Danny Kaye was one of my family’s favorite entertainers when I was a kid. His movie career was (mostly) before my time, although I relished seeing his films on television. His variety show in the mid-’60s we never missed. It was a bittersweet joy when he skipped that giant circle around the soundstage. It was great fun, but it also signaled the end of that week’s fun.
Kaye was known as much for his physical comedy as for his verbal jesting. Both are on display in “The Court Jester.” In fact, our wine pairing for “The Court Jester” will be served this time in some very special glassware. Just keep in mind that a witch dropped a poison pellet into one of the vessels.
“The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!” No, wait. “The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon. The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.” What a mess. It’s a good thing they called off the toast.
Speaking of toast, Danny Kaye was quite a whiz in the kitchen. His work as a chef earned him the “Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” culinary award. He was the only person to gain that honor who was not a professional in the culinary arts. His specialty was Chinese cuisine.
Kaye was remembered in an article by Ruth Reichl in the Los Angeles Times after his death in 1987. According to Reichl, Kaye liked to talk of the French chefs who said, “the best restaurant in California is at Danny Kaye’s house.”
As if comedy, acting, singing, dancing and cooking weren’t enough – oh, and he was a pretty fair golfer, too – Kaye was also an accomplished pilot and a huge baseball fan.
Let’s go Italian by way of Australia for something to pair with “The Court Jester.”
Mitolo Jester Vermentino – Frank Mitolo lets his Italian heritage show through in this Australian Vermentino from McLaren Vale. Its flavors – like Kaye’s comedy – are crisp, fresh and very approachable. Try it with Chinese take out. $22
Some other handy wine items:
The Danny Kaye Theater at the Culinary Institute of America New York campus is where cooking demonstrations and wine tastings for the Institute are held.
Mardi Gras Jester Wine Bottle Holder – At $32, you’d better down a hefty portion of the Jester Vermentino to make clicking that “BUY” button a little easier.
Mardi Gras Jester Wine Bottle Holder – Oh, wait, here’s one for only $28!
The Cork Jester – A wine writer/sommelier with the vessels to prove it.