We enjoyed a three-course meal featuring dishes by Chef Maria Sinskey in Eleanor Coppola’s new film, Paris Can Wait during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Maria Sinskey is all personality. Her energy is infectious and she’s forthright with her opinions, but she’s allowed to be: the skilled chef blurs the lines between genius and magician through her techniques in the kitchen.
Trusting her knife and salt and near-expert understanding of wine, Sinskey was responsible for the dishes in the food-heavy “Paris Can Wait”, the new feature film by Eleanor Coppola (yes, that Coppola), which serves as her directorial debut. Sinskey joined film stars Diana Lane, Arnaud Viard, and writer and director Coppola for a three course meal in New York City after an early screening of the dynamic film. The meal featured several of the dishes presented in the film, but with the added commentary by Sinskey, explaining her own techniques in the context of preparing the food.
The meal started simply: fava beans on crostini. But the elegance of this was underscored by Sinskey’s remark: you only make fava beans for someone you really like. It’s hard work to produce and they’re not easy to prepare quickly. But the offering was a sign of peace, and well received at that. The taste was stunning-warm and not difficult to eat- the crostini was not hard or too crunchy (crunch can overpower in a bad way, destroying the integrity of the other ingredients or mask them altogether.
The table was stocked with baskets overflowing with organic strawberries, specialty salami with blocks of cheese, fresh olive bread from Amy’s (olive presented in bread was a first for me – and converted me to an olive lover). Wines were specially selected for the lunch as well, to compliment the dishes.
The first offering was fish with scales of potato. Sinskey showed the guests how to properly scale the fish- including blanching the potatoes- a process that involves momentarily boiling water and salt then moving the veggie to cool water. The fish was served in a fabulously sweet carrot sauce- which involved no sugar- only the sweetness of the carrots.
The following dish was a classic French dish (the film takes place in France), the lamb chop. Sinskey demonstrated how to prepare the lamb chop the French way with deft skill- slicing at a satisfying pace-citing an experience in a French kitchen that helped define her perfectionism. The lamb was served on a plate of fresh veggies including “baby carrots” which, very simply, are little more than big carrots made small with a knife. Nice trick.
Sinskey offered some pretty practical advice- from simply adding salt when a dish doesn’t seem right to using a knife to do a lot of work- including things like making beets look pretty.
The final dish was a creme brûlée- which Sinskey begins a whole 48 hours before serving, with cooling the milk and cream. The dish had a solid and delicious topping- the breakthrough was exceptionally satisfying and the chocolate inside was rich and delicious- by no measure dry nor too runny.
It was fabulous seeing everyone including Diana Lane and Arnaud socialize and chat about the food, Diana taking a leading role in making sure Sinskey covered all the bases, including asking for the lamb-slicing demonstration. They played around in the kitchen and joked and reminisced about shooting the film and the wonderful food that is on full display throughout.
Paris Can Wait hits theaters May 12. 2017.