Roasted pepper and tomato tart with almond-hazelnut crust

Pepper and tomato tart with hazelnut almond crust

Pepper and tomato tart with hazelnut almond crust

I fell asleep while watching cave of forgotten dreams. I regret it, of course, but at the time I was powerless against the great wave of sleepiness. I’d worked all day, and we’d been busy, and the film is so quiet and dreamy, Herzog’s narration so sweet and sleepy…well, that’s my excuse. I didn’t miss much, I didn’t sleep for very long. In a way, though, it seems perfect to have fallen asleep during this film, this beautiful film. It’s as though the film itself became a part of my dreams, dreams I will never forget because they’re marked on stone and captured on film. The movie has a sort of dream-like logic to it that I love: When faced with something that you don’t understand, follow it farther and deeper than you would have thought possible. Even as you’re exploring, and you realize that you will never understand, you keep looking, because the mystery itself is so beautiful. As circus performer-turned-archaeologist Julen Monney tells us, “it’s a way to understand things which is not a direct way.” This is exactly what I love. I love the idea of looking at something from the side, or from some angle we can’t even imagine. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a small glimpse into the Chauvet Cave in Southern France. These caverns contain the oldest cave paintings yet discovered, and they’re remarkable. They show bears and lions and rhinoceros and jaguars, creatures you can’t imagine living in the South of France. The pictures are layered one upon another in a marvelous design. The paintings are beautifully rendered, stylized but so well-observed you believe whoever painted them must have spent hours watching the animals. Their faces are wise and almost sweet, or so it seemed to me. They’re almost all in profile, except for one bison who looks right at you. Some are surrounded by layers of rippling silhouette as if to show movement. There are no paintings of human figures, and no human bones were found in the cave. The only sign that these marks were made by humans is a wall of palm prints, made by distinct individuals, and a footprint made by an eight-year-old boy. The boy’s footprint is next to that of a wolf, and we’ll never know if they were friends or prey. I think I must have fallen asleep through the part of the film in which they discuss the humans of the time in greater detail. I have glimpses of memory of this. But I’m almost glad to have missed this part, because to me a huge part of the wonderful power of the paintings is that they seem deeper than human achievement or understanding. Julien Monney went down in the cave for five days, and then he decided not to go down any more. He said it was too moving, too powerful. Every night he was dreaming of lions–real lions and painted lions. He wasn’t scared of them, but he had a feeling of powerful things and deep things. He said that we need to find a way to look at the cave paintings. Where would he start to look for this new way of looking? Everywhere. He tells the story of an archaeologist in Australia traveling with an aboriginal guide. They came upon some cave paintings that were thousands of years old, and fading and crumbling. His guide started to touch up the paintings. The archaeologist asked him why he would do that, and he replied that he wasn’t doing it, he wasn’t painting, it was only the hand of the spirit. You have the feeling, when looking at the Chauvet paintings, that this is the only explanation for this beautiful series of pictures. They were painted in the same style, but hundreds of years apart. Cave bears have scratched at the walls below the pictures and across the pictures, as though they were trying to add to them, or to make them disappear. I’ve always believed that humans aren’t the center of everything, that there’s some spiritual force in the earth and the air that we can’t control or understand. Maybe the animals understand it better than we do because they’re not always making noise like we are. In a strange way these cave paintings seem to reinforce these ideas. Whatever was captured in the cavern, we were part of it, but not the only part, not the most important part. And Herzog ends with shots of a nuclear power plant near the caves, and he tells us that in Lascaux, mildew formed by the breath of tourists caused the paintings to deteriorate. It gives you a powerful feeling that we have to stop destroying things, stop making noise, stop taking things apart in order to understand them. We have to keep silent, and watch and listen and feel.
Roasted pepper tart with tomatoes, olives, and hazelnuts

Roasted pepper tart with tomatoes, olives, and hazelnuts

This tart was loosely inspired by romesco sauce. The hazelnuts, almonds and smoked paprika are in the crust, and the garlic, roasted peppers and tomatoes are in the filling. And all the flavors blend nicely together. I also added some different kinds of cheese–goat cheese and smoked gouda, and some olives and capers for briny goodness.

Here are some songs from the soundtrack of Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It’s very haunting!

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Ricotta chard tart with roasted peppers, olives, and a yeasted cornmeal crust

Ricotta tart with red peppers, chard and black olives

Ricotta tart with red peppers, chard and black olives

There’s a particular pleasure to watching Temporada de Patos that’s hard to define. As I was thinking about it this morning, it came to me…it’s like making a friend, or maybe even falling in love. Which is fitting because friendship and love and the blurry lines between the two are at the core of the film. From the opening credits you like the look of it–aesthetically it’s just your type. Simple, spare, a little bit rundown, but beautifully so. You watch it for a while, and it seems funny and smart, a little bit off-kilter, but in a way you like. And then you hang out with it, and have conversations, and everything it says is charming but sincere. Not “hey, baby, I’m so sincerious,” sincere, but honest and uncalculated and heartfelt. You get a peep at its music collection and it’s all kind of weird but good. Unexpected, but you feel it’s the absolute perfect thing at the perfect time. You keep waiting for it to let you down and say something off-putting, or start telling a story that’s overly dramatic or just doesn’t make sense, but that never happens. It all just clicks, softly and almost imperceptibly. And then you don’t want your time with it to end, you want to spend more time with it, and you think about it after it’s gone, and realize that it’s much more complicated than you realize. That’s what it was like with Temporada de Patos, the first feature from Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke. It’s one of those rare movies where everything seems to come together perfectly, every aspect is thoughtfully combined and there are no missteps. The plot is very simple. Two fourteen-year-old boys, Moko and Flama, have been friends since childhood. They plan to spend a Sunday together at Flama’s apartment when his mom is away. They have all their supplies, soda, video games, money for pizza…and then the power goes out. The pizza delivery man, Ulises, shows up, and they insist their pizza should be free because he didn’t deliver it on time, but he says the deal is off because the power is out and he couldn’t take the elevator. He won’t leave till they pay, and they won’t pay. Their neighbor, Rita asks to borrow their oven to bake a cake. And that’s pretty much it, that’s the story, the story of one beautifully ordinary but unforgettable day. People grow and change and learn about themselves, and forget and start over. Relationships shift, slowly and quietly, and then shift back again. It’s simple, it’s funny as hell, it’s sad but hopeful, and it’s one of the best new movies I’ve seen in years.

Ricotta tart with chard, roasted red peppers and black olives

Ricotta tart with chard, roasted red peppers and black olives

This tart is a bit like a fancy pizza, and a very delicious one! It has a yeasted cormeal crust, which is very crispy and flavorful. It has a ricotta custard, with mozzarella, and it has sauteed chard, garlic, shallots, and rosemary. Then it’s topped with roasted red peppers and black olives. Salty, sweet, comforting, cheesy, crispy, and flecked with greens. What could be better than that?

Here are a couple of songs from the movie…Puto – Molotov. O Pato by Natalia Lafourcade. And Panorama by Alejandro Rosso.

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