Monday, April 13, 2009

Premio Dardos Award, Life is Meals and remembering our first Chateau Lafite-Rothschild wine

Vicki Lane, mystery writer and author of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries, passed the Premio Dardos Award to me. This award is for “recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web." Thank you very much Vicki for this prestigious award.

Currently Vicki is at work on her fifth novel. In addition to being a published author, she is a wonderful photographer and an accomplished gardener. I urge you to stop by her blog, Vicki Lane Mysteries.

Each morning I read a daily passage from Life is Meals – A Food Lover’s Book of Days. This charming book by James and Kay Salter makes a wonderful hostess gift. It’s a memoir filled with food history and facts, favorite cookbooks, dinner parties and friends, fond food memories, restaurant stories, household tips and recipes. Broken into 365 brief entries, you can dip in and out as you like. After reading this book I now have come to believe that my family may be related to Winnie the Pooh. Here are some examples.

March 28

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,”
Said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh, “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

March 10
Paraphrased from Theo’s Birth

1985 in Paris Kay Salter gave birth to their son Theo. Jim had read once that the lips of the future kings of France were moistened at birth with a good French wine so they would always remember the taste. Being the bon vivant that he was he purchased a bottle of Chateau Latour for the occasion. As Kay was being wheeled into the delivery room Jim took a moment to speak to their French obstetrician, Dr. Bazan, who had been summoned from a dinner party and was still wearing his evening clothes. Jim explained that when the baby was born they would like to wet its lips with the wine. Things proceeded as expected and at one in the morning Jim was standing outside the delivery room when he heard the cry of an infant followed by, “Pull the cork,” from Dr. Bazan. A few drops of wine were applied to Theo’s lips and then the remainder of the bottle was shared by Jim, Kay, the doctors and the nurses in celebration.

Later the Salters purchased a case of another fine Bordeaux, Chateau Leonville-Barton 1985, the year of Theo’s birth. When Theo was old enough to drink, they asked hopefully, “Recognize the taste?” He looked as if he did.

Speaking of fine wines, my husband and I lived in Houston during the seventies. His mother had told him to always buy the least expensive house in the very best neighborhood. Good advice even today. We bought a darling one bedroom cottage on an acre in the close in Memorial area, east of Voss Road; a very fine neighborhood indeed. We were visiting with our neighbor one day and he asked if we liked wine. We were young and thought we knew a little bit about wine so we said yes. He invited us to dinner the following Saturday.

Before dinner he took us to his wine cellar for a sherry he had blended himself. If you aren’t familiar with Houston, cellars are a bit of a rarity there. He had his built for his wine collection, which was quite vast and contained many bottles of rare vintages. In fact during that time Tony’s, one of Houston’s finest restaurants, would occasionally call to borrow a bottle from him if a customer ordered something from their wine menu that they happened to be out of.

At the dinner table were three wine glasses at each place setting. He and his wife announced that we would be doing a wine tasting of three vintages to taste the difference in them. Much to our surprise (and delight) on the table sat a three bottles wine, a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1962, a 1964 and a 1966. Needless to say all three were excellent and the finest wine we’d ever tasted. We did our best to carry on a conversation about fine wines as if we knew something, which we really didn’t. As the evening progressed he excused himself and went back to the cellar and brought up another bottle of wine. This time it was a Chateau Duhart-Milon-Rothschild 1964. He explained that the Duhart vineyard was across the street from the Lafite but because it wasn’t labeled a Lafite, it was less expensive. It was every bit as good as the Lafite in our eyes as well as his and he was the expert. They graciously gave us the labels from the four wines, which we framed and they still hang in our kitchen today.

Do you have any food books you read frequently? If you do, I hope you’ll share the titles with me.


  1. Sam, your words are a remarkably civilized way to start the day. I do love to come here. As to food books, I have none that I read regularly but I'm drawn to the memoirs of those writers whose experience is slightly off center. I think you might enjoy Fushia Dunlop's Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper.

  2. What a wonderful blog...congratulations on the award. You certainly deserve it.

    I loved the story about Theo's birth.

  3. Sam, My favorite food writers are Calvin Trillin and M.F.K. Fisher.

  4. What a great post - I agree with Pooh.

    I love that you framed the wine labels, I am sure you remember that day everytime you see them.

    I love checking out food books and cookbooks from the library. I am off to go there now with my daughter.

  5. Sam, it does seem we have so much in common. I love "My Carolina Kitchen" and will be adding it to the Friends of Linderhof. It will be my daily must read.

    My lamb came from Barefoot Contessa -- I have never been disappointed by any of her recipes and they have all turned out wonderfully -- lamb can be a bit tricky but I've never had a bad rack when I followed her instructions.

    We used to own a wine store -- the wine for our 25th anniversary was a bottle of Lafite-Rothchild -- bottled the year we were married -- a wonderful memory!

  6. Sam,
    I'm so proud of your winning another award for your blog. It's great and I enjoy reading it very much. Congratulations upon your award!

  7. Congratulations on the award! I want to read Mark Bittman's Food Matters, waiting to borrow my dad's copy when he's done :)

  8. What an absolutely delightful account of your wine tasting! And placing a drop of wine on the infant's lips is a story for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by Food Gratitude and reading my last post.

  9. Hi Sam,

    I am definitely going to pick up a copy of Life is Meals – A Food Lover’s Book of Days. Congrats on the award and thank you for sharing. Love your blog.

  10. Oh, I loved Tony's! Also my hubby learned those tricks to buying good wines, but we have had the 'good' Rothschild a few times when the economy was better! We ran a wine and food tasting company fifteen years ago, and meet some really interesting people with good cellars too...

    I am adding that book to my list, sounds like a good read!

  11. Congratulations on your award.. you so deserve it..what an honor!

  12. Yes. Congrats, Sam! Lovely post ;)

  13. Sam,
    My youngest may very well be related to Winnie the Pooh also. Yesterday, I spread peanut butter on two Wasa rye crisps for his breakfast with a side of sliced bananas. When he awoke and saw what was for breakfast, he wailed for 10 minutes because it wasn't pancakes, I mean, like his world was ending. I am a very no nonsense mom and a "take it or leave it" cook, so after being informed that he doesn't have to eat them but he's going to be hungry until lunch, he got control of himself and ate his breakfast (he ended up loving it by the way, the stinker). But seriously, it was like his day had been ruined!

    I don't have any food books I read frequently, just cookbooks.

  14. Congratulations!

    I love that story. Did you invite back these people to dinner? That would ruin my budget.

    I love the idea that you framed the labels.

  15. Congrats on the award!
    I must say -- I think Winnie the Pooh is a great summary for just about everything.

  16. Mary - I'll have to put Shark's Fin on my Amazon wish list. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Shirley - Glad you liked Theo's story. He's a lucky boy.

    Vicki - MFK Fisher brings back fond memories of the Cours Mirabeau in Aix. We had to go to the Cafe Deux Garcons while we were there.

    Pam - I can't seem to have enough cookbooks and I read them like other people read novels.

    Martha - Thanks for adding my kitchen to your daily reads. I love the Barefoot Contessa too. It must have been great fun to have a wine store.

    Brenda Kay - Thank you for your kinds words. Now if only you could teach me to write that beautiful poetry on your Blue Ridge Poet.

    Sara - I'm very fond of anything Bittman writes. My husband called him at home in Connecticut once when he found a mistake in his How to Cook Everything book. Mark was very gracious, said he would look into it and called back several days later to thank us for bringing the mistake to his attention.

    Judith - I agee Theo will have great fun telling that story to his grandchildren.

    Ginger - Let me know how you like Life is Meals. My father-in-law read it cover to cover in one sitting. For me I like it a little at a time, like fine chocolate.

    Chef E - It must have been exciting to run a wine and food tasting company. I'm afraid we'd eat and drink all of the profits.

    Donna & Maryann - Thank you for stopping by and your kind compliments.

    Joie - What a cute, but frustrating for you, story about your son's breakfast. In our house as soon as we finish eating breakfast, one of us asks "what's for lunch?"

    Helene - They had never eaten stone crab so we prepared that as a dinner party for them. The same neighbor asked my husband if he would like to fly out to California for the day with him and his boss in the jet. They needed to pick up some wine and had a business meeting to attend. My husband had the time of his life. It was very difficult to come up with a way to say thank you for that trip, especially considering his boss's wife was the daughter of Silver Dollar Jim, an eccentric Texas Millionaire who tipped only with silver dollars--often 20 or 25 at a time in the thirties and forties.

    Lo - Glad you liked the Winnie the Pooh story.

    Thank each of you for stopping by my kitcen and leaving your comments.

  17. I like winnie the pooh, he is so adorable :)

    Congrats on your award, Sam!

    Your mother-in-law advice about buying a house is a really good one. I will keep it in my mind and thanks for sharing it.

  18. Congrats on your well-deserved award!

  19. Congratulations on a well deserved award! Lafite-Rothschild is such a wonderful wine!

  20. Sam, I owe you an apology. I read this post Monday and thought I had commented. I guess I was so lost in your wiritng, I completely forgot myself. This has to be one of the most interesting posts I have read in a long time. A really great story. I came back today because it stayed with me and I wanted to re-read it. I couldn't remember what I had commented and when I looked, I wasn't there.

    I don't read any book on a regular bais like you do, but I think I may look and see if I can find "Life is Meals".

  21. Thank you for a wonderful post! I am going to look for "Life is Meals" right away. I believe I'm definitely part-Pooh/Piglet: I wake up everyday looking forward to breakfast and although it is the same thing each morning, it's my way of being excited about the coming day. Congratulations on your well-deserved award!

  22. I just finished reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. It was fun read and the movie version is coming out this year.

  23. Sam, I enjoyed your post very much. I too love food writers and one of my favorites is Laurie Colwin. She used to write a food column for Gourmet and after her death the columns were compiled into two books called Home Cooking. She also wrote five novels and 3 volumes of short stories, all with a domestic bent, but with depth. But then you probably already know of her. Another fav is Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles - the correspondence between James Beard and Helen Evans Brown.

  24. congratulations on your awards!

    i just read the thirteenth take and the shadow of the wind. both were wonderful. i'm reading the guernesey literary and potato peel pie society (what a name!) now, and really enjoy it as well. i'm a book nut. go through about 1-2 a week, but these are some of the standouts lately!

  25. Congratulations, Sam!!! Well deserved!

    I love that Pooh quote, it is so spot on.

    I love Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, the collection of New Yorker food pieces and Waverly Root's "Eating in America" which I love reading and re-reading snippets of all the time. Fascinating and fun.

  26. you know i just came back and noticed you said "food books". hmm. well maybe you'll like some of my other recommendations anyway ;)

    my favorite cookbook is the essential baker, which is obviously a baking book. i also love the silver spoon, which is somewhat the italian cooking bible, translated into english. classical italian cuisine is another fave. obviously, i love italian food.

    of the non-recipe variety, i have always had a soft spot for bourdain's kitchen confidential.

  27. Sam, came by to give some blog hugs!

  28. That looks like an interesting book. I love food-related books. I'm going to add that to my to-read list.


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