I have to confess that I only vaguely remembered watching this movie years ago, strange for me because I love both Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. But, luckily it was on one of my cable channel's on demand movies this month, so I settled in last weekend and gave it a watch.
Photo from FoodnFlix.com
If you haven't seen it, here's a quick summary; Kate (Meg Ryan), a somewhat neurotic and rigid teacher follows her fiance (Timothy Hutton) to France to get him back when he falls in love with a French woman. En route, she meets Luc (Kevin Kline), a French thief. Although they clash at first and he hides something stolen in her travel bag, they are pushed together traveling the French countryside and an attraction forms. I won't say more than that--it's a rom-com, you get the picture. It's fluffy, but fun and has some great scenery. (Not including Kline, who I normally find quite appealing but in my opinion, needs a serious haircut and a shave in this film.)
Food-wise, I wouldn't call it plentiful--but there is enough to inspire. Food inspiration that I noted included: Kate's "Paris in the springtime" mantra--conjures up fresh French spring foods, pizza with no cheese, Kate's Canadian citizenship--maybe a Canadian dish?, dinner with some kind of amazing sauce that Kate said was probably used to cover up horse-meat, ;-) fresh vegetables being chopped (it looked like fennel, endive and carrots were included), vodka and mini airplane bottles of alcohol, grapes and grapevines and the vineyard, cheese and baguettes, coffee, mention of French cheeses and a cheeseburger, a scent kit for wine tasting with rosemary, mushroom, cassis/currant, mint and lavender, a tray of cakes and frosting, a sea breeze cocktail and a vegetable plate with carrots on the beach.
My inspiration comes from the scene on the train where Kate is gazing out at the French countryside while eating cheese and baguette. As Kate is lactose intolerant ("The mucus!") her pleasure at the cheese won't last long, but she has the following conversation with Luc:
Kate: "Did you know that there are 452 official government cheeses in this country? Don't you think that's incredible? To come up with 452 ways of classifying what is basically a bacterial process?"
Luc: "You would prefer one cheese? One cheeseburger to put it on and one restaurant to eat it in?"
Kate: "I'm saying I like the cheese. God!"
I'm with Kate, I like the cheese--probably too much for my own good. I decided to celebrate cheese and make Fromage Fort as my film-inspired dish. Fromage Fort means strong cheese in French and it's nothing more taxing that gathering up any and all bits and bobs of leftover cheese you have sitting around (Is there such a thing as leftover cheese?) and popping it into the food processor with white wine, garlic and black pepper.
In my case, I did have some blue cheese crumbles, a small square of Parmesan-Reggiano, and a new pack of goat cheese in my fridge. I supplemented from my local grocery store gourmet section where they have a basket of wrapped ends and chunks of different cheeses and so a square of Valbresso French Sheep's Milk Cheese and some of my favorite double-cream Fromage D'Affinois jumped into my basket. Because I had some sharper cheese flavors with the blue, feta and goat and I assumed Kate was eating Brie, I bought 3 oz of Guilloteau St. Angel Triple Cream Brie to round things out and I had my 8-ish (OK, probably closer to 10) ounces of cheese. For a recipe, I went with the Master, Chef Jacques Pépin, who had recipes for this classic spread from his childhood in several magazines, including Food & Wine.
Food & Wine says, "Fromage fort is the ultimate way of using leftover cheese. Jacques Pepin's father used to combine pieces of Camembert, Brie, Swiss, blue cheese and goat cheese together with his mother's leek broth, some white wine and crushed garlic. These ingredients marinated in a cold cellar for a week to a week-and-a-half (he liked it really strong). Now Pepin's wife, Gloria, makes a milder version in a food processor that takes only seconds. It is delicious with crackers or melted onto toasts. It also freezes well."
Recipe from Jacques Pepin via Food & WIne.com
(Serves 4 or More)
1/2 lb cheese pieces
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup dry white wine
Put about 1/2 pound of cheese pieces in the bowl of a food processor, add 1 garlic clove, about 1/4 cup of dry white wine and a big grinding of black pepper. Salt is usually not needed, but taste the mixture and add some if it is. Process for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is creamy but not too soft, and then pack it into small containers.
The fromage fort is ready to use now, either served cold or spread on bread and broiled for a few minutes. Broiling will brown the cheese and make it wonderfully fragrant.
Notes/Results: If you like strong cheese you will love fromage fort. The beauty of it is that it is so forgiving and adjustable to tastes. You can put in your favorite cheeses and wine, adjust the garlic and black pepper, and have something a bit different and wonderful each time. The challenge of it is stopping slathering it on bread, crackers, apple slices, a spoon, sticks... anything you can find really.. and eating it. I loved my mix--I got the pungency of the garlic and the blue and goat cheeses, but it was mellowed by the creamy, nutty, softer cheeses. It takes almost no effort to put together--a little grating of harder cheese like the Parmesan, but otherwise just processing and tasting.
I served mine with a seeded baguette, rosemary-flavored wafer crackers, and sweet grapes to cut the richness of the cheese. I divided my fromage fort between a ramekin, a small jar, and a tiny espresso cup and think all of them are fun serving ideas. I read that Pépin's wife makes up batches and freezes them to thaw out later, but I fear mine will not last that long! Especially because I plan on putting some under the broiler tonight. ;-) I will definitely make this again.
I'm linking up this post at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck this coming week, our chance to make any recipe from our current, or any of our past featured chefs. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.
I'm also linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Sunday, January 29th and Heather will be rounding up all the dishes on the Food 'n Flix website. If you missed this round and like food, films and foodie films, join us for February when the film pick is Pan's Labyrinth, hosted by Pretty Cake Machine.
Happy Aloha Friday!