Travel the world, from home, with Dinner & a Movie

When TikTok’s Ratatouille: The Musical took over the internet at the beginning of the year, I tried my hand at making the dish that inspired the viral craze and original Pixar movie. It did not go well. Best to leave it to the professionals.

Luckily, Guelph is teaming with amazing local restaurants and eateries featuring food and inspirations from around the world. The scents and flavours are almost enough to transport you anywhere you want to go. And while I can’t physically travel to the streets of Paris right now, movies can provide the sights and sounds of the places we’re dreaming to go.

Since I have watched an obscene amount of movies during this pandemic, why not put the time to good use, and provide 10 perfect pairings for a personal date night of ordering in dinner and a movie – around the world.

Greek: Café Greek Garden / Mamma Mia!

Who else has dreamed of being Meryl Streep, clad in overalls, windswept hair, dancing along the the boardwalks of the Mediterranean Sea? Just me? Well, at least you can sings ABBA in your apartment while you enjoy a meal from Café Greek Garden. I’m a souvlaki girl, through and through.

It’s not a Dancing Queen party without family, and Café Greek Garden acts as your extended Greek family with a wide variety of the finest quality in freshly cooked Mediterranean cuisine in an atmosphere reminiscent of lovely Greece.

Japanese: Crafty Ramen / Ponyo

Really, almost any movie from the Japanese animation genius Hayo Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli could have fit the bill here. With evocative artistry, these movies are charming and awe-inspiring. Ponyo is a magical story of a goldfish princess who is befriended by a human boy and wishes to become human herself. Studio Ghibli animates food with such delicious detail, and Ponyo features the most mouth-watering dish of ramen put to film.

Instead of sitting and wishing you could reach through screen, enjoy an equally mouth-watering bowl from Crafty Ramen. Japanese inspired, locally influenced, house made. One-of-a-kind ramen dishes that mix traditional flavours with local ingredients. Want to learn a new hobby at home? Try your hand at making your own dishes and become an at-home ramen artist with kits from the Crafty Ramen Market.

Mexican: La Reina / Coco

Light, love, and life are at the heart of this tale set in Santa Cecilia, Mexico during the Day of the Dead. It is a time for honouring ancestors and gathering together with family to remember those who have passed on. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s cherishing the times we have with our loved ones. Coco is full of the beauty of Mexican culture, the colourful imagery of the Day of the Dead and with a soundtrack that will bring a tear to your eye.

Pair this movie with an authentic Mexican dish from La Reina with the right amount of zest that will get you swaying with the music. Signature tacos, deep-fried plantains, quesadillas, and even take home your own margarita flight. Can’t decide? Try their sample box for the perfect mix of flavours.

Canadian: Miijidaa Cafe & Bistro / One Week

Sometimes, we take our own home and native land for granted. Sure, many of us remember pulling over on family trips to roadside attractions like the Big Nickel or the Canada Goose, but how many of us ever followed through with just heading out on the Trans Canada Highway to explore our nation? Lucky for you, teen-heartthrob grown-up, Joshua Jackson made the trip on your behalf in the introspective and beautiful film, One Week. A love letter to Canada, the people, and the landscape that make up this country.

Pair this love letter with another through the menu pairings from Miijidaa Café & Bistro. Inspired by First Nations, French and English cuisine, Miijidaa has taken the traditional foods from our country’s diverse culinary history and made them modern and new.

Dutch: Dutch Toko / The Fault in Our Stars

Based on the popular YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is a romantic-drama that will tug at your heartstrings from start to finish. A story of star-crossed lovers stricken by illness find love and hope amongst the pain. Some of the film’s most memorable and shining moments take place during a trip to Amsterdam where characters Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) take in many of the sights of the city. From the architecture of the Rijksmuseum and solemnity of the Anne Frank House, to the bicycle filled streets and atmospheric background of the Dutch canals.

As this movie will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, it’s best to pair it with full indulgence and pick up some unique treats of Holland from Dutch Toko. Make your own spread of these anything-but-healthy treats. For the full Dutch experience: pick up some hagelslag (dark-chocolate sprinkles) and put it on some toast (trust me, it’s a thing). Next, stroopwafels (syrup waffles) and speculaas (spiced cookies). For the licorice-lovers out there, you absolutely must pick up some dropjes (salted licorice). It’ll mix well with the salt of your tears.

Ethiopian: Warka Tree / Lamb

Rent through Apple iTunes (with subtitles)

One boy and his sheep against the world. We can all relate to that child-like desire to runaway with our favourite pet (be it a dog, cat, or – in this case – ewe) and live amongst the wilderness. Lamb showcases the Ethiopian countryside in awe-inspiring mountainous landscapes and lush greenery that are rarely depicted in film. These scenes are a an absolute breath of fresh air.

Ethiopian culture and cuisine is on full display as the aunts cook delicious meals in the kitchen, and the boy, Ephraim (Rediat Amare), makes samosas how his mother taught him. You’ll be wishing you could smell through your TV, so make the experience complete by ordering a traditional Ethiopian dinner from Warka Tree.

Italian: Buon Gusto / Under the Tuscan Sun

Rent through Amazon Prime Video or Google Play

In spending so much time in your house over the last year, maybe you started a home reno projects as a way to pass the time. Whether you finished it or not (no judgement here), you can empathize with the struggles that Frances (Diane Lane) goes through of refurbishing an old Tuscan villa in Under the Tuscan Sun. Now is a good time to set those power tools aside, and sit back and enjoy the sweeping coastal views and cobblestoned streets of old Tuscany that are featured prominently in this film.

Of course, you have to treat yourself with a wood oven pizza and vino from Buon Gusto to get the full experience. Made in Regello, Tuscany, the restaurant’s woodburning oven is ‘il cuore’ (the heart) of Buon Gusto. With traditional family recipes, made with locally-sourced ingredients, any pick from their menu is a great one (but really, get the pizza).

Indian: Kirtida Kitchen / Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

It’s easy to get stuck in our own habits and world-views, and forget the joy of exploring new foods, flavours and cultures. Each guest at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is faced with battling their own prejudices and personal grudges before fully appreciating the light and life of Indian culture. With the best in seasoned British thespians and the dazzling energy of Dev Patel, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the feel-good movie that’ll keep you dreaming of the warmth of Indian summers.

Add the heat at home with a meal from Kirtida Kitchen. Delicious vegetarian meals with a wide selection of curries that are great for any meal. I always get a side of their signature samosas and pakoras.

French: Artisanale French Country Cooking / Paris Can Wait

Rent through Amazon Prime Video or Google Play

If you need a break from the little rat chef that would otherwise be an obvious choice for a French cuisine film, how about taking a detour to the Provence countryside in Paris Can Wait. A movie that is basically a private tour of French dining, history, arts and culture, where the only other passenger is Diane Lane (somehow, she’s made this list twice, confirming that Diane Lane is living her best life).

Dine alongside the film and experience the decadence of Provence with the flavours of farm-sourced meals from Artisanale French Country Cooking.  Start with a charcuterie plate, followed by melt-in-your-mouth duck confite and a slice of dark chocolate cake for dessert. Single-meal take out available or prepared meals for any time at home.

Global Inspiration: Lucky Belly / Chef

Chef is available on Netflix

Chef is the food-lovers movie. When a high-end chef loses his job at a popular restaurant, he starts over with a food truck and some fresh ideas. Sure, Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is the lead, but the stars are really the recipes he creates. We’re all missing aspects of the wine and dine experience that make top restaurants so alluring, but Chef reminds us that at the core of any culinary business: it’s good food. Chef strips back the curtains to this simple concept.

Sometimes, a delicious meal can’t be contained to a region. Sometimes, you want something different and you want it fast. The Lucky Belly feels like the place that Chef Carl would call home. With dishes inspired by Mexican, Cuban, Greek, Cajun, Thai, Middle Eastern flavours and more, Lucky Belly is a round trip in one place.

Now, go forth young traveler, explore the worldly flavours Guelph has to offer and snuggle up at home with your next film adventure. What movie and restaurant pairings will you pick?

Guelph Tourism encourages you to #ExploreGuelph safely and shop locally. Our restaurants and small businesses need your support. See Guelph Shops for more information.

Streaming services for films subject to change.

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