2012 Eat Drink Local Week
Alamo Benefeast lends local flavors to classic cinema for good cause
Monday evening, Edible Austin and the Alamo Drafthouse teamed up for a special Benefeast screening of the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck as the crown on Eat Drink Local Week 2011's third day of food and fundraising.
The film, a tale of larger-than-life New Yorkers kvetching about and stumbling into true love, is the instant classic that won Cher her Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta Castorini, a woman caught in a love triangle with two brothers. A young, unspoilt Nic Cage plays Loretta's swarthy true love and Olympia Dukakis plays her no-nonsense Italian mother.
The film heavily emphasizes the family's strong Italian heritage, and food is present in all the key scenes of the film. That makes Moonstruck a perfect candidate for one of the Alamo's signature feasts, where Executive Chef John Bullington dreams up courses inspired by the foods seen on film. As he's said before, "Eating what they're talking about on the screen really does change the movie experience for you." (It might have something to do with those amazing Italian wine pairings as well...)
Bullington knows the value of using local flavors in his cuisine, and aptly demonstrates the key principles behind Edible Austin and Eat Drink Local Week. Before the movie began, Bullington pointed out which ingredients from the five-course menu were harvested locally and supported area farms. Among the list of represented local providers on the evening's prix fixe menu were: Boggy Creek Farm, Moonlight Bakery and Richardson Farms.
Bullington is correct in his assertion that the food changes the movie-going experience. More than any other feast we've attended, the timing of this menu was uncanny. We received a warm, meaty pasta fazool first, just as Dean Martin crooned "When the stars make you drool/just like pasta fazool" in the movie's opening credits. We received the next course, a sophisticated version of an "egg in a hole," right as Cher's mother hands her a plate of the same hearty fare for breakfast.
After a refreshing salad and the only white wine of the evening, it was on to a substantial steak and pasta bowl, similar to the meal Cher prepares for Nic Cage just prior to their unbridled passion gets the better of them. Bullington's tomato and imported porcini mushroom sauce didn't prompt that immediate of a response, but it was definitely the... ahem, climax of the menu. Afterward, a thick, tasty espresso panna cotta provided the perfect light after dinner coffee and dessert.
The nuanced performances, passionate characterizations and general loving atmosphere of Moonstruck qualifies it as one of my favorite movies of all time. Layering on the unbelievable dishes of a master chef using local foods, this is a one-of-a-kind experience that also happens to benefit a great cause.
According to Camp, the evening was a definite success, raising nearly $3,000 for Eat Local's chosen local nonprofit beneficiaries, Urban Roots and Sustainable Food Center. Urban Roots teaches Austin area youth about sustainable agriculture practices, and SFC cultivates healthy food focused communities by way of farmers markets and other community events.
Eat Drink Local Week runs until Dec 10, with signature events each night of the week, including Wednesday's Local Food Holiday Gift Fair at the Domain, Thursday's Drink Local Night at the AT&T Executive Center and Saturday's Local Brew Fest at Black Star Co-op.