Lulu’s Kitchen

1303

By Diane Haynes Woodburn

Diane and Lulu“I drink only wine and Champagne,” Lulu tells us, her daughter Veronique translating the French to English. “No water.” Lulu cannot be more than 4’ 10”, yet this diminutive ninety-six-year-old commands the room with contagious vivacity.

My husband, Jamie, and I are far from home, traveling in Provence with friends Deb and Chris Kaiwi. We are here to visit the legendary vineyard Domaine Tempier, and receive an unexpected treat: its matriarch, Madame Lulu Peyraud, agrees to see us.

The idyllic farm is nestled in the hillsides above Bandol, a Mediterranean fishing village halfway between Toulon and Marseille. The farm has been in the family since 1836; Lulu’s father gave it to her in 1936 on her marriage to Lucien Peyraud, a young and talented viticulturist. For more than sixty years, until his death in 1996, Lucien worked tirelessly and passionately, with the help of his wife and family, to revive the regional Mourvedre grape and produce the rich and deeply structured wines for which the region is now famous.

But it is not simply the wine that makes Domaine Tempier legendary. Lulu’s table is laden with Provencal dishes that use garden-fresh and locally sourced foods, served with copious amounts of cool roses or hearty reds. Soon wine and food aficionados from around the world began to discover Domaine Tempier. Lulu’s open hearth and warm heart inspired such luminaries as Alice Waters, Paul Bertolli, Paula Wolfert, and Kermit Lynch.

To our delight, Lulu invites us into her kitchen. The brick hearth occupies one whole wall, with a huge fireplace commanding center stage. Mortar and pestle, pots and pans, and other tools of the trade lie neatly along the bottom shelves; above the hearth perch wrought-iron instruments whose intriguing shapes suggest grilling and roasting.  In the center of the room, an ancient, long wooden table welcomes all who enter. “The secret to long life,” Lulu says, “is to always have a good story, and a good laugh around the table.”

Despite the filter of translation, her words transport me home: Hawai‘i shares those same essential ingredients of food, family, friends and laughter. “Come my house. Eat!” is a mantra for Chef Sheldon Simeon. It’s also the motto of his restaurant, MiGRANT, where he puts a modern spin on authentic local dishes. When we asked him to helm our annual holiday test kitchen, the award-winning chef created a feast inspired by the Islands’ multicultural past: ‘ahi poke (Hawaiian), kim chee (Korean), pickled onion (Portuguese), barbecued ribs (Chinese), chicken hekka (Japanese) and ginataan (Filipino). You’ll find all the recipes in this issue, plus great ideas for holiday entertaining, including Teresa “Cheech” Shurilla’s “broke-da-mouth” recipe for tiramisu (inspired by Chef Stanton Ho), as well as our resident sommelier’s tips for buying sparkling wines.

All too soon, we say our regretful goodbyes to Madame Lulu. Back in the reception area, Veronique shows me a cookbook written by Richard Olney with an introduction by John Thorne and foreword by Alice Waters. As I thumb through the introduction, I find a passage that captures Lulu perfectly. When the author suggests that Lulu is a special cook, she responds, “Well, you understand that what makes it different from recipes in cookbooks and from restaurant cuisine is that I am always cooking for someone I love.”

This holiday season I wish you the gifts of Lulu’s kitchen: a simple table laden with food, surrounded by people you love, and replete with stories and laughter.

Happy holidays.

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