Oxford Companions

Thursday, October 26th, 2006 | All Things, Books, Eats, Events

Tom Jaine, editor of The Oxford Companion to Food, and Jancis Robinson, editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, were each giving a brief talk at the Williams-Sonoma inside the Time Warner Center. The usual assortment of foodies were gathered, including what appeared to be students from a wine tasting class, and my sometime Sunday morning cooking instructor, John.

I was a bit late to the event — work again — and walked in just as Jaine was lighting the brandy to close his Crepes Suzette cooking demonstration.

Crepes Suzette was in “invented” in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s CafĂ© de Paris. According to Henri Carpentier, the then 14-year old assistant waiter credited with the happy mistake, he was preparing a pancake dessert in a chafing dish for the Prince of Wales, when the cordials caught fire. Without time to start a new dessert, he decided to serve the dish as it was. The future King Edward VII of England was enamored with the sauce flavors, and insisted the new dessert be named after one of the ladies present at the dinner. The next day, the Prince sent a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane to young Carpentier in tribute.

Jancis Robinson OBE, Master of Wine and award-winning television host, has written extensively about wine, in books and as wine correspondent for the Financial Times. This night she was discussing the new, third edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine, and recent trends in winemaking. In between book tour events, Robinson also sat down to dinner with New York Times chief wine critic Eric Asimov at Fatty Crab.

During the brief question and answer period following the talks, the audience questions were directed exclusively at Robinson — which made me feel slightly sorry for Jaine, who was relegated to standing silently off to the side.

Jancis Robinson

Tom Jaine

At the reception upstairs afterwards, the editors mingled among the guests briefly before settling in at their book signing tables. I was tempted to pick up one or both of the hefty books for my own reference, but decided I could always come back for them another time.

The evening’s wines were provided by Jade Mountain (2003 Syrah), Edna Valley Vineyard (2005 Chardonnay — my favorite of the night, and I’m not generally a fan of California chardonnays) and Canoe Ridge Vineyard (2002 Merlot). There was the usual mad crush of people hovering around the kitchen doors, poised to pounce on the servers as they emerged with trays of hors d’oeuvres.


Jancis and Tom

SYB and I left soon afterwards for a real meal at the original Wondee Siam — one block south of the slightly more comfortable, yet slightly less loved spin-off Wondee Siam II. I don’t know what it is about this stretch of Ninth Avenue, but there are at least a dozen Thai places within a six block radius of the Wondees, which of course includes both Pams — Original and Encore.

Wondee Siam

There are 3 Comments ... Oxford Companions

November 2, 2006

It burns!

November 2, 2006

Who agreed to “Thai spicy”?!

Good thing we’ve become so much better about rationing the milky (i.e., burn-reducing) iced teas/coffees throughout the meal.

November 2, 2006

Poor Jaine!
I almost always have Thai or Vietnamese iced coffee to go with that cuisine. It adds a good punch to the meal!

Go for it ...