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Bob Townsend

“The Trip to Italy” a journey beyond food

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trip_to_italy

In “The Trip to Italy,” currently showing at the Landmark Midtown, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play versions of themselves on an all-expenses-paid culinary roadtrip.

They drive a Mini Cooper convertible through landscapes of lush vineyards and around breathtaking coastlines, listening to Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” (to say more about that would be a spoiler).

They eat lavish meals at great restaurants and sleep in luxurious little hotels. Along the way, they engage in ongoing comedy routines and do spot on impressions of other British actors, including Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, all guaranteed to rouse giggles and guffaws.

The movie is a sequel to 2011’s “The Trip.” Both were directed by Michael Winterbottom, and both use kitchens, cooking, and dining rooms as backdrops rather than centerpieces, which in many ways is a relief.

A bit like Hunter S. Thompson going to Las Vegas or the Superbowl, or the wine buddies in “Sideways,” their journey is an elaborate scam.

As it turns out, they don’t really know much about food. And in the beginning, anyway, Coogan isn’t drinking.

What they really want to do is follow in the footsteps of the poets Byron and Shelley. So the sumptuous dishes and fine wines of Piemonte, Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri become sensual foils for melancholy, male bonding and bickering, and some really funny (and naughty) bits.

In case you’re wondering about the food porn, all of the restaurants Coogan and Brydon visit show up in the end credits.

And if you go see “The Trip to Italy” this weekend, and suddenly become inspired, here’s a recipe from La Cantina San Fruttuoso in Liguria.

Note: You’ll need to convert the measurements, substitute some of the ingredients, and translate a few directions.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti del Pecatore  

Serves: 4

350 g spaghetti
400 g fresh clams
400 g fresh mussels
400 g fresh prawns
200 g fresh squid calamari
200 g tomato sauce passata
1 clove of garlic
1 small hot red chilli
Bunch of parsley
1 glass of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a glass of white wine
Knob of butter, salt and pepper

- Soak clams and mussels in bowl of cold salted water for 2 hours so they spit out the sand. Drain and wash again.
– Clean squid removing the inner parts and skin from the outside.
– Wash prawns and leave in ice cold salted water.
– Finely chop garlic and parsley (not all). Pulse in processor or finely chop and add 1/3 of the olive oil and sauté in open pan, add the squid (not washed to retain its flavor) which has been pulsed in processor or finely chopped with another 1/3 of the olive oil and chilli to please. Then add the tomato passata lightly salted and cook all together for 40 minutes.
– Take another large open pan pour in rest of olive oil, clams, mussels add the knob of butter some more chopped parsley leaving some to garnish on serving. – – Now add the prawns and white wine cook on high flame for about ten minutes until all the shells OPEN (throwing always those that stay closed). Leave to rest with lid on.
– Place the spaghetti in to a large saucepan of boiling water and cook until it is AL DENTE firm but NOT soft. Drain and add to large pan of frutti di mare (seafood) clams, mussels and prawns. Add the ragu  (squid cooked in tomato sauce and flavourings from the other pan) toss and mix continually for 2 or 3 minutes on low heat.  Serve with parsley sprinkled on top.

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