Perhaps it’s because of the screening of SOMM later this week (Thursday, August 22, click here for details) or the fact it’s 100 degrees outside and the chilly, central AC has been beckoning but recently I’ve been revisiting some of my most favorite food and wine flicks. I find these films not only entertaining, but also very inspiring, each for different reasons. If you are a fan of food and/or wine, these films are mandatory so get comfy, whip up a batch of Black Truffle Popcorn (recipe below) and get watching! In no particular order, here are my top five:
1.) Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This touching and insightful 2011 documentary follows 85-year-old Sushi Chef Jiro Ono on his quest for culinary perfection. Ono has dedicated 75 years of his life perfecting the art of sushi which has culminated in a three-star Michelin rating for his world-renowned Tokyo restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. The film follows his daily routine at the restaurant, the heart and soul of Ono’s existence, which includes his 50 year old elder son, Yoshikazu who is expected to assume the business after Ono retires (which doesn’t look likely, even at 85) or upon his death. This film explores a life dedicated to perfecting one’s craft, stresses the importance of respecting our natural resources and explores the inner workings of the traditional Japanese family all viewed through a culinary lens.
2.) Julie & Julia: The film that started it all – well, for me anyway! I was so inspired by this film back in 2009 that I started my first blog Stephanie Savors the Moment in which I cooked my way through the Junior League of Boca Raton’s James Beard Award-winning cookbook, Savor the Moment. Nostalgic moment aside, this wonderful film follows the parallel lives of legendary Chef Julia Child, played by the inimitable Meryl Streep, and blogger Julie Powell, played by the delightful Amy Adams, who learns to cook by working her way through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, cooking all 524 recipes in 325 days while blogging about her experience. This film was written and directed by the fabulous Nora Ephron so there’s absolutely nothing not to love about it and it also has a wonderful soundtrack which I keep on regular rotation in my office – I find it very inspiring!
3.) Bottle Shock: This 2008 film is based on the legendary Judgement of Paris, the 1976 blind wine tasting competition which pitted the wines of France against those from California, a relative winemaking newcomer. The competition was the brainchild of Steven Spurrier (played by Alan Rickman), a floundering British wine shop owner living in Paris who decides to hold the competition in order to generate business and PR for his shop. The beloved Dennis Farina plays Maurice, seemingly one of Spurrier’s only friends and customers. Spurrier travels to California in search of wines to feature in the competition and runs into the ornery Jim Barrett (played by Bill Pullman) of Chateau Montelena. Barrett is wholeheartedly against entering his wines in the competition, suspecting Spurrier’s main goal is to humiliate California vintners; however, his son Bo Barrett, played by Chris Pine, is determined to find a way to get the wines to France without his father knowing.
4.) A Good Year: This 2006 romantic comedy based on the Peter Mayle novel of the same name stars Russell Crowe (yes, you heard me, ladies!) as Max Skinner, a cocky, arrogant British banker who inherits a French Chateau and vineyard from his estranged Uncle Henry (played by Albert Finney) who has recently passed away. Upon the news of his inheritance, Max travels to Provence to see the property with the express intention of selling it. As you might expect, flashbacks of his childhood and time spent with Uncle Henry at the Chateau overcome him and, let’s just say he ends up spending more time than he originally expected. Filmed mostly in Luberon, which is very close to Provence, the scenery in this film is completely enchanting not to mention Crowe’s love interest, Fanny, played by the stunningly gorgeous Marion Cotillard. This movie is a veritable feast for the eyes and ears, featuring a truly fantastic soundtrack as well!
5.) Sideways: This 2004 Merlot-maligning film based on the Rex Pickett novel of the same name follows melancholy Miles Raymond (played by Paul Giamatti), a middle-aged, struggling author with a passion for wine, as he accompanies his philandering best friend Jack (played by Thomas Haden Church), on a wine soaked weekend in Santa Barbara County wine country. On the surface Miles is a very unlikable character who steals money from his own mother, constantly obsesses about his ex-wife and is prone to bouts of extreme wine snobbery (“I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!”) yet you somehow can’t help but like him. Alot of the movie was filmed at actual wineries including Foxen Winery, Firestone Winery, and Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard to name just a few. Throughout their journey Miles and Jack get into all kinds of hilarious trouble and leading ladies Virginia Madsen, who plays Maya, and Sandra Oh, who plays Stephanie, lend lots of interest and depth to the storyline.
No matter which movie you choose, I find Black Truffle Popcorn pairs well with just about everything! I could seriously eat an entire bowl of the stuff myself. To make it, I highly recommend using microwave Black Jewell Gourmet Popcorn, the shiny black kernels become a beautiful snow white color when popped and there’s alot less hull than yellow popcorn. Once popped, just add melted butter to taste, toss, and liberally sprinkle the popcorn with Black Truffle Salt which is usually available at your local gourmet market. If you happen to live near Boca Raton, you can find it at The Spice & Tea Exchange at Mizner Park. In addition to the film this popcorn also pairs remarkably well with a glass of bubbly – just sayin’.
I hope to see you at our screening of SOMM on Thursday at The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. For more information on the event, please click here. Also, I’d love to know what your favorite food and wine films are – do tell!