That Thing From That Movie, on Toast

Hunting & Gathering

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY MAR 3, 2020

In cinema, most of the films celebrated for their true-to-life depictions often portray bloody wars. Outside of that, Hollywood likes to take liberties with the truth, even when the film is “based on a true story,” which seems to mean little. That’s part of what makes Disney’s Ratatouille so special. As a film largely about food, its truthfulness does not result so much from the sentient rat that aspires to be a chef (of course) but from the film’s depiction of life in a restaurant kitchen that so fully captures the ethos of the culinary elite. Anthony Bourdain went so far as to say, “I think it’s quite simply the best food movie ever made.” 

The star dish in the film is, naturally, ratatouille, a stewed vegetable dish with origins in France’s Occitan region. Commonly, the dish includes tomato, garlic, onion, zucchini, squash, eggplant, bell peppers and seasonal herbs, but its preparation varies so widely that it can hardly be said to have a single, essential version. The film immortalized the artful interpretation of the dish from chef Michel Guérard called confit byaldi, a decidedly modern take with its highly stylized plating, but ratatouille can also be made as more of a stew with all the veggies crudely chopped. The freshly minted Blasé Bistro on Hillview makes use of the latter for its ratatouille bruschetta appetizer. 

Served atop two thick slices of rustic, grilled bread, their version of the stew includes roasted tomatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant, goat cheese, pine nuts and olives, then garnishes of herbs that include parsley and fennel. The great triumph of the preparation is that, in spite of all the ingredients, the flavor of each vegetable remains distinct. Not to say that they clash, but that they do not undergo the diffusion of flavor most stews do. The result is a ragout that tastes as fresh and green as a salad, but with the richness of a porridge. The olives and goat cheese, in particular, add a nice bit of saltiness and flair that make it entirely Blasé’s, and the overall impression of the appetizer feels more like a serving of vegetables than bread. An appetizer this good bodes well for the meatier sections of the menu. 

Photo taken by Andrew Fabian.

Blase Bistro, 1920 Hillview St., Sarasota, 941-312-6850.

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