Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Child's Play

I finally went to see Julia and Julie, Nora Ephron’s movie about renowned cooking personality and cookbook author Julia Child, played superbly by Meryl Streep, and the young woman who found purpose- as well as book and movie deals- by following her recipes and blogging about the experience. It was entertaining, though personally I wouldn’t have minded if all the scenes that didn’t focus on Child, her life, and her boundless appetites ended up on the cutting room floor.

I walked out of the theater inspired not to hurry home and whip up a souffle, but rather moved to visit to Bistro 185. The release of the movie prompted owners Ruth and Marc Levine to launch The Julia Child Project. Every evening until the end of September Ruth, who does much of the cooking for the East 185th Street restaurant and Todd Mueller, her accomplished co-chef, pick a week's worth of dishes together based on Julia Child’s recipes, serving something different each night (prices vary). They'e been doing it since August. Selections along with commentary are posted on the Bistro’s blog.

Although the film focused on her love affair with French food, Julia went on to explore other cultures and cuisines, showing home cooks how to adpat them to their own kitchens in her PBS series Cooking with Master Chefs. That explains the southwestern styled dish I had there last Thursday- sea scallops on a risotto with green sauce. It was superb. The scallops had a nice sear on the outside with a metlingly soft interior. The creamy rice had a full of orchestra of flavors and textures: spiciness (jalapenos), earthy (mushrooms), tanginess (tomatillo sauce), sweetness plus color (corn salsa), and crunch (toasted corn “nuts”). My guy went with beef bourguignon- it was on the regular menu, not a Project dish and wasn’t made Julia’s way. But that entree had figured significantly in the movie and he welcomed the opportunity to say “boeuf” out loud.
We brought in our ticket stub from a screening of Julie and Julia: it got us a free dessert (note: that's one per table not per person). We shared a piece of layer cake Mueller had made with almond meal, raspberry lemon curd, butter cream frosting, and whipped cream. The fat slice came with a crunchy little fan of nougatine (a sort of thin cookie fashioned of almonds and caramel).
The great lady who typically ended her TV shows wishing the audience Bon Apetit would have purred with pleasure over this meal. I certainly did.
Photos by Barney Taxel

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