Happy Julia’s Birthday! More links for you to love

The day has arrived! Hope you made reservations for our sold-out Julia Child Birthday Dinner, because we’re looking forward to a terrific event! In the meantime, whet your appetite with these commemorations of Julia’s 100th birthday:

  • Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to Julia.
  • The New York Times features an article on Julia Child recipes that home cooks still make, even if they don’t always (or never have) tackled her more challenging dishes.
  • Have you visited Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian? It was transported to the National Museum of American History from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2001. The whole thing is there, right down to the pegboard for all her pots and pans, with each one outlined in Magic Marker so it was easy to see where to replace them after cleaning. Take the virtual tour here (requires Flash 6 player).
  • This 2009 Vanity Fair article tells the story of Julia’s romance with her husband Paul, and includes a picture of their 1956 Valentine’s Day card, featuring a photo of Julia and Paul in the bathtub (oo la la!). It also describes how her early TV appearances made Julia a star.
  • Julie Powell, on whose blog and book the movie Julie & Julia was based, writes here on how Julia taught her to cook — and live.
  • Julia’s friend Ariane Daguin writes here on how Julia founded “the cult of the kitchen.”
  • The Washington Post presents videos in which chefs, restaurateurs and household hint doyenne Martha Stewart talk about what they learned from Julia.
  • This review by The Atlantic of a book featuring correspondence between Julia and a close friend uncloaks the perseverance it required for Julia to have her first cookbook published.

These and many more articles and videos are available to help get you ready for tonight. Bon Appetit!

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Celebrate Julia Child with videos, TV, books

The celebrations of the Julia Child centenary are ramping up, as you can see from the musical tribute above–and you can be part of them. In addition to joining us next Wednesday for our Julia Child 100th Birthday Wine Dinner, on this coming Saturday, August 11, watch the WVIZ/PBS “Petite Marathon” of three classic episodes of Julia’s pioneering cooking show The French Chef. These episodes haven’t been broadcast since the 1960s, so don’t miss them! WVIZ/Ideastream is also inviting you to cook up your favorite Julia Child recipe and share your experience, as well as tell about how you’re celebrating Julia’s birthday.

But that’s not all. You can find information here about three new Julia Child books (including a definitive biography and one about her cats!) and an iPad/Nook app that provides a condensed version of the cookbook that started it all, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Whether you love to cook or just love to eat, the Julia Child centenary has something for everyone!

Which reminds us–have you sent in your entry for our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” contest? If not, better do so soon! (If you need some inspiration, Ruth will provide that in a future entry to the blog. Be looking for it!)

Bistro 185 Salutes the Academy Awards!

Things never stay the same for long here at the Bistro, and we’re bringing something new to our offerings for the month of February as we look forward to the 82nd Academy Awards. This year, Bistro 185 is presenting its own salute to legendary Academy Award winners. Each week leading up to “Oscar Night” — March 7 — we’ll salute three past Academy Award winners for Best Picture with special entrees, starters and desserts.

As you might guess from the trailer above, we’re kicking off our Salute to Hollywood’s Best Pictures tonight and tomorrow night with a tribute to the Best Picture winner for 1951, An American in Paris. If you can’t dance like Gene Kelly or Leslie Caron, how can we make you feel like an American in Paris right here in Cleveland? By offering you a selection of dishes from Barefoot in Paris, the French cookbook by the Food Network’s own Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. On our salad menu: Fennel Salad (p. 99). Our featured entree: Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorns (p. 118), which we’ll prepare as a tenderloin of pork with green peppercorns, served with redskin potatoes. Finally, the perfect dessert to finish it off: Pain Perdu (p. 209), a souped-up French toast with strawberries, almonds and Grand Marnier. All of it together should make you feel like dancing!

But this is just the beginning. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll salute yet another Academy Award Best Picture with a new set of themed dishes, and Friday and Saturday a third. The fun continues each week until the Best Picture winner for 2009 is chosen in March.

To which films will we pay tribute? What kinds of special dishes will be in the offing as the weeks go on? You’ll just have to keep following the blog and see! (One hint: we’ll be including this year’s Best Picture nominees, which will be ten this time around, rather than the usual five. To find out which movies are selected, be alert for the live announcement tomorrow morning — yes, Groundhog Day — at 8:38 a.m.!)

The James Beard Project: Coming full circle this week

This week marks the return of the James Beard Project, and to start with, we’re bringing back the same slate of dishes we featured in Week 1. That means if you missed any of these great dishes the first time around, you have another chance to enjoy them!

Monday, Jan. 11 — Noodles with Cabbage
Sautéed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin with a French Grainy Mustard and Horseradish Cream Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 88)

Tuesday, Jan. 12 — Coq au Riesling
Braised Chicken in Riesling Wine Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 116)

Wednesday, Jan. 13 — Walnut-Breaded Filet of Sole With Lemon Aioli, Grape Tomato Salad and Roasted Baby Redskin Potatoes (The New James Beard, p. 199)

Thursday, Jan. 14 — Roast Duck with Cherries and Wild Rice (The New James Beard, p. 338)

Friday, Jan. 15 — Ossi Buchi with Orzo
Braised Veal Shanks with Orzo (Beard on Pasta, p. 140)

Saturday, Jan. 16 — Lamb Shanks with Beans (The New James Beard, p. 399)

Mamma Mia! Don’t miss our Regional Italian Wine Dinner Jan. 26!

Whether you’ve enjoyed our wine dinners so far or never been to one before, you’re not going to want to miss out on our Italian Regional Wine Dinner Tuesday, January 26. It will feature a wonderful selection of regional Italian wines paired with each course — and oh, what courses!

Individual Antipasto

Tortellini en Brodo

Veal Osso Bucco with Pappardelle Pasta and Natural Pan Sauce

Caprese Salad

Seared Scallop on Black Truffle Soft Polenta and Asparagus

Ricotta Mascarpone Crêpe with Zabaglione and Fresh Berries

Our wine dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and cost is $60 per person, tax and gratuity additional. Our last dinner sold out, so don’t miss your chance to escape the drab and dreary Cleveland winter for a few hours for a romantic night of great cuisine Italian style. Call 216.481.9635 and make your paid reservation now!

AND…BEARD IS BACK!! Our James Beard Project resumes the week of January 11 with two more weeks featuring a classic James Beard-inspired dish as part of our dinner specials each night! Watch this blog for more information coming soon.

We’re open today and tonight

If you need a respite from last-minute Christmas shopping or just whatever…Bistro 185 will be open for lunch today and dinner tonight. We will be closed tomorrow — Merry Christmas! We will reopen for dinner Saturday, Dec. 26.

In the meantime, here’s a little treat for everyone who’s been enjoying the James Beard Project and looks forward to its continuation: a link to a video tour of James Beard’s former house in New York City that we found online. (For some reason, it doesn’t want to embed.) Enjoy, and look for more tidbits about James Beard here in upcoming weeks!

A change in plan

It’s almost the middle of December, and here at the Bistro we’re changing things up a bit. Rather than continue our James Beard project all the way through to Christmas, we’re going to put it on a little hiatus, and then resume the daily specials based on James Beard dishes in January. Tonight, however, if you missed last night’s Portuguese Fish Stew, you can catch it one last time — we’re bringing it back by popular demand, as our final Beard special until next month.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t still be here blogging. Watch this space to learn more about our current specials of the non-Beard variety through the rest of December. There will be plenty of them, and they’ll sure to tempt you in the door for a taste, especially when you get tired of holiday cooking, baking and entertaining and have a hankering to just sit down and relax while someone else is in the kitchen. As time gets shorter and things get more hectic, you’ll always be able to find a little oasis of peace, quiet and pampering right here at Bistro 185. Come on in and treat yourself!

Behind the Dish: Portuguese Fish Stew

Looking for a different kind of Friday fish special? Are fried fish and clam chowder getting to be too same-old same-old for you? Try our take on James Beard’s recipe for fish stew, Portuguese style. His recipe calls for a combination of shrimp, tuna, tomatoes, basil and orzo pasta. Our variation adds salmon and fennel to the mix and substitutes shell pasta for the orzo. See how this combination warms you up!

Behind the Dish: Crab Louis

Crab Louis is what you might call a “retro dish”: you don’t see it on all that many menus anymore. It appears to have originated somewhere on the West Coast before World War I; at least James Beard himself claimed to have first enjoyed the dish at around that time. At the time, the cities of Portland (Beard’s hometown), San Francisco and Seattle teemed with oyster and crab bars offering up the freshest and best Pacific seafood, any of which may have spurred the invention of Crab Louis.

What is it, exactly? It’s an entree-sized salad made with (of course) lump crab meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and hard-boiled eggs. What makes it distinctive is the dressing, which incorporates mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon juice, horseradish and parsley. Try our version (we’ve got pickle in there, too — all served atop a wedge of Romaine) and see why this was said to be James Beard’s favorite crab dish. (They say the great opera star Enrico Caruso loved it too: when the Metropolitan Opera touring company played Seattle in 1904, he kept ordering it until none was left in the kitchen.) It’s a little different for a winter dish — more of a cool salad than a cozy warmer-upper — but we think you’ll find this spicy take on fresh seafood and crispy vegetables a welcome change of pace right about now.