CN chats with the First Lady of Robert Mondavi Winery
CN: You’ve spent your whole life promoting fine wine…
MM: Always! Always!
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
As well as the arts. What got you interested in such things?
My husband. He was such a passionate, focused, and dedicated person. Wine was the love of his life. He had a lot to do in promoting and changing Napa Valley. He used to say, Why can’t we make wines that—he never said ‘are better’, but—belong in the company of the great wines of the world? That was his endeavor. I not only helped in that direction, because it’s a lot of fun being with him, but he also trusted me with all kinds of artistic programs. I started the Music Festivals, and art exhibits that I still have, a cooking school, and lot of special events.
What’s your philosophy concerning food and wine?
The philosophy comes back to “the good life”—the French call it joie de vivre. When you get older, you look back in your life and you think of good times. Many times, your good times are around a table, because it’s when the family and friends get together. Of course, it’s much better if you have good food and good wine, then it makes it a beautiful evening or a beautiful lunch.
In 2003, you wrote a recipe book with your daughter. What’s your favorite dish to cook?
My husband loved when I made a fresh chicken soup and I made my own pasta. It’s called Pastina in Brodo. It’s just a simple chicken soup that I do Chinese-style: I put a chicken into the cold water, with some celery and onion, maybe a little garlic, a couple of carrots, bring it to a hot boil, put the cover on, turn the heat off, and let it sit for eight hours or overnight. Then in the morning you have the best broth and the chicken is very tender. That’s what he said was his favorite, and believe me, he’s had a lot of caviar, foie gras, and lobster … whatever you want; the best. But he’d come and he’d say, “Let’s have Pastina in Brodo.”
You’ve done many wonderful things—the “Great Chefs” program, the Summer Music Festival—what would you call your most memorable moment?
Marrying my husband. That was the most memorable thing that ever happened to me.