2009_julie_and_julia_003At the early screening of Julie & Julia, I was prepared to be underwhelmed … except for the fact that its director I like, and when has Meryl Streep ever disappointed? Both prove true to form, and then some, in this joint adaptation of Julie Powell's blog/book and the Child memoir, My Life in France (excellent book, highly recommend). Ephron does a skillful job of jumping from Julia's life in France as she learns to cook, is introduced to her co-authors and undertakes to write one of the transformative cookbooks of the 20th century, and contemporary Queens, NY, as Julie Powell undertakes her own kind of transformative work, blogging her way through Child's masterpiece.

Amy Adams is likable as Powell, Stanley Tucci is a fine Paul Child, Julia's husband, but it's Streep's tone-perfect performance, both in voice and in Julia's slightly batty, but undeniable force-of-nature persona that carries the film aloft. What I love most about the movie is the incredibly poignant love affair between Julia and Paul.

This is one to look forward to when it's released in August.  Till then, read Julia's great memoir and practice boning out ducks.

As far as food goes, New York has been as ever very very good to me.  A splendid meal last night at Convivio, Michael White's talked about reincarnation of L'Imperio (thanks Claudia!). Delicious pasta, porchetta, snapper and other gorgeous dishes, but it was the chicken liver on grilled bread and the duck heart salad that for me were the exciting standouts.  The night before, I moderated a discussion at Per Se with Thomas and pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel for a select Amex group, and for my trouble joined the group for seven Per Se courses–there isn't finer food in New York, and I am a lucky man. The following day I was massively disappointed to find that Grand Sichuan on 2nd Ave has a new owner and the menu no longer has the spicy chicken skin I adored. And now am eagerly anticipating the exquisite pates at Bar Boulud, which I haven't been able to stop thinking about since I ate there two weeks ago!

All of the above has been the lead up to the Beard Foundation Awards. Sous Vide, which I co-authored, is up in the professional cooking category, along with Alinea (I wrote the intro essay for that, I'm pleased to note), and the jaw dropping Big Fat Duck Cookbook.  It's a helluva group of books, and I secretly hope Alinea wins for its innovations, proud as I we all are of Sous Vide (which sets the gold standard for this relatively new form of cooking, imho), but really the award should go to Fat Duck because it's just too over the top, a truly majestic production in every way. But as I learned in 2000, there is no justice at these things, and so I go with no hopes, only eagerness to see old friends.


21 Wonderful responses to “Julie & Julia and NYC Notes”

  • The Italian Dish

    I can’t wait to see the Julie & Julia film. I’ve read every book written about Julia Child but my favorite one is “Backstage with Julia” by Nancy Barr. She worked with Julia for years and honestly, it gives the best feel for who Julia was that any or other book Ive read. It has so many really hilarious stories in it about Julia and I hope the movie used some of these, if they did their homework.

  • Sauce Robert

    Boy do I envy you Michael! Having worked at Bouchon in Napa, I can only imagine what it must be like to work one on one with the man himself. I bet that dinner was spectacular!

    Good luck at the Beard awards! Any and all of those books deserve to win.

    As for the movie I’m so glad they have done Julia justice it would have been a shame to make a bad movie about here. Looking forward to it!

  • carri

    I’m so glad to hear this movie is good! I read My Life in France right after Julie/Julia because the latter just made me want to know more…they complimented each other on the page and I’m excited to see it on the screen! Also Congrats on being in the top 50 on Amazon…two above ‘The Art of War’…How cool is that?

  • Natalie Sztern

    I hope Donna got to go and if not, what goodies did you bring back? (and they wouldn’t have to be in ‘food form’ get my drift?:))

  • NYCook

    Bar Boulud is amazing I’ve eaten there a number of times now and through a friend had the oppertunity to stage there a few nights a while back, and it was awesome. Unfortunatley, the Charcuterie was not done in the main kitchen and in fact I was not able to witness the process at all, still the precision and technique used was awfully impressive even for a casul Boulud restaurant.

  • Vivian

    Can’t wait to see this movie! Hope you are having fun and have a great time at the JBA.

    Congratulations on RATIO hitting the #2 spot on Amazon! That is so awesome!

  • Tom Weber

    Hi Michael – congratulations on your book success. I bought Ratio and Elements today from Amazon and Ratio is #1 for food books and #44 for all books. Awesome!

    Also, maybe in the books I’ll learn to appreciate offal more. The organ meats fall way down on my list of choices but it may be from when I was a kid and was forced to eat liver.

  • Gastronomer

    Cool beans. I was excited for J&J after the trailer was released. After reading your review, I’m even more stoked. I wonder if it will gross more than Ratatouille.

  • veron

    I am definitely watching this. From the snippets of the movie, I am seeing some pages of Julia child’s “My life in France” come to life which by the way, is a book I can read over and over.

  • Michael Franco

    Thanks for the early review, Michael.

    “My Life In France” is a long overdue look into the life of the great Julia Child – a woman I have long admired. To see this charming tale come to life will be a joy.

    As for Meryl Streep, well, she walks on water!

  • ntsc

    Bar Bouloud was around the corner from where I worked and I had definite hopes of turning it into a regular stop.

    Getting let go probably saved me a lot of money.

  • Pat Goodwin

    Love the Ratio chart – thank you! Love Julia Child and will read anything about her. Was lucky enough to meet her a few times and you should have seen her long legs fold up to get into my very low small car for ride to her hotel.

    Julie Powell’s blog lots of fun; book not so much. Had no idea there would be a combining for the movie. “My Life in France” great book; have read more than once.

    Yes, Julia and Paul Child were a marvel of a couple – a book has been out a long time about Julia’s early life and meeting Paul while she was a sort of spy. Each was individually fascinating but as a couple could have ruled the world but had other goals.

  • EB

    I’m so glad they chose to meld these two stories. Both were such good reads. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

  • luis

    Friend of mine is been talking me into making pad thai. Pad Thai Sauce ratio….1:1:1/8
    1 cup of tamarind sauce
    1 cup of fish sauce
    1/8 cup of coconut sugar
    As far as I can see the rest o’it is rice noddles and whatever you have on hand that particular day…oy you like it spicy?
    throw in some pepperoncini…pepper flakes..(I am sure there are a thousand names for the same thang…).
    While nobody expects you Michael to test these ratios unless you intend to publish them as you did in Ratio in which you did test everything.. I do hope you keep up the work and jot some more ratios down for future editions.
    From now On boyz..s… this is how I cook.
    About Julia… she was great and left us a fantastic body of work worthy of library wing unto herself.
    it’s a small big world out there and there are enough flavors to keep everyone happy for a very very long time.

  • cybercita

    doesn’t it look as if julia is talking on her cell phone in that photo?

  • gallon

    Favorite Julia episode: an early black and white cooking demo by Julia, where she proceeds to demonstrate omelette flipping technique, grasps the skillet handle firmly with both hands, gives it a brisk toss, and never misses a beat as the eggs splatter down on the adjacent burner. So hilarious.

  • Jim Oremland

    I fell madly in love with Julia Child after reading My Life In France. Alas, I was too late to really appreciate her wit and wizardry when she and I were both younger.
    Your writing in the Soul of a Chef introduced me to the written side of my foodieism (hey, Poe made up his own words).
    Good luck at JB awards.

  • Pat

    I just saw the movie.
    I thought the movie was going to be better. I thought the excellent actors were not well directed. I thought the editing was choppy. I got very tired of hearing Ms.Streep trying to sound like Mrs.Child. I entered a fan of Ms.Streep and I left very tired of the almost accent.
    Also, it is silly to think that Mrs.Child was some sort of a saint that changed the world.
    A friend of mine who knew Mrs.Child said that she wasn’t very nice. Maybe that’s what the Julie Powell character was referring to when she said that she knew the Julia in her head…not the real one.
    That said, I do agree with the not so nice real Mrs.Child, why should someone get paid to use her hard work? Why should Mrs. Powell get paid to write a blog/book/movie for simply cooking recipes that are supposed to be cooked? It’s dumb.
    Wait a second, I have an Algebra book around here somewhere, do you think if I write a blog about working my way through a math book that someone will make a movie?