Italy

Tag Archive | "lobster"

Griffin to Go: It’s Time to Clarify the Butter


On seven different yet glorious occasions, I have spent Labor Day week (or close to it) aboard the Victory Chimes off the coast of Maine. The three-masted schooner sails without an engine or motorized power and goes largely where the winds carry it.

It is a week of bliss, in which the breeze carries away with it every last care in the world and sets you free from the stresses that lurk ashore. Even when the threat of a natural disaster clouds the picture, the mere fact of being on board the boat is enough to make rejuvenate in a way that no other trip can. (And I say this having been on the boat during the threat of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike and the memory of having been aboard the week before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.)

My favorite night aboard the boat is lobster night. Heaping bowls of steamed lobster are set in the center of each of the three dining tables and the 30 or so guests, along with the captain, enjoy the freshest and finest crustaceans from the sea. It’s a kind of all-you-can-eat affair in which you draw lobster after lobster or ears of corn until you’ve had your fill.

I honestly don’t know the definition of too much on such occasions. I once had four lobsters and while I could have had more, I was gentleman enough to allow my friend Carol to have five that evening. (We had two vegetarians and three people who didn’t eat shellfish at our table, and we graciously allowed them all the corn they wanted. It’s called manners. It’s the way we were brought up.)

I didn’t get to sail this year, but I have learned that the season has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to lobster. So many lobsters have been harvested that the prices are rock bottom, which may not be great news for the fishers, but it is for us diners. Even in San Antonio.

Groomer’s Seafood has been offering lobsters fresh from Maine at prices less than most of us would pay for beef. Check out their specials on Facebook or call (210) 377-0951.

Still, I had not cooked lobster on my own, and that conjured all sorts of flashbacks of “Annie Hall,” fears about cooking anything alive, and fears of cooking something different that was considered a luxury item. What if I messed up? Would the money be wasted?

I had planned on boiling the lobsters in salt water, but I changed my mind when I read the following about steamed lobster in the 1997 edition of “Joy of Cooking” (I know this is the maligned edition, but I actually prefer it to the others): “There is only one good reason to boil lobsters instead of steaming them: If you are cooking lobsters in batches — say, eight or more, so there is no way you can fit them all into the pot at once — each one flavors the broth for the ones that follow. But for the average meal, steaming is faster an easier (if you can steam broccoli, you can steam lobster). You can use this same procedure for king crab legs or Dungeness crab as well.”

Well, that had me convinced that steaming was the way to go.

It worked perfectly, too, with clarified butter and lime slices — not to mention a little coleslaw and a bottle of 2005 Chateau St. Jean Le Petite Etoile Vineyard Fumé Blanc.  But it wasn’t the end of the meal.

The shells went into the oven to dry out so I could make lobster butter and, in accordance with the guidance of a local chef known as Tatu Von Munster, it went into lobster stock, using the shells and the water in which the lobsters were boiled. He also suggested lobster mayo, but I didn’t have enough shells, though it did sound good.

The point is, lobster is now affordable, probably more so than monkfish, which used to be known as the poor man’s lobster. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Posted in Featured, Griffin to GoComments (6)

Don’t Throw Those Shells Away. Make Lobster Butter.


Dry the lobster shells before steeping in butter.

When you’ve finished enjoying your lobster, don’t throw the shells away when you’re cleaning up. Use them to season with this butter.

“Use as a sauce for shellfish, as a spread for canapés, or for finishing béchamel or velouté  sauces served with fish,” write the authors of the “Joy of Cooking.”

I could also see it topping a just-grilled steak. Or just spread it on bread and enjoy.

Lobster Butter

Uncooked or cooked shells from 1 pound shrimp or crayfish or 1 (1 1/2-pound to 2-pound) lobster, well rinsed and drained
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce (1 shot) pernod, ouzo or raki (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Add a splash of Pernod if you like.

Dry the shells in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes. Break up the shells as finely as possible with a wooden mallet or rolling pin.

Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Add the shells and simmer gently for 10 minutes; do not let the butter boil. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve line with several layers of cheesecloth into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Refrigerate and skim off the butter when mixture is solidified. Discard the liquid.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

From “Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker

Posted in RecipesComments Off on Don’t Throw Those Shells Away. Make Lobster Butter.

Lobster Fest Begins at the Grill at Leon Springs


It's time for Lobster Fest.

The annual Lobster Fest at the Grill at Leon Springs, 24116 I-10 W., begins today.

Chef Thierry Burkle and his crew have crafted a series of lobster dishes designed to showcase the favorite crustacean in unique and delicious ways.

The dishes include Lobster Singapore Style ($39.95) with  tempura claws and Asian Spicy Mango Salad;  Mesquite Grilled Lobster with Café de Paris Butter ($39.95)  and seasoned with lobster coral; Lobster “L’Etoile” ($39.95), flambéed with Cognac, baby vegetables and lobster sauce; Lobster Venitian ($39.95) with  linguine, ripe tomato, basil and taragon;  mesquite grilled Lobster with Jumbo Crabmeat ($51.95);  Cold Lobster Arleqin ($39.95) with a salad made of  beet, tomato, avocado, green beans and spicy jicama; and Half Lobster and Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese ($29.95) with a sauce made from  smoked Gouda, brie and aged cheddar.

For information, call(210) 698-8797 or visit www.leonspringsgrill.com.

Posted in Daily DishComments Off on Lobster Fest Begins at the Grill at Leon Springs

Griffin to Go: Lobster Guacamole. Any Questions?


Lobster guacamole

It’s vacation time, and here I am in Maui, one of these most beautiful places I’ve had the fortune of seeing twice. My first dinner out this time was at Mama’s Fish House, a Pa’ia landmark that has justifiably earned the envy of many a restaurateur on this idyllic Hawaiian island. The seafood is impossibly fresh and flavorful. The half-open dining area, laden with fresh orchids and birds of paradise, makes you feel one with the environment. The service is friendly and formal without being haughty.

The setting surrounding the restaurant is as close to paradise one could want, with a view of Ku’au Cove, dotted by surfers and windsurfers, that will make you want to move here.

Can you understand why I promised myself a return trip to Mama’s if ever I made it back to the island?

I couldn’t wait to taste some of that brilliant just-caught fish again. Would it be something I hadn’t been able to find since my first visit, such as uku, or would it be a fish I had only read about? Perhaps it would be a new way to prepare mahi-mahi, the sweet-fleshed Hawaiian fish that has certainly earned a national following.

Yes, there were temptations galore, but one dish overrode everything else on the menu. And that was because it promised a taste of home mixed with the islands: lobster guacamole.

Two of my favorite words paired together. What could be better?

This wasn’t your typical Tex-Mex guac.

The view of Ku'au Cove from Mama's Fish House in Maui.

Instead of corn chips, the plate came garnished with a series of sweet potato crisps in various colors and shapes, all made in-house. (Once I get back home and make this for myself — and I will make this at some point — Terra chips will do just fine.)

The guacamole was made with buttery rich, ripe avocados mashed with a tiny touch of heat. I would probably use minced serrano and maybe some minced sweet onion to the mix, but the beauty of the dish was that the flavor of the avocado was enhanced, not masked. It was then topped with diced lobster meat and crowned with a wreath of microgreens that carried just a tiny bite.

Together, the ingredients offered a reminder of home while opening my eyes to a new world of flavor combinations. That’s the joy of giving comfort food a boost. It also makes travel all the more fun. I had the same feeling last fall when I tasted the truffled macaroni and cheese at Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington. And it’s what makes me start to dream of return trips.

Posted in Griffin to GoComments Off on Griffin to Go: Lobster Guacamole. Any Questions?

Sunday Night Lobster at Bin 555


Lobster lovers can look forward to one more Lobster Dinner at BIN 555 Restaurant & Wine Bar this Sunday. While you’re there, you can check out the restaurant’s new menu items as well.

The menu is generous and includes Lobster Croquettes, Lobster Bisque and Butter-poached Lobster as featured items.  Dessert is the famous Nutella (sweet hazelnut and chocolate spread) in a variety of textures.

The reception begins at 6:30 p.m., with seating at 7. Reservations, per person are $45. Call 210-496-0555. Bin 555 is at 555 W. Bitters Road.

Posted in Daily DishComments Off on Sunday Night Lobster at Bin 555

The Grilling’s Great at Watermark


Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, is celebrating the breezy days of summer with a host of events.

Enjoy the warm weather while dining on the patio, where you’ll find oysters and clams on the half shell, grilled shrimp skewers, grilled oysters and buckets of beer. Some of the summertime cocktails on the menu include Red Tides, made with hibiscus- and maraschino cherry-infused vodka and fresh lemonade, and Lemon Swells, citrus-infused vodka with fresh lemon juice and sugar. The party on the patio is every Thursday through Saturday starting at 6 p.m.

Saturday night is lobster night. Patrons can choose from several preparations, including Northeastern Lobster Bake ($44.95), Naked Lobster ($36.95), Lobster Fra Diavolo ($36.95) and Market Lobster ($24.95 per pound) every Saturday night.

Visit www.watermarkgrill.net or call 210-225-5555 for more information.

Posted in Daily DishComments Off on The Grilling’s Great at Watermark

Rice Rules at Pearl Paella Party



Waldy Malouf’s Paella is artfully arranged with seafood and vegetables on top.

It was a beautiful day for a cook-off Sunday and the Pearl Brewery, in front of the Culinary Institute of America, offered a perfect setting for the first ever Cocina de las Americas. The big event was a Paella Cook-Off.


Rene Fernandez of Azuca stirs rice into a paella that he made out of competition during Sunday’s paella cook-off.

When the flames under the huge paella pans were extinguished in the afternoon, judges chose their winners. First place went to chef and restaurateur Ben Ford, of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA. Peter Holt and crew from Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurant in Houston,  took second place and San Antonio chef, Jeffrey Balfour of Citrus, at the Valencia Hotel, took third.

There were as many imaginative takes on paella as there were teams — 16 in all. These included celebrity chefs Waldy Malouf of New York (Beacon and Waldy’s restaurants in New York City) and Ford. Each team drew long lines, as attendees waited patiently for tastes of the famous, saffron-laced Spanish rice dish.

SavorSA was there, too. The writers of this article admit they had a few minutes of high excitement when the chef we’d been assigned to help ran late. Michael Gilleto, chef of a private club in New Jersey, flew in Sunday and arrived in the nick of time, but not before his two nervous assistants had dashed off to the huge food pantry in the middle of the grounds to snatch up ingredients. If Gilleto didn’t make it, we figured we’d pinch hit and make our own paella.


Chef Michael Giletto plates his paella for judging.

Gilleto showed up, though, and we were off — slicing, dicing, killing lobsters, cutting up whole chickens, cleaning shrimp and dashing around looking for a few ingredients we’d missed during the first mad rush.

Gilleto liked a classic-style paella, one traditionally more about rice and olive oil than about masses of seafood, chicken, chorizo and more ingredients piled high. We were with him on that.

Along with the usual ingredients in the pantry we noticed bags of chopped pineapple, hoja santa plants (sometimes called the root beer plant), ancho chiles and more. We said “yes” to the ancho chiles, which Gilleto wanted to flavor the stock, but we all tacitly agreed “no” on the pineapple.

One crew decorated their paella with julienned carrots. Another crew had help from one of their member’s grandmother, who hailed from the northern principality of Asturias, Spain.


bout 1,000 people, including families, turned out to the first paella cook-off.

Shelley Grieshaber, culinary director at the Pearl Brewery and CIA graduate, made her way from table to table doing the “color” interviews for the day. Johnny Hernandez, chef and owner of Pearl’s upcoming La Gloria restaurant, and driving force behind the cook-off, alternated roles between host and trouble shooter.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day,” said Grieshaber, who was excited at the success of the event.

San Antonio Food Bank culinary students were on hand to assist. Chef Rene Fernandez of Azuca made a huge paella prior to the contest to serve to the hungry masses. Other San Antonio chefs in the competition included Jason Dady, Dave Souter and Brian West, as well as a crew from the R.K. Group and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


Ben Ford, right, shakes hands with a fellow chef after winning the paella cook-off.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be going toward scholarship opportunities at the CIA San Antonio to benefit local chefs.  A portion of proceeds will also go to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Honorary Council to Spain for educational initiatives benefiting San Antonio students. H-E-B/Central Market were presenting sponsors of the community event, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.

It was a fun competition, and one we hope to see again next year.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (2)

Cooking Sous Vide – No Longer Under Wraps


SousVide3

Sous Vide Baby Beet Salad with Heirloom Orange Supremes, Crème Fraiche, Marcona Almonds, Garlic Chips and Chervil

Article By Chris Dunn

There’s nothing better than the aroma of roasting meat, garlic, onions, and herbs wafting around the kitchen rafters–right?

But what if you used a cooking method that captured all those delectable smells and gently basted the food with them as it cooks?  Then, you could have your aroma and eat it, too.

SousVide4Bruno Goussault, one of the scientists who developed the sous vide cooking method, which is French for “under vacuum,” contends that when flavor is in the air, it is no longer in the food; but if you hermetically seal food in a plastic bag under vacuum, and then gently cook it in a controlled temperature water bath for an extended period of time, all the aroma, flavor, and texture is preserved and delivered to the plate.

Furthermore, sous vide provides more nutrition (because the vitamins don’t leach out during the cooking process); it uses less energy than traditional cooking methods (about the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb); and it requires less additives, such as salt and fat, because the pressure created by the sous vide method actually forces flavor and juices into, rather than out of, the food.

Sous vide first appeared in the late 1960s when French and American engineers developed food-safe plastic films in which foods could be vacuum packed and heated at pasteurizing temperatures for the purpose of extending their shelf life.

The food industry quickly embraced the idea.  If you’ve ever traveled by plane, train, or cruise ship, been in the military, attended the Super Bowl, or had the braised pork at Chipotle Mexican Grill, you’ve had food that was prepared sous vide.

SousVide5Ironically, it didn’t make much of a splash (except in its own water baths) until the last 10 years, when a number of high-profile chefs began experimenting with it.  Thomas Keller of the renowned French Laundry has even written a book on the subject.

Amanda Hesser, writing for the New York Times, says, “At Charlie Trotters in Chicago, the intense heat and scrape of pans against the stove is giving way to an almost placid atmosphere, the barely audible hum of water baths that run 24 hours a day.”

Restaurants in San Antonio are also beginning to explore the possibilities of this cooking method. Chef Scott Cohen uses it at both Brasserie Pavil and Watermark Grill, while Jeffrey Balfour has used it Citrus in the Valencia Hotel.

Executive chef Jason Dady and chef de cuisine Robbie Nowlin of the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills recently hosted “A Study in Sous Vide,” which mixed both sous vide and traditionally prepared ingredients for a memorable multi-course dinner.

SousVide1

Sous Vide Maine Lobster Tail with Roasted Cauliflower, Carrot Buttons, Black Garlic Coulis and Port Reduction

The first course was Sous Vide Maine Lobster Tail with Butternut Squash, Roasted Cauliflower, Black Garlic Coulis and Vanilla Potato “Maxim.”  Unlike the often-stringy quality of a boiled lobster, the sous vide version had the tender texture and pearlescence of Japanese ama-ebi (sweet shrimp). Its subtle flavor was nicely contrasted by the earthy tartness of a black garlic coulis and a brushstroke of tart sour cherry glaze.  Garnishing the lobster was a perfect little flower of overlapping, crispy potato discs. I could have eaten a bowlful of them.

Next was Sous Vide Baby Beet Salad with Organic Arugula, Red Radish, Goat Cheese Mousse and Garlic Chips. The rich, fluffy goat cheese played nicely against the sweet and sour red, gold, and striped baby beets, whose colors and flavors were brightened and intensified by the cooking method.

The third dish was The Whole Damn Rabbit, a roulade containing a rabbit tenderloin and a farce (forcemeat) made from everything else (sans ears) wrapped in a house made prosciutto.  The delicate white meat tenderloin was exceptionally moist.  Sauteed mushrooms, endive braised in citrus, and a light, slightly sweet jus lié (thickened meat juices) made from white wine and rabbit stock made this my favorite dish of the evening.

SousVide2

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bone Marrow Agnolotti, Yukon Golds, Turnips and Sauce “Bordelaise”

The Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bone Marrow-Yukon Gold Agnolotti, Globe Carrots, Turnips and Sauce Bordelaise underscored the unique attributes of sous vide.  Because of the low and slow cooking method, the tenderloin was beyond fork tender and a uniform rosy color.  Its insubstantial texture was contrasted nicely by the crunch of the Celtic sea salt garnish. The pearl shaped, parisienne cut turnips and the mini ravioli (agnolotti) showcased the kitchen’s time intensive dedication to detail.

Time will tell if sous vide can make the transition from the professional to the home kitchen.  But one thing for sure, the quiet hum of its recirculating water baths is creating quite a buzz.

(Photos: Nicholas Mistry)

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (2)

WalkerSpeak: Rich, Savory Delights at Chefs & Cellars


ChefsandCellars2

Sierra Segura, lead cook at Brasserie Pavil, talks with patrons Chris and Amanda Claiborne at this year's Chefs & Cellars, one of the early events of the New World Wine & Food Festival.

The kitchen at the Culinary Institute of America at the Pearl Brewery was transformed into an extensive “chef’s table” late Sunday afternoon at one of the early events of the New World Wine & Food Festival.

Popping corks were heard around the room as bottles of Champagne opened to kick off Chefs & Cellars. This annual wine and food bash features great wines donated from private wine cellars paired with food made on site by some of San Antonio’s best chefs and their crews.

With guests seated along the stainless steel work tables in the large kitchen, wine was poured and passed for sampling and a party atmosphere prevailed. I was seated at the Brasserie Pavil area, overseen by chef Scott Cohen.

For the chefs, though, it was all in a day’s work. Jason Dady, owner of several San Antonio restaurants, including The Lodge at Castle Hills and Tre Trattoria, hunched over a dozen or more plates of foie gras garnished with finely minced fresh plums.

ChefsandCellars3Moe Lazri, general manager for the River Walk restaurants, Fig Tree Restaurant and Little Rhein Steak House, offered the wine for cuisine prepared by Fig Tree chef Byron Bergeron.  Lazri and I share a passion for rosé wines, still or sparkling, and he shared a taste of his aperitif wine, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Brut Rosé, Reims, 2002.

I was seated in Scott Cohen’s section of the kitchen. The chef at Brasserie Pavil, along with his talented staff,  presented a feast of mushrooms, beginning with a seductive Double Shrimp Risotto with shaved black truffles from Umbria, Italy. It was  served with a silky Domaine William Fèvre, Chablis 1er Cru: Montée de Tonnerre, Burgundy, 2004.  All the wines in our section that evening were from Dr. Scott Duncan.

“You gotta have some of this —  grouse pastrami,” Cohen told me soon after I arrived. Taking me back to a cutting table he sliced off a piece. It was salty, smoky and as satisfying as a conventional pastrami, though with a little firmer texture.  Later in the evening, the pastrami was served on a warm goat cheese crouton with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, and paired with a Château Leovill Poyferre (2nd Grand Cru Classe), Saint-Estephe; Haut-Medoc, Medoc, Bordeaux, 2001.

Richard and Bunny Becker, with Dady and his crew, served their great wines.  “This is a rare day in San Antonio for food and wine — it’s the best of food, with the best of wine —and that’s rare anywhere on the planet,” said Richard Becker, owner of Becker Vineyards in Stonewall.

ChefsandCellars1

Scott Cohen, left, and his crew from Brasserie Pavil, served rich, mushroom-themed dishes at Sunday's Chef's & Cellars, part of the New World Wine & Food Festival. With Cohen, from left, are Sierra Segura, Isaac Cantu, Tyler Horstman and Chris Cook.

Cohen also mentioned the progress that San Antonio has made in the dozen or so years he has been here. “Twelve years ago, when I came here and ordered a piece of tuna, it was pink, not red. I said, ‘Wow, we have to move the market along here. Now, we are getting great fish and beef from all over the world,” he said.

Many (tastes) of wine later, my table companion of the evening, Steven Krueger, was equally proud of what San Antonio has attained. Krueger is the  sommelier at Francesca’s at Sunset in the Westin La Cantera Hotel and performed double duty that evening pouring wines for Becker.

“This is the best thing, this kind of venue,” he told me, as he took a break to sample some of the food at our table. “These are wines from private cellars that we’d only get at an event like this, with the added benefit of the food being prepared to go with them.”

I didn’t have to be convinced — not after sampling the rich, red wine rabbit stew with matsutake mushrooms alongside a beautiful Domaine Robert Ampeau & Fils, Pommard; Cote de Beaune, Cote-d’Or, Burgundy, 1991.  A real stunner, this Burgundy had sleek, subtle  cherry flavors, hints of earth and a ample finish. It showed the best of a well-cellared Burgundy, perfect to drink now but also to keep cellared for more than a few more years.

The New World Wine & Food Festival is Nov. 10-15.  For more information go to www.nwwff.org.

Posted in Blogs, FeaturedComments Off on WalkerSpeak: Rich, Savory Delights at Chefs & Cellars

‘Julie & Julia’: Like the Best Soufflé, Sheer Enjoyment


pk-17

Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' JULIE & JULIA.

We wonder if it is necessary, after all the talk leading up to “Julie & Julia,” to explain who the two women whose names are in the title are. But just in case you’ve been dozing off during food discussions lately, we’ll introduce them. They are Julia Child, the famous chef who died in 2004, and a disciple whom she never met, Julie Powell.

Child came to fame by starting at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, then slaving over a book, with Simone Beck, that would eventually be published in two volumes and become a culinary classic, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Many more books and cooking classes, and eventually a television career, made Child a household name. She was truly a legend in her own time – for years – and barely had time to slow down before she died at the age of 91.

pk-05Julie Powell stepped into the limelight over a period of one year. She utilized a new-media, new-millennium approach to fame — writing a daily blog. This site would eventually attract thousands to read about what was not just a culinary journey but a personal one — a sort of cyberspace version of reality television.

So, what most of us already know about Julia Child is her love of cream and butter, her face and hair and voice, her height, her fine carriage. We remember her humor and sheer love of food. Now that she’s gone, this is ours to own, her legacy to us, along with the many books and videotapes that will keep her name alive. We might not have known that her personal life was as passionate as her cooking, with a supportive husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci of that other foodie film classic, “Big Night”) doting on his Amazon every moment of their married life.

Julie Powell is more of an unknown. She was born up the road in Austin. She and her husband had made a difficult move to Manhattan. Her job is stultifying, the apartment is small and unlovely. She’s a writer, but what has she written? Not much, she complains to her husband. Finally, to fight the despair of not doing something she honestly loves, she decides to cook her way though “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and document the experience. She, too, is married to someone who loves her madly, though he makes it clear that he prefers sex and dinner on a regular basis to awaiting the increasingly irregular meal, not ready to eat until the wee hours of the morning.

The women’s stories offer numerous parallels, which writer-director Nora Ephron ladles out in homespun, often hilarious ways that aren’t subtle but are as comforting as a helping of boeuf bourguignon. Not only that, the movement back and forth between the two lives is masterfully done; the transitions are seamless.

pk-22This film isn’t like Ephron’s earlier marriage film with a foodie title, “Heartburn.” In fact, the domestic bliss that Julia Child lives is refreshingly free of strife and as welcome as one of the butter sauces that sends Child into a swoon.

Helping matters immeasurably is Meryl Streep’s Julia Child, who is lovely, charming, nearly indefatigable and never defeated. The snooty woman who headed the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school that Child attended in Paris never accepted the American, despite the fact that her male classmates soon grew to admire her determination. The role had to be an actor’s dream — to portray someone so many of us knew and loved, and to show us some of the things we may not have been aware of. Streep nails the accent, the much imitated, burbly tones that would become a Child trademark.

But more than that, Streep captures Child’s joie de vivre. Her larger-than-life effervescence matches Child’s 6-foot-2 height.

pk-13

Amy Adams and Chris Messina as "Eric and Julie Powell"

Amy Adams has the tougher role to perform, because Powell isn’t always that likable. Young, unfocused and, well, whiny, the blogger comes across as the opposite of Child. She wants to find herself — and find herself quickly, at that — yet she relies too much on others to help her. The blog idea is her husband’s, the money for the project soon comes from external sources, she lies to her boss. Yet (spoiler alert) she alone makes every recipe in Child’s book essentially on her own, right down to stuffing the live lobsters into the boiling water, with the oh-so-right Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” on the soundtrack.

Powell has been criticized by some as capitalizing on Child’s fame. But doesn’t every creative person stand on someone’s shoulders at some point in his or her career? To her credit, Powell’s homage to Child is more than evident in her words and deeds every step of the way. Child is her inspiration, her mentor, friend and teacher. The fact that it was her ticket to fame wasn’t the reason she set out to do the blog.

pk-09Most of you reading this review are probably more interested in the food than anything else the movie has to offer. Let us just say this: “Julie & Julia” will make you hunger for more than most cinema snack bars offer. The food scenes, in fact, make up for the shock therapy of “Food, Inc.” and other recent documentaries about our food supply. Linger on the images of chocolate pie filling poured slowly into a crust. Or of perfect boeuf bourguignon emerging from an oven. Amazingly enough, even the scene of trussing a boned duck, something most of us would never try, manages to coax a smile while kick-starting your taste buds.

In this area, “Julie & Julia” rises like the airiest soufflé, a dish that manages to be ethereal and joyously rich at the same time.

John Griffin contributed to this review

(Photos Jonathan Wenk / Columbia Pictures )

Posted in FeaturedComments Off on ‘Julie & Julia’: Like the Best Soufflé, Sheer Enjoyment