Toujours Bon Appétit

By Hilary Berg

As I write this, the food world is abuzz with sweet celebration: Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

Although Julia passed away in 2004 — two days before turning 92 — her spirit lives on, and today’s (Aug. 15) media frenzy is true testament.

Across the country, chefs — professional and otherwise — are honoring their idol with Julia-inspired menus. Even a mock birthday party is planned today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., where her renowned Cambridge, Mass., kitchen is on display.

Julia endeared all who watched her show or studied one of her classic cookbooks, such as “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” first released in 1961.

She changed the way mainstream America cooked. With her quirky personality and unique sense of humor, her extensive knowledge of culinary techniques and her belief that food was not merely fuel but craft — and sometimes art — she captivated kitchens across the nation.

Julia has also been credited with ushering in the fresh food movement through her preference for farm-raised meat and straight-from-the-garden produce.

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients,” Julia told her apprentices.

Today, many restaurants throughout the state have made sourcing locally a standard, giving chefs and customers the freshest, finest food possible.

I believe Julia would be proud of this culinary progression, but I wonder what she would have to say — in her unforgettable voice — about Portland restaurants’ failure to recognize wine as produce, too?

Don’t get me wrong: I love the Portland food scene, which has gained an incredible amount of press and prestige over the last several years, but I am astounded at the lack of Oregon wine on many wine lists across the city. I especially cringe — and stew — when I discover a restaurant that touts its local ethics when the wine list is almost exclusively French or Italian. 

I often have to hold myself back from calling over the chef for a chat. Oregon wine is world class, in your own backyard, and, yet, you have no respect for this particular local product ... why?

Only a couple dozen, or so, Portland restaurants truly support Oregon wine — a handful of those are in the immediate suburbs — and thus have been awarded a Superior Cellars Award from Oregon Wine Press and the Oregon Wine Board.

Outside the state’s largest city, fine restaurants support Oregon wine in a much greater capacity. To those and all the establishments on our list, we thank you for your sincere support.

These restaurants truly embrace Julia’s passion for handcrafted food and wine. Cheers to them and bon appétit!

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