Big Night—April’s Food n’ Flix pick

Big Night


Why have I never heard of this movie?

The stars are of the highest caliber, the dialogue is witty and well-crafted, the shooting is interestingly done. (I reference Primo’s conversation with Pascal in the office of his restaurant and the desk lamp.)

And, what about that  food?    Where have I been?

I was so glad to find Food n’ Flix from Tina at  Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor.    I truly enjoyed all the recipes and posts prompted by March’s film, Last Holiday.   I was determined to become a part of this elite group and gladly sought out Big Night (thanks Amazon Instant Video) and started preparing for the April post.   (This month Spabettie is hosting.)

The premise of this club is to find inspiration in film inspired by food and create inspired dishes!

A brief run-down of this film:

Italian immigrant brothers (Primo and Secondo) strive to keep their authentic restaurant open in 1950s New Jersey.   What’s the problem?   Their food is too authentic for American tastes.

Their rival (and friend) Pascal has successfully found the Italian food niche that Americans love.    He offers advice and an unbelievable opportunity for the brothers—one big night to cater for famed singer Louis Primo.

This is a last ditch effort to keep the bank at bay and keep the restaurant open.

Some obvious food choices for inspiration would have to be the following:

  • Risotto:  Risotto is so carefully made by Primo and is scorned by the American diners.
  • Timpani pasta:   This is the signature dish of the banquet, carefully prepared from scratch by the brothers.    It leaves the guests breathless.
  • A suckling pig:  This is the  piece d’resistance of the entire banquet.   The guests are so stuffed at this point they all audibly moan when this gorgeously roasted pig is presented.

I would have loved to have tackled the timpani, even mini-ones, but for me, it had to be the risotto.   (Obviously, I was not roasting a suckling pig.)  I have posted a few risotto recipes and I decided to research an authentic one for this post.     I went to my grandmother’s Leone’s Italian Cookbook (1967 with a forward by Dwight D. Eisenhower).    There were quite a few risottos in this book to choose from but they all used chicken livers.   I had a bad liver experience as a child.   I just couldn’t go there.   So much for authentic fare—just lump me in with the  ugly American who wants spaghetti and meatballs.

So I went to my other Italian cookbook, A Table In Tuscany by Leslie Forbes.   There I found a recipe for “Risotto Primavera” that I adapted here.   According to Forbes, this is a very festive dish.

Some of my festive veggies—purple asparagus from the Farmers Market.

Risotto Primavera
Adapted from Leslie Forbe’s A Table in Tuscany

2 quarts beef stock  (I actually used 1 quart beef and 1 quart vegetable.)
4 T. olive oil, divided
3 small zucchini, unpeeled and diced
1/2 lb. purple asparagus, chopped
1/2 c.  shredded carrots
3 green onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 c. Arborio rice
3.5 oz. sun dried tomatoes, julienne-cut
1/4 c. white wine
salt and pepper
1/2 c. grated Parmesan

Heat beef stock to boiling then reduce to simmer.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T. of the olive oil.   Add zucchini, asparagus, carrots, onions, and garlic.   Saute for about 10 minutes.

Veggies ready to saute.

While veggies are sauteing, heat the remaining 2 T. olive oil in a large sauce pan.   Add rice and stir.   When you can just begin to smell the rice, add 1 c. of the hot stock.   Set timer for 20 minutes and start stirring.   As soon as the rice absorbs the stock, add another cup.   Keep stirring and adding stock.   This will take about 20 minutes.

Two hands are better than one.

After veggies are sauted, add the dried tomatoes and white wine.   Cook for another 5 minutes.   Season veggies with salt and pepper.

When rice is done, add Parmesan and stir in veggies.      Serve.


This film offers some of the best movie quotes ever:

What is this too much? Hey?!   It is never too much—it is only not enough.  Bite your teeth into the ass of life and  drag it to you.                —Pascal

Lasagna Bolognese—you can’t believe how good it is….. You eat and then you kill yourself, you have to kill yourself… you can’t live.        —Primo

To eat good food is to be close to God.    —Primo

Again, Food n’ Flix really intrigues me and so I decided to do some research on foodie films.

Here are two sites that both offer some definitive lists of all things foodie in film:

I hope to compile my own list (similar to my Foodie Reads) starting with this great film.


27 comments to Big Night—April’s Food n’ Flix pick

  • I love the idea of foodie films – they sound so intriguing, especially based on Italian meals 🙂
    I love your recipe of risotto as well – more than fitting!

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Will have to check this movie out – sounds wonderful! And love your risotto, it’s so funny what can inspire us to cook new recipes!

  • Eliot I am SO happy you joined us this month, and happy you like this choice – it is one of my favorite movies.

    Your Risotto Primavera looks and sounds delicious!

  • I love foodie films. I have no idea if this circulates here in Greece but I can try. I love risotto and this one is right up my alley!

  • I LOVE food movies!

    Why haven’t I heard of this one???

    I’m going to watch it with a side of this delicious risotto. SO colorful!

  • I am so glad you found Food ‘n Flix – you really outdid yourself on the meal choices. That cookbook sounds like one I would love perusing. Nice risotto…..very pretty.

    • Eliot

      Chris and Tina—
      I am really honored to be a part of this group. I can’t wait to re-watch Sideways for next month. (It has been a long time.)

  • What a concept! Cooking inspired by Foodie Films … I love the idea!

    • Eliot

      CJ and Jen—

      I know, right? Why was this film under the radar with so many people. It is fabulous. And I think the concept of Food n’Flix is pretty genius as well!

  • Why haven’t I heard of this film? Just added it to my Netflix queue! I’ve seen Tina posting about this before, always thought it would be inspiringly fun.

  • Those first two quotes made me LOL–I loved them all! I’m going to go bite life in the ass and drag it to me! hahaha! I am really wanting to see this movie now–I’ve added it to our Netflix queue. (It only got 1 1/2 stars on netflix! Perhaps these are not foodies that are watching?) Your risotto turned out absolteuly beautiful!!

    • Eliot

      Only 1 1/2 stars???? I really hope you watch and let me know what you think. I would like to embroidery that quote on a pillow.

  • Risotto is a great choice…one of my most favorite things to eat! This sounds like a fabulous club! I’ve never heard of this movie either. But I’m going to be sure to check in and see what movies and meals you are recommending! Beautiful risotto! : )

  • I need to see this movie, never heard of it. By the way the risotto looks amazing!

  • […] Risotto Primavera. Eliot’s colorful and fresh adaptation looks authentic and comforting – just as it should be. Eliot enjoyed the movie and its many great quotes, like Primo saying “To eat good food is to be close to God.” […]

  • I am so glad you were introduced to Big Night and loved it–it’s one of my favorites and so fun to watch again. I love how perfectly colorful and festive your risotto is–like a party in a bowl! 😉

    • Eliot

      Thanks, Deb. Loved your Pappardelle and Mushroom dish too. I bet that tasted delicious! Glad to be in Food n’ Flix with ya’.

  • I’m a first time FnF’er too! Loved this movie, loved the quotes you posted. What a stunning risotto, and how gorgeous are those purple asparagus?! Yum! Checking out your foodie book list next.

  • How much would I have loved to roast a suckling pig in honor of this fantastic film!? (so much.) But alas, your risotto looks amazing! I’m happy that you’ve joined in Food ‘n Flix and that others like/get the concept! =) Hope you can host one of these months…

    • Eliot

      I would love to host (maybe if things ever slow down at school)! Thanks for the comment!

  • You won’t believe it but I finally watched this movie just because I was so tickled by the quotes you mentioned! It’s been in my Netflix queue all this time and we finally made our way down to it. It was a bit slow moving for us but I was pretty amused with it (the shooting with the lamp in the faces in that one scene tickled me too) and enjoyed it except Pascal is a butt munch and I wished there was a more definite ending. We decided the brothers went back to Rome but I really wish they had been able to make it in America esp after that fabulous party. Oh well they probably made it big back in Rome but still, failure is not a happy ending. I needed a happy ending after that slooooow movie. And man, what is with the third employee dude that never says a word in the whole movie? that was so weird. lol I soooo want to try making Timpani just because of the reverence they showed it when they took it out of the oven and everyone’s reaction. So fun!

    • So glad you commented after watching it. Yes, I agree—Pascal ia a bit of a butt munch. You do realize that the silent employee was Marc Anthony (as in Jennifer Lopez’s hubster)?

  • […] Camilla, for a great food film.  (This reminded me a great deal of Big Night which I read actually influenced Favreau in writing the […]