Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday with Julia

Run, don't walk, to see Julie & Julia, well written and directed by Nora, Ephron with wonderful performances by Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, and Amy Adams. I've been looking forward to seeing this film for several months and I think that Meryl Streep is on her way to another Oscar nomination.

While I love good food, I've never been overly in love with French cooking. I generally do not go looking for French restaurants to try and, until recently, I haven't been tempted to try French cooking at home. I did buy a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking when I replaced a couple of what I consider cookbook staples after our house fire in April. the two volumes are still shrink-wrapped, whereas I've already used the most recent editions of The Joy of Cooking, The Silver Palate Cookbook, and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking already.

Marcella Hazan's books are my kitchen bibles, and I my original copies Classic Italian Cooking and More Classic Italian Cooking were worn and stained. I would be far more likely to recreate Julie Powell's year of Julia as a year of Marcella using Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking as my guide. My husband and son would have no objection to that, I'm sure.

I did go through an intense period of baking right after the attacks on the World Trade Center because I had an incredible need to do homey things. Nancy Silverman's The La Brea Bakery Bread Book had been sitting on my shelf for several years, because I felt intimidated by it. It requires working with a sourdough starter. Every time I had ever tried to make a starter, it had failed miserably. In 2001, my grape vines were producing lovely clusters of grapes that were never exposed to pesticides. That allowed me to make a starter from scratch, using Nancy's detailed instructions. And, much to my surprise, it worked. It also became the source of much amusement and many jokes from my husband about the living thing we referred to as "Seymour" calling "feed me" every four hours. Following Nancy's recipes is a life-calling. Most of them require two days of work, and some even three, to properly raise and proof the doughs. They are wonderful and definitely worth the time. Sadly, I don't have the luxury of time (because of flexibility) I did when I was self-employed.

We came out of the movie with a need to find a good restaurant fast. Some people have referred to Julie & Julia as "food porn." I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but much like Stanley Tucci's wonderful film Big Night which required finding an Italian restaurant at which to eat when the film ended, we decided that a French restaurant was in order. Fortunately, I remembered there was a place not far from the theatre about which I'd heard friends rave. We gave the others directions to the place.

Even though we couldn't remember the name, we knew it was next door to Earth 2, a comic book shop owned by a friend of Len's. Turns out the name is La Frite. The food was good and reasonably priced. We had to wait for a while to be seated, because the restaurant was packed. Probably with other people who had just been to see Julie & Julia.

Len, Lorien, and Becky all tried the baked crepes, Lisa went with the chicken cordon bleu, and I had the Sunday night special of swordfish brochette. Served with rice, green beans and a piquent salsa verde, the grilled fish was heavenly. I'd go back for it again. The gang decided it would be fun to go back for the cheese platter, some wine, and dessert.

I look forward to adding Julie & Julia to our film collection (and I've wanted to find a copy of Big Night for a long time.) If it were playing anywhere near my mother's, I'd like to take her to see it when I go back East this week. I'm sure she'd enjoy it. We all noticed that the audience was one of the oldest groups of people I've seen at the movies in a very long time. This is not a bad thing, just an unusual thing. I suspect that most of the people there usually don't go to a movie theatre any longer, but they came out because they remembered watching Julia Child on television.

I would recommend seeing Julie & Julia after you've gone to a good dinner, preferably French. If you are brave enough to go on an empty stomach, make sure you've made reservations for afterwards.

No comments: