Every so often, we’ll take a peek into the culinary lives of DC’s international ambassadors. They’re a unique lot, given that they entertain extensively, see food as a key part of diplomacy, and employ resident chefs. But where do they eat on their off time? And where do they seek out flavors of home?
First up: Her Excellency Maguy Maccario Doyle, Ambassador of Monaco.
How long she has lived in Washington: Since being appointed Ambassador in December 2013.
Fun fact: In the ‘90s, Doyle was one of the first women admitted to the New York chapter of prestigious wine society Commanderie de Bordeaux.
What has changed about cuisine in the U.S. since you came here?
“Things have changed a lot since I came to the U.S. in the 1970s, when the only options seemed to be formal Cordon Bleu-type restaurants. I also remember going to “two martini” luncheons where wine was a cocktail. The wine scene in the U.S. is even more impressive today, especially many of the wines coming from Virginia.”
What do you think about the food scene in D.C.?
“I think it is wonderful. There is a new restaurant popping up every day. My job is quite formal so I love to try more informal restaurants. Meiwah is great for peking duck and the Dabney is another excellent, unpretentious favorite.”
What ingredient could you not live without?
“I have loved good olive oil since before it became so ‘fashionable.’ I also love hazelnuts which are grown in Italy, very close to Monaco.”
What is most special about Monegasque cuisine?
“The use of organic vegetables. Monaco came from very humble beginnings. Within its one square mile, there wasn’t much we grew locally. Before the casinos and resorts we know today, it was a simple yet beautiful, hilly place with roaming goats and… olive trees. Much of our cuisine had a mix of Mediterranean influences – French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian – and was a result of trading our olives and olive oil with our neighbors.”
What do you remember most about food growing up in Monaco?
“I was very fortunate to have a mother who loved to cook. Sunday lunch was always a big meal – with an appetizer, fish and meat courses, delicious wines and, of course, dessert. We went to the markets to buy fresh produce and meats. We had a house in the hills 20 minutes away from the center of Monaco and 10 to 15 guests would, drive, bike, walk—whatever it took—to enjoy my mother’s cooking.”
What are some of your favorite dishes?
“In the summertime, I love zucchini flowers baked, stuffed or cooked in any way. My favorite comfort food is tourte aux blettes –a traditional Swiss chard pie which I still make for my daughters when they come home to visit. In Monaco, I like to indulge in our famous street food which is called socca. It is a delicious, piping hot chickpea flatbread which you enjoy with a chilled glass of rosé. And, sometimes just the simplicity of fresh bush tomatoes left out in the sun for a few hours—with just a pinch of coarse salt and olive oil— or tiny French wild strawberries are satisfying by themselves.”
Parita Shah covers food and international affairs and has traveled to more than 50 countries. Follow her on Twitter at @parita310.