A delicious ode to Julie and Julia
August 11, 2009

Meryl Streep doing a mean Julia Child...

Meryl Streep doing a mean Julia Child...

Yes, I was indeed part of the pack who made it to see Julie and Julia this weekend….Realizing the theatre at Harbor East would be packed with people just like me(Julia/food nuts), we got there just in time to find seats together. The audience was as expected, majority female, but there were plenty of guys there too for this new genre of film…the chick food flick. And we loved it. Meryl Streep pulls off the impossible…playing someone so much part of the public consciousness even as parody….and making the character plausible, and lovable. Just a word of advice…plan to eat something delicious afterward whether you’re eating out or in. Plan something nice. You will be ravenous for something with butter after seeing this ode to all cooking Julia Child. And sharing this movie with my daughter, who is just learning to cook, was such a special treat…I got tears in my eyes at one point….I know…so sentimental.

The ratatouille is coming together!

The ratatouille is coming together!

Our reward when we got home? Some amazing Ratatouille, (the dish, not the movie)compliments of my daughter who is a new convert to Julia Child’s legion of fans, now drawing a whole new generation of people learning the joys of slow food…actual cooking….in the kitchen..with real ingredients. Real butter. Real flour. Real vegetables! Now, there are as many recipes for ratatouille as there are restaurants in Provence, and they’re probably all delicious…here’s one from Epicurious, that uses copious amounts of garlic…(love it!)….but ratatouille is a forgiving recipe…adjust ingredients to your liking.


The ratatouille was finished before we made the afternoon movie…it sat happily on the stove with all it’s luscious ingredients(heirloom tomatoes that I got on sale from the farmer’s market…a large basket of “seconds” for $5 as they were racing decay, but perfect for cooking)melding blissfully into one another, and when we got home I quickly butterflied( not boned!) a chicken so that it would cook in half the time, roasted it  after rubbing it down with some butter mixed with Mediterranean sea salt, chopped some French Bread and put it all on the table with some real butter(Julia would want that). What a feast…I think we all channeled Julia that night as we savored the fresh tomatoey-garlic-eggplant-olive oily goodness…it was great plopped on top of the bread. Bon appetit!!

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The perfect Pomodoro? Or is it the Puttanesca?
April 17, 2009

The assistant news director called me in his office earlier this week, and asked would I like to do a cooking segment with Chazz Palminteri of A Bronx Tale Fame, at La Scala Restaurant in Little Italy. Ummmm….in a word…yes. (Airs on WBAL Sunday 9 AM)

Pasta with vodka sauce...come to mama...

Pasta with vodka sauce...come to mama...

We met at noon….Chef Nino Germano, the chef at  LaScala said, “So why have I never seen you at my restaurant?” I lamely said that you know how you get stuck in a rut with the restaurants you always go to…and…you know….yeah. But now that I’ve tasted his cooking…I will be drawn to his siren song. He makes maybe the perfect Pomodoro Sauce….simple, absolutely fresh, finished with fresh basil and a splash of Sicilian olive oil. Delish.

And Chazz Palminteri  is no slouch when it comes to Italian food….come on, he’s from the  Bronx!  He grew up with him Momma’s fresh tomato sauce, and he says he always orders a Pomodoro sauce when he first tries an Italian restaurant….”The simplest things are always the hardest to make….if someone makes that good…you know the rest of the food will be too.”  And Chazz was particularly fond of Chef Nino’s Puttanesca sauce….a sauce that comes from Naples,  and according to some it was a quick cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers.  Truth or fiction? Who knows….but man….fresh tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovy paste(gives it just the right zing, even if you’re not an anchovy fan)….plate that sucker. It’s done. Chazz loved it…said it was seriously the best puttanesca he’d ever had…”Yeah, really…most people just overdo it…it’s just too much you know? But this is …ummmm…just right.”

 I saw A Bronx Tale at the Hippodrome, a couple of nights ago. I will only say this….it blew me away. I’ve never seen the play, never saw the movie, so I came to it kind of a fresh slate…But Chazz gets on stage, and grips you for 90 minutes or so straight through….no breaks…all by himself.  Amazing stuff. Like a perfect pomodoro.

And we all sat down for an oh so brief respite during a busy Friday. and shared some plates of pasta, family style….and Chef Nino’s Mom brought out her homemade cannoli…chocolate and hazelnut. Does life get any better than this on a perfect spring day? I don’t think so.( And for those of you who love bocce ball…they have an indoor court at La Scala…how fun is that?)