Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Hero

Writer Jim Harrison

Here is the man whose book; "The Raw and the Cooked", gave me the title for my blog. His reputation for enjoying good food and wine is legendary. Besides, when you can name drop about having Mario Batali make you a 19 course dinner for your birthday or casually mention the evening you powered down a huge prime rib and a couple of bottles of St. Emilion with Jack Nicholson, you, in my book, are: "The Man"

Legends of the Fall author, poet, screenwriter and wine lover discusses a lifetime of special bottles
Owen Dugan/Wine Spectator
Posted: September 15, 2009

Jim Harrison is an American writer who has worked as a screenwriter and published poetry, fiction (including Legends of the Fall, upon which the 1994 screenplay of the same name was based), and non-fiction on a range of subjects, including wine and food. Many of his stories are set in the wild, and are concerned with humanity and man's moral center. Wine Spectator caught up with Harrison on the telephone from his Montana house.

Wine Spectator: Do you collect wine?
Jim Harrison: There was a lawyer in Southern Michigan who had a nice petite cellar of about 70 cases. He developed cirrhosis but didn't want to sell his beloved collection to a restaurant, so I bought it. I had about 40 cases of premiers crus in there. My daughter even had a '49 Latour and a '61 Lafite for her night before the wedding dinner.

It's basically all dissipated now. But I still get to have some good bottles when I travel, because some people feel ashamed of their wealth and pour nice things for poets. Just a couple of years ago I was hunting at this big ranch in New Mexico and a man there, a friend, tried to give me an '82 Pétrus. I said, "I can't take that." I get home and there it is, stuffed in my duffel bag. It was almost the best ever.
NS: When my college buddy Brad Stone mailed me a 1989 Lynch Bages (loosely packed in a shoebox), I was just as jazzed.

WS: I'll bite: what was the best wine you ever had?
JH: I was in Malibu, cooking dinner for a bunch of fashion models who were drinking cola. [Record producer Lou Adler] offered me two '53 Romanée-Contis which I was able to drink, if you can imagine that.

WS: What was the beginning of your love of wine?
JH: My big break was when I was in the [Florida] Keys, fishing. I was about 28. I was with [author] Tom McGuane, and we met [author] Guy de la Valdène. And I start palling around with him, and fishing. He couldn't conceive of a day going by without a decent bottle of wine. I spent time at [his family's] place in France. His mother had a nice cellar. She packed two '23 Margauxs in our picnic lunch.

WS: Do you still spend time in France?
JH: I found a vineyard that fascinates me in Collioure, down near Perpignan, called [Domaine] La Tour Vieille. It's really fascinating because the terrain—talk about terroir—is sort of straight up and down, overlooking the sea. I got an award last November in Lyon, and I'm just ecstatic for these old bistros [there]. That kind of food really turns me on, whether it's beef, snout, lard or mayonnaise.

WS: What about food-and-wine pairing, do you give it much thought?
JH: Oh, it all goes together: what you eat, how you live, food and wine. In San Francisco, there's a deli called Lucca. The other day I had a Gigondas with an Italian sandwich, which had the best provolone I'd ever had in my life, including in Italy. You know when it goes right up your nose? And sizzles in your ears. What intense pleasure. And here's a wine-and-food pairing: [Jack] Nicholson's not a big drinker, but he really likes nice wine. We went to Gibsons, which is my favorite steak place in Chicago, had an enormous prime rib steak and drank two bottles of St.-Emilion. What more do you want?

WS: You've written about marathon eating sessions. Have you been involved in any lately?
JH: Well Mario Batali and April Bloomfield and Adam Perry Lang came down to Patagonia, Arizona for my birthday last year. They cooked me a little dinner. We had 19 courses. We even finished with a 1937 Chateau d'Yquem and a nice '34 Armagnac.
NS: That doesn't suck

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Au Lait & Beignet's at Cafe Du Monde-New Orleans

This seems like a fitting post since I haven't written in so long. I just got back for a week in New Orleans and I just want to go on record and say that a steady diet of Oyster PoBoy's, Beignet's, Bread Pudding, Abita Ambers and Hurricane's, while all very tasty, may not be optimal for long term health.
If you haven't been to New Orleans I am throwing down the gauntlet and saying that if you are a foodie then this place has to be on your "bucket list"
The photo of the above is from Cafe du Monde.
Beignets are just square French donuts, and at Cafe du Monde they are served with about a cup of powdered sugar on top. They are served warm and after a long night out I think these are second only to Ibuprofen as a cure for what ails you. While the original spot off of Jackson Square seems like a tourist trap (it is), the dirty little secret is that the locals also love this place as well. They have been around since 1862 and with the business they do they will be around as long as New Orleans is still above water. As they say in New Orleans-Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.