Of Cinema and Cocoa

Of Cinema and Cocoa:
Valentine’s Day three-course movie lovers’ menu

by Jeff Boam


Dining out on Valentine’s Day can prove a hassle for couples, especially if you’re calling for reservations at the last minute. Perhaps, the Three Stooges short Brideless Groom describes this lovelorn madcap process best: A Justice of the Peace wants very badly to perform a marriage, only to repeatedly get bonked on the head right after his optimistically cock-eyed request that the star-crossed twosome “Hold hands, you lovebirds.” In recognition of this conundrum, the “chefs” at electric city and diamond city have finalized a chocolate-minded Valentine’s Day 3-Course Movie Lovers Menu that can be cooked up right from home even if you’re currently single. Bon appétit! Please Choose from the 5 options below:

Entrée: Amelie (2001)
Dessert: Chocolate Creme bulee
Digestif: Cognac
In this fantastical and romantic comic French gem from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Audrey Tautou decides to change the world by tinkering with the lovelorn lives of some Paris residents she knows. Charmingly played, vibrantly presented, and beautifully written, this eccentric import invites a culinary line-up culmed from the same country as Amelie’s native tongue because that most beautiful of romance languages deserves tastes that are just as rich, heavy,and intoxicating.

Entrée: Annie Hall (1977)
Dessert: Chocolate Cannoli
Aperitif: Manhattan
(Sweet vermouth, bourbon whiskey, bitters, maraschino cherry, and orange)
Woody Allen made — and will make — numerous undisputed classic films, but his oft-kilter comedy about neurotic Jewish television writer Alvy Singer (himself) pondering the screwy clockworks of his past romance with tightly-wound WASP singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) remains his masterwork. Set and shot in New York during the Me Generation, this Oscar-winning film no less feels timeless and universal for anybody who’s ever fallen in and out of love. But it still demands a definitively Manhattan (arguably Allen’s second best film) menu that — because the laughing leads to heartbreak —  gives you the poison up front.

Entrée: Atonement (2007)
Dessert: Chocolate Candy Bar
Aperitif: Atone-Mint
(Blueberry vodka, fresh lemon juice, sparkling water and muddled mint)
From the sound of clacking typewriter keys turning into Dario Marianelli’s lush score to the monumental one-take tracking shot of the embattled beaches of Dunkirk, not a single action, gesture, or word in Joe Wright’s near-perfect adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel is wasted. The story of love denied and unrequited, in which an imaginative young girl (Saoirse Ronan) accuses her older crush (McAvoy) of a heinous crime against her sister (Knightley) only to spend her adult years (Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave) trying to atone for her transgression, is masterfully and artfully told but, because it’s a 3-hanky Debbie Downer, demands its signature drink up front even if the chocolate bar appears in the first act.

Entrée: Casablanca (1942)
Aperitif: Chocolate Martini
Digestif: Casablanca (White rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream and grenadine syrup)
No matter how many times you’ve seen it, Valentine’s Day is always a good excuse to play it again. As time goes by, this Hollywood classic about world-weary ex-freedom fighter Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart)’s ex-love (Ingrid Bergman) walking into his African nightclub with her rebel husband (Paul Henreid) and a dream of escaping pursuing Nazis during the early part of WWII only becomes more endearing if only because it defines genre. Wartime adventure? Spy thriller? Romance? Dramedy? You just remember this: It’s all of the above, which is why you get an aperitif for the laughs and digestif for the heartbreak.

Entrée: Notting Hill (1999)
Dessert: Apple Pie
Digestif: Chocolate Stout Beer
While the set-up sounds like a bad joke (an internationally famous actress walks into a frumpy bookseller’s store), the pay-off invokes nothing but side-splitting and heartstring-tugging pleasure. Writer Richard Curtis is a British screenwriter known for crafting UK-set rom-coms that many Brits find ingratiating but many Americans find pleasing (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Love Actually), but this is his best — if only because it straddles the pond with great doses of humor and heart for all tastes. Hollywood’s Julia Roberts and London’s Hugh Grant are on top of their game, so you get a very American dish to sweeten the deal and something very English to seal it.

— jeff boam

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