“Julie & Julia” has given way to the Summer of the Epicure
The release of the new Julia Child/Julia Powell movie “Julie & Julia” has evolved into the Summer of the Epicure for the gastronomically inclined. Foodies everywhere have found themselves transported into a culinary wonderland of another time (when we didn’t worry about fat or cholesterol) that includes equal parts butter, lobster and bone marrow. In the time it takes to flip a crepe, the movie has inspired Julia Child mania to ensue.
It was ever so delightful to consume the book (of the same name), and now the movie which chronicles two lives forever changed by cooking. Real foodies will probably like the book in which Powell attempts to make 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in just one year relating the experience via her blog. She takes on everything from killing a live lobster for Homard Thermidor to extracting beef marrow for Bifteck Saute Bercy. I don’t recommend it to non-foodies or non-cooks because it would be tough to relate to Powell’s kitchen adventures and in some cases frustrations. As for foodies, it’s a frustrating read when she trails off into stories about her secretarial job and troubled friends as it seems like a disruption to the book’s flow.
The movie has much broader appeal as vignettes of Julia Child’s life are much more abundant, unlike the book, and show in much more detail just how parallel the two Julia’s lives really were. The similarities go far beyond the name they share. Both were government employees (secretaries), both took on enormous projects of daunting proportions (Julie making 524 recipes in 365 days, and Julia writing her magnum opus that was “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” over eight years), both had and have very supportive husbands, and both discovered a passion for food that allowed them to find themselves.
Meryl Streep plays Julia Child to her effervesent best and Amy Adams makes Julie Powell a much more likable character than is portrayed in the book. Together they tell an inspiring true story of two people who found their calling in, of all places, the kitchen while at the same time also discovered the joy they were so desperate to capture. It’s a truly scrumptious masterpiece that is as satisfying as a good meal. And if you aren’t satiated yet…
First there was the book, then the movie and now it’s time for the feasting.
●Summerlin’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas, Child’s alma mater, is celebrating the film’s release with an exclusive three-course menu in their Café Bleu through September. It begins with Potage Cressoniere (watercress soup) that is bright green and as smooth as it is thick. To follow is Boeuf Bourguignon, which could have had a supporting role in the film as it caused Julie so much angst. Café Bleu’s version is delightful with pearl onions that are so sweet they taste like candy. For dessert is Tarte au Chocolate, a chocolate cream pie, that dazzles with a chocolate shell coating the inside crust.
The three-course meal is $20.99, and $29.99 with wine pairings. Café Bleu is open for lunch (11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) and dinner (6 – 7:30 p.m.) Tuesday through Friday. For reservations, call 702-365-7690.
Throughout Las Vegas Restaurant Week (August 31-September 6), the chefs of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore will come together in support of local food bank Three Square while celebrating culinary legend Julia Child. To honor the iconic chef, author and television personality, Wynn and Encore chefs have crafted Child-inspired menu.
●Alessandro Stratta, chef of ALEX and STRATTA, first met Child at his former restaurant Renoir at Mirage Las Vegas. “Julia was so excited about our shared French connection and also commented that my sweetbreads were one of the best renditions she ever had! As you can imagine, that was quite an honor for me,” says Stratta. Stratta channels Child when serving adaptations of lobster Newberg at ALEX and coq au vin at STRATTA, where he reimagines the timeless dish of chicken, mushroom, onions, bacon and herbs cooked in red wine with egg noodles.
●Chef Paul Bartolotta of Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare says: “I’m proud to say I’ve cooked for Julia at least six times, the last time at her birthday party in Chicago with many of my chef colleagues. She gladly signed my chef’s coat, which I’ve saved in a collection…This one to me is the most prized.” To pay homage to Child, Bartolotta serves moules a la mariniere along with gnocchi alla pariginia grainati al formaggi—rich pasta pillows filled with cheese.
●Chef Carlos Guía of The Country Club – A New American Steakhouse was fortunate enough to cook for Julia Child on two occasions early in his career: the first time at the Waldorf Astoria and the second time at Lutèce in New York. “Her visit to Lutèce was both unexpected and truly special. Before leaving, she took the time to come into the kitchen, thank us personally and tell us how much she enjoyed her meal,” says Guía. At The Country Club, Guía presents a number of Child-inspired options in which guests can indulge, including coquilles St. Jacques a la Parisienne, gratineed scallops and mushrooms in a lush white wine sauce.
●Chef Kim Canteenwalla of Society Café Encore Canteenwalla offers his rendition of a Child comfort classic: a jidori chicken breast cordon bleu with Kurboto ham and St. Andre triple cream cheese.
●Chef Mark LoRusso of Botero first met Julia Child at a seminar during his sophomore year at the Culinary Institute of America. “She was such an amazing presence and engaging speaker. You couldn’t help but be uplifted by her passion for cooking,” says the chef. LoRusso applies this shared passion into recreating Child’s sole a la Normandie at Botero, where he offers a lightened version of the classic dish of sole with mussels and shrimp in a white wine-infused cream sauce.
●Also recognizing Child’s legacy is Chef David Walzog of SW Steakhouse, where he offers guests the opportunity to sample Boeuf Bourguignon, a French staple she helped popularize. Inspired by the rustic cooking of Burgundy, this slow-cooked dish features red wine braised beef with wild mushrooms.
●At Switch, the restaurant that marries dinner with theater, Chef Rene Lenger serves lobster a l’Americaine (tarragon-sauced lobster in puff pastry) to display his admiration for Child.
●A Japanese translation of her French fare can be found at Okada, where Chef Masa Ishizawa presents homard de Maines poches au sake, sauce beurre blanc parfum au yuzu—a Maine lobster poached in sake with yuzu butter sauce.
As Julia would say, “Bon Appetit!”
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 3:59 pm
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