Six Questions With... Jewel Staite, actress and gastronomic blogger January 17 2015
Canadian born actress, Jewel Staite, is best known for her role as Kaylee Frye in the space-western television series Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, and as Dr Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis. What isn't so well known about her is that she writes a blog called Happy Opu "an indulgent blog about indulgence"!
Staite spent a lot of her younger years on Maui, and the phrase "happy opu" was a nice way of describing someone's expanding stomach. Her blog is her gastronomic diary, with restaurant reviews, recipes, drinks reviews - basically, anything that she, and her opu, experience together!
Having just finished filming a new television series and taking a well earned vacation, I asked Jewel six questions....
Your blog, "Happy Opu", is about indulgence and the gastronomic journey you are on. What is your earliest memory that food was more than just about fuel?
Growing up, my mom was the one who was at a 9 to 5 job everyday, and so my dad would always be the one to pick me up from school. We would spend literally hours dreaming up ideas on what to cook for dinner, and so talking about food brings back a lot of fond childhood memories for me. Funny enough though, the person who taught me to cook was Rachael Ray. I became totally obsessed with her cookbooks years ago, and she taught me not to be so intimidated in the kitchen and not to take the whole cooking thing so seriously. I could honestly talk about food for a very unhealthy amount of time.
What is the best wine you have ever had?
My favorite wines change a lot, since I'm always discovering new and better wines when I'm traveling. My favorite red is the 2005 Harmonie from Blackjack Winery in Santa Ynez Valley. It's absurdly good, and it goes well with just about anything. Plus, the winemaker Roger Wisted is always wandering around the winery looking like a crazy country bumpkin mad scientist, and how can you not love that? I love everything he does.
Aside from wine, what other drinks are you fond of?
There are other drinks besides wine?! Sometimes I really enjoy a little cognac at the end of a meal, especially with some really stinky cheese to go with it.
What is your favourite wine shop?
My favorite wine shop is called Silverlake Wines in my neighbourhood in Los Angeles. It's this very unpretentious, very friendly little store that has tastings every Monday and Thursday nights where the whole neighbourhood comes together to hang out. Every tasting flight's different every week, and they're always out of this world. Plus on Thursdays the Lets Be Frank hot dog truck parks outside. And let me tell you-- hot dogs go GREAT with wine!
Who or what got you into wine?
I've always had an affinity for wine, which is kind of crazy since no one in my family'll touch the stuff. I went wine tasting for the first time in New Zealand and had my mind blown a little bit. I just think everything that goes into the making of the wine is so fascinating and so difficult, and it's just such an impressive thing to me to be able to produce a really great bottle of wine. I always say if I wasn't an actor I'd be a winemaker. Maybe not a good one, but still.
Name three people, real or fictional, living or dead, that would be guests at your dream dinner party, and what would you be drinking?
My dream dinner party guests would be Meryl Streep so I could pick her brain and demand that she teach me everything she knows, Mark Twain because he's my favorite author, and Channing Tatum just for a little eye candy. (His wife's not invited.) We'd start with a Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, followed by a bottle of Joie: A Noble Blend, and then finish off with one of those Harmonie's from Blackjack. And Meryl would be soooo drunk.