(Not) Disney Dinner and a Movie: ‘Anastasia’
No, Anastasia is not a Disney film. It was released by Fox Animation Studios in 1997 and starred the voice talents of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, and Christopher Lloyd. While this column is traditionally for Disney films I decided to make an exception this month for a film released “Once Upon a December.” Anastasia is, in my opinion, as good as any of the Disney princess films. Beautiful animation paired with strong characters and fantastic songs makes this one of those animated features from my childhood that I will always love. So please forgive my devitation from Disney and enjoy this Anastasia themed meal.
Anastasia is the story of the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Since much of the movie takes place in Russia (and is a kid-friendly and very loose version of Russian history) I had to try out some Russian recipes. For a first course I did some research into Russian foods and one dish that kept popping up was Herring under a Fur Coat, or shuba. Traditionally this is made with diced herring layered over with boiled vegetables and mayonnaise. Since I don’t eat most of those ingredients I found this awesome recipe for a vegan version. At first I was extremely hesitant to take a bite but once I mustered up the courage I found that it was actually pretty good. You wouldn’t think that these ingredients would taste good together but they actually do. This was an experimental success.
For the main course there was only one option: stroganoff. Not many foods are featured in this film but there is a part in the song “Learn to Do It” where she proclaims she “never cared for stroganoff.” Being that this line is a memorable one from the film, and that it is a classic Russian dish, I found this vegan version that uses mushrooms. It was absolutely scrumptious and I had two helpings of it the first night. This one is highly recommended!
For dessert I took two different cues from the film. The first was champagne. One example of the movie’s excellent animation is the scene where Dimitri watches the dancers in his champagne glass. The drink itself is symbolic of elegance and decadence and perfect for Anastasia’s past life as royalty and her grandmother’s current lifestyle in France. I used this recipe to make mini champagne cupcakes and created my own strawberry and chocolate icings. To add to the flashiness I added edible gold flakes. These cupcakes instantly became some of my favorite desserts ever. The champagne taste is distinct yet pleasant and the batter not too sweet so that you can easily pair it with super sugary icing without being overwhelmed. I paired this champagne cupcake with Anastasia’s drink: hot water with lemon. Dessert was absolutely splendid.
Overall this was a pretty interesting installment of Disney Dinner and a Movie. While I did take a chance with a non-Disney film, Anastasia’s nostalgia and Russian themes helped me create a wonderful meal for this or any December.
Coming Soon: Disney Dinner and a Movie: Frozen