaurant Week.As part of the national JC100, a 100 day celebration of Julia and her incredible legacy of culinary teachings, Menton will be among 100 restaurants across the country to participate in Julia Child Restaurant Week by presenting recipes from the JC100 (100 of Julia's most cherished recipes that were handpicked from the 3417 in her cookbook canon by a jury of culinary luminaries including Judith Jones, Dorie Greenspan, Amanda Hesser, Thomas Keller, Danny Meyer, Jacques Pepin, Ruth Reichl, and Anne Willan).
The festive fête will commence with passed hors d'oeuvres and then continue with a seated dinner. Guests will be arranged at communal tables to encourage the sharing of stories and laughter, while enjoying a four course menu with wine pairings. The four-course menu will feature recipes from the JC100 selected by Menton's chefs, along with a few Julia-inspired surprises.
So I said, "Hell yes!" and the three of us made a plan. Last night we arrived at 6:30 and were immediately welcomed into the gorgeous Menton restaurant by a well dressed man carrying a tray of rose champagne! Oh, yeah! I couldn't have been happier. We then proceeded into an open reception filled with glamorous guests. Passed hors d'oeuvres like tiny pancakes topped with salmon mousse and cheese puffs, were plentiful and the rose champagne flowed freely. I noticed on one of the high top bar tables, a jar filled with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.? I thought they seemed a bit out of place amongst such opulence, but I figured that there must have been a reason.
My suspicions were confirmed when Chef and Menton owner Barbara Lynch approached us at the reception and spent 15 minutes chatting with us like she had known us forever. Barbara, a South Boston native, and a Boston "Celebrity" chef could not have been more humble or interesting. She chatted with us about food, Boston and a wee bit about Julia and she shared with us that Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers were Julia Child's favorite snack!
After a few too many rose Champagnes, in beautiful glasses, we retired to the main dining room for dinner. We shared a table with two couples who's wives were both celebrating their birthday's and more wine, a 2011 Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rose in Magnum was served along with tiny, scrumptious, croissants. We toasted, and chatted and made small talk with our new and gregarious table guests and the first course was served; Heirloom Tomato Provencal, with Sourdough, Herbs de Provence and Anchovy. Did I see black tomato's? It was outstanding.
Did I mention that the wine was flowing? I hardly doubt that a moment went by that my glass was not tended to nor my questions answered with such passion and knowledge. Barbara Lynch stood up and spoke and told of how she met the famous Julia and a bit about some of their first dealings. It was fascinating to hear first hand, about the kind of woman Julia Child was and it was quite evident that Barbara and the staff had put a lot of time and care into making this event a memorable one.
It was then on to a new glass and a 2007 Chateau Simone Palette Blanc and a mini baguette of bread. After a short video of Julia clumsily, yet matter of factually showing the viewer how to cut and clean several large fish, the second course was served: Bourride; Monkfish with Saffron, Camarones. Light, yet full bodied and utterly delightful. At this point, I was enjoying myself so much, I could have retired home at that point a happy girl.
The rest of the evening flowed smoothly like the next wine, that was served in a triple over sized red wine glass, a 2006 Chateau Simone Palette Rouge, that was dreamy. The Saddle of Lamb, served with Ratatouille, l'Anglaise and Rillette is pictured above. At this point I had begun to drink just as much water as wine, which was very smart, and just when I thought I couldn't eat another bite they blew me away.
"Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all." Julia Child.
Barbara came out to speak of her last trip with Julia, when she was ill, yet still full of life, and she asked her what would she like to eat. A ninety something Julia Child responded, "I think I would like In-and-Out Burger". She shared with us those last memorable moments with a culinary icon and her joy for good life and good food was almost palpable. She ignited the final course, a Baked Alaska, for all of us and we stood and sang "Happy Birthday" to Julia.
The final dessert wine was served, a 2007 Chateau Soucherie Coteaux du Layon et Chaume, and the Baked Alaska was plated and served with Brown Butter Rum and a fig jam.
I could hardly help myself. It was the most scrumptious dessert I have ever had the honor of being served and the same goes for the evening I had just experienced.
To the staff at Menton and to Barbara Lynch: Outstanding,...Bravo on a job well done. Somewhere in heaven I know Julia is smiling.