The Film: La doublure [The Valet]
Daniel Auteuil, Virginie Ledoyen, Dany Boon, and Gad Elmaleh have been mentioned in previous parts of this series but the writer/director of this film has not. Francis Verber is one of the most prolific filmmakers of French comedy and though you might not know it — you may have already seen a few of his movies. The American remakes of his films include Dinner for Schmucks, Father’s Day, Pure Luck, The Man With One Red Shoe, and Three Fugitives.
The extras included on the DVD show Verber to be a very exacting director who knows just how he wants the lines said. He mentions his background as a writer and admits when he writes he hears the tones the words should be delivered and tries to get that out of his performers. There is a large amount of work behind the bubbly layers of comedy in the film and at times it shows through, but the actors give such great performances it really doesn’t matter.
The Valet is a light comedy, and fun. It brings great characters to a great concept while feeling familiar enough to be enjoyable and unique enough to be interesting. It’s a wonderful mix of actors which includes the fluent Kristin Scott Thomas, who was just as good in a dramatic role in Tell No One as she is here playing the suspicious wife. Though my favorite character is the doctor and some of the best scenes belong to him, Gad Elmaleh is definitely the heart of the story. His scenes with model turned actress Alice Taglioni, who is charming in her own right, make this film a winner and worthy of recommendation. Grab a snack, get a glass of wine and be entertained.
The Food: Cranberry Jam [from Nigella Lawson]
I saw this recipe in the book next to the pretty colored picture of cranberries coated in sugar and though I have not in the past been overly drawn to cranberries due to their acidity, it seemed the perfect accompaniment to the cheese, croissants, and other French goodies which will soon be decorating my plate.
Secretly, I have always wanted to make jam but never wanted to put in the work. But this recipe couldn’t be easier. I added the peel from a clementine because it smelled so lovely with the cranberries and added that light burst to the intense flavor of the jam.
The bag of cranberries I bought was 3 cups and the recipe calls for one more than that. I wasn’t going to open another bag just for that so I reduced the sugar slightly. It also allowed me to use a smaller jar.
In a sauce pan over low heat combine
A thin layer of water, just enough to mostly cover the bottom of your pan (I would guess the amount I used was slightly over a tablespoon)
4 cups cranberries
1 3/4 cup sugar
Clementine peel or zest, if desired
Heat on low until sugar is dissolved. Turn to high and cook, while stirring. The berries will burst and it will begin to thicken. Cook until desired consistency, about 7 minutes. Immediately fill a sterilized jar or jars. (The cookbook suggests a 1 1/2 cup jar. I made three cups of berries and used an old jam jar. I got it all in except a tablespoon, which I then ate. Delish!)
I would make this again in a heartbeat. I’d love to try adding spices and make it as a gift. I can’t wait to discover all the moments it will be the perfect accompaniment.