Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cassoulet avec agneau haché and True Grit

Took in a movie last night and then a dinner at our favorite restaurant!
by Charlie Leck

This is a busy time of the year for my wife and it’s difficult to get a date with her. As a matter of fact, it’s difficult to spend any time with her at all, but, when she got up yesterday morning, I left a note for her in the kitchen that explained the particulars in the most romantic way possible:

“Dear, I going to the 5:10 showing of True Grit this afternoon and then I’m going over to Terra Waconia for dinner about 7:00 to 7:15. If you wanna come along, be ready to leave the house at 4:45 on the dot! All my love!”

Well, she pushed it right to the edge, but she stood ready at the designated time and not looking anything at all like a sheep farmer.

Hot damn! A date with my wife at last. And, what a wonderful date it was and how delightful to sit down in a dark theatre and put my arm around her again.

It’s cold in Minnesota right now. It was about 16 degrees below zero at show time last night and we had to park a couple blocks from the theater. It was a crisp walk, but, I’ll tell you, it was completely worth it.

Here’s what I’ve got to say about True Grit (the movie)!
What a splendid way to spend an evening and what a powerful piece of film making! Before heading out, I wonder how what had been said in the New York Times about this movie as “a comic-serious tale” could possibly make sense. After sitting spell-bound for nearly two hours, I understood. This is one of the best pieces of movie production, direction and camera work that I’ve ever seen.

If you haven’t seen this film and want a tease, go to this site to see some trailers.

The leads in this film are extraordinary – maybe that has to do with extraordinary directing and editing – I don’t know – but I’ll tell you Heidi Steinfeld, Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges are as good as it gets. If there’s an academy award for casting, the casting director of this film gets it hands down. The acting throughout the film story is remarkable.

The film opens with a quotation from Proverbs powerfully displayed on the screen: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Oh, my!

I listened to the audio version of the book during this past week and I found the film captured it very well.

Going back to see a film a second and third time is not anything I’ve ever done, but I’ll go see this one a few times. And, when it comes out on Blue-Ray I’m gonna buy it!

Mary Pols in Time Magazine said, in comparing it to the former film: “In all ways, the Coens’ TRUE GRIT is a classier, truer version of the tale.”

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers just said: “Saddle up!”

In the New York Times, Manohla Dargis said: “That old-time American religion of vengeance runs like a river through ‘TRUE GRIT,’ a comic-serious tale about some nasty, brutish times.”

And then dinner at Terra Waconia!
My wife and I have both declared it boldly and unconditionally: Terra-Waconia is our favorite restaurant. The chef, who we’ve gotten to know well, is a master at presenting tantalizing flavors in every one of his dishes.

It was crowded last night – and that’s good to see – but we still had a lovely, little table for two that was close enough to the kitchen that we got a good look at every plate that was brought out for the enthusiastic diners. Oh, how I wish I’d brought my camera along

On our way home last night I declared that I often go into restaurants with big menus and have a difficult time finding anything that really excites me. At Terra-Waconia, with its very small menu, there are always several things I want and I need to struggle over my choices.

Last night, my date chose the cassoulet that was prepared with a base of ground lamb and it was tongue-tantalizingly wonderful. I opened up with mussels served in a very smoky tasting butter sauce and then went for the duck confit (canard confit). Terrific! Perfect! Something to write home about!

Great date!
What a lovely time I had – time to talk and laugh and look the old girl right in the eye, and tell her again that I love her.

Time to read the papers!
Now it’s time to read the newspapers and get back to you later with some gut feelings about today’s news.


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