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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 5 Christmas Movies--And What To Munch on While Watching!

Anny wears many hats. She's our red-headed Nolita tour guide. She's a talented singer. And she's also a holiday movie aficionado.

In her own words, here are her favorite films to watch--and the perfect edible (and potables) compliments!

MY TOP 5 FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES (& what to munch on while you’re watching them!)

Ok. So is there anything better than snacks in front of a screen?! It is a great way of unwinding in general. But especially during the holidays when we are all desperate for any reason to take a break from the craziness of the season, catching a flick in the comfort of your home is just the ticket.

This 1964 stop motion animation feature movie has been broadcast every year since its debut, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history! Also, I hold a special place in my heart for Rudolph. Not only do we have in common a bright red physical feature that sets us apart – for Rudoph his nose, for me my hair. But we were both serendipitously rescued by a singular place that allowed us to see the inherent fabulousness of what was once considered a flaw. In the end Rudolph teaches us that the key to cool is just being YOU - eccentricities and all. Heck, ESPECIALLY eccentricities. And so do you not agree that N.Y.C. is the most perfect embodiment of the Island Of Misfit Toys? Where would we be without this insanely maddening and undeniably magical place?! Cheers Rudy!

Snack Pairing: Old Fashioned Ribbon Candy in red, white and green – the kind my Great Aunt Nellie used to have on hand every time we popped by for the holidays. And even though I’ve never really been a fan of it, somehow a traditional old school fruitcake seems like the perfect pairing with this classic throw back of a movie.


So I’m an old-fashioned kinda gal and just love the all the glamour and glitz of Hollywood in the 40’s. This fabulously sharp romantic comedy stars Barbara Stanwyck as Elizabeth Lane, a domestically disabled, successful magazine columnist, living the single life while holed up in a modest N.Y.C. studio apartment. ‘Tis the season and in a frenzied effort to maintain her professional charade as the perfect homemaker, Elizabeth finds herself heading north to a dairy farm in the picturesque countryside of Connecticut. As a public relations exercise she is meant to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner for her boss and a gaggle of folks including a two wounded (not to mention exceedingly handsome) soldiers on holiday leave. The only problem is she’s far more Carrie Bradshaw than Martha Stewart. Needless to say hilarity ensues.

Snack Pairing: Elizabeth’s typical on-the-go urban breakfast of sardines and saltines just won’t do. Instead opt for her unintentionally magnificent Christmas morning flapjack’s that in a movie magic kind of way, still manage to look appetizing even in black and white!

3) ELF

In need of Christmas cheer? All I can say is if you haven’t seen this movie yet, stop everything you’re doing and WATCH ELF RIGHT NOW. You will pee yourself from laughing so hard. At least I did. No, for reals. I’m not even kidding. This comedy classic has a cult following for good reason. Will Ferrell plays an elf; an oddly loveable, offbeat, slightly mental elf, named Buddy. After growing up in the North Pole with Santa, Buddy has landed in N.Y.C. in search of his long lost (on the naughty list) father who turns out to be an Ebenezer Scrooge of a guy. This jovial piece of movie merriment helps bring levity to the universal dysfunction that accompanies being human. Alas, there is no shortage of yuletide family drama, which offers all of us wonderfully flawed folks the much needed salve of identification, cloaked in the comfort of clever comedy. You also will be educated on the awkwardness of all things elf. Not surprisingly we find the moral of the story is to lighten up already. Finally, I’d be remiss to not mention the major casting highlight that is my girl Zooey Deschanel. She is Buddy’s love interest, not to mention a Christmas carol goddess who brings to life the essential Elf Code that “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”. And the fact that this all takes place in the holiday wonderland that is N.Y.C. at Christmas time is just gravy. ‘Nuff said.

Snack Pairing: According to Buddy there are four major food groups - 1) Candy 2) Candy Canes 3) Candy Corns and 4) Maple Syrup. His very hearty breakfast consists of spaghetti with red sauce and maple syrup, M&Ms, mini marshmallows and double chocolate Pop Tarts. Note: this is only for the very bravest of aspiring elves!


So this 1994 (5th generation) feature film adaptation based on Louisa May Alcott’s hugely popular book by the same name, is perhaps an unexpected choice as a holiday movie favorite. And yet it perfectly encapsulates an idyllic New England Christmas not once, but twice, all within the movie’s first hour. Our narrative unfolds during Civil War era simplicity, and the raw humanity of the story is its biggest draw. This is storytelling at its finest folks and is only strengthened by an impeccable all-star cast. Winona Ryder leads the way in her spot on portrayal of the ever tempestuous Jo, and was accordingly honored with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Then we have the wonderful Susan Sarandon and very talented Claire Danes, not to mention some serious male gravity in the form of Christian Bale and Gabriel Byrne. It is pure joy to ride the ups and downs of the March family all while cheering on Jo as she blossoms into a bona fide published author at the movie’s climax. Before this can happen though, Jo braves the wilds of New York City as she quotes Walt Whitman, saying – “Keep your silent woods o’ nature, your quiet places by the woods. Give me the streets of Manhattan.” To be honest, this movie makes my heart sing…and sing…and sing!

Snack Pairing: “Isn’t butter divinity” observes Jo’s little sister Amy - a very young Kirsten Dunst. Why yes it is, dear. Yes it is. This is just before the March girls decide (some more heartily than others) to donate their very abundant Christmas breakfast to a local family in need. And so, in this ode to a simpler time, the decadent luxury of a perfect orange seems to jump out of the screen - and for good reason. Yes folks, I am recommending snacks not from a box or a bag, but from a tree - just like good ol’ mother nature intended! It’s either that or butter. You choose.

This, my dear friends, is the epitome of holiday movie magic. In one of the most beloved films of all time, holiday or otherwise, It’s A Wonderful Life succeeds in reminding viewers of what’s really important. Firstly, you’re alive! Secondly, you’re life matters. And most importantly, this is not a dress rehearsal – so LIVE! NOW! In writing this list up to now, I have astonished myself in having the strength to refrain from my usual proclivity for schmultz. But this is where the gloves come off people. There is nowhere left to hide. This gem of American cinema truly is ALL HEART. And that’s just how I like it! It is also a sure fire cure for those pesky holiday blues. There’s no room to feel sorry for oneself in the face of Jimmy Stewart’s hellish ride to beyond and back. If you’re in need of having your faith in Life restored, herein lies the answer. And if you’re not up for all the philosophical stuff, just ride the wave of this Christmas classic as a must see for traditional holiday viewing purposes. It is a staple of the season. Period.

Snack Pairing: I’m thinking hot chocolate here folks. Imagine with me the scene where George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence, have just been rescued from the ice cold river of death. They’re in their skivvies sipping on something hot and we’re going to pretend that something hot is Nutella hot chocolate. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try using a candy cane as a stir stick. Not actually sure how well that would translate flavor wise with the Nutella. But what the heck you only live once!


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