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!

Enjoy this “Julia Child Remixed” video and don’t forget to enter our contest!

It’s almost celebration time! As you can see, PBS has given Julia Child a fresh new sound for her 100th birthday — enjoy it here in “Julia Child Remixed.” Let it serve as your inspiration, if you haven’t done so yet, to submit your entry to our “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” Contest! We’re looking for the best story (500 words or fewer) about a time you exercised the courage of your convictions, either in your cooking or your eating. So tell us about that salvaged souffle, that tricky Thanksgiving turkey, or the time you sampled that dish that your friends thought belonged on Fear Factor but that actually turned out to be wonderful. Send the story to ruth@bistro185.com with “Julia Child Contest Entry” in the header before the end of today, and you could win a $50 Bistro gift certificate!

We’d like to thank you for your enthusiasm about our Julia Child Wine Dinner that caps off our festivities tomorrow night: it’s sold out. We’re looking forward to a fantastic evening and we want you to have fun — you’re invited to come dressed as Julia if the spirit moves you! But the only requirement is that you bring your appetite and your sense of adventure. It’s sure to be a celebration you’ll remember for a long time to come!

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!)

Win a $50 Bistro gift certificate in our Julia Child “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen” Contest!

“When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions.” — Julia Child

It’s one of the most legendary incidents in the history of The French Chef: Julia Child was attempting to flip a potato pancake to cook it on the other side, and the flip didn’t quite work and the pancake broke. Having just said that flipping anything required “the courage of your convictions,” she attributed the failure to precisely that lack. But, she added quickly, all was not lost; you can always push the pancake back together again, because if you’re alone in the kitchen, who’s going to see? (The moment is immortalized by the video above, in which a devoted YouTuber compares Julia’s original presentation to Meryl Streep’s reenactment in the film Julie & Julia and finds Meryl wanting. It’s still funny.)

It occurred to us while planning our Julia Project three years ago, and our Julia Child 100th Birthday Dinner this year, that those wise words of Julia’s still apply today. Julia’s approach to cooking was all about using the courage of your convictions. Taking risks, trying new things–and, sometimes, figuring out a way to salvage success from disaster. She understood that, especially if you’re the average home chef, if you have a cooking snafu you don’t always have the time or money to start over–and if you never try anything different, you never grow or develop. If you’ve ever turned on a stove, you know that’s true.

When in your life have you most needed the courage of your convictions in the kitchen? Tell us about it and you could win a $50 Bistro gift certificate! For example…

–You had trouble with an important dinner for guests, and had to think on your feet to save it. You did, and received loads of compliments.

–You tried a tricky new recipe you weren’t sure you could pull off, but you did.

–You thought up a variation on a tried-and-true recipe that you had no guarantee would work, and maybe even heard doubts from others: “You really think that’s going to come out?” You experimented with it anyway, and it was wonderful.

–You had to improvise a meal with what happened to be available in the house at the time–something edible–and not only succeeded, but got praise.

–You shocked your friends, family, and even yourself by proving, simply, that you could learn to cook.

–You embarked on an adventure at the dining table (yours or someone else’s) by trying a food, a dish, a combination of dishes you weren’t sure you were going to like, but went for it anyway–and found it delicious.

Write your story in 500 words or fewer, and email it to ruth@bistro185.com by Tuesday, August 14 (be sure to put “Julia Child Contest Entry” in the header). If we choose your story as the best example of exhibiting the “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen,” you’ll be our winner!

Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th birthday with us!

Wednesday, August 15, will be the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday. What a remarkable woman she was! She enjoyed an interesting career, married later in life than most women did in her era, moved with her husband when he took a new job in an unfamiliar place, and, feeling bored, found herself casting about for something to occupy her time there. She found it, in her love of great food and the fascinating culture that surrounded her. She taught Americans how to cook French…eliminating the scary, inhibiting aspects of a challenging cuisine through she sheer boldness of her personality, both in the pages of her cookbooks and, eventually, on our TVs. And not only did she help us find the courage of our convictions as she massaged chickens, flipped potato pancakes, and (sometimes) blowtorched cheese, she taught us all just how delicious it is to take a broader perspective on life. In the clip above, she displays her gift for culinary improvisation to David Letterman (who maybe isn’t as appreciative as he should be). Stove isn’t working? Make Beef Tartare Au Gratin!

We had a ball celebrating Julia’s unique contributions to American cuisine in the summer of 2009 with our “Julia Project,” and at 6:30 p.m. on August 15 we’re bringing back the spirit of Julia for one more special night. Our Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Wine Dinner won’t include Beef Tartare Au Gratin, but it will include these spectacular dishes from her repertoire:

First Course
Potage Parmentiere (Potato and Leek Soup)
Black Truffle Pearls
Wine: Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio

Second Course
Menage Trois Le Canard (Duck 3-Way)
Wine: DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages

Third Course
Boeuf Bourguignon
Bacon Lardons
Pearl Onions
Shiitake Mushrooms
Wine: Hob Nob Cabernet

Fourth Course
Fruits de Mer en Croute
Sauce Homard
(Seafood with Lobster Sauce in Puff Pastry)
Wine: Josh Cellars Chardonnay

Fifth Course
Mousse au Chocolat
Wine: Cristalino Brut Rose Cava

The cost of our dinner will be $80 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To get you in the mood, here’s a real gem of a video in which Julia gets serious with beef in a dish we’ll be featuring. It’s the very first episode of The French Chef, in which she shows us how to make Boeuf Bourguignon. (Note she explains how to peel the pearl onions. Isn’t it nice that today you can buy them peeled in a bag from the supermarket freezer?) Enjoy…then call 216.481.9635 and make your reservations for an evening you won’t forget!

We’ve got an August full of great dinners planned for you!

Can you believe it–half of July is already over (and, you could say, half the summer…oh well!). But the plans we’ve got for celebrating this all-too-short season at the Bistro are far from over. Take a look at what we have in store for August:

JULIA CHILD CENTENNIAL: Wednesday, August 15, will be the 100th anniversary of the birth of culinary legend Julia Child. We’ll celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday with a dinner of five courses of Julia-inspired cuisine paired with five wines. If you loved our 2009 “Julia Project,” this is a feast you won’t want to miss! (But if you did miss it…this is your second chance!)

BBQ NIGHT: On Thursday, August 23, it’s time to experience the quintessential element of summer dining: a barbecue. Only you won’t need to flush your face over a smoking-hot grill or cram a neighborhoodful of guests into your backyard to enjoy this spread. Let us do all the work while you and your friends sit down to a menu featuring enough BBQ classics to fill a picnic table. This dinner was a huge hit last summer, so don’t wait too long to make your reservations–it’s likely to sell out fast!

VEGAN NIGHT: Thursday, August 30, will be our Vegan Dinner Night for the month of August. Watch this space for details on the theme and menu.

Mark your calendars now and make a note or set yourself a reminder alarm on the smartphone. Keep an eye out for details to arrive soon. You’ll want to call and save your spot for these!

The importance of the family dinner

In these times, when so many people are constantly on the go, racing back and forth from work, school, practices, games, meetings, and everything else they have going on in their lives, we’re hearing more and more about how important it is to take time out and gather the whole family around the dinner table. Studies have shown that sitting down together to a regular meal together can benefit families in any number of ways. What’s the reason for this? A large part of it has to do with one simple factor: communication.

Families who eat together have the luxury of time to discuss the happenings in their lives–to share thoughts, questions, concerns, opinions, feelings. It’s easier for parents to outline their values for their children, about everything from the foods they eat to the type of friends they make. Just talking with your children helps build their vocabulary. Eating together as a family also communicates one thing without speaking a word: love.

Gathering to share a carefully prepared meal, taking the time to savor each bite, to be with the people closest to you and see their faces, warms the soul and refreshes the spirit in a way that heating up a microwaved meal on the run never can. And that’s true whether it’s a home-cooked feast or one prepared and served by others so that family members can just enjoy each other’s company, without having to worry about fussing over a hot stove beforehand or cleaning up afterward.

Family dinners are key components of religions around the world. In the United States, we even have a national holiday centered on one. When we look back on our lives, oftentimes we realize that many of our favorite memories were made at events like these.

Each such gathering becomes even more meaningful when a family member is nearing the end of life. At that time, everyone’s focus shifts toward ensuring that this person enjoys the highest quality of life possible for as long as he or she can, with maximum opportunity for the family to be together, saying things that need to be said and helping the loved one meet death with dignity, cradled in their affection.

It’s for this reason that we at Bistro 185 are taking part in the Hospice of the Western Reserve‘s “A Meal to Remember” program. The Hospice of the Western Reserve devotes itself to providing palliative end-of-life care, caregiver support, and bereavement services throughout Northern Ohio. Celebrating the individual worth of each person’s life includes providing families with opportunities to share memory-making moments, and that’s what “A Meal to Remember” is all about.

Once each month this year, one local Cleveland restaurant is hosting a dinner for Hospice of the Western Reserve patients and their loved ones at David Simpson Hospice House. In this beautiful setting on the Lake Erie shore, patients and their loved ones can gather around the dinner table to enjoy a truly special meal and create lasting memories. On July 17, Bistro 185 will provide the monthly dinner, and it will be a singular feast indeed. We’ll tell you more about it later. In the meantime, we hope you’ll visit the Hospice’s website and learn more about the important work they do.

How long has it been since your family gathered around a table together? Got a special milestone coming up, like a birthday or anniversary, made for such an occasion? Or has it just been too long since you saw each other’s faces all in one place at one time? Maybe it’s time you put a family meal on your schedule.

SOME LIKE IT HOT, SOME LIKE IT COOL: How about this weather? Yes, it’s been downright scorching sometimes. But hot days mean perfect days for the Bistro patio–hedged in by shading trees, it’s a great place to enjoy a drink and a fabulous meal with friends. Still too warm for you? Come inside where things are dark, air-conditioned, and comfortable. A frosty beer, a cold glass of wine, a cocktail on the rocks, or a sweat-beaded soft drink will help you chill out quickly. Then turn to our menu, where you’ll find appetizers and specials from the spicy hot to the crisp and refreshing. Whatever way you like it, at Bistro 185 you’ll find what you like.

THE RETURN OF JULIA: If you enjoyed our 2009 “Julia Project,” in which we served up a new dish from the Julia Child oeuvre every night, we’ve got some exciting news. August 15 will be the day Julia Child would have turned 100, and we’re planning a celebration already. Sounds good? Watch this space for details.

Menus coming for Vegan Night and Tequila Dinner

We hope you’re as excited about our next Vegan Night and special dinner as we are. This month’s Vegan Night will be Wednesday, August 18, and the entree will have a Tex-Mex theme. We’ll be announcing it soon; in the meantime, plan to join us!

We’ll also be posting the menu for our Tequila Dinner, another pleaser in the Southwestern tradition, very soon, so watch this space. Do we hear your mouths watering already?

But that’s not the only news we have. While we’ll be taking a rest from our special dinner schedule next month, we’ll be back the last Wednesday in October (the 27th) with a themed dinner that will be VERY different! This one won’t be focused on one kind of beverage…well, then again, maybe it will. But put it this way: the beverage won’t be one you’ve ever enjoyed a themed dinner around before. (At least we hope not!) And it will definitely have a flavor of October about it. That’s it for clues right now! Can you guess what we have in mind? More later!

Night at the Oscars: Julie & Julia and Boeuf Bourguignon

This week, Bistro 185 takes a slight turn in its tribute to the Academy Awards to honor (and remember) a film near and dear to our hearts, which has secured a 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Meryl Streep. Yes, we’re revisiting our Julia Project Monday through Wednesday by once again offering one of the most popular specials from that project, Boeuf Bourguignon with Pearl Onions and Lardons.

This is Boeuf Bourguignon Julia’s way…a little different from our usual nightly specials recipe Boeuf Bourguignon. So stop by and re-enjoy the same dish you loved last summer, or try it for the first time. Bon Appétit!

UPDATE: HELD OVER!! Yes, our Boeuf Bourguignon is too good to limit to three days only, so we’re keeping it on as our “Night at the Oscars” special for the rest of this week. If you haven’t enjoyed it yet, what are you waiting for?

Happy New Year!

We’re open tonight for New Year’s Eve — so if you like the idea of a nice low-key New Year’s Eve with a great dinner, a drink or two and good conversation with friends, we’re the place to drop by.

If you’re looking for a place to spend New Year’s Day, we’ll be open tomorrow at 5 for dinner as well. Why not start 2010 off right by joining us?

We wish the happiest of New Years to every friend of Bistro 185 and thank you for a wonderful 2009. We truly appreciated your patronage and your support of our new ventures into special cuisine such as the Julia Project and our yet-to-be-completed James Beard Project. Be looking for more such exciting culinary explorations in 2010, because we look forward to bringing them to you!