Greetings fair folk. I am Om Nom de Plume. So let us now inaugurate a new column that will be hosted by Blank News. This is Dinner and a Movie.
Why dinner and a movie? Perhaps it is better to ask why you are not having dinner and a movie? Right now. Or tonight?
The purpose of this regular column is not just to let you know about some good ideas for a night out, but to promote a very important concept that has become more than a movement. We are not just talking about how fun eating delicious food can be; we are talking about independently-run restaurants and cafes that support local farmers and growers. We are talking about slow food. We are talking about soul food. We are talking about reclaiming our food supply and our actual way of living from an ever-encroaching corporate system that would not only genetically modify the best of the natural world, but do so in a way that can cause widespread disease and force farmers to buy their seek stock from one company each year.
Why on Earth would we want to live in a world like that? And all of this just for a miserly pile of gold? Or is it the power? Come on now. All fruit-bearing plants produce their own seeds, just as animals produce their own young. These are aspects of the natural world that you just don't mess with. It's beyond wrong.
So we will counter that epic level of stupid in a fun way, by doing this column to promote local food, delicious food, food that your face and your stomach will instantly thank you for putting inside of them. Let us begin with a 2-part series on Harry's Deli, located on the 100 block of Gay Street, at 131 Gay where Harold's Deli used to be. Harry's Deli is relatively new on the scene, and provides a chill atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating, and very friendly, down-to-earth service. It is obvious that the folks working at Harry's Deli can recognize that they are in a good place and happy to be there.
From the moment you bite into one of the sandwiches from Harry's Deli you will be encountering much, much more than the average array of flavors and textures.
The smoked steak sandwich, which features locally-grown, smoked and cured shaved steak, pancetta, fresh mozzarella, balsamic glazed onions and semolina is in fact its own little world of flavors and experience. This one comes fully recommended for all of you peeps currently enjoying an openly carnivorous lifestyle. It's okay. You can't marry your meat, but you can still eat it.
For those of us who are currently in a vegetarian relationship with our food, the menu is full of deliciously rewarding options. The vegetarian reuben is made with tasty tempeh, and there is also a hummus sandwich with fresh mozzarella and greens. The root vegetable latkes with fruit butter and creme fraiche make an appealing side. One may also try the focaccia of the day, in addition to many other items and rotating affordable gourmet specials.
One reason for the unique deliciousness of the omnivorous treats at Harry's Deli is that the bread is made from scratch. In fact, everything they serve is from locally grown and produced food, if not also made from scratch there in the delicatessen. Harry's Deli offers Counter Culture Coffee and Cruze Farm dairy products, plus a fine selection of beers and sodas.
And where would we be without those farmers? So let's take a moment to give a hearty shout out to the local growers! The local suppliers for Harry's Deli are Strong Stock Farm, West Wind Farms, Kings Hydro Farm, Farm To Feast, Tennessee Valley Eggs, River Ridge Farm, Mountain Meadows, Riverplains Farm, Blooming Earth, Mead Garden and Organicism Farm. Let's give them each a heartfelt if invisible round of applause. Perhaps it's time to look them up to inquire about a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program, so that soon they may stock your own kitchen or restaurant adventure.
Harry's Deli is open for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 to 3, and Thursday through Saturday from 11-5, and open for dinner Thursday from 5 to 9, and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10.
The cinematic selection from 2011-12 has so far been encouraging. There are some fantastic flics that you may have seen already or heard about following their success at the Academy Awards. But let’s talk about a couple of them that you may not have heard about. One brilliant example of the improving quality of American cinema is The Tree of Life (2011), written and directed by Terrence Malick, and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn & Jessica Chastain. To be perfectly frank, The Tree of Life is a cinematic masterpiece on many levels. The narrative frames an exploration of the deepest meanings and mysteries of life within the experiences of a family in a small town Texas of decades ago. Pitt, who co-produced this epic tone poem, displays some of his finest and most subtle work. While it is disappointing that The Tree of Life could not have been made when it would have been possible to feature the talents of Heath Ledger in this same role, this is still one to check in on. For those familiar with Malick’s revolutionary and often non-linear style, as in The Thin Red Line (1998) & The New World (2005), the challenges and patience that The Tree of Life requires should come as no surprise. For those who are not, don’t become frustrated. Stick with it. As you may have observed, our current pace of life would suggest that quick and cheap rewards are how life should be. But don’t let yourself get cheated. The best films are much like the best cuisine—to be appreciated deeply and fully, with patience and dedication.
This film is the work of an auteur. Malick is a true artist whose compositions build slowly towards epiphanies that lay bare the need for true emotional transformation and a radical re-visioning of the personal and collective human psyche. While not everyone agrees to this assessment of Malick’s vision, including Sean Penn, I would trade just the short span between the 17th and 28th minute of this picture for hundreds of other blockbusters.
This contrast between dislike and effusive praise has been ever-present since The Tree of Life debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last August. The film was met with a passionate mixture of cheers and boos before making off with the coveted Palme d’Or prize.
If you like this type of artistic cinema, definitely take the opportunity to see Pina (2011) while it is at our beloved home of independent and art house cinema,
Downtown West Theatre.
Pina, about the highly original choreographer Pina Bausch and her dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, is directed by Wim Wenders, whose work you may have enjoyed in The Buena Vista Social Club (1999). During the preproduction phase, Pina Bausch died suddenly, giving the film a haunting and evocative tone, and turning the gaze inwards. This is incidentally the same quality of deep introspection that many of Pina’s interpretive dance pieces can provide—crossing the threshold of time and space into the realm of the imaginal, the indescribable and the unspoken.
And if neither of these does anything for you, then I would suggest gazing on the magnificent sploosh of a movie that is Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 3-D. From that perspective, it is even more fascinating to speculate upon exactly what George Lucas was thinking with certain key aspects of this colossal…expenditure of funds, and if indeed Jar-Jar Binks as a character is little more than a stereotypical assemblage of an innocently dopey but borderline racist version of some hybrid Afro-Caribbean figure who apparently lives in Lucas’ own mind, or in the minds of his writers, all of whom might better have been paid in peanuts. But for sure—any and all action scenes will be stunning in 3-D. As it was when this one originally came out, the juxtaposition of stunning special affects with questionable writing and acting continues to characterize much of Hollywood’s storytelling.
Well that’s it for now. Stay off the streets kids, and help us superheroes fight crime by turning in that obnoxious neighbor whose dogs never fail to poop all up on your grassy knoll.
- Regards, Om Nom de Plume