Tag Archives: Spaghetti

“Sunday Gravy”

5 Mar

 

A bowl of Sunday Gravy

A bowl of Sunday Gravy

Occasionally in life you meet someone who truly changes your life. This happened to me in 1998 when I decided the time was right to buy a house. On the advice of a friend, I met with a realtor, Phyllis Harb, who took me on as a client. Two and a half dizzying weeks later I found myself in escrow on a beat up but amazing old fixer-upper that is probably the house in which I will die.

Finding the house and fixing it up is a story for another day.  And if that were my only interaction with Phyllis, I would be blessed because not only has the house changed my life, she is an amazing person who guides you through a very stressful time.  Thankfully that was not my only interaction with her.  Over the years she has become a dear and trusted friend.  Phyllis is one of the more thoughtful and generous persons I’ve ever met.

Phyllis herself has a wonderful home and once a year or so she will have a few ‘former clients’ over for cocktails and dinner.  Last year about ten of us showed up for her version of what East Coast Italians call ‘Sunday Gravy’, a meat laden tomato sauce Esquire described as “A sacred meal for a sacred day born in the kitchen of an Italian-American family.”

Phyllis's kitchen during the process

Phyllis’ kitchen during the process

As any follower of this blog knows, I love tomatoes and love me a great tomato sauce. I’ve already done posts on tomato sauce here and here and here. When Phyllis served us this deep rich sauce over pasta, however,  I knew I was going to do another post because when I took my first bite, I thought I was going to die. It was so @#%#$ good!! Once again, Phyllis changed my life. I told her that night she had to teach me how to make it and she readily agreed.

Just a few of the ingredients

Just a few of the ingredients

pots

Two pots toward the end of the process.

This is an amazing sauce. It’s incredibly thick, marvelously so. Packed with meat, it has a rich, divine flavor. I served a batch on Oscar night and everyone at my house declared it the best red sauce they had ever eaten. It truly is that good.

For more great pictures and the incredible recipe, click here: Continue reading

“Never, Ever, Ever…” Vol. III

16 Apr

It’s time again for a little Southern Catholic guilt to encourage (shame) you away from the pre-made and towards something homemade, healthier… and better! It’s Volume III of ‘Never, Ever, Ever…!”

Just what you have been waiting for, I am sure.

As a reminder, Vol. I involved vinaigrette. Vol. II was broth. Today I give you Vol. III…tomato sauce!

It must be evident by now that along with my chicken obsession (here and here), I am also obsessed with tomatoes and tomato sauce. I’ve already had two posts about red sauce. The first detailed my friend David Hendren’s amazing tomato recipes, his homemade tomato sauce and his Habenero Salsa. That post was followed by “A Tale Of Two Spaghettis‘, concerning the ‘dueling sauces’ made by my mom and her dear friend Barbara Doyle.

All three sauces are terrific and I encourage you to try each! Often, however, we need to cook fast, which causes people to reach for something like this:

Prego

Don’t reach for the jar, though! Instead, you want to reach for this:

san M

In the time it takes you to boil water and pasta, you can have a wonderful homemade marinara, tastier and healthier than anything from a jar. It’s a breeze, particularly if you have your pantry stocked with a few simple ingredients. The recipe also has many variations, depending on your mood.

Click here to continue and find out how! Continue reading

Food IN Film: Finally!

21 Mar

“On Food And Film”: it’s a blog about two of my biggest passions, with a sidebar here and there about other things. And while I have occasionally combined the two, my favorite being “In Praise of the Martini… and Diane Keaton” (love me some Keaton, goodness), I’ve yet to do a true Food In Film post.

So here we go.

When thinking food in film, an obvious choice is the wonderful movie Big Night. I learned quite a bit about cooking watching that movie and along with many other terrific food moments, the preparation, presentation and eating of the timbale/timpano will forever be in my mind. (I will also say I would be happy watching Isabella Rossellini eat for two hours, thank you very much.) Big Night is also a surprising movie, given things don’t work out the way you think they should at the end. This unusual resolution leads, however, to the remarkable final scene where the brothers, after a huge climactic fight, end up quietly eating together after Stanley Tucci prepares eggs. It’s a subtle and beautiful way to show their reconciliation and their continued love for each other as brothers. What an ending:

A movie doesn’t have to be about food to have a great food moment. Take Annie Hall, with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton laughing and squirming while trying to corral live lobsters into a pot. They are so charming. The scene is made even better, of course, by Allen’s pitiful and hilarious attempt to recreate the moment after they have parted, a very telling and incisive moment about the lengths we all can go to recreate what has been lost:

For true romance, the spaghetti moment in Lady and the Tramp cannot be beat. It’s the first movie I ever saw and my love for cinema, food and romance was cemented for life.

Meryl Streep’s manner of separating eggs in The Hours is a standout. After years of doing it a different way, I watched the scene in amazement and have done it Meryl’s way ever since. And I have to mention the “Christmas Dinner finale” in A Christmas Story, a funny and lovely way to end what was already a terrific picture. This final scene is beautifully shot and wraps the film up in a warm, enjoyable way. If you haven’t seen it, you will never eat duck again without thinking of this scene:

And all was right with the world.” Indeed.

The moment the bitter food critic Anton takes a transformational bite of the title dish in Ratatouille made me gasp out loud. I was not a huge fan of the film to that point (though I am a huge Brad Bird fan) so the moment snuck up on me completely. In just a few seconds Bird captures the breathtaking quality food has for so many of us. I watched that moment and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s it.”

It’s wonderful when a moment can capture your feelings that way. The above mentioned blog post is devoted to another similar moment: Diane Keaton taking a sip of a martini in Somethings Gotta Give:

These are all wonderful and continually resonate for me. If I had to boil it down, though, there are ultimately two standouts, one a quick moment, one an entire film. For the quick food moment in a movie, my favorite is the marinara prep in The Godfather:

How I love that! Even though we are amongst mafioso killers, this quick little moment captures so much about food, its preparation and family. My own family revolved completely around food, so the idea that even in the midst of such turmoil the Corleone family always keeps food in the forefront is a great one. And of course, it involves Clemenza. Ah, Clemenza. Clemenza is responsible for one of the great pieces of dialogue about food in a movie: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Finally, for a movie about food, I can think of no better example than Babette’s Feast.

 Babettes_feast_(1988)

This is a bit ironic, given the food that is prepared in Babette’s Feast is nowhere near as appealing to me as the food in, say, Big Night or Julie and Julia. But as the movie quietly, beautifully goes about its business, it gently sets up one of the most moving and remarkable endings I’ve ever seen. I won’t reveal the end or it’s incredibly rich themes here but rather encourage those who have not seen it to take a look at this beautiful film. What the movie says about food, art and redemption might make even the hardest heart burst into joy, the joy one can feel when eating an incredible meal, the joy we can feel when watching such a sublime movie.

What are your favorite moments? Click on comments and let us know!

 

A Tale of Two Spaghettis

3 Aug

While we had a wonderful marinara recipe last week, care of my good friend David,  can you really have too much spaghetti? I think not. Few things are as enjoyable to me as a great bowl of pasta, and cooking it can be just as wonderful. For instance, check out one of my favorite ‘food and film’ clips from ‘The Godfather’, with Clemenza making his spaghetti sauce:

Life doesn’t get much better, even for a Mafioso. And so, this week, I give you

‘A Tale of Two Spaghettis’

I grew up in a neighborhood that seems rare today. Everyone knew, well, everyone. While we weren’t so traditional as to have sidewalks, we had big wide streets on which to ride bikes and run. There were kids of all age groups so it seemed for each person there was almost always some else with whom to play. Part of the intimacy of our particular neighborhood stemmed from it being relatively small. It was also slightly isolated in a weird way. We were buttressed on one side by a 4-lane highway, on the other by a deep cement drainage ditch followed by a wide reservoir that led to one of the local refineries. From the perspective of today’s parents, both sides of the neighborhood must seem a terrible danger… and I guess they were. As a kid, though, both sides were a thrill.

Click here to continue reading and get the recipes