Cooking in the California Wine Country

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Food and wine are an inevitable combination.  The cultural heritage of wine at the table reaches back through the centuries.  I need to learn more about wine.  My mother lives near the Napa Valley, so it is always one of the first places I head to when visiting.   I bought this cookbook in the early 80’s at the one of the many wineries that cover Napa.   I can still remember pushing my daughter  Kara in a stroller as we arrived at the Robert Mondavi Winery.  Upon entering, there was a huge photo of Julia Child gracing one of the walls, with information about a series of programs called “The Great Chefs.”  I learned that the winery had earlier started these events about wine and cooking with a series called “The Great Chefs of France.”  It became so popular that it was extended to “The Great Chefs of America.”  In 1986, which is about the time we were there, the programs merged to become simply “The Great Chefs.”  Chefs leading the series included Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, and of course, Julia Child.  Julia had just been there a few days before we arrived.  Before leaving, I had to buy a sweatshirt with “The Great Chefs” logo:
The Wine Lover’s Cookbook is actually the result of a recipe contest sponsored by the Wine Institute.  The winners were selected by a prestigious panel of California wine and food authorities.  All recipes were tested and rewritten in an easy-to-follow format.  Artichoke Appetizer with Wine, Limehouse Chicken, and Pumpkin Beef Stew are just a few of the unique recipes in the book.  They range from quick and easy to more difficult and gourmet.  All use wine in their preparation and many are lower calorie with emphasis on natural ingredients.  The one that caught my eye while browsing through, was the recipe for Party Chicken Cacciatore because it was from my friend Shirley, from Pennsylvania.  When I bought the book, we had never met.  A few years later we met at a cooking contest and became good friends and still are after over 20 years.  Just goes to show, when you get food and wine together, only good things can happen!

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