Working as a trial attorney in the District of Columbia meant not much personal time. The exception was Friday which often meant films. Films provided nourishment for brain cells totally depleted of all things not related to law. The Berlinale has combined the intellectual feast of film with fine food for corporal nutritional needs.
In the program for Culinary Cinema (Kulinarisches Kino), you can watch a film and then have a wonderful dinner tribute to the film prepared by a famous chef. While enjoying dessert, live discussions of the film with the director and actors as well as an interview with the chef are held on stage in the front of the Gropius Mirror Restaurant. The motto for this fifth year that the Berlinale celebrates food in film is “Give food a chance.” Make that “give Culinary Cinema a chance”! Combining my taste for creative cooking and wonderful wines with fun films, I chose the film The Ways of the Wine (El Camino del Vino) followed by dinner prepared by German chef Sonja Frühsammer.
The Ways of Wine (El Camino del Vino)
Wine is not only the work of famous Sommelier Charlie Arturaola, it is his life, which includes a working relationship with his wife Pandora who is a wine distributor. At the important and glamorous Masters of Food and Wine event in Mendoza, Argentina, Charlie loses his ability to taste wines precipitating a very serious life crisis.
For help with his taste trauma, Charlie seeks advice from other experts. He visits Michel Rolland in Pomerol who advises him to drink the best wines of the region. However, the superior wines turn to sour grapes on his tongue. Then he tries to learn the ways of wine by literally returning to its roots and working in a vineyard. He even tricks his way into a famous vineyard to sample a 70-year-old wine but is caught red-handed by the perturbed owner. In the middle of his muddling he keeps in touch with Pandora by internet video. Pandora needs him to select some wines for her or she will lose a contract. But despite her business aggressiveness, Pandora and Charlie share a very loving marriage that takes precedence over her business deals so she agrees to meet Charlie in his home town in Uruguay. While together again with family, Charlie provokes his palate but perhaps more significantly, heals his heart.
The best aspect of this film is the originality of the characters. Charlie is indeed a character and a sommelier in real life. Pandora is actually a brassy wife. Together their performance is better described as catching their unique personalities on film while they use a few fictional lines rather than acting out parts. Another character, Michel Rolland, is a Bordeaux-based oenologist with over a hundred clients in thirteen countries. Michel was also featured in Mondovino (2004), a documentary about the wine industry. In The Ways of Wine, director Nicolas Carreras presents a kind of docu-drama where the story is fiction but the actors are truly charming, extraordinary people. Enjoy with a bottle of your favourite red wine. Cheers!
After the film, my colleague Shelly Schoeneshoefer and I were shown to a beautifully set table for two. The service was fast, friendly and bilingual. Our appetizer was a bit unusual in flavor when each dollop was tasted separately, but once combined was absolutely delicious. For the main course, I have never tasted such a delicate flavor of beef with a crispy tortilla and herbed white beans. This was definitely not Tex-Mex! And, finally, dessert did not disappoint with rich chocolate and a Berlinale bear made of caramelized sugar that was too cute to eat – almost! All the wine, water and juice were included and we never had to ask for a refill. The red wine was appropriately from Mendoza: a 2007 blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon and merlot which assaulted my palate with the full-bodied ripeness of a glass of plump ruby-red grapes glistening from the cool morning dew, sprinkled with just a hint of cinnamon and enhanced with crushed mulberry bush twigs – as you can see I am not a sommelier! Check out the real sommelier at www.charliewines.com. Sonja Frühsammer has a lovely restaurant in Berlin. Details available under www.fruehsammers-restaurant.de. Tickets for dinner and a movie sell out quickly so if you are interested, check when tickets go on sale and be prepared to be patient if you order online.