Dinner and a Movie: Pairing Food and Wine With Four Great Films of the Modern Era
Great Films and the Food and Wine That Enhances Them Best
Most of the time, what I decide to buy at the grocery store and ultimately cook and uncork at home have been paired in my mind in advance, I do this unknowingly. Wherever my pallete is at any given time totally dictates what goes in the basket. The pursuit of elevating the tasting experience of mealtime is inspiring and continually motivating me to try new recipes and new wine pairings. Now, here I'm thinking, you're as passionate about film as you are about wine(movie company execs that read this, contact me, I'm sitting on the most amazing screenplay). I digress. So what the hey, let's combine it all into one experience. Why not start enhancing your favorite films with the appropriate food and wine pairing. Enhancing the movie experience with something so essential to life, dinner, just by adding something relevant to the film that further immerses you into the story. That's what I call a good time and a noble exercise at the very least.
So without further ado, here is what I consider four of the best films of the modern era and the meal pairings I guarantee will put your sense of taste in the scene. Yes, I realize that everyone's got their own list, yadda, yadda yadda. My article, my list.
This period piece takes place in and out of European high society during the mid 18th century and it was written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Don't let the fact that it stars Ryan O'Neal turn you off. Kubrick perfectly cast him as the lead, an impudently charming rube who takes a meandering route in and out of high society. Kubricks attention to period detail and the cinematography are peerless, striking examples of what is cinematically possible. This remains the most beautiful film I have ever seen. I could watch this one on mute and love every second. Whenever I come across this film on t.v., I put down the clicker powerlessly.
During this era in western Europe, fortified port wines were all the rage, and they swill it uncompromisingly throughout. Any type of port will do, my suggestion foodwise, a hearty blue cheese, roquefort or cambozola will do(if you don't do blue cheese, sub. stilton or english cheddar). Throw some dried apricots, walnuts and pecans on the side and join in on the fun. The simplicity of this pairing is great, the flavor combo even better.
Suggested Ports, 2007 Dow's Vintage Port, 2007 Fonseca Vintage Port
2007 was an epic vintage in Portugal, buy it while you can.
Jean de Florette(pt. 1) Manon of the Spring(pt. 2)
This French film combo is one of the most engrossing tales of lost love, land battles and unforeseen plot twists that you can find out there. I'm not even into French films, but this one was good enough to find success stateside for good reason. It takes place in the early 20th century in the rural French countryside. Trust me, the subtitles don't bother you when the film is this good.
This is a lot of film, so do as the French do, slow, enjoyable snacking during part one, and slow savory dining during part two. During part one, break out a wedge of Petit Basque cheese, a Basque Shepherds cheese works too, or as well, some country style French baguette(or any rustic styled bread), and fresh sliced apples and pears. Throw in charcuterie of your choice, pate or sausages, then add a bowl of Picholine olives and you'll be sitting at the table with the farmers and villagers. Don't miss any details, as in all well written films, every single second of dialogue and action is integral to the story. Part two calls for Chicken Grandmere(roasted chicken with onions, carrots and potatoes with herb du provence). A simple red table wine from the Languedoc or an inexpensive Cotes du Rhone will substitute well for the homemade wine the characters are enjoying out in the country. Salut!
Suggested Wines, 2010 Chateau du Donjon Grande Tradition(Languedoc), 2010 Domaine du Romane Cotes du Rhone
2010 was a once in a generation vintage, when buying French wine, if there is any indecision when shopping, go with this vintage whenever you're uncertain about what to buy.
This Is Spinal Tap
One of the greatest achievements in the history of film, this iconic "mockumentary" broke the mold in so many ways that to start to explain them is insane. What isn't insane is to pretend that you're a roadie travelling with the band and hanging with them backstage and in hotel rooms while dining and drinking along with them. Quite possibly the funniest film ever produced. If you've seen "Best In Show" or "A Mighty Wind", then you know these geniuses. You can be both overindulgent or aggressively cheap in your approach to this pairing. Try being both. Match an excellent Chateau-neuf-du-Pape with vienna sausages or bologna, or simply crack open a boxed wine with a perfectly prepared filet mignon au poive and you're heading down the right track. An absolute must is smaller sliced meats, you won't want to have to fold your bread, "because if you fold the meat, then you have to fold the bread," says Nigel.
Suggested wines, 2010 Paul Autard Chateau-neuf-du-Pape, Trader Joe's Boxed Shiraz
Absurdly listed together as a nod to these jokers, one is a fantastically priced premium wine, the other a surprisingly fresh, inexpensive boxed wine that should have you making sangria.
Every time I see this movie the strenuous expectations that the script requires from the lead actors, the lower-middle class couple portrayed by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, totally blows me away. To have the talent necessary to accomplish what takes place in this film is mind boggling. Their fake relationship is way deeper than just about every married couple that I know. The movie has brought my wife to tears every time and never fails to send a dagger to my heart. If you've ever been in love or had kids, this movie is a must. That is why this movie is on this list. Wine is so special in part because it ellicits so many emotions within us. Wine is emotional. It is the perfect partner to jovial celebration, yet the ideal bedpartner for remorse. This movie runs the gamut of them all. The casual drinking and chain smoking makes you feel as though you're in a bar from yesteryear, yet there is no bartime in this drama. Thought provoking, a true work of art.
An affecting, brooding story that is loaded with just as many sweet and tender moments as it is soaked in despair, calls for a wine of similar make-up. Mourvedre and it's dark, fleshy fruit, intense tannins and it's often present tobacco notes is a logical choice. Similarly, the unique intensity of a red from Priorat in northeastern Spain, with it's lasting fruit and earthy background seems appropriate for this tragic romance. A well executed meatloaf with mashed potatoes will make the wines sing and settle you into the blue collar vibe that is necessary for this tragic homage so effected by the career paths of these characters.
Suggested wines, 2007 Cline Small Berry Mourvedre, 2010 Black Slate Porrera
Both fit the descriptions listed above. The Cline is one of the best domestic Mourvedres I've ever had, equal to the brilliance onscreen, while the Priorat is a new effort that is produced under the guidance of Rhone master Phillipe Cambie. The wine is a steal at $17. Dark, delicious and complex and just as thought provoking as this film. Cellar worthy for under twenty bucks, you've got to love that!
Cheers, let's eat!