Thursday, February 14, 2013

North by Northwest Dinner for Two

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint star in Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest

Happy Valentine's Day! Perhaps you're looking for a romantic dinner for two? Look no further--I've made a menu based on the 20th Century Limited's Dining Car, which was featured in North by Northwest (1959), which would be a pretty good Valentine's Day movie choice, as well. There's train travel and adventure and romance and spies and national parks! What could be better? North by Northwest airs Saturday, February 16th, at 11:00 p.m. CST on TCM. It's also available on DVD.

Clockwise from top left: Olives ("Assorted Relish") and Iced Tomato Juice;
Trout au maître d'hôtel, Parsley Potatoes, Broccoli Polonaise; prepping trout for baking;
Romaine, Orange and Avocado Salad

20th Century Limited Dining Car, North by Northwest

Luckily for this food blogger, we know from the film that both Cary's and Eva's characters have the trout. I was able to find two real-life 20th Century Limited menus. And guess what? Trout is on both of them! Too bad Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) doesn't get to stay long enough for dessert, because it sure sounds yummy!

1949 20th Century Limited Menu from Theodore Barber and Company
Click to enlarge

Trout au maître d'hôtel

1/2 lb cleaned trout
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 lemon slices
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375˚ Fahrenheit. Cut off a piece of aluminum foil and a piece of parchment paper large enough to wrap up your piece of trout. Place parchment paper on top of aluminum foil.

Open up trout on top of parchment and season well with salt and pepper. Top with butter and lemon slices. Fold trout back in half then fold in the sides of the foil and parchment to make a packet.

Bake trout in the middle of the oven about 15 to 20 minutes, or until flesh is just opaque. Be careful not to overcook. Add parsley to serve.

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Parsley Potatoes

1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled, rinsed and quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Boil the potatoes in salted water, for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain.

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Just as the foam starts to subside, stir in the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the parsley.

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Broccoli Polonaise

1 lb broccoli, trimmed into florets and rinsed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Boil or steam broccoli for 5 minutes then drain.

In a small skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam has almost completely subsided, stir in the breadcrumbs and keep stirring until the breadcrumbs are nice and crisp. Remove breadcrumbs from the heat and season with salt and pepper and stir in the thyme.

Pile the broccoli on your plates then top with the seasoned breadcrumb mixture.

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Romaine, Orange and Avocado Salad

1 romaine heart, torn into bite-sized pieces and washed
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried French or Italian herb mixture
1 orange, sectioned
1/2 avocado, cubed

To make dressing, whisk together 1 teaspoon of juice from the lemon, reserving the rest, and the tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and herb mix. Pour the remaining lemon juice over the avocado cubes to keep them from turning brown.

In a mixing bowl, dress the romaine with the salad dressing. Divide between bowls and top with orange sections and drained avocado cubes.

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This post was originally a guest post, but the owner of that blog switched domains and didn't carry this post over. This dinner is too good to not be out there on the internet.

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  1. One of my favourite films and a fabulous menu to go with it. I could eat that salad every day. I love that you found the authentic menus.

    1. The salad is that good! Honestly, though I say it myself, the whole meal was that good.

      What I loved about finding the authentic menus is that the movie was spot-on about what people could have ordered in the dining car. Love that.

  2. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I love that you have the menus. What a treat.

  3. I love seeing old menus! Great find. So, was rye toast with cream cheese and jelly meant to be a dessert? Huh.

  4. Wow what a great idea and brilliant find too. Well done :)

  5. Gotta LOVE Carey Grant! How cool that you found the menu. I could certainly go for Strawberry Cheesecake or the NYC Special Icecream, but cream cheese and Jelly on rye toast?

  6. Totally a dinner fit for Mr. Grant. I am OBSESSED with N by NW and Notorious (and, to a lesser degree, Suspicion and To Catch a Thief)...totally different characterizations from CG, totally pitch perfect each time. I think Hitch brought out something in him you never see in Grant's light comedy roles with other directors (as much as I love those). He isn't given the credit he deserves for being a tremendous talent as well as face fit for a postage stamp.

    So funny trout is actually on the menu! Isn't it strange when you find out a movie-related dish ISN'T out of place for the time and place, but just perfect?

  7. Oh wow! What a fancy dinner! I am so skittish about cooking fish. You know, seeing how epicly land land locked we are, I just never really got taught how. I've made salmon a couple of times...and of course, fish sticks ;)
    Hope you guys had a great valentine's day!~!

  8. What a brilliant idea! This is exactly why I love your blog. Very intrigued by that Broccoli Polonaise.

  9. Oh I just love the whole idea of eating dinner on a train....sigh! If I ever win the lottery I've promised myself a long train-ride up the Pacific coast to Washington state.

    Lauren to you remember a John Barrymore/Carole Lombard film called THE TWENTIETH CENTURY? Named after the train. Saw the menu and it all connected.

    I've only ever had trout once and I think I liked it. But I'm such a coward when it comes to cooking fish...

    Great post, Lauren.

  10. I LOVE this post, Lauren! North by Northwest is one of my favorite films and we'll be watching it soon as my son and I are on a Hitchcock marathon. Your dinner will be perfect to enjoy while watching. And it is just so cool that you found that menu! I like knowing the movie was authentic. :)

  11. Always interesting to read posts about food in films. This film is one of my favourites and the dining car scene is just lovely. I've recently re-watched a 1966 Australian film called 'They're a Weird Mob' about an Italian immigrant in Australia and couldn't help wondering if the film was made today, food would have been more prominent (given our obsession with all things foodie). Here's my post:


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