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Tangled Up Linguine Alle Vongole + White Wine #FoodNFlix

Here we are at the kick-off for 2019's Food'N'Flix. And this month, my friend Evelyne of CulturEatz is hosting. You can read her invitation here, but she's invited us to watch Book Club.* 

I had heard of the movie and even had the chance to watch it on a trans-Atlantic flight from London to California earlier this month. In fact, I think I clicked on it, read the description that the book club reads Fifty Shades of Grey, and clicked right off onto another movie. I might be alone in this, but I do not get the appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey. It certainly didn't appeal to me as a love story much less a love story worthy of three books and three movies. Ugh.

But, had I known that Book Club was our January movie pick, I would have watched it on that plane ride. But, alas!, I didn't see the invitation until I had returned home.

Then add jetlag, the launch of the new robotics season, and a general blur of post-holiday days, and I completely blitzed on watching it. But Evelyne sent a gentle nudge and I immediately reserved a copy at RedBox and picked it up on my way home from work. I'm so glad I did.

On the Screen

Four older women pick up Fifty Shades of Grey in their book group. Carol (played by Mary Steenburgen) is a married chef whose husband (played by Craig T. Nelson) seems to have lost interest in sex. In contrast, Vivian (played by the ageless Jane Fonda) is a successful luxury hotel owner who has sex frequently but always without strings and commitments. Sharon (played by Candice Bergen) is a judge who hasn't had an interest in sex since her divorce nearly two decades ago. And Diane (played by Diane Keaton) is a recent widow and mother of two adult daughters. You can imagine how this goes, right?

And, though I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I had a hard time seeing them as their characters; I just saw an entire cast of talented movie veterans. So, you'll see my notes included 'Mary' not 'Carol - actresses versus their characters.

I will add that this movie is, shockingly, less about sex and more about the tangled web of relationships and friendships. I think that's actually what I loved about it. Oh, and the wine. There's a lot of wine involved. And you all know how I feel about wine.

Okay, I am not advocating that you play a drinking game while watching the movie. I didn't play a drinking game while I watched as I was watching by myself since no one in my house was interested. Besides, I am far too old to play drinking games. LOL.

But as I watched, I couldn't help but chuckle that there wasn't a scene that didn't have white wine - or some other alcohol - in it. So, it would make for consuming a lot of alcohol if you matched the characters goblet for goblet.

Here are just some of my notes...
  • Main characters at their book club meeting, debating Fifty Shades of Grey / white wine = 4
  • Emergency book club meeting / white wine = 3, rosé = 2
  • Diane reading in the garden / red wine = 1
  • Diane and Andy at the restaurant / white wine = 2
  • Candice creating an online dating profile / white wine = 1
  • Candice on a date with Richard / white wine = 2
  • Candice toasting her son at his engagement party / white wine = 2
  • Mary still trying to seduce her husband / rosé = 1, Viagra-laced beer = 1
  • Another book club meeting / white wine = 5
  • Talent show / white wine = 2

Linguine Alle Vongole

Inspired by that tangled mess of relationships, I decide to make a bowl of tangled pasta. And I had clams, so linguine alle vongole was it.

  • 2 pounds clams, soaked, scrubbed, and dried
  • 1 stick of butter, divided in half
  • splash of olive oil
  • 3 to 4 whole juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 C water
  • 1/8 C Sambuca or other licorice-flavored alcohol
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, tarragon, and thyme)

Place 1/2 stick of butter and crushed juniper berries in a large, flat-bottom pan with a lid. Add a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Heat until the butter is completely melted and foamy.
Add in the fennel, leek, and onion. Cook until the fennel is softened and the onion beginning to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with water. Once the water begins to simmer, pour in the lemon juice and Sambuca and place the clams in a single layer in the pan and add the remaining butter. Cook for one to two minutes, then pour in the cream. Stir to combine, then cover and steam until the clams open. Check them after five minutes. They are cooked and ready when the shells are completely open. 

Remove the clams and fold the herbs into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, I cooked linguine and placed pasta in individual serving bowls. I divided the clams evenly into the bowls and spooned the sauce over the top.

White Wine

And, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to uncork a white wine. I mean, you saw how many glasses I white wine I documented, right? Ahead of the Wine Pairing Weekend's focus on wines from Uruguay in February, I received four bottles of wine from Elixir Wine Group out of Bend, Oregon. I received two bottles of Albariño and two bottles of Tannat. I opened up one of the Albariños for this dinner and it was divine.

In the glass it was a pale straw color with golden highlights.  On the nose, I got some summer stone fruit with a tinge of white flowers. Maybe jasmine. On the palate, sweet transitioned to acidic with a deliciously long finish.

I hope you enjoyed my foray into January's Food'N'Flix pick. Next month, we are watching Crazy Rich Asians hosted over at Eliot's Eats. That was one that I did watch on the airplane. Twice. Once on the way to Denmark and once on the way back. Looking forward to rewatching it for February's event.

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  1. Oh I love your dish, I wish I could have a plate now. If only you had picked it on the flight! So gald you did enjoy it and I do agree they were amybe to iconic to separate them from their roles. And so so much wine! Thank you for participating.

    1. Thanks for hosting. I really wouldn't have watched it otherwise. But this was a fun one.

  2. Great recipe. I like the twist (pun intended). Yep, there was LOTS of wine. Part of the movie's appeal. Thanks for the February plug!

  3. I thought it was a fun movie too and I love the dish you chose to showcase all of those tangled relationships. I'll be the wine was a lovely pairing.


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