Midnight with Mojito: Dinner and a Movie
Staying in? We've got you covered -- both on the culinary and entertainment fronts. Now presenting Dinner and a Movie -- a guide to a do it yourself evening of food and film.
Too often we gobble our dinner when we should sit back and savor it. Good food is a lot like poetry and art. Home cooks and chefs often layer flavors and ingredients like poets and artists layer images, sounds, and colors. The result can become a moment of deep pleasure and transcendence worth treasuring.
This week's film is based on the autobiography of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, and directed by Julian Schnabel. Not only is Schnabel an Academy Award winning director, he is also an acclaimed painter. When it comes to films, he specializes in stories about the lives of other artists and presents them in a visually stunning way that hits all of the notes you may find in that perfect bite. A delicious flavor enhancer in this film is the cast: Javier Bardem
gives a stunning performance as the persecuted poet, Johnny Depp plays two provocative roles in the film, and Sean Penn pops up in a cameo.
To accompany the film, we paired it with a Cuban Sandwich, a side of Tostones (twice-fried plantains), Rum and Butter Popcorn, and a Mojito.
Film: Before Night Falls (2000)
Entrée: Cuban Sandwiches and Tostones
Popcorn: Rum and Butter Popcorn with Cashews and Dried Mango
Get the breakdown after the jump.
Film: Javier Bardem was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Reinaldo Arenas, a gay poet born in Cuba before the revolution. As a child, Arenas' teacher tells him he has a gift for poetry, but his grandfather disapproves and tries hard to squash it out of him. Arenas is imprisoned by the new regime after the revolution for his gift of writing and his homosexuality. While in prison he writes and has his manuscripts smuggled out and sent abroad. The film is based on Arenas' autobiography, also titled Before Night Falls, and chronicles his childhood, his struggles as a young gay man in Cuba, his journey to New York City via the Muriel Boat Lift, his writing career, and his battle with AIDS. Johnny Depp gives two stunning performances: one as the transvestite that helps Arenas, and one as the warden who taunts him.
While the basic ingredients of a Cuban Sandwich are simple, Roast Pork, Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickle, Mustard, and Butter on Crusty Bread, the flavors and textures come together
to make something extraordinary and deeply satisfying. Sometimes called the Midnighter or La Media Noche, this sandwich is good to eat any time of the day or night. It starts with the Roast Pork, seasoned Cuban style with a bitter orange, garlic, oregano based marinade. Once the sandwich is assembled, it is pressed. We used our George Foreman Grill and found wrapping the sandwich in foil helps keep it together on the slanted surface. If you do not have a Foreman or a panini press, a cast iron skillet or foil wrapped brick also does this trick. We found this recipe at Epicurious.
Tostones are green plantains that are fried, pressed, and fried again and make a great alternative to French Fries. We tossed ours in a mojo of minced garlic and a pinch of salt in olive oil. Click here for a recipe.
Rum and Butter Popcorn
To make this boozed up popcorn, add 1-2 teaspoons of dark rum to ¼ cup of melted butter and toss with popped corn. We started ours with rum scented kettle corn, and then added a handful of cashews and chopped, dried mango.
To make the kettle corn, add the following to a large pan with lid: 1/4 cup of oil, 1 teaspoon each of rum and sugar. Place 1/2 cup popcorn kernels in the pan with lid, and pop until done shaking the pan to prevent burning. *For a lighter rum flavor, leave the rum out of the butter.
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fine sugar
Several fresh mint sprigs
In a tall glass, such as a highball glass, add 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice to 2 teaspoons of sugar and mix. Place 3-4 mint leaves in glass and muddle. Add ice (crushed ice works best, but cubes will do) and stir. Stir in 2 oz of white rum and top off with club soda. Rub a mint leaf around the top of the rim for extra minty aroma. Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve with a straw.