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by Fred McMillin
for December 2, 1999

 

Happy Hollandaise

 

I sing the praise of Hollandaise,
A sauce supreme in many ways.
Not only is it a treat to us
When ladled on asparagus,
But I would shudder to depict
A world without Eggs Benedict

...Ogden Nash (from the delightful Ogden FOOD Nash published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, NYC, around $10.)

Alright, our holidays will include Hollandaise. What is it? Where did it come from? What wine do we pour with it?


Origins

1600s—The towns of Delft and Leyden in Holland ran out of their own, coveted butter and had to import inferior supplies from Ireland and England. Why? The French had invented Hollandaise Sauce, a warm, seasoned blend of egg yolks and butter...and Holland's was the best.

A new treat appeared in 1732. German farmers had developed white asparagus, and records show it was served with Hollandaise Sauce. Eighty years later the great chef Careme (See June 8, 1999 WineDay's, "King of Cooks") was serving the sauce; two of his recipes are in Larousse Gastronomique. My wife's 1911 Escoffier Guide To Cookery calls for six egg yolks to be mixed with one and one-half pounds of butter. Today there are lower-cholesterol versions! Now, to the wine for Hollandaise on asparagus.


Wine of the Day

Mike Grgich To pick a wine, let's turn to The Wine Avenger, by Willie Gluckstern, founder of Wines for Food, a New York City wine school...

  • "White wines taste sweeter with asparagus. Thus, bone-dry, herbal Sauvignon Blanc works best with it."

  • "Thick, rich sauces require a high-acid white to cut through the dish's creamy mouthfeel. Red wines taste bloated and hot, so serve a crisp Sauvignon Blanc." (See the book for much more.)

    Mike Grgich(pictured), says his '97 is "crisp, with a long, palate-cleansing finish [aftertaste]." My panel felt it clearly was one of the best Blancs of the year.

    '97 Grgich Hills Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc)
    Napa Valley, CA.
    Rating—Excellent
    Contact—Violet Grgich, (800) 532-3057, FAX (707) 963-8725
    Price—$18 range


    Postscript

    Eleven countries competed in the Tenth International Culinary Olympics for professional chefs. of course, France triumphed...NO. The U.S.A. came out on top, and one of the dishes on their award-winning menu was broccoli hollandaise!

    Further Credits:
    Betty Wason's Cook's, Gluttons & Gourmets Research—Diane Bulzomi

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

     
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    WineDay Annex

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    Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.

     

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