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If you’ve never visited Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, stop by the next time you’re in Washington, D.C. I think the kitchen reveals more about a person than any other room in the house, and Julia’s is no exception.
The exhibit which recreates the kitchen where she created recipes for so many of her books. It’s relatively small, but carefully organized. Besides a well-used six-burner stove, there was a wall grid with an inventory for wine (including ’66 Chateau Margaux, Nuits St. George ’71 and a ’59 La Rioja Alta); a small dining table, and places for each pot, gadget and utensil, carefully outlined on the wall.
What brings warmth to the exhibit is Child’s lilting voice, coming from a TV monitor that plays various film clips. During my favorite segment, she’s telling the interviewer about her most prized kitchen gadgets, which include a champagne stopper.
To show off how well this one works, Child tells how Barbara Fairchild — then editor of Bon Appetit Magazine — had come for a visit.
“I gave her some of my very best Champagne,” says Child, ever the gracious hostess. She’s referring to an iconic bottle of Dom Perignon, but doesn’t mention the brand by name.
They didn’t finish it, but thanks to Child’s trusty champagne stopper, the Dom still had its fizz three days later. I hope the other interviewer got to help her kill the bottle when the cameras were off.
I only got to interview Julia Child once — for an article on the true origins of the Caesar Salad — but she had a wonderful memory and was very excited to share what she knew with a young writer. I think perhaps that may be her most important legacy.
In a video at the Smithsonian Museum, Julia Child explains that a champagne stopper or bouch kept her Dom Perignon bubbly three days after opening.
We love champagne and sparkling wine for its tantalizing bubbles, but is there a good way to save those bubbles if you open a bottle and don’t finish it?
Absolutely, according to Julia Child, the woman who brought French cuisine and a taste for champagne to Americans with her cooking show and books. While travelling on the East Coast recently for Bubbly Bar tastings and book signings, I planned the trip so I’d have an extra day in Washington DC. I wanted to make sure to get to visit Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
As soon as I walked into the kitchen exhibit, the first thing I heard was Child’s distinctive voice… talking about champagne! A video monitor was set up to play a series of videos on topics including her favorite kitchen gadgets. In this segment, Child pulls a gold champagne stopper off a bottle Dom Perignon. As she demonstrates, the champagne was still bubbly three days later.
I agree that one of the best ways to keep leftover champagne (yes, it does exist) fresh is with a stopper or bouchon in French specifically made for sparkling wines. The grey rubber stoppers that come with a vacuum hand pump are great for still wines, but useless with champagne because the bubbles easily escape.
I’ve been partial to champagne stoppers with two hinged arms that fit tightly around the lip of the bottle, like this one in the J Wine Cuvée 20 Collection gift set or this champagne saver and pourer from Vacu Vin. But the sleek one piece stoppers like this Domaine Carneros bouchon that work with suction are still quite effective if you can leave an open bottle sitting for long.