At the early screening of Julie & Julia, I was prepared to be underwhelmed … except for the fact that its director I like, and when has Meryl Streep ever disappointed? Both prove true to form, and then some, in this joint adaptation of Julie Powell's blog/book and the Child memoir, My Life in France (excellent book, highly recommend). Ephron does a skillful job of jumping from Julia's life in France as she learns to cook, is introduced to her co-authors and undertakes to write one of the transformative cookbooks of the 20th century, and contemporary Queens, NY, as Julie Powell undertakes her own kind of transformative work, blogging her way through Child's masterpiece.
Amy Adams is likable as Powell, Stanley Tucci is a fine Paul Child, Julia's husband, but it's Streep's tone-perfect performance, both in voice and in Julia's slightly batty, but undeniable force-of-nature persona that carries the film aloft. What I love most about the movie is the incredibly poignant love affair between Julia and Paul.
This is one to look forward to when it's released in August. Till then, read Julia's great memoir and practice boning out ducks.
As far as food goes, New York has been as ever very very good to me. A splendid meal last night at Convivio, Michael White's talked about reincarnation of L'Imperio (thanks Claudia!). Delicious pasta, porchetta, snapper and other gorgeous dishes, but it was the chicken liver on grilled bread and the duck heart salad that for me were the exciting standouts. The night before, I moderated a discussion at Per Se with Thomas and pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel for a select Amex group, and for my trouble joined the group for seven Per Se courses–there isn't finer food in New York, and I am a lucky man. The following day I was massively disappointed to find that Grand Sichuan on 2nd Ave has a new owner and the menu no longer has the spicy chicken skin I adored. And now am eagerly anticipating the exquisite pates at Bar Boulud, which I haven't been able to stop thinking about since I ate there two weeks ago!
All of the above has been the lead up to the Beard Foundation Awards. Sous Vide, which I co-authored, is up in the professional cooking category, along with Alinea (I wrote the intro essay for that, I'm pleased to note), and the jaw dropping Big Fat Duck Cookbook. It's a helluva group of books, and I secretly hope Alinea wins for its innovations, proud as I we all are of Sous Vide (which sets the gold standard for this relatively new form of cooking, imho), but really the award should go to Fat Duck because it's just too over the top, a truly majestic production in every way. But as I learned in 2000, there is no justice at these things, and so I go with no hopes, only eagerness to see old friends.