Julia Child 100

A Musical Tribute to Julia Child on Classical New England

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Leonard Bernstein conducts the orchestra in a rehearsal for the New York Philharmonic, 1965.
Classical New England will play his Recipe Songs today as part of their Julia Child tribute. (AP)

WGBH's Classical Music Director Cheryl Willoughby gives a rundown of today's Classical New England Radio tribute to Julia Child on her 100th birthday. Listen online or tune in to 99.5 FM in Boston.

$6,777.24....or make that € 5,499.00, if we’re talking Euros.

That’s around how much it’ll set you back these days to pick up (gently pick up!) a 1912 vintage bottle of Château d’Yquem’s signature Sauternes. It’s a very special wine from a unique vineyard. Unusual – and not only because it is a sweet white wine, originating in Bordeaux, the heart of France’s famed red wine country. A one-time property of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the vineyard’s expansive grounds and tall, notched walls have hosted the comings and goings of more than nine centuries of distinguished guests: from famous writers and artists, to kings and presidents, including Thomas Jefferson. On a few occasions Jefferson visited the vineyard to order bottles by the hundreds for use at special events in the nascent Union. He also reserved a few bottles for personal gifts, notably to ply his good friend George Washington.

1912 is on my mind because it’s a year with such deep historical resonance in these parts. Fenway Park, the Franklin Park Zoo and the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel all opened to the public in 1912. Boston’s Skating Club got off to a sailing start that year, and St. Paul’s was renovated and rededicated as the cathedral of the diocese.

Fine French wine is on my mind, because…well, it always is. And, because 1912 was the year Julia Child was born. It’s thanks to her books and her pioneering WGBH TV series The French Chef that my curiosity and appetite were piqued enough to learn anything about fine wines OR French cuisine, when the time came for me to develop my own cooking skills.

Today, August 15th, 2012 is the centennial anniversary of Julia Child’s birth. WGBH's Classical New England is honoring her robust legacy all day with delicious music on themes of feasts, foods, cooking, and banqueting. Whether your pleasure is wine (as in Haydn’s “Joyful, Joyful” chorus from The Seasons oratorio), the meal itself (such as Handel’s Alexander’s Feast) or perhaps in the process (listen for Bernstein’s Recipe Songs, and Martinu’s whimsical “kitchen drama”, La Revue de Cuisine) we’re sure to whip up something to your taste.

For something more tangible, here’s one of my favorite Julia recipes: her Cherry Clafouti is simple, and simply delicious:

1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar, divided in half
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted
powdered sugar (for garnish)  

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend. Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish, and pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside. Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off, yet). Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the Clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. 6-8 servings.

In Julia’s own words, “Bon appétit!”
And if you do happen to come by that 1912 Sauternes, let me know. I’d be happy to make the sacrifice and serve as your taster. 

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About Julia Child 100

Cooking legend Julia Child introduced French cuisine to American cooks in 1963 with WGBH’s pioneering television series, The French Chef. She was passionate about food and she changed the way Americans cook and eat. Find new pieces about Julia here every day — from tributes to early programs to cooking tips and recipes. As Julia herself said, "Bon appétit!"

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