Hollandaise from the Heart to the Pot #MoviesandMunchies
This month I am hosting the Movies & Munchies group and invited everyone to watch, or rewatch as the case may be, The Hundred Foot Journey. I popped in the DVD one evening and re-watched it with D while Jake was out celebrating a birthday with his book group.
Back in August 2014, I took my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf to the opening night of The Hundred Foot Journey. We thought it was incroyable; you can read about that here. After seeing the movie for the first time, D was inspired to try His First Urchin.
Then the following year - 2015 - I participated in a double-header of #CooktheBooks when we read the novel by Richard C. Morais and I hosted #FoodNFlix when we watched the movie. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time reading, watching, and cooking from this story. So, when the Movies & Munchies group didn't have anything planned for January, I suggested options of this movie, Burnt, or the Netflix limited series From Scratch. One of the group's administrators reminded me that not everyone has a Netflix subscription. Got it. So, I landed on The Hundred Foot Journey.
On the Screen
August 2014, outside the movie theatre
Watching this movie over seven years since we first watched it, I found that I still loved it! The Kadam family lands in a Saint-Antonin, a bucolic town in France that has a Michelin-starred restaurant called Le Saule Pleureur ('The Weeping Willow') which is run by Madame Mallory, portrayed by the incomparable Helen Mirrin. Shortly after their arrival, the Kadams purchase the abandoned restaurant directly across from Mallory's and open The Maison Mumbai with Hassan as the cook.
Cultures clash as Mallory's French restraint and traditional recipes are in direct opposition to the Kadam's Indian warmth and complex flavors. One of my favorite exchanges in the movie that highlights this contrast...
Madame Mallory: That is called subtlety of flavor.
Papa: It's called meanness of spirit! If you have a spice, use it! Don't sprinkle it. Spoon it in!
Hassan's mother taught him how to taste and how to cook. He narrates, "And my mother was my instructor. ...It was an education for all of the senses." She explained that cooking is a death. "... to cook, you must kill. You make ghosts. You cook to make ghosts. Spirits that live on in every ingredient."
Throughout the movie, he evolves from cooking Indian food at The Maison Mumbai to learning classical French food with Madame Mallory. When Le Saule Pleureur earns its second Michelin star, Hassan is launched into the world of haute cuisine in Paris where he innovates, innovates, and innovates some more until the food is barely recognizable, in my estimation!
But Hassan's cooking journey comes full circle and he returns to Saint-Antonin. This is an enjoyable film about passion: passion for food, passion for culture, but most of all, passion for life, or as the French say joie de vivre. If you haven't seen it, you should.
Possibilities on the Plate
I initially wanted to track down whole fresh urchin, again, but we had just had urchin when I made Spaghetti ai Ricci de Mare. Then, when I went to the wharf, I was told that the urchins were not good to eat right now and I should try back in a few months. Also D chimed in that urchins don't exist in the waters around India, so the urchin soup we made was not authentic. Oh, well.
I looked at my notes from watching the movie and considered something Marguerite forages; she calls them cèpes while I call them boletes. But I had just recently posted a Porcini Risotto from my foraging adventures. And the last couple of times I went out, I ended up with poison oak. I wasn't keen on doing again so soon.
There was also a fleeting mention of currants with duck as well as all of that molecular gastronomy from Paris that looks artistic, but just isn't particularly fulfilling or filling. Besides foams on a plate always remind me of a ridiculously expensive dinner that a girlfriend and I enjoyed - on one of my assignments - at a local-to-us restaurant. I recall Jake looking at the photos, especially the dishes with foam, and commenting, "That looks like a stink-bug walked across your plate." That plate photographed above was part of the amuse-bouche from that dinner. It was Kaluga caviar, popcorn foam, egg yolk and so many other textures and colors. It looked interesting and lovely, but it was just expensive fluff!
Hollandaise from the Heart to the Pot
In the end, I decided to go back to the basics and share on of my most often made mother sauces, inspired by this exchange between Hassan and Marguerite.
Hassan: How did you learn about all this stuff?
Marguerite: I was 12 and I started with the five basics, which is béchamel, velouté, hollandaise, tomato, espagnole. You have to master those five basic sauces first.
Hassan: And you can find all five in the books?
Marguerite: Of course, but they're no use in books. You must find them in your heart, and then bring them to your pots. That's the secret.
3 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
12 Tablespoons butter, melted
freshly ground salt and pepper, as needed
hot water, if needed
Also needed: double boiler to a bowl that fits snugly in the top of a saucepan
In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice. Add the melted butter to egg yolk mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If the hollandaise begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water.
Continue whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Whisk in salt and pepper, if needed, then remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm until ready to serve.
I almost always use hollandaise on top of poached eggs for our favorite brunch dish - Eggs Benedict! This is a wrap on my offering for January's #MoviesandMunchies. Check back at the end of the month when I round up all of the dishes that the bloggers were inspired to make. Stay tuned.