The Film: Le petit Nicolas [Little Nicholas]
There is nothing so wonderful as a film that makes you laugh out loud. Makes you gasp, and cheer, or simply sit back and enjoy with a goofy smile on your face. Nicholas is an absolute pleasure. A delight. It has that wonderful feeling of familiarity, you know you’re going to like it before the credits are over. It’s simple but there’s not a single missed beat.
The boys are phenomenal actors without a trace of that tinsel town shellack. The film never feels like it’s looking back on youth with modern eyes, but simply a continuation of childhood without the childish lens. This is a quality nearly all modern films, for various reasons, cannot reproduce and it has to do with the suspension of cynicism. The book was first published in 1959 so the quality is original to the source but it takes an artist to refrain from modernization and bring out that perfect classic interpretation.
If there’s anything I like more than films, it’s films that reference other films. So keep a sharp eye and you might catch the joke about Les choristes. If you watch this with anyone who loves French film, you might want to pause the movie at that point as they will be whipping out their smart phone to buy this DVD. There are hints of Amelie, The Great Brain, Les choristes, and Sixty Six. But with its perky little script, incredible child actors, and snappy directing — it is all its own.
Another wonderful quality la mère & père de Nicolas — his parents. The pitfalls of most child-centric films are avoided as they are wonderful both as written and acted. The story wouldn’t have been the same without them. Without a doubt the best reason for giving this film a huge recommendation is the scene with Nicholas and his parents around the dinner table. Everything has gone wrong, each is at their lowest point. But with the lightest touch, the movie lets us know that sometimes all it takes is those little family moments you will never forget to make the world right.
The Food: Mini Pommes Anna [from Bakers Royale]
In preparation for le réveillon, I wanted to do a quick test of the red potatoes and the dish they’re destined for — pommes anna. What a delicious way to do a little pre-Christmas eve scouting, to check if the desired results remotely were possible. Success! While not quite as crispy, as I made them in a foil muffin liner which caused the moisture to retain more than if I had set it straight into a muffin tin, the taste was perfection. These will not only look wonderful stacked on the plate with all their crispy goodness, but they’ll be as impressive as they are tasty. With a simple meal of Herbes de Provence chicken and green bean almondine, they’ll be just the right touch.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter walls of muffin wells. Slice wash and peeled into paper thin slices.
2 lb. bag of petite Yukon gold potato
Place the potatoes into a bowl with
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ tablespoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoon of black pepper
Toss gently. Arrange layers into muffin wells, working in opposite directions for each layer until the wells are filled to the top. Cover the whole pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about another 15 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown.
To remove, cover the top of the plan with foil and turn it upside-down. Tilt the pan with one corner and carefully lift a small opening of foil in the opposite corner to drain any excess butter. Transfer to a plate and serve. Makes approximately 12 Mini/Individual pommes Anna.