• What do Meryl Streep, Alice Waters and hotelier Steve Wynn have in common? Each of them, along with chefs Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard and Roger Verge, appear in the new one-hour independent documentary, Monet's Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Gardens of Giverny, which is being shown on American Public Television in most major markets this spring and summer. Filmmaker Aileen Bordman conceived of the project as an homage to her mother, who has participated in the restoration and upkeep of the impressionist painter's garden since 1980, and sought to tell the story, with the help of archival material, cooking segments, Monet enthusiasts and historians, of how Monet's love of great food and wine may have influenced his work. It seems that Claude Monet was a fan of Bordeaux, Champagne (which he insisted on decanting) and prune liqueur, and he imbibed liberally over a lavish lunch each day before returning to work. Joachim Pissaro, great-grandson of Monet's colleague Camille Pissaro, may be onto something when he jokes in the film that all that midday drinking had an impact on Monet's soft-focus impressionism.
Just the thing for next season's NFL tailgate party.
• Finally, no more stumbling around in the dark for that bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé. The Champagne house's latest big idea, called Globalight, is a sleek metal bottle-holder, cooler and lamp that emits a warm pink hue, thanks to LED technology. The bucket/cooler/lamp, launched last week at a furniture fair in Milan, was designed by New York-based Karim Rashid, who was also responsible for the very practical Veuve Clicquot Loveseat. "The unique selling point of Globalight is firstly that it keeps the bottle chilled for a prolonged period without the actual light heating the bottle," said company spokesman Martyn Bowden. And as a light, he added, "the illumination works in day or night, inside or outside, so it is equally effective." Only 50 units are slated to go on sale in the United States, and here's another unique selling point: They're about $4,000 apiece! But did we mention that each one comes with a bottle of rosé?
• Speaking of pricey Champagne, here's an idea that may do to the cost of bubbly what biofuels are doing to the price of corn in this country. Elays, a new brand of beauty-care products produced in Champagne-Ardennes, is using Champagne in its products, as a kind of stand-in for Botox. The company claims that Champagne's double fermentation produces "components with a much higher level of activity, capable of acting harmoniously with skin cell enzymes and of giving them renewed vitality," and has also included organic vine leaves and grape seed oil in its face cream. Unfiltered is skeptical, having tried all sorts of vinotherapy to keep its skin youthful, with no visible results, but according to a recent study carried out at the University of Reims, "certain elements in [Pinot Noir grapes] are capable of restoring the skin's elasticity as well as stimulating cells and encouraging new ones." Something tells us, however, that ingesting as many of those elements as possible is not going to help us look any younger come tomorrow morning.
• In what has to be the most closely divided election since Florida in 2000, the residents of Tisbury, Mass., voted on whether to allow alcohol sales in their town and ended up with a tie vote—690 for and 690 against. The Martha's Vineyard town has been dry since 1920, one of 12 dry towns left in the state. That means no wine, beer or spirits for sale in stores or restaurants, though diners can bring their own bottles of wine to dinner. Some locals petitioned to allow wine and beer sales in restaurants and others objected, arguing that a dry town is more family friendly, and that they'd rather bring their own wines than pay restaurant markups. But with the April 15 vote split right down the middle, supporters have clamored for a recount, especially since the tabulating machine recorded 21 ballots with blank votes on the alcohol question. Let's just hope the Supreme Court doesn't get involved.
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