Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tucci on Tucci

Stanley Tucci is one of my favorite actors and the maker of, in my opinion, the greatest food movie ever, Big Night. The motto of this blog -- To eat food is to be close to God -- is a line from the film about two Italian brothers struggling to save their restaurant in 1950s New Jersey. No, it's not a mob movie. Indeed, it's one of the few films about Italian-Americans without gangsters.

I loved the movie so much that I have made Timpano (see above, not mine), the kettledrum of pasta, cheese, sauce and other goodies that played a starring role in the film. Years ago, the New York Times published a recipe that I immediately fell upon. I used to make it every Christmas for our holiday party. And it is really, really good, at least the version I made.

Tucci was equally superb in last summer's Julie & Julia, another mouthwatering delight. As brilliant as Meryl Streep was, I thought her performance really hinged on Tucci's nuanced, understated and brilliantly acted supporting role.

This month's Bon Appetite has a Q&A with Tucci. Short, but delightful. He's right up my ally: goat cheese and olives. He's got a wood-burning oven in his house, my personal culinary White Whale.

He's also a great fan of branzino, a Mediterranean white fish that I had for the first time about a year ago at a great New Haven restaurant called L'Orcio. I couldn't agree more. Fantastic fish. I've bought it and made it myself. One caution: expensive. The fish store charged me close to $30 for enough to feed the three of us.

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