As we slide into week five of now-habitual sheltering in place, the days seem to stack one over the other like a Mark Rothko painting, blurred and monochromatic as Sunday seeps effortlessly into Tuesday. Activities, by stark contrast, read more like a Jackson Pollock canvas: erratic and impulsive as Cardio Wednesday swings wildly into Pajama Thursday. When I reach for the remote, even my viewing selections are curiously spontaneous, pinballing from international documentaries to slapstick comedies depending on my prevailing mood; rhyme and reason are as scarce as toilet paper these days.
But last week, when I reflexively popped open a bottle of Cabernet Franc and dug into a wedge of creamy Brillat-Savarin while settling into a French thriller, the transportive effect was so gratifying it has since sparked a new daily ritual that has transformed my couch sessions into virtual vacations.
Pairing my “To Watch” list with corresponding provisions has been the next best thing to traveling the globe — not to mention safer and saner, and I don’t even have to change out of comfy sweats for the privilege. Last week alone, I had tapas and G&T’s in 1950s Madrid; nibbled on tarralli and arancini while solving a murder mystery in Sicily; and mourned unrequited love in the concrete jungle while polishing off a New York-style pie. What’s more, I’m supporting my favorite area businesses in the process, who’ve been launching innovative curbside pick-up or delivery services that make meal planning a breeze.
Escapism, I’m happy to report, is merely a food order and a screen away, with dozens of culinary/cinematic combinations to temper a dedicated traveler’s wanderlust. Here, I share some of my favorite pairings to date.
I Heart New York
Inspired by true accounts from The New York Times’ weekly column of the same name, Modern Love (Amazon Prime) is filled with the kinds of fabulously flawed relationship stories that define a new generation of dating while being a New Yorker. Set against an arresting urban landscape that whisks the viewer around iconic spots from the West Village to hipsterville Williamsburg, each of the eight individual episodes are an anthem to the relentless pursuit of love while firmly placing you in an empire state of mind.
Pair with a classic Margherita pizza from New York transplant Brendan Smith of Bettina and Six Haze Seven Nights hazy IPA from Third Window Brewing Company
A La Moda
Fashionistas and telenovela fans rejoice! From the creative minds of Spanish writers’ Gema Neira and Ramon Campos comes Velvet (Netflix), a shamefully addictive, four-season series centered on a luxury department store in 1950s Madrid. Spinning with achingly beautiful confections of taffeta silk and hand sewn lace — not to mention some of Spain’s most outrageously attractive actors — the art deco halls of the Galerías Velvet purr with melodramatic power struggles, mid-day cocktails, and catchy B-side American pop.
Pair with patatas bravas and manchego membrillo tapas from Milk & Honey and classic cocktails to-go from the Honor Bar
The Grapes of Rap
With an infectious soundtrack composed by artist/producer Hit-Boy and a dazzling visual intro that juxtaposes a family barbecue joint in Memphis with the wine harvest in France, Uncorked (Netflix) is not your average wine flick. In filmmaker Prentice Penny’s world, grape varieties are likened to famous rap artists, dreams and disillusionment play out on the cinematic streets of Paris, and the classic father-son plot gets a refreshing reboot that is sure to have you pining for a bottle of Drake Riesling. (Drake the artist, that is.)
Pair with silky Brebirousse d’Argental cheese and a crunchy baguette from C’est Cheese and a bottle of Valentin Morel Savagnin from Raj Parr’s Lockdown List at Bibi Ji.
If quirky art house films are more your speed, look no further than the Argentinian charmer The Distinguished Citizen (Netflix), a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction drama about a Nobel prize-winning writer who returns to his hometown in rural Argentina after a 40-year exile. Filled with sensational plot twists and absurdist characters, screenwriter Andrés Duprat proves you can, indeed, go home again — to your own peril and malaise.
Pair with creamy Suiza empanadas from Buena Onda and Argentina’s national drink, mate, from Brasil Arts Café (traditional gourd and metal straw not included)
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