Sayeth cheese! Nitehawk pairs ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with picnic basket staple

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Gouda night, Gouda night! Havarti is such sweet sorrow, that I’ll say Gouda night until this bite becomes Parmigiano.

A Williamsburg cinema is celebrating the season of love by pairing a screening of “Romeo and Juliet” with a romantic meal. The event, taking place on Feb. 10 and 11, is part of Nitehawk Cinema’s bimonthly Film Feast series, in which the moviehouse pairs movies with a multi-course dinner, served at key points in the plot. But the couples attending the show will not be chowing down on chocolate or oysters — they will be watching the Leonardo DiCaprio-helmed motion picture while dining on five courses of cheese, the cinema’s chef said.

“We wanted to come up with something that would be romantic, easily shared between a couple in honor of Valentine’s Day,” said Michael Franey, chef de cuisine at Nitehawk. “We also wanted to do something a little different than our usual Film Feast — we thought a cheese tasting was a great way to accomplish all of those goals.”

Nitehawk approached Murray’s Cheese, the city’s largest cheesemonger, to collaborate on the menu. The fromage fanatic charged with the task said she was excited to attempt something daring with dairy.

“Over the years I’ve put together my fair share of pairings, but pairing cheese with a movie was definitely a first,” said Beth Ann Coulton, Murray’s sales manager. “I was able to put together a selection of cheeses that I thought best reflected some element in that precise moment in the film, whether it was through the language, a location, or a sentiment. Hopefully, this will come across in the tasting.”

Coulton said the Nitehawk crew helped by providing some key scenes and quotes in the movie to focus on. The play’s opening line, “Two houses, both alike in dignity,” inspired one particularly cheesy interpretation.

“Chef Michael thought it would be cool to do one cheese served two different ways,” said Coulton. “I suggested using Jasper Hill Harbison alongside Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Greensward.”

The scene in which Romeo is cast out of town inspired the meal’s fourth course, explained another Nitehawk employee. The story takes place in the city of Verona, which is situated in a wine district called Veneto, and Romeo is banished to the town of Mantua, Lombardia. Each location is referenced in the pairing, he said.

“We decided to use flavors from both regions to describe his sad departure from Verona,” said Matthew Walker, Nitehawk beverage manager. “Gorgonzola Cremificato, from Lombardia, is served with red wine braised pork and polenta, both staples of Northern Italy. For the wine pairing we are serving Gerardo Cesari Valpolicella Classico, one of the most consumed and delicious red wines of Veneto.”

The film’s ending — spoiler alert — is a bit of a downer, but Walker said he thought dishes like that one will see sweethearts leave the screening with smiles on their faces.

“From Verona to Mantua and back again in one plate and a glass of wine — I think our guests are going to be very happy with this one,” he said.

“Romeo and Juliet” Film Feast at Nitehawk Cinema [136 Metropolitan Ave. between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 384–3980,]. Feb. 10 and 11 at 7 pm. $75.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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