So many movie masterpieces center around food—from Breakfast at Tiffany’s famous pastry and coffee opening montage to the laughable lobster boiling scene in Annie Hall—and the interplay between food and performance is one we know all too well.
This fall, we’re traveling back in time with a weekly celebration of classic dinners and movies. Whether you prefer an emotional drama or a psychological thriller, we’ll be sure to cover all the classic tropes—filled with food. In an homage to black and white cinema, and a little nod to Cook’s Illustrated magazine, with its 20+ years of signature black and white drawings, we’re pairing some of our favorite recipes with iconic films of yesteryear. For 12 weeks, we’re inviting you to stay in, rent a movie, and cook along with us (and our thematic recipe pairings) as we screen some of the best-loved cinematic works of our time in Cooking With The Classics. We’ll also be offering our readers several chances to win a copy of our beloved Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book along the way, so be sure to enter our giveaway below.
Needless to say, this is a whole new type of Hollywood Diet.
This Week’s Feature Film:
With dramatic black and white cinematography and a sweeping Gershwin soundtrack, Woody Allen’s Manhattan pays homage to the city he loves and the legacy of classic filmmaking– both deeply influential to the filmmaker’s well-known style.
In this dark comedy, Isaac Davis (played by Allen) is a neurotic, 42-year-old, twice-divorced New York comedian with a group of equally mixed-up friends—including a teenage girlfriend (Mariel Hemingway), an adulterous best buddy (Michael Murphy), an intellectual beauty “with the emotional maturity of Zelda Fitzgerald” (Diane Keaton), and an angry ex-wife (Meryl Streep) bent on public revenge. His path to literary acclaim is riddled with romantic missteps and bumbling career moves aplenty, but still he marches forward, both self-righteous and oblivious to his own hypocrisy.
Manhattan, at its heart, is a meditation on the differences between what we say and what we do—who we are, and who we think we are—with Allen’s trademark irony rendering every scene both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Manhattan’s Classic Cocktail – Isaac’s new life as the next Great American Novelist should begin with a drink
“I feel like we’re in a Noel Coward play. Someone should be making martinis.”
Juggling a girlfriend still in highschool, a vengeful ex-wife, and your (married) best friend’s girlfriend would be hard on anyone, but Isaac Davis makes a bigger mess of it than most. The anxiety of abruptly leaving his job as a television comedy writer, coupled with the pending publication of his ex-wife’s humiliating account of their marriage, is enough to warrant a cocktail… or two.
Even though the British playwright Noel Coward might have preferred a simple gin-and-vermouth medley, we think a Manhattan cocktail is just what the psychoanalyst ordered.
Whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters are the components to this sophisticated sip, emphasizing the need for quality ingredients that balance sweet and sharp flavors. With our recipe for DIY Homemade Bitters, you’ll be able to pour your own perfectly crafted cocktail.
A Sandwich for All Occasions – Iconic New York Landmarks deserve an Iconic New York Sandwich
Isaac Davis: [Looking at old meat] Corned beef should not be blue…
Even though they don’t hit it off at first, Isaac (after a second encounter) quickly falls for his best friend’s mistress, Mary. They spend the evening wandering around the city, finally ending up on a park bench overlooking the scenic Queensboro Bridge—a beautifully iconic shot that plays nicely against the drama of Isaac’s emotional turmoil. Later in the film, Isaac’s 17-year old girlfriend Tracy requests a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, and though he protests, jaded Isaac indulges her.
We think iconic New York landmarks like these deserve an equally iconic New York Sandwich: The Reuben. Disassembled, the rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing might not seem like much, but the pieces—much like Isaac himself—add up to much greater than the sum of its parts. And even though any New York Deli worth their mustard boasts their own version, a homemade Reuben is fully within reach with our recipes.
Our own Almost No-Knead Seeded Rye Bread (straight from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book) meets Home-Corned Beef (or DIY Homemade Corned Beef Tongue, if that’s your speed) and mingles perfectly with our DIY Homemade Sauerkraut. The addition of a melted slice of Swiss and a drizzle of dressing make this a sandwich we’d gobble in a New York minute. Add some potato chips, and you’ve got the perfect picnic or carriage carry-on, especially in a romantic portable Picnic Backpack from RedEnvelope (there’s more cute, couple-y gifts where that came from). Substance meets style: It’s a match made in Manhattan!
On the Light and Dark Side – New York’s signature dessert captures the best and worst of Isaac Davis
So much of Isaac’s conflict arises from the self-righteousness he espouses, drawn against the not-very-nice actions he both criticizes in others, yet perpetuates himself. Many of Woody Allen’s films focus on the ways characters’ actions directly oppose their worldviews—so how better to capture the duality of Isaac’s personality than with a perfectly-New-York (and delicious) Black and White Cookie? Whether you prefer to eat the dark or light side first, Manhattan’s own version of yin and yang reminds us that so much of life is experienced somewhere in the middle.
Enter To Win:
With George Gershwin’s dramatic musical numbers offering a rich layer of background in Manhattan, we’re wondering, what are the sounds that inspire you in the kitchen? Do you prefer jazz while you’re chopping onions, or do you like a Motown score to your soufflé? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of our Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.
Want to be nominated for a bonus entry? Play director and share your Cooking With The Classics photo(s) on Instagram using a black and white filter. Be sure to mention @testkitchen and tag each photo them with #ATKclassics. We’ll be announcing our Oscar-worthy winners each week right here on The Feed. Entries due Wednesday, October 23rd, 11:59pm EST. Giveaway for continental US residents only.
The Envelope Please…
The Oscar for Best Kitchen Romance goes to r.nettekoven, who won a copy of the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book! Thanks r.nettekoven, for making us swoon with your scene of a rebel and his ice cream. Thanks also to everyone else all who shared their fantasy film star dinner parties; read them all here.
Photo Credit: IMDb.com
All recipes free through Friday, October 25th.