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The Last Meal Michael Cooked for Julia

October 6, 2009
Julia's Kitchen in Santa Barbara.

Julia's kitchen, now at the Smithsonian.

In 2003, Michael and Kim drove up to Santa Barbara to Julia Child’s home and cooked for her what would be their last meal together.  Having worked with her (both were founders of the American Institute of Wine and Food) to establish cooking and gastronomy within the world of academia for 20 years, Michael wanted the meal not only to hearken back to feasts they had shared together throughout their long relationship but more importantly to be exactly what Julia loved to eat.  As Michael vividly recounted  the lunch to me, it was as if he had prepared the meal yesterday:

  • Giant white French asparagus, morels, fava beans, buerre blanc , fresh chives, and fertile farm-fresh eggs with deep yellow yolks.  Served with a Chalone Chardonnay in remembrance of AIWF and Chalone founder Richard Graff
  • 28-day aged strip steak (Julia loved Michael’s steak).  Served with Richard Sanford‘s fabulous Pinot Noir from the Santa Ynez Valley (again, founders of AIWF).
  • Succatash with spring corn, peas, and baby chanterelles.
  • Green salad with Michael’s Dijon chive vinaigrette.
  • A selection of California cheeses. Served with private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Robert Mondavi (another AIWF founder).
  • The season’s first harvest of Harry’s Berries with creme fraiche.  Served with an SSLH from Joseph Phelps (another big supporter of AIWF).

At this point in her life, Julia’s health was declining and her doctors had instructed her to not drink. But she did a “mon oeil” (a classic French expression of disbelief) and, with each course, (secretly) enjoyed the California wines she had helped popularize. What a hoot!

Julia continues to inspire us to cook and entertain with the utmost grace, humility, and above all, sense of humor.

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