Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alan Cumming & Dinner at Luma: An Appetite for Life







Celebrated actor of stage and screen Alan Cumming was in town this week to discuss his newest book Not My Father's Son, which charts the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career. 'In Conversation With Alan Cumming' was held at Toronto's Tiff/Bell Lightbox, exploring his successful and diverse career on the big screen, including roles in X2, the Spy Kids trilogy, Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, GoldenEye, Emma, and Eyes Wide Shut; on television in the enormously popular The Good Wife; and on stage, where he's currently reviving his Tony Award-winning performance as the emcee in Cabaret, which I was fortunate to have seen earlier this year while in NYC. Following the event, Alan graciously stayed behind to sign copies of his memoir, which I had purchased earlier with hopes of getting it signed by "Eli Gold" — which I did — then scooted upstairs for a well earned cocktail and late dinner with my husband at Luma.





Enjoying a martini after hearing Alan Cumming speak about his life, stage work and new book at Tiff/Bell Lightbox, with my treasured signed copy of his Memoir



Charming, funny, and refreshingly down-to-earth, Alan Cumming was unguarded and open in discussing his life — the good, the bad and the unbearable — with a delightful humour, wit, and eloquent insight that belies the trauma he endured growing up as a young lad with an emotionally abusive and physically violent father in rural Scotland. A testament to his character and tenacity, he has come out the other side, strong, confident, resilient and living life on his own terms. Soft spoken with a lyrical Scottish cadence, listening to him speak was like being embraced in a warm blanket; meeting him after was like greeting an old friend. As he signed my book with that warm and familiar sparkle in his eye, I was beguiled by his honesty and 'joie de vivre'. "The message of the book," he says, "is be open and be kind and try not to bump into the furniture." As I smile, how can anyone not just want to love him, and give him a big hug.




The exterior of Luma from inside Tiff/Bell Lightbox

Decorated for Christmas, with stockings hung in the dining room 

The new Luma menu from Chef Michael Wilson

House baked bread and white bean purée

Our server Daniel with our bottle of 2008 Cocci Grifoni 'Le Torri' Rosso Piceno from Marche on Italy's Adriatic coast

With a rich bouquet and intense garnet hues, the wine was perfectly suited to red meats

Warm Mushroom appetizer with confit garlic, gruyère sourdough and dandelion greens

Steak Frites: 8oz flat iron, five onion gravy, northern woods mushrooms and truffle parmesan fries

Roasted Lamb Loin with beluga lentils, cipollini onions and roasted root vegetables garnished with celeriac purée and crispy shaved parsnip












Pumpkin & Fire-Roasted Chestnut Rigatoni
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy Chef Michael Wilson

1 lb Bartolini rigatoni, or other short pasta such as penne or fusili 
2-1/2 cups of chestnuts, scored
1 sugar pie pumpkin
2 cups unsalted butter, browned
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 shallot, minced
6 garlic cloves, roasted
1 bunch of sage, chopped
2 cups grated Manchego cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander and reserve. Preheat oven to 350°F. Score chestnuts with sharp knife and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes. While the chestnuts are still hot, peel, chop and set aside.

Peel the pumpkin, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Dice the pumpkin into quarter-inch cubes. Place butter into a pot and turn on high heat. The butter will melt and begin to foam. As the bubbles lessen, remove from heat and add one tablespoon of sherry vinegar. Cool and reserve.

In a saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and pan roast the diced pumpkin. Once it starts to gain a little colour, reduce the heat and add the pre-minced shallot, garlic and chopped sage. While the flavours blend, return the pasta into hot water to reheat, then toss the pasta and a splash of pasta water to the saucepan. Add the chopped chestnuts, one tablespoon of sherry vinegar, and the pre made brown butter which adds a nutty, caramelized flavour. Season to taste. Serve the pasta with some shaved Manchego and a bit of chopped sage for garnish.