Dune, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and ... Bordeaux? Kyle MacLachlan Gets Serious About Wine | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 809
April 18, 2024

Dune, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and ... Bordeaux? Kyle MacLachlan Gets Serious About Wine

Dune, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and ... Bordeaux? Kyle MacLachlan Gets Serious About Wine

If you’ve turned on your TV in the last 30 years, you’ve seen Kyle MacLachlan: Think “Twin Peaks,” “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives.” But when he’s not starring in Hollywood, he’s wandering vineyards in Washington. This week, MacLachlan joins us for memories from the set of “Blue Velvet,” a childhood spent canning fruit and the reason why Napa Valley isn’t the be-all and end-all of American wine. Plus, Sandra Gutierrez leads a tour through the foods of the Spanish-speaking world; Adam Gopnik delights in witnessing true culinary mastery; and we prepare a Seoul-style Kimchi Fried Rice.

Questions in this Episode:

“Do knife honing steels wear out over time?"

"How should I cook steaks on an electric stovetop?"

"I can’t get my pita bread to rise. What should I do to fix that?"

Kyle Mac Lachlan Walla Walla WA

Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Actor Kyle MacLachlan is a cult favorite TV and movie star. But outside of Hollywood, he owns a wine label called Pursued by Bear. The name is a nod to his favorite Shakespearean stage direction.

Kyle MacLachan: When they come upon that they're like scratching their head saying, how am I going to make a bear work on stage and chase an actor up? Do we need a real bear? Do we dress someone up in a bear suit? Do we make it more of a symbolic bear? What are we going to do?

CK: Today, Kyle McLachlan joins us to talk about eccentric films and serious wine. But first, it's my conversation with leading expert on Latin American cuisine. Sandra Gutierrez, for her latest book, Latinísimo. She covers dishes and ingredients from all 21 countries in Latin America. Sandra, welcome to Milk Street.

Sandra Gutierrez: Thank you so much for having me, Chris, what a thrill it is to talk to you.

CK: Well, it's lovely to have you on the show. And let me start with a question, which is this. Your book covers a wide geographic area, right? Lots of different cultures and countries. (Yes) So how do you you tell you about 21 different countries of Latin America. Is there something about their history or their food that binds them together in some way?

SG: That's an excellent question, Chris. I see Latin American foodways in general as a large quilt that's threaded together by similar ingredients. And that is why I divided the book based on ingredients. I didn't want to do it based on country. But by doing it by ingredients, it showcases both the differences and the similarities in each cuisine.

CK: So, let's do a little history lesson here. So first, you know, there were the indigenous peoples in the Americas, the Maya, the Inca, the Aztecs, then came the Spanish and the Portuguese. And you say that a lot of that was due to the market for sugar, which was extremely lucrative. And then in the 19th and 20th centuries, you talk about immigration, from the Philippines, China, Japan, from Mexico, Central America, and Peru. And all of these cultures changed cooking, it changed the cooking in Spain and Portugal. But it changed the cooking in Peru, Mexico, and all-over Latin America, right?

SG: It changed the cooking around the world. It's really the beginning of globalization. So, the Spaniards and the Portuguese arrived to the Americas and of course, conquer the indigenous people of this part of the world. And when they first come and set their feet on America, they stepped down to this land with flora and fauna that they did not even recognize. So, they depended on the indigenous people to show them what they could eat without dying. But then, of course, the Spaniards and the Portuguese find that in order to meet their quotas of silver, gold, or the treasures that had included plus sugar, they needed more people. And that's when enslaved African people are brought by force to the Americas. And they also bring with them a lot of their culinary and food way traditions. So first comes the Europeans, you know, with rice, and citrus and pork, and beef, and goats and sheep, and cilantro and onions and garlic, and find in the new world that we have tomatoes and potatoes and chocolate, and then come the Africans with their ingredients. And so, it's the very first fusion, then when you come into the 19th and 20th century, that's when you get the big load of immigrants from all the world descending into the Americas. So, the Chinese, you know, were arriving to Peru and to Mexico and to parts of Panama, and to Cuba, and the Lebanese were arriving to Brazil, and they were arriving to the Dominican Republic. And later in the 20th century, the Jews start arriving in big groups to Argentina, and Bolivia, and Paraguay, and Mexico, and so on, and so forth. And you get this incredible explosion of flavors, traditions, cultures, that all come together, in what I call a tsunami, really, of flavors and cultural foodways that have never stopped mixing.

CK: So, let's just talk about techniques and recipes. So, we can start with pasta. You have a lot of Italian immigrants coming in in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, but how pasta is cooked and what you put on it is actually quite different. So like fideo where you actually stir fry or cook pasta first? That is one thing, right? That's that's particular to the style of cooking.

SG: Yes, and it comes from the Moors that actually it's a Persian method. It's the same pilaf method that we use when we satay rice or any grain before we add a liquid, but we do it with pasta so it’s the Spanish are the ones who bring that way of making fideo in a pilaf style first. But then you also have the Chinese and Asian influence in the cuisines mostly of Peru where they precook the noodles and then they add them to a sauce or also cook them in the same way that the Mexicans cook them by first sauteing it in an oil usually with annatto. And then they add a liquid and slowly cook it. It's almost like like cooking a risotto. We call those sopa stickers or dried soups and they really are the original one pot pasta.

CK: Let's just talk about pesto. So, pesto can be 1000 different things, right?

SG: Correct. I would say that the most basic pesto we have in Latin America is chimichurri. It's the same idea. It's an herb sauce, right, with a lot of parsley instead of basil. But yeah, pesto is a mixture of spices and what we typically think of pesto as green. But in Latin America, you will also find pesto’s made with peppers. But that key point of a pesto in Latin America is for you to have a creamy sauce that has a lot of herbal notes, a little bit of cheese and some kind of nut. So, for instance, the avocado pesto the pasta compiled from Chile has walnuts mixed with the avocado. And that gives it just this creaminess and nuttiness that we all think of as being part of pesto.

CK: So, let's talk about the Japanese influence. You mentioned in Peru you know, from the late 19th century, early 20th century, there were 30,000 Japanese nationals who had settled in Peru. So now you start getting soy sauce and ginger and other things. What kind of influence did that have long term on the cooking there.

SG: It's had a huge influence. For instance, even in the language, soy sauce, they call it shoyu which is the same way that they call it in Japanese. The Japanese they have grown in numbers so much that you will find the new cuisine that was born from the fusion called Nikkei. So, Nikkei cuisine combines the Peruvian Incan Spanish and Middle Eastern flavors with Japanese flavors. So, you have for instance a Lomo Saltado which is a stir fry, which is their national dish. And it is beef tenderloin that is sauteed you know or stir fried with onions and peppers. And you have soy sauce and oyster sauce and vinegar, and then the surprise ingredient of tomatoes, which is of course typical of Peru, tomatoes were native of Peru, and then they finished it with French fries. Because potatoes go with everything in Peru, and they serve that on top of rice. So, you have that Asian rice, and you have the potatoes from Peru. So, it's fascinating, I think to see how cultures have melded together have adopted and adapted things from each other's cuisine to build new dishes that are authentic to the place where they were born.

CK: Dulce de leche so it's the whole thing. You put the can and water and you cook it for a couple hours. So, I always wondered, has anyone ever exploded a can doing that or is that perfectly safe?

SG: Oh no, it they have they have exploded it I think we all have at some point or the other, which is why the recipes are triple and quadropoly tested, so people have to follow the exact recipe, but you can also find it in jars everywhere now. And then in Mexico, of course you have the equivalent of Cajeta, but which is made with goat's milk instead of cow's milk. That consistency is very, very similar. But the flavor has a little tanginess to it, which of course, goat milk will give

CK: Well, I think one thing people overlook and you you did not overlook this one reason I like your book, is you chose recipes, and presented them in a way that I think would be useful for an American audience. I mean, if you go back to Julia Child, she wasn't French. (Correct) But she was really good at translating, right? She was good at saying to an American audience, okay. You know, if you want to roast a chicken, let's start with the basics and go from there. And I think this book gives you a lot of recipes that people feel comfortable with, that are interesting, but the translation is well done.

SG: I really appreciate you saying that because that is one of the things that I really wanted to do with this book. And you mentioned Julia Child and of course her book, opened French cuisine to the home cook. And that's what I wanted to do with this. I wasn't thinking of finding the esoteric, very weird recipes I wanted to teach our contemporary cooks here what their contemporary cooks their cook.

CK: Sandra it’s been really good fun and it's been a pleasure and thank you so much for being on Milk Street.

SG: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure talking to you too, Chris.

CK: That was Sandra Gutierrez her latest book is Latinísimo: Home Recipes from the Twenty-One Countries of Latin America. Now it's time to answer your cooking questions with my co-host, Sara Moulton. Sara is of course the star of Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television. Her latest book is Home Cooking 101.

Sara Moulton: Chris, before we get started here, you know, we're heading into spring, what are you looking forward to the most to cook?

CK: I'm a terrible planner. So even if I'm having people over, I'll start getting serious about it two days ahead of time maybe, or the day ahead of time, I'm still not sure what I'm making. So, the idea that we're up with a new season, and I can't comprehend. I only live in the moment. There's no future. There's no past. It's just like that's today.

SM: That's how you built an empire like Milk Street?

CK: Well, no, it's just that I'm reacting against the order and the culture of being very precise in the office. At home. I like to freewheel it a little bit, so I don't really think of it that way. And the other problem is that supermarkets you can't tell what season of the year it is when you are in a supermarket. So obviously there's asparagus and this, that and the other thing I mean softshell crabs would be my that's the one thing that is highly seasonal. And that is my favorite food in the world so yes.

SM: If you asked me what was mine, it would absolutely be softshell crabs. How do you cook them?

CK: Fry them. All you have to do is flour them and fry them.

SM: You mean sauté. You don't mean deep fry?

CK: No, I would actually fry them.

SM: Deep fry them. Yeah, well just get an inch and a half of grapeseed oil.

SM: Those little guys have a lot of liquid in them though. So, you'll you'll be wearing it, you have to sort of stand back.

CK: Well, wearing my food is perfectly acceptable to me.

SM: Anyway. softshell crabs. We agree that's it,

CK: But not shad roe. My mother was she loved shad roe yeah

SM: Oh my god. Talk about a stinky house. The whole house. yeah

CK: I didn't understand that at all. Anyway

SM: It was gross. Okay. Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?

Caller: This is Gail Black.

SM: Hi, Gail. Where are you calling from?

Caller: Memphis, Tennessee.

SM: And how can we help you today?

Caller: I have had a question for a long time that I have not been able to find the answer to. I want to know if sharpening steels, or honing steels were out? Do they, over time get less effective and what sharpening steels are the best to use?

SM: Well, let me say first of all, I hope you know that sharpening steel does not really sharpen your knife it hones it, meaning it realigns the metal edge. So, if you have a dull knife, you're going to need to also sharpen it using a whetstone. It's good you know that, and everybody should know that. They shouldn't wear out they're very hard. Well, depends, the ceramic ones are a different matter. Because like ceramic knives, they are more brittle and can break the metal ones do not enter it, Chris, do you want to weigh in?

CK: Well, the sharpening stone that Sara mentioned, yes, if you're very skilled, and you want to take time, I use one occasionally. But for most people, they're really this is what you learn in cooking school at the CIA. So, I would forget about that.

Caller: I get mine professionally sharpened.

CK: There you go. You can do that. Or you can buy a sharpening electric or manual.

SM: There is actually a good electric sharpener.

CK: Or you can buy manual ones for 20 to 30 bucks. The thing you want to think about though, is a knife blade edge can go dull in two minutes. So, people always think they should hone up their knife every couple of months. If you watch a chef, they're honing their knife constancy, somebody in a butcher shop, every five minutes, they're doing it. So honing is really important. Because if your knife is sharp, first of all, it's 10 times safer, you're not going to cut yourself because it'll catch into the food not you will glance off. And secondly, it makes prep twice as fast. I mean, if you want to chop an onion with a dull knife, you better have the 911 ready on your phone. And two, it's just going to be it's going be an impossible task. So you're absolutely right, hold the knife, sharpen it when necessary. And keep it sharp because 99% of people at home, have dull knives. And the last statistic I love is over 80% according to a company I know that makes knives. The survey they did is people never ever, ever have sharpened one of their kitchen knives. Ever.

Caller: And I've cooked in other people's kitchens, and they never sharpen their knives. And I've just recently bought a new knife. And I mean, it was cutting through the onion and the tomato like no pressure at all. But the next time I use it oh god. Oh, that kind of went dull quick.

CK: Look 90% of cooking is prep. If it's going to take you 20 minutes to do three cloves of garlic. Forget about it. Yeah, but you know, yeah, it's time to call takeout you know so, I'm with you. Good for you.

SM: Yeah, Steel's an important tool. Yeah. Thank you for bringing everybody's attention to it.

Caller: Yeah, I have one that's first Chicago cutlery. And I use it fairly regularly. I've had it for decades and I've always wondered should I get a new one or is it seems to be working. Yeah, good. yay

SM: Very good question, Gail. Thank you.

CK: Thanks for calling.

Caller: Thank you. Bye bye.

CK: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: This is Stuart Grove. How are you?

CK: Good. How are you? How can I help you?

Caller: I'm good. My question was about cooking steaks on an electric stove. The proper method and best way to do it

CK: it doesn't really matter whether it's gas or electric. But I'll give you the best method for cooking a steak, I would take it out of the refrigerator like an hour or two before you want to cook it. Use some coarse salt on both sides, let it sit on a cooling rack or a half baking pan or whatever. Heat the oven to 225 or so 250. Put the steak on the rack on the baking sheet into the oven and heat it for roughly 20 minutes or so until it comes up to about 95 degrees 95 to 100. Take it out and then finish it in a skillet or on a grill. So, whether it's electric or gas, or induction doesn't really matter, heat up your skillet, maybe a little bit of oil in it depends on the steak cast iron will be the best and sear it hot and fast and both sides, a minute or two on each side. The steak will come up to the right temperature interior. And what's happened is that time in the oven, turbo ages the steak, I've actually tested this, you can taste the difference, the flavor is just phenomenal. And the second thing is you don't end up with the outside of the steak overcooked when the inside is properly cooked, which is what happens if you cook it entirely on the grill or in a skillet. So, it gives you even cooking gives you improved flavor.

Caller: Would this still apply you know as far as venison steaks and kind of wild game and stuff like that. What would be a different cooking method for any of that?

CK: Yeah, venison. The only thing you can cook fast is the backstrap the muscles that go down the back that you can cook fast like a tenderloin in which it is the rest of it no, you're going to want to cook that low and slow. Friends of mine in Vermont, eat mostly venison. And it's always going to be a little tough. But the tenderloin the backstrap you can cook it over very high heat and keep it pretty rare in the center. And that's really delicious.

Caller: Right on, thank you very much. Yeah, appreciate it.

CK: Sure.

SM: Thanks, Stuart. Bye

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you have a question, give us a call anytime. 855-426-9843 that's 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, this is Ed Sabbagh from Beverly, Massachusetts

CK: How can we help you?

Caller Well, I've been trying to make pita bread for a while. And I'm following the recipe as closely as I can. And the problem is, as you can probably imagine, I just can't seem to get it to rise to separate. it comes out very nice and delicious. But it's really just a flat bread at that point. So, I'm wondering if there's something I'm doing wrong, or something's I can do to sort of tweak the recipe and get it to rise nice and fluffy?

CK: Well, I did this for the first time about 18 months ago, and I got about 80% of them to puff up pretty well. And I'm no expert.

Caller: Good average.

CK: Yeah, I was actually, I was quite proud of myself walked around for days, feeling very proud. A few things. It's the water in the dough, that's going to turn to steam. So just make sure that it's hydrated enough. The problem with that is it's just by feel. But sometimes you're using old flour, for example, it might require more water to it. So that (okay) that could be one reason. The second is they have to be really thin. And that's the hard part of the recipe, right is getting them to be like an eighth of an inch thick. If they're thicker, the outsides not going to set fast enough and they won't puff properly. The last thing is does the recipe call for resting before you put them in the oven

Caller: It does yeah,

CK: but that would also be important. So other things sometimes people say with ease, you know we do those small balls before you roll them out, is they have to be shaped and really taut on the top. It could be the shaping, you know, maybe you didn't do a great job of shaping. So, when you cut those balls with your two hands, and you turn them and cut them. You want a really taut top. And that should also help as well. But those would be my did any of them turn out well or just not enough of them? I

Caller: I would say about half of them puff up about halfway. And the rest not at all.

CK: And your oven was super-hot?

Caller: 500 degrees. I suppose I could try hotter. I did use a pizza stone as well.

CK: That's an interesting point. I have mixed feelings about using a pizza stone if you're actually baking on a stone. Are you baking on the stone?

Caller: Yeah, yeah,

CK: Well, that should work. I mean, it's just like a pizza. I've had bad luck with a pizza stone just as a heat sink when I'm not baking on the stone because I find it interferes with the flow of air in the oven. But if you're going to bake right Add on the stone. Is that a regular pizza stone or is it a metal one?

Caller: It's a stone one.

CK: Yeah, the only thing we have found is the metal baking stones seem to do a better job of conducting heat than the regular ones. So yeah, that's something to think about. Sara, do you have some?

SM: Yeah, no, I think I basically agree with everything you've said. But I had a question for Ed. The recipe you're following. I assume that it's giving you weights not measurements.

Caller: Right. Right.

SM: So grams of flour, not cups of flour?

Caller: No, it is cups. Yeah.

CK: A ha good question.

SM: I think that might be the problem because everybody measures flour differently measures when you use a measuring cup, I would try to find a recipe you know, from a reputable place that uses grams or ounces, because that will be far more accurate. And the amount of water Chris brought up the point about it's supposed to be a slightly sticky dough, and that's very important to create the steam that creates the puff. I would check the recipe and find a recipe that uses ounces or grams.

Caller: Okay,

SM: Yeah,

Caller: Sure. I'll try that. Yeah. Great.

SM: Okay,

CK: And good luck. It is fun when you get a bunch of them to puff up. Yeah. And

SM: And let us know, you know, if you have success, we want you to have success.

Caller: I appreciate that so much. Thanks so much to help.

CK: Take care. Bye,

Caller: Bye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio coming up making movies and making wine with Kyle MacLachian. That's up after the break. Hey, this is Chris Kimball, and I need your help. We're working on a story about the battles we all have in our home kitchens. Maybe you're tired of your partner telling you how to cook or maybe they always leave a mess. Or maybe you're frustrated by your loved ones highly restrictive diet. We want to hear about your kitchen dramas from the biggest food fights to your everyday grievances. You can leave us a voicemail at 617-249-3167 617-249-3167 or send a voice memo to radio tips at 177 Milk Street.com. One more time, call us at 617-249-3167 or email us a voice memo at Radio tips at 177 Milk Street.com. Please include your name and where you're calling from. Thank you. This is Milk Street Radio I'm your host Christopher Kimball, Kyle MacLachian played agent Dale Cooper on the 90s called classic TV show Twin Peaks. Dale is an odd guy but he's also wise.

Kyle MacLachian: I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day. Once a day. Give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. Could be a new shirt at the men's store. A cat nap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee. Like this.

CK: From Twin Peaks to Blue Velvet to Sex in the City Kyle McLaughlin is the verified Hollywood icon. But he has other interests, including making wine. Kyle, welcome to Milk Street.

Kyle MacLachian: Wow, I'm so happy to be here, Chris. Thank you for having me.

CK: So, help me understand what it's like to be an actor. You know, one day you're doing theater in Seattle. The next day you're working with David Lynch, and strangers are stopping you on the street for an autograph. So, what is it like to manage the highs and lows? I mean, it must be really hard.

KM: You know I guess I'm just used to it now. I mean, I trained to be in the theater, and then movies kind of sideswiped me, thank God, you know, you kind of it's a little bit of hand to mouth. Of course, when you're 20 or 19 or however old I was, you know, don’t think in those terms. You're just you're doing exactly what you want to do that you love to do, and you'll do regardless.

CK: So you've worked with Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Dennis Hopper, of course, Blue Velvet Isabella Rossellini, who we all fell in love with at the time probably (yes we did), it doesn't make as an actor, the other actors actresses you're working with, does that make it just a huge difference in your love of what you do or how well you do in a movie or play?

KM: Well, you know, you do become a family. And if you're on location as we were for Blue Velvet, we became a real tight knit family. It was David Lynch of course and Isabella, Laura Dern, myself, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif, and we all kind of hung out together during filming. And it was really a lovely, lovely time. I know the subject matter and certain certainly some of the scenes were really challenging and difficult, but we were all kind of in it together.

CK: You know, over the years, there's been a ton of back and forth about the symbolism of food in Twin Peaks, especially regarding your character. He's always the guy who's eating pies and doughnuts. And some critics have said that that was there to project honesty and kindness. Was that something you thought about while you were crafting that character?

KM: Oh, I definitely think the food was an important part, a very important part of the character I played Dale Cooper, his love for coffee and cherry pie as you mentioned doughnuts. I think it really humanizes him in a way and and it also speaks to kind of a veneration I think of these things that they're that they are very important to him in a way that both affects his senses and what he feels is right and just and good.

“Trudy, two more coffees please. Perry, Lucy. It is an absolutely beautiful morning. Short stack and griddle cakes melted butter maple syrup, lightly heated slice a ham. Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup collides with ham. \Griddle cake slice a ham. Who killed Laura Palmer? Harry, let me tell you about the dream I had last night”.

KM: You know, a damn good cup of coffee in his vernacular is an important thing and an important thing to enjoy and embrace. And it really one of the other things that says to me is that he is a person who's very much in the moment. So, when he's experiencing something like a doughnut or a cherry pie or coffee, he is experiencing it completely and fully in that moment.

CK: So, your early life you picked apples, you canned peaches you went fishing a lot. Your father was a good cook. So, tell me a little bit about that.

KM: Well, I grew up in Yakima, Washington, eastern Washington, it's really a farming area, primarily fruit ranching. So, we were surrounded by fruit trees. In fact, growing up in my backyard, we had two Bartlett pear trees, a Winesap tree, which is an old, old varietals, Pippin, Pippin, as well. And these were left over from the orchard that had been there before they had built the development where I grew up. And my dad won many, many ribbons at the Central Washington State Fair for his dahlias, he would have the giant dinner plate styled dahlias. But yeah, he tended these trees, and we would in the fall, we would harvest everything from the yard. And I remember my mom and my grandmother would journey down to some of the community canning facilities. And we would all prepare our peaches and our cherries, and our pears and we would can them in those kind of giant silver cans that you'd fill with a cup of sugar. That's what you needed. And and you'd stack it full of pears or peaches, and then they would run it through for you. And that was yeah, I remember doing that when I was a kid.

CK: So, let's talk about your wine label Pursued by Bear. Now I've heard that expression before, exit pursued by a bear. But I never realized it's actually a stage direction from Shakespeare from The Winter's Tale. So how did you ever decide to use that it's a bit enigmatic don’t you think?

KM: It’s very, very enigmatic. So, you know, it is a stage direction. And when I think of the director reading the play for the first time, and they come up on that stage direction, they're like scratching their head saying, how am I going to make a bear work on stage and chase an actor off? Do we need a real bear? Do we dress someone up in a bear suit? Do we make it more of a symbolic bear? What are we going to do? And I thought, well, that sort of is the same kind of reaction, I think people had to me starting this wine brand. They said, what on earth are you doing? And this is, you know, I started in 2005. Even before that, that was my first vintage was 2005. So, when I was trying to find a name, I wanted something that was, you know, sort of a sideways nod to my day job as an actor. And when I was in school, I did a lot of Shakespeare. In fact, the first job I had out of school was at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. So, I really liked Shakespeare and I really enjoy it. But I just, I loved the name. And I said, if nothing else was going to give me a great visual for the label, which it did. So, we were off and running,

CK: Well, Pursued by Bear, which I have in my hand is actually excellent. But you said, quote, “California is not what I aspire to Bordeaux is where I find my inspiration”. You want to just explain what that means?

KM: Well, I think more in terms of just what we're trying to make. Washington is closer on latitude to Bordeaux. And while the climate is different, we're much warmer in Washington state of Washington has two states, really, it's the Evergreen side, the Seattle side where it rains. And then there's the eastern side, which is in a rain shadow. So yeah, high desert five to nine inches of rain a year, it can really control your moisture. So, what's coming off the vine there is a is a balanced, you know, fruit forward, but also food friendly wine, and I sometimes feel in California is you know, it can get a little high in alcoholic can get a little bit jammy. And it can become almost a meal in itself. And the wines in Washington are really, certainly the ones I make are made to be enjoyed with food. And so that's what my thought comes in terms of inspiration from Bordeaux that they're built to, you know, accompany a meal.

CK: But you don't actually have a vineyard per se. So how does that work? So, you have your grapes processed, or can you explain how the business works so I understand it.

KM: I don't own vineyards yet. That's a long-term goal. But I source all around the Columbia Valley with growers who I've had relationships with some, some from the very beginning, you know, 15-year relationship. So, I have, I have my rows already designated to me, you know, and my cab comes from a certain place my merlot from another and, and so the consistency, which is the important thing is there because I'm not sort of willy nilly jumping all over the place. I'm pretty hands on I'm I'm part of the barrel trials, we do blending trials. I haven't stomped on any grapes yet. But it's not outside the realm of possibility. No, we actually don't stomp on the grapes, there's too many grapes to stomp. But it's been it's been a wonderful journey, and one that I get to do kind of in the backyard where I grew up on Eastern Washington.

CK: So, let's go back to acting for just a minute. So, people often say that British actors are trained to act with their expressions with their face. And when I watch old movies, it seems like the right expression can convey, you know, so much more than a line of dialogue. So, can you comment on that?

KM: Well, it's the, it's the beauty of the camera, really, that as an actor, the camera picks up every little nuance, every little change in your face. And I think good actors understand that. And they trust that the camera is capturing what they're thinking, you know, there's really a skill in, in the simplicity of it, they make they make something very complicated look simple. You know, it is very complicated. The preparation is very complicated, but, but the actual result seems like, oh, that just looks like they're just doing nothing, which is a great compliment to pay to an actor.

CK: So, if you're preparing for stage role, acting on stage, it's just a totally, totally different skill set than movies or they're actually shades of the same thing.

KM: It's kind of similar, actually. It's just the audience is the camera. But it's the same process. It's the same creation of reality. Stage is kind of wonderful, because, you know, at eight o'clock curtain goes up and you launch and you're now airborne for an hour and a half of sustaining a performance, you know, and film of course, is broken up into much smaller pieces for the most part. But that's the beauty of stage is that it's you’re flying you know, and the actor is in ultimately in control of what's happening. And that is a thrilling, frightening, amazing experience that is, you know, equal parts terrifying and also just absolutely satisfying.

CK: Terrifying and satisfying. That's a great way to describe both being an actor and making your own wine. Kyle, I wish you luck on the stage and of course in the vineyards, and thanks so much for coming on the show. It's been a real pleasure,

KM: Chris, I've so enjoyed it. Thank you.

CK: That was actor Kyle MacLachian. He hosts the investigative podcast Barnum town. He's also the owner of the wine label Pursued by Bear. You know, actors are paid to create fictional realities. In Dune Kyle McLaughlin rode a spice worm but, in the studio, he was actually a top a green screen. 12-foot section of fake worm operated by worm wranglers using cables to imitate motion. Actors do have an advantage. They know the difference between what's real and what's not. And that is their stock and trade. The rest of us end up believing our own personal fiction, the story we tell ourselves to make sense of our ordinary lives. But as my mother used to quip, what's so good about reality anyway. This is Milk Street Radio. After the break Adam Gopnik transports us to the restaurants of the past that's coming right up. I'm Christopher Kimball you're listening to Milk Street Radio. Now let's head into the kitchen with JM Hirsch to talk about this week's recipe. Kimchi fried rice. JM how are you?

J M Hirsch: I'm doing great.

CK: You know, we're talking about fried rice. You were recently in South Korea, and I do remember interviewing a couple that do Chinese cooking demystified, great YouTube show. And they were quite adamant that there's a right way to do fried rice. And of course, one of the stalwart rules is you use leftover rice that's been shelled because of starches, etc. But you were in South Korea and found that rule, I guess, is made to be broken, right?

JMH: Pretty much well, you know, as usual, every time we think we understand something, we go someplace new. And we realize how little we understand. And that was certainly the case with fried rice, as you say conventional wisdom is that the best rice for fried rice is cooked and chilled because the starches change and then they divide better, and they don't stick together and clump in the pan. But when I went to Korea, I realized much to my surprise that they actually prefer to use freshly cooked rice. It is a different consistency than what we think of as a conventional fried rice, but it was no less delicious. And that's thanks to two other things that kind of surprised me. The first of those is the ratio that they use now. And the important thing to remember here is that in Korea as elsewhere, there are a million ways to make fried rice. And the most simple version of it that I had actually a grandmother prepared it for me because they of course do the best cooking was nothing but equal parts freshly cooked rice and kimchi. And you think well, how is that even a dish? It seems so simple. But kimchi, of course is a new umami bomb, you know, fermented cabbage with chili and spice and so much savoriness going on. It is a powerhouse ingredient. And so actually, those versions were delicious, as simple as they were. And then you know, as I ate my way through Seoul, I realized that actually there are plenty of other ways to make kimchi fried rice that build on that simple base of kimchi and rice. And many of the versions I had included a sauce dadaegi, which, you know, most fried rice is have some sort of sauce, maybe nothing more than soy sauce, but sometimes some garlic or ginger. Well, the dadaegi’s that I encountered had those things. The soy sauce, the ginger, they also added, of course, gochujang, and scallions and garlic. But the interesting ingredient was they use Asian pear as well. So, all of this is blended until smooth, and then added toward the very end of cooking in the pan. And the Asian pear made such a difference. It adds kind of a sweet fruitiness that balances all the spice in the heat that you would expect in a dish like this. And it results in a much more rounded experience of fried rice. So, it was really quite delicious.

CK: So, we start with kimchi and fresh rice. Now we add a sauce. Do they very often do what the Chinese might do or even in Thailand at a bunch of other stuff, too.

JMH: Yeah, it's very much a what have you sort of dish, which is traditional in all the fried rice's we've had, regardless of where we have it. And some versions I ate in Seoul were onerous affairs with dozens of ingredients. And some like I said, were nothing but kimchi and rice, we settled on a version based on all of those cooks’ kind of right down the middle where we combined our kimchi with some onions, some corn kernels, which was a surprising experience, but quite delicious, as well as some ground pork. And we found that that was enough to give the dish some substance. And then we did a simplified version of the sauce using a conventional pear rather than Asian pear. And a few key ingredients like the ginger and the garlic and the gochujang and it came out really delicious. And most of the ingredients, especially for the sauce just end up in the blender anyway, so it's a really rather simple dish that gets on the table in about half an hour.

CK: So, kimchi fried rice with pork and fresh rice. Thank you, JM.

JMH: Thank you. You can get the recipe for kimchi fried rice at Milk Street Radio.com.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you need a hand with dinner, Sara and I are of course here to help give us a call 855-426-9843 that's 855-426-9843 or simply email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. Now it's time to hear what Adam Gopnik is thinking about this week. Adam, how are you?

Adam Gopnik: I am very well, Christopher, how are you?

CK: I'm good. I'm good.

AG: You know what I think Chris is the single most disconcerting thing that happens to us as we mature and ripen is that a period of time that we just live through suddenly becomes a period of time in the world's historical imagination. When people now talk, my children do, for instance, of something I'm wearing is being an 90s style, I have no idea what they're talking about. And then they point out to me that I'm dressed like a 90 stand-up comic, in a jacket, jeans and sneakers. And I'm suddenly aware of myself as a period piece. This is a terrifying thing when it happens to us. And of course, the same thing is true. And you knew that I was going here about restaurant styles, right and cooking styles. We don't think of ourselves as belonging to a style. And then suddenly we look back and we realize that we belong to a particular time. I recognize that the kind of food that my parents loved and the restaurants they cherished were French restaurants of a very particular period that did a kind of cooking that seems to us now quaint and dated. But at the time, all of that kind of ____ and cassoulet seemed terribly vital. Well, I came of age, in the culinary sense in the 1980s. And one of my heroes was a wonderful chef named David Waltuck, who was the chef of a wonderful restaurant he ran with his wife Karen called Chanterelle here in New York. (Oh yeah) And as you know, Christopher, their experience of that restaurant and the struggle to keep it alive, inspired me to write a musical called Our Table very much out of their experience and that of my dear friend, Peter Hoffman as well. So, David has always been a kind of hero of mine. But until just a couple of weeks ago, I had never actually had the privilege of cooking with them. But we invited them over for dinner and David with enormous generosity said let's cook together. Then I went about making my own osso bucco and then David volunteered to do a kind of seafood salad along with it. Now here's what was so impressive to me. Of course, it was wonderful to see the dexterity with which he worked his knife and the confidence with which he poached the mussels and then quickly the shrimp and so on. But you know the single thing that impressed me most out of actually cooking side by side with this wonderful friend who's also a hero, chef of mine.

CK: Oh, do you want my opinion? No, I don't have an answer to that question.

AG: Two things, how vigorously and enthusiastically he seasoned everything we were doing with salt and pepper much more vigorously than I would have done. And more important than that, still, how quickly and efficiently he cleaned his station. Now, that came as a shock to me in a way. And yet it was so impressive to see somebody who was at the very height of the technical side of his profession, whose immediate reflex was to clean up, reorganize, make sure that every surface was shining and ready for the next step.

CK: Well, I think when we all start out, It's total chaos in the kitchen. For me, it was a good 20 years. But I think is the more you do it. I absolutely agree. I was just cooking yesterday, you know, I looked at a recipe and you immediately break it down into three or four parts. And it's very and you're doing it, you know, muscle memory, right. But you're able to focus on what's important. And so, what appears to a beginner as being a confusing set of directions and ingredients distills itself into something where you can have tremendous focus. And I think part of that is is cleaning up and being organized. You can't focus in chaos right.

AG: Exactly. Well, you know, when I was making the osso bucco, I was aware of it, those of us who cook a lot, know the steps in a braise, right, and you look at the recipe, and you realize, okay, it's chopped the aromatics, brown the meat, add the liquid, get it in the oven, right? Each, each variation of that is varied, but the basic language and grammar of it, we know. And as soon as we see it on the page, we know, we've done this before. What's striking about it for me, particularly Christopher, is that I am as my good wife would tell you, the most disorganized person when it comes to keeping a neat, clean kitchen. At least I was until that day. But when I'm doing the work that I actually do best, and that I understand, and that is writing, I realize I'm similar in as much as when I am sitting down to write, I am there for four hours. And my kids are genuinely always impressed that I don't get up and sharpen pencils or get up and have a snack. I'm there. I'm like a Zen monk, I'm just sitting, and the work is passing into my fingers. And it's exactly the same kind of, if you might call it a secondary discipline, that our real work in life makes us master. And that is that it isn't about creativity, it isn't about inventing sentences, the sentences in some way will invent themselves. It's about making the commitment to the four hours that you sit there. And I realized at the end of my evening cooking with David, this remarkable chef that he had long ago made a very similar commitment. It's a commitment to the practice of the kitchen, the practice of the cook, as a beautiful Zen thing where when someone asks one of the great Zen masters, what's the secret of enlightenment, and he says, chop wood, pour water. And anytime you run into somebody who's terrific at that, it's always the same commitment to the foundations of the practice. It's chopping wood, pouring water, working your knife, cleaning your station, sitting by your keyboard, it was an inspiring thing to see. And what made it particularly moving for me was that David Waltuck had written the beautiful thing once about how he had decided to become a chef because as a young boy growing up the one place that most pleased and excited him where his parents and family seemed happiest. Was it exactly one of those old fashioned 60s style French restaurants in the West 40s of New York, now long gone, and that restaurant around the corner had given him the inspiration to become a chef in the same way that the writing in The New Yorker of the 60s had given me similar kinds of inspiration. We had both in some ways achieved something, accomplished something in our lives. But it both rested on taking a vision of what we wanted to be, and turning it into a practice of what we are.

CK: Well, like someone other than me once said, the present lives in between the past and the future, the past did exist no longer exists. The future never comes. So, you're you're, you're in this nanosecond of present. And if you're in the present, like your example of your chef, or you as a writer, everything else goes away, and you're able to focus on a singular concept. In other words, you're organized but you're organized because you don't let all the other things intrude on that focus. And that's, that's, of course, very Zen.

AG: And very Zen, very psychological. It's when we're in the flow. It's when exactly that puts it beautifully when we escape the pull of the past or the possibility of the future and we're just in the present moment. And that's the thrilling thing about watching anybody who's really good at something. They are entirely in the present moment and as a consequence, make us aware of the present moment all the more urgently.

CK: Adam, thank you. It's time to move into the future. But the past was excellent. Thank you so much.

AG: Press on.

Lyrics from Restaurant Around the Corner from the production of Our Table: In the restaurant around the corner, it was always warm and bright. My parents almost glowed there. They seem changed by candlelight. And waiters bowed and busboys twirled, and nerves tied tight, got all uncurled. That restaurant around the corner was the best place in the world.

CK: That was Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker. The song Restaurant Around the Corner is from the musical Our Table, which Adam co-wrote, with David Shire.

Much less and people lost them troubles there in butter and in bubbles there. That restaurant on the corner was the best place they could share.

CK: That's it for today. You can find all of our episodes at Milk Street Radio.com or wherever you get your podcasts. You can learn more about Milk Street at 177 Milk Street.com. There you can become a member and get all of our recipes, access to all live stream cooking classes, and free standard shipping from the Milk Street store. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street on Instagram at 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week with more food stories and kitchen questions. And thanks, as always for listening.

and be there at that table on a corner of the world.

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GVH. co-founder Melissa Baldino executive producer Annie Sensabaugh. Senior Editor Melissa Allison, Senior Producer Sarah Clapp, Associate Producer Caroline Davis with production help from Debby Paddock, Additional editing by Sidney Lewis, audio mixing by Jay Allison and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole Massachusetts. Theme music by Toubab Krewe, additional music by George Brandl Egloff, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX.