Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Perfect Foodie Date Night

No matter how wonderful family life might be, sometimes the parents have to get away, turn their brains off and unwind.  We did just that recently and hit the jackpot.  Nope, no gambling.  We had a classic date of dinner and movie.

We started at Assembly in downtown Santa Cruz.  Owned by the same couple as The Picnic Basket and The Penny Ice Creamery, they are defining farm to table, seasonal, local, quality dining in Santa Cruz.  We had a gorgeous meal of duck confit, polenta and cauliflower flash fried with chickpea flour.  Exquisite flavors and textures, perfectly cooked in portions big enough to satisfy, small enough to savor.

Then we headed down the street to the old theater, the Del Mar, for Burnt, starring Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper.  Eye candy for everyone, this worked as a great dessert.  But it was far deeper than I had anticipated.  Watching the cooking was fun, and the food was beautiful, but the movie was really about just loving what you do.  Cooper plays a chef who had been lauded as one of the world’s up-and-comers before his life descended into a life of drugs and womanizing.  Recovered and cleaned up he makes another go at his third Michelin star, the Holy Grail for a certain breed of chef.  A relentless, inhumane pursuit shows promise until his past catches up to him and appears to ruin his shot.  Serendipity steps in and he gets another chance, but this time he is not just reformed from vice, but has elected to let the pursuit of that final star go.  

I found some of the wisdom in the movie enjoyable.  Cooper’s chef announces at one point, “I don’t want to make food that makes people want to eat.  I want to make food so good people stop eating.”  I love that moment when someone bites into food you’ve prepared and can only stop to savor, put the fork down and think and enjoy!

As I tell me students all the time, if I throw you in the pool and all you do is struggle and flail, you will sink.  If you take a deep breath and relax, you will float.  This is one of many lessons Cooper’s character puts into action.  Instead of grasping for the star, he simply does what he does, letting the cards fall where they may.  Burnt proves to be the perfect morsel for our status-craving culture to chew on.
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