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This Beautiful Fantastic: A Sea of Petals #FoodNFlix

This is my post for June's Food'N'Flix selection. And we are excited to welcome back Heather, from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, who founded and helmed the group for years. She took a brief hiatus, but she's returned and invited us to watch This Beautiful Fantastic*. Read Heather's invitation here and join the party!

On the Screen
I had never heard of this movie, but was excited to settle in one evening and watch it. This is a charmer about luminous nerds, the beauty of gardens, and love.

About my 'luminous nerds' comment, I am not using 'nerds' as a pejorative. Really. I love my nerds...all three of them. In fact, my oldest son has a summer internship at a local military school where officers in all branches of the United States armed forces study to get advanced degrees. R is a high school intern working with a professor in the MAE, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, department; he is currently helping edit and write code for some of the drones. He refers to his office as 'the Nerd Basement.' So, yes, I really do love nerds such as Billy. And Bella is a nerd of a different ilk, a word-nerd. She's a librarian, after all. There's no mystery that I adore that!

Bella Brown (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) is at the center of the movie. She's quirky (read 'obsessive compulsive') and lives next door to Alfie Stephenson (played by Tom Wilkinson), a curmudgeon who has a beautiful garden. She is so afraid of going into the backyard that she hasn't set foot in it in years. Her garden is, as Alfie calls it, an "unmitigated eco-apocalypse." So he reports her to the landlord and she is given a one month reprieve to restore the garden to something respectable.

She pledges: "You see, plants and I don't really get along, so it's not really neglect. It's more of a
fear and loathing but I - I promise you, I can fix that. Everything will go back to normal."

Eventually the garden comes to life as Alfie guides Bella through horticultural lessons. He tells her that her garden is a "totally blank canvas, a chance to create your own masterpiece."

He walks her through his own garden and instructs: "How do we make a garden? How do we build a color palette? How do we create depth and texture? How do we keep interest from April to October? Well, we start with these stunning foxgloves and these alliums. … And run to these camas, and dahlias, so colorful, it hurts your eyes and these gloriously purple salvias that go on flowering until the frost claims them. Then the verbascum and the evening primrose, and those deliciously green shuttlecock ferns. Look, clambering, climbing clamatis. Sweet rocket and look, these monkswood, so beautiful and poisonous, they'll kill a man. …the list is endless. It's a world of beautifully ordered chaos."

Bella ends up with a magical, colorful world of hollyhocks, delfinium, dahlias, and more. A world of beautifully ordered chaos. A sea of petals.

Add to the mix Vernon (played by Andrew Scott) who cooks for both Alfie and Bella and Billy (played by Jeremy Irvine), the eccentric inventor I mentioned before. It's Billy's mechanical birds that inspire Bella to write her first children's book.

This really was a sweet, lovely film. I'm so glad Heather assigned it because I don't think I would have seen it otherwise.

The Menu
Besides the obvious flowers in the backyard gardens of Alfie and Bella, this menu was doubly inspired by this Bella narrates, and creates, the story of Luna, the bird.

"Mesmerized, Luna couldn't help but think about the peony. Luna asked the traveler where he got the beautiful flower. 'There are many,' the traveler said. 'From the top of the mountain, you can see thousands... a sea of petals that will make your heart sing, for it's a beautiful sight.' 'But how will I get to the top of the mountain? I can't fly and I only come out at night.' But the traveler had heard this before. 'You seek the rarest flower from the top of the tallest mountain in the world. If you want to see them enough, you will.' Luna was scared and excited, in equal measure. 'I think I will find my mother and father there.' The traveler smiled. 'You have much to learn, child. Are you sure you want to continue on this perilous quest?'"

A sea of petals! I love that. So, I ordered some organic microblossoms, borage, and squash flowers. This is what I created for This Beautiful Fantastic. Click on the recipe titles below each photo to go to the original recipe post. Enjoy!

Salad with Greens, Microflowers, and Summer Berries
(no recipe here, just toss greens, flowers, and berries with your favorite salad dressing)

Next month - July - I will be hosting a double header of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. We'll be watching the movie for Food'N'Flix; and we'll be reading the book in my Lit Happens book club. Stay tuned for the invitation to watch with us.

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  1. As I read and oohed and aahed over all of your past few posts it never occurred to me that you were inspired by the movie. I have no idea why not because it is perfect!!!!

    1. Ha! Thanks for reading, Wendy. I loved all the flowers in the movie.

  2. I'm so happy that you enjoyed this movie - and drew so much beautiful inspiration from it. I would have loved to have been a guest at this table!

  3. I LOVE your luminous nerd comment. It so fits! I need to meander down to the borage (organic in our garden) and pick some flowers to make that cocktail. Beautiful spread inspired by a beautiful movie!


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