The Baking of the President
By Richard Leiby
Tuesday, June 22, 2004; Page C03
The Baking of the President
Red America vs. Blue America? Sorry, but when it comes to chewing over the future of the nation's leadership, we prefer cookies. For the last three presidential elections, the readers of Family Circle magazine have correctly predicted the winner, based on a simple taste test: the Cookie Cook-Off, judged by readers casting ballots online or by postcard.
"It comes down to chocolate," concludes author Nancy Lloyd of Alexandria, who was a contributing editor at the magazine for 12 years and therefore reigns, in our view, as the Cookie Queen. "So far this thing has been 100 percent."
In 1992 Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush both submitted chocolate-chip cookie recipes, but "Hillary had a better feel for what the readers wanted," Lloyd told us yesterday. Clinton's modified tollhouse cookie recipe used rolled oats, semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable shortening. "Barbara Bush used butter, but I can honestly say that if you want crispy cookies, go with Crisco or lard."
Lloyd points out that Elizabeth Dole lost in 1996 using a chocolate-free pecan roll recipe. Tipper Gore lost with ginger snaps in 2000. (Yes, Al won the popular vote -- but, alas, victory was not sweet.) Laura Bush's ingredients that year: oatmeal, pecans, coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
This year, in the mag's July edition, the first lady wisely keeps chocolate in the mix with her oatmeal chocolate chunk recipe, which competes against Teresa Heinz Kerry's pumpkin spice cookies.
"Pumpkin spice cookies -- we might as well call the election now," Lloyd told us. "Put a spatula in it, it's done. I don't know what she was thinking. You've got to go with something popular. I mean, why didn't she make a ketchup cake? So then if John Kerry doesn't end up with the job, at least it helps her bottom line."
Moore, Party of 500?
• All last week we heard rumors that District restaurant owners, fearing Republican retribution, turned down the chance to host a big bash after tomorrow's VIP screening of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which ranks up there with Oliver Stone's 1991 tract "JFK" in terms of the seething and frothing it has visited upon our fair city. Said one culinary industry insider: "There was talk of restaurants not accepting it for political reasons or maybe riots happening."
The film's reps tell us that isn't true, and yesterday we confirmed that the party for 500 -- including Moore, Sally Field and loads of Democratic lawmakers -- will be at Leftbank, the new Adams Morgan bistro formerly known as Cities. Owners of at least two of the city's well-established eateries took a pass, citing logistics.
Movie and a dinner: Michael Moore (with Rep. John Tanner) on Capitol Hill.
(Lions Gate Films - AP)
"I would have loved to do it, but we can't have 500 people," Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora told The Post's Juliet Eilperin. Franco Nuschese, who runs Cafe Milano (where Dick and Lynne Cheney dined recently), told us: "There have been a lot of rumors and there's no doubt about it, the movie is controversial. But the restaurant was booked that night. I can't really shut down the restaurant. Even though [the party] would come in late, around 9:30, I would have to shut down the restaurant all night."
Leftbank owner Sahir Erozan said he hadn't heard of anyone being pressured not to host the premiere party, adding that he was pleased to do so. "This is the capital of freedom."
Toasting the Chance To Get Bill Clinton
• Taking a cue from "Harry Potter" pajama parties, Politics & Prose threw a bash last night to celebrate the midnight release of "My Life" by Bill Clinton. Spilling out onto Connecticut Avenue, hundreds of people drank wine, swayed to a tenor sax and lined up to buy a copy of the memoir and hear a panel -- including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) -- discuss the former president's legacy, as well as grab a ticket for an author-signing on July 6.
"It's so insane," said Carla Cohen, an owner of the bookstore, which had pre-orders for more than 1,200 copies, The Post's Linton Weeks reports. And who will be the first in line to get a book signed? "Our staff," said co-owner Barbara Meade. "They have worked so hard."
With Anne Schroeder
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Ready, set, bake: Incumbent Laura Bush keeps the chocolate in her cookies.
(Barbara L. Johnston, Philadelphia Inquirer - AP)
Join new Reliable Source Richard Leiby Fridays at noon ET to share tips, chew the fat and discuss the dish in his daily column.