Food and Wine: Happy Birthday Julia!

Local restaurants join national celebration for the legendary chef’s 100th birthday.

By Halle Kaplan-Allen

Julia Child (Copyright 2004 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Julia Child may be one of the most talked-about people in culinary history. Aside from being a remarkable chef, she carved out a place for women in the cooking world that had previously been unheard of. Her cookbooks were — and still are — some of the most highly regarded in French cuisine, and who knows food better than the French?

Child may have made the majority of her culinary achievements in Europe, but she also spent a good deal of time right here in Washington. In 1948, she and her husband Paul bought a house on Olive Street in Georgetown. But Paul worked for the federal government, and the couple was soon sent overseas. In the mid-1950s, the couple returned to the little house on Olive Street, where Julia taught cooking out of her own kitchen while simultaneously working on  The French Chef, which was published in 1963.

Julia in her element. (Copyright 2004 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Though Julia died in 2004, her culinary legacy is far from forgotten. Beginning August 7 through August 15, over 100 restaurants from 30 states plan to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday by featuring specials and some of her famous dishes. The foodie “happening” is being called Julia Child Restaurant Week (or JC 100) and is hosted by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy & the Culinary Arts. During JC 100, fans can find some of Julia’s most renowned dishes, including salade niçoise, bœuf bourguignon and mousseline au chocolat.

In Washington, three restaurants are set to participate: Ris, Café Dupont and Central. Ris, located on L Street in Foggy Bottom, is extending JC 100 into an “All Things Julia” month. Throughout August, Ris will offer a $25, three-course lunch menu and a $35.12 dinner menu, both of which will feature many of Julia’s favorite, most celebrated dishes, including mussels, quiche and a French crudité platter. Also on offer are a multitude of dishes inspired by Julia’s work, including cucumber vichyssoise, sole meuniere, poulet frites and almond vacherin. The bar will also be offering Julia’s favorite “reverse martinis,” comprised of Noilly Prat dry vermouth and a splash of gin, served on the rocks with a twist.

Moules Dupont and Escargot from Cafe Dupont (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Café Dupont plans to honor Julia’s life with a three-course menu of her favorite French dishes, along with wine pairings, for $50 per person. And Central is offering a Poulet Roti, or roast chicken, dinner special paired with Eschezeaux, a traditional French wine.

Julia’s legacy is also taking over the Internet: Over 100 culinary bloggers intend to feature and discuss Julia’s favorite recipes on their websites. Fans can also download the new Julia Child App for the iPad or Nook. The app features 32 of her favorite recipes, accompanied by mouthwatering pictures and video clips with step-by-step explanations to inspire your inner Julia Child.

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